Amazon Book Reviews

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Western Buddhist Review: Blue Sky, White Cloud

Āloka has clearly ‘been there’ and grappled with all these issues repeatedly himself and is passing on his observations from his own experience. There aren’t that many books that deal in this very experiential, hands-on way with issues arising not only before, but also subsequent to the arising of insight…For anyone whose practice has reached a stage in which a more ‘formless’ approach is relevant and necessary, whatever their practice tradition, a careful reading of this book is likely to be very helpful…There’s some good hands-on practical advice here on skilfully cultivating  śamatha  and avoiding possible pitfalls. Read full review


Mike Hogan (London) – reviewed: Blue Sky, White Cloud (Kindle Edition) Excellent book for the committed practitioner, 20 Jun 2012

This is an excellent book. It’s full of direct, practical and insightful guidance on a style of practise that is very like Chan or Zen. Initially it goes into great detail about getting your posture right, getting your breathing right, and how much can be learned about yourself and the Dharma by getting these basics right, acknowledging that this can sometimes be a painful process. So it starts right at the beginning. Then the book goes into great detail, in a way I have not found anywhere else, about how to approach your practise as it matures a little, when Stillness starts to become a more familiar experience. Reading this has really helped me, and thats why I say this is a book by a practitioner for practitioners. It touches on the stuff that is real for me from day to day. There is a ton of other stuff that helped me equally, like maintaining commitment, the importance of humility, taking the practise off the cushion into your daily life, embracing life and becoming a true human being. Its all very inspiring, and written in a direct conversational style. We’ve started reading it at our local weekly Sangha meet. Highly recommended.


Mr A. Elliott reviewed: Blue Sky, White Cloud Fresh and inspiring guide to practising the dharma 8 May 2012

This book is a fantastic manual for any committed dharma practitioner. Unlike many books I have tried, this is written for a place of wisdom and experience
which shines through on every page. I really can’t recommend it enough.


Mr. James Ferguson  reviewed:  Blue Sky, White Cloud  The importance of stillness 1 April 2012

Âloka David Smith in his fifth book demonstrates once again that Dharma practise is not complicated and that real insight and change are possible for everyone. The book points to stillness as the door to understanding and change. The author goes on to say that it is with this still, spacious, open observing mind that we can start to see how we are trapped in samsara, in fact how we trap ourselves. And that with this seeing a letting go naturally unfolds.

There is a simple clarity in the way he expresses the Dharma. Everyday sentences hold deep transforming potential that can at times be jaw-dropping. I recommend this book to those who want to know the cause of why we suffer and are interested in finding a way out.


5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing book, October 21, 2009

By Bruce Gibbs (California) –

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This review is from: A Record of Awakening (Paperback)

If you are of Buddhist leanings, this book is enlightening. It really gave me the felt-self of the awakening that so many have spoken of, including the Buddha. It is so personal and honest that reading it gave me hope.

I highly recommend it to serious students of the Path.

Much Metta, Bruce Gibbs


5.0 out of 5 stars A Westerner Walks in the Buddha’s Steps, July 28, 2004


D. Quirke reviewed: A Record of Awakening

4 of 4 people found the following helpful  Inspirational 11 June 2008

Record of Awakening is a book that i have often returned to since my first reading, several years ago. Always finding it inspiring. Many books give instruction upon practice, many give accounts of the heroic struggles of ancient masters. In this book I read the account of a living person, that seemed so ordinary, yet whom spoke of extraordinary spiritual
matters; from his own direct, lived experience. I know it’s spiritually dangerous to get caught up in achievements etc, but also, lets face it, we’re only human. It’s uplifitng to actually read about fellow practictioers making progress, breaking through to deeper more profound experiences of reality. This book gave me hope. It gave me encouragement to continue my own efforts. It fired my spirit up to stick with practice. Here was someone that had put his heart into practice, stuck with it, and reaped the benefits. In this life! And he was working as a gardener in the UK. Incredible. It brought Buddhism down from faraway mountains, out of exotic temples, and into my own everyday world. I also found the authors accounts of his efforts in overcoming the fear which can arise up from our depths as we practice, very insightful and helpful.

(Highland, MD USA) –

This review is from: A Record of Awakening (Paperback)

I think that this is one of the most useful and original books on Buddhism that I have read in a long time. The author is a matter-of-fact Englishman who has achieved great spiritual insight, and does about as much as anyone can to explain the inexplicable. He starts at the beginning of his own journey, and describes what he realized and how his realization grew as time went on. He does this in simple English, and then tries to show how it fits in with traditional Buddhist theory.

This makes his work substantially different from most Buddhist literature, which, whether written by Asians or Westerners, which starts with the intellectual framework developed in another age and in another culture.

Looking at what I have written above, I feel some doubt that I have described the book quite correctly. But it is the best I can do.

In any case, A record of Awakening is very original and should be helpful to anyone on the path. I cannot recommend it highly enough.


5.0 out of 5 stars Important, March 23, 2002


Adrian Benson (Bristol, UK) –

This review is from: A Record of Awakening (Paperback)

I highly recommend this book. It is not only a spellbinding true account of a spiritual awakening. It also gives us reliable methods and encouragement for our own lives. It may be more suited for someone who knows a little about meditation but it has been my favourite book since I bought it two years ago.

Mr. I. Baxter “iantravelling” reviewed:  A Record of Awakening  Great little book! 4 March 2012

A friend of mine studies dharma with David Smith, and pointed me in the direction of this book. Its a great read, from an extraordinary man who has actually done some amazing things in his life (would you give up all, and go to Sri Lanka to become a monk for several years – nope, me neither). However the whole book is humble and beautifully “plain” – by that I mean, David just says everything as it is. This book encpouraged me to buy his second book, Dharma Mind Worldly Mind, and that book is a stunning read. Very insprational, not instructional, just mind-awakening! Get them both – after writing this review I really need to read them both again. They will change the way you view your dharma practice thats for sure.

Mr. I. Baxter “iantravelling” reviewed:  Dharma Mind Worldly Mind  Not an instructional book – more an inspiration! 4 March 2012

I got this book after being directed towards David Smith’s first book, which documents his life in Buddhism, his studies, and ultimately where it left him now. This book is very different – I bought it thinking it would be quite instructional (why is it that instead of just plonking ourselves down on our cushion, we have to read, read, read to find out how!!) but its really not that kind of book. It deals with many of the issues we face tring to move towards that ever illusive “enlightened mind”, its only a small short book, but it took me ages to read!! I kept just going back a couple of pages, then a couple more, trying to soak and resoak up some of his messages. Its a little book that I’ll read many many times over the years, I’m sure of that. I think its so easy to get hung up on the “self help” style of Buddhism, spending more time reading than actually just practicing…… this book will change the way you approach your buddhist practice, for sure.
If you’re looking for a step by step guide to enlightenment, this is not it. If you want to have your mind widened and expanded by the meaning and relevance of everything around you, this is it. Buddhism is for every second of every day, not just for that 30 minute sit in the morning.
Read it!

Mr. A. Elliott “ae9256” reviewed: A Question of Dharma

1 of 1 people found the following helpful  Excellent 29 September 2008

A very readable, practical, yet profound collection of answers to many of the questions that may have crossed your mind as you attempt to follow the dharma in your everyday life.

M. J. Holmes reviewed: A Question of Dharma

2 of 2 people found the following helpful  A Question of Dharma (108 Questions) by David Smith 30 August 2008

I found that this book goes right to the heart of what I am trying to do in my meditation practice, both ‘on the cushion’ and also particularly importantly, in everyday life.

The questions in the book include some that have gone through my mind in an unformulated sort of way, and here they are, posed very clearly and well articulated. Other questions are ones I would not have thought of myself but nonetheless offer an interesting insight into the minds and practice of others. Also I have found answers to questions which I have been meaning to ask someone but haven’t got around to it!

The authors answers are accessible and comprehensive, and have the ring of truth to them, the authenticity of someone who has ‘walked the path before us’.

I found this book extremely helpful and would certainly recommend it to anyone seriously practicing the Dharma.

Clare Carlisle reviewed: A Question of Dharma

2 of 2 people found the following helpful  A practical guide to practising the dhamma… 10 August 2008

This is a wonderful book, thanks both to the diversity and honesty of the questions posed by many people practising the Buddhist path, and to David Smith’s clarity and evident wisdom in responding to them. Smith offers not just high-minded ideals, but practical advice grounded in genuine experience, and this makes his teaching all the more profound. This book provides down-to-earth guidance and inspiration, and is highly recommended.

Mr. James Ferguson reviewed: A Question of Dharma

2 of 3 people found the following helpful  A Penetrating Guide to following the Buddhist Path 10 August 2008

I find it is very easy when treading the Buddhist path to get confused or lost. This book, like David’s other two books, offers very clear direction and guidance through those complexities. I found it very useful and would highly recommend it to anyone following the Buddha’s Way.