Reviews written by Deborah Adams
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When DIET FOR A NEW AMERICA was originally published, readers were horrified and disgusted by the truths it exposed about America’s factory farm system. Now the 25th anniversary edition of John Robbins’ classic reminds us that, despite pockets of resistance, we are still largely ignorant of the origin of the food we eat. In fact, we remain oblivious not only to the suffering of ‘food animals,’ but also to the irreparable damage to our health that results from the plethora of hormones, steroids, and antibiotics used to increase profits for the meat industry.
“You don’t have to forgo animal products to derive great benefit from this book,” Robbins writes, and he asserts that he is not trying to turn everyone into vegetarians. We all have to take responsibility for our own health, however, and the first step toward building healthy bodies is learning all we can about nutritional needs and sources.
In the first part of DIET FOR A NEW AMERICA, Robbins gives us a no-holds-barred look at the system that disposes of animals efficiently and ‘humanely’ for eventual human consumption. The torture these animals endure before being dispatched is not easy to read about. In fact, the least disturbing method of slaughter applies only to the male chicks who are useless for manufacturing eggs: “They are, literally, thrown away…. ‘We put them in a bag and let them suffocate.’”
Readers who choose to skip that section of the book will find even more horrific information in the second section, which uses data and case studies to reveal the negative effects of meat and dairy products on human health. Most of us have been trained to believe in the food pyramid and the magic of protein consumption. DIET FOR A NEW AMERICA’s greatest eye-opener may be the truth behind the myth that we need meat or dairy products to get our quota of protein. “If we ate nothing but cabbage … we’d have over double the maximum [protein] we might need.” If you’re thinking that you need those dairy products in order to prevent osteoporosis, think again. “Osteoporosis is, in fact, a disease caused by a number of things, the most important of which is excess dietary protein.” You’ll find here the results of numerous studies that validate this claim, with full citation in case you want to do your own research.
The current state of the food industry does not affect only animals and humans, however. Our food choices have a global effect, and section three of DIET FOR A NEW AMERICA spells out the danger. Pesticides used on plant crops do not simply disappear once they’ve killed the insects; these poisons stick around and are ingested by animals where they remain in the fatty tissue. “With each inevitable step up the food chain, animals become ever more concentrated carriers of the most deadly chemicals ever known. Man, of course, sits at the very top of the chain whenever he east fish, meats, eggs, or dairy products.”
DIET FOR A NEW AMERICA should be required reading in every classroom and every household. For those who want to make wise choices about food and lifestyle, it is absolutely invaluable.
Recycling a few bottles and turning out a light now and then isn’t nearly enough. If we’re going to provide any quality of life for ourselves and future generations, we must come together and transform our way of viewing and interacting with the world. A BIG STRATEGY attempts to draw a roadmap to this new way of life with guidelines to help responsible individuals establish the foundation for sustainable models based upon local matrices.
Authors Hughes and Monica build the big strategy from three concepts: “Plaza, a web of lifestyle centres that creates a social regeneration strata; Ecotithe, a financial consumer mechanism that forms a business strata [;] and Local Global Immune System, a web-based environmental solution network.”
The strategy is built around local facilities where members of the community can engage in “environment-friendly living, co-ordinating and promoting wholesale greening methods through entertainment,” and the sale of products arranged “in a way that enables companies to adapt to new higher standards that factor in the environment.” The strategy is built entirely around a foundation of community cohesion, altruism, and ethical consumerism.
Drawing on all the sciences as well as traditional methods and philosophies, A BIG STRATEGY is presented as the beginning of a new way of life, and encourages individuals and groups to contribute their own innovative ideas to the collective. It’s a big task, and the authors freely admit that it’s more than a handful. The enormity of what they propose is impossible to capsulize, so readers must be prepared to make leaps in logic and even in intuition.
Nevertheless, A BIG STRATEGY does a fine job of spelling out the history of our environmental downfall and the giant steps required to convince the world that we must rebuild from the center out. An outside editor could have given the book a tighter focus, but the ideas and the intent of this book make it an inspiring and motivating read.
Best known for his self-help books, Deepak Chopra has now turned to a fiction format for his latest entry into the world of spirituality-themed works. GOD: A STORY OF REVELATION is a series of short stories, fictionalized vignettes featuring a selection of ten visionaries from different cultures and eras.
Chopra presents these stories in chronological order according to the protagonist, from Job to Rabindranath Tagore. Socrates, St. Paul, Rumi, Julian of Norwich, Giordano Bruno, Anne Hutchinson, and Baal Shem Tov round out the subjects that Chopra has chosen to explore in GOD: A STORY OF REVELATION. The point, he explains, is that “God evolves,” and Chopra uses these scenes to imagine how the times, the traditions, and the world in which they live affect the way God is perceived by legendary mystics.
Following each story, Chopra adds his own commentary on what he has just presented. After the tale of Job, he points out that this good man’s life and sorrows show us that virtue alone is no protection from a wrathful God. After the story that features Shankara, Chopra explains that the evolutionary track of the Eastern God bypassed the prophets, Christ, and vengeful Yahweh, and yet still shares a Trinity—Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva.
Written with minimal scene-setting details, these stories focus on the effort to understand how the nature of God develops over time and through the eyes and minds of the devout. Readers who are not well-acquainted with the figures in these stories are likely to be lost when confronted with the subtleties of the particular incidents presented, and may find it helpful to learn more about the people and their cultures before diving into GOD: A STORY OF REVELATION.
This is not a ten-step change-your-life book for beach reading but a sophisticated volume best utilized for meditation and contemplation.
So many people suffer from sleep disorders that it might well be considered an epidemic in our country. While physical ailments may account for some of the problem, our multi-tasking lives surely play a part for the majority of us. When we collapse into bed at the end of the day, our minds continue their roller-coaster activity with thoughts of unfinished work, fraying relationships, dwindling money reserves, and generalized anxiety, fear, and anger.
Of course, there are various drugs available to address the symptom — an inability to fall asleep and/or to stay asleep—but these drugs all come with alarming side effects. BUDDHA’S BOOK OF SLEEP suggests a method for rooting out and controlling the CAUSE of problem, and its only side effects are improved clarity and a greater sense of well-being.
Built on the techniques of mindfulness meditation, BUDDHA’S BOOK OF SLEEP teaches the sleep-deprived among us to take control of our minds and tame those stimulating thoughts. “It is the unconscious mind that does sleep,” says author Joseph Emet. “The conscious mind prepares us for sleep…. With mindfulness meditation, we learn to create the mental conditions. We can prepare the mind for sleep.”
Emet provides an explanation for mindfulness meditation and its effectiveness for dealing with sleep problems in the first half of this small but potent book. Within this introductory material, however, he includes simple but surprisingly effective practices that anyone can incorporate into the busy daytime world. In the second half of BUDDHA’S BOOK OF SLEEP, Emet teaches seven meditation techniques, suggesting (but not requiring) that each technique be used for one full week. Each of these is introduced with a short text to be read before meditation and used as a foundation for the meditation practice. The instructions for the techniques are written simply and are easy to remember and implement.
The guided meditation practices taught here are also proven methods for alleviating feelings of stress, depression, and even some psycho-physical disturbances, so those who already sleep soundly but struggle with the waking hours will find it a useful and healing practice, as well. Claiming to be “the first book to address sleep disturbances with techniques adapted from mindfulness meditation,” BUDDHA’S BOOK OF SLEEP could be just what it takes to finally calm the nightmare of monkey mind that keeps us awake at night.
Like earth, air, and water, the media is everywhere, and significantly affects the development of our culture. The state of our physical environment has long been exploited by corporations without regard to the consequences to either the planet or its inhabitants. So, too, has media in all its forms been conscripted by commercial interests.
Radio, television, billboards, smartphones, tee shirts, websites, blogs, social media – information bombards us at every turn. The Internet, in particular, holds the potential for grassroots organizing and allows small groups of activists the ability to effect tremendous change. Alas, it has also become the world’s leading source of propaganda, ‘colonized,’ according to author Antonio Lopez, and transformed into a ‘buyosphere’ for the purpose of harvesting that most valuable of resources – human consciousness.
Marketing is as old as the first business endeavor. Over time, marketing techniques have grown more and more sophisticated but humans, in general, have not. Persuasive marketing, in fact, is so neatly packaged that we are largely unaware that we are being targeted and we are nearly incapable of cutting through the illusion presented. How often have we purchased the ‘green’ products that, advertisers assure us, are good for the planet? And how often do we question those commercialized assertions and realize that purchasing such products contributes to toxic production processes, material consumption, and waste?
More importantly, if we attempted to research the claims that some ‘green’ product is good for the environment, where would we go for the facts? Where can we find a source of reliable information that is neither owned by global corporate interests nor supported by self-proclaimed environmentally-friendly commercial endeavors?
THE MEDIA ECOSYSTEM makes a clear and coherent comparison of environmental destruction for profit and media-channeled efforts to convince us that we not only accept but are happy to PAY FOR that destruction. By bringing our attention to the subtle and insidious propaganda machine, Lopez makes it possible for us to recognize what really motivates us as individuals and as cultures. His well-crafted argument is followed by simple and sensible actions for bringing media to the people FROM the people: be subversive where it counts, think within your landscape, and become aware of how your attention is hooked.
THE MEDIA ECOSYSTEM is an important book with the potential to cause a paradigm shift--a la Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring.
While hatha yoga classes can be found in almost every neighborhood in the United States, other forms of yoga practice are still largely accessible only to the rare few who are fortunate enough to live in metropolitan areas. In any area, however, mahamantra may well be a complete mystery even to the yogini who attends a daily class. A form of bhakti yoga, mahamantra is believed by many to be the surest path to self-realization and it serves as a vehicle to an authentic transcendental state.
This book by Richard Whitehurst is an extraordinarily comprehensive introduction to the practice of mahamantra. Whitehurst has practiced this form of devotional yoga since 1970 and currently lectures about bhakti and mahamantra around the world. He even spent a decade as a wandering monk in India, gaining insight into the ancient practices of Hinduism. “…if in this present and difficult age known as the Kali Yuga one wants self-realization and God consciousness,” the author writes, “then mahamantra yoga is the recommended thing to do.”
MAHAMANTRA YOGA begins with simple instructions to prepare the yogi for practice. This preparation is almost identical to any form of meditation—eliminate distractions, wear comfortable clothing, etc-- and will provide an immediate comfort zone for anyone who has the least bit of experience with other forms of yoga or meditation. Whitehurst quickly moves on to the specifics of proper technique with brief but thorough commentary that emphasizes the key points of focus during practice.
Appendices include “The Ten Offenses to the Holy Names,” “Elucidations,” “Aphorisms,” and a particularly helpful essay entitled “Building a Context for Mahamantra Yoga.” Included with the book is a CD containing three kirtans. Though it is the very last section of the book, I suggest reading the instructions for using the CD before beginning practice. In fact, it would be wise to read and reflect upon the Appendices, as well, before undertaking the meditation practice.
The interior of the book is beautifully designed, with much attention paid to the details of layout and typography—details that speak to the dedication of the entire publishing team and give readers reason to believe that the content of the book is important on every level.
The text of MAHAMANTRA YOGA is carefully arranged to guide the practitioner smoothly from the first tentative moments through eventual transformation and realization. The author’s extensive experience and his willingness to share his own journey make this a particularly inspirational guide for others. For beginners, this book is an eye-opening glimpse into a yoga practice they may not have considered; for those who already incorporate mahamantra into their practice, it will serve as a motivating refresher. In short, MAHAMANTRA YOGA is a must-have for all seekers of wisdom.
There is an undeniable global sense of imminent and frightening change, and yet few of us can put a finger on exactly what, where, and how this change is manifesting. We are grasping for a handle on what is happening to our planet, our climate, our species, and our connection to the Earth and to each other.
SCIENCE, WISDOM, AND THE FUTURE brings together 41 authors from diverse backgrounds – experts in philosophy, psychology, business, religion, sustainability, the arts—who attempt to bring some definition to the vague uneasiness we’re experiencing. Editor Cheryl Genet expresses a hope that “this book will provoke, intrigue, and inform each reader.” Given the broad scope and level of expertise provided by the contributors, that hope will surely be fulfilled.
These essays are loosely divided into four categories: what we know about ourselves and our world, searching for solutions, the role of corporations in establishing sustainability, and the importance of raising consciousness.
Although the book kicks off with a short piece by Duane Elgin entitled “Time is Up!” the tone of SCIENCE, WISDOM, AND THE FUTURE is not at all pessimistic. The first section is not so much a needs statement as an assessment of available resources, with wisdom topping the list. Given that we weren’t wise enough to prevent the mess we’re in, it may seem an odd choice for our salvation; the overwhelming consensus, however, is that our collective wisdom is evolving at a rate sufficient to meet our immediate and near-future need for creative solutions.
Having established the parameters of our situation, we must ask: What comes next? Can we change our trajectory or is it already too late to save ourselves? Here you’ll find optimistic thoughts about a multitude of possible paths toward a healthier destination. From examples of grassroots efforts in food production, education, spirituality, and politics, the writers featured in this section go beyond mere speculation and feel-good theory to offer suggestions for change that can be implemented immediately and effectively.
“Making international corporations more sustainable and more responsible to the global ecology in which we all live is likely one of the most critical, complex, and difficult challenges facing us in our efforts to create a path to a flourishing Earth,” writes Cheryl Genet. Corporations exist to make money; contributing to a sustainable environment is seldom believed to be in their best financial interest. And yet, Victoria L Zelin dashes off a list of corporate leaders—Ray Anderson, Yvon Chouinard, Gary Hirshberg, Jeffrey Hollender, to name a few—who have taken responsibility for their companies’ environmental actions and benefitted by their community engagement. Other essays in this section address the importance of paradigm shift within the corporate culture, with an emphasis on the financial gains to be made through ethical, sustainable management.
In the final section, wisdom again comes into play as essayists explore the role of awareness in building a sustainable future. “Thinking about the future is the most enlightening and practical topic the human mind can entertain,” writes Tom Lombardo. “The best way to enhance its capacities is through the strengthening of character, virtues, and in particular, wisdom.”
Essays in this collection run the gamut from scholarly to gentle philosophical musings, from musical meditations to soul-baring spirituality. SCIENCE, WISDOM, AND THE FUTURE does not spout platitudes or suggest that wishful thinking will save us; it does, however, express a firm conviction that humanity is fully capable of doing what must be done if our species is to continue a worthwhile existence on this planet.
Brent N Hunter has set himself an enormous task – to create a bridge that spans all religions and spiritual traditions and that will bring human-kind together in a unified, peaceful global culture.
To that end, Hunter has compiled a plethora of doctrines, scriptures, koans, meditations, and quotes that prove just how much we all have in common. Brief sections of wise advice and inspiration address such topics as death, serving others, fear, patience, facing life’s challenges, and desire. THE RAINBOW BRIDGE is one of those handy books that you can pick up and open to any page when you want a bit of spiritual guidance or a thought-for-the-day motivator. There’s no table of contents, but a lengthy index makes it easy to find just the right passage for whatever issue you face at the moment.
Hunter’s own multicultural background (he is part Muslim, part Jewish, and raised Christian) undoubtedly plays a part in his understanding of how minor differences can grow into major hostilities, and how very tiny those differences really are. A counselor and psychotherapist, Hunter’s approach in this book is one of sincerity and gentle understanding. More importantly, he has captured the essence of our shortcomings with a smile and a certainty that we are far greater than our weaknesses.
THE RAINBOW BRIDGE is the first in a series of planned books that highlight the many similarities among cultures and religions. It is also a movement, complete with a detailed strategic plan that is presented within the pages of this book.
No matter your religious or philosophical preference, you’ll surely find that you agree with Hunter’s stated goal and will appreciate the clarity of thought that is contained within the totality of this lovely offering.
Steven Drilach’s sudden death propels him into an afterlife that can only be imagined. After a few minutes of disorientation, Steven is welcomed to his new reality by Cham, a nice-enough fellow who appears in order to answer Steven’s inevitable questions and help him gain perspective on all that has happened.
“The area is filled with the creativity of your thoughts,” Cham tells him. “What you see here is of your own creation.” What follows is a wild ride of possibilities and personalities that serve as a sort of puzzle for Steven to fit together in order to fully understand what has happened and why.
Clearly the author is still alive, so the ideas presented here are speculation, no more or less valid than anyone’s musings and imaginings. Ianniello explains that, rather than a dry collection of his thoughts about the afterlife, he chose to put his ideas into novel form and use the character of Steven Drilach to showcase not only one man’s experience of death and life, but also to contrast physical and spiritual existence.
WHEN DO I MEET GOD? provides a scenario that challenges what we believe and encourages readers to ponder the nature of the spiritual connection between life and death in an expansive way, not just throughout the novel but every day afterward. Ianniello’s writing is good, but every novel needs an editor. In this case, an eagle eye could have weeded out the repetition and tightened the dialogue. That said, however, the story of Steven Drilach’s afterlife is compelling and thoughtfully rendered. WHEN DO I MEET GOD? is one of those books that will be talked about; in fact, it would be an excellent choice for any book discussion group that is open to exploring the nature of consciousness and faith.
If you had an opportunity to ask the Dalai Lama for advice on one aspect of your life, what topic would you choose? Chances are, there’s something in this book that speaks directly to the issue most important, puzzling, or painful to YOU.
The book began at the request of Alain Noel, who suggested that the Dalai Lama “give some simple pieces of advice aimed at a broad cross-section of people with differing personalities, social backgrounds, and professions.” As the title suggests, there are 365 of His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s meditations contained within this collection. It’s up to the reader to choose how to partake of this wisdom – from first entry to last, by random selection, or according to topic. And what a wide-ranging group of subjects we have here! The Dalai Lama offers brief thoughts on aging, poverty, homosexuality, politics, death and dying, loneliness, religion, business, war, the future, and numerous other subjects for a total of 54 different themes.
The Dalai Lama is known for his simple and thoughtful manner of speaking, and his meditations in DAILY ADVICE FROM THE HEART are in keeping with his gentle and forthcoming approach to teaching. Kindness and compassion do not preclude plain speech, however. When addressing the issue of abundance, the Dalai Lama tells us that “…if we are able, thanks to our wealth, to do something useful and yet do not act, we are mindless idiots.” Here and there, he interjects humor into his responses; in some cases, he is adamant about the correct way to proceed in a given circumstance. These offerings are more than just platitudes – they are glimpses of a sharp, well-trained, and compassionate mind.
Nothing here is pretentious or buried in obscure philosophy; rather, the responses are gentle yet profound. The physical book is also clean and simple, with a visually appealing layout free of clutter and unnecessary adornment. DAILY ADVICE FROM THE HEART is a never-ending supply of spiritual guidance, with meditations that reveal something unexpected and valuable each time one comes to them. This is one of those books that gives up new secrets with every reading and appeals on so many levels that anyone –not just the spiritual seekers—will find it both practical and inspiring.
Marcey Shapiro is a physician who is more concerned with her patients’ health than with writing prescriptions. Inquisitive and open-minded, Shapiro has trained in a number of alternative modalities, including herbal medicine, acupuncture, homeopathy, nutritional therapy, and a host of others. The result of her research and experience is a conclusion that surprises and reassures: we have the power to determine and direct our level of health.
“To most, poor health does seem to be caused by chance, bad genes, bad luck, environmental factors, virulent ‘germs,’ or poor dietary or lifestyle choices,” Shapiro points out. She goes on to address the connection between what we’ve been taught and our seeming inability to stay healthy: “Because we have accepted the premise as a culture, it is acceptable to believe that the locus of control of one’s health is outside one’s individual consciousness.”
TRANSFORMING THE NATURE OF HEALTH proposes the radical theory that good health is a natural state as well as an integral part of the reality that we create for ourselves. “Most patients do not have a clue about how they might be creating their experience,” writes Shapiro. To correct that lack of understanding, she has written a book that is a primer for those who want to gain a better understanding of her philosophy. Using case studies, personal experience, and her own Transformational Tools (simple exercises included in each chapter), Shapiro leads the reader to a clear understanding of the essence of healthful living.
While none of the information presented in this book was entirely new to me, it’s the first time I’ve seen it applied to the subject of health in such a dramatic and thoroughly appropriate manner. Shapiro shares her knowledge, experience, and insight in a seamless and coherent fashion, yet infuses the book with personality and kindness. Not only does TRANSFORMING THE NATURE OF HEALTH encourage us to take responsibility for our own well-being, it provides solid information that gives us permission to take control of every aspect of our lives. This is one of those rare books that truly does have the potential to change lives!
Everybody’s got problems. How much suffering those problems cause us is largely determined by how we perceive the situation and how tightly we clutch our faulty perceptions. Yes, we do. Most of us are actually addicted to the negative emotions and we spend our lives in a never-ending loop of anger and fear.
For well over 2000 years, Buddhists have sought to understand, befriend, and tame the mind that contributes to our suffering. What they’ve learned along the way is that there is no single technique to achieve uninterrupted happiness, and that mastering our emotions requires diligent and ongoing practice. Not what you wanted to hear, is it?
Here’s the good news: THE MISLEADING MIND provides us with “a set of ideas and tools so we can begin the gradual process of becoming happier….” These steps are easy to understand and we needn’t be Buddhists in order to engage in the act of training.
Clearly described techniques for re-training your mind are presented in the opening chapters and constitute a quick-start approach to the immediate need. Later chapters provide more detail about how and why our minds mislead us with faulty perceptions about ourselves and the world around us.
This succinct guide is a non-intimidating introduction to the basics of Buddhist psychology written by Karuna Cayton. Cayton is a psychotherapist and a student of Buddhist master Lama Zopa Rinpoche. He has studied mental and emotional wellness from several angles and uses “his knowledge of Buddhist psychology to enhance the understanding of its principles within modern cultures.” Cayton’s training and personal journey allow him a degree of insight that draws from a number of traditions. That plus his vast experience as an instructor and coach allow Cayton to write in a way that is both uplifting, empowering, and thoroughly digestible even to readers who have never encountered the concepts presented in THE MISLEADING MIND.
When you’re ready to move beyond the addiction, have a look at THE MISLEADING MIND. You’ll find there an explanation of the basic nature of problems and unhappiness, as well as a gentle guide for a journey of self-discovery.
Most of us are going to step into the role of caregiver to a loved one at some point. Maybe we’ll help our spouses or parents as they recover from strokes, open-heart surgeries, or some other health crisis. Maybe we’ll provide end-of-life care for family or a dear friend. Either way, we’re probably not ready for it.
LEANING INTO SHARP POINTS is “a book of preparation” that offers us a glimpse into the difficulties and the joys of being a caregiver. Not a set of rigid guidelines nor a collection of easy tips, this is a book that encompasses the whole experience of caregiving and that answers the often-unspoken question, “What do I do?”
Author Stan Goldberg is a therapist but it’s his years of experience as a hospice bedside and vigil volunteer that makes LEANING INTO SHARP POINTS such a valuable gift. He shares the lessons he’s learned while dealing with the dying and their families, covering situations we’ve worried about, problems we’ve never considered, and situations that would blindside us if not for the heads-up in this book.
Goldberg covers the practical matters, such as Do Not Resuscitate orders, living wills, and other forms, and includes information about where and how to obtain all of these. He’s also included several appendices with information about organizations that are available to help with navigating the many stages and individual needs of both loved ones and caregivers.
Perhaps the most important section of LEANING INTO SHARP POINTS is Goldberg’s advice about particularly awkward subjects, such as
• letting our loved ones know how much they mean to us
• what to say and when to say it
• how to adapt to the physical and emotional changes in our loved ones as well as in ourselves
• how to talk about dying
• how to avoid feeling resentful.
Goldberg goes beyond the daily routine and into the heart of serving-- not just accommodating-- while teaching us how to tend to our needs without feeling guilty or neglectful. LEANING INTO SHARP POINTS is a gentle book filled with reassurance for the caregiver. It might even be considered an inspirational book, addressing as it does the spiritual nature of compassionate care. Above all, however, it is a treasure for anyone who needs and wants to travel with a loved one on a difficult journey.
“The most amazing and sublime beings excel in living fully….” So says Shyalpa Tenzin Rinpoche in the introduction to his new book LIVING FULLY: FINDING JOY IN EVERY BREATH. Wouldn’t the rest of us love to master such a fine skill? That opportunity is open to everyone, of course, and it is exactly what Rinpoche offers us in this hefty collection of essays that point the way toward a life of mindfulness.
Rinpoche is a lifelong student of Buddhist thought and practice, so the essays are built on a Buddhist foundation. This doesn’t necessarily mean that they are Buddhist essays, however; the essence of mindfulness is completely appropriate to any religious or philosophical tradition. Some of the terms and concepts may be new to non-Buddhist readers but a FAQ and glossary in the back of the book will clear up any confusion that may arise.
LIVING FULLY is neatly categorized in sections: Living Fully, The Intelligent Way to Begin, Facing Obstacles and Obscurations, Fearlessness, and Abundant Wealth among them. Within those areas, Rinpoche addresses right attitude, gives guidance and instructions for the personal journey, and provides a wealth of images and metaphors that remind us to keep our hearts open and our minds wide.
The writing style is gentle and personal, as if Rinpoche has put his dharma talks onto the page. Though brief, each essay is packed with the message itself – there isn’t a single extraneous sentence in this book. If dharma talks aren’t your thing, you may consider these short inspirational pieces to be used as daily readings or motivators.
Given Rinpoche’s background as a skilled and popular teacher and his experience conducting retreats and seminars all over the world, it’s no wonder that he is so effective at relaying the tenets to his audiences. LIVING FULLY is a thoroughly satisfying and practical volume of wisdom that will enhance any spiritual practice.
Massimo Citro is an M.D. and psychotherapist with a refreshingly open-minded approach to healing. His willingness to consider homeopathy is, in itself, a remarkable achievement for a physician, but he’s taken it a step further and developed his own version of homeopathic practice.
The standard homeopathic remedies are plants or minerals dissolved in alcohol, then diluted with water again and again until there is no discernible trace of the active substance; in short, a homeopathic remedy appears to be just water. But how is it that homeopathy has maintained its popularity and garnered a hearty success record if it’s no more than a sip of H2O?
As Citro explains in THE BASIC CODE OF THE UNIVERSE, the plain old water of homeopathy is deceptive. While it contains none of the actual substances dissolved in the original formulation, it “keeps memory of the solute… [and] emits specific low-frequency electromagnetic signals that are both recordable and reproducible.” This may sound like the loose babble of a quack but Nobel Prize winner Luc Montagnier confirmed it in his 2009 paper, “Electromagnetic Signals Are Produced by Aqueous Nanostructures Derived from Bacterial DNA Sequences.” In simpler terms as written by Citro, “the diluted substance imposes its own vibration –its information—on the molecules of water.”
When the fluids in a human body lose rhythm, some amount of the body’s regulating energy is lost, causing the body to exhibit symptoms of illness. By introducing water that carries the needed information, homeopathic remedies provide a healthful beat, if you will, that draws the body back into its coherent state.
Citro’s Pharmacological Frequency Transfer (TFF) method uses the energy of the Akashic Field, an unseen but universal store of information, rather than plant and mineral substances to imbue water with healing vibration. This innovative approach to healing is the focus of THE BASIC CODE OF THE UNIVERSE, which delves into a number of disciplines to explain how TFF works, including quantum physics, vibrational medicine, the nature of consciousness, and the effect of thoughts and emotion on plants and water. Much of what Citro covers is heavy on scientific theory and research: consequently, it can easily get ahead of the reader who hasn’t at least a passing acquaintance with the key discoveries in these fields.
While not a breezy read, THE BASIC CODE OF THE UNIVERSE is certainly an important contribution to the field of healing modalities, and it is an intriguing and well-documented exploration of the potential of TFF.
There are many paths to enlightenment, all of them seemingly closed to ordinary human beings. And who has time to pursue such a lofty goal, anyway, when bills need paying, diapers need changing, and the roof is leaking?
Jim Dreaver’s new book END YOUR STORY, BEGIN YOUR LIFE carries us right past those obstacles while acknowledging their validity. Dreaver’s process is built on the theory that we create stories and then forget that they are only fabrications. We are trapped in the fiction we’ve created and have lost sight of the consciousness that is our true selves.
“…our personal, cultural, national, religious, and ethnic stories” are just that – stories. We mistake them for truth, but if we can achieve a state of clarity, it becomes obvious that these illusory tales we concoct about who and what we are, about our enemies and our suffering, are both imaginary and the root of our discontent.
In END YOUR STORY, BEGIN YOUR LIFE, Dreaver offers a three-step practice that trains us to recognize our stories for what they are and allows us to live with awareness and in harmony. The process could pass for a typical self-help system with its plain-speech wisdom broken down into bite-sized bits, but the same approach suggested for coping with traffic jams and annoying co-workers is also a signpost that points directly toward enlightenment.
Dreaver promises that anyone who studies and practices the techniques described in this book will “awaken to freedom” and experience inner calm regardless of the stories and their fierce grip. He has a knack for explaining grand concepts without condescending, and he recognizes that awakening must work for us right here in the world where we live. In fact, he dedicates a section of the book to dealing with money worries – perhaps the most-often cited reason for stress and unhappiness.
Maybe you’ve read books that made similar claims but that quickly drifted into esoteric language or required unrealistic actions to achieve the goal. END YOUR STORY, BEGIN YOUR LIFE will not baffle you with impenetrable references nor will it ask you to move into a Tibetan cave; this book comes at the problem from many different angles, in no-frills speech, and shows us how awakening looks from all its sides so that we can see exactly what it is and how to reach it.
Dreaver is the author of such books as THE WAY OF HARMONY and THE ULTIMATE CURE: THE HEALING ENERGY WITHIN YOU, as well as a teacher at the renowned Esalen Institute in California. His experience in the fields of mind/body integration and stress management give him considerable insight into the challenges most of us face daily, and allow him to cut right to the chase in showing us how to live from a calm and awakened center as we navigate the physical world. Drawing from anecdotes, conversations, and his own meditations, Dreaver serves as a compassionate and protective guide as he leads us away from the stories that trap us and toward that place within where peace resides.
Karen Williams is a treasure hunter, but she isn’t looking for a chest full of gold. Williams believes that the entire human race is engaged in a treasure hunt, searching for that jewel deep inside each of us that can make us feel complete. There is no map with a big red X on it to point Williams in the right direction, though. She’s rather on her own in her quest for soul union.
The catalyst for her adventure was a particularly vivid dream she had in 1993. “On waking, I realized that there were two Karens in the world,” she writes. “There was my personality, which seemed to dominate my waking hours, and then there was my soul – for me, the real Karen—which had appeared so clearly in this very deep dream.” From that moment she dedicated herself to finding her soul, giving it presence, and living from a place of truth.
The next fifteen years of Williams’ life are a dizzying journey for this woman who is convinced that she is living the story of Paulo Coelho’s THE ALCHEMIST. She follows signs and omens that only she recognizes as mystical messages. Her spiritual pursuit is neither easy nor blissful; by early 1995, increasingly vivid and horrifying dreams and panic attacks have left her an emotional and physical wreck. When she stumbles upon a book by a man who claims to practice ‘psychomagic’ as a form of panic therapy, Williams immediately feels that she has found a soul mate. It’s at this point that her journey truly takes shape and presents her with a clear glimpse of her destination.
Over the course of nearly 15 years, various friends, family, and mental health professionals encourage her to seek treatment for what they believe to be mental illness; readers, too, may recognize classic symptoms of depression and delusion. It is neither the purpose nor the obligation of a book reviewer to make such a determination, because in the end what matters here is whether Williams has written a compelling (or at least readable) account of her search for meaning that has value to readers.
While TREASURE often turns into a rambling assembly of memories, explanations, and dream interpretations, the author still manages to convey her story with a fair amount of cohesiveness. Some readers will recognize their own struggles and revelations here, and may even uncover a nugget of wisdom in Williams’ musings. While TREASURE is not likely to become a classic of esoteric literature, it does provide a glimpse inside the mind of a modern-day, real-life Santiago who may or may not be a great visionary, mentally ill, or both.
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