Some books that changed my life, in no particular order:
“The Road“ by Cormac McCarthy. This book talks about the bleakest possible survival scenario, 10 years into a nuclear winter. The centerpiece of the book is the relationship of a father and son, trying to survive and retain their humanity in the process. Some have also pointed out that it is a dire warning of what a total ecological collapse would mean. It made me cry like no other too. It doesn’t placate the reader with explanations, just immerses you in the story. The language is beautiful too, almost biblical. While I was reading, I kept thinking, “I’m so glad not to live in that world.”
“Neuromancer” by William Gibson. Cyberpunk at it’s finest. A gritty, high-tech sci-fi noir. Talked about the internet before such a thing existed in any advanced form.
“The Hand-Sculpted House“ by Ianto Evans, et al. The book that introduced me to many of the concepts of natural building and the philosophy behind it. It was an ecological awakening for me. It’s mostly about cob building but many of the techniques can be used in other building methods as well. A wonderful book!
“Earthbag Building” by Kaki Hunter and Donald Kiffmeyer. This book finally introduced me to my own personal favorite building method and gave me the knowledge necessary to build my own extremely inexpensive, extremely strong house. http://asustainablelife.info/pictures.html
“The Humanure Handbook” by Joseph Jenkins. This book explains, in extreme detail, why composting our crap is the only sensible use of all of that organic matter. In the US and most modern countries, we are extremely wasteful of water and organic matter. Using the methods in this book, we can way lessen our destructive impact on he planet. I can’t suggest it enough to anyone who cares about the planet or would like to.
“The Light Behind Consciousness“ by John Wheeler. This book helped explain, in a “country simple“ way, how we are already conscious and that we don’t need to go seeking mystical or any other experiences to be complete. This, coupled with a couple of calls to John, helped point this out.
“The Zen Teachings of Huang Po.” After immersing myself in the philosophy of Advaita Vedanta, these teachings helped cut the attachment to any of those or other concepts about the nature of reality. The message? Divisions are conceptual and all there is is Buddha-mind (awareness and all of the forms it appears as). This is revealed when concepts are no longer mistaken for truth. Good to clean out the cobwebs.
“Animal Farm” by George Orwell. All you need to know about politics is a very small volume. “All animals are equal but some are more equal than others.”
“As It Is“ by Tony Parsons. My introduction to non-duality and a true mind blower. It had such an effect on my psyche at the time that I felt like it was written in lightning!
This post was inspired by my friend, Kinch White.
James Traverse and Dustin LindenSmith are guests with Jerry Katz. James Traverse describes the extraordinary spirit, the people, and various sessions of the recent Shanti Fest in Halifax, Nova Scotia. The opportunity for authentic experience. Culmination in ecsatic dance described. “Extraordinary manifestation of peace.” Audio clips of om chanting, a gong bath, the music of Suryachandra. The meaning of Om. The gong bath experience.
Dustin speaks about raising children as the most spiritual practice there is. Stopping the fight against the way things are. Connecting with the child “at an emotional level at the moment based on what’s happening at the time without trying to do anything or change anything.” Avoiding emotional difficulty through eating. Value of living in the world rather than becoming a “monk” or prior to spiritual involvement. Life as the greatest teacher. Quote from Tolle: As Eckhart Tolle says in A New Earth, “while the child is having a painbody attack, there isn’t much you can do except to stay present so that you are not drawn into an emotional reaction. The child’s painbody would only feed on it. Painbodies can be extremely dramatic. Don’t buy into the drama. Don’t take it too seriously. If the painbody was triggered by thwarted wanting, don’t give in now to its demands. Otherwise, the child will learn: ‘The more unhappy I become, the more likely I am to get what I want'” (page 106). Dustin also talks about his tenor sax playing.
If This Is Grace….
Life slammed me into the wall of suffering on a daily basis. I was the Cauliflower McPugg of Suffering. I lost every fight. TKO was my middle name. Flocks of birds were flying over my head everywhere I went. Not only that, they went “splat” all over my nicest clothes.
I got up in the morning only to be sent spinning into the wall before I knew what hit me. I was up for the challenge. “I will not give up. I will not give up.” That was my subconscious mantra. My Manager, and I capitalize that, thought I had something. That if I just kept going, I would become a real winner.
And so the months and years went on. I did nothing but do what the Manager told me. I was a female fighter, which is not that common. I begin to suffer fainting spells and my ears rang so loudly they sounded like a heavenly choir. I saw stars that were so beautiful. I begin to hate to struggle up off the mat.
The Manager kept arranging fights that took me up against the toughest fighters there were. At one point my eyes were so tightly shut I had to use a white cane to cross the street. He never let me quit. I begin to hate Him. I had long since quit trying to persuade Him to let me retire. He had not lost faith in me.
Then one night I had a dream. I dreamt that the Manager said, “It’s time for you to quit.” It felt so good. Maybe I would have time to heal, to be out to pasture and able to smell the cow patties. Let’s face it. I obviously couldn’t smell; fighting had ruined my nose.
In the dream, the Manager was holding an iMac keyboard. “This is how you are going to fight from now on,” He said. I have decided that people like you are not who I need in the ring. You never became a winner but you kept on fighting. I have been watching you develop stamina. If you have nothing else, ya got that in spades.” I could have sworn I saw a tear in His Eye.
“So what’s up with the keyboard. Do I have to fight it?”
“No, all you have to do is work out on it every day. It’s your sparring partner. The more you work out, the stronger you will get. And you, My Precious One….I still have great hopes for you.”
When I woke up, I felt that something had changed. I could fight where I wanted to fight. I could fight in my own way. The Good Fight. The fight that counted. Not only that, I would be making TKO’s against what had kept me on the mat for my whole life. Oh, the Manager knew me. He knew my stubbornness, my will to succeed, my intrinsic desire to please. He just wanted me to realize that it could be used for Him instead of for myself.
The first thing I did was write this essay. I punched the keys with my fingers wrapped in tape. I played the music from Rocky in the background. I ran up and down the steps of the QWERTY keyboard. I did an air fist pump and the crowd roared. They wanted me to win. I typed on and on and on. The Manager had pulled it off. I shoulda trusted Him all along. He had made me a WRITER.
the aliveness.What if, even if we do not feel it,
are already whole and complete.What if you could trust this message
because it resonates with something inside of you already.
And because the one saying these words
And an unshakeable permanence unheard of in this
world of shifting shapes filters down through the words.
What if because of this trust in the message
a bridge is build between what is and what appears to be.
And one follows naturally the way back home.
What if it only takes the allowing
The consideration that it is possible
Entertain the possibility.