Thursday, September 15, 2005

Time To Read

Well I've done it again. Yesterday, I resisted the urge at Barnes and Noble bookstore to purchase several books I thought I couldn't live without only to end up at the library where I did check out two books I really felt compelled to read. Every now and again I find myself reading three or four books at one time along with my usual array of magazines. Usually this isn't a problem but sometimes I go into overload where my brain feels fried and I can't pick up a book for days. It's always interesting to see what others are reading. I discover new glimpses inside the personalities of my friends both here in digital world and in the real world when I happen upon what they are reading. Here's what's on my plate right now.

The Simple Feeling of Being: Embracing Your True Nature
by Ken Wilber

This was given to me by Trevor Harden and I can't tell you how much I am enjoying this introduction to an astonishing teacher, Ken Wilber. This is a digest of Ken's writings spanning his numerous books and although the read is, at times somewhat difficult to digest I am finding my second reading easier to absorb.

"As you look deeply into your own awareness, and relax the self-contraction, and dissolve into the empty ground of your own primordial experience, the simple feeling of Being- right now, right here- is it not obvious all at once? Were you not present from the start? Did you not have a hand to play in all that was to follow? Did not the dream itself begin when you got bored with being God? Was it not fun to get lost in the productions of your own wondrous imagination, and pretend it all was other? Did you not write this book, and countless others like it, simply to remind yourself of who you are?"

Wilber's obvious devotion to the teachings and writings of Ramana Maharshi, Meister Eckhart, Lao Tzu, and Emerson come together in a beautiful unfolding with emphasis on trusting in the Witness for our being. It is as the Witness that we are led to the revelation of "One Taste" and the obvious- "I am that, too!" Thanks again Trev!

Hope In Hell: Inside the World of Doctors Without Borders by Dan Bortolotti

This book caught my eye immediately as I have always regarded Doctors Without Borders to be one of the most dedicated group of professionals in the humanitarian field. This is a first hand account of the marvelous and highly dangerous work performed in the field by doctors, nurses and the numerous support staff needed to bring medical care to those caught up in the absolute hellish conditions of war, conflict, and hopelessness. The author conducted almost a hundred interviews with doctors, nurses and support staff and spent time with teams in Angola, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.

"Our volunteers and staff live and work among people whose dignity is violated ever day. These volunteers choose freely to use their liberty to make the world a more bearable place. Despite grand debates on world order, the act of humanitarianism comes down to one thing: individual human beings reaching out to their counterparts who find themselves in the most difficult of circumstances. One bandage at a time, one suture at a time, one vaccination at a time. And, uniquely for Medecins Sans Frontierres (Doctors Without Borders as it is known in the western world), working in around 80 countries, over 20 of which are in conflict, telling the world what they have see. All this in hopes that the cycles of violence and destruction will not continue endlessly."
From Dr. James Orbinski's Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech awarded Doctors Without Borders in 1999

Reading this book breaks my heart at man's inhumanity to man and raises my spirits with the power of individual action and call to account.

The Dance of 17 Lives: The Incredible True Story of Tibet's 17th Karmapa
by Mick Brown

The blissful cover caught my eye first. A beautiful young Tibetan gazes compassionately at me with almond shaped eyes and is wrapped in golden robes and wearing the ceremonial Gampopa hat. This is the story of the exiled 17th Karmapa, the present day 19-year-old spiritual leader of the Karma Kagya school of Tibetan Buddhism. The 17th Karmapa represents an unbroken line of succession reaching back 12 centuries. The great wisdom teachers of Tibetan Buddhism, the Karmapas were the first lamas to establish the practice of identifiable reincarnation- some 400 years before the advent of the Dalai Lamas and were the spiritual teachers to the khans of Mongolia and the emperors of China.

The author met and interviewed His Holiness the 17th Gyalwa Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje and found himself spellbound by the story of the Karmapas, the tales of miracles, and the 900 mile journey of escape from Tibet across the Himalayas of the Ogyen Trinley Dorje (who was only 14 years old at the time) from the repression of the Chinese Government.

"Even before his birth, Trinley Dorje was considered special. For his parents had yearned for a son, but without success. And then his mother, Loga, became pregnant. During the pregnancy, Loga experienced a series of unusual indications that the child she carried was in some way extraordinary. She dreamed of three white cranes offering her a bowl of yogurt. Resting on the bowl was a brilliant golden letter, indicating that she was expecting a boy. The cranes told her that they had been sent by Guru Rinpoche, the founder of Tibetan Buddhism, and that the boy would be a great reincarnation, but that she should keep this a secret until the right moment was revealed to her."

I have always been captivated by anything Tibetan and this book is no different. The story of the linage of the Karmapas, the escape across the Himalayas, the welcome by the Dalai Lama, and the simple ordinariness of a 14 year old boy caught up in such worldly complexities is riveting. It is the tale of the enduring spirit of Tibetan Buddhism in the face of all adversity.


Blogger "James" said...

Ahh, yes. I do the multiple book reading thing too. I need to learn to focus my energy into one book and finish it. Otherwise I just end up starting several books and never finishing them or finishing them years down the road. I guess it's better to finish them in years down the road then not finish them at all but still.

Anyway, best of luck!!

1:42 PM  
Blogger Trev Diesel said...

Glad the book spoke to you!

I'll look forward to checking out your other recommendations. Let us know how they turn out.

3:12 PM  
Blogger kevin said...

he he he, ah yes, I have started to clamp down on my horrible reading habits, I contiually have a stack of 2 to 5 books plopped next to my bed.

I've been following the rule if I start it I finish it thing. I am struggling thru the end of a John Searle book, Minds, Brains and Science. The begining of which was facinating, but now I'm getting a little lost.

Since your interested in the Doctors without borders, you may be interested in a blog of a friend of ours that has travelled to Kurdistan to report what going on there. She is a very bright person and it is simply amazing to witness her drive to pull this through:


1:49 PM  
Blogger M.D. Shellhammer said...

You know, I'm not sure the multiple book thing is so bad, why shouldn't reading be like a buffet? I used to forge my way through book after book because thats what you do. Or is it? Sometimes while sifting through Emerson, Ernest Holmes, and even Alan Watts, I see the oneness so much easier, sort of like the authors holding a discussion amongst themselves and I get to listen in!



11:10 PM  
Blogger Gretchen Coleman said...

Hi Isaiah - I am currently reading "The Dancing Wu Li Masters" by Gary Zukav. It is pretty interesting. I really like his style.

I also just finished Lemony Snicket's "Series of Unfortunate Events Book 2, In the Reptile Room". My step daughter, Jen, loaned it to me on CD. It was performed by Tim Curry, who did an excellent job.

I usually finish a book before starting another, less confusing for me. If I am reading fiction I definitely do. Sometimes I have a couple of spiritual texts going at once - the kind that is easy to read a few pertinent chapters and set it down.

Another great read is "I am a Cat" by Soseki Natsume. It isn't often a book finds me on the floor with laughter, but this one is hilarious.

Happy reading!

9:10 AM  
Blogger Gretchen Coleman said...

Hey Isaiah - I have Seat of the Soul on tape and have listened to half of it. The other half is "missing". If we don't find it soon I will pick up the book and read it. I am sure we have it in our library somewhere. But I LOVED the first half.

Have you read the Celestine Prophecies? Can't tell you the author at the moment as I am on the road. They are really interesting too.

10:01 PM  

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