Ever a fan of Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee, I appreciated Tony's nod to his beloved "desert rats," fans of his famous series set in the Southwest, whileEver a fan of Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee, I appreciated Tony's nod to his beloved "desert rats," fans of his famous series set in the Southwest, while he took time out to write an homage to the soldiers of C Company. Finding Moon is set in the Phillipines and Southeast Asia as the US was pulling out of Vietnam and the Khmer Rouge were invading. It the story of Moon, finding his way to peace with his past actions, and coming to an understanding of the true nature of love, sacrifice and family ties. He thought he had big shoes to fill in the case of his older brother, Ricky, but finds out that his brother thought that the man to look up to was Moon himself. This is a story about love, honor, redemption and return. ...more
Legion by William Peter Blatty It is with amazement that I realized by page 12 or 13 of Legion that I was not reading a popular horror novel, but an exLegion by William Peter Blatty It is with amazement that I realized by page 12 or 13 of Legion that I was not reading a popular horror novel, but an exegesis on the relationship between the nature and problem of Evil and humanity, and the paradox between free will and the existence and infallibility of God. Here God is questioned, asked to give an account for what the author indirectly proposes may be the biggest crime of all, the creation of man along with the inalienable and burdensome gift of free will. Page ten: “God’s love burned with a fierce, dark heat but gave no light. Were there shadows in His nature? Was He brilliant and sensitive, but bent? After all was said and done, was the answer to the mystery no more than that God was really Leopold and Loeb? Or could it be that He was closer to being a putz than anyone heretofore had imagined a being of stupendous but limited power? The detective (Kinderman) envisioned such a God in court pleading, “Guilty with an explanation, Your Honor.” Job is, once again, demanding an answer of God for permitting the horrors of the world, for the evil in the very fabric of creation. The book opens with Inspector Kinderman, called to the scene of a particularly horrific murder—that of a twelve year old black youth, delivering papers on his route, drugged just to the point of muscular paralysis, then, still conscious but unable to effect any escape or struggle, killed by crucifixion. The boy’s body has the particular markings of others killed by someone identified as the Gemini Killer, who is supposed to have died, twelve years earlier. This recalls to Kinderman’s mind (and thus provides a link to memory of the informed Reader) that it is the anniversary of the death of Damian Karras, Jesuit psychiatrist, who (in Blatty’s eponymous first book), is called to assist the Exorcist and who is forced to finish performing the exorcism of a young girl, and who, in the process of saving her, dies as a result of injuries sustained by a fall out of her bedroom window and down some steep steps. Damian Karras and Kinderman were good friends. He is disquieted by this particular murder on the anniversary of this particular day, as he should be. Thus is set in motion, a series of murders in which Kinderman is put on the trail of hunting down, assisted by his second in command, Atkins (Vietnam naval officer veteran), and Stedman (a pathologist). This fictional series of horrific crimes, attributed to the “Gemini Killer,” in Los sAngeles, reference the still unsolved serial murders committed by the Zodiac Killer in 1969, primarily in Northern California. The locus of the crimes is Georgetown General Hospital 4th Floor Psychiatric Unit, and a person of immediate interest is a sad, intense, morose, widowed neurologist named Dr. Amfortas who has discovered he has an incurable and inoperable brain lesion that will result in his death. Full of literary references such as Doestoevsky’s Brothers Karamazov; William of Occa of Occam’s Razor fame who declared that “the ways of God are not open to reason, for God has freely chosen to create a world and establish a way of salvation within it apart from any necessary laws that human logic or rationality can uncover;” Frederich Nietzsche’s philosophy of intellectual superiority of certain people which absolved them of responsibility for their actions that so fascinated Leopold and Loeb who kidnapped and murdered a 14 year-old boy in 1924; references to Eugene O’Neill’s play Long Day’s Journey Into Night as the protagonists agonize over past sins of omission and otherwise that haunt them. Is God a murderer? Would God invent something like Death? Kinderman proposes such questions about that God and his creation as was posed by William Blake’s Tyger, to his friend Father Dyer. Since Karras’ death, he has continued the friendship with Father Dyer, another Jesuit and also friend of the deceased Karras. The two men meet on the anniversary of Karras’ death and go to a movie at Biograph Cinema and afterwards go to dinner at Clyde’s, where, like Estragon and Vladamir of Beckett’s Waiting For Godot, they spar about the nature of evil and of humanity and a God whose Presence both acknowledge. The novel’s timeline takes place over one week, which hints as that of Genesis and Passover (Sunday, March 13- Sunday March 20th) primarily in or around a psychiatric ward, another reference to O’Neill’s "Long Day" which takes place over a period of one day and in one place. And as in “Long Day,” the gradual revelation of the opportunities afforded the possessing demon, whether by medical disasters (psychotropic drugs to dull intellectual capacity in patients, or physical suffering such as the lesions in Dr. Amfortas’s brain,) to compel his victims to commit gruesome crimes, makes up most of the novel’s plot. The repetitious plot cycle also helps develop the notion that this day is not remarkable in many ways. Instead, it is one in a long string of similar days, which fuels Kinderman’s complaint that “the whole world is one big homicide victim.” Of course, Blatty would not be Blatty if he did not make reference to man’s hubris being so much like that of Lucifer, who is credited with the title, Prince of this world. That reference, like a warning, is a book Kinderman always carries in his pocket, and behind whose pages he hides when he is working the crime scene, observing the crowd, after a killing because he knows from long experience that a killer relishes watching the aftermath of the crime. Usually Kinderman reads Robert Graves, author of Claudius the God and I, Claudius. In Claudius the God, Graves chronicles the life of the Roman who became emperor in spite of himself. this sequel to I Claudius picks up just as Claudius is murdered. This is yet another indirect reference to Legion, sequel to The Exorcist). In Legion, as Kinderman will discover to his horror, the body of his friend, Damien Karras, is resurrected to be inhabited just as Karras is exiting it to go to Heaven, by a vicious demon in order to have a physical form in which to orchestrate the killings as a cruel joke of “The Master” (Satan, one supposes) in retribution for Karras’ role in the exorcism. It would seem that even in death, Plato’s complaint that free will notwithstanding, Men are the possessions of the Gods and Daemons. Part priest-detective, an allusion to Father Brown, a character invented by G.K. Chesterson, and part Job, and part loving husband and father, friend and confidante of priests, demons, and kind, loyal assistants, Kinderman is led by his own fierce logic, Jewish and Catholic apologetics to an inescapable conclusion. Namely that the boundaries that we think of as separating us from supramundane activities and events are simply not as fixed as we would like to think!! WHEW!!! ...more
Bernard Glassman and Rick Fields have concocted a very readable redaction of Dogen's Instructions to the Cook, for the modern, Western reader. Part buBernard Glassman and Rick Fields have concocted a very readable redaction of Dogen's Instructions to the Cook, for the modern, Western reader. Part business primer, part Zen practice recommendations for making one's life the "supreme meal" or Bodhissatva offering, and part practical advice on what a complete and fully lived life can look like, this book is as passionate and ambitious about its subject matter as its authors.
"Bernie Glassman (born January 18, 1939), aka Tetsugen Bernard Glassman, is an American Zen Buddhist roshi and co-founder of the Zen Peacemakers (previously the Zen Peacemaker Order), an organization established in 1996 with his late wife Sandra Jishu Holmes. Glassman is a Dharma successor of the late Taizan Maezumi-roshi, and has to date given inka and Dharma transmission to several people.
Glassman has become known for his "street retreats"—excursions by Glassman and others into the streets for weeks at a time to live amongst the homeless. In 1982 Glassman opened Greyston Bakery in Yonkers, New York, an effort to help alleviate the widespread homelessness in the area. The bakery provided jobs for inner city residents who lacked education and skills. The proceeds helped to fund what he called the Zen Community of New York, who in turn would transform condemned or old buildings into new housing areas for the homeless. He employed low-skilled workers from the neighborhood, many of whom were homeless themselves, and sold his baked goods to shops and restaurants in Manhattan. In 1989 he entered an agreement with Ben & Jerry's, and Greyston Bakery has become the supplier of brownies for several lines of ice cream. Through the success of his bakery—which today brings in revenues of $3.5 million annually, Glassman then founded the Greyston Foundation (sometimes called Greyston Mandala) with his wife Sandra Jishu Holmes. He retired from the Greyston Foundation in 1996 to pursue his desire for international peace efforts (i.e. Zen Peacemaker Circle). As of 2004 the Foundation had developed $35 million worth in real estate development projects in Westchester County, New York. The Foundation offers HIV/AIDS programs, provides job training and housing, child care services, educational opportunities, and other endeavors. In 2003 the bakery moved to a new building, which allows for higher output and more employment opportunities.
In 1996 Glassman, with his wife Sandra Jishu Holmes, founded the Zen Peacemaker Order (today the Zen Peacemaker Circle). According to professor Christopher S. (Queen, "The order is based on three principles: plunging into the unknown, bearing witness to the pain and joy of the world, and a commitment to heal oneself and the world." Richard Hughes Seager writes, "The Zen Peacemaker Order...has the potential to rival Thich Nhat Hanh's groups and the Buddhist Peace Fellowship as a force in American activism." (Wikipedia citation)
This book shows how they developed their outreach to help combat homelessness through providing people the tools to emerge from poverty. It is a very powerful yet simple lesson in the manifestation of oneness and unity in all aspects of a dynamic spiritual practice. ...more
A follow up to Daring Greatly, Rising Strong takes a deep look at emotional resilience and what sets people who are emotionally resilient apart from pA follow up to Daring Greatly, Rising Strong takes a deep look at emotional resilience and what sets people who are emotionally resilient apart from people who are unwilling to own their experiences and imperfections. Fantastic! Again, her sharing makes the book even stronger......more
Really thought this is a breakthrough book on how we handle something few people really want to talk about--the nexus between shame, guilt, and vulnerReally thought this is a breakthrough book on how we handle something few people really want to talk about--the nexus between shame, guilt, and vulnerability. Her research as well as her willingness to share her personal experiences take research out of the musty towers of academia and make it accessible to people who can use it and where it can change lives!...more
W.P. Kinsella has written a magical timeless tale of baseball and dreams realized, promise fulfilled and unfulfilled, love lost and found, tragedy, deW.P. Kinsella has written a magical timeless tale of baseball and dreams realized, promise fulfilled and unfulfilled, love lost and found, tragedy, devotion, the power of innocence and myth to make and unmake the world, and the thread of humanity that unites them all. The book opens with Gideon Clarke letting us know that he has inherited his father’s legacy: the absolute, unflinching certainty that a baseball game of mythic proportions was played in 1908 between the Chicago Cubs and the Iowa Baseball Confederacy in his home town of Big Inning, before it was called Onamata—a game and a Confederacy no one else seems to remember. More strangely, no one remembers that their home town was once named Big Inning before an apocalyptic flood of ‘08. How to explain this apparent state of universal amnesia? “It is a fact,” his father repeats to young Gideon endlessly “that there are cracks in time—weaknesses—fissures, if you like—in the gauzy dreamland that separates the past from the present. Time is out of kilter here in Johnson County; that’s my conclusion,” his father explains. “but if something is out of kilter, there’s no reason it can’t be fixed. And when it’s fixed I’ll be proven right.” “there are some of us who see and hear more than they were ever meant to” Gideon writes. “My father was one of those. As am I.” Through his youth, his father’s obsession with proving the historicity of the exhibition game and the Confederacy that conceived of it is merely the prating of an adult to a young child, a litany that can be accepted uncritically when one is young but which becomes embarrassing as a child comes of age as a young man. However, he is there when his dad is killed by a fast ball sent over the visitor’s dugout, and in that instant his father’s entire compendium of history, folklore, knowledge of the Confederacy, the great Flood that washed Big Inning away, and the strange game, played out over an amazing number of innings and 40 days, is deposited part and parcel into his consciousness and Gideon embarks on the quixotic mission of proving it all true!! This book is impregnated through and through with Kinsella’s devotion to baseball, a game that is so much a part of the fabric of what it means to grow up in America. It is love pure and simple for the cosmic idea of play for the joy of play itself, for the artistry of motion and dimensions and cycles of the past, present, and future that intersect and play out their parts on a stage that is eternal.
The subject of the book Big Mind-Big Heart : Finding Your Way by Zen Master Dennis Genpo Merzel, is Merzel's conviction that everyone can experience t
The subject of the book Big Mind-Big Heart : Finding Your Way by Zen Master Dennis Genpo Merzel, is Merzel's conviction that everyone can experience transcendence or awakening without the traditionally required years of sitting, once they are able to recognize that they are essentially the unity they seek.
"The aim of the Big Mind Process is to combine "Eastern, Buddhist insights with Western psychoanalytical ideas," and according to Merzel: It allows a person to step out of their ego and have a universal mind or mystical experience, to attain what is commonly called enlightenment, self realization, Christ mind, or Buddha mind." Wikipedia.
The basis of his decision to teach this methodology based on Voice Dialogue, a Jungian therapeutic technique, which he developed and adapted to Zen practice with the assistance of Hal and Sidra Stone, Jungian psychotherapists, is kensho-- or the spontaneous awakening experience Merzel had while on a trip to the Mojave Desert, and the years of subsequent searching to understand it which Merzel discusses in the opening chapters.
He employs the method as the body of the text so that the reader can conceptualize what he is attempting to demonstrate. However, a DVD accompanies the book. Merzel recommends that a person who desires the fullest experience should find a workshop and work with an experienced Facilitator.
Merzel is confident that the reader will be able to understand and apply the method as he or she reads Merzel's book, and experience for themselves a glimpse of the intimate and infinite no-self that is one's true nature. That is his intent, and he is insistent upon the fact that long hours of sitting are not necessary for anyone to have this experience. However, in the closing chapter, Going Forward, Merzel states that if you do Big Mind and don't practice sitting, it may be difficult to integrate your experience into your life. He gives a clear guide to just sitting which is helpful.
The consistent cultivation of an abiding in the non-dual, transcendent requires receptivity for which sitting is a prerequisite. My Zen teacher recently wrote: " We cannot imagine our way to peace. Standing within our ignorance, we cannot see beyond our confusion. But, it can be done. Buddha’s life is a manifestation of transcending the three poisons. But, I must do my personal “homework” of clearing my poisons from my life. This is the essential, first responsibility."
For some, Merzel's methodology, may be a good tool to have while doing just that. ...more
Buddhism is Not What You Think-Finding Freedom Beyond Beliefs by Steve Hagen In his clear and conversational style, much as he did in Buddhism Plain anBuddhism is Not What You Think-Finding Freedom Beyond Beliefs by Steve Hagen In his clear and conversational style, much as he did in Buddhism Plain and Simple, Steven Hagen tackles what is a thorny issue for most people coming to Zen practice hoping to "get enlightened" "feel blissed out by Nirvana" or those who come to Zen practice hoping to "get" anything at all. As he so simply states through 43 chapters, there is no getting what all beings innately possess (Buddha nature) and no becoming what all beings already are (enlightened). Of course, the idea that all beings are by nature Buddha, is deceptively simple, and enlightenment is so bandied about that few people understand at all what the Buddha meant when he said he was "awake." Hence the problems most people have when coming to Zen practice from the mindset of attaining, achieving, or even letting go of their constructs of reality and self. He delves deeply into the practice of 'just seeing' what is literally one's face--namely, every day Reality, with patience and loving kindness of one who recognizes the possibilities of misunderstanding the difference between seeing and perceiving. He also encourages practitioners and those who would consider zen practice to take the Buddha's instructions to heart and to not accept what he, his teacher, Dainin Katagiri Roshi, or any other spiritual teacher declares as Truth until they have examined it for themselves and found it to be beneficial. There are more seasoned readers whose zen literary forays take them into the deeper waters of the great teachings of the likes of Nagarjuna, and perhaps Hagen's book might be considered redundant. However, for a beginner, or a beginner again, this book presents the fundamentals of zen from as many perspectives as Hagen felt might be useful. Zen literature is replete with anecdotes and stories. Hagen's book does not depart from this tradition. However, he uses the stories and tales of past spiritual masters, so often associated with Zen, like an experienced chef would use delicious seasonings in a plain and nourishing soup. Taste and See!!
In his clear style, Steven Hagen sets down the teachings of Buddhism in plain language. There is so much written today about Buddhism, that it is easyIn his clear style, Steven Hagen sets down the teachings of Buddhism in plain language. There is so much written today about Buddhism, that it is easy to think of it as a complex, esoteric religion Steven's book shows us how erroneous this idea is. ...more
A delightfully lighthearted yet wise book on the Flower Ornament Sutra told through the eyes of its author, Geri Larkin, an ordained Dharma teacher, bA delightfully lighthearted yet wise book on the Flower Ornament Sutra told through the eyes of its author, Geri Larkin, an ordained Dharma teacher, business consultant, world traveler, and raconteur who loves people. Her infectious enthusiasm for living a sweet life by following the Buddhist principles outlined in the Flower Ornament Sutra, even if that life includes living in an urban zen center in the heart of Detroit's inner city which she opened in 2000, is based on blending the principles Joy, Ethics, Tolerance, Generosity, Perseverance, Clearheadedness, Cultivating Wonder and Surprise, Adventuring, Yoda's wisdom into what she calls the ability to respond to life with fluidity, grace, humor and compassion. Yes, she includes a recipe for baking an awesome chocolate cake. ...more
The publisher's review is right on. It is a book much like those of Brother Lawrence and John Bunyan. Easily read. Devoted to Eastern Orthodox mysticaThe publisher's review is right on. It is a book much like those of Brother Lawrence and John Bunyan. Easily read. Devoted to Eastern Orthodox mystical teaching. ...more
Absolutely loved this book. He is so funny here, and has such fun with language in a way to which I can relate. A fast read, but one could go back andAbsolutely loved this book. He is so funny here, and has such fun with language in a way to which I can relate. A fast read, but one could go back and revel in the literary and linguistic references as well as the history and the wonderful way he chronicles a ten day vacation in France. Loved the last line!! Just about sums it ALL up!!...more
Maggie Cassidy is a largely autobiographical account of Kerouac's youth, growing up in Lowell, Massachussetts in the 20s and 30s, written in his signaMaggie Cassidy is a largely autobiographical account of Kerouac's youth, growing up in Lowell, Massachussetts in the 20s and 30s, written in his signature reportage style with all of the immediacy of tone and sense of energetic movement. It is easy to suppose that he wrote this as he was reputed to have written On the Road, that is without editing anything, all of a piece. However, there is an integrated feel to this cyclical telling in cameos of the scenes and characters in his home town and the life he lived there that indicate he had a very clear sense of direction despite the abruptness of the narrative's ending. Perhaps it is his allusions to Faust, Dostoevsky, Wolfe, a nod of the head to Dylan Thomas, to Kafka and Sartre. At times there is an oafish clumsiness to the characters that is self-consciously created as in the depictions of G.J. , Lousy, Scott and Vinny, at others a delicate brush as he fleshes out Maggie and highlights the differences between her and her counterpart, Pauline. He definitely wanted to take us on a ride that would eject us into the next, breathless, as yet unknown moments of a young man's life, a somewhat self-absorbed, self-styled Ulysses who would never truly find his father, nor become him. I found the prose uneven for much of the book but somewhere around chapter 26, the bumpy ride smooths out. It is as if Kerouac is sensing the miles, the distance he must cover to take this metamorphosis from shy, introspective boy to the youth who senses not only the honorifics of achievement the world may confer, but the price which such achievements exact. Who learns, to his discontent, the cost of sophistication is the loss of innocence. ...more