I picked this book up at the Stone Office at the Tassajara Zen Center in California. I'd been flipping through it while waiting to ask a question of tI picked this book up at the Stone Office at the Tassajara Zen Center in California. I'd been flipping through it while waiting to ask a question of the woman at the front desk. I don't remember which passage I read, but something about the tone of the teachings, more than the substance, struck me. They sounded clear and sweet and in Seung Sahn's words, "correct" but also quite confusing to my thinking brain. Like a good Zen riddle or koan is supposed to, maybe? I haven't meditated enough to know, I guess. Anyway, it kept echoing in my brain over the next couple of days, so I finally went back to buy the book and devoured most of it within a couple of days. (I am working on moderation, among other things).
The book is a compilation of teachings from Seung Sahn by one of his students. I won't pretend to understand what they all meant, but I liked them all the same. They made me feel happy and like "all shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well" (as the Catholic mystic Julian or Norwich said). They also made me feel as if, if I practice diligently, I'll be able to take that sense of "all shall be well" around with my in my body more regularly instead of struggling so hard to come back to that peacefulness after straying far into the land of overthinking and overefforting and anxiousness.
Recently, my brain has felt overloaded from trying to figure things out, so I'm trying not to think too much (VERY difficult for me), and am trusting some other part of myself more. Perhaps one day after I've done all that practicing diligently, I'll come back and update the review and say something wiser that might tell you more about Seung Sahn's teachings. Or maybe not?
One of the things I do remember is the story of someone passing along a tape recording of Seung Sahn's voice to a friend who was stressed and anxious so that she couldn't sleep and was having all sorts of health problems as a result. I can't remember if he was speaking in Korean on the tapes or if she couldn't understand English, but either way, she couldn't understand what he was saying. Her friend knew this, but gave her the tapes on purpose, knowing that just hearing Seung Sahn's voice and the kindness and clarity and "correctness" in it was enough to sooth her and make her feel at peace.
I could relate to that lady. Like I have no more space in my brain, but I just needed the feeling of wisdom washing over me... That's how this book felt. (I get the same feeling reading Rilke or Rumi or being in nature or seeing paintings by some favorite artists)......more
There's something so good in reading a book that feels like it's written just for you, and knowing that so many others felt the same way while readingThere's something so good in reading a book that feels like it's written just for you, and knowing that so many others felt the same way while reading. It makes you feel less alone in the world.
This book was recommended to me twice in the same week by two completely different people after conversations about my personal experience with burnout and grief coming out of 5 years living and working in Detroit. I read it once and have been recommending it to so many others since then. It's a book I'll come back to again and again and one that I think fits many different kinds of people in many different kinds of work. It's really for anyone who believes a better world is possible, and is trying to work towards that without losing connection with the beauty and joy of the current moment. I think this EB White quote sums it up well: “I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve (or save) the world and a desire to enjoy (or savor) the world. This makes it hard to plan the day.”
How do we savor the world and care for ourselves while trying to live out a vision for a better future? How do we accept and process the inevitability of suffering without creating yet more suffering? How do we operate within our physical, emotional, and psychological limitations? How can our spirituality help us transcend and push the bounds of those limitations, but how are we patient with ourselves and honor who we are and what we're able to give in the present moment even if it seems inadequate to the task at hand? How do we make sure that we don't lose hope?
This book doesn't offer pat solutions, it's not really a manual for recovery if you are overwhelmed or burned out or tired, but it does help to identify and give a name to the "vicarious trauma" that so many people suffer as a result of living as hopeful agents in an very imperfect world. And it does offer some directions for exploration and seeking a different way. For me, this gave me some power over my experience, and helped me to feel much less alone.
Informative and often entertaining beginner's guide to backpacking, camping, and general outdoorsmanship. I read this in part because I'm contemplatinInformative and often entertaining beginner's guide to backpacking, camping, and general outdoorsmanship. I read this in part because I'm contemplating a NOLS trip even now, nearing the ripe old age of 30… because as much as I love being out-of-doors, I generally end up outside with more experienced and very helpful friends who end up leading (telling me what to pack, route-finding, showing me how to rainproof my pack, choosing a campsite, building the fire, etc.) while I march behind cheerfully. And that's fun, but I think I'd like to gain a little more experience and confidence.
One area where I can hold my own is planning provisions and camp cooking, but even in these areas, I learned plenty from the straightforward, thoughtful section on planning and packing rations.
I liked Harvey's voice and his personal asides... it made me want to take a NOLS trip even more, to hang out with someone practical and knowledgeable with a healthy sense of humor. ...more
Enjoyed this book, especially the narrative voice, which had such an artless, unaffected, and somewhat lackadaisical quality that made me think of somEnjoyed this book, especially the narrative voice, which had such an artless, unaffected, and somewhat lackadaisical quality that made me think of someone who might irritate me in real life, but who I appreciated as my guide to the strange, strange world Yoshimoto weaves in NP. What could have been a much darker, murkier story took on a glowing and even hopeful quality through her innocent eyes. ...more
An enjoyable read with a good mix of humor, romance, longing, and sharp + smart truth-telling about matters of culture and race in America.
The book fAn enjoyable read with a good mix of humor, romance, longing, and sharp + smart truth-telling about matters of culture and race in America.
The book focuses on two characters: the primary protagonist, Ifemelu, a thoughtful, strong, self-described "non-American Black," who immigrates to the US from Nigeria to attend university, and her "true love," Obinze, who stays behind. As the book opens, Ifemelu is on the verge of returning to her homecountry," after 15 years of living in the US. The rest of the book moves between her early life and love affair with Obinze, their respective experiences apart (during which time Ifemelu becomes a well-known blogger on matters related to race & identity in America), and finally, Ifemelu's return to Nigeria as an "Americanah."
For me, the book flowed well, except for a few slower parts during the section focused on Obinze's life, but maybe that's just because I fell in love quickly with Ifemelu and missed her sassiness during his section.
I've bought copies for 3 friends since reading it. A great book for anyone interested in race & culture in American or who's ever experienced "otherness."...more