Amy's Reviews > The Book of Awakening: Having the Life You Want by Being Present to the Life You Have

The Book of Awakening by Mark Nepo
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's review
Aug 29, 2012

Note added on 2/22/13: I want to add a word of caution to my previous remarks. The entry for February 20 in this book, titled, "Nicodemus and the Truth" is not what I would consider anti-Semitic writing, but as a Jew it really bothers me to read it in a book that seemed to be more openminded about different cultures and religious faiths. In the story Nicodemus is a Pharisee who secretly visits and believes in Jesus, but doesn't acknowledge it in public. So it says Nicodemus was "traumatically thwarted and plagued for the rest of his days." The author of this daybook goes on to use the story of Nicodemus to illustrate how we create pain for ourselves when we don't honor what we know to be true. I agree with the general point that we need to honor what we know to be true, but it's offensive to make that point in a context that singles out a Jew publicly denying Jesus. These are the kinds of stories that have been used historically to try to convert Jews to Christianity and/or to promote anti-Semitism and fuel the persecution and murder of many Jews, whether they were religious or not. There are other days in this book where the author uses fine quotes from Jewish sources, as well as other sources, to illustrate a focus for that day, so I don't think the author intended to exclude Jews from those he considers to be people who honor truth. At the same time I am disappointed and very put off by the apparent lack of historical awareness about the suffering caused by this kind of storytelling. This is in serious conflict with the purpose of the book, to promote awakening and being present to life.

I did find many of the other entries helpful to read, day by day, over the course of an entire year. Sometimes I tired of the writing style, when it began to sound like too many self-help books, but that was outweighed by the spiritual insights the author shared from his own personal struggles and growth.


[original review follows]

Ha ha or ah ha! I like the entry for Jan. 2 near the beginning of the Google preview for this book. It tells about a friend who stubbornly tried to carry so much house painting gear through a door that he fell down covered in paint.

I have put 1217 books onto various shelves of my imaginary GoodReads library, and counting. I need to put down many things, so I can get through the threshold of the here and now.

Perhaps reviewing a lifetime of reading is a way of setting books down, to be able to walk through a door. Only a few things need to be carried through the door of the present moment. I was thinking of it as more like a road that passed certain books on the way, as if those books were places on a map. And maybe it's useful to leave a map that shows ditches and dead ends as well as good routes. Why read if we don't communicate about it with others?

I love libraries, but I wouldn't like them if I was not free to go in and out of the doors there. And I wouldn't want my own library to crowd out all the living space in my home. I was drawn to this virtual library because I prefer to get most of my books at the public library - and not keep too many at home. On the other hand, I love to check out tons of books and I love remembering and shelving them on this virtual list where I can see them and the patterns between them. Is it hoarding? It can be a form of hoarding. On the other hand, the urge to make libraries and share reading with other people is a wonderful door.
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Reading Progress

August 29, 2012 – Shelved
September 16, 2012 – Started Reading
September 16, 2012 –
page 305
February 10, 2013 – Finished Reading

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