Saturday, May 27, 2017

A Wonderful Book

     A while ago I was listening to an audio program on meditation and the author mentioned a book called For a Future to be Possibleby Thich Nhat Hanh.  It took me some time, but I finally bought the book and read a little bit every night before bed.  I found that it is dense, thoughtful writing that is best taken a little at a time. 

     The author, the Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thich Naht Hanh, takes each of the five mindfulness trainings to expound on what each training means.  He answers the questions:  What does it mean to be compassionate and not kill?  What does it mean to be kind and avoid causing suffering?  What does it mean to respect commitments and not engage in sexual misconduct?  What does it mean to speak truthfully and avoid speech that will cause hurt or discord?  What does it mean to ingest only healthful things and avoid things that will cause damage to the body, the mind, the soul, one's relationships, society, and the planet? 

     The author believes that our world is hanging in balance and that to avoid societal catastrophe, we need to reacquaint ourselves with the basics and commit to living by them. 

     [Just a word about the edition -- the only edition that I could find in print was a large-print version (hey, no reading glasses needed!).  If you hunt around you may find a different edition.]

Saturday, May 20, 2017

When I Pray

     Every day when I pray for the leaders of my country and the countries of our world, I always get an image in my mind of those leaders.  But that image isn't what you might expect.  It's not of famous people who grace the news every day.  It's not of wealthy business leaders who try to run more than their businesses.  It's not of religious leaders or philosophers, writers or singers, movie stars or celebrities.

     No, the image is of the common folk.  People like you and I.  We are the leaders of this world.

     Never forget that.  Never lose hope.  Keep leading. 

(image courtesy of

Saturday, May 13, 2017

A Fabulous Book, Part 2

     Last week we were discussing the wonderful writer Mary Oliver and her newest collection of essays, Upstream: Selected Essays.  Here's a delicious quote that gives good insight into her impetus for writing:
Knowledge has entertained me and it has shaped me and it has failed me.  Something in me still starves.  In what is probably the most serious inquiry of my life, I have begun to look past reason, past the provable, in other directions.  Now I think there is only one subject worth my attention and that is the precognition of the spiritual side of the world and, within this recognition, the condition of my own spiritual state.  I am not talking about having faith necessarily, although one hopes to.  What I mean by spirituality is not theology, but attitude.  Such interest nourishes me beyond the finest compendium of facts.  In my mind now, in any comparison of demonstrated truths and unproven but vivid intuitions, the truths lose.
     Get this book. 

Saturday, May 6, 2017

A Fabulous Book

     Mary Oliver knows how to write.  She is a wonderful, insightful, and gifted poet.  She is also a terrific essayist, and her newest collection is another example of fabulous writing.  The book I'm talking about is Upstream: Selected Essays, which was published last year.

     Be aware that many of the essays were already published in previous collections, but there are a few new essays as well.  Still, if you would like to sample some of her best writing without buying a stack of books, this is a good place to start. 

     One reason that I've long loved her writing is that she finds the spiritual, the eternal, in the everyday.  She explains her love of the outdoors and why she finds such peace and perspective there.  If you've been a fan of her poetry, but would like to delve more deeply into the thinking behind her poems, this book is for you.