Disappointing read. The whole book takes place on an intellectual level and no real, recognizable human beings who evoke empathy or sympathy -- every one a self righteous creep.
Cuts through it all and helps reader make sense of teachings and practice just about better than anything I have read so far.
Moving, unforgettable biography of an incredible man who, like millions of WWI and WWII servicemen, lived, fought and sacrificed during and after war. Hillenbrand's wonderful writing allows Louie's truly dramatic story to unfold as it is, and allows us to live in that world with few filters between these men and women and us and between that world and ours. This feels like a very important book as history that we must never forget. A history with so much we can learn from. We owe so much to the men and women who sacrificed their lives. This is a powerful story indeed, one made up of many powerful stories of beating the odds, standing up to adversity, sacrifice for the greater good, of heroism with a capital H rewarded by medals of honor, and with a small h as in having the guts to leave the last morsel of food for a mate who just earlier, out of terror, ate the all of the rations meant to keep the survivors alive. Along the way you the reader feels the extremes of starvation, humiliation, vengeance, fear, resignation. But the real wisdom is not accessible without being able to reflect on the whole picture with some emotional distance and time. The relationship between pow's and their captors reveals mans potential for sadistic and totally unnecessary cruelty that under the right conditions, nearly everyone is capable of perpetrating. And yet some individuals also demonstrate that every one of us makes a choice to conform to the lowest common denominator or resist and rise above it. The path of least resistance under pressure is always paved with rationalizations - I was just following orders. But men go beyond even inhumane orders and abandon all morality. Life looks cheap and cruelty can seem to have a life of its own. The power and importance of this history is making sure we learn from the sacrifices of our parents and grandparents. The greater tragedy of this story is that we have learned exactly the wrong lessons immediate associations to the world we as a society seem to have learned exactly the wrong lessons from it. Like the last scene in Bonnie and Clyde when Bonnie asks Clyde at the end of their tragic lives when essentially they have lost everything something along the lines of - If we could start over, what would you do differently instead of answering as she had hoped - not be criminals - his answer was about how he would change tactics to be better at crime. We are as consumed with being the most powerful, dominant force in the world. We are number one and better than the rest of humanity. We need to get better at winning is all and teaching people who challenge us a harsher lesson. 70 years later we still can't agree as a nation that torture is unacceptable. Live by the sword die by the sword. That revenge is sweet and apologizing and forgiving weak. This is really the story about man's struggle to rise above the base instincts that cause suffering. And my guess is that we will begin to tip in the right direction as more and more women assume power.
This is probably my 6th or 7th book on mindfulness and this is among my favorites so far. All are pretty good - I'm really liking Ronald Siegel' Mindfulness Solutions.
Like many books, written and recorded of this genre, the wisdom is communicated through explanation, metaphor, thought exercises, homework and guided meditations. Mindful practice as it seems to exist in the west is a bit like ballet - there are the basic positions -- in this case assumptions, practices, organizing principles from which each person creates a new and unique expression. Some resonate more than others. Sharon's approach and personal style really resonate with me. Her book is extremely well written, credible without going into the details of neuropsychological and behavioral research -- She reports the trends and collective wisdom of the research community and I trust and believe her. Thank you Sharon for telling me everything you know about neurology.
Sharon's writing is clear and direct. Her voice is compassionate without being too bohemian and new age. In reading this book it is easy to see why Sharon is one of the more popular Buddhism influenced mindfulness meditation practitioners and teachers. She comes across as interested as motivated to write to give others the benefit of what she has learned and experienced. But she does not come across as needing to sell you on anything or get anyone to admire her. She connects with her audience by being someone you could idenfify with -- a regular person who really seems comfortable in her own skin. She shows up as caring and insightful in her anecdotes and illustrations and you feel that, through the book, she is a friend. I must admit, I can't attest to what happens in 28 days. I didn't test that aspect out.
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