While difficult to date, the Bhagavad Gita is generally accepted to have been written well before both the Christian Bible as well as the Buddha. Some place it as far back as 4000 years or more. Academically, it is not generally dated that far back, though. Its relevance to the present day is that it supposedly contains universal truths.
People can believe what they want to believe and it makes little difference to me. This review being written in a supposedly Christian nation, however, my personal opinion is that all Christians should be required to read the Bhagavad Gita at least once in their life. Why? The carefully crafted version of history that was -- and still is -- spoon fed to Christians is that anyone in ancient times that wasn't a Christian was sacrificing babies on alters. That Christians think they have a monopoly on The Truth is somewhat of an understatement.
That said, "The Bhagavad Gita: A Walkthrough for Westerners," by Jack Hawley, would make a fine choice for a first time reader. The audiobook, read by the author is superb, as well. I normally cringe a little bit when I see an author read their own book, but in this case, Hawley did a great job. I can't imagine the book being read by anyone else.
The amazing thing about this translation is that it speaks to you as if it was written last week, not thousands of years ago. And just what wisdom can be found in these ancient texts that is relevant to today?
Note the following words on diet and eating:
[K]now that there are subtle elements in food that significantly influence the mind ... Tamasic people eat old, overcooked, stale, tasteless, impure, and dead food with no nutritional value.
As of this review, America is second only to Mexico as the most overweight nation in the world. We are looking at the fruits of eating old, overcooked, stale, tasteless, impure, and dead food. Our hospitals overrunneth. By just moving away from America, you could cut your risk of cancer by up to 200%.
A few years ago, U.S. News and World Report used an independent panel of 22 experts to rank the best diets. Many were surprised that the Raw Food Diet won second best weight-loss diet (a raw food diet is a nutrition plan that is based on uncooked, fresh and live...mostly plant-based foods).
Even more surprising is that thousands of years ago, the hazards of eating dead, overcooked foods was not only known, but written about. And here I was thousands of years later being surprised something that old is still relevant. It's almost as if I stumbled upon a universal truth or something.
Anyway, whenever I think about Bhagavad Gita, I'm always reminding of the movie The Razor's Edge, with a very cold Bill Murray sitting in a hut somewhere on the Himalaya mountains, while on his vision quest. At some point, he became so cold that he ripped the pages from the old copy of the Upanishads he was reading and used them to build a small fire. Maybe I'm wrong, but I always took that to mean that he figured out: there is only so much you are going to get from a book.
I think at some point, the spiritual was supposed to be experienced, not simply read. The Bhagavad Gita should be read, but don't let it be the end of your journey...
Having read "Evidence of the Afterlife: The Science of Near-Death Experiences,"by Jeffrey Long and Paul Perry, before "Life After Life," at first I thought Dr. Moody's book was like reading something I had already read before. Not bad, but not anything new. I was pleasantly surprised, however, when it went off in a few unexpected directions.
"Life After Life," like "Evidence of the Afterlife," attempts to put together some rudimentary statistics and find common elements of NDEs (Near Death Experiences). I say rudimentary, because Dr. Moody says the number of cases he compiled is not high enough for deep statistical analysis. This is in contrast to "Evidence of the Afterlife," which compiled a large number of cases from all over the world through use of the Internet.
It should be noted that with "Life After Life" being published long before "Evidence of the Afterlife," the cases compiled by the Near Death Experience Research Foundation (NDERF) are almost identical, making the two books very complimentary to each other.
Where "Life After Life," shined, however, was a section on comparing modern NDEs to some ancient texts. Among those texts were, The Bible, selected writings of Plato, The Tibetan Book of the Dead, and Emanuel Swedenborg, a Swedish philosopher and scientist from the late 1600s who also wrote about the subject of the afterlife.
Of those texts mentioned, The Tibetan Book of the Dead, in my opinion, read so much like an NDE that one could attribute parts of it to someone that had nearly died during a car wreck in 1992, and it would hardly raise an eyebrow among those familiar with NDE experiences. Once again, showing that the ancients had a higher degree of knowledge and wisdom than we care to give them credit for.
A few other topics were also discussed that were not included in "Evidence of the Afterlife." One was on hallucinatory drugs, such as peyote. Missing from the discussion, however, was DMT, often described as the spirit molecule. While interesting, this discussion was short and on the lite side.
The other topic that was more interesting to me was a somewhat more in-depth look at NDEs of people who had committed suicide. These were pretty uniformly described as being negative experiences for the person who took their life, but ended up surviving the event. This differs from "Evidence of the Afterlife," because it contained very few, if any, negative NDEs that I can recall.
All in all, I am not disappointed in "Life After Life." The biggest knock against it is that, by luck of the draw, I had previously read a very similar book. However, it should be noted that in the 30-plus years of data collected between the two books, very similar in this case, is really astonishing. Then throw in the similarities of ancient texts, and one understands that this is a phenomena that dates back to the beginnings of recorded history. One could also speculate that it goes back well before recorded history, as well.
To begin with, the book opens with a brief history of UFOs and paranormal activity. The first couple of hours of this book is about as deep as something I would have picked up from a Scholastic Book Fair in the sixth grade. In fact, I'm not well versed in UFO activity at all, and yet I was familiar with quite a lot of material in this book. Not only did it not add anything new to the material, but it was kind of bland and I almost gave up on the book at this point.
After the book finally kicks into gear, though, it was well worth hanging in there. The author was very adept at trying to simplify quantum physics into laymen terms, and then build upon this base by showing how hokey paranormal experiences can be reconciled against modern, real science.
Following in the footsteps of "The Field," by Lynne McTaggart, "PSIence" is a report-style book. Rather than regurgitating material from "The Field" or the few other similar books, it managed to not only add new material, but did so in an engaging way.
There is a wealth of interesting quotes from real physicists and experiments that I was not aware of, even though this is a field of interest for me. But perhaps the most intriguing parts of the book were the final few chapters, in which modern quantum physics is contrasted to ancient sacred texts, such as Buddhism, Christianity, Hermes, etc. Although, comments are made throughout the book about how The Field sounds like something mystics have been saying all along, the last chapter or so ties the two together better than any book I have come across so far.
The only other work I have ran across that attempted this, "The Source Field Investigations: The Hidden Science and Lost Civilizations Behind the 2012 Prophecies" by David Wilcock, fell short (in way, way more words) than what Marie Jones was able to accomplish here in a clear, short and concise way.
Although, I do still recommend "The Source Field Investigations." I think these two books are very complimentary to each other, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. The strength of "PSIence," is that it is much shorter and to the point than Wilkcock's Magnum opus. Wilcock also tends to get a little farther "out there" than Jones does. Not that there anything wrong with that, but if you were to be giving the book as a gift to someone that was not very open to metaphysics, "PSIence" would be the safer bet of the two.
When I think about my time on this earth, the lyrics to a Grateful Dead song always come to mind: what a long strange trip it's been. Indeed, when degreed physicists start sounding like Siddhartha, it is strange times. It's my belief that we are just on the edge of a lot of breakthroughs, but Newtonian physics is holding us back. It's my hope that we are approaching a tipping point, where the impossible will quickly become possible.
As quirky as they may seem, I think books like "The Field," "PSIence," and "The Source Field Investigations," are doing a lot of good to move us forward. Not to sound tired and cliche, but we really could be seeing the emergence of a new age right here in our lifetime.
True story. Many years ago, I was standing in a Goodwill store, looking at a rack of used books. I thought to myself, "I wish I could find some kind of book that was just huge and life changing." Less than five minutes later, in my hand, I was holding a copy of, "The Field: The Quest for the Secret Force of the Universe," by Lynne McTaggart. Since then, the number of days The Field hasn't entered my mind at some point during a day is fairly small. Personally, I don't think it was just random chance that I asked for a monumental book...and practically had one jump off the shelf and into my hands only moments after asking for it.
In my mind, "The Source Field Investigations" is the closest book that has approached "The Field" in stature, if not even surpassed it in some ways. I would describe "The Source Field Investigations" as "The Field" on steroids. Now, as sports icon after sports icon has fallen recently in doping scandals, lets be honest here that steroids aren't always a good thing.
That said, the book really has two different story lines. One of course is The Field and the other is ancient prophecy. There are some other tangents here or there, but that's the two main story lines. David Wilcock does an admiral job in tying the two together, in my opinion.
The story line of the Source Field, while sometimes laying on the pseudoscience fairly thickly, was excellent. The ancient prophecy was not without merit, but I found myself wishing that the book had been broken into two, or possibly three books. One just of The Field, one of just ancient prophecy, and perhaps one tying the two together.
Is everything in this book true? No. Whereas, McTaggart, I think, struggled to stay as scientific as possible, Wilcock permitted himself a little more freedom. However, while the book is a report-type book, based mostly around other people's research, Wilcock excels at tying things together in an entertaining fashion. Lets be clear here, even when sailing past pseudoscience into pure fiction, David is an entertaining author. That there is some fiction involved in the book should not scare anyone off. There is real science in here, too, and it is amazing.
One area in which Wilcock surpassed McTaggart is the audiobook version of this book. McTaggart's "audiobook" is misleading and is not actually an audiobook at all, being closer to a lecture. Wilcock on the other hand, presented the audiobook in unabridged form and read it himself. I normally cringe a little when an author reads his own book, but Wilcock did an excellent job. Even with the audiobook being nineteen and a half hours, it flowed very well from beginning to end.
Here is my biggest complaint of "The Source Field Investigations," which has to do with the subtitle, "The Hidden Science and Lost Civilizations Behind the 2012 Prophecies." In my opinion, the book should have had a different title and been a couple of chapters shorter than what it was. I had seen this book for quite some time before I purchased it, because the title is so off-putting. The book ends incredibly weak, as David spends a lot of time talking about things that will happen in or around the year 2012. I realize that he probably didn't think there was going to be a dramatic change almost instantly in 2012, but listening to the book in 2013, it makes David sound kind of foolish; almost like a TV preacher predicting the apocalypse for the fourteenth time in just as many of years.
If you have been eyeing this book, but not getting it because of the 2012 prophecy angle, do not let the title stop you. It is still a good book. No, it's an excellent book. You just have to take a few things with a grain of salt here or there. If you haven't read McTaggart's "The Field," get a copy of it, too.
This book is worth buying, especially if you are new to this area of study. I'm giving it five stars and not knocking it for its content. That said, if you aren't new to this topic, it's still a good book, but there probably isn't anything earth shatteringly new that hasn't been written somewhere else.
The book is very much a combination of a few books. Dan Buettner's "Blue Zones" and "Thrive" come to mind, mixed in with some studies on the placebo effect.
* Would be an excellent book to give to a medical doctor as a gift.
* Author is a real medical doctor.
* Well written and professional.
* Relies heavily on the placebo effect.
* Somewhat contradictory in places.
The health plans include a heavy emphasis on happiness and include the standard Blue Zone formulas of becoming more spiritual, close family, etc. Frustratingly, while "deeper spirituality" is mentioned frequently, in one section the author states that any healing is just the body at work and not "woo-woo metaphysics."
While the placebo effect and spontaneous remission are valid explanations, woo-woo metaphysics could also be a valid explanation. This topic was just barely touched upon. It would have been nice to show some valid, scientific studies on this subject. For example, a Columbia study reported that: "prayer appeared to increase the rate of pregnancy in Korean women with infertility problems. The researchers, surprised by their own positive findings, noted that the women were completely unaware that people in three different countries were praying for them." How would the placebo effect be possible if the women were "completely unaware?"
Another good example is found in the The Global Consciousness Project (Princeton University). This large study found that people could influence random number generators in an unexplainable way (read The Field, by Lynne Mctaggart).
The bottom line is, when you are dealing with medical doctors and scientist, you have to pretend that the unexplainable doesn't exist (even when real scientist have studies showing unexplainable things working!). No, it is all just biology and chemistry.
It's time to move to a more results-oriented paradigm in medicine. Keep in mind that people took aspirin for over 100 years and didn't know how it worked, only that it produced good results. If acupuncture is producing good results, then it needs to be used, regardless if it is a placebo effect or "woo-woo metaphysics." (And there are valid scientific studies that show there is more to acupuncture than just the placebo effect. This was mentioned in "Mind Over Medicine," but only in passing, however).
Interestingly, while listening to the audiobook of "Mind Over Medicine," with its heavy emphasis on placebo effects and spontaneous remission, I heard a song on the radio by Nicki Minaj with the lyrics, "I'm not lucky I'm blessed." With the book's struggle between "deeper spirituality" and simply the body's "biology and chemistry" at work, the Minaj lyrics seemed to tip the scale for me: though not scientifically explainable, "woo-woo metaphysics" is a valid explanation. I'm not lucky, I'm blessed.
I accidentally stumbled upon a group of books that support a theory I call "our little fake worldviews." My theory is, basically, that large amounts of things we believe -- and do so very firmly in some instances -- aren't even true.
The first in the series I found was "Mistakes Were Made (But Not By Me), by Carol Tavris and Elliot Aronson. This book was followed by, The Self Illusion: Why There Is No "You" Inside Your Head, by Bruce Hood. Both of these books are highly recommended. Later, I found "Thinking, Fast and Slow," by Daniel Kahneman, which I'm reading now.
The basis of the books are that people are terribly easy to manipulate. For example, if you can prime someone by asking the question in a certain way, you can skew the answers given to the question. For example, if you ask the question, "Did Gandhi live to be 144 years old?" You can make people give a much higher age of death for Gandhi than his actual age when he died. Why? Because by inserting "144 years old" into the question, the majority of people start at 144 years old and go down, having a mental image of a very old man in the process (This example was actually from "Thinking, Fast and Slow," by Daniel Kahneman).
The first section of Nudge is very similar to the above books, being filled with interesting studies that show how little there actually is to "us." While very good, unfortunately, some of the studies had actually been covered in the above books somewhere. At some points, it seemed that entire paragraphs were interchangeable between books, as there were sections that I remember almost word for word from other books. I'm not sure who quoted, who, though, or which books even.
The second section of the book is about retirement plans, investing, insurance, etc. The connection to the first section is that, if people are "nudged" in the right direction (by subtle manipulation), the public at large can be pushed in a direction that benefits both the individual and society as a whole. The authors seem to think they are taking a libertarian position while doing their nudging, but as someone who has studied a lot of libertarians philosophy, nothing really jumped out at me as being overtly libertarian in origin.
Unfortunately, the authors are very long winded. The first section of the book is admittedly really interesting. However, if you don't actually have investments, stock, or retirement plans at work, you can just skip the second half of the book. It is tedious and boring.
While I'm sure the book may be of some help to people who actually have investments, stock, retirement plans, etc., this book could be skipped in favor of the similar but better books mentioned above. If you are interested in this book because of its purported libertarian leanings, I would suggest something from Ron Paul instead.
All in all, I am not disappointed for buying the book, but I sure wouldn't put this at the top of my list for must reads.
This was somewhere between 3 and 4 stars, but for karma reasons, I'll give it a 4. This lecture series by Kriyananda -- a direct disciple of the yogi Paramahansa Yogananda -- is supposed to be on Chakras, but oddly, I hardly know more about Chakras than before I listened to the lectures.
It was, however, worth listening to, in my opinion. Kriyananda was even a little contradictory here or there, I thought. Also, he is prone to break out in campy song.
All that said, I did enjoy the talks and think the lectures have some value and wisdom.
The Power Of Now is toward the top of my list of books that make you think (or in this case, stop thinking). In short, it is somewhat Buddhist philosophy that goes like this: The past is gone and only exists in your memories. The future only exists in your head, as well. The only thing that is real is the present. And, if you would just stop thinking so much about the past and the future, you could enjoy the present. That's pretty much the book in just a few sentences.
Personally, I had a death of a family member as a young teenager that affected me for many, many years after it happened. I really think my life might have been different if someone had explained to me back then that I had the power to just stop thinking about it.
On the other hand, it is silly to think that the past just disappears. For example, a Southern California middle school teacher was recently fired for appearing in a pornographic movie. The film was produced well before she became a teacher. It is clear here that what she did in her past affected both her present and her future. Eckhart Tolle's advice in "The Power of Now" might make her present more enjoyable for her personally, but the bottom line is, nobody else is just going to magically forget about her past (career wise, anyway).
But kudos to Eckhart Tolle for not only writing a whole book explaining the benefits of "stopping to smell the roses," but doing so in a masterful way. Used in moderation, the information could benefit much of America, whose unchecked egos have caused much misery and pain.
For anyone interested in "The Power Of Now," I'm going to suggest the book, "The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself," by Michael A. Singer. It contains some of the same concepts, but, in my opinion, in a kinder and gentler way. Perhaps, it is a little less, "just stop thinking" than Eckhart Tolle, but still explains some of the dangers of the unchecked ego fairly well.
This is the path where my feet know how to walk, it is my trail home. As I recently told someone, I've listened to so many books from Audible, that I've reached a point where there isn't anything I'm really dying to listen to any more. This has led to sort of a random approach to picking books, and, being quite hit and miss, a process which I equated to "diving for pearls." A bit of pearl-grading wisdom is, "pearls of poor quality can lose their beauty in just a few months, whereas high quality pearls can last a lifetime."
In continuing our metaphor here, if this book were actually a pearl, in Japan it would be the Mikimoto pearl, or the "cream of the crop" of pearls. I fully expect the wisdom from this book to last a lifetime.
In more mainstream Christianity, my favorite book is The Secret Message of Jesus by Brian D. McLaren. The Wisdom Way of Knowing is like the secret message of the mystics.
The curious thing about The Secret Message of Jesus was, few things in the book were actually a secret. However, one of its strengths was that it cut through to the absolute essentials in a very clear and understandable way. This is also the case with The Wisdom Way of Knowing. In a mere 176 pages, Bourgeault said it exactly the way it should have been said.
The mystics, be it Christian or other, are an elusive bunch and books on them are difficult to pull off. Part of that could be that part of the mystical experience is difficult to transfer into words. It is very easy to write about what Christians believe. It is pretty cut and dry. One could just start with the Nicene Creed and go from there. Next attempt to write about the path to Enlightenment. There is nothing cut and dry about it. Just try to put into words what it feels like to meditate, fast, or gain knowledge of your true inner self. One could only guess that is part of the reason there are far fewer books on Christian mysticism.
This is rather unfortunate. In the Gospel of Thomas, which many scholars agree pre-dates the canonical gospels, Jesus says, "When you come to know yourselves, then you will become known, and you will realize that it is you who are the sons of the living father. But if you will not know yourselves, you dwell in poverty and it is you who are that poverty."
I believe that, in westernizing an eastern religion, anything that even remotely resembled eastern philosophy, for whatever reason, was removed. In doing so, the "the intersection of timeless with time," as Bourgeault so elegantly put it, was also removed. If there is a question in the west, the answer lies outside. Jesus' call to look inside for the answer would surely fall on deaf ears in America, for none have ears to hear.
For those that do want to undertake the journey, The Wisdom Way of Knowing would be an excellent place to start (That could actually be another reason why there are far fewer books on Christian mystics. If the target audience is actually a very small percentage of a much larger group, there is probably more money in targeting the larger group.).
One of the most unfortunate things about The Wisdom Way of Knowing, in my opinion, is the title of the book. While searching Amazon and Audible -- like Neo pulling information out of the Matrix -- for books on Christian mystics, this book totally eluded me because of its ambiguous title in relation to the subject matter it contained. I found it only by accident, and then it sat in my wish list for many months before I purchased it.
Usually, if I look back at a book, I remember at least a couple of things I really took away from it, sometimes more if it was a really good book. I listened to Light on Life shortly before listening to Hermann Hesse's Siddhartha. Couldn't really tell anyone much about Light on Life, but Siddhartha, I remember good portions of it.
I don't think Light on Life was awful, it just never kicked in and offered any fantastic insights.
That said, if this type of material interests you, I do think there is some value in going ahead and getting this book. If for no other reason, we need to show there is a market for Indian authors...READ BY PROFESSIONAL READERS!
Reader was fine.
If you haven't listened to it, get Siddhartha.
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