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MJ

north-american-at-large

ratings
64
REVIEWS
19
FOLLOWING
0
FOLLOWERS
2
HELPFUL VOTES
92

  • Stitches: A Handbook on Meaning, Hope and Repair

    • UNABRIDGED (1 hr and 47 mins)
    • By Anne Lamott
    • Narrated By Anne Lamott
    Overall
    (83)
    Performance
    (69)
    Story
    (65)

    From the best-selling author of Help, Thanks, Wow comes an honest, funny book about how to make sense of life's chaos. What do we do when life lurches out of balance? How can we reconnect to one other and to what's truly important when evil and catastrophe seem inescapable? These questions lie at the heart of Stitches, Anne Lamott's captivating follow-up to her New York Times best-selling Help, Thanks, Wow. In this book, Lamott explores how and where we find meaning in our modern, frantic age.

    EC says: "Surprisingly, Ms. Lamott is weak as a narrator."
    "Loved it"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is one of Anne's best. As she gets older, her insights into the human condition (along with her empathy and compassion) gain depth and become more illuminated, though her trademark dry humor is no less present. The unifying theme/metaphor of stitching together that which has been torn apart weaves its way through this short collection of essays and gains power as the book unfolds...by the end, I was ready to start listening all over again.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Diamond in Your Pocket: Discovering Your True Radiance

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 31 mins)
    • By Gangaji
    • Narrated By Gangaji
    Overall
    (121)
    Performance
    (41)
    Story
    (37)

    The Diamond in Your Pocket, the first major book release from Gangaji, describes our never-ending search to find fulfillment, which, paradoxically, is already present if we will only stop long enough to discover its true source.

    Darrel says: "Beyond words"
    "An exceptional jewel"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I completely agree with the review titled "Beyond words" as well as the other 5 star reviews of this book. I've read/listened to literally hundreds of spirituality titles over the last 20 years, and Gangaji's luminous "The Diamond in Your Pocket" is easily near or at the very top of the list in terms of depth, wisdom, substance, clarity, and just plain truth. It's nothing less than a modern spiritual classic, and I wouldn't be at all surprised if people were still reading/discussing it a couple of hundred years from now.

    Gangaji's narration feels like she's speaking directly to you, perhaps even imparting a transmission of some kind. (Not that she's some kind of supernatural guru or anything...a good teacher reading their own work with deep understanding and utter sincerity just has that sort of effect on the listener.) It's extremely rare that I sit still and listen to a book with my eyes closed, but that's what "Diamond" required of me. It's also rare for me to own a book in all formats (hard copy for study/practice, audio, digital) but with this one, it was a no-brainer.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Spontaneous Awakening

    • ORIGINAL (7 hrs and 27 mins)
    • By Adyashanti
    • Narrated By Adyashanti
    Overall
    (286)
    Performance
    (131)
    Story
    (130)

    For those who are seeking a path of simplicity, not bound by the trappings of spiritual practice, Adyashanti brings a fresh and humble approach to Zen wisdom. "Don't think that awakening is the end," teaches Adyashanti. "Awakening is the end of seeking, the end of the seeker, but it is the beginning of a life lived from your true nature."

    TeresaD says: "Satsang w/ Adyashanti"
    "A 'pathless path'...but still a lot of work"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    In terms of the teacher himself, I concur wholeheartedly with the other positive reviews of "Spontaneous Awakening", as Adyashanti is unquestionably one of the clearest and most insightful spiritual teachers of our time and one of only a few in the so-called neo-Advaita or satsang movement that's actually offering a path of rigor and substance. (Gangaji is another standout in this field who's teachings are very compatible with Adya's.)

    That said, I get a little concerned when I read reviews (here and elsewhere) that characterize Adyashanti's self-described "pathless path" as being easy...I'm not sure if people aren't listening all the way through or aren't understanding what's being said or what, but this ain't enlightenment-on-a-stick, folks. Even in this series, which seems very casual and conversational on the surface (especially the first hour or so), a lot is being asked of the student, both in terms of practice (i.e. meditation and self-inquiry) and vigilance regarding shadow tendencies like self-deception, conceptualizing, and spiritual bypassing.

    Simple isn't the same as easy, and when you get into the real meat of what Adya is offering here (especially in terms of stabilizing and embodying one's spiritual experiences, or what some teachers call integration), it's not really even all that simple...

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Five Things We Cannot Change....: And the Happiness We Find by Embracing Them

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 51 mins)
    • By David Richo
    • Narrated By Gary Dikeos
    Overall
    (6)
    Performance
    (3)
    Story
    (3)

    In this provocative and inspiring audiobook, David Richo distills 30 years of experience as a therapist to explain the underlying roots of unhappiness - and the surprising secret to finding freedom and fulfillment. There are certain facts of life that we cannot change - the unavoidable "givens" of human existence: (1) everything changes and ends, (2) things do not always go according to plan, (3) life is not always fair, (4) pain is a part of life, and (5) people are not loving and loyal all the time.

    MJ says: "Excellent content, souless narration"
    "Excellent content, souless narration"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is the quintessential example of how unskillful narration can ruin an otherwise really good book. Gary Dikeos has a fine enough voice in terms of clarity and tone, but his mind-numbing, soulless, robotic, unrelenting reading style made me feel like I was going to explode! Sadly, I had to give up in the middle of the second chapter, despite really enjoying the book's content. Thank God I was able to pick up a hard copy. (Needless to say, I won't be purchasing the other David Richo title read by Mr. Dikeos.)

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation

    • UNABRIDGED (2 hrs and 57 mins)
    • By Parker J. Palmer
    • Narrated By Stefan Rudnicki
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (83)
    Performance
    (64)
    Story
    (66)

    Finding one's calling is not just about finding something we can do - it is about finding what we can't not do. "Let your life speak" is a time-honored Quaker admonition to live one's life as witness to the deepest truths one knows. But as Parker Palmer explains, those words can also mean "listen to your life, and let it tell you what your truth is."

    Julia Davis Coffey says: "Deep Wisdom in these pages"
    "Hit and miss"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    "Let Your Life Speak" has a wonderful introduction/opening chapter (see the audio sample above), and I also enjoyed the third chapter on "way closing", a Quaker concept about discerning guidance from one's failures, losses, and limitations...very wise and encouraging advice. However, the rest of the book, particularly the chapter on leadership (which seemed premature for a book about listening for the voice of vocation and quite out of place) left me feeling a bit cold.

    As with his other books/audios, Palmer spends a lot of time talking about his life's journey -- his education, his failures, his career choices, his depressions, etc. For the purposes of this book, I wish that he'd let his own life speak a bit less, as his privileged academic background and high-power career history isn't all that easy to relate to for a lot of listeners. Also, just once, I wish he would have made it clear that vocation is not the same thing as occupation or career...a vocation is a calling (literally) which may or may not be how one earns a living. (Or, as another author once said, "Your life's purpose is NOT a job!")

    Bottom line, this book is worth the $$/credit for the beginning and third chapter, otherwise it's not quite as helpful as I'd hoped. I also think many people (particularly younger folks and economically "challenged" listeners) will find Palmer's background, problems, and life experiences a bit elite and difficult to relate to at times.

    Best quote: "Before you tell your life what you intend to do with it, listen for what it intends to do with you. Before you tell your life what truths and values you have decided to live up to, let your life tell you what truths you embody, what values you represent."




    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Living 'A Course in Miracles': Applying the Course's Messages of Wisdom, Courage, and Forgiveness

    • ORIGINAL (9 hrs and 27 mins)
    • By Kenneth Wapnick
    • Narrated By Kenneth Wapnick
    Overall
    (30)
    Performance
    (26)
    Story
    (26)

    Have you ever wondered just what it would take to experience miracles as everyday occurrences in your life? In Living A Course in Miracles: Applying the Course's Messages of Wisdom, Courage, and Forgiveness, renowned Course expert Kenneth Wapnick takes you on an extraordinary journey of spiritual transformation. As he shares his insights, you may discover that shifting the way you perceive your life may open doors that you weren't even aware existed.

    MJ says: "Excellent content with one major caveat"
    "Excellent content with one major caveat"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is an excellent series of lectures given by the late Dr. Kenneth Wapnick, a man widely (though not universally) regarded as the most advanced and knowledgeable teacher of ACIM, variously introduced and summarized at intervals by someone from the program's publisher who does not appear to have the depth of knowledge necessary for the task at hand.

    Personally, I don't believe a student of ACIM can do better than Dr. Wapnick in terms of learning what the Course really says and how to practice it in the everyday world. One of the crucial areas that Dr. Wapnick excelled in was pointing out the many pitfalls and errors students make in applying the Course's teachings in daily life, most of which are due to "level confusion", i.e. trying to apply the Course's many macro-level pronouncements about the ultimate nature of reality (and our place in it) to micro-level, "within the Illusion" everyday life situations. Another important area Wapnick lectured about frequently was the way students misuse Course teachings to avoid looking at their personal darkness and difficult emotions (a.k.a. shadow), an endemic problem among contemporary spiritual seekers of all stripes that some teachers refer to as "spiritual bypassing".

    Ironically, even though this lecture series opens with a prolonged discussion of the above pitfalls to studying and living A Course in Miracles, the series narrator (who another reviewer jokingly referred to as Barney the Dinosaur) makes these very same errors in summarizing the some of the sections. For example, in the section in which Dr. Wapnick discusses the origins and functions of our shared sense of victimization (as per Course teaching), the narrator's summary reduces this macro-level, ontological/metaphysical explanation down into a rather superficial, new age, personal development context, i.e. "don't be a victim". (Anyone who studies and understands what ACIM is really saying knows it's about as NON-new age a spiritual teaching as you can get.)

    Bottom line, this is an excellent program with some very well-selected lectures from Dr. Wapnick's extensive body of work, but do yourself a favor and skip the narration...overall, it will confuse you more than it will help you. (If you want further instruction, Wapnick's Foundation for A Course in Miracles has many wonderful programs available for download.)



    8 of 8 people found this review helpful
  • Let Go Now: Embracing Detachment

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 12 mins)
    • By Karen Casey
    • Narrated By Kristin Allison
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (50)
    Performance
    (42)
    Story
    (42)

    So many of us spend so much time enmeshed in other people's problems, trying to solve or change them, that we don't really know where we end and they begin. Not reacting to people or situations that provoke us is not an easy skill to develop. It takes practice and conviction that not reacting, not increasing the drama, doesn't mean we don't care. On the contrary, we are freed to show genuine love and care only when we can detach from the knee-jerk need to fix, solve, rescue, or control.

    evoefficient1 says: "Live your own life first!"
    "A good daily meditation book"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Karen Casey's work has been steadily growing on me, and I'm finding this book very helpful. That said, it's probably best to purchase a physical copy of this particular title (as I have done), as it's actually a collection of daily meditations which lends itself better to reading than listening.

    Since Audible doesn't allow listeners to edit or delete reviews (get with it, guys!), I'd like to add that my earlier review of one of Casey's other books, "Change Your Mind and Your Life Will Follow", was in hindsight far too critical. Upon second listen (and especially after reading the physical copy), it's revealed itself to be a much wiser and more insightful book than I initially believed.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Codependence and the Power of Detachment: How to Set Boundaries and Make Your Life Your Own

    • UNABRIDGED (4 hrs and 34 mins)
    • By Karen Casey
    • Narrated By Joyce Bean
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (25)
    Performance
    (21)
    Story
    (18)

    Best-selling author Karen Casey shares the insights and tools she's discovered in her own decades of sobriety and in talking with other codependents. Her unique treatment of this much talked about, but not clearly understood, syndrome focuses not on the cause, but on the individual's own power to detach from a bad situation and make a choice for recovery. Casey takes readers through the steps of detaching-admitting our attachment, surrendering outcome, forgiving, focusing our attention on what works.

    MJ says: "Doesn't quite live up to the (sub) title"
    "Doesn't quite live up to the (sub) title"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Karen Casey is obviously a wise and compassionate woman who has grown tremendously through her life experience with alcoholism, codependency, and 12 step recovery. In this book, Casey is great at describing what recovery from codependence looks like but not so good at actually conveying how to set the boundaries required to get there (as the subtitle promises), except to repeatedly tell people to "detach" (again, without giving much guidance on how to do this) and go to 12 step meetings. As such, the book often reads more like an advertisement for Al Anon or CoDA -- and maybe that's the whole point -- than a true self-help manual, much as her last book often felt like a trailer for A Course in Miracles.

    Bottom line is that while I enjoyed listening to the many stories of people's lives (lots to reflect on here), and even gleaned something of value from many of them, I wish Casey offered more explicit guidance for recovering codependents than simply telling people to go to 12 step meetings. (She begins to touch on this a bit toward the end in her discussion of the twelve steps themselves, but it's not much to work with.) On the plus side, I did find this book more helpful than her previous title ("Change Your Mind and Your Life Will Follow") and Joyce Bean's narration vastly improved, so I'd still recommend giving it a listen.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • Change Your Mind and Your Life Will Follow: 12 Simple Principles

    • UNABRIDGED (3 hrs and 49 mins)
    • By Karen Casey
    • Narrated By Joyce Bean
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (35)
    Performance
    (26)
    Story
    (28)

    Thirty years ago best-selling author Karen Casey wandered into a support group and learned there was only one thing she could change - herself! She found a group of people who had adopted this concept - and she joined them. The result? Change so profound Casey has dedicated much of her life to teaching others about it. Change Your Mind and Your Life Will Follow offers a dozen simple principles to live by. It really is as simple as changing our minds. This little book will show you how.

    MJ says: "Not as good as I'd hoped"
    "Not as good as I'd hoped"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    With all the glowing 5 star reviews on Amazon, I was really hoping to get more out of this book than I did. While I didn't necessarily disagree with anything the author said (at least not strongly enough to elaborate on here), I found the writing itself to be quite repetitive and at times overly-theoretical/simplistic and preachy. (The narrator didn't help in this latter regard, as she sounded like a didactic boarding school matron rather than warm and inviting as the author herself sounds...an unfortunate choice.)

    I did find some of Casey's stances contradictory and in one case troubling, i.e. warning people about the dangers of co-dependency (the tendency to over-focus on the real or perceived needs of others) while repeatedly suggesting that we have a spiritual duty to offer acknowledgment, kindness, comfort, and validation to every single person we encounter. While this is an admirable and perhaps even spiritually "correct" way to live, it can be problematic if not downright toxic for co-dependents until we/they learn to recognize the patterns of our co-dependent behaviors and establish healthy energetic boundaries.

    Potential listeners should also be aware that much of the underlying philosophy of this book is rooted in "A Course in Miracles" more than the 12 Step program, an important point given the author's strong association with the recovery movement. As a former student of the Course, I have great respect for it as a spiritual teaching, but also find it to be extremely mental/cognitive in its approach (i.e. bypassing intuitive, emotional, and somatic forms of wisdom) and therefore not ideal for people who already live too much in their heads.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • The Hidden Gospel: Decoding the Message of the Aramaic Jesus

    • NONE (2 hrs and 53 mins)
    • By Neil Douglas-Klotz
    Overall
    (35)
    Performance
    (10)
    Story
    (11)

    If you could travel back to the world of ancient Palestine and hear Jesus teach in his own native tongue, what would you learn? Join Neil Douglas-Klotz, the brilliant translator and best selling author of Prayers of the Cosmos, as he delves into early New Testament scriptures written in Aramaic - the original language of Jesus and his followers. Overlooked for centuries by all but a small minority of the world's Christians, these sacred texts rejuvenate the teachings of Jesus with an original subtlety and richness of meaning found in no other translation. Douglas-Klotz draws us deeply into these passages of the Gospels - including the Beatitudes and the Lord's Prayer - and then adds to his passionate scholarship by teaching us a series of body-centered meditations for interpreting and reflecting on these sacred words in much the same way as the early Christians did. What lies hidden within these scriptures may surprise many: a visionary Christ who transcends the narrow and the dogmatic to offer us a grand cosmology based on the earthy wisdom of an ancient desert people.

    Marie-Elizabeth Finamore says: "great workshop"
    "Wonderful"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Neil Douglas-Klotz is such an underrated teacher. His style is very gentle and accessible, but the spiritual wisdom he unlocks through his translations of the Aramaic words of Jesus is nothing short of revolutionary. I would strongly recommend this audio program as a excellent introduction to Neil's other work (Original Prayer, Healing Breath, I Am).

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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