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Newsletter Number 17 • March 7, 2006

 
Books

Greetings from sunny and dry (as I write this in mid-February Phoenix has had over 120 straight days without rain) Arizona. Dena and I have been enjoying our first foray as “Snowbirds”, and may make this an annual sojourn.

One thing I have learned here is that we are all creatures of habit. For a number of reasons, my daily routine is quite different here than it was in Fairfield. As a result, I have been doing a lot less reading. I have only a short list of books to recommend this month, despite the fact I had no new recommendations in February.

My first recommendation is The Book of One: The Spiritual Path of Advaita, by Dennis Waite. I have read numerous books about Advaita, many of which were penned by the most famous of the Advaita Sages. This is the first book I have read which is perfectly suitable for both the most knowledgeable students of Advaita, as well as for anyone who knows nothing about Advaita, but would like to understand it.

This book, written by a Westerner, who lays no claim to being “realized”, is simple, thorough, practical, and most importantly, readable. Dennis Waite has taken a comprehensive look at the philosophy or teaching, Advaita, which many thoughtful seekers believe to be both the highest teaching on the planet, and the root or source of all spiritual teachings and religions.

What I liked best about the book was that it was both simple and extremely comprehensive. Also, it had the clear mark of an excellent scholarly approach while being easy to read and concise (about 200 pages). I would say this is quite remarkable and I was extremely impressed. Furthermore, the author does a great job of tying together ancient wisdom, classic philosophy, and the latest data from modern physics so the reader can draw his or her own conclusions using all the available sources of information, knowledge, and logic.

I find Advaita to be a universal philosophy which provides the best available answers to the most compelling questions a seeker of truth and/or wisdom must confront. As it says on the back cover: “The Book of One is perhaps the most accessible, articulate and relevant book on the nature of non-duality.”

The bottom line, is that I give this book five stars plus and recommend that both those who are steeped in the knowledge of Advaita, and those who know nothing about Advaita read and enjoy this book.

As I mentioned above, Dennis Waite was very thorough and eclectic in sourcing data for The Book of One. In a discussion about the concept of “living in the now”, Waite cites a story from a very remarkable book which I read many years ago and would highly recommend to everyone. The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, by Oliver Sacks is a must read classic. Sacks is a brain surgeon and he selects fascinating and illuminating stories about patients who had brain injuries and/or brain surgeries that affected their perception of reality. This book will blow your mind and set you to thinking about the relationship between the brain, perception, reality, and consciousness. Truly a classic that I think almost everyone would find easy to read, enjoyable, and quite fascinating.

Having read most of the books I brought with me, I asked Tony to send me a few books I might enjoy. He sent me three books, one of which I have read, and which I highly recommend. Mind-Reach, by Russell Targ and Harold E. Puthoff is the fascinating history of how two eminent physicists at Stanford Research Institute created and carried out a large-scale, multi-year program involving “remote viewing” which, with its careful and comprehensive methodology that psychic abilities are a universal ability of mankind.

Whether you are a believer or a skeptic there is something in this book for you. These are classic scientific studies, which can be replicated anywhere. The procedures they followed virtually eliminated any chance of fraud or compliance by the examiners and the subjects.

I think almost everyone will find it fascinating to learn how the CIA and our defense agencies sponsored these trials and took a serious interest in the results. In the Cold War years not only was there a space race, there was a PSI race.

If one read only the chapter “About Time”, which explores the ability of precognition—the ability to accurately see things in the future—I would bet one would feel that the price he or she paid for the book was a fantastic investment. The data is compelling, and the implications are mind-blowing.

This book is a lot more than just a batch of experiments and statistical data. The authors go deeply into many quirks in the data and the personalities of the subjects. It leads to a compelling book that held my interest like a well-written novel. I found the interactions with Uri Geller particularly interesting and noteworthy.

This book has some very important implications about how we might understand human consciousness and human capabilities. The introduction by Margaret Mead is a pleasant bonus. The book was first published in 1977, and I found the viewpoints and lifestyle references quite interesting and very charming, making this book somewhat of a “period piece”. It is really a fun book to read!

Most significantly the authors not only provide us with eye-opening data, but they examine the deeper questions about how this data must be integrated in our mindset so as to construct a better and more accurate depiction of reality and how many of the “old paradigms” about physical reality must be re-examined.

This book is good enough that I will offer a money back guarantee for anyone who is disappointed in the book.

Regards to all, Len

I would like to add the following Advaita books to the above mentioned by Len. These would be important for any spiritual library collection

Silence of the Heart by Robert Adams 19.95
Spiritual Enlightenment the Damnedest Thing, Jed McKenna 21.95
Already Awake, Nathan Gill 19.00
Living Reality: My Extraordinary Summer with “Sailor” Bob Adamson, James Braha 19.95

We have recently been introduced to a chanting of the Gayatri Mantra that I feel is very powerful.

Gayatri Mantra by Oreade Music 15.98

The Gayatri Mantra is the most revered mantra in Hinduism., the Gayatri mantra is found in all the four Vedas.

I would also highly recommend our Vastu Puja CD. (16.95) It creates a settled environment in any room that it is played.

Fairfield was recently a host to a film festival; the highlight of which were 2 movies on Mother Theresa. Both films are extremely inspiring. We are proud to make them available on DVD.

Mother Teresa

Shot over a period of 5 years In 10 countries, this film is an experience of the way Mother Teresa transcends all political, religious and social barriers with her works of love.

Mother Teresa: The Legacy

The dramatic story of Mother Teresa’s last day, her sudden death and her moving state funeral, which was attended by the poor, the powerful and the rich from around the world.

For parents of young ones I highly recommend Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder by Richard Louv. Mr Louv directly links the absence of nature in the lives of today’s wired generation to some of the most disturbing childhood trends: the rise in obesity, attention disorders and depression. His theory is that direct exposure to nature is essential for healthy childhood development and emotional health. Louv offers practical solutions to this growing phenomenon

A fascinating new book in our science and mysticism department is Science and the Reeenchantment of the Cosmos by Ervin Laszlo In this ground breaking book Laszlo explains how physical reality and spiritual reality are two faces of one whole, that the universe is not a world of separate things and events but is a cosmos that is connected and coherent.. This premise is in line with the thinking of the earliest spiritual traditions in which the physical world and spiritual experience were both aspects of the same reality and man and the universe were one.

Did you know that Copernicus, Isaac Newton, Winston Churchill and Charles de Gaulle held a fascination for astrology? The Fated Sky: Astrology in History explores both the history of astrology and the controversial subject of its influence in history. It is the first serious book to fully engage astrology in this way. Please click on title to read my friend Michael Laughrin’s review on this fascinating book

March is my see saw month

I look forward to spring and the intense feelings brought on by the warmth and sun.

March is also the month of the birth of my younger brother.

And because of that my mind also becomes preoccupied with the transient nature of our lives.

My brother was a part of my universe for 40 years. During those years I felt that he would always be a part of my life’s story... now 16 years after his passing the relationship has taken on a dreamlike texture, as all relationships I have now will someday also melt in the background and become dreamlike. Even my own existence with my bookselling, writing these ponderous newsletters, shipping out book orders will become a once upon a time dream. All seemingly concrete objects eventually are just dreams.

God help us!

The philosophy of an underlying unchanging core (no duality) has helped bring stability to my life and a coping mechanism to help deal with the fleetness of our relative lives. The fear of death (which since my early childhood had been very profound) has lessened dramatically. Meditating, reading the various books and talking to many ordinary people who embody that eternal silence have all helped bring me to a glimpse of eternal unchanging reality within myself.

A Guru does not always have to look like an Indian sage (though that could be the case)…sometimes Gurus come in funny costumes, they may be disguised as your husband/wife, your mother-in-law, a person you meet on the street, the person you work for, the person who works for you, the man who works on your car., even the parking meter guy.

When my own head begins to swell due to a perceived growth of inner silence and humbleness, one of my costumed Gurus can stop it quicker then the period at the end of this sentence. 

Each individual we meet honors and blesses us with their presence, each allows a choice of silence or craziness.

We at your 21st Century Books only business plan is to recommend books and ideas that help you connect with your inner silence.

Tony
Happy Birthday Peter

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