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Newsletter Number 25 • November 9, 2006

Books

I was not planning to contribute to this newsletter. Although I read a few books this past month, none of them pleased me enough to inspire me to recommend them. I had suggested to Tony that he carry the ball this month. Then I walked into the store and Tony handed me a book that he said he thought I would enjoy. I had been telling Tony that I have a pile of books at home that I have not read, and was not in the market for anything new. However I took a quick look at Never to Return: A Modern Quest for Eternal Truth, by Sharon Janis and decided to take it home. While watching the evening news on TV I read the prologue and decided I couldn’t put this book down. Now that I have finished reading it I feel compelled to recommend it here.

My favorite genre of books is spiritual autobiographies, or what we call on our website “seeker’s journals”. This spiritual odyssey is really fun to read. The author is very honest, provocative, and has a great sense of humor. She certainly had a unique childhood and I found her sketches about growing up in a dysfunctional family riveting and entertaining.

She “accidentally” became a seeker and spent 10 years in Muktananda’s retreat in upstate New York, bridging the periods when Muktananda was the guru to his passing, and the emergence of his successor, Gurmayi Chidvilasanda. Her stories and adventures range from the sublime to the ridiculous. It is a book that is very difficult to put down—the kind that keeps you up at night beyond your bedtime.

What is most interesting is that the author, having spent most of her adult life in a monastery then goes out into the “real world”. This is quite a unique and rich story that I think many readers would find highly enjoyable, not to mention enlightening.

Len

The gratitude I feel towards a person who recommends a wonderful book is akin to the gratitude one feels towards a person who introduced him to the love of his life. A customer recently introduced me to such a love: Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia, by Elizabeth Gilbert. This honest memoir is one of the most charming and alluring book I have read in many years. Part travelogue, spiritual journal, and psychological memoir, the book embodies the best elements of all three. The author, after a painful divorce, travels to Italy to experience outer sensual fulfillment and then journeys to an ashram in India to experience the silent inward solace of spiritual transcendence, finally traveling to Indonesia to reconcile the two. Elizabeth writes with deep insight into her personal psychological issues and in turn addresses universal ones.

For anyone that loves books about foreign lands, human relationships, spiritual quests, all written with a good dose of profound humor, I cannot recommend this book highly enough. Please do yourself a favor and do not pass this one by. This is a must read!

Secrets in the Fields: the Science and Mysticism of Crop Circles by Freddy Silva is a well researched study on crop circles. Since the 1980’s some 10,000 crop circles have appeared in England and 25 other countries. And the evidence in this book shows that most are not hoaxes.

The color photos of the geometrically designed circles are truly a wondrous joy to observe.

Whether you are skeptic, a believer or just plan curious, this book (one of the most comprehensive look at crop circles to date) will further open your eyes to this mystery.

Mind Trek: Exploring Consciousness, Time and Space through Remote Viewing, by Joseph McMoneagle is a gripping book on a very fascinating subject.

Remote viewing is the ability to correctly perceive and describe previously unknown people, places, objects or events. The author had a near death experience and upon awakening perceived psychic flashes … later he was confirmed as a world-class remote viewer. McMoneagle was recruited for a top military program code name Stargate, to develop remote viewing skills for national security purposes. The author has been featured on ABC’s Nightline and in articles in Newsweek and Time. In this book he demonstrates how the proper use of Remote Viewing can unleash great intuitive resources within all of us.

Bones of the Master: A Journey to Secret Mongolia, by George Crane is an irresistible spiritual memoir of a Buddhist monk’s escape from his monastery just before it’s destruction by the Red Army. His master, old and frail, unable to travel is left behind.

Tsung Tsai (Ancient Wisdom) flees three thousand miles across China finally settling in Woodstock New York. 40 years later the monk, both poet and kung fu master, persuades his American neighbor George Crane to join him on dangerous Quixotic journey, traveling to a remote mountain cave in Mongolia, hoping to find his master’s bones. This book is a beautiful, eloquent poetic memoir, in the spirit of The Snow Leopard.

“Fuses elements of adventure/mystery, mythic parable, biography, autobiography, historical narrative, Chinese and modern prose, short story, and Zen Koan into one seamless, powerful story of earthly human suffering and transcendent compassion and hope.” –Woodstock Times

With the holiday season sneaking up on us, I thought I would throw in 2 titles that I believe would make excellent gifts

The first is The Visionary State: A Journey through California’s Spiritual Landscape, text by Erik Davis and photographs by Michael Rauner. A gorgeous book that is a homily to the varied spiritual landscape of California... From Christ to Krishna, from the Old Testament to the New Age. This coffee table books covers it all, drawing together history and geography, architecture and poetry with incredible color photographs that reflect California consciousness through landscape and architecture.

The other recommended gift book is The Ganges: Along Sacred Waters. By Aldo Pavan

“India's holiest river, the Ganges, winds some 1,550 miles through the country, from its headwaters in the Himalayan glaciers past the villages and cities of the Gangetic Plain to the Delta's thousand fingers in the Bay of Bengal between India and Bangladesh. Here, Aldo Pavan and his camera trace the route of this sacred river, capturing its beauty and its many different phases and moods. Along the way, we meet the pilgrims, sadhus, fishermen, farmers, weavers, merchants, hair dressers, snake charmers, and others whose lives are spent along the river's banks. Over 300 color illustrations.”

Aldo Pavan is an Italian travel writer and photographer, and a regular contributor to the travel magazine Gulliver. The images in this book were selected from more than 4,000 photographs taken on Pavan's many trips to India.

Warning sentimental thoughts ahead…

A family reunion brought me recently to the northeast corridor of Iowa.

At the state park, were the reunion took place, there was a bluff overlooking the Mississippi River valley.

The leaves were almost at a beautiful psychedelic peak and the park as well as the nearby towns was overflowing with tourists.

The October landscape was at its fullness.

As I write this the fullness of October is slowly fading, being replaced by November’s emptiness, the trees are becoming bare and the tourist towns are now empty.

Relative life is never long on a plain. The nature of our existence is more a mountainous state: ups and downs, valleys and summits... to try to circumvent this natural order seems to me unrealistic. For our human lives need this ongoing tension to sustain the interest of us, the viewers. But one day arrives for each of us; we begin to lose our interest in this drama, turning away .Then the colors of October fade. Slowly the loneliness/emptiness of November is all there is and that begins the process of our rebirth towards eternal fullness.

Happy November

Tony

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