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Newsletter Number 29 • March 8, 2007

Books

Does anyone have any recommendations for me to read? I am eternally grateful to the reader who recommended Shantaram a couple of years ago, as it turned out to be the best new work of fiction I have read in many many years. Recently I have been enjoying some non-fiction books which I will review below, but I would love to find some new fiction to read to add a little variety to my reading menu.

Politics has never been a major focus for me. I like to follow politics, and often argue with friends about politicians and political philosophy, but my deepest conviction is that virtually all meaningful change occurs on the level of the individual. Furthermore, as a Libertarian, I rarely, if ever, can support a candidate for any important office who actually might have a chance to win. Despite the fact that I am in the Ronald Regan camp (he often said that “Government is always the problem, not the solution.”), and Barrack Obama is in the opposite camp, with a strong belief that government can be the tool to right many wrongs and to uplift the downtrodden and generally to be the instrument of progress for the country and improvement of quality of life for our citizens, I think I could vote for Mr. Obama. Previously I reviewed and highly recommended Obama’s first book, Dreams from My Father. I would continue to urge people interested in Obama to read this book first, as it sets out the story of his unique upbringing and background, and was written before he had a “political agenda”. His current book, The Audacity of Hope, is definitely a “must read”. Obama is a very unique individual. Not only is he very smart and personable, I really believe he is open-minded and caring. I do not think he is a typical politician. I have never voted for a Democrat or a Republican for president, and Obama is at the opposite extreme of the Libertarian philosophy I believe in, yet if Obama wins the nomination I would vote for him. I believe he has character and integrity and he is just the man that America needs to recapture the spirit which has made this country great. Please, read his book so you can make an informed choice.

Skeletons on the Zahara, by Dean King is an incredible account of a historical adventure that will stretch the readers mind and reveal the astounding ability of men to suffer, persevere and ultimately triumph. This is a narrative (based on accounts written by two of the survivors) of the experiences of 12 American sailors who were shipwrecked off the Coast of North Africa in 1815. They were captured by desert nomads, sold into slavery, and subjected to incredible ordeals in their travels across the desert. This book is riveting. The book commanded my attention, and I had trouble putting it down. Truth is certainly stranger than fiction, and this is a perfect example. Besides the fact that this is a real page-turner, it is filled with fascinating historical data. Ultimately it is a story of survival that once again illustrates the astounding ability of men to overcome all odds to make it back home to their loved-ones.

Into The Wild, by John Krakauer is another narrative about a most unusual person. Christopher Johnson McCandless was a driven young man. He was both warm and aloof. He was friendly and a loner. He was very intelligent, cerebral, and yet driven by a spiritual longing. Krakauer does a very professional job in putting together the story of a young man who ultimately walked into the Alaskan wilderness and died there at the age of 23. The book is another page turner, very difficult to put down. I am not sure whether McCandless’s life is a celebration or a tragedy. I am sure that his life and this book are both fascinating and will prove to be worth reading for just about everyone. I was totally engrossed by this book and I hope many of you will share my fascination in this story of a very unique young man.

After watching the end of the interview with the author, I purchased and read Born on a Blue Day, a memoir by Daniel Tammet. Tammet is self-described as an autistic savant. He suffers from Asperger’s Syndrome, “a relatively mild and high-functioning form of autism that affects around 1 in every 300 people in the United Kingdom”. I find the subject of autism to be quite fascinating and have enjoyed and recommended two other books about autistic boys. One, fiction, The Curious Incident of a Dog in the Nighttime, was a best seller and I think would probably be enjoyed by just about any reader. The other, The Mind Tree is an incredible story of a very severely autistic young Indian boy and how through the care and treatment provided by his mother and others overcame many obstacles to write an incredible book.

I think the reason I find autism and the individuals affected by it so fascinating is that they are really living on the outer boundaries of where brain and mind are both separate and interactive. The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, by neurologist Oliver Sachs is another excellent work dealing with the frontiers of brain damage or mal-functioning and some incredible experiences of individuals whose brains and minds often have a monumental disconnect. Tammet’s condition is, as described above, a relatively mild form of autism. His ability to describe himself, coupled with his intelligence, and his somewhat unique savant abilities make this book another fascinating glimpse into mind, brain, personality and psychology. The writing style is very straight-forward and efficient and I found it easy to read and lots of fun to see the world through this unique individual’s eyes. The book is very moving as well as most intriguing and entertaining. I recommend it very highly.

Len Oppenheim

This month I will focus on a few recent books written by authors associated with TM

The Passion Test: The Effortless Path to Discovering Your Destiny
By Janet Bray Attwood and Christ Attwood

Two former marriage partners and now very good friends have combined their spiritual and business knowledge to create this simple path to achieving desires. Janet and Chris (both former Fairfield residents) have written a wonderful book on the importance of passion in one’s life to fully achieve ones goals. Both authors are wonderful examples of what passion can do to help us achieve relative and spiritual desires. Personally, when my own passion is overflowing it causes me to feel similar to a basketball player running for the hoop and dunking the ball. When the passion is there I feel capable of anything. This is a great book with lots of personal heartwarming stories to help connect you to your own passion.

Yoga Consciousness in Ancient Mystery Religions by Tony Butcher

Tony is a long time TM meditator and Siddha. In this new book he shows us how to interpret fairy tales in a new way in the light of the teachings of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and other mystery school philosophies.

From the ancient Egyptian writings of Thoth, to the Yoga Sutras, Tony shows how this ancient knowledge all weaves together to point the way to liberation.
The author takes 10 well known fairy tales and views them as coded messages on transcendental realities, describing their mystic symbolism. From Cinderella to Snow White, learn the real meaning of what these stories are telling us about our true natures. And on some level you will have realized you have known this all along.

Another interesting book by another TM practioner

Hidden Truth Forbidden Knowledge by Steven M Greer MD
With a foreword by Dr Brian O’Leary, Apollo Astronaut

A fascinating account of near death experience, cosmic consciousness, government cover-ups, UFO’s, and the coming age of enlightenment. The author is a brilliant ER physician with personal experiences with UFO’s going back to his youth.

In Hidden Truth – Forbidden Knowledge Dr. Greer provides his own personal disclosure based on years of high-level meetings with over 450 military and government-connected insiders and whistle-blowers and briefings with senior government officials, such as former CIA Director R. James Woolsey, members of the US Senate and senior UN officials.

In addition to these disclosures, Hidden Truth – Forbidden Knowledge unveils the actual contact experiences Dr. Greer has had with UFOs and Extraterrestrial Civilizations, beginning as a young child. In one of the most amazing and moving personal stories ever shared, he explains how after a prolonged near-death experience at age 17, he experienced cosmic consciousness and found the Rosetta Stone of ET contact: the power of the unbounded mind within each of us. Later this led to numerous Close Encounters of the 5th Kind; contact with ET’s initiated by Dr. Greer and later by larger groups of people through the CSETI (Center for the Study of Extraterrestrial Intelligence) project. “Believer or skeptic, this book will make you think twice.

Now, to round off my books by TM authors, I will mention 2 books on human relationships.

Inspired Dating: What Every Woman Needs to Know by Hartley C. Bishop

This book by local Fairfield author Hartley Bishop gives practical, down-to-earth advice that can help shape your single years and carry your heart to its goal. This book is for all ladies, young and mature, who wish to have a higher level of life in true, honest, and lasting romantic love.

The Invisible Wedding by David and Faye Fields.

The authors are Marriage/Family therapists. Their main premise is that real change can only happen in a relationship if each individual in the relationship awakens to his/her own pure essence of love. This is the invisible wedding of our soul and the Beloved, the One. This book is a wonderful mediation on the true cause of much of the discord and pain in personal relationships.

As a youngster I vividly recall the terror /anxiety I felt watching horror films. Yet now, looking back with the perspective of years, I can laugh at the absurdity of this irrational fear.

So just as the fear and anxiety of my childhood was based on fiction, the many dreads and anxieties I feel in my present adult life in retrospect will someday be seen just as much unreal as the false Hollywood induced ones .This thought brings an immediate peace helping to dispel the fear, leaving a very deep silence that overcomes the anxiety…laughing my slow brain finally gets the punch line “It’s all much ado about nothing”.

Happy Spring and renewal to all. May the returning warmth bring back the remembrances of past loves and of those yet to come.

Tony

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