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Newsletter Number 32 • June 6, 2007

Books

In Russia there is a spiritual book series entitled The Ringing Cedars. They have been read by over a million people in Europe… over 10 million copies have been sold in Russia alone.

This best selling series is now making its way to the US.

This is a phenomenal spiritual series with deep sacred insights. The author spent time with the woman Anastasia who shared her unique outlook on gardening , child-rearing, healing , nature, sexuality , religion and more. People have commented about how much their lives have been affected by reading these books.

Anastasia lives alone in the wilds of Siberia. She is, according to the author, a gifted psychic with much to teach mankind-- 6 books in the series have been translated into English.

Word of mouth is spreading quickly and they have become the hot books in Fairfield and will soon become a publishing phenomenon throughout the country.

The titles are as follows:

Kundalini – From Hell to Heaven by Ganga Karmokar

Questions and answers on the awakening of the Kundalini energy, the book is not a how to; neither is the focus on theories but on actual experiences by people who have gone through the process, as well as questions and answers on what the process of awakening the Kundalini energy means to us on a physical and spiritual level. This book is a must read for anyone going through or just curious about awakening Kundalini.

John of God is a famous Brazilian healer who has been seen by millions of people. Now his story has been put into book form. John of God is the incredible story of an illiterate man who has healed many. The book is filled with testimonials by many who have been cured by this simple man. The genesis of the book was to present documentation of the many testimonials of those whose lives were touched by this healer and matured into the first complete accounting of John’s incredible story. The book is filled with stirring words and photographs.

Sequels are usually inferior affairs, some just a rush to cash in on the success of the original.

The Monk Upstairs is not one of them. The sequel to the Monk Downstairs is equal to or better than the original. The story of a man who leaves the silence of a Catholic Monastery after 20 years to try to adapt to life in the secular world. This novel has beauty , spiritual depth and much humor. It will make you laugh as well as touch your heart deeply. After falling in love with his landlady in the original book, the sequel takes us to the bumpy road of marriage and of trying to reconcile a former life of prayer with complete focus on God to now a life of marital problems as well as physical joys.

The characters are totally real and they soon become a loved family to the reader. The emotional richness of this book will leave you wanting a sequel to the sequel.

Ok I admit I can be a sentimental romantic, and my taste in novels tends to favor love that is unattainable or attainable with a penalty. That is why Anita Shreve’s books always get their hooks into me. I personally have not read fiction with such simple turn of words that have such a powerful effect. I was reading her latest novel, Body Surfing, and I noticed I was on page 200 already. My consciousness was so pulled into her writing that I was unaware that I had almost read 2/3 of the book. Of course, at that point I wanted to slow down; to savor each sentence. I am always deeply affected by Shreve’s powerful emotional wringing. The story revolves around Sydney who has lost two marriages ( one through death and one through divorce) spending a summer in a summer retreat as a tutor for a slow minded 18 year old. Her relationship with the young ladies 2 brothers creates the drama and tension in the novel. As with most of Shreve’s books things are never as they seem.

If you enjoy characters that become flesh and blood and love that is powerful and a major driving force in a character I highly recommend Shreve’s books. If you do read this novel, please email me with your thoughts.

The Road, by Cormac McCarthy was one of the most emotionally difficult books I have ever read.; but after saying that, it is in my opinion one of the finest works of fiction I have yet to read.... One reviewer likened The Road to Waiting for Godot without the humor.

This is a story of an unnamed father and son trying to survive post apocalyptic America, where society no longer exists and the weak are preyed upon by the strong. There are no names; no past... all there is, is the present moment and survival.

When the man’s son asks his father what is the hardest thing he has ever done, his response is the only true one ...”waking up this morning.”

I tried to think of another book that left me with such a powerful after effect and I could only think of maybe one other.

This book is filled with much darkness and hopelessness but in the end with such a deep spiritual love and bond between a father and son that it borders on heartbreak. McCarthy has to be one of the greatest living fiction writers. This book is not for everyone, but for those who are up to the journey , you will end The Road with emotions few works of fiction can equal. Even now, with the passage of time, I still become emotional when I think about this work of art. If you are deeply impressionable, this book may not be for you. Otherwise this is a novel any lover of fiction should not pass up.

This novel can be summed up in one word-- Beautiful.

We honor the good and celebratory times.. but the bad times, the seemingly negative experiences can be a cause for celebration as well.

Of course I do not mean to actually seek out pain.. But when it comes. let it guide you to something true about yourself.

When we experience emotional pain.. a door is open to our soul that is usually closed or ignored.

This time of pain can lead to a real depth of feelings with powerful emotional release. There can be feelings of real truth that lies under the façade of who we think we should be/ of how we think we should be observed.

With this knowledge there is less fear of the darkness and more enjoyment of the light. We cannot always escape negative experiences but we can spend our time freely without the oppressive fear of them.

Sometimes what we want can turn on us and what we avoid can be our dear friend.

Tony

Dena and I returned to Fairfield about 2 weeks ago. The weather has been perfect and the green landscape is quite beautiful. The sky is often spectacular, as are the sunsets, and the stars and moon are clear and crisp.

In fact, if you have never been to Fairfield you have no excuse. Our good friends Kate and Barry Ross have opened a very lovely bed and breakfast, and it is only 2 blocks from Fairfield’s premier attraction, 21st Century Books & Gifts.

The place is called “The Mainstay Inn” at 300 No Main St. Tel: 641-209-3300. The house is an historic 1890’s home, part of Fairfield’s history, and located directly adjacent to the new Civic Center

”The Inn has 3 bedrooms, all with their own private bath, room rate runs $99. - 129. / Night plus 12% tax, which includes an all organic breakfast. We have a commitment to fine quality organic foods, locally grown if possible, natural organic cleansers, and a luxurious environment with fine quality linens, organic towels, and a deeply restful environment. “

Tony stole my thunder. I wanted to recommend The Monk Upstairs. The only criticism I have of Tony’s review is that I think it is understated. This book is almost too good to be true. The characters are easy to love and the writing is special. The reader enters the mind of some very endearing people. But, this is a “two-for” because you must read The Monk Downstairs first. This is rare occurrence in that the sequel is even better than the first book.

Another book which Tony recommended to me and which I thoroughly enjoyed and therefore enthusiastically endorse is Pilgrimage to the Mother: A Woman’s Journey to the Source of the Ganges, by Alakamanda Devi. The author, born Olivia Hudis describes herself as a middle class English doctor, “brought up as a good Catholic with a Jewish father.” After having tried vocation in a convent she decides to try to integrate her Jewish and Christian sides by going to Israel and living on a Kibbutz. While working on some art her younger sister recognizes Hindu aspects of the forms and convinces Olivia that she “has an Indian soul” and that she ought to go to India instead.

One thing lead to another and Olivia headed to India in 1980 and “the rest is history”. The history is told in a very matter of fact, humble manner and is a fascinating story ofgrowth and exposure to the Indian culture and the spirituality of India of which so many of us have become taken.

How Olivia became Alakanda Devi is a fascinating story of a very important personal journey. Her meetings with remarkable Saints, Sadhus, and Mystics create a story that is exceptionally well-written and very enjoyable to read.

If you like spiritual autobiographies (and it is one of my favorite genres) this is a book that is sure to please you. If you have never ventured into reading these types of books, this is a great place to start because of the author’s innocence, integrity, and skills in story telling.

Her own words are the perfect summary: “I left my home as a physician, a nun, a Catholic; I returned as a healer, a woman, a mystic…In five years of wandering from end to end of the subcontinent, I learnt that I could not reach the source of the River Ganges until I first encountered the Source of my own being.”

I hope everyone enjoys a wonderful start to the summer, and has plenty of time to spend at the beach or by the pool reading some great books.

Len Oppenheim

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