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Newsletter Number 40 • February 1, 2008

Books

It is truth or is it fiction? Is Jed McKenna awake and are the rest of us asleep? Has Jed McKenna reached adulthood while the rest of us remain children? Possibly the above questions have yes or no answers but perhaps, if you really understand Jed, the answers may be both none of the above and all of the above.

McKenna’s latest gem, Spiritual Warfare, is the third book in his trilogy which began with the unparalleled Spiritual Enlightenment: The Damnedest Thing, and continued with the dazzling Spiritually Incorrect Enlightenment.

When reading McKenna I often wonder, if I met him, would I like him, hate him, or simply find him to be not much different from many other folks I know. Regardless of that hypothetical outcome I like his books very much and highly recommend them. If any of the readers of this newsletter have never read any of his books, “Do not pass go. Do not collect your $200. Simply order McKenna’s first book immediately and read it!

McKenna’s angle of attack or approach is very clever and might even be unique. Jed’s a no nonsense observer, critic, commentator, and teacher. Whether or not you have ever been a spiritual seeker or considered enlightenment a worthy goal, Jed’s first book, Spiritual Enlightenment: The Damnedest Thing is not only a “must read”, it is highly entertaining and would be appreciated by the very widest of audiences.

For those of us who have read his first two books, I would say to a certain extent, this is “more of the same”. However, Spiritual Warfare is so crammed with cleverness, wisdom, and fabulous quotes from great thinkers down through the ages that one can’t miss reading this for the pleasures it gives and for the potential it may have to really help a seeker to have some “aha” breakthroughs.

If I had to describe Jed McKenna in a nutshell I would call him “a spiritual muckraker”. He is not afraid to shake things up and criticize generally sacrosanct popular gurus or spiritual authorities.

He has his own teachings, which seem to me to be focused on the annihilation of the ego. I find this to be rather ironic, since it appears to me that he has an ego at least the size of the Grand Canyon.

My bottom line on Jed McKenna is that he is a must read, for all of the reasons I cite above. On the other hand, I find him more clever than profound. He is certainly very intelligent and an excellent writer. Perhaps I am missing something, or missing too much, because no matter what, I keep coming to the conclusion that he is ultimately somewhat shallow. However, perhaps I am too shallow to be getting his deep and profound teachings and message. The fault may certainly be with me, because as the great master, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi has often said: “The world is as you are.”

My personal opinion is that Ramesh Balsekar, whom McKenna often quotes is the better teacher, but McKenna is by far the better and more creative and entertaining writer.

I would love to get feedback from those who have read McKenna as to what I am missing and what you think of his teachings. I look forward to hearing from many of you.

I am fortunate to receive, unsolicited by me, books from Tony. Almost without fail if Tony thinks I might like a book I am very pleased. Any and all of you are welcome to call Tony and get to know him and get ideas from him. Personal service is what independent bookstores are all about.

Tony sent me The Head Trip: Adventures on the Wheel of Consciousness. Given the title alone, “The Head Trip” Tony was probably taking a low risk in sending me this book. I am so glad he did!!!

This is one of those very rare non-fiction books that is so easy to read and so interesting and well framed that it sucks the reader into its web just like a great novel.

The first 150 pages or so deals with the nature of sleep. The neurology, the physiology and the subjective experiences are all dealt with in a coherent and personalized manner. I can’t begin to explain how fascinating it is to learn so much about sleep, something which we so take for granted, and yet which is so little understood. This was truly an amazing section; funny, entertaining, and full of science and insights that are so good I would call them “gifts” from the author.

Most of us have some familiarity with the concepts of deep sleep and REM sleep. Few of us I would venture to say, know much if anything about the Hypnagogic, The Watch, The Lucid Dream, The Trance, The SMR, or The Pure Conscious Event. Each of the above is the subject of a chapter in the book. Each chapter is fascinating and enlightening. I really feel enriched by the lessons about sleep and even find myself enjoying the act of going to sleep, sleeping, and even waking in the middle of the night now that I understand so much more about it. If the book was complete with only the final chapter on sleep that would be more than enough to recommend this as one of the best books I have read in many years. I feel that I cannot emphasize enough how reading this book has enhanced my experiences and enjoyment of going to sleep, sleeping, and even waking up!

What is particularly charming about this book is that the author has not only done an excellent job of researching the subject, more importantly he has made himself a guinea pig, participating in a number of studies and experimenting with various techniques himself. His experiences and commentaries are very rich and most fascinating.

But there is more, as the author goes on to explore the waking state and its many nuances. His exploration of hypnosis, day dreams, SMR, and a newer more sophisticated form of neurofeedback covers fascinating territories with the same thoroughness, insightfulness, and personal participation as his studies of the sleep states.

This is one of those books I want everyone to read. I hope many of you will enjoy this as much as I did. The last book I felt this strongly about, in terms of its universal appeal was The Omnivore’s Dilemma.

At 21st Century Books and Gifts we also sell gifts. For the most part our selection of gifts is sold at the store and not put on our website. There are two gift categories we sell which I would hope that many of our out of town readers might consider purchasing from us.

One of our best selling products is pure beeswax candles. People in Fairfield claim to be very knowledgeable and discriminating in choosing candles. Despite the fact that these candles are not inexpensive (but they do burn for a long time) our customers love them. They are said to provide a purifying influence to the air. They are very attractive and totally natural and pure. Dena and I recently saw beeswax candles at Whole Foods and I believe ours are better and theirs are priced about 30% above ours. Call Tony and/or Sharon at 800 593 -2665 and they can describe their sizes, shapes, and prices and explain just what is so special about these candles. If you order from out of state your savings on sales tax should cover most of the shipping. On candle orders over $50 we will pay for any shipping costs over the savings in sales tax.

The other gift that Dena and I discovered at the Atlanta Gift Show is one we are very excited about and which has not yet been widely distributed or marketed. These are DVD’s devoted to a single calendar year. What a great birthday present—a DVD with the history of the year of your birth. It is a very well-produced product and I think almost anyone would enjoy viewing it. The price per DVD is $19.95, including shipping. We have years from 1947 through 1967 available. Call the store to order 800 593-2665.

Happy Valentine’s Day!!

Len

Love is an outstanding photographic coffee table book. It is a perfect gift for Valentines Day. This National Geographic book is filled with beautiful and intimate color photographs portraying human love.

It touches one’s heart just to gaze at the subjects in their innocent expressions of deep love for one another—the couples, the families. The photos are chosen from many cultures and countries.

This is a wonderful gift book that just about anyone would deeply appreciate.

I guarantee this book is a treasure.

Local couple’s therapist Peggy Sullivan has just published her first book: Love Prescriptions: Twelve Secrets of Happily Ever After Couples.

“Sullivan weaves in scientific research and facts as she presents positive tools for growth and success … From talk to touch, money to sex, successful competition to respect for gender differences, and powerful listening techniques, she describes relationship skills and lifestyle changes that open the door to the desired life of happily ever after”

Peggy is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and National Certified Counselor, specializing in couples counseling.

A new and inspiring book on Vastu has recently been published… Vastu: Transcendental Home Design in Harmony with Nature by Sherri Silverman.

“With five sections explaining the fundamentals of this ancient Vedic system, Vastu clearly and simply tells homeowners and apartment dwellers how to apply its principles to create a truly tranquil home, whether building new, or improving an existing space. Learn what Vastu is, and how it makes a home a sanctuary. Discover the detailed components one should consider when creating a Vastu home to gain greater support for relationships, health, finance, and career. Walk through the house and yard for tips on the arrangement of each area, and discover related, complementary techniques that can be applied to bless and energize the house. Finally, Vastu offers resources for further study, a detailed glossary, bibliography, and index.”

The book is beautifully done with gorgeous photographs. Place the book on your coffee table and you will swear you can feel the Vastu begin to improve.

Silverman, Ph.D., is an artist, writer, and Vastu sacred space design consultant.

Sheri has done a masterful job

And finally from the romantic in me to the romantic in you, I offer these titles for Valentine’s reading.. They are sure to stir your heart and make it beat a bit faster.

My favorite recent romantic reads..

The History of Love by Nicole Krauss

The Monk Downstairs by Tim Farrington

And, the sequel

The Monk Upstairs

Please click on the above titles for our reviews.

There are those who can articulate with a short straight line from feeling to voice.

It seems my form of communication is more the written word, than verbal expression.

I feel I can articulate my inner self in a less false fashion through writing, than through speaking.

My speech tends to lead me to think that there is not total honesty in what I am trying to convey so I try to keep it to a minimum. My thoughts have less of a chance of having a fail rate when written, than when spoken. Thats why I may at times seem reserved in my mannerisms.

Thank you for allowing me the privilege to send these monthly love notes to you.

Happy Valentines Day

Tony

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