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Newsletter Number 73 • March 2011

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A few guest reviews this month

BOOK REVIEW:
The Tenth Door: An Adventure Through the Jungles of Enlightenment

by Michele Hébert

Review by Amy Weintraub

Hébert has written a 21st century spiritual adventure that is in large part “Autobiography of a Yogini” with an ounce of Eat, Pray, Love. There is warm humor in the voice as she describes her Cleveland childhood where her father, William Hébert was a flutist with the Cleveland Orchestra, and she was his pupil. Hébert was also a sister to five brothers, and daughter to a “good-hearted” mother who was often overwhelmed by the management of her big chaotic household. Her teenage daughter escaped the chaos and challenges of family life by falling in love and an early and brief marriage during college to her high school boyfriend.

Hébert moves to San Francisco in the late 60’s and finds her way to Walt and Magana Baptiste’s Yoga compound on Clement Street that includes the famous Hungry Mouth natural foods restaurant. The building in the Richmond also housed a new age boutique run by Magana that was way ahead of its time, selling crystals and clothing from the Baptistes’ travels around the world. Magana’s dance studio, Sherri Baptiste’s health food store, Walt’s body-building gym, and the yoga studio that first drew Hébert to the Baptistes were also within the compound walls. Hébert takes yoga classes with Walt in exchange for shifts as a server in the restaurant.

Walt himself is fascinating. Before immersing himself in Yoga, he had been a champion body-builder who Hébert says is the architect of practicing repetitive sets in a workout routine. He teaches his followers yogic philosophy, the principles of yoga as therapy, the benefits of natural foods and good nutrition, and appears from these pages to have learned this himself-a natural autodidact without his own guru. We get glimpses of family life with the ten-year-old Baron, the youngest of the Baptiste children, who is now, along with sister Sherri, well-known in the world of Yoga.

Hébert’s deepening attachment to Walt and the community is accompanied by a subtle change in her writing voice. There is not an ounce of irony in her description of her growing love for her guru. In an age where it’s cool to practice yoga at your local gym but where devotion of any kind, much less to a guru, is often viewed with skepticism, it takes courage to stay true to the authentic expression of what it means to be a disciple in modern times. There is a purity and innocence to the writing voice that takes us through four years on a beach near the jungle in El Salvador, where Hébert managed Walt’s retreat. Her clarity and her loyalty are tested during those years as the revolution in that country touches her life in frightening ways. Throughout the memoir, there is that glimmer of the seeker’s clear vision. Hébert never conceals the depth of her spiritual commitment, nor does she mask her longing to awaken.

On her first visit, the twenty-eight year-old Hébert is unexpectedly left alone to manage the retreat center for a month, with little command of the language. Her companions are Walt’s dog and a local hired couple, the husband of whom takes to howling at the full moon and waving a loaded gun in Walt’s absence. But Walt has given her a deep asana practice to sustain her. He names ten postures, in each of which she is to spend an hour. After asana practice, she is to use her kriya breathing practice to contain the awakened sexual energy and move it up to her higher chakras.

With devotion and deep trust, Hébert assumes her duties and deepens her practice and grows to love her life in El Salvador. The memoir follows her home through the adjustments she makes when the war in El Salvador forces her return to the U.S. Hébert lives through dangerous and even potentially life-threatening experiences, but as she puts it, “because I trusted my guru more deeply than I have ever trusted another living being, I was at peace with everything that was and was to come.”

Whether or not you have a teacher on your own spiritual path, Hébert’s story of devotion to hers, told with such clarity and kindness, will touch your heart. You may even question your assumptions about the guru disciple relationship. Self-inquiry is a good thing.

Amy Weintraub, MFA, E-RYT 500

Amy is the author of Yoga for Depression, founder of the LifeForce Yoga Healing Institute, and a leader in the field of yoga and mental health. She offers professional trainings and workshops and speaks at medical and psychological conferences internationally and is involved in on-going research on the effects of Yoga on mood. Amy’s evidence-based yoga protocol is featured on the award-winning DVD series LifeForce Yoga to Beat the Blues. www.yogafordepression.com

The Conscious Parent
by Dr. Shefali Tsabary
review by Kathy Cholod

This book turns the traditional notion of parenthood on its head; shifting the epicenter from a linear, parent-to-child relationship, to a mutual, circular, parent-with-child, relationship. In this new paradigm, the focus of the parenting dynamic is not so much on the spiritual and emotional development of the child, as it is of the parent. Here, the child is recognized not only as the emotional receiver of its parent’s psychological and spiritual legacy, but as the usher of its parent’s psychological and spiritual transcendence. The child is seen as filled with the potential to spark a deep transformation within its parents - provided its parents are willing and able to invite such an internal change. Once the paradigm shifts from the parent as “know-it-all” to one where the parent is learning alongside the child, then power, control and dominance become words of an archaic language. Instead, mutual kinship and spiritual partnership become the focus on the parenting journey. The pillars of the Ego crumble as the parent realizes that capacity of the child to transport them into a state of soul and presence. The call to conscious parenting realizes, at its core, that children possess the ability to enter into a state of presence far beyond the capacity of adults. It is here that we as parents, are given the opportunity to create internal change and begin to uncover the art of living in the present.

While other books focus on the child, and the ability of the parent to create change in the child, this book does the opposite. It focuses on the transformation of the parent - and the parent’s ability to “use” the role of parent to bring about psychological growth. Here, the parent realizes that the art of parenting lies not on clever techniques or quick fix-its, but instead on one’s capacity to enter into a state of communion with the self - the parent’s own self. Once the relationship to one’s own inner state of wholeness is established, then the capacity for a spiritually restorative relationship with one’s child is infinitely possible. This book reveals the undeniable truth: our children are the mirrors to our forgotten selves; if we were willing to look in the mirror we would find the way back to our essence.

WHY IT IS TIMELY:
Something is drastically way off center. Our children are over-medicated and over-diagnosed; our prison system is bursting at its seams; the suicide rate of college students around the world is on the rise; marriages are falling apart at a higher rate than ever before. The miasma of emotional dysfunction and spiritual impoverishment is spreading exponentially. We can look for endless solutions, but the truth is in plain sight: we have lost our ability to be conscious. It is this lack of consciousness that is having a devastating impact on our children and the world they will inhabit in the future. Our children are growing up with love, perhaps, but with a dearth of mindfulness. As parents, we are unconsciously passing on an inheritance of psychological pain and emotional void-ness. Our children are paying too heavy a price for this lack of consciousness. The time has come for us to heal our children and their future. The time has come to shift the entire paradigm of parenting on its head. The time has come for parenting to be about what it has always meant to be: the parent. This book does not provide the ease of comfort most parenting books provide in allowing the parent to focus on the child. This book does not allow for any such safe illusion. Instead, this book stays true to its message that children can be raised into conscious adults only when its parents have allowed themselves to be raised into a higher state of consciousness.

BIO:
Shefali Tsabary, Ph.D., received her doctorate in Clinical Psychology from Columbia University, New York. Dr. Shefali was exposed to Eastern mindfulness at an early age and integrates its teachings with Western psychology. It is this blend of East and West that allows her to reach a wide audience around the world. Her ability to appeal to both a psychologically astute audience and a consciousness-driven one, marks her as one of a kind.

Dr. Shefali has worked with a varied demographic; from survivors of the Tsunami to women from a third-world country; from inner city youth to suburban families; from the elderly and infirm, to corporate leaders. In addition, she has lectured extensively on Mindful Living and Conscious Parenting around the world. She currently has a private practice in New York where she works with clients across the spectrum. Her first book, “It’s a Mom: What you should know about the early years of motherhood” was released by Penguin and debuted on the Indian bestseller list for four weeks. This is her second book.

AFTER the ABSOLUTE: Real Life Adventures With A Backwoods Buddha [Paperback]

David Gold (Author)

Richard Rose was an unlikely Zen master: A rugged, plainspoken, ornery West Virginian, he scraped out a living raising goats, planting crops and painting houses. But Richard Rose had a secret: Having once vowed to “find the Truth or die trying,” Rose experienced a cataclysmic spiritual awakening at age 30 that thrust him into “Everything-ness and Nothing-ness,” or what he called “the Absolute.” The experience left him with only one earthly desire: to do anything, for anyone, on a similar quest for Truth.

David Gold was an unlikely student: An arrogant, ambitious and egotistical law-student, David Gold only agreed to meet the “enlightened hillbilly” in the hopes of showing him up. But when Rose turned the tables by seeing right through Gold and painting a devastatingly accurate picture of the fears and obsessions that ruled his life, a humbled Gold found himself hungry to know more.

Thus began a remarkable 15-year adventure—part spiritual odyssey, part legal thriller—in which death threats, corrupt politicians, and life-threatening cancer run parallel to glimpses of the divine and extraordinary manifestations of timeless wisdom.

About the Author
David Gold was the founding partner of the law firm Gold, Khourey, and Turak and was a trial lawyer for over 20 years. He retired from law in 1989 and teamed up with fellow Richard Rose-student August “Augie” Turak to co-found the Self Knowledge Symposium Foundation (SKSF). Gold has taught at major universities, produced the award-winning documentary, “The Prison Sutras,” and has lectured throughout the country. He currently volunteers his time to the SKSF as a teacher, advisor, and lecturer. Gold lives in Raleigh, NC with his wife Cathy, his daughter Abigail, and his dog Casey.

 

Real joy and true existence
is honored by just the tiny few
The fortunate ones who follow the opening
Most sit quietly or kneel living minor dreams
allowing small spaces to be rearranged
but afraid of the one thing
that forever will change
the day by day life that is left unlived and sadly passed through.

Love

Tony

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