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Newsletter Number 19 • May 3, 2006


It is very nice to be back in Fairfield.  Not only has the weather been fabulous, a rarity for a Midwestern Spring, but I get to hang out some with Tony at 21st Century Books and Gifts (we have added a gift section which has been very well-received by our customers—created by Hap and Lin Mullenneaux, creators of Fairfield’s much loved Heaven on Earth Gift Shop).  Thanks to Tony I bought and read two books this month which I can’t wait to recommend.

700 Sundays, by Billy Crystal, is one of the few books I have read in my lifetime that I am almost sure everyone would enjoy. With Mother’s Day and Father’s Day coming up, I can’t think of a better gift for a parent.

The book was adapted from Crystal’s very successful one-man show of the same name. The title refers to the number of Sundays Billy spent with his father before his father’s untimely passing.

This book will definitely make you laugh and make you cry. It is a very personal story of growing up as a classic baby boomer. It is a story about family, friends, and an era of great innocence. Billy Crystal is very funny and very honest.

The book is short and sweet and will make anyone feel better for having read it.

Science and the Reenchantment of the Cosmos: The Rise of the Integral Vision of Reality is typical of the books I would never have found were it not for Tony. I consider this to be one of the best books I have read in many years. It has little or nothing in common with Billy Crystal’s book, but variety is the spice of life.

This book is an important effort to examine the most important philosophical and existential questions. What is the meaning of life? What is the nature of the birth of the Cosmos, and where is it going? What is the nature of human consciousness? Is human consciousness a function of the brain, or can it exist outside the body? Is there any such thing as immortality and/or reincarnation?

If those questions don’t interest you, then this is not a book for you. If you are interested in these questions and would like to glimpse the best available data developed by science, philosophers, and spiritual masters to try to approach an understanding of these issues, then this is a book you cannot afford to miss.

The book is short and to the point. It is easy to understand, and requires no technical, scientific, or philosophical training. The book is wonderful in its simplicity and yields a view of the universe and of consciousness that will excite and enthrall you.

The icing on the cake is part 3 which consists of short essays by brilliant scientists and commentators who provide additional insight and understanding to the points made by Laszlo.

On a scale of 1 to 10, I make this book a 10. I feel lucky to have read it. I feel like my life will be fuller and richer for having read it.

Len Oppenheim

I have several unique titles to discuss with you this merry month.

The first is a special order book I was able to peruse: Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Mission to Fight Terrorism and Build Nations . . . One School at a Time by Greg Mortenson & David Oliver Relin. The book looks like an absolutely fascinating read. It is a riveting and inspiring account of the author’s attempt to climb K2 (the world’s 2nd largest mountain peak).  Mortensen became very ill after the climb and was nursed back to health by the residents of a small Pakistani village. In return he promised to build the village’s first school. The idea snowballed and Mortensen went on to help build more than 50 schools across Pakistan and Afghanistan. This title would make a wonderful Mother’s day gift as it is a positive and uplifting account of the many non violent options available in countering the violent effects of religious extremism .

For the past several weeks the best selling title in our store has been The Journey: A Practical Guide to Healing Your Life and Setting Yourself Free by Brandon Bays. The book details the struggles of the author to cure a basketball size tumor in her uterus. Utilizing non invasive natural therapies as well relaxation techniques, Brandon’s tumor disappeared. This in turn caused huge emotional and psychological changes in her life. The author has pioneered a revolutionary paradigm for healing that goes beyond current mind-body wisdom. A very practical and uplifting title, this book shows the healing power of personal emotional work combined with relaxation techniques that not only heal the body but more importantly the soul.

Former Fairfield residents Robert Laporte and his wife Paula Baker-Laporte have co-authored a gorgeous book: Econest: Creating Sustainable Sanctuaries of Clay, Straw, and Timber. Just like birds, the original Econest builders, humans desire shelter that is non toxic and brings comfort to both the physical and the spiritual elements. Econest gives many examples of home owners throughout the country who have chosen to build in appreciation of the harmony inherent in nature, therefore consuming less energy and, less waste while creating a healthful and spiritual environment. Beautiful photographs throughout this book make it both practical and a joy to the senses. A great gift for anyone interested in a healthy nontoxic environment.

Another engaging recent arrival to our book shelves is Send in the Idiots: Stories from the Other Side of Autism by Kamran Nazeer. The author as a youngster was enrolled in a small school in New York for children diagnosed with autism. Years later as an adult Kamran went on to reconnect with 4 of his co pupils to help himself understand what it meant to grow up with autism. One former pupil had become a speechwriter unable to make eye contact, another a messenger who gets upset if you touch his bicycle, another a musically gifted but depressive pianist and the 4th a computer engineer who communicates difficult emotions through the use of hand puppets.

This is an alluring study of what makes humans human.

Recently a dear spiritual brother asked me for advice. He wanted me to help him discern the difference of the philosophy of David Hawkins (Power vs. Force) to the philosophy of relativism of Ayn Rand and explain it in a comprehensive way to his brother... Showing the advantages of one philosophy over another.

As soon as the words explain and philosophy, both used in the same sentence, entered my consciousness my head began to throb and a slight anxiety overtook my Zen calm.

In all honesty I get a headache from having to think too much “thought”. In the past the need to have my opinion validated by others was strong, another’s acceptance and agreement of my thoughts was a powerful self validating narcotic. This addiction has truly been a hard one for me to release, but the peace of acceptance of things as they are makes the release well worth the withdrawal. It makes life so much simpler just to be tolerant of whatever any one else is into. Besides, trying to argue a point of view takes too much energy... I find it is easier to say “Yes, I see your point” or “I am glad that works for you”.

Everything on earth is a game /play anyway... and all thoughts /philosophies are part of the actor’s role. Our script has already been written and the movie shot so we may as well enjoy it in all its diversities. Our physical existence/opinions/thought patterns/philosophies are just puppets of the divine. In the end it really does not matter. Life has no real consequences. Whether we believe in objectivism, David Hawkins, TM, Fascism, Socialism, or Brittany Spears … These concepts eventually will all dissolve and in the end all that remains is our pure rest in Being.

Nowadays if someone wants to pursue me in philosophical discussions.. I tell them I am under doctor’s order not to think too much. If they ask who my doctor is, I tell them Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj.

“The sage leads by hollowing their minds
But filling their hearts.

He weakens their ambition and strengthens their resolve
He helps people lose their knowledge and desires,

He causes confusion in those who think they know…

Those who pursue learning
Daily increase results.

Those who have heard the Tao
Daily drop something.

They decrease until
They arrive at a point of non-doing.
In doing nothing
There is nothing left undone.

The sage allows everything to come and go
Without effort or preference.
Because he has no expectations about results
He is never disappointed in how they turn out.”



PS For a guy that does not care to philosophize I certainly can get carried away.

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