Monday, January 16, 2017

Quote from How the Light Gets In

How the Light Gets In: Writing as a Spiritual Practice

by Pat Schneider

Oxford University Press, Oxford, England & New York        © 2013        303 pp.

"Einstein says there is 'a spirit manifest in the laws of the universe.' By 'the laws' I assume he means everywhere—within us as well as out there where 'the morning stars sing together,' as an ancient said. If there is a spirit, do the morning stars sing together inside us too? Does it communicate with us? Is it 'manifest' only in universal 'Laws,' or does it meet us personally? Can we pray? Are we heard? Does it answer? Do we hear?

There is a tale of a rabbi who was famous for his great prayers. One day, after a particularly brilliant display of his public praying, an angel appeared and told him that he was doing fairly well, but a man in a nearby village was better at praying. The rabbi went in search of the man and found him to be an illiterate tradesman. The rabbi asked, 'How did you pray on the last holy day?'

The man told him that he couldn’t even read—he only knew the first ten letters of the alphabet—so he felt inadequate to pray. 'So I said to God, ‘All I have are these ten letters; take them and combine them however you want so that they smell good to you’.

To pray is to open oneself completely, intimately, into the Presence that is beyond our ability to name. And we have so few letters! And the ones we have are sometimes very confusing. The poet William Wordsworth said a newborn child comes 'trailing clouds of glory.' He did not say, but it is true, that a newborn comes also trailing clouds of genetic material and family history; clouds of tradition, ritual, prejudice, and resistance to difference or change. Growing to maturity requires an incredible balancing act if we are to live at peace with our own portion of letters among the many alphabets, the many understandings of mystery. Both writing and praying are acts of deep vulnerability. It is so easy for us to mistrust our own ten letters of the alphabet. But if we do not reach into inner and outer space—for morning stars sing together in both—we may miss the most exquisite relationship human life offers." (pp. 9-10)

— submitted by Jennifer Knight

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Thursday, January 12, 2017

Hollyhock Cooks

Hollyhock Cooks: Food to Nourish Body, Mind and Soil   

by Linda Solomon and Moreka Jolar

New Society Publishers, Gabriola Island, British Columbia, Canada    © 2003    224 pp.

My mom was a meat, potatoes and salad cook. Then I spent most of my adult life living, working and eating with a volunteer organization in U.S. cities and in villages in Africa and India. So when I spent a week on retreat at Hollyhock (a spiritual retreat center) some time later, I was in culinary heaven. Much of their delicious food comes from their big, organic garden out back and from the sea that surrounds Cortez Island. Hollyhock is sacred ground where retreats are held year round, and the food is prepared with much love. So great to now have a cookbook!

Hollyhock Cooks: Food to Nourish Body, Mind and Soil includes over 300 yummy, creative recipes. In the healthy tradition of Diet for a Small Planet or the Moosewood Cookbook, HC also includes many seafood recipes, but no fowl or red meat. My favorites include Cauliflower & Quinoa Bake (with feta), Salmon Polenta Casserole, and Hollyhock Yeast Dressing. Next on my list are Black Bean Soup with Chipotle and Orange, Cod Dijonnaise, and Thai Sweet Potato Soup. This cookbook meets my primary criteria: recipes are especially tasty and easy to make.

-- reviewed by Sharry Lachman

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Monday, January 9, 2017

Quote from Walking on Water

Walking on Water

by Anthony De Mello

Crossroad Publishing Company, New York, New York        © 1998     208 pp.


"There is a wonderful line in the New Testament, where in speaking of love Paul says, 'Love does not brood over injury.' "  (p. 9)

-- submitted by Jennifer Knight

To visit the blog and see more reviews and quotes from books in the collection of Center for Sacred Sciences' Library, click here https://centerforsacredscienceslibrary.blogspot.com

Friday, January 6, 2017

The Shamans of Prehistory

The Shamans of Prehistory

by Jean Clottes and David Lewis-Williams

Harry N. Abrams, Inc., New York, New York       © 1998       114 pp.

Through the view of Shamanism, Jean Clottes, an expert in cave paintings, and David Lewis-Williams, a South African scholar of cave art and the customs of San Bushman, offer us their ideas on prehistoric markings in this book. The book is 11”x12” and contains 114 pages with 116 illustrations, including 90 full-color photographs. You can find this book in “New Arrivals” or “Art/Prehistory” in the CSS Library.

The color photographs are why I picked up the book originally. They are striking in their quality of color and detail. I didn’t read every page in this book; rather, I let the photographs lead me to the connecting text or I looked at the chapter headings and chose what seemed interesting to read. Check out the Notes and Bibliography section if you like footnotes and such, as I do.

I especially liked that the writers invite us to investigate with them the ideas they present. They ask the question, "Will we ever really know the meaning of these marks?", and they offer us the following response:

“We will no doubt never know, it is true, the details of the myths, rites, and cultural practices of these people who have been gone for so long. However, in spite of everything—in spite of the obstacles and even the ultimate possibilities—the pursuit of questions and searching for meaning through the various insights that arise are the only means to gain ground on this perilous path, to approach gradually—although never to arrive at—the modes of thinking and living of the Ice Age peoples. “ (p. 79)

-- reviewed by Barbara Goldberg

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Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Quote from The Firebird

The Firebird

by Demi

Henry Holt and Company, New York, New York     © 1994      32 pp.



Once upon a time the strong and dreaded
Tsar Ivan ruled
in faraway Russia.
Among his servants was a young archer,
Dimitri,
who rode a wise and magical
Horse of Power.
Like the horses of old,
his Horse of Power had a broad
chest, eyes like fire, and hooves of iron.

One day in the spring, Dimitri was riding
through the forest on the Horse of Power.
The trees were green and flowers blossomed everywhere. 
Squirrels and rabbits
hid in the undergrowth, but no birds sang.

"Why is the forest so silent?" the
archer wondered.



--  submitted by Jennifer Knight

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Friday, December 30, 2016

Ramana Maharshi and the Path of Self-knowledge

Ramana Maharshi and the Path of Self-knowledge: A Biography

by Arthur Osborne

Samuel Weiser, Inc., York Beach, Maine    © 1970     207 pp. 

This book details the life of Sri Ramana Maharshi living at Arunachala Hill in Tiruvanamali, teaching non-dual Advaita and promoting the self-inquiry question “Who Am I?” I think the author did an excellent job of describing Maharshi’s early awakening at age sixteen, his cave existence, life with his devotees, and daily darshans for all who came. I enjoyed reading the experiences with the animals that came to visit his Ashram which was later built, especially the cow Lakshmi who came alone for a daily visit from a village over a mile away.

I particularly loved the inclusion of Maharshi’s “prayer” to Arunachala Hill:  “To dwell without thought upon Thy nature is to lose one’s identity like a sugar doll immersed in the ocean.” (from the Eight Stanzas on Sri Arunachala). I really related to that in an unexplainable way. I also very much loved the description of the moments before his passing in 1950 at age 70 from a tumor in his arm . . . "a group of devotees unexpectedly began singing a beautiful song. On hearing it, Sri Bhagavan’s eyes opened and shone. He gave a brief smile of indescribable tenderness. From the outer edges of his eyes tears of bliss rolled down. One more deep breath, and no more. There was no struggle, no spasm, no other sign of death:  only that the next breath did not come.”

I highly recommend reading any of the books on Sri Ramana Maharshi’s life and teachings.

-- submitted by Kaiven Twospirit

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Monday, December 26, 2016

Quote from Zen Pioneer

Zen Pioneer: The Life and Work of Ruth Fuller Sasaki

by Isabel Stirling, forward by Gary Snyder

Shoemaker & Hoard, Emeryville, California    ©2006     295 pp.



"I stood in the small, quiet library of a temple called Ryosen-an. Here, in the midst of the Daitoku-ji Temple complex in Kyoto, Japan, I first encountered the remarkable life of Ruth Fuller Sasaki.


Ryosen-an has well over a thousand books and journals in English, Japanese, Chinese French, German, and some Sanskrit covering Buddhism, philosophy, literature, Eastern religions, and Japanese culture. The library, although open, ceased acquisitions in the late 1960s. Still, there was much to discover and learn here. Shelves full of the ancient, the rare, the classic.

I stood there in Japan and realized that Ruth Fuller Sasaki was a pivotal figure in the emergence and development of Zen Buddhism in America. Ruth was a wealthy, upper-middle-class society matron of Chicago at the turn of the century, merging her Christian, Victorian upbringing with a new life of Zen Buddhism when she began studying in Japan in the early 1930s.  By luck, coincidence--and some may say karma--on her first trip to Asia in 1930 (a three-month vacation with her husband, daughter, and governess), she was introduced to Dr. Daisetz T. Suzuki by William T. McGovern, an old family friend from Chicago. On her second trip to Japan in 1932, Suzuki introduced her to a Japanese master in Kyoto, Nanshinken Roshi, who accepted her as a student."  (p. xv)

--quote submitted by Jennifer Knight

To visit the blog and see more reviews and quotes from books in the collection of Center for Sacred Sciences' Library, click here https://centerforsacredscienceslibrary.blogspot.com