My Bookstore: Writers Celebrate Their Favorite Places to Browse, Read and Shop
Edited by Ronald Rice
I bought this book at my favorite bookstore, Northshire Bookstore in Manchester, VT and was not surprised to see it make the list. Why do I love it so much? I found my answer to be similar to the short essays in this quick and engaging read.
When I walk into Northshire, it feels like a book lover has opened their home and invited you in to browse, read and talk books. Buying is secondary. That said, I have never left empty handed or disappointed in a purchase. Occupying a prominent and central location in town, it overlooks the other shops. It has great space - lots of nooks and crannies with well-placed comfy chairs.The sad thing for me (but probably good for my bank account) is that I do not live in VT, just visit for vacations.
Libraries, on the other hand, feel institutional with their rows of dewey decimal labeled bookcases and books. Large stores like Barnes & Noble feel materialistic and capitalistic - all it wants to do is to make as much money as possible.
The stated goal of one of the bookstores, The Talking Leaves in Buffalo, NY is the reason I read.
They want to offer books that "open us up to new worlds, or illuminate more clearly our own; they stretch and deepen our vision and our comprehension of the universe and its creatures, cultures and ways."
The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success by Deepak Chopra
My daughter downloaded the audio book for us to listen to while driving to NYC earlier this month. Neither of us had read any of Chopra's books but felt we should in advance of meeting him, for Lauren had been invited to talk about her work as Executive Director for the Josh Anderson Foundation on his One World program.
I've since bought and re-read this short thought-provoking book. A synopsis of the seven laws reveals more a philosophy of life with practical ways to experience each law.
1) Law of Pure Potentiality - or said another way, how to access the soul. Chopra advocates the practice of silence, meditation and communion with nature.
2) Law of Giving - simple but easy to forget: freely give and freely receive.
3) Law of Karma or Cause and Effect - reminds me of this saying: "you reap what you sow". Because every action has a consequence, we should be consciously aware of every choice before acting and every reaction to outside stimuli by tuning into the heart. He says it will never lead us astray…our hearts know best.
4) Law of Least Effort - Nature is full of examples: "grass doesn't try to grow, it just grows. Fish don't try to swim, they just swim. Flowers don't try to bloom, they bloom. Birds don't try to fly, they just fly." Components are acceptance (accept this moment as it is now), responsibility (have a creative response to the moment as it is now) and defenselessness (refrain from holding onto my point of view, in other words, be open).
5) Law of Intention and Desire - this reminds me of the verse in Matthew 7:7-8: “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
6) Law of Detachment - goes hand in hand with above. This is for the controlling part of self. One must give up attachment to outcomes by welcoming and trusting the uncertain journey. "I will participate in everything with detached involvement."
7) Law of "Dharma" or Purpose in Life - asks the following questions: "What is my unique talent? How can I help? How can I serve?"
Life After Death: The Burden of Proof by Deepak Chopra
A very thought-provoking book which will take time to absorb, ponder and process. Understanding the soul and connecting with it has become a starting point for me.
The following descriptions from the book feels true:
"The soul is the most real aspect of the self and is:
- Never loses sight of you
- Connected to every other soul
- Shares God's omniscience
- Untouched by change
The soul is disguised when:
- Lives beyond time and space
- You are too tired or stressed
- You are pulled outside yourself
- Your attention is dominated by externals
- You let others think for you
- You act out of compulsion
- You are influenced by fear and anxiety
The soul is revealed when:
- You struggle and suffer
- You feel centered
- Your mind is clear
- You have the sensation that time has stopped
- You suddenly feel free of boundaries
- You are keenly self-aware
- You sense the truth
- You feel supremely loved or absolutely safe"
I like this quote very much:
There is a still, small point that watches all, witnesses all. Be with that stillness whenever you can. Notice it instead of sliding past it…..Find the I am inside yourself, and it will expand to fill you. When that happens, you are safe. Your being will be the same as your soul.
Kubler-Ross is best known for her seminal book, On Death and Dying, which I own but have yet to read.
Within these pages are 3 short essays taken from lectures Kubler-Ross gave in the late 70's - early 80's. By this time, she had spent many years with terminally ill patients, many of them children. She also studied hundreds of NDE (near death experience) cases and reports of her own out-of-body experience induced in a laboratory setting.
She emphatically states that death is not the end but rather a "transition to a higher state of consciousness where you continue to perceive, to understand, to laugh and to be able to grow."
We must, she argues, move from "an age of science and technology and materialism to a new age of genuine and authentic spirituality" which she defines as an "awareness that there is something far greater than we are, something that created this universe, created life, and that we are an authentic, important, significant part of it, and can contribute to its evolution."
She also advocates silence and meditation as a way to access the soul or "facet of divinity".
Learn to get in touch, in silence, within yourself. Get in touch with your own inner self and learn not to be afraid.
Kubler-Ross spent her professional life as a psychiatrist studying death and dying not knowing that her own would be prolonged and painful - nine years of partial paralysis due to numerous strokes. It was during this time that she co-wrote this and another: Life Lessons: Two Experts on Death and Dying Teach Us About the Mysteries of Life and Living with David Kessler.
Five years into my grief journey, I found this book helpful in validating my own experience. I have spent much time in the first four stages of denial, anger, bargaining, depression and only just recently, acceptance. It is a long, convoluted road with many ups and downs, ins and outs.
I would recommend to anyone who has suffered a devastating loss.