The Way of Beauty: Five Meditations for Spiritual Transformation
by François Cheng
François Cheng is a Chinese-French writer who references art and language from both cultures as well as Taoism in his discussion of beauty. Cheng presents some interesting ideas, particularly in the fourth and fifth meditations, within an overall esoteric and meandering text.
My favorite thought from this book is the idea of beauty as an experience as opposed to an attribute. “True beauty does not reside only in what is already manifest as beauty… It is a becoming, and the dimension of spirit or soul is vital to it… Beauty is always a becoming, an advent, if not to say an epiphany… Beauty implies interconnectedness, interaction, an encounter between the elements that constitute an occurrence of beauty, between the beauty present and the gaze that beholds it.” Continue reading →
Happiness: A Guide to Developing Life’s Most Important Skill
by Matthieu Ricard
Matthieu Ricard gave up a career in cellular genetics at the Institut Pasteur to study Buddhism in the Himalayas. In this book he shares his wisdom about happiness drawing from thirty-five years of studying Buddhism and psychology.
“A change, even a tiny one, in the way we manage our thoughts and perceive and interpret the world can significantly change our existence. Changing the way we experience transitory emotions leads to a change in our moods and to a lasting transformation of our way of being.” Continue reading →
The Prophet offers wisdom on 26 topics—about three pages on each. Gibran writes in poetic prose with a liberal use of archaic words, presumably to sound biblical. Some of the meaning is immediately clear, while other parts require some reflection to decipher the deeper meaning.
On Work. The author stresses the importance of finding work you enjoy. “For if you bake bread with indifference, you bake a bitter bread that feeds but half man’s hunger. And if you grudge the crushing of the grapes, your grudge distils a poison in the wine.”
On Marriage. Gibran observes that marriage is a union between individuals, not a merger. “Let there be spaces in your togetherness, and let the winds of the heavens dance between you… The oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.” Continue reading →
The Tao of Pooh is about “how to stay happy and calm in all circumstances.” Benjamin Hoff uses the characters and stories from Winnie-the-Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner to explain basic concepts of Taoism. He also brilliantly integrates his own brief dialogue with the characters as segues into explanations of Taoist principles. Tao (pronounced DAO) means “the way.” Continue reading →
Lama Marut, aka Brian K. Smith, was a professor of comparative religion, he studied Hinduism and Sanskrit in India, he was a Buddhist monk, and he is the son of a Baptist preacher. So he presents a well-informed viewpoint rather than a myopic dogma. Fortunately, you don’t need to climb a mountain to be enlightened by this wise man; he imparts wisdom in his book, Be Nobody.
Marut writes about living in the iEra. “Our contemporary culture of consumerism, materialism, narcissism, and the worship of fame encourages the idea that we will be happy only when we become exceptional. But maybe we’ve got it wrong—exactly wrong. Maybe our deepest and most authentic happiness will be found only when we finally lay down this heavy burden of trying to be a somebody… Maybe true fulfillment in life requires an emptying, not a filling.” Continue reading →