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Posts Tagged ‘Buddhism’

A PIECE OF SKY, A GRAIN OF RICE: A memoir in four meditations ~Christine Hale

Monday, August 8th, 2016

I just need to state at the very beginning of this review that I am so happy I was sent this book for reading and review.  What a wonderful book, which arrived at perfect timing for what is happening in our world and the politics of the day.  So many people right now are asking why do people remain so ignorant and do not change their minds?   This memory is about how one of those people, who value programmed in the Blue Collar realm of Southern USA and how much effort it took to learn to reprogram those values and help her children succeed.

“In this layered collage of memory within memory, Hale recreates for readers her kaleidoscopic experience of a decades-long journey to acceptance and insight. Writer, prodigal daughter, single parent, Buddhist disciple, and, late in midlife, a newlywed, she is transformed through an unconventional relationship with a female spiritual teacher and an odd ritual of repeated tattooing with her two young adult children. “ (from book cover)

A PIECE OF SKY, A GRAIN OF RICE is poetically written as the segments over lap in telling her story and piecing together the facets of a life.  From her parents love-hate relationship and hard work ethic,over years of self-study and volunteering in a domestic violence center in New York, this southern woman begins to understand how physical, verbal, and sexual abuse played out in her own family and that was considered the normative behaviors of her historic family and of the culture of the working class.  Christine Hale drugged herself up for awhile and then found a mentor who assisted her in digging her way out and making changes, which led to changes in her own family structure and breaking the pattern and the mold of enculturation she had endured.

TLC Book Tours  sent me a copy of this book for review.

The author also studied at the same school I did in North Carolina and now lives in the same area I did my first social work practicum.  At 20, I arrived from a family that discussed everything and had value programmed with one “British Rules” parent and one “Creative Genius” thinker and I could see clearly in my new surroundings  the stuck in a rut life systems that were not going to work in the new century – how to change awareness and values?  It seemed to take a great deal of pain and the desire to change to escape one’s early programming.   Hale experiences that pain and sometimes believes her only “out” is suicide and yet she persists and change happens.   The telling of her story certainly opens doors for others to step through and find new hope and not just escape and death.  Change is hard work.

Even without getting tattooed most of us can benefit from reading this beautiful memoir and it may help many others in the reading.

Though I have to say that most Buddhist retreats I have partaken of, the centers have been immaculate and beautiful in their earthy settings and natural silence.  Her teacher’s centers were fairly awful facilities and would have made it extremely difficult for me not to be distracted and nearly impossible to let go.   More power to Christine Hale

From the cover:

“Christine Hale is the author of a novel, BASIL’S DREAM.  Ms. Hale’s creative non-fiction has appeared in ARTS & LETTERS, SPRY, STILL, HIPPOCAMPUS, and PRIME NUMBER, among other journals.  A fellow of MacDowell, Ucross, Hedgebrook, and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, she earned her MFA from Warren Wilson College.  She teaches in the Antioch University – Lost Angeles Low Residency MFA Program as well as the Great Smokies Writing Program in Asheville, North Carolina, where she and her husband live.”

www.christinehalebooks.com

Related:
Remember My Beauties
Wrong Highway
Whistling Women

ZEN MASTER TOVA TARANTINO TOSHIBA: The Illustrious and Delusional Abbess of Satire ~ Gabriel Constans

Monday, December 15th, 2014

How do you handle Satire?   This is a very tongue in cheek lesson reference the arrival of Buddhism to China and one needs a keen wit and a good twinkle in the eye for these lessons, koans, and questions!  What a Zen Master to discover!

ZEN MASTER TOVA TARANTINO TOSHIBA is Amazon Editor’s pick for Book of the Month and if you like satire you will not be disappointed by making this choice.

What the editors said on Amazon’s site:

“This fictional short-story collection challenges perceptions and illusions about religious masters, spiritual teachers, gurus, charlatans and holy men and women of all persuasions, while simultaneously tickling our funny bone and exercising the muscles our faces rely on for laughter. Zen Master Tova Tarantino Toshiba takes liberty with questionable material from the living sea, near Egypt; tofu paper, in Okinawa; a tomb, in Italy; a shaman, in Ethiopia; and a half-sister, in India. The words, quotes, koans and stories, of this soon to be classical work, include the timeless insights of Let the Worm’s Go, Dead Food, Reality Bites, Stealing the Buddha, Drip After Drip, Sound of One Eye, Catching Wind, Looking Good, My Cat’s Enlightened, Chocolate Box, and Sex, Drugs and Sushi Rolls.

“Enlightenment or laughs? With Gabriel Constans’ book you don’t have to choose. Zen masters usually have a sense of humor, or need one. Gabriel’s got it, and he gives us a world of illusions to laugh about.” Bob Fenster, author of Duh: The Stupid History of the Human Race “

Truly I am having difficulty writing this review, because I start to say something and then dive back into a story and get lost in laughing or crying over a concept explanation or questionable answer.  My Kindle says the book is about 2 hours of reading, but I dare you to read it cover to cover.   Why I just had to deal with my health insurance company and ended the call by picking up this book and learning about Wandering and Meditation by relentless napping.  I just think you should get this book and then do not drink anything while reading the chapters randomly.

Gabriel Constans biography on Amazon:

“Gabriel’s latest works of fiction are THE LAST CONCEPTION and ZEN MASTER TOVA TARANTINO TOSHIBA: THE ILLUSTRIOUS AND DELUSIONAL ABBESS OF SATIRE. Previous fiction includes BUDDHA’S WIFE, SAINT CATHERINE’S BABY, THE SKIN OF LIONS, and JUST A HEARTBEAT AWAY.

He has written for numerous magazines, newspapers and journals throughout North America, Europe, Africa and Asia; has 13 books published in the U.S. and continues to discover great stories, provide editing and consultation services and write fiction and non-fiction. His latest work of non-fiction is DON’T JUST SIT THERE, DO SOMETHING: GRIEF’S WAKE UP CALL.

Dr. Constans has worked as a trauma counselor in a variety of situations and environments, most notably with local and international non-profit organizations such as hospice, the coroner’s office, hospitals, state prisons, the ROP Center for Street Children and the Ihangane Project (both in Rwanda).

His classes and books on grief, loss, hope and transformation, can be found at The Figley Institute and Quantum Continuing Education Online.

Gabriel’s favorite writers include Deena Metzger, Isabel Allende, Wallace Stegner, Toni Morrison, Bell Hooks, Zora Neale Hurston, Dave Eggers, Ann Petry, Carlos Ruiz Zafon, Alice Walker, Barbara Kingslover, Joan Tewkesbury and James Bladwin.

Oh yes!  Constans sent me a copy of his book for review – Lucky me!

I highly recommend this book, I enjoyed this book, I will return to re-read this book often, I so enjoy this kind of humor and I know you know someone who needs a great laugh and twinkly insight.

RELATED READING
The Last Conception
Mrs. Kaplan and the Matzoh Ball of Death
The Garden Plot
US: A Novel 

Lunch With Buddha ~Roland Merullo

Tuesday, November 20th, 2012


Lunch With Buddha is a second road trip with Otto Ringling and Voyla Rinpoche which begins in Washington State and takes us to North Dakota.   The first road trip for these two can be found in the Merullo novel of 2007 called Breakfast With Buddha.   I discovered this book in May of 2009 and so enjoyed it that I put it on my summer reading list and reviewed the book on my own.

I was just roaming around Amazon and this opening paragraph on the Amazon review of Breakfast with Buddha just snagged my full attention:

“The only thing certain about a journey is that it has a beginning and an end – for you never know what may happen along the way. And so it is with this journey into the minds and souls of two very different men – one of them in search of truth, the other a man who may already have found it.”

Lunch With Buddha  is a new road trip, because Ringling has made a promise to his wife that he will scatter her ashes in a mountain spot where they went camping when they were newly married.  It is seven months after the death of his wife from cancer and it is time to take care of his promise.  The Buddhist monk in the first story is now his brother-in-law and the father of his 5 year old niece.   The retreat center on the family farm in North Dakota is up and running and after the family returns the ashes to the earth, the two men are to drive a gift truck back to the retreat center.

Merullo actually took this trip with his children in order to write this second book which must be going to become a trilogy. (I expect in a few years that we will see the Dinner with Buddha on the book shelves – The stage has been set)  My copy of the novel came complete with photographs of the various locations that they shared and the specialty meals that they enjoyed.  I have always wanted to go to CAVE B  and the Grand Coulee Dam  but because I live in Washington State we just go past those spots getting to someplace else.

There is as much detail about the other states that the team travels through also and their swim in Yellowstone is a delightful segment I thoroughly enjoyed.  The duo are very respectful of each other as Ringling moves from grief to mourning and the Monk assists in the letting go and looking towards the future and the teaching of his child to use her gifts.  The current US elections add to the story line and the conversation and the characters that they meet along the way add an extraordinary dimension and quirkiness to the journey.

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When TLC book Tours asked me to review this book, I just jumped right up in the air – no lie – and happy danced.  In the wakeful moments of the past three years when I just could not sleep, I have read  Breakfast With Buddha  3 more times.  It just delights me and calms me down into a centered space.  The questions that Otto Ringling is asking are the questions that I am contemplating.  The book can pull me away from worry and anger in just a moment or two of reading.


When the Independent publisher, contacted me early on, I joined the Facebook page for Lunch with Buddha and sent out a huge “bring it on” message.   I had so much trouble waiting that I purchased another book by Merullo in the mean and explored his other words.  I chose A Little Love Story I was not disappointed.   I just enjoy Merullo’s style – play with words and ideas.

5-Ladybugs

I am filled with gratitude for having been given a copy of this book to read and I say a huge thank you. The book also supports an Independent publishing company, PFP Publishing and that feels good too.  TLC and Newtonville Books are offering up a free copy of this book for the best comment – so what would you like to say?  What questions would ask the author?

Sometimes a second story on the same pathway is not so wonderful – this was not the case with LUNCH WITH BUDDHA It was a joy to read and explore. I was fully engaged in the road trip, every mile of the way.

Lunch with Buddha home page
Roland Merullo web page

If you purchase anything from Amazon or Powell’s from this site, I will receive a few beans in my bucket.  Thank you.  Donations also welcomed.

Related Reading:
Breakfast With Buddha
The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry
Walter’s Muse

HOW TO BE SICK: A Buddhist Inspired Guide For The Chronically Ill and Their Caregivers ~By Toni Bernhard

Thursday, October 6th, 2011

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My acupuncturist recommended this book to me and I am so pleased that I bought a copy and read it from cover to cover. It was a wonderful companion to reading Your Medical Mind and it brought be some peace, hope and a change of attitude.

Ms. Bernhard was headed out on an adventure with her husband.  She left her job as a law professor in California and boarded an airplane to explore and enjoy a short visit in Paris.  She arrived in Paris with a viral infection, which has left her ill and fatigued for the last nearly 12 years.  She tried to go back to work part time for 2.5 years of her illness and this only aggravated her condition.  She had to retire early, she had to change her own lifestyle, and she became almost totally dependent on her husband for her caregiving.

“ This is a major contribution and an immensely wise book”  Larry Dossey MD.

As a practicing Buddhist before the onset of her illness, she was disheartened that she could not longer attend retreats and trainings and had to let her husband take over her practice group which met in their home.  Buddhism is a lifestyle choice – not a religion – so one needs to practice and continually keep growing and learning.  It is this practice and learning that gave her life new meaning and assisted her in writing this book to help others.

She has tried everything from traditional medications, to infectious disease specialists, and every alternative and historic medical opportunity available to her.  Bernhard keeps researching and discovering new things to try and is willing to take on insurance agencies in order to get herself healed.

Her chapter on the huge box of non-healing supplements that she has tried and other offerings is quite amazing and that so many folks have been there and done that is not surprising.  It is actually a relief to know that one is not alone in the pursuit of recovery.

Bernhard was finally labeled Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, which she calls a garbage or trash can diagnosis. No one knows how to heal it and it manifests differently in each person.  She is left with not being able to take her granddaughter to events, or travel, or often to sit down for holiday dinners with her family. She never knows what she will be able to accomplish each day.

So she decided to make her illness her Buddhist Practice and has been able to find with her attitude change and tools for making those changes some truly joyous times in her life.   She can use the Internet to make new friends, because we all know that people are busy and do not have time for those who are ill; they do not want to catch something either.   Bernhard has changed feelings of isolation into a study of solitude, which is lovely to read and embrace what she has learned; incorporating these discoveries into one’s own life and experiences.

Her chapter and words about caregivers is a work of art.  This disease changed both her life and her husband’s life dramatically and deeply.

“Sometimes the worst thing that happened to you, the thing you think you cannot survive…it’s the thing that makes you better than you used to be.”

This is a quote from dialogue in a novel I just read, but it jumped out at me after reading HOW TO BE SICK.   For this is a book about how to change crisis into opportunity and how a person can make their life be their best life ever no matter the circumstances.

The book is grounded in Buddhism and is a remarkable story about one woman’s experience with chronic illness.  It is well worth the read and I am sure that everyone knows someone who could benefit from experiencing this book.

Trusting what you get, do you have a recommendation for us of words that helped you heal and be the best that you can be?  Looking forward to your comments.

I purchased this book myself and no one or publisher paid me to review this book.  If you purchase anything from Amazon (not kindle) from this site, I will receive a few beans in my bucket.

Would love to have you subscribe by RSS or email!

If you enjoyed what you read here you might also enjoy my other sites  Wise Ears and Biking Architect

Toni Bernhard’s Blog

Related Reading:
Your Medical Mind
Trust What You Get
Willpower
Poser: My Life in 23 Yoga Poses