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The Wisdom To Know The Difference ~Eileen Flanagan

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

The Wisdom to Know the Difference cover

I savored every single page of this book.  I knew that from the time of the book’s arrival and the posting date I would not have time to read it twice, which is my usual practice when I am reviewing for someone else.   I was also aware that with a holiday in the middle of my allotted time frame, company and special events, I would need to read with greater care and depth; I would need to be able to put the book down and pick it up again when the opportunities arose.

The book is about discernment and its relationship to CHANGE.  Flanagan’s writing style is easy and detailed as she creates the stages of change, relates anecdotal stories of individuals, and pulls the reader into the words of the historic and religious concepts which are part of the path to spiritual awakening and growth.   The author freely shares her own stories along with the stories of approximately 30 other individuals

The stories and lessons are about everyday moments, not so much about the huge heroic events of the “hero’s” life, rather those daily events which bring about more self-realization and actualization.  The book is about the spiritual changes that humans need  to add meaning and depth to their journey.    Although there are many, many references to the beliefs within a large number of religious traditions, this book is about an individual’s spiritual questing and path.

The book begins with a prayer that is credited to Reinhold Niebuhr, an advocate for social justice and a Protestant theologian, who delivered this prayer in a sermon during World War II

God, give us grace
To accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed,
Courage to change the things that should be changed,
And the wisdom to distinguish the one from the other.

Most of us know a more recent variation of these words which is called the Serenity Prayer used in Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meetings around the world to work with addictions and behavior changes.

The author says at the start:  “…both serenity and courage are the fruits of learning to trust and let go of fear. For this reason, The Wisdom to Know the Difference is organized around spiritual lessons that can help you live fearlessly:  The Courage to Question; Knowing Yourself; Seeking Divine Wisdom; Shifting Your Perspective; Practicing Loving Acceptance; Letting Go of Outcomes; and finding Wisdom in Community.”

In the middle of reading this book my partner and I were paying off an uncomfortable debt and designing a new budget.  Our discussions were not producing any outcomes we could agree upon and the tensions were rising.  I found myself using the discussion questions at the end of each chapter within the context of our disagreements.   These were outstanding questions for letting go of our hoped for outcomes and in assisting us to truly communicate and accept each others feelings and ideas.

It is the little things that can make a huge difference.   I realized I was hanging onto wanting someone to come in and clean my house, when what would make me feel better and more courageous, would be to figure out how do some traveling and explore communities, people and cultures.  I already have a fine practice of meditative cleaning and I could certainly use some more action and interaction to build my spirit.

I found 31 quotes that I thought were powerful.  I copied them onto 3×5 cards and put them in a stack to read each day before my walk, so I can think on these things as I move.   Here is the one I read this morning:

When you are growing up, you know you are going to transform the world.  You’ll eliminate racism in your lifetime.  You’ll eliminate sexism in your lifetime.  And at some point you look and go, WOW this is still going to be here when I’m gone.  Damn.  I could live, and I could die, and the world would not have transformed in the way that I had hoped.  ~Eileen Flanagan’s Friend

For Wednesday the card says:
“What we can do is try to see each setback or inconvenience as an opportunity to develop wisdom.”

For Friday the card says:
“Father Michael compares collective effort to a rope that is made up of many thin threads that together can pull a ship.  Community is strengthening.”

I am going to read this book again.  I am going to give copies of this book to several friends as gifts.

I believe I enjoyed this book even more because it formed a trilogy of books about change and awakening to inspire one to be their best and live their best life.

The books of the trilogy and my reviews:
The Courage to be Free
The Gifts of Imperfection
The Wisdom to Know the Difference  (this post)

I would rate this book  5-Ladybugs

If you are a person who believes one religion has ALL the RIGHT answers, I do not think you would like this book at all.  The author is quite good at sharing how this spiritual path is part of many religions – the similarities of the spiritual experience.  The author is a practicing Quaker.

I received a copy of this book from TLC book tours in compensation for reviewing this book

tlc logo

This book is available through Amazon.com via this blog site.  If you order this book via this site I will receive a few beans in my bucket.

The full book tour Schedule

Eileen Flanagan’s Website

Looking forward to your comments and words of wisdom about change and spiritual quests.  Do you have some special practices that give you courage?   When do you know when to “let go”?  Do other people’s stories assist you in discovering your wisdom?