With nearly 10 million Americans expected to develop Alzheimer's and the fear of mental decline surpassing the fear of cancer or heart disease in adults over the age of 55, recent research has turned to new methods of slowing and preventing the development of brain diseases associated with aging. Read more about how the management of health conditions and lifestyle habits can possibly prevent Alzheimer's in the article "Alzheimer Prevention Strategies."
I’m not ashamed to admit I am neither a student nor a fan of extended philosophical discourse or writing. I admire people with the ability to engage in such pursuits, but both generally make my head hurt. So if you ask what I think of “philosophy” I might roll my eyes and then give you a wink. I am, however, enamored with questions. And from the perspective of writer, lecturer, workshop leader and philosophy and religion professor Sam Keen, that may just make me (and most everyone I know) a philosopher. Keen calls himself a “skilled explorer” rather than a philosopher. He states, “The practice of philosophy is a way of life that results from falling in love with questions—the great mythic questions that can never be given definitive answers.”
Perhaps the basic misconception that often elevates the words “philosophy” and “philosopher” into the realm of some esoteric endeavor that most of us don’t the inclination for these days—is that it takes a great deal of study and thought. Who has time for all that studying and thinking? But when you boil it right down to something as fundamental as remaining curious, most of us can handle that. Most of us already ask ourselves and each other the “questions” that have been around since man first scratched his head in puzzlement. The famous Descartes quote “I think therefore I am” is seldom quoted in its entirety “I doubt, therefore I think; I think therefore I am”, but it certainly illustrates that the questions are always there, always pushing, prodding, and propelling us to something new. What would life be without the questions?
So what are the “great mythic questions” to which Keen alludes? There are a number of “Top Philosophical Questions” lists to be found online, some tongue-in-cheek, others quite serious. I am rather fond of this rather simple, but profound list promulgated by Pricipia Cybernetica Project (PCP), an international organization with the mission to “…develop a complete philosophy or “world-view”, based on the principles of evolutionary cybernetics, and supported by collaborative computer technologies.”
Eternal Philosophical Questions
Why is there something rather than nothing?
Why is the world the way it is?
Where does it all come from?
Where do we come from?
Who are we?
Where are we going to?What is the purpose of it all?
Is there a God?
What is good and what is evil?
What is knowledge?
What is truth?
What is consciousness?
Do we have free will?
How should we act?
How can we be happy?
Why can’t we live forever?
What is the meaning of life?
Keen offers up the following more personal questions on his website, Philosophy for Everyday Life (www.samkeen.com):
How can I find a meaning, purpose, vocation for my life?
What can I know?
What ought I to do?
For what may I hope?
Is there life beyond death?
Whom do I love?
Who loves me?
What curtails my freedom?
How can I escape from the constricting social, political, sexual, and economic myths that were imposed on me by my family and culture?
To what cause, ideal, faith may I surrender without destroying the integrity of my self?What does it mean to experience the sacred?
How can I live a spirited life in a world dominated by a secular-technological-economic vision of reality?
How can we create a more just and peaceful world?
No doubt, these questions have arisen for most of us in some form, at some time in our lives. Does just entertaining them make us all philosophers? You be the judge. Cicero said “Philosophy, rightly defined, is simply the love of wisdom”, and for me, to love wisdom is to remain ever-curious and questioning. I’m still working on my personal list of the philosophical questions that have defined and continue to influence my exploration of this life. And just out of curiosity, what would your list look like?
The heart-mind connection may well have more than psychological or spiritual implications when it comes to the way we live and how we choose our livelihoods than we ever imagined. I saw Crack in the Cosmic Egg author and educator Joseph Chilton Pearce speak last year about his 2007 book The Death of Religion and the Rebirth of Spirit: A Return to the Intelligence of the Heart and what really struck me in his discussion of current neuroscientific discoveries about the brain and the heart was this comment:
"The idea that we can think with our hearts is no longer just a metaphor, but is, in fact, a very real phenomenon. We now know this because the combined research of two or three fields is proving that the heart is the major center of intelligence in human beings."
Pearce states that more than 65% of the cells of the human heart are actually neural cells, not just muscle cells as once believed, and that they are identical to brain cells with the same connecting links and neurotransmitters. He goes on to talk about the way the brain and the heart are engaged in a constant communication that we are not consciously aware of, a process that keeps the body working as a harmonious whole. Pearce believes the emotional brain makes a qualitative evaluation of our experiences, sends the information to the heart, and then the heart assists the brain in making an appropriate response.
It’s my opinion that Pearce’s supposition is bolstered by this little factoid from the world of brain research. Acclaimed neurologist, neuropsychiatrist and author of over fifteen books on the brain Richard Restak talks about science’s recognition of a cognitive unconscious: “Brain research was leading to the counterintuitive notion (that)…Our actions originate outside of our awareness; consciousness plays little part in determining how we respond to many aspects of the world around us. This is a heady and sobering thought: We don’t so much make decisions as our brain makes them for us.”
So what happens when you combine the idea that our heart is more than just a pump and our brain acts in ways of which we are not conscious? You get a whole new picture of how we really make choices in our lives. Both Pearce and Restak contend that the mere recognition that we may not “own” all our actions at a fully conscious level is just the beginning of the unraveling the mysteries of the human mind. Advances in technology for measuring and imaging brain activity coupled with a growing curiosity about just how much we can raise our awareness of this mental/physical process that occurs below our normal conscious radar are taking researchers in a number of fascinating directions. It will be interesting to see where the exploration of the heart-mind connection in practices such as meditation, new and improved biofeedback techniques and mindfulness training take us.
The jury is still out whether our hearts are more intelligent and actively involved in our decisions than we think, but I’m betting there’s more wisdom in the heart-centered metaphors that have been passed down in our language for eons than we ever acknowledged. My guess is we just have to remember to always make room for our heart’s point-of-view. I like Jacques Benigne Bossuel’s take on the whole heart-brain issue--“The heart has reasons that reason does not understand.” Sometimes we just have to let our brain get out of the way.
Anyone who accepts Taleb's basic premise in The Black Swan that we can understand, assess and predict a lot less than we THINK we can, probably wouldn't choose any number of professions that require generating results through the analysis of data, particularly about buying trends or people's behavior. Taleb addresses the inequities inherent in trying to strategize and make decisions based on past occurences, and uses books, movies and music as examples of how talent, hard work and previous popularity cannot predict success. I readily admit I don't really understand most of what Taleb says, I just know that something about it rings true for me in a place that defies rational analysis. And that's where Black Swanology comes in.
Two elements make up my marketing bastardization of Taleb's theory. 1) We can't ever figure out what people will like, so we must only create what is personally meaningful 2) We can't ever figure out how the product will eventually reach the right audience, so we just have to put it out there in as many ways as we can and allow it to find them on its own.
I know most people will shake their heads at this theory. And rightly so. If you google the concept of spaghetti marketing, which is what this sounds like, you get a lot of gurus telling you that the idea of simply throwing marketing dollars out there in some random fashion to "see what sticks" is a huge waste of time and money. But Black Swanology is NOT about simply throwing up one's hands and allowing random events to dictate anything. It's about opening up to the possibility that there are principles at work that we just can't know or control, and in order to make decisions we "need to focus on the consequences (which you can know) rather than the probability (which you can't know)..."
Taleb gives some suggestions for what to do when prediction is impossible. They are deceptively simple. 1) Be human 2) Be prepared 3) Understand the true difference positive and negative outcomes 4) Do not be narrow-minded 5) Seize anything that looks like an opportunity 6) Be aware of, but do not place any faith in prognosticators, official or otherwise.
I would add one more suggestion. Follow your heart. If making business decisions is really about developing clarity of purpose, about knowing that what you do matters to YOU, and about accepting uncertainty, always staying in line with what you intuitively know to be true for YOU can only enhance the process. There's something freeing in simply following your heart and seeing what happens. Taleb doesn't specifically address the heart-mind connection as an element of his black swan discussion, but it's my guess that when he says "You have far more control over your life if you decide on the criterion by yourself," and "It is more difficult to be a loser in a game you set up yourself" he's not far from "follow your heart". And in the end, if no one notices what you've created, if you don't find great commercial success for your product, you will still have the satisfaction of having done what you love. And after all is said and done, isn't doing what we truly love really the only black swan that matters anyway?371d36d75e05eda735858f8e467be99c
Attention. Uhhumm. Attention everyone. Hey! Listen up! What's wrong with you people? I've got something that you might just want to hear! Why is it so difficult to get anyone's attention these days?
I have asked myself this question quite a bit, not only when trying to learn new ways to get attention for my clients, but in figuring out how to make the topics I love to write about more marketable in an over-saturated, overworked, overly rushed marketplace. What does it take to stand out these days? And I'm not talking about having the next best-seller, platinum record, or prestigious show at the Metropolitan. I'm talking about garnering enough attention to make a living wage off what you love to do.
I haven't figured it out yet, I'm still counting my pennies at the end of the month, but what I have done is begin to make peace with the effort. When a friend began raving about a book by Nassim Nicholas Taleb called The Black Swan, I became intrigued by the psychology of, in relation to marketing the creative arts, something he writes in the beginning of Part 1:
"Read books are far less valuable than unread ones."
Ok, so not the best marketing slogan for someone wanting to sell books. And if you carry it a little farther, you could say "Heard music is far less valuable than unheard music" or "Seen art is far less valuable than unseen art." But here's Taleb's point.
"We tend to treat our knowledge as personal property to be protected and defended. It is an ornament that allows us to rise in the pecking order...we take what we know a little too seriously."
Taleb goes on at length to explain the phenomenon of "black swan" occurrences, or highly improbable events with three basic characteristics: 1) they could not have been predicted 2) they had massive impact and 3) we try to explain (and, I might add, figure out how to repeat the financially lucrative events) afterwards. He cites 911 and the meteoric rise of Google as prominent black swans, but believes that black swan events are the norm rather than the exception. Taleb contends that being wired to believe that we can understand, explain and predict anything in the world is a basic human pathology that keeps us enslaved to what we know rather than open to the relevancy of what we don't know. Hence, we don't like to even acknowledge the existence of black swans. Accepting unpredictability doesn't reinforce our ego's delusion that we can figure out anything and everything if we just put our minds to the task. It's damn near impossible for most of us to grasp that stepping into the uncertainty of our existence is the first step to truly being free.
Alright, so what does this have to do with marketing, particularly marketing creative material? My guess is that it's critical in the increasingly massive information age where we now exist. We are going to have to change our thinking, to accept at a very deep level that there are more books than can possibly be read, more music than can ever be heard and more art than can ever be seen. Nothing that worked the first time will work again in the same way. No amount of hard work and perserverance will make a dent in the sheer volume of material available. There is too much to pay attention to, with very few useful ways to sort it out. What ends up rising to the top of the barrel is completely random.
I'm not saying that we should throw out everything we know about delivering books, music and art to the widest audience possible. We still have to do what we know how to do. What I am suggesting however, is that when we understand that nothing we do to predict success is valid, we give POSITIVE black swans more space to arise from our creativity. Once we let go of what we know about successful writers, musicians and artists--once we stop trying to explain the successes of popular creative icons--once we refuse to accept our brain's propensity for rewarding what we already know with even more attention rather than encouraging a healthy curiosity about what we don't know--we can begin to benefit from the "successful" black swans rather than try to emulate, envy or curse their luck. And how do we do that, you ask?
Always keep more books we haven't read in the library than we've read. Don't waste precious energy analyzing what's already been done, why it worked and how to make it happen again. Let the inherrent unpredictability of life free our creative spirit. And most of all, awaken to the black swans everywhere. They have a whole lot to teach us about what we don't know. And maybe, just maybe, giving our full attention to what we love will get some attention in return.
But I'm not betting on it. I'm just doing it and seeing what happens.371d36d75e05eda735858f8e467be99c
“Let the beauty you love be what you do. There are a thousand ways to kneel and kiss the earth.” ~Rumi
I adopted that tagline as my personal motto a few months ago when I was feeling very discouraged about getting my freelancing business off the ground. I had given up trying to survive on what I was making from selling articles to magazines and began managing a very talented musician. We were both broke, and at our first business meeting looked in each other’s eyes and said simultaneously “I’m tired of being poor.” I didn’t know how a starving writer was going to help a starving musician do anything but starve a little longer, but we popped a bottle of champagne and set off on a new path together.
As I have gotten to know this amazing individual, he has become the epitome of the “Let the beauty” quote to me. He has been slogging away at making a living as a musician for more than a decade, living out of a suitcase and barely suriving most of the time. Yet despite the trials and tribulations and a desire for what he does to be more financially rewarding, he’s never far from the belief that if we are living our passion and telling the truth as we see it, we have everything we need. He has the keen ability to turn nearly every event in his life into a touching and deeply personal, yet universally meaningful song. This uncanny gift and his 1000+ songs have never translated into anything other than minor notariety in a small circle of music lovers. ”How could this be?” I thought the first time I heard his music. It’s poetic and entertaining and moving. I have been perplexed by his lack of commercial success, but have developed a strong admiration for his ability to perservere.
A few nights ago I attended a concert by my dear friend and business partner. He was flushed and nervous despite having spent thousands of nights just like that doing the exact same thing. I have seen him prepare and perform enough to know how much of his heart he pours into every show, and yet again, he blew my mind with the innovative and touching material he pulled out of his box of tricks. Each of his songs are moments when he finds yet another way to kneel and kiss the earth, and each time he sings them he is weaving those moments together to create them anew for us. After the appreciative audience had departed and we were closing up the event, I heard him telling someone “It’s nights like these that remind me why I do what I do”.
Me too, my friend, me too.371d36d75e05eda735858f8e467be99c
It was becoming a bad situation. I had been a live-in caretaker for a dear woman with dementia for over a year when I began to experience an increasingly short temper and inability to complete the other part-time work I engaged in from home. The repetitive questions my charge bombarded me with each day were driving me to distraction. It reminded me of the incessant questioning my son had engaged in as a two-year old and the recurring "why" my friend's son with autism chants like a mantra as he taps his palm in a tick he is compelled to repeat. No matter how simple the question, any answers I might give any of them were fleeting and insufficient. In their minds, the questions were always unanswerable.
A songwriter friend brought me abruptly back to my own simple questions recently when I asked him about the source of his prolific creativity. We had been instant messaging online about his music career when his dial-up internet connection bumped him offline. In the mere minutes it took for his system to reconnect, he wrote a song and sent me the words. As a writer who struggles with her own muse, I was duly impressed. "How do I plug into that wellspring?" I asked him with sincerity. "It usually starts with a simple question or observation and just moves from there," he replied. I knew a bit about his writing, had watched him go through periods of intense composing. It was a sight to behold, reminiscent of demonic possession and religious bliss all rolled into one. I wanted to know more, so I shared with him my tendency to pass over the simple questions because they are so mundane and unanswerable. I am always gravitating towards some new, complex problem to work on. Complexity has always seemed so much more satisfying, more intelligent, more productive. He told me a story.
As a young man he had worked in an experimental program in Austin, Texas that brought Alzheimer's patients and children in daycare together for activities. He said the one thing that struck him most poignantly about the experience was how similar the questions his charges asked again and again were to his own, and how equally unsatisfactory the answers were. "Am I alone?" was one woman's mantra. "No, I'm here with you," my friend would answer. "Am I alone?" she would repeat moments later. "No, your daughter is coming soon," he would say in hopes of assuaging her fears with the familiarity and comfort of her child. "Am I alone?" she would query again. "No, God is always with you."
I deeply felt his point, so I began thinking about simple questions. It occurred to me that despite the seemingly vast number of variables that go into the living of each life, we are all moving and crying and reaching for the answers to the same simple questions. Read the newspaper. Listen to your family, friends and neighbors. Beneath every convoluted story you will find them. The who, what, where, when, and whys we can never truly answer. We're stuck with them. Yet unlike my comrade who turns them into song, most of us hide the unanswerable in layers of complexity.
As my day continued after that amazing conversation about creativity, more examples of how we run from the simple questions popped up. Another friend stopped by to chat about a book he was reading and offer news of a mutual friend with early onset Alzheimer's. We talked about how the elderly can sometimes reinvent the truth and create a new reality. How they may come to believe things that couldn't possibly be true. My friend and I discussed ways to help individuals with these kinds of brain issues-dementia, Alzheimer's, autism, even the tendency to misinterpret reality- wondered if they could be trained to stick with acceptable answers to their questions, to recognize reality, and eventually stop asking their questions all together.
Mulling all these ideas, I went back to my work when he left--a set of interview questions for an author's press package I was compiling. His book is about using the discoveries of science to illuminate the spiritual journey. The author's basic premise is that quantum mechanics has now proven there are different planes of existence, and while the body fully inhabits the physical plane, the "soul" originates from a nonphysical plane and can only interact with the physical world by means of the brain. He contends that through this brain-body association, the soul forgets how to be aware of the nonphysical planes, yet through specific practices the soul can regain its awareness. The author believes we are able to experience all levels of existence by circumventing the "goings-on" of the brain.
I paused when I finished writing the set of intricate interview questions. "Wait a minute," I thought. "What questions are each and every soul asking again and again in this quest to wake up to the source? Could it be as simple (or even simpler) as ‘WHO, WHAT, WHERE, WHEN, WHY?" I sat a bit stunned, considering the differences between me and the elderly I had been discussing, a young child, or my friend's son with autism. Perhaps it isn't an organic inability or failure on their part to receive and understand the answers to the most basic questions. No. Could it be that they are giving us a real-time glimpse into the struggle of the soul? The physical world is an illusion, a puzzle, an enigma to the part of us that has emanated from the nonphysical plane. Those of us with "normal" brains are stuck between physical and nonphysical realities. Our disorientation is represented by those recurring, incessant questions that have no satisfactory answers. And we are embarrassed by them. Proud. Busy. Too smart. Disbelieving. It is only through the "malfunction" as experienced in dementia or autism or through the transcendence of our brains gyrations can the questions and their unanswerability be allowed or accepted. People with certain brain issues don't know they are asking the questions and not getting any satisfactory answers. They must allow and accept because they have no mechanism to avoid. They are compelled to ask what their souls demand openly and incessantly. The rest of us however, wrap ourselves in involvedness to hide our lack of answers.
So when the elderly lady I live with asks me yet again "who is that?", "what do I need to do?", "where is my cat?", "when is my appointment?" or "why am I so sleepy?", I sigh and remind myself that we are all straddling different planes of existence each time we breathe--that the "answers" are in the space between our heartbeats and the pause between our thoughts. Instead of running from or resenting the simple questions, we can love them, live them, and understand the awesome opportunity we have to experience the whole of life through them. We can stop asking and be the questions. And that's how a "bad" situation turned into something "good" for me. It's really just that simple.371d36d75e05eda735858f8e467be99c
By Casey Blood, PH.D.
Reviewed by Karen Lawrence
Having meandered my way through a variety of disciplines and practices over the years in search of answers to the universal "meaning of life" questions we all struggle with, Casey Blood's book The Way from Science to Soul has provided me with a whole new perspective. Not sure I would be able to fathom quantum mechanics or physics as discussed by a scientist of Blood's caliber, I was willing to try when I saw his approach is to combine an easily digestible explanation of current scientific understanding with the latest brain research, and time-tested metaphysical teachings and practices. He contends quantum mechanics is not just a mathematical scheme for accurately describing nature, but that by implying that particles do not exist, it offers the strongest evidence yet that there are multiple versions of reality. In affirming this nonphysical component to existence, Blood feels quantum mechanics allows science and mysticism to converge in a more integrated exploration of the nature of existence.
Blood's journey through physics, the brain and spirituality is a carefully constructed bridge between seen and unseen, real and unreal. He takes the reader step-by-step through these basic, accepted facts: physics is the study of the physical world; metaphysics is the study of nonphysical realms; and the brain is the tool by which we navigate between the two. So is there a way to not only connect the nonphysical aspects of existence with the physical, but to unify our study of reality? Blood believes that quantum mechanics presents the most basic fact of all "Each of us is a nonphysical soul that has a physical body".
Perhaps my favorite part of the book is Blood's useful explanation of the different realms of existence and the "how-to" section of spiritual practices and exercises to help us as human beings become conscious of a wider range of reality. His thorough and accessible examination of seemingly disparate approaches to the study of reality and suggestions for experientially delving into its many levels is a must-read for truth seekers of all types.
Wake Up Your Intuition: A Clairvoyant Reveals the Psychic Process
By Kimmie Rose Zapf
Genre: Spiritual/Self Help
Reviewed by Karen Lawrence
What does it mean to be truly awake? I thought I could honestly answer that question until I read media personality Kimmie Rose Zapf’s book Wake Up Your Intuition: A Clairvoyant Reveals the Psychic Process. I quickly found out that my definition of awareness has barely been scratching the surface of my ability to experience life. Why? Because I have forgotten how to fully engage my senses. Zapf believes that being asleep to our lives and forgetful of our true nature are the root causes of the deep sense of isolation, frustration and weariness prevalent in today’s world. Her book offers exciting tools for sharpening our senses in order to Wake Up to a natural and balanced state of being.
Kimmie draws on personal wisdom, years of education, research, and extensive experience in cultivating her own intuition and encouraging it in others. She uses her study of the Tarot to illustrate the stages of Waking Up. The main character of the Tarot, The Fool, comes to the earth plane in order to Wake Up, and each step is a lesson in using intuition to connect earthly experiences with the always awake spiritual self. Zapf explains that the modern tendency to navigate the world through “synthetic replications” such as sensation enhancing drugs like caffeine, environmental modifications that block the earth’s natural vibrations, and living at a pace where there is no time to savor anything’s sensory value is the primary reason we have difficulty connecting with that awakened spiritual self.
The author contends however, that the process of Waking Up is simple because we already have everything we need. She provides seven tools to help us remember how to awaken to life: Mindfulness, Truth, Gratitude, Intent, Awareness, The Law of Attraction, and Simplicity. Using examples from her own life to illustrate each tool, she gives tips like looking in a mirror to truly see oneself, using a fire or a candle to tune in to the sound of a flame, or exploring the vibrations of love through a heart meditation, as ways of integrating each concept into daily life.
So while how to be awake may be inborn knowledge, Staying Awake, according to Zapf, takes more effort for most of us. “The beginning of this remembering is easy; it is continuing to stay awake that can be challenging.” To “live awake and experience daily joy” Kimmie suggests manifesting peace in our lives through positive thinking, releasing old patterns, listening to ourselves, and honoring others.
Another key element of Staying Awake is getting in touch with one’s intuitive self. The book explores the types of intuition and states of consciousness, and delves into how activating the senses in more frequent and creative ways can promote balance. Zapf presents a series of exercises to heighten the senses, and encourages readers to nourish mind and body in order to keep the channel to intuition clear. Music, meditation, and a healthy diet all play a role in Staying Awake, and Zapf believes once a person begins incorporating these elements into daily life, intuition flows as “impressions”. Sensations of things that require attention, feelings of comfort or warning, dreams, and serendipitous occurrences will begin to arise.
As the book concludes, Kimmie discusses how to embrace life and stay Awake at work and play, as well as how to bring intuition into significant relationships with mates and children. “Waking Up results in connecting collectively with others. You begin to feel their emotions, sense their fears and recognize their thoughts. This perception is a gift from God as a result of achieving a state of infinite love toward all.” The final chapters contain a fascinating description of the evolution of three different kinds of soulmate relationships and wonderful exercises to do with children to help them retain their innate “awakeness”.
Wake Up Your Intuition is a primer for all those who want to shed the stress and meaninglessness of their hurried lives and tap into an inner balance and “direct knowing” that every human being possesses. The author proclaims “When you connect with your intuition you find life takes on a magical, effortless quality. Your world becomes synchronous and abundant knowledge is there just for the asking,” and after trying out the exercises in the book, I wholeheartedly believe it. Kimmie Rose Zapf’s life work has been to help others reconnect to the source from which all things are possible, and the wisdom in Wake Up Your Intuition serves up lots of great ways to plug right in.
Seeing True: Ninety Contemplations in Ninety Days
Genre: Spiritual/Self Help
I know from personal experience how stubborn addictive behaviors can be, and how equally attached to illusory perceptions and beliefs I often am, so when I read in the introduction to Ronald Chapman's book Seeing True: Ninety Contemplations in Ninety Days that spiritual blindness can be treated much like an addiction, I was curious. Could the formula, concentrated action=habit=change, that is the basis of successful recovery programs help me dispel illusion and find more clarity in my life? I wasn't sure ninety days could loosen the grip of a lifetime of misperceptions and truly affect change, but I was willing to give it a go. By the end of the book I certainly hadn't earned my illusion-sobriety pin, but I was beginning to understand Chapman's statement in the preface "It's another day in paradise...it just doesn't look like I expected." My idea of paradise suddenly had changed too, and that shift in perception was making life look and feel much saner and more satisfying.
I thought it might be difficult to write a review of a book that will undoubtedly elicit such deeply personal and consequently different experiences for each reader. My journey through Chapman's daily contemplations was mine alone, colored by the sum total of what I brought to each reading and exercise in Seeing True. But from day one, where he tells of a man who finds peace waxing his car and invites the reader to examine what brings him/her peace and what triggers agitation, I began to relax into the process of simply being there with my reactions to Chapman's stories and probing inquiries. I was instantly at ease that the examples he was giving were sincere and real, and the concepts he would impart would be accessible. This was a book I could sink my teeth into a little at a time. Ninety days? No sweat.
Each contemplation offers anecdotes and questions that cover the full gamut of human emotion and interaction. Abandonment, courage, death, ecstasy, failure, gratitude, and sacrifice are just a few of the places Chapman explores. He uses a multitude of observations obtained during everyday events and experiences like sitting in a coffee shop, shopping for groceries, sharing meals, casual conversations, and attending church services to invite the reader to stretch beyond automatic beliefs and understandings. He follows the stories with related questions and exercises for reflection. Some exercises were soothing and reassuring and made me feel I was getting to the truth. Whom and what do I love? Others were troublesome and vexing. Is there anyone or anything that I cannot or will not love? Sometimes I couldn't answer the questions at all or even get to what I thought or felt. How do I try to contain myself?
At first I wasn't sure where the process was taking me, but I knew the time spent in contemplation felt good. What began to surface throughout the days was a growing awareness that my perceptions of the world were restricting my experience of life. Chapman's questions led to more of my own, and in the whirl of uncertainty about what was real and what was simply a creation of my mind, something amazing occurred. I began to have a taste of what the here and now really looks like. The veil of blindness parted ever so slightly, and the illusions I had allowed to limit my life began to unravel. Seeing True was becoming a habit.
Can ninety days make a marked difference in clarity of sight? Chapman acknowledges it's just a beginning, and admits that the path to Seeing True is arduous. But he reassures us that "What we seek is worth the labor" and I now know what the common experience will be for all readers who commit to the ninety-day process. There will be a shift. The light will come on and the path to freedom will be illuminated. Chapman has created a clear guide for dispelling illusion from our lives and finding paradise. Funny, paradise doesn't look anything like I expected either, but like Chapman, I highly recommend it.
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