Friday, November 25, 2016

Book Review: Living Presence

A Sufi Way to Mindfulness and the Essential Self

by Kabir Edmund Helminski

“Each moment contains 
a hundred messages from God:
To every cry of ‘Oh Lord,’
He answers a hundred times, ‘I am here.’"

This sweet verse by Rumi is the teaching presented again and again in Living Presence, A Sufi Way to Mindfulness and the Essential Self by Kabir Edmund Helminski. As a translator and interpreter of Sufi literature, Helminski clearly embodies the understanding of the Divine that lives in each of us. He echoes all the great teachings, including ours of Religious Science, in the spiritual practice of turning to the invisible, transcendent source of life. But he does not suggest that we separate from our physical experience. Instead, he invites us to so practice that we may discover this sweet presence that expresses as our very bodies and around us as our world. He describes the work of growing and deepening our vibration as the light and love of life. Reading Living Presence, I felt like his very words were imbued with this light and love. It brought me  inspiration, openness and aliveness drinking in the ‘living waters’ of the Essential Self.

Review by Rev. Ruth Barnhart, a staff minister at Center for Spiritual Living, Santa Rosa.

Living Presence is available from Stepping Stones Books and Gifts.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Book Review: Through the Flames


by Allan Lokos


Reading partly like a novel, and partly like a Buddhist text, Allan Lokos’ latest book, Through the Flames, takes us on his personal journey, starting with a plane crash in Myanmar, in which he was severely burned, and through his ongoing process of healing. His describes his struggles and victories as he puts his spiritual practices to the test. His willingness to share honestly about his moment to moment challenges brings a very practical clarity to our spiritual work. Because he does not try to cover over his own difficulties, he opens the door to us having self compassion for our own stumblings. In other words, he 'keeps it real’.

As someone who has read many books and articles on Buddhism and spirituality, several by Lokos himself, I appreciated his personal demonstration of how our teachings can assist us in dealing with our own lives, in both small struggles and in the major challenges we can face. I was completely engaged throughout the book, even as I read material I thought I knew well. Lokos brought me a greater appreciation of the work in front of me, and the courage to face it compassionately.

Review by Rev. Ruth Barnhart, a staff minister at Center for Spiritual Living, Santa Rosa.

Through the Flames is available from Stepping Stones Books and Gifts.

Book Review: Through the Flames


by Allan Lokos


Reading partly like a novel, and partly like a Buddhist text, Allan Lokos’ latest book, Through the Flames, takes us on his personal journey, starting with a plane crash in Myanmar, in which he was severely burned, and through his ongoing process of healing. His describes his struggles and victories as he puts his spiritual practices to the test. His willingness to share honestly about his moment to moment challenges brings a very practical clarity to our spiritual work. Because he does not try to cover over his own difficulties, he opens the door to us having self compassion for our own stumblings. In other words, he 'keeps it real’.

As someone who has read many books and articles on Buddhism and spirituality, several by Lokos himself, I appreciated his personal demonstration of how our teachings can assist us in dealing with our own lives, in both small struggles and in the major challenges we can face. I was completely engaged throughout the book, even as I read material I thought I knew well. Lokos brought me a greater appreciation of the work in front of me, and the courage to face it compassionately.

Review by Rev. Ruth Barnhart, a staff minister at Center for Spiritual Living, Santa Rosa.

Through the Flames is available from Stepping Stones Books and Gifts.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Book Review: Vital Signs


by Gregg Levoy


In his book, Vital Signs, The Nature and Nurture of Passion, Greg Levoy explores this most basic quality of human nature. He is not only investigating the passion of desires, but the elemental aliveness that yearns to be felt and expressed. "Passion isn’t necessarily about happiness, nor is it always a peak experience." Levoy shows how our vitality shows up in all our emotions, through the painful as well as the pleasurable times. He says it is more than exuberance, it is also aligned with our endurance, our willingness to trust, and stay with the inner callings in our hearts. 

He approaches vitality and passion from many schools of thought, and many perspectives, shared by his own and others' personal stories. This brings his book alive, the very reading of  which can stir our human  emotions. He invites us to look within to uncover our true desires and in the process to bring to light the beliefs and ways of being that may have dampened those desires. At the same time that he takes us on a journey within, he also  invites us to step more fully into our world. He provides exercises for releasing the hold of  the programs that have kept us from feeling our spirit and than presents ways to reacquaint us with our passions and rekindle our natural vitality. The book can look dauntingly long, but it is jammed packed with inspiration for life.

Review by Rev. Ruth Barnhart, a staff minister at Center for Spiritual Living, Santa Rosa.

Vital Signs is available from Stepping Stones Books and Gifts.

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