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Book Reviews (and occassionally, music)

A Walk with Four Spiritual Guides ~ Krishna, Buddha, Jesus, and Ramakrishna by Andrew Harvey.
Andrew Harvey has a true gift for personalizing the great and sweeping teachings of spiritual masters. Refreshingly, this book is not so much about transcendence, but rather a very practical call to Mystical Activism, to claim your spiritual warriorhood. “Despair, however, is a luxury those who are growing awake in this darkness cannot afford; all those who see the extent of the potential danger and tragedy threatening humanity and nature are compelled to respond with the deepest of themselves.”

Dharma Punx ~ A Memoir by Noah Levine
This is one of the best, and one of the most important books I’ve read this year. As is true with every succeeding young generation, a call from within the ranks is the call that can be heard. Through a riveting account of his own life, Noah Levine calls his generation to take a more effective stance than self-destruction in response to anger at the state the world is in today. I’ve seen this book captivate and energize a number of young people—and watched each one eagerly pass it to a friend, as did I.

Still Here ~ Embracing Aging, Changing, and Dying by Ram Dass
I’ll have to change the Dharma Punx review to say “one of the two best and most important books I’ve read this year.” Ram Dass has written the definitive book on being a Soul living in an aging body. His ability to view life from a Soul’s perspective, and to remind me to be a Soul, is in large part what draws me to his wisdom again and again. “What appears to be loss may in fact be transformation, if we allow the mind to change without fear.”

Peak States of Consciousness ~ Theory and Applications Volume 1: Breakthrough Techniques for Exceptional Quality of Life by Grant McFetridge
It is commendable that someone has finally forayed into the study of peak states of consciousness. Every society, every culture, every religion generates accounts of peak states, yet neither western psychology nor the scientific establishment has bothered with an exhaustive study of the kinds, degrees, and causes of these manifestly fascinating events in human consciousness.

The Estrogen Alternative ~ Third Edition by Raquel Martin
This great book provides some well-deserved solutions to women who have experienced PMS or childbirth difficulties or the complicated trek through the premenopausal, perimenopausal, and postmenopausal passage. Educate yourself about the ebb and flow of hormones in your body through all of these changes—and take charge of your healthcare. Whether you ultimately choose natural therapies or synthetic drugs, this book is a must read. Completely updated 4th edition available this autumn.

The Edison Gene ~ ADHD and the Gift of the Hunter Child by Thom Hartmann
Thom Hartmann’s premise is: children (and adults) with ADHD have gifts, not liabilities. These gifts are only seen as liabilities in our modern culture that requires conformity in children, rather than innovative thinking. Constantly scanning the environment (inability to focus), instant decision-making (impulsivity), willingness to take risks (not considering consequences) are all positive traits for a hunter in the ancestral environment. For the sake of these kids, and us all, I encourage everyone to read this book.

The Moon & Everyday Living ~ Use Lunar Energies to Transform Your Life by Daniel Pharr
Daniel Pharr makes a strong case that the moon affects us deeply and that, by tracking the phase of the moon and which astrological sign it is traveling through, we can better plan our time and activities. The moon does cause tides after all, and we are mostly made of water ourselves. I have to admit that, though I am a bit skeptical about astrology, I do enjoy it, and virtually all of what he said about someone with my moon sign felt true. I enjoyed this book and will keep it handy.

The Journey from the Center to the Page ~ Yoga Practices as Muse for Authentic Writing by Jeff Davis
It’s a great sign when someone that writes abut writing writes a great book! Jeff Davis is honest and deeply self-revealing as he shares wisdom about preparing to write, the writing process itself, and facing emotional crags. My favorites are: A Stoked Belly-Mustering Perseverance; Inspiration and Joyful Concentration-A Matter of Breath; and Dogs, Lovers, and Other Things that Bite-Writing the Truth.

Apprentice of the Heart ~ Lessons in Life Only Love Can Teach by Guy Finley
Guy Finley’s unabashed yearning for connection with Divine Love reminds me of Rumi’s poetry. This is a beautiful little book. I have to say that at first it seemed simple—charming and simple. But it stayed with me, and I find myself feeling its message at unexpected times. For me it isn’t a book that assimilates through the mind, or one that gave me an instant “aha!”. It is a subtle and patient friend that whispers to me in quiet moments.

We the People ~ a Call to Take Back America by Thom Hartmann
This is brilliant! Thom Hartmann’s analysis of the history and current state of American politics is clear, incisive and damning. The illustrated “comic book” format has a surprisingly effective impact. It makes the convoluted ins and outs of politics understandable (our high schooler is gobbling it up right now), and somehow much more personal. Beyond identifying the sad state of affairs, Hartmann issues an impassioned call to action to all citizens who want to restore true democracy, liberty and justice for all.

Door of Faith by Krishna Das
Door of Faith moves away from the call-and-response kirtan that I have come to love and expect from Krishna Das. Even as I continue to enjoy hours with Live on Earth, I am also loving the intimate communion expressed in this solo release. Krishna Das’s rich voice, the harmonium, the love and devotion that exudes from every sound all combine to leave me with a profound inner quiet. I look forward to chanting with Krishna Das at Breitenbush this summer; in the meantime Door of Faith inspires me.

Anjali by Michael Mandrell and Benjy Wertheimer
In Sanskrit, one of the ancient languages of India, Anjali refers to the gesture of joining the palms in a prayerful position in front of the heart, where inward offerings flow forth into expression. This music leads me to a place of serenity and gratitude when I sit with it. It also fosters peaceful productivity when I work with it as ambient sound. Most of this music was created in the moment and recorded live, perhaps that is part of its magic.

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