August Book Reviews

Reviews by Len Oppenheim

Every so often I read a book that I consider to be so remarkable and wonderful that it makes me “high” and which I truly believe everyone would enjoy and benefit from reading. I recently had the pleasure of reading such a book that I would recommend to young and old, male and female, rich and poor, healthy and infirm. The Brain that changes Itself: Stories of Personal Triumph from the Frontiers of Brain Science, by Norman Doidge, M.D. fills the bill. Please, everyone, buy and read this book and see if you agree with me.

The author is a psychiatrist, psychoanalyst, and researcher on the faculties at Columbia University and The University of Toronto, and an author, essayist, and even a poet. He is uniquely qualified to discover, understand, and explain the breath-taking advances in understanding the growing field of neuroplasticity. One of my favorite books, The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, by Oliver Sachs, dealt with the remarkable functioning of the human brain in cases of brain injuries and certain birth abnormalities. If you have never read it, it is another “must-read”. Sachs, in his brief review of Doidge’s book calls it “remarkable and a hopeful portrait of the endless adaptabilities of the human brain.”

I love books that are fun to read (which this is) and which “blow my mind” and give me great insights and understanding. This book is chock full of fascinating insights into neuroscience. At the same time, it is easy to understand and as engrossing as a good novel.

If you have any interest at all in understanding the remarkable ability of the human will and thinking machinery to do miraculous things you will love this book. The stories about how stroke victims are able to overcome their disabilities are just the beginning. If you want to understand how autistic children can really be helped to lead more normal lives, or how thoughts or imagination can have major effects on your own physiology this is a book for you. The research and practical programs available to avoid senile dementia and/or Alzheimer’s disease are not to be missed.

I cannot recommend this book highly enough. The discoveries I made from reading this book have inspired me and uplifted me to the extent that few books have done in many years.

I want to make it very clear, that not only is this book lucid, it is absolutely fascinating, so even those of you who generally avoid non-fiction should find this most enjoyable and satisfying.

We all have different teachers, writers, or mentors with whom we may specifically resonate on a very profound level. For most of us these influences change during our life as we mature.

In my youth I idolized John Gillooly, a sportswriter who did a daily column in the Boston Record. As I matured I found that the great writers, teachers, and mentors changed as I did. Clearly we do not all resonate with the same people.

Last month I reviewed Enlightenment is not what you think, by Wayne Liquorman. I decided to review it again this month, because at this stage in my life and personal evolution this is a book and a teaching with which I have the maximum in “Resonance”.

What I think is most remarkable about Liquorman as a teacher is that he is able to explain the interplay between the “dual” and the “non-dual” better than anyone else I have ever seen, listened to, or read. This is an area of great subtlety and in which words always seem to fail, but Liquorman’s ability to use what he calls “pointers” allows me to grasp the teaching, the paradox, and the knowingness in a way that no other teaching has enabled me to do.

The way Liquorman understands and explains “consciousness” and/or “The Absolute” and how most of us confuse what we call “spiritual experiences” with transcendence is a real eye-opener to me. The format of the book is question and answers, taken from actual satsangs. When Wayne answers questions about mystics and the mysteries of mysticism, for the first time I feel I can grasp the essence of paradox of the dual and non-dual.

Beyond what I would call the intellectual integrity of this teaching which I find to be pure and complete, I do believe the pointers and information do have a beneficial effect on my day to day functioning.

Not everyone is going to buy Wayne’s model or his explanations about enlightenment. But that does not mean that being exposed to his point of view is worthless or not worth pondering about. As Wayne does such a good job of explaining, there are lots of problems inherent in language and in some ways it gets in the way of communication.

In many ways this is an excellent book to read in tandem with The Brain that changes Itself. Both lead me to conclude that the brain creates reality, a conclusion I am very comfortable with based on my readings in quantum physics. As Wayne puts it “There is no objective reality independent of perception.”

Another particular area I found to be invaluable was the treatment of “Cause and Effect” and how it may be totally different from the way we ordinarily perceive it.

I could go on and on. Some will probably not like this book at all, or resonate with it like I do. For others, like me, this could prove to “the book of a lifetime”.

In any event I hope that some of you will find it nearly as revealing as I did.

Reviews by Tony Kainauskus

Enlightenment for Idiot’s by Anne Cushman.

One reviewer compared this title to a hybrid of Eat, Pray and Love and Sex in the City.

This is a truly funny novel — filled with new age inside jokes.

But it is more that, as the writing is very good. So, while it is very funny, it also is very tender It is an insightful book on human relationships as well as a true and vivid portrayal of modern day India

The story concerns an accidental travel writer (a woman who wants to find the perfect soul mate…but is always attracted to the free spirits who are here today and gone tomorrow), sent to India to write a guide on Enlightenment as part of the Idiots’ series The editor is in a bit of a hurry to get this project done. She feels that the readers desire for such a book will wane quickly when the new hot thing takes its place in the marketplace.

In India she meets a myriad of interesting characters. There is a Hatha Yoga master known to his pupils as “Sir”, a bi-polar spiritual seeker who always refers to himself as “we”, and a spiritual guru who insists on celibacy but who personally is carrying on an affair.

She travels from Rishikesh to Varanasi in search of the enlightenment that can be written about in the condensed version of a how to manual.

The book is a true summer read, but not in a trite way. Anne Cushman’s writing style pulls you into the story. It is a book that you just want to keep reading.

If you enjoyed Eat, Pray and Love or Holy Cow you will definitely want to read Enlightenment for Idiot’s. I guarantee you will enjoy this one.

Enjoy the ocean waves or tranquil lake front with Anne Cushman’s charming book.

Jed McKenna’s latest book Jed McKenna’s Notebook has just been published.

If you enjoyed his previous books

Spiritual Enlightenment: The Damnedest Thing
Spiritually Incorrect Enlightenment
Spiritual Warfare

You will enjoy this one…

If you are not a fan, then this book will not make you one.

Filled with bonus material from his 3 previous books.Available previously online only.

Good News!!!

Our Spiritual Heritage : History of the Holy Tradition is now back in print..

It has been revised with a new chapter on Maharishi.

Book will ship end of August… please preorder now.

This title should be ordered separate from any other title… as it will be back ordered until end of August.

If I could have one wish delivered to me as a gift.

My one wish would be…

Any criticism, judgment or advice would not be met with defense, guilt, shame or anger…

It would be as if it was directed to someone other than me… As if it was meant for a friend standing next to me.

I would take my friend aside and go over the criticism, judgment or advise and help him to filter what needs to be learnt and discard the rest… staying personally separate yet fully conscious.

That is my one wish.

Every sentence I utter must be understood not as an affirmation, but as a question. Niels Bohr