Trust: Living Spontaneously and Embracing Life
The author, Osho, is known by many names. A principal name for him is Shree Rajneesh. He also called himself “the rich man’s guru.” This slim volume has almost as many contradictions as aphorisms. It is a strange concept to publish a book by a spiritual leader who also was accused of rigging elections, bioterrorism, and assassination plots. His basic truth is to follow no commandments but rather to be inner-directed. This is the eleventh volume of Insights for a New Way of Living, so there must be readership for this philosophy. While his five thousand followers seem to have complete trust in him, he urges readers to only trust themselves. And that seems like good advice.
The husband of Rajneesh’s secretary bought him a sixty-four-thousand-acre ranch in Oregon and a fleet of from seventy-four to ninety-six Rolls Royces. Upon deportation, at least twenty-one countries denied him entry. He died at age fifty-eight in India. This book seems nonsensical to me, but for those seeking enlightenment, they may catch something I have missed.
St. Martin's Griffin
WARRIOR: the Life and Lessons of a Man Who Beat Cancer for 57 Years
To sum up in one word who exercise physiologist and sports psychologist Dr. Mark Crooks was, it would, without a shadow of doubt, be warrior. As Green states, “during the last few weeks of his life, he [Crooks] shared with me his last iteration of the book title Battles with Cancer: Evolution of a Warrior, an autobiographical, how-to guide about surviving terminal diseases that he had hoped to write before his demise. Indebted to fulfill his friend’s wish, but lacking in the fine points of Crooks’ background, Green found it apropos to create a biographical novel that is a biomythography (a weaving together of myth, history, and biography in epic narrative form).
Beginning with a malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumor (better known by its acronym MPNST) — a form of cancer of the connective tissue surrounding nerves — at seven years of age, and a forty-year remission before new forms of cancer appeared (thyroid, lung, and prostate), Crooks faced his arch-nemesis, until his death in 2010, with relentless and unparalleled tenacity during a non-health conscious time period in American history – “ten to fifteen years ahead of higher-profile fitness advocates at that time.” His approach to living life to its fullest was a mix of exercise (mostly running for long periods), eating a well-balanced diet — heavy on vegetables, but not exclusively, and his concept of postoperative tumor-removal therapy, a combination of subcutaneous dosages of vitamin C and rigorous running.
Though Crooks’ modus operandi wasn’t that unusual, barring the high dosages of vitamin C, what really set him apart from the norm was his daredevil stunts, which he called “a carefully planned demonstration of our innate capabilities to achieve more than we believe possible.” They included jumping off high bridges into rivers, staying submerged in water for long periods, and climbing tall buildings – his way of facing his fears and dealing with boredom.
A deeply spiritual man, but noncommittal to any one religion until his last days, Crooks believed in a divine creator that was looking out for him. His teaching and practices inspired many people, including Green, who went through his own life-altering experience after encountering and befriending the iconic warrior back in the 1970s. As a profound tribute to the man who changed Green’s life forever, Warrior is not only a work of love that eloquently captures the essence of one man’s battle with cancer, but also a stark reminder to all of us that leading a healthy-conscious lifestyle carries tremendous benefits – even dealing with the toughest of diseases. Definitely, a must read to all who desire to live life to the fullest!
Art on the Human Heart
Art on the Human Heart is the moving true story of author, Dr. Paul C. Ho. A brilliant heart doctor, at the age of only 39 he is unexpectedly struck down by a major heart attack that leads to open heart surgery. Dr. Ho’s (or Dr. Paul, as he is affectionately known by his patients) story begins with the traumatic event of his heart attack and procedures leading him ultimately to open heart surgery. He then takes us back to the beginning of his life in China and his immigration to America at age 13. He starts by telling us of the open-hearted and free spirit he was as a child and how he was drawn to all types of artistic expression. It is when he starts sharing his experiences as an American immigrant and the cruelty and hardship faced by both himself, as well as members of his family. He also shares that, during this time, he is drawn from the carefree artistic person he once was and succumbs to the American ideal of success being defined by his professional advancement. He turns away from his type-B artistic tendencies to focus on schooling and depends on a regimented, type-A personality. He goes to Nome, Alaska, and works in the remote medical centers as part of his schooling. He finds love upon returning to California but is still focused on becoming the best heart doctor in the field of heart catheter procedures. He achieves this success by treating patients who come to him praising his skills and putting their lives in his hands. However, his enthusiasm and lack of tolerance for those in his field who do not share his work ethic, especially when he is asked to help overhaul a failing hospital’s cardiac unit, challenge him professionally and garner him as “unfavorable” to other cardiologists who are happy doing things the way they always have.
Ironically enough, it is also during his time he has his heart attack. As he recuperates, he is torn between making the necessary improvements to the hospital and the tranquility of Alaska, taking the first of many trips back there to center him. Ultimately, as he continues with his work at the hospital, he begins to question what matters most success or self-fulfillment. He must decide does he follow his calling as a doctor or follow the call deep in his heart.
Despite all of the medical terms, procedures, and information that would confuse anyone not in the cardiac field, Dr. Paul shows that even though the medical field is technical and must follow procedures for success, it is an art form that is amazingly beautiful. As he describes several of his procedures in the book, he does it in a way that you could easily compare it to an artist carefully and purposefully moving their paintbrush across a canvas. This book is about the human heart on many different levels, and Dr. Paul is able articulate that to perfection. He shows readers that you must take care of your heart, not only physically but emotionally and spiritually to be truly fulfilled. Whether you are a doctor, lawyer, teacher, or any other person in a high-stress job, you must read this book because it will make you take a step back and look at your life. This book touches your heart and informs, as well as inspires.
The Kingdom Within
Certainly, anyone faced with a terminal illness or the reality of imminent death begins to ponder his or her Earthly existence. In The Kingdom Within, L E Madden opens the reader’s mind to the possibilities of reflection on the meaning of life from a fresh perspective. He gives readers the true sense of what it means to be alive. The book expands on building a relationship with the spiritual power within each of us by “stilling” the mind. Apparently, we achieve this by “external awareness.” Segmentally, the book proceeds with miniature chapters. These encapsulate each new concept singularly and ultimately connect them developmentally to build the concept the author intended.
The author firmly believes that thought is connected to space and time in such a way that it flows like an electrical current, [author’s analogy]. Many of the topics discussed place us in a position to reconsider how our energies work. The book is surprisingly well documented, providing an excellent source of further reading.
Among the more troubling concepts, however, occurs under the category of reincarnation. The difficulty of accepting this belief is seated in the number and complexity of stages that are necessary to refine the soul—as it were, to a higher state of consciousness. Again, the book succeeds in superseding the reincarnation concept. Madden looks to the nature of the cosmos for answers. He claims that pure awareness is embedded in every cell; an interesting idea stilted with philosophical leanings.
Madden’s doctrine even rises above the Christian doctrine, quoting Biblical passages along the way. See The Big Picture for a fuller illustration. It appears almost at once that Madden makes a strong case for reaching within for our salvation. Indeed, Part 2 demonstrates the Plan to Eternal Awareness by way of 120 Keys [presumably unlocking the secrets of stillness.]
The book is written in a healthy, easily understandable prose style. It is literate, articulate, and ardent, driving the reader to side with the author’s views. Although it may be hard to agree with everything Madden presents, he does provide a strong argument for what he puts foreword. If anything, the reader gains a little insight into the nature of our Earthly existence.
Senior Wonders: People Who Achieved Their Dreams After Age 60
Senior Wonders is not your typical book that highlights the achievements of people caught in the spotlight. In fact, readers may recognize only a handful of names while browsing this second book coauthored by Pepkin and Taylor. What sets it apart from other biographical compilations is that the authors zero in on those who not only had reached their life’s dreams near (and in many cases well beyond) retirement age, but also had to overcome amazing obstacles en route.
Although the individuals selected, according to Pepkin and Taylor, “had to receive national recognition, or accomplish a noteworthy achievement for the first time, after they turned sixty years old,” there are those that are earmarked “notables” – a mix of individuals and groups – whose biographical information was limited yet “their accomplishments merited inclusion.” Nonetheless, this striking collection of twenty-three individuals and two groups is nothing less than poignantly inspirational.
Pepkin and Taylor’s user-friendly book is neatly divided into two-page biographical sketches. A mix and match of a diverse group of people from different backgrounds and ethnicity, the authors chose not to categorize anyone. Instead, the randomness of each turn of the page into another person’s life is always refreshingly new. All are designed with the same format though; the biographies open with a quick snippet of what they are known for and how old they were at the time of their achievements, followed by birth/death statistics and their individual bios.
Pulling from a sundry of resources (both online and print) that are conveniently listed at the end of each written entry, Pepkin and Taylor pithily capture the essence of what makes these people so exceptional. Readers will recognize names, such as Laura Ingalls Wilder and Harlan David Sanders (Colonel Sanders of Kentucky Fried Chicken), but may not be familiar with their personal hardships. For example, there is Frank McCourt, who endured impoverished living conditions in Ireland and never attended high school. Yet when he came to America, he talked his way to being accepted into New York University. His educational opportunities eventually led him to receive a Pulitzer Prize for his book Angela’s Ashes. Or Mother Jones, whose personal tragedies included the loss of her whole family to a yellow fever epidemic, but didn’t stop her from becoming an advocate for coal miners and children. She was known as “The most dangerous woman in America.”
The majority of this collection consists of those who are no longer with us, but their astounding legacies remain as an inspiration to present and future generations. Yet there are those among the living who are still making a difference today. Most notable on this list are centenarians Nola Ochs and Fauja Singh, both of whom are one hundred three years old, and a musical group known as The Zimmers. (Check out their musical videos on YouTube. You won’t be disappointed!)
Truly a one-of-its-kind collection, Senior Wonders is one book that can and should be read over and over again. Pepkin and Taylor have not only created an undoubtedly groundbreaking book, but also one that is very inspirational from beginning to end.
Tomorrow Comes: An Emma Story
Get out the tissues, because Tomorrow Comes: An Emma Story will make even the most steel-hearted person cry. The book is about a 19-year-old girl named Emma. She’s spunky, vivacious, and full of life…that is, until she unexpectedly dies in her sleep. With no explanation as to why she died, her family struggles with feelings of sadness and loss. However, what they don’t know is that Emma’s spirit lives on in a place called After. For awhile, Emma doesn’t even realize that she has died; it takes the appearance of a familiar deceased relative to make her understand that although After looks similar to where she used to live, it’s much different. As Emma starts to understand her place in this new afterlife, she pushes the limits of her abilities and watches over her family.
What makes Tomorrow Comes especially heart-wrenching is that it is based on a true story. Donna Mebane, the author, had a daughter named Emma who died in the same way. The book seems to be a result of how she coped after Emma’s death: by imagining another world for Emma, one in which she can still be herself – happy, vibrant – Mebane was able to move past her grief. Despite the fictional elements of Emma’s spiritual world, only someone who has experienced loss could write such heartfelt words. It took an act of incredible bravery to publish something so personal, and therefore open it up to critique from others.
The book has many different chapters, each one with a different person’s point-of-view. At times, the inexperience of the author shows through (for example, she chooses to use italics instead of quotes, which can be somewhat confusing); however, the story holds its own strongly enough that the reader will likely be able to see past these writing flaws.
With its honesty, beauty, and hopeful outlook, Tomorrow Comes: An Emma Story will resonate with anyone who has ever lost a close friend or family member.