Hey folks, it’s been three months since I’ve posted a TSM. I have actually made about a dozen but the wind (which I didn’t think was an issue) was so bad that I deleted half of them. I have another few that are OK but there’s still a little wind through each recording. I was planning on deleting them. Are they worth uploading for you or should they be deleted ? Maybe you like wind ?
This wind issue is really driving me crazy and has resulted in me wasting a huge amount of time. I’ve probably scrapped 40-50 TSMs. A friend of mine is exploring various different designs for a soft covering for my phone and iPod, to see if we can eliminate the noise issue. Part of the problem is that these new phones have such great sensitivity that they pick up everything – wind, zips flapping in the wind, the squeak in my shoes etc. My original dead cat fell apart and was really only suited to my Zoom recorder. So if I get this issue sorted I can go back to making TSMs without fucking wind !
If you think it’s worth tolerating the wind, which is minor in some recordings and significant in others, let me know and I’ll upload them soon.
A while back I picked up several of Tom Butler-Bowdon’s 50 Classic Series on the cheap – including 50 Philosophy Classics, 50 Psychology Classics and 50 Economics Classics and I thought at the time they looked OK but having now read them I am now very impressed at how one author has managed to distill the essence of so many other writers into one book. This series is fantastic for anyone who seeks an overview of a particular subject area and to understand the essence of what particular writers have said ! And while the 50 books listed in each classics book are not necessary the 50 best books that should be on the list (Tom does include a list of an additional 50), most of them are still interesting books that are probably worth reading. Without being overly familiar with each of the sub-disciplines covered in each of the books, it’s hard to say how accurate Tom’s summaries are but my feeling is that he understands his subject matter pretty well. Think of each book as wonderful stepping stone into the works and ideas of writers you may or may not have known existed ! This series is my favourite non fiction series of the last decade and I look forward to reading the remaining books and any new books that Tom writes ! So far I think there are 8 books in the series with a promise of more books to come ! If you like the Dummies series, consider this series a step up in intelligence !
You can find Tom’s classic books series here : https://www.amazon.com/Tom-Butler-Bowdon/e/B001JOYK7A/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0 and his website here : http://www.butler-bowdon.com/.
Lots of people claim to have read a book that changed their life. But is that really true ? No, it is not ! Books in themselves are just bundles of paper with glyphs on them. A book carries ideas and stories and if we’re lucky a pretty picture and a little dust. Nothing more. It is up to us what we do with a book. How we read the book, how we interpret what we read, how we enjoy the insights, the stories, the plot or the characters and how we integrate what we learn into our life.
I write this post now to share with you how certain books changed how I function, so that you too can think more critically about how to choose influences in your life. And who knows, you may even be curious about some of the books that I talk about !
I no longer seek answers from other people and recognize that there is simply an aspect of myself that has always been a seeker. But I am interested in what other people have to say and I still read extensively because I am curious about how my fellow human beings make sense of existence. I also recognize that there are many people who are where I once was, looking for answers. And even though I know that the act of seeking is a significant obstacle to knowing what you need to know, I understand that some guidance can be helpful in leading people to trust in themselves and in creating and following their own path.
When I first went to university people I knew were either reading extreme books like those of the Marquis de Sade or William Burroughs or pseudo spiritual books like Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (https://www.amazon.com/Zen-Art-Motorcycle-Maintenance-Inquiry/dp/0060589469) or science fiction and fantasy. I read some of those books too but I also read many others across a wide range of subjects. My first truly deep book was Friedrich Nietzsche’s Beyond Good and Evil (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beyond_Good_and_Evil), which seemed at first to cater to my rising anger but later struck me as selfish and arrogant. A few years after I read the book, I met a young vocalist from an extreme metal band in a heavy metal store in Melbourne called Extreme Aggression and we spoke at length about Nietzche. During our discussion I realized that Nietzche’s ideas could be used to justify all kinds of hostility and prejudice. It was only 20 years later that I began to truly appreciate Nietzche’s philosophy. Which is fundamentally about encouraging man to accept his short comings and arouse the will and power to live fully.
In my early 20’s I spent a great deal of time haunting the Melbourne Theosophical Society library, where I read everything but particularly books on magic/magick. Initially I though that Aleister Crowley was onto something when he said we should find our true will. I thought he was saying the same thing as Nietzche and for an angry young man, nothing seemed to resonate more than the idea of finding your own power. I soon began to feel that Crowley was a loser and that his own power was a selfish kind of power. Little wonder he was killed secretly by a practitioner of Catharse. In the years that have passed, in my head Nietzche has risen up and Crowley has remained at the bottom of a spiritual ladder where he belongs.
There came a point and I can’t say exactly when it was in the mid 90s when I began reading to heal myself. Then in 1999 with the birth of my then very sick son, I was forced to take full responsibility for my anger, my anxiety, my willingness to hold onto past hurt and all the shit that I had let accumulate in my life. The changes that had started in the 1990 began to fully materialize and I transformed into a very different person. Since 1990 I had picked up certain books with the intention of learning something of value and some of these had a profound impact on my development. Before 1999 the content of most books washed over me. It was only by being confronted with the possible death of my son that I was forced to come to a point of genuine understanding of what I was reading.
So there are is a small list of books that have truly had an impact on my life. There are no novels on this list, which is surprising even to me, given that I think of myself in some way as a novelist and have read a great many novels. If I had to choose one novel that changed me in some way, it would be Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables, which taught me how to write from the eye of the heart. So in no particular order, here is a list of books that facilitated my development and helped change my life.
John Paul 2 (Karol Wotjyla) : The Place Within – The Poetry of John Paul 11
This is my favourite book of poetry and this book means so much to me ! It came to me in the mid 90s when I was struggling with my demons and helped to calm my brewing hatred of the world. Karol taught me how to write with simplicity, power and feeling. https://www.amazon.com/Place-Within-Poetry-Pope-John/dp/0679760644.
M.R. : Revelation
This early ‘dictated from the dead’ (what today some people label as channeling) book was given to me to read by my then partner. Her copy is covered in Catharse symbols and belonged to a teacher of Catharse. This book woke me up to the ability to converse with people who have died and helped me to understand how our journey of being continues into an after life, complete with a lot of the shit and emotional baggage that we experience in life. It also triggered a series of significant dreams and realizations.
James Gleick : Chaos
I first read Chaos in 1989 or 1990 when I was studying for my applied science degree. I remember reading it and studying things like how the brain works and how the heart works and enzymology and ecology and thinking “Fuck, it’s all systems and chaos !”. Now even though today my way of understanding and appreciating how things work has changed, the ideas in this book remain significant to how I think and understand many phenomena. This book triggered off a long investigation into Chaos and later Complexity Theory across all manner of disciplines, from physiology, to meteorology, psychology, sociology and even history itself. There was no single discipline of human study, where I could not find the relevance of Chaos Theory. As a result of reading Chaos I developed an interest in systems, Systems Theory (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Systems_theory) and processes. In a way Chaos led me to a deep understanding of the nature of the self and dependent origination (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prat%C4%ABtyasamutp%C4%81da). And because of that I am more relaxed about life and content with my life and interested in the interconnectedness of life and reality. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0747404135/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i5.
Nicola Phillips : I’m Doing What I’d Rather Be Doing – The Big Difference – Life Works When You Choose It
This book came at a critical period in my life when I had significant choices to make about where to from here. What I liked about this book was the simplicity and clarity about how to make choices and change the course of our life. This book helped me to look much more critically at my own patterns of behaviour and my emotional and mental functioning in general. https://www.amazon.co.uk/Big-Difference-Life-works-choose/dp/1843040018 http://www.nicolaphillips.com/.
Tony Humphreys : The Wisdom of Negative Thinking
This book helped me so much personally and as a developing therapist to understand the coping strategies that people use to survive and how to work with the body to understand how we really feel. It also helped me to understand the language that people use to disguise how they feel and reflect the signals that the body sends when it is suffering. This book is ideal for any one interested in mind-body medicine and how to heal and anyone who practices psychotherapy. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1580910971/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i6 http://www.tonyhumphreys.ie/.
Osho : The Buddha Said
Let me be clear about something. Osho was a seductive idiot and I read many of his books when I was younger because I was also an idiot ! There were two Oshos – Osho the idiot who couldn’t help himself and needed prescription drugs to survive and who fed his somebodyness constantly and Osho the wise and benevolent sage. If you can see this, then by all means become familiar with the teachings of Osho. But make sure that you see the man first, with all of his vulnerabilities and weaknesses. In this book Osho interprets one of the great sutras of the mythical Buddha (as recorded by the Chinese emperor in the first century CE). What is spectacular about this book is his way of teaching with humour, insight, peculiarity an clarity. There’s no denying that Osho was a great teacher but what he failed to do was to fully integrate what he understood into how he lived. I read this book at a time when I was exploring many of the Buddhist traditions – reading sutras, doctrines, lineages, teachers etc. and talking to monks and this book helped me to understand the teachings of Buddhism with greater clarity. It is without doubt, one of Osho’s best books. https://www.amazon.com/Buddha-Said-Meeting-Challenge-Difficulties/dp/1842931156.
David Godman : Be As You Are – The Teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi
Sri Ramana Maharshi was probably the wisest Indian sage / teacher of the modern era (along with the neighboring Bengali Dadaji – Amiya Roy Chowdhury). In this book David Godman compiles questions from seekers and answers from Ramana. The questions typically follow a low level seekers path and Ramana handles them with grace and kindness. Ramana’s Self Inquiry process provides a direct path to understanding and knowing the self (what others may call enlightenment or liberation). When I first read this book, a light bulb went off in my heart and I received confirmation that what I felt to be true was true. There is a lot of talk about waking up but most of the people who sprout that crap are asleep. If you understand the core teachings of Ramana Maharshi you will wake up and you will never fall back asleep again ! I still can’t decide if when I get older I’ll dress in white suits like Mark Twain or the skimpiest undies like Ramana ! Maybe less is more and I’ll frighten away people who are just irritating ! Ramana was a real Buddha who walked the Earth. Complete with sexy undies and an undying love of cows and his sacred mountain ! Read this book and risk becoming someone else !
Jiddu Krishnamurti : Krishnamurti’s Notebook
I like both UG and J Krishnamurti, who were in a way like each others arch nemesis. They both had something of extraordinary value to teach us ! In Jiddu’s notebook he describes his daily experiences of being. And through it he describes what he calls The Process (perhaps the I amness of his being) and the beauty and majesty of the world that he experiences. This book is truly beautiful and helped me to understand the nature of choice, choiceless awareness (which may not really exist), the nature of thought and the nature of the self that is constantly categorizing and judging and filtering through conditioning. This is a book that Jiddu claimed to write for himself but he may well have written elements of it to create a certain image of himself. Like all other sages and teachers, he was a man who was not without his shadow aspects and his contradictions. Mostly this book taught me about how powerful beautiful descriptions of the world can be and how nature has a power that can help us transcend our ordinary suffering. https://www.amazon.com/Krishnamurtis-Notebook-Jiddu-Krishnamurti/dp/1888004630 / https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Krishnamurti%27s_Notebook.
Lama Surya Das : Letting Go of the Person You Used To Be
This book was my introduction to Das’s writings on Buddhism and fell into my life when I was struggling to overcome some lifelong habits and feeling overwhelmed by my apparent shortcomings and failings. It helped me to understand how to let go of my stories and how to experience the moment. It also helped me to understand how loss and grief cause immeasurable suffering and how the stories we tell about our suffering dissolve in the presence of mindfulness. https://www.amazon.com/Letting-Person-You-Used-Transformation/dp/0767908740.
Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj : I Am That
This book is a difficult book to read and many of Maharaj’s insights are hard to grasp but if you persevere (or read some of his other books) what he is trying to say becomes crystal clear. I Am That is a Q & A book that is essentially about the nature of the self – where does it come from and how does it function. Maharaj was the first Indian teacher that I read and this book gave me a serious kick up the arse and helped me to dig deeply into the nature of the self and the nature of reality. If you want to study a spiritual tradition that teaches you something about the nature of the self – you could for example, study Buddhist Psychology and that can be very, very challenging or you can study Hindu spirituality and the various non duality traditions and that can also be very, very challenging. Or you can listen to a teacher who has studied a tradition and himself and lived what he has understood. Maharaj is one such teacher. From Maharaj : “Give up all questions except one, “Who am I?” After all the only fact you are sure of is that you “are”. The “I am” is certain, the “I am this” is not. Struggle to find out what you are in reality.” https://www.amazon.com/I-Am-That-Nisargadatta-Maharaj/dp/0893860468 / https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I_Am_That.
Thomas Moore : Care of the Soul
Care of the Soul had a profound impact on me, helping me to understand how I had disowned all the darker aspects of my self and how to bring them out of the shadows and into the light. This is an ambiguous book about the messy ambiguity of the soul and it’s need to express itself through our life. This book helped me to reconcile a lot of stuff that I did not want to own up to and helped me professionally to see the hidden in others and recognize their need for acceptance. After I read this book I began to see people’s personalities and their mental, emotional and physical symptoms not as a pathology but as a symptom of the soul. The soul’s need for expression and acknowledgement. And I began to see my own symptoms as a cry from the soul. Later when I was diagnosed with tumours, this book played a critical role in helping me to understand what had gone wrong and how to find a path towards healing. https://www.amazon.com/Care-Soul-Cultivating-Sacredness-Everyday/dp/B002AYT86Q/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1542094789&sr=1-2&keywords=Care+of+the+soul .
William Henry Hudson : Far Away and Long Ago – A History of My Early Life
Far Away and Long Ago is a biography about WH Hudson’s early life in Argentina. William is one of my guides and a man I have come to love and respect. He is also a distant relative. William was a naturalist and an avid bird lover. As a child he loved nothing more than rambling through the wild and making unexpected discoveries. This book reads how I would have lived my childhood in that time – riding horses and running wild and free through the landscape. I love this book because it paints a perfect picture of nostalgia and helps me to understand the man I have come to know. Who incidentally, has been a wonderful support in my life and a great inspiration and encouragement for writing my own fiction. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Henry_Hudson / https://librivox.org/far-away-and-long-ago-by-wh-hudson/.
Candida Peterson : Looking Forward Through The Life Span – Developmental Psychology
When I went back to uni the second time, one of the things I chose to do was to study other things that interested me. I picked up this book on developmental psychology for $1 from an opportunity (thrift) shop and it’s the best $1 that I have ever spent ! This is a text book that takes all the latest research (mine was a 1989 copy) and maps out human development in a clear and easy to read manner. I found the section on gerontology particularly fascinating and it has helped me to understand the older people that I know and my own ageing. https://www.amazon.com/Looking-Forward-Through-Life-Span/dp/0724807454 / https://psychology.uq.edu.au/profile/2155/candida-peterson.
Sharon Kaufman : The Ageless Self – Sources of Meaning in Late Life
When I was working as a therapist I was engaged in a lot of family therapy and I kept seeing the effects of transgenerational loss, grief and trauma and individual and family dysfunction. Because of this I became interested in the ageing process and understanding how the patterns that people set up in their lives at an early age, carry on through life. When I started exploring the ageing process I came across Sharon Kaufman’s research into the lives of older people. In this book she condenses the insights she gained from 60 interviews with older people and discusses what life is like for older people and how their sense of self has changed or remained the same over their life span. I found this book to be very clear and insightful in regard to understanding the patterns of people’s lives. And it helped me to understand the people in my own life and how my own life was unfolding and is likely to unfold. More than anything it helped me to understand the narratives and the patterns of my own life and how I might potentially alter them. By understanding the patterns of other people’s lives, I was also able to understand how people make sense of their life and how they see themselves and find meaning in their life. This book was a real game changer for me and it’s one that I can’t recommend highly enough for people of any age but particularly for anyone over 50 and people who work in the psychotherapy field ! https://www.amazon.com/Ageless-Self-Sources-Meaning-Studies/dp/0299108643/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1542155901&sr=1-1&keywords=The+ageless+self.
Lawrence LeShan : Cancer As a Turning Point – A Handbook for People With Cancer, Their Families, and Health Professionals
Lawrence LeShan was a pioneer in paranormal research, promoting meditation in the west and is considered by many to be the father of mind-body medicine in the west. His insights came from years of research and years of psychotherapy work with a range of people – including people with Stage 4 cancers. This was the first book I picked up after I was diagnosed with a Renal Carcinoid Tumour in 2007 and it was a book that completely shifted my attitude to healing. In many ways it confirmed my belief that true and lasting healing could only arise when you allow the life force to express itself freely. This book introduces the idea that cancer is a turning point in which the person has an option to either change and grow or stay the same and die. I found it to be an incredibly optimistic and encouraging book, whose primary focus is on encouraging people with cancer to find the power to live life on their terms, free of the expectations of others. This book is a perfect compliment to Gabore Mate’s When the Body Says No. https://www.amazon.com/Cancer-As-Turning-Point-Professionals/dp/0452271371.
Lawrence LeShan : How to Meditate – A Guide to Self Discovery
I didn’t have any support when I began meditating many years ago but soon after I came across How to Meditate and it changed my conception and understanding of the practice of meditation. In the process helping to consolidate everything that I would learn through Buddhism and helping to lay a foundation for a daily meditation practice and ongoing mindfulness practice. LeShan writes in such a way as to make difficult concepts accessible. He deconstructs meditation and makes the process easy to understand, without any psychobabble or new age references. This book is a classic and still one of the best books on the subject. I believe there is also an up to date version of the book. https://www.amazon.com/How-Meditate-lawrence-leshan/dp/B000VUPF3G/ref=sr_1_12?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1542175922&sr=1-12.
Ainslie Meares : Relief Without Drugs – How to Conquer Tension, Pain and Anxiety
Ainslie Meares was an Australian psychiatrist who pioneered the mind-body medicine movement here in Australia. He taught relaxation (and meditation) and influenced many of the so called great teachers of mind-body medicine here in Australia (including the likes of Ian Gawler), well before Buddhism arrived here en-masse. If you want to learn the art of deep relaxation, how to create a calm state of mind and how to cope with tension, pain or anxiety; this is the only book you will ever need. When I first picked up this book many years ago I learned very quickly how to relax my body using the mind (as an alternative to say progressive muscle relaxation) and about the links between mental activity, tension, pain and illness. This book utterly transformed my understanding of how I function and later became a significant influence in how I worked with my psychotherapy clients and how I approached my own healing. I still use what I learned from this book on a daily basis. Read this book and practice what Ainslie teaches and I guarantee that you will change your life completely ! https://www.amazon.com/Relief-without-Drugs-Overcome-Tension/dp/0285632248.
Here are some related posts/videos from 4 or 5 years ago :
And from more recently : https://etandi.wordpress.com/2018/04/13/books-for-the-mind/.
Humans have this fixation, this obsession with finding God. It is so simple and yet we make it so hard. There is no need to find God because everything is God, everything is an expression of God. How can it be otherwise ? All that is manifest and all that is unmanifest is God. Now it doesn’t matter if you believe in God or not. The word itself is too constraining to capture what it is. Call it what you like, believe it is what you like. But if you seek it, you miss it, preoccupied with some grand expectation of something that will knock your socks off ! It is you, it is the rock at your feet, it is the space that carries your breathe. It is all of reality. There is no logical way to counter the argument that God is everything. So chill out and know that you are God experiencing itself and your perceived enemy is God experiencing itself and the cockroach you sprayed last night was God experiencing itself and Ted Bundy was God experiencing itself and Hitler was God experiencing itself and the HIV virus is God experiencing itself etc.. This version of God has no limitations. Now isn’t that a better definition of the ultimate than one that confines God to a single body ? Sure we want God to have a personal face. Then why not look into the face of a loved one and see the face of God looking back at you ? Better still, look into the face of something you fear and see the face of God looking back at you. And then you will know that God has many faces, not just a handsome one with a beard that has been handed down to you through an old story.
There is no need to slay one another over a 3 letter word. Just feel and perceive the God that is everything.
God is looking out the window right now, at itself drinking from a bird bath, while it sings from the shade of the tree above.
Melbourne witnessed another nutcase going freestyle in the CBD yesterday. ISIS claimed the attack after the guy died. My feeling is that he was mentally unwell and that it had nothing to do with ISIS. As Australia continues to open it’s doors to the world’s people, the problems associated with diversity continue to raise their ugly head. The real problem isn’t Islam, it’s our uncapped population policy, the lack of support for migrants and the perceived separation between people that is propagated by all religions. Events like this will continue to push Australia towards being a police state, controlled by corporations. Personally I think the police handled this event as well as could be expected, as did the bystander with the trolley ! I’m due to head down to Melbourne for a post birthday celebration a few days. Events like this certainly don’t make the city an attractive place ! I can only imagine what it must be like living in a big city in the US or Mexico, where events like this are an everyday occurrence !