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What I’m Reading Now

A few months ago I went through a wonderful “beginner’s sequence” of books exploring aspects of mindfulness and Buddhism, all of which I’d recommend for anyone interested in those topics.  Here they are:

  • The Monk and the Philosopher – Jean Francois Revel and Matthieu Ricard
    • A somewhat repetitive, but otherwise enjoyable and informative dialog between the monk, Matthieu Ricard–dubbed one of the world’s happiest people, based on brain scans–and his father, a Western philosophy scholar.
  • You Are Here – Thich Nhat Hahn
    • You can’t go wrong with Thich Nhat Hahn.  Always approachable, elegant, and deeply compassionate.
  • The Untethered Soul – Michael Singer
    • A Westernized and poetically common-sense version of the basic principles and aims of mindfulness.

I’m now continuing that thread with “Grace and Grit” by Ken Wilber, which is a memoir of his and his wife’s experience of terminal cancer, including some of Wilber’s brand of spiritual synthesis.  I also just finished David Brooks’ “The Road to Character” which is an interesting and articulate attempt at understanding some of the (mostly American) cultural shifts over the last 50-100 years from internal moral struggle to external achievement.  As Brooks puts it, it’s the difference between the self you’d want presented in your eulogy and the self described by your resume.  A bit heavy on the right/wrong sense of morality for my taste, but lots of smart analysis and insights along the way, as well as some fascinating profiles of historical figures who embodied various aspects of Brooks’ concepts of character.  Some important psychological reminders, such as that “…we are flawed creatures. We have an innate tendency toward selfishness and overconfidence.  We have a tendency to see ourselves as the center of the universe…We resolve to do one thing but end up doing the opposite. …[yet] There is something heroic about a person in struggle with [him or] herself..suffering torments, yet staying alive and growing stronger, sacrificing a worldly success for the sake of an inner victory. ”

I’m also completely swept up in the midst of Anthony Doerr’s “All The Light We Cannot See,” a sumptuously spellbinding novel centering on a blind girl and a boy radio-enthusiast, each trying to manage through the horrors of World War II.

Happy reading!


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