Saturday, July 26, 2008

The Power of a Single Thought rev and ed by Gay Hendricks and Debbie DeVoe

The Power of a Single Thought, the second book in the TBC, edited by Gay Hendricks and Debbie DeVoe is divided into three parts. The first part is a modernization of James Allen’s As a Man Thinketh. The second part includes various exercises, some written and others meditative. The third part is Allen’s text in its original, not contemporized, version. There is also a cd which, as in the previous text, reiterates the exercises included in the text. I chose not to listen to it so I will not review it.

Because of the time in which it was written, Allen’s original text is very male dominant and the contemporary version that the editors present removes most of the floral language while changing the gender in some of the examples. This likely makes the text itself more accessible to the modern reader. I was resistant to read this text because I know it is one of the writings to which a lot of Law of Attraction aficionados refer as being seminal. However, even before the first chapter is finished, it is apparent that to make this text align with the teachings of the Law of Attraction, one must twist and pervert the meaning of the text. Allen does indeed suggest that our thoughts influence our experiences but not in the extrapolated manner that some teachers have taken it. Rather, he explains how our thoughts are revealed through out circumstances. In other words, how we respond to the experiences of our lives reveal our inner thoughts, our character and values. In fact, the words “Law of Attraction” only appear in the contemporary version as an inserted subheading and do not appear in the original text at all. What’s more, the word “attraction” itself does not appear even one time in the text.

A careless reader could take certain portions out of context. For instance, one could argue that the following is an argument for the Law of Attraction within the text:

The soul attracts that which it secretly harbors; that which it loves, and also that which it fears. It reaches the height of its cherished aspirations. It falls to the level of its unchastened desires - and circumstances are the means by which the soul receives its own.

Taken in context, the meaning changes. For example, a person who is afraid of poverty may respond in a variety of ways. One person may choose to learn how to manage their money, take responsibility for their spending habits, and even learn skills to help them draw more affluence from employment opportunities. These choices are a manifestation not so much of fear but of character, how this one person responds to the fear. Another person, faced with the same fear may choose to spend carelessly, taking what they have when they have it and buying whatever they fancy which ironically results in the experience of poverty. Like the person who gets a paycheck on Friday, goes out drinking and partying over the weekend, and barely has enough to buy food for the rest of the week on Monday. Another person, facing the same fear of poverty, may choose to save their money, investing it cautiously, or even hording it. Such miserly actions do not reduce the fear, the need to prepare for the inevitable rainy day. Nothing is ever enough and the more saved, the more may be needed in the event of an incident that may never occur. If it does, the individual experiences it with a sense of justification and self-righteousness that is no more real than the fear itself had been.

In other words, shit happens and how we deal with what happens determines who we are, reveals what we are, but does not define us. We create our world not in literal terms, which is what has been misconstrued and misapplied, but our response to our world does influence how we perceive it.

The exercises in the second part of the text are good, not great. They lean dangerously close to the extreme of Law of Attraction. The reader who wants this text to affirm the teachings of the Law of Attraction can do so with ease, especially with the included exercises. It is unnecessary and, unfortunately, I have little doubt many readers will happily do so. But for those readers who have the sophistication to read openly and not impose preconceived notions or force the text to mean more than what the author (and editors) intended, there is nothing here that confirms the teachings of the Law of Attraction.

Note: The text of As a Man Thinketh is available online.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Friday Stuff--quote, video, etc.

Life is not lost by dying; life is lost minute by minute, day by dragging day, in all the thousand small uncaring ways. Stephen Vincent Benet

I have been thinking a great deal about apathy, that silent and delicate murder of compassion. To do every task with mindfulness, to infuse each moment in a prayerful intention, is a challenge that none of us can afford to accept. The gauntlet thrown, how dare we throw away these precious moments on nothing less than complete openness and giving, compassion and forgiveness.

I have been struggling to keep from curling into a seashell of apathy. It is a choice, a conscious choice, made every day, every moment, to find some way of giving and being that takes me outside of myself.

Aries Horoscope for week of July 24, 2008 Anna Renalda Hyatt, a reader from Colorado, bragged to me about her prowess. "My capacity for expressing love far surpasses that of anyone I have ever met," she wrote. "I am a Sublime Genius of Love, a Master of Unconditional Compassion, a Virtuoso of Deep Empathy." Your assignment in the coming days, Aries, is to compete with her: Unleash a perfect storm of ingenious passion that will ignite subtle revolutions everywhere you go. Explore the frontiers of smart love.

I am often puzzled by the fact that this song is often labeled atheistic. The song itself is addressed to God. After listening to the lyrics many times I am still left with the fact that it is not God that is being denied in this song but man's interpretation of God. I heard this song one time and bought the cd based on my appreciation of both the song and the singer. Usually, I won't buy a cd because I like one song.

Dear God Sarah MacLachlan

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Puppies Escaping Everywhere

We have a whole new level of escapism occuring because now, instead of a random puppy getting out when we aren't in the room, they are finding their way out one by one back to back in an almost constant flow.

It all began with D, aka Diamonds. I went into the kitchen yesterday evening to pour myself a glass of peach ice tea and when I returned to the bedroom she was standing there, her little tail wagging, smiling as happy as could be.

Last night apparently Rob woke up and found two had escaped and were asleep on the floor at the foot of our bed. (Ha! Couldn't crawl under it because we moved the boxspring and mattress on the floor!)

And today, D and my little Teddy Bear have been getting out constantly. We finally had to rearrange things to keep them from gamboling around the bedroom but it is only a temporary solution because, as they get bigger, the ease with which they escape will only improve.

This is Teddy Bear. I call her that because she is a little puff ball and she looks like a panda bear. Also, although you can't see it in this picture, her ears are still floppy. Some of the puppies have erect ears now. I took a picture with her ears showing but apparently it hasn't come through yet. *sigh*

I told Rob yesterday that watching the puppies has gotten even cuter. I mean, just when I thought it couldn't get any cuter, it does. They are now trying to run and the like to leap in for the attack and then back away, pouncing and retreating.

Tomorrow, more pictures. Maybe the one I emailed to myself will finally show up and I can post a flop eared pic of Teddy Bear. I'm crossing my fingers.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

One Down

Sunday was a big day for the puppies. They had their first taste of solid food and a couple came by to look at the puppies, immediately bonded with and fell in love with one of them, and will be taking him home in a few weeks.

This is an extreme close up of the Puppy Previously Known as C. He fell asleep while playing with the toy you can almost see in the pic.

And here he is, falling asleep again while eating some spilled food. What you can't see is that two other puppies had already fallen asleep in the food and he was eating around them but I think the effort of eating over and through his siblings wore him out.

And here he is getting his belly rubbed while snuggled in my lap. The shadow on his face is because of my camera phone but every other pic he had moved his face and while he has a lovely chin I really wanted to get a pic of his face.

But this is my favorite. He was playing with one of his sisters when she walked away. Rather than chase after her, he found something just as much fun to bite on.

Monday, July 21, 2008

The Book of Life ed and trans by Gay Hendricks and Philip Johncock

The Book of Life: The Master-Key to Inner Peace and Relationships Harmony edited and interpreted by Gay Hendricks and Philip Johncock is the first in the Transformational Book Circle collection of books with cds. The TBC was designed to introduce people to an ecumenical collection of inspirational literature, some familiar and some not as familiar. There was an online forum for people to discuss the texts and members had additional access to interviews with the teachers who helped to choose the “book of the month.”

The TBC no longer seems to be around because the website is gone and now, instead of the books with cds being exclusive you can pretty much find them in any bookstore. At least some of the collection seems to be openly available.

With that said, The Book of Life is a translation on The Enchiridion by Epictetus. When I first read this translation, which is more interpretation than translation to be honest, I devoured it, enjoying it very much. I copied so many quotes from the book the first time I read it through and once again I found myself pausing to read and reread certain sections. But the first time I did not take the time to do the recommended exercise at the end of the book nor did I listen to the cd.

Now, for those of you who have been reading these book reviews for any length of time you already know that I often complain about how a book does not come with an accompanying cd. Which makes what I am about to say remarkable but frankly, the cd that comes along with this book is extraneous. For those who are audio learners then I begrudgingly say it is useful but that doesn’t make it necessary. The exercises expounded on the cd are already presented in the third part of the book. Although the cd does go into some more detail, I got the gist of the content from the few pages in the third section of the book and didn’t reap any further benefit from listening to the cd. I hope that the cd in the next book is more beneficial.

With that said, I would encourage anyone who is unfamiliar with Epictetus to read The Enchiridion. If you want a more modern interpretation of the text and how to apply the meaning of the text, you probably would enjoy and appreciate what Hendricks and Johncock have done with the text. For example, here is a more literal translation from The Enchiridion.

With regard to whatever objects either delight the mind, or contribute to use, or are tenderly beloved, remind yourself of what nature they are, beginning with the merest trifles: if you have a favorite cup, that it is but a cup of which you are fond, – for thus, if it is broken, you can bear it; if you embrace your child, or your wife, that you embrace a mortal, – and thus, if either of them dies, you can bear it. (Keith H. Seddon PhD)
Now here is the same section translated in The Book of Life.

Remember that when you desire something, you’re working toward attaining whatever it is you want. Likewise, you try to stay away from those things you have an aversion to. If you don’t get what you hope for, it’s unfortunate, but if you get what you’re trying to steer clear of, you experience misfortune. That’s why you should confine your avoidance to things within your control, so you’ll never experience misery. Because if you try to sidestep sickness, death, or poverty, then sooner or later you’re sure to run into them.

If you wish that your children, spouse, or friends would live forever, you want something that isn’t up to you. Similarly, if you expect one of your employees to do perfect work, you’re asking for that which is out of your hands. Don’t try to elude circumstances that you have no power over; instead, exert your energy in areas where you have authority. Life becomes very easy then.
The ideas are similar but the interpretation of the text is obviously less literal. This is not necessarily a bad thing. I personally enjoyed cross-referencing and comparing the other translations. The exercise at the end of the book was interesting and I will share more from that in a future post.

Note: I am planning to read all of the books in this collection over the next few weeks/months. I did not read them all through when I first received them and even those I did read I never listened to any of the cds. It is my intention to read the text and listen to the cds.