Saturday, May 28, 2016

Book Review: The Law of Attraction: The Basics of the Teachings of Abraham

Sometimes one book leads to another, for a reader as well as a writer. I had seen this book on bookstore shelves, but did not decide to read it until I saw it recommended in Jack Canfield's The Principles of Success, which I have reviewed here also.

Like last week's book Way of the Peaceful Warrior, this one also uses what I call a teaching myth. It claims to be a true story, and there are YouTube videos that attest to that fact, but this is the type of claim that is impossible to prove, and faith in the story itself is not really necessary to benefit from its contents.

The lesson is about attraction, the concept that if we envision and concentrate our thinking on some thing, person, attribute, or life event, we send out signals that cause others to act and things to be placed such that the subject of our thoughts makes its way to us. If we focus on riches, we will become rich. If we focus on a mate, we will find that mate. But like many good things, there is a dark side. If we focus on robbery or sadness or poverty, we attract these things with the same force. It is important to envision what we want and believe it, and even feel the emotions associated with having it. The stronger the emotion, the stronger the attraction, and the faster it will come. You may have heard that you can make sure you get a good parking space by picking it out ahead of time, before you get to the parking lot. This is the same concept. Also, if you have ever experienced something going wrong early in the day, followed by a series of things going wrong, this is the law of attraction at work.

This concept of attraction is another time-tested success strategy. It is used by athletes who focus on successful completion of their events. I have found this focus to be useful in many ways, even in getting my contact lens (yes, I use only one!) in and out. It was also featured in the wildly successful film, DVD, and book The Secret.

So The Law of Attraction is a good way to learn about the concept of attraction. Stuff gets weird from the start, though. You may have noticed the subtitle: The Basics of the Teachings of Abraham. I thought this might have something to do with the biblical character, founder of the nation of Israel. And though I am not exactly an Old Testament scholar, I don't remember anything about these concepts in the Bible stories. Abraham is the name the authors, Esther and Jerry Hicks, gave to the spiritual entity that taught them the concepts described in the book. The story is formulated as a dialogue between Jerry and Abraham, who is channeled through his wife Esther.

I like the book because it describes the law of attraction well. However, like Way of the Peaceful Warrior, I could do without the teaching myth. Perhaps it will be useful to other readers.

That's the review. I would like to take a few words here to shamelessly plug the various links in this blog. I especially want to thank everyone who has purchased my eBook The Philosophy of Suicide, or read it in a Kindle Unlimited subscription. I am pleasantly surprised that sales continue month after month. But I also want you to know that if you want to buy any of the books or movies I review here, you can help me by going to through the links provided here. The price is the same, but I get a little income from each purchase that is made on Amazon thereafter. In fact, no matter what you buy, I will benefit from your starting here before you go to Amazon. I don't expect I will ever be a full-time writer, but the income I get from these clicks and purchases helps keep me writing as a part-time job. Okay, the advertisement is over. I now return you to your regularly-scheduled blog. Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Dante Haiku

Faithful guide and true
Take me farther through the depths
Those I fear and dread

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Book Review: Way of the Peaceful Warrior by Dan Millman

Originally published in 1980, this revised edition came out in 2000. A movie adaptation with Nick Nolte as "Socrates" was released in 2006. Though it sounds odd for a writer to admit (except for screenwriters), sometimes the movie is better than the book. My fiction writing is more influenced by the movies I have seen than the books I have read. It's like describing the movie that is playing in my head.

This was Millman's second book. It launched his writing career and perhaps is still the most popular of his works. I greatly enjoyed and learned from his book on writing, The Creative Compass, which I reviewed here a few months ago. His writing has greatly improved.

The book is a philosophical work wrapped in a teaching myth. Ostensibly a novel, it tells a somewhat typical tale of a mentor, "Socrates", and his new protégé Dan, a representation of the author. It is semi-autobiographical in that the story is influenced by Millman's college years and speedily covers a few years thereafter as well. The typical aspect is that many words are spent as Socrates tears down Dan so the young student can be rebuilt.

I recall exactly when I began to understand Millman's philosophy. Page 161. So for me, the book only needed to be 47 pages long. Then again, I wasn't reading it in 1980, so perhaps I should give this author the benefit of the doubt. The Karate Kid had not yet been produced.

In The Creative Compass, Millman wrote about how Way of the Peaceful Warrior came to be. He had been writing articles for sports publications while working as a college gymnastics coach and physical education professor. He was trying to combine his articles into a book, and it evolved into the more philosophical version that was published.

This book suggests that humans can do superhuman things. It is inspirational in that way, but it also teaches a way to find happiness in an outwardly simple life, by purifying one's inner life. It is worth reading for athletes and philosophers, and anyone who hasn't yet seen The Karate Kid. You could also just watch the movie. Or skip to page 161. Actually, my recommendation would be this: Watch The Karate Kid, since you definitely need to see that. Then get Way of the Peaceful Warrior and start reading on page 161. That would be the best use of available time.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Prayer, Politics, and Love

A friend recently turned me on to Richard Rohr's daily meditation emails. So far they have been good, though my friend feels they may be too intellectual for some. I am catching up, and read one today from a few days ago. But they don't seem to be limited by a time frame, so that's okay!

The topic for this week is "Action and Contemplation" which is what Fr. Rohr named his organization, the Center for Action and Contemplation. This meditation has things to say about politics which I think are very helpful. I will just provide you the link so you can read it for yourself:

As often happens when I am learning a new life concept, I have been put in situations recently that help illustrate this concept. There were two particular times when I heard a group of folks, one who would call themselves liberals, and one who would call themselves conservative. I do not identify with either group, and for the most part choose to be silent in these discussions except with people I know well. And in both cases, these conversations were inappropriate for the venue. I only say this to show that when I am open to change and improvement in my life, situations present themselves that allow me to do this.

My experience is similar to Fr. Rohr's, though he has certainly enlightened me as to the reasons. I confess I have at times felt the same way about my own convictions. It impresses upon me the need for an inner life, an appreciation and experience of love. Love embodies good, in relation to God, to ourselves, and to others. The absence of it is something akin to evil, which has no life of its own. Many of us live in this emptiness in at least a part of our lives.

Love requires a commitment, even if the commitment is only for a day. But would you rather be a day laborer, or a long-term employee? With every commitment comes benefits. I think what Rohr is trying to say, is that we need this long-term commitment to ourselves. This is the foundation of love on which any action, political or otherwise, must be based, if it is to be full, and not empty.