Near-Death Experiences, The Rest of the Story: What They Teach us About Living, Dying, and Our True Purpose, by P.M.H. Atwater
Hampton Roads, 9781571746511, 288pp., 2011
Phyllis Atwater is a well known researcher and author in the field of near death experiences, in fact she is one of the first researchers in the field and Near-Death Experiences, The Rest of the Story is her final book on the subject as she’s retiring. As someone with a few NDE in my past and an interest in the subject I was very excited for this book. I was worried that it would be a rehash, like many books on the subject tend to be, but I was not disappointed and in fact this book exceeded my expectations. This book contains “forty-three years of research involving nearly seven thousand adults and children” and while some of it is familiar, there is a lot of new material as Atwater is retiring she “finally say[s] things [she] never dared to say before.” Continue reading
Bridging the Gap:Working Within the Dynamics of Pagan Groups and Society, by Crystal Blanton
Megalithica Books, 9781905713431, 146 pp., 2010
Those of us who have been in the Pagan “community” for any appreciable amount of time are well aware that the topic of this book is one which in of vital concern as Paganism becomes more acceptable in the world outside our Circles, Groves, and Covens. From the very beginnings of the public existence of Paganism in the modern world there have arisen situations which needed to be addressed, but which frequently were shuffled to the side with a “We’ll deal with that later” attitude.
The past decade or so has seen the rapid rise of both “solitary” and “eclectic” segments of the Pagan community. This has led to even more destabilization of the overall community, since there appears to be a high level of distrust, if not outright antagonism between these segments and the more “traditional” groups which exist. Continue reading
Zen: Simply Sitting: A Zen monk’s commentary on the Fukanzazengi (Universal Guide on the Correct Practice of Zazen) by Master Dogen, by Philippe Coupey
Forward by Lee Lozowick, Translator’s preface by Marc Shaver
Hohm, Press, 1890772615, 114 pp. (incl. notes, glossary and index), 2006
Zen: Simply Sitting is a book in two parts. The first is the text of the Fukanzazengi , written by Master Dogen (1200-1253) in 1227, and later revised into its final form in 1242-1243. It is the final version, the Rufubon, which is reproduced here. As we learn, fukan means “recommended for the people”, meaning that the text is intended for laypeople, not only monks and priest.
The Fukanzazengi is extremely brief, only a few pages long, and it deals with the practice of zazen, seated meditation. Master Dogen describes the correct posture and attitude one should maintain while sitting. His prose is sparse and direct, with clear guidelines on how it should be done. Continue reading
Dancing with Spirits: The Festivals and Folklore of Japan, by Denny Sargent
Megalithica Press, 9781905713523, 120 pp., 2010
The religions of Japan are among the least understood by members of Western society. This happens for a number of reasons, most prominently because they are so much an organic part of the culture that even many Japanese don’t give them much thought. In fact, one often hears Japanese say that they are not religious, even as they are participating in some festival, or entering/leaving a shrine. The religions are simply a part of daily life, and thus not considered a separate religious aspect.
Generally, religion in Japan breaks down into one of two major types – Shinto or Buddhism – but that is as simplistic as saying religion in the West is either Christian or non-Christian; true to an an extent, but failing to capture the shear breadth of the religious experience. Each of the two groups has unique observances, yet commonalities exist. Continue reading
Loneliness and Revelation: A Study of the Sacred, by Brendan Myers
O-Books, 9781846943553, 165 pp. (incl. bibliography), 2010
Loneliness and Revelation is comprised of forty-five thought provoking meditations on loneliness; Myers takes a close look at what it is and what it means for the individual as an existential condition.
More than just solitude or isolation, loneliness gives rise to the thought that one’s life may be “utterly insignificant and meaningless“. We combat this through what Myers calls Revelation, ways of being in the world and asserting our presence here, both for ourselves and those around us.
He explores this theme through various friends, philosophers, world religions both major and minor, referencing myth and literature. In doing so, he surveys the various ways we stave off loneliness, while noting that loneliness is something we return to again and again. Continue reading