Tuesday, 3 August 2010

My Favourite Books

As inspired by Sheenalashay… My favourite books... Firstly, regarding spirituality or awareness - The 'kun byed rgyal po' or 'The Supreme Ordering Principle in the Universe' written by Longchenpa, the 14th century adept of the Nyingma school of Tibetan Buddhism . It is titled 'You are the Eyes of the World' published by Snow Lion. It's about discovering 'pristine' awareness everywhere, all the time. Quote:- 'Innocents, through deception are seduced to a path that is just an idea, with neither time for setting out nor time for realisation - how will they be able to seek reality on it's own terms? When following teachings of a monkey like master which have no logical basis. You end up believing in a false path.' and 'This message which really opens up one's primordial condition is beyond all foundations or bases; it is the core reality of pure and total presence...' It goes on to describe the means and method of realising this awareness.

Then also I like the edition 'Yoga spandakarika' written by Daniel Odier about the origins of Tantra - it has teachings from the ancient Chinese, Tibetan and Kasmiri masters. Quote:- 'If you don't do it yourself, what good will Dharma practises of others do you - it is like a beggar's dream in which he is rich in splendour food and wealth upon awakening all is gone without a trace, like the passing of a bird in the sky, all composite phenomena in the world are just like that.'
I love these books because they are written empirically based on experience, for the well being of others and have lasted thousands of years, only to be picked up by me in Borders of all places. It's like finding a corner of the Himalayas in my backyard. Also in my own life they have strengthened my mind, lessened my suffering and opened a giant window that wasn't there before. They have made me go and meet Tibetan Lamas from the lineages that trace right back to those authors and hear the wisdom afresh and applicable to today. In fact I discovered that my Lama who I went for refuge with is said to be a reincarnation of an aspect of Longchenpa - there's a surprise, puts a whole different spin on the length of an education. I have had so many blessings because I read these words and 'freedom' for me ceased to be a concept and became an actuality. A warning though - reading such books is dangerous to 'normality' you can begin to appear to others as very illogical and this isn't helped by you're being unable to justify your actions. At least that's my experience :)

Also I have a taste for survival stories because they teach a lot and this was kicked off with a wonderful read by Ian Serraillier's 'The Silver Sword' about refugee children in WW2. He went to my college and became a conscientious objector. I loved Nevil Shute's 'A Town Like Alice'. It's the way they write. I like a writer who isn't pretentious and can communicate profound thinking with simple words. The Tibetan Buddhist books force me to think and stretch mind as do any on an unfamiliar subject, but the other books force my character to stretch too - to me reading is like being able to choose your own family.

As a child when I was very ill and in bed for years suffering unimaginably, the only way I could escape was by staying still and reading - I read Enid Blyton books and would have incredible adventures in my mind. I read so much, it was all I could do and then astoundingly as I got better, I actually began to live those adventures. I totally have understood creating our own reality since those days, but the amount to which this happens depends on the clarity and one pointedness of our thinking beforehand... I think a book has the potential to answer the hunger of a soul - its what you search for when perusing bookshelves; which book will fill that gap, answer that aching question or bring joy? I am inclined to think that one must have one's own adventures thoughYou can't rely solely on the lives and learnings of others to inform you. At some point you have to leave the comforts and the house and the familiar and have your own hero's journey..

Winnie the Pooh then, certainly informed me as a child and no doubt an adult too. My love of cake is not unlike Pooh's love of honey in fact Winnie the Pooh and I are quite similar in many respects.
'Greyfriar's Bobby' by Eleanor Stackhouse Atkinson based on true events about a little loyal dog in Victorian Edinburgh with beautiful descriptions of the city You can read the book here -

Laurie Lee's 'Cider with Rosie' he also wrote 'As I walked out one Midsummer's morning'. 'Lark Rise to Candleford' by Flora Thompson is in a similar vein and 'On the Black Hill' by Bruce Chatwain author of 'Song Lines'. All autobiographical in nature, gentle tales, beautifully written and heartwarming. I also loved Tolkien's 'The Hobbit' for those same reasons. 'Jane Eyre' by Charlotte Bronte was an old favourite as a teen especially as I visited the Bronte's country. I love to go to places in books. Also Jack London's writing 'Call of the Wild' and 'At the back of the North Wind' by George MacDonald.

Ernest Hemingway's 'A Farewell to Arms'. He was a great moment catcher. I once read about an article he wrote 'Throng at a smallpoox case' when he chanced upon a crowd of people at a train station. They were surrounding a very sick man who had collapsed with smallpox, the ambulance had been called but did not come... 'distressed that nobody would help him bring a smallpox-afflicted victim to the hospital... Hemingway called a cab and charged the fare to the Star newpaper' and took the man himself picking him up and putting him in the cab. That is why I like Hemingway - all his books are a rage at the people who do nothing but stand and stare and he himself was the antithesis of that. If a book doesn't make you change for the better I generally don't want to read it; if it doesn't rouse you out of a stupor, transport you elsewhere and elsewhen or show you which way to go when you did not know - what good is it to write it or read it when life is but a blink of an eye, of not knowing and then you too are but memory and then history?
My favourite book is 'The Water Babies' by Charles Kingsley (and my favourite character is Mrs Doasyouwouldbedoneby). Especially the Purnell Classics edition with pictures by Jesus Blasco

Angela Shelton's August 1st live show on writing tips:-

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