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June 2019 Feature Focus:
Currents of Change
(p. 233) Wisdom of Healing for All
"This wisdom sees healing as the interpretive framework for justice. Rather than punishment, it sees healing as both the means and ends of justice. While healing justice is not always a justice free of punishment, punishment does not become the central interpretive framework. Healing justice is rooted in a justice that respects the sacredness of each person and believes that all can heal. [Italics added] This wisdom of healing then does not rely so heavily on punishment and violence as a last resort. This wisdom sees the world as constantly changing, open both to changing towards healing and changing towards harm. The wisdom of healing for all sees harms as an opportunity to work at healing for all involved - the ones harmed and the ones harming. It also works to transform the family, the socio-economic and ecological structures. The wisdom of healing for all returns us to the wisdom of Spirit and land, in whom all find their true identity."
(p. 154) “From this experience, I have learned never to underestimate passion and the power of the individual to make change. I’ve learned to be brave and face adversity if you have truth and justice at the center of all you do. I’ve learned to ignore those who bullied me and tried to deter my most committed and devoted team from changing the plight of the bears and be the champions they need. And I’ve learned to play the game — calmly when impatient, intelligently when frustrated, and pragmatically when insane with anger.
"I always say to children in presentations that sometimes we receive a message in life that we can choose to listen to — or ignore. That decision can shape the rest of our lives. Hong’s [the bear] message to me that day in April 1993 was strong, profound, and impossible to ignore. Her inspiration began everything we have built in China and Vietnam today: two sanctuaries filled with over six hundred happy, healthy, rescued bears, and a foundation called Animals Asia, which has progressed a long way toward the goal of ending bear bile farming once and for all."
(p. 110) "Right living means supporting others and contributing to the greater good whilst pursuing our own goals. It means being efficient, which is to say, achieving maximum results with minimum effort. It means quieting the mind and body until the pulsing buzz of life on Earth is clearly audible. It means abandoning fixed plans in favor of a willingness to go wherever the river of life takes us. Embracing compassion, frugality, humility, service, creativity, non-conformity, and freedom helps us stay out of our own way. Following these values and ideals, we are most likely to be able to find satisfaction, hope, love, and joy."
In the days to come, you need to allow your empathy to become an unstoppable force inside you, something that moves you to action. Something that won’t let you stand idly by when evil happens in the world. It needs to become a force that makes you stand up with someone who’s being abused in public. That makes you pick up the phone and make calls to lawmakers when you see something you know is wrong or harmful. That makes you lift your voice in support of people whose voices are unheard.
In the days to come, you Book People will have to be the keepers of our values. You will need to become the memory and the conscience of our nation. You will need to carry inside you a bright and inextinguishable flame."
January 2019 Feature Focus:
CREATE A NEW STORY
The turning of the wheel, the newness of the year invites reflection, and a great opportunity for a fresh restart. This contemplation of our internal compass may call for a full-on life reboot - or just an incremental, yet significant, shift of thinking, believing or acting. The following Nautilus Award-winning books offer valuable perspectives to inspire and empower the conscious creation of a New Story… A story that lights up your life and fulfills the vision of your heart & soul. Happy New Year!
(Pg 23) Throughout the world, the idea of a universal, interconnected grid composed of energy, where we can access insights and energies that affect the physical body as well as the psyche, is a part of many healing traditions. Many of them recognize a physical world and an unseen world of consciousness and energy that seem to be separated but, in fact, are always intertwined. It is easier to perceive the interconnections between these realms when we are not bogged down by the limitations of ordinary awareness.
Why does it matter what is beyond what the conscious mind can observe? The existence of an unseen world and what lies within it may be important not only to our physical health but for healing mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. The promise of energy medicine and practices that involve expanded awareness — practices that can be found in Jungianism, shamanism, and other traditions and which you will discover in this book—is that we can access and work with these hidden insights and energies to heal what ails us.
(Pg 113) Imagine what you would like to experience with your health. Even if your health is reasonably good, you want to be able to maintain that level of health, if not improve on it, in the months and years to come. Let your goal be to write a new health story focused on what you want to experience in the next several years.
If you actually write out your new health story, with paper and pen, it can help you believe that what you aspire to experience can come true. It can also help you affirm what actions you want to take to meet your health goals. However, when it comes to actually bringing your new story of your health to life, you may find you can’t sustain positive changes by using willpower alone. The challenge may frustrate you. Hence, I recommend that you write a new story for yourself but also commit to using expanded-awareness practices and journaling to help you bring it to life.
(Pg 2) For decades, I’ve been fascinated by people who change career paths — a feat most often seen among the well-to-do, who have ample social safety nets. Even with plenty of support, however, a major career change can be as fraught as jumping from one high-speed train to another. I’m also interested in people who decide, for whatever reason, to learn the unexpected or the difficult — the expert in Romance languages who overcomes his deficits in math; the floundering gamer who finds a way to soar academically in competitive Singapore; the quadriplegic who shifts into graduate-level computer science and becomes an online teaching assistant. In an age when the pace of change is ever increasing, I’ve become convinced that dramatic career changes and attitudes of lifelong learning — both inside and outside of university settings — are a vital creative force. Yet the power of that force often goes unnoticed by society.
People who change careers or start learning something new later in life often feel like dilettantes — novices who never have a chance of catching up with their new peers. Much like wizards who think they are Muggles, they often remain unaware of their power.
Never Too Old To Learn and Change
(Pg 142) Surprisingly often, we feel guilty about changing our careers or learning something new. When we are in our twenties, we think, “I could have been a first-rate guitarist if I’d just started when I was a kid!” When we reach age sixty, we look wistfully back at the more open possibilities of our thirties. We forget that when we were in our thirties, our options often seemed equally limited. Even college freshmen look with envy on other students who began studying French, physics, or philosophy in high school. No matter what our age, we often feel too old to learn something new.
It’s hard to realize that the path not taken always seems alluring—and to see there are benefits to the path you have taken. Retraining your brain to master something new as an adult can have profound benefits — not only for you, but for those around you and for society as a whole. These benefits are so valuable that even the world’s most accomplished people actively seek out career change.
Life At The Crossroads
(Pg xvi) Sleepwalking through life, the weight on my chest so heavy I could barely breathe, and working an 18-hour day in a business that did not feed my soul, I was stressed out, burned out, unfulfilled, and empty.
I was so far from the present moment and living eternally in the past, carrying a knot in my stomach so tight that it could only be washed away by a glass of Scotch at bedtime. I had accepted that this would be my life and resigned myself to the sad reality that one day, I would die, and the nightmare would be over.
But then, in the wake of 9/11, at the four-way intersection of hopelessness, deep sadness, confusion, and lack of purpose, I walked past a row of cardboard boxes that people were living in on a street in downtown Manhattan. It was there that I received the first Sacred Whisper of my life — an unexpected moment in which time stood still and the voice of the Divine spoke directly to me through the body of someone I did not know and had never met. This life-changing hiccup in the space-time continuum was a defining moment of celestial convergence that absorbed me into a cosmic stream of timelessness — and ultimately gave me a new-found awareness and the inspiration to dream a new dream.
With Every Breath I Am Reborn
(Pg 89) ...We seek the true REbirthing of many aspects of our emotional, physical, psychological, and spiritual selves. We long for the creation of new memories, new desires, new choices, and new dreams. You’ve learned a lot over the course of your life. And if you could apply all that wisdom to your current circumstances and have a fresh start in just one area, your life would truly transform in magnificent ways.
REbirth is a spiritual homecoming — our returning to the memory of our wholeness before we carved out all the ruts, climbed the mountains, crawled up from the abysses, trudged across the valleys, slid down the hills, and fell down rabbit holes. All these experiences have provided strength and wisdom, but we don’t need to hold on to the staleness of their trajectory. Even in the smallest of issues and the tiniest of concerns, you are worthy of a second chance. You are entitled to a new beginning!
(Pg 146) When it comes to REbirth, remember:
- You are never stuck; the Universe has decreed that you are worthy of REbirth.
- You always have the power within to shift your life from where you are to where you’d like to be.
- Change is different than transformation. Change is finite; transformation is evolution.
- The Winning Formula of your life has gotten you to this point; your new Winning Formula will take you to the next level.
- You can REbirth any moment by accepting what is, releasing what no longer serves you, and stepping into a new beginning.
Here we are in this sacred, precious present moment. What are you going to do with it?
(Pg 7) I needed a new view of death. So I had to tell myself a new story. Death is dark, but it's also light, and between that contrast, I say a death positive narrative begins to appear. The dark and light can produce a rainbow of color that exists in spectrum of hues, shades, tints, and values. Its beauty is firmly planted in the storm, but we’ve become color-blind.
(Pg 51-52) Along the way, I learned the Jewish concept of tikkun olam, which means “healing of the world” and is accomplished through presence in the midst of the pain. It can be summarized in the phrase, “I am here with you and I love you” and is accomplished through simple acts of presence. It became a rallying cry for me in my work as a funeral director.
Rachel Naomi Remen, in an interview with Krista Tippett, describes it as "a collective task. It involves all people who have ever been born, all people presently alive, all people yet to be born. We are all healers of the world.… It’s not about healing the world by making a huge difference. It’s about the world that touches you.” Presence and proximity before performance.
As I took that to heart, I started to see small, everyday examples of tikkun olam everywhere:
- When a mother comforts a child, she’s healing the world.
Every time someone listens to another —deeply listens —she’s healing the world.
- A nurse who bathes the weakened body of an elderly patient is healing the world.
- The teacher who invests in her students is healing the world.
- The plumber who makes the inner workings of a house run smoothly is healing the world.
- A funeral director who finds that he can heal the world even at his family’s business.
When we practice presence and proximity, we may not change anyone, we may not shift culture or move mountains, but it’s a healing act, if for none other than ourselves. When we do our work with kindness —no matter what kind of work —if we’re doing it with presence, we’re practicing tikkun olam.
There is a work of being present. There’s a ministry of presence. And this ministry of presence is an embracing of the now, of the world, and of the earth. In some ways it’s the work of a birth doula. Of waiting. Of listening. Of being a steady and small guide in the birth of life. It’s not always doing work with large projects and plans and huge acts. Changing the world sometimes involves massive movements, but mostly it can be accomplished through small acts of presence, listening, and kindness. And I believe it starts with embracing the earth by keeping our minds and hearts here, and not yet in the beyond and the next life.
(Pg 294-295) Making room in one’s life to engage the sacred in everyday things is important and magical, and revealing — for it allows:
- a new picture to emerge
- a new truth to be revealed
- a direct, personal experience of God to occur
- a new awareness to flower
- a new vision of being human to show itself
- a new pattern of evolution to take hold
We Need a New Story
The old stories are good and teach us a lot about basics. But else are not necessarily helpful when your six-figure salary drops to zero because your job was shipped to China and you have to teach your replacement how things are done -- with a smile on your face and speaking pleasantly.
…The end of things spreads daily across our television sets and newspapers and the Internet, spreading fear that the whole wide world is wrapped in chaos.
Don’t believe it. Every ending brings a new beginning. Always. There is more good in this world than ill. People, instead of closing up, are opening up to solutions and ways to thrive in unusual times. We have more to be grateful for than to fear.
I know what I am talking about. I lost everything when I died in 1977, including myself. The only logical thing I could say afterward was “God is,” and I chanted that by the hour. It kept me sane. I had to relearn everything, from crawling to cooking, from putting on clothes to putting on a smile when I had no idea why I was smiling or why my children called me “mother” or why my employer called me “needed at work.” I reached out and took every class I could find, did every exercise recommended, learned and relearned every single thing —and more also. No stone was left unturned.
Hear me when I say this. No matter what your position in life or where you are, or what you are, or what you believe or disbelieve. I have only one question for you and your answer will change everything:
November 2018 Feature Focus
Spiritual Awakening in the 21st Century
Today, we share with you five (5) Nautilus Award-Winning books from last year's 2017 season. These five books are focused on the theme, Spiritual Awakening in the 21st-century. From quite varied perspectives, the authors share wisdom seeds, and suggestions for practices that can guide and encourage us. We hope you find them to be helpful in your own explorations.
What I had indeed known all along is that things were coming to a head -and this book describes the ways in which we have reached the end of an old and failing worldview. We were confronted, as I suggest throughout this book, with a choice. The stories of the American democracy had become so muddled and confused with the narratives of white supremacy, of dogmatic neoliberal Capitalism, that a new story was required. Throughout this book, I have intimated ways in which the new story might bring forth a more vibrant, sustainable, just and compassionate civilization.
But there is no guarantee that apocalypse brings forth something better.
Trump's supporters felt something that was real: They saw that the American Dream was no longer viable; they felt the end of the American middle class and the erosion of genuine community; they understood, perhaps unconsciously, that the narratives upon which their identity rested were being challenged. But the American people chose fascism -fear and hatred of the 'other' -over all the possibilities of a new world, a new dream. That's the thing about apocalypse: You can dive off the cliff into the unknown waters or you can cling in futility to the edge.
But there is a bright side. The truth is that whoever was elected in November  was going to lead us over the same cliff. One side would have done so more gently, more slowly. But once you start over the cliff it doesn't much matter.
Is it possible that all the fear and anxiety over Trump's presidency is because it forces us to deal with things as they really are? We can no longer pretend that we don't have to deal with climate change or that technology will save us. We can no longer pretend that we haven't dumbed-down our society to such an extent that celebrity is more valued than substance.
We've got work to do... [Pg. 2- 3]
This book is about the end--but it is not what you think. While I will draw from many sources that earnestly predicted that the complete and total end was imminent, I am making no such suggestion. Rather, I am suggesting that the Universe is repeatedly ending, in various ways: the phase changes of cosmic evolution; the evolutionary shifts that occur with mass extinctions and climate change; the historical transitions from one era to the next; the paradigm shifts that occur when human beings begin to think differently about who they are and their place in the Universe.
The categories of “religion” and “science” are products of Modernity, Fragmentation, and the placing of various aspects of life into different categories —one of the hallmarks of Modern consciousness. Pre-modern culture would hardly have considered religion and nature as distinct categories; rather, they each would be woven into the whole fabric of life and world and worldview.
The separation of science and religion begins with the Modern period and the Protestant Reformation, which, for the first time, placed religion squarely in the realm of the private —the interior, the immaterial. The scientific method that emerged in the West would allow for unprecedented advances in knowledge about nature; but it arose within a particularly rigid religious culture and an emerging dualism between nature and spirit. All this would lead first to the conflicts between the Church and science —Galileo being the most prominent —and eventually to a compromise in mainstream Christianity that would lead to a grudging acceptance of science, but only insofar as it was not to influence theology. [Pg. 192]
This compromise was only a temporary fix. For it requires us to believe that the processes of our unfolding cosmos are in no way meaningful, in no way connected to the deepest mysteries of existence. The fundamentalist movement that has only grown in recent years is largely a response to this unsatisfactory solution. It sees the world in a way that is at once pre-Modern and, at the same time, profoundly Modern. Believing he is returning to the original intention of his religion, the fundamentalist holds that everything is a part of the unfolding myth drama of his tradition. This is a pre-Modern view. At the same time, the fundamentalist can only exist in Modernity, for the fundamentalist can only understand that tradition literally, an approach that was unknown in the pre-Modern world.
We are left with scientists —not all, of course —who claim the world is meaningless, and fundamentalists who claim meaning is only found in the specific, literal interpretation of their tradition. For most of us, meaning must be found in personal things: family life, emotions, the arts. None of it has to do with the cosmos, with nature, with the world of which we are part.
As a result of this bifurcation, we have continued to devalue the natural world. Alienated from the cosmos, we have created a two-fold apocalypse: physically - because we do not believe that this world has any inherent value, we have continued to exploit and destroy. The fundamentalist can deny climate change because there is nothing sacred in nature. Even those who are not fundamentalists seem to believe this, for it lies at the center of Capitalism. As a result, we are precipitating the unparalleled destruction of the biosphere.
And psychically - the devaluing of the cosmos requires us to want to move beyond it. Pie-in-the-sky Christianity is the individual version of this; apocalypse is the collective version. The fundamentalist yearns for the apocalypse —the complete eradication of the natural order, not for the prophetic work of creating a more just human order. [Pg. 192- 194]
Contemporary science is a revelation, and it reveals to us an organic Universe, one that is constantly birthing and revealing. It teaches us that we are intimately woven into the community of life and of cosmos. It teaches us that the Universe is process, not place —and that it is a single process. Its beauty is found in diversity, and at the same time, its sacredness is unescapable, for we are each other. The notion of separation is impossible.
Spiritually, these concepts allow us to see that our power, as humans, is not found in the degree to which we are separate from this process —this was the belief system that arose out of the inert and meaningless cosmos —but because we are participating in it. The human imagination is another phase in this cosmic process, unique but ultimately the same. We must understand first what is the particular character of this emergent, imaginative singularity at this phase in cosmic unfolding. [Pg. 199- 201] //
Savage Grace: Living Resiliently in the Dark Night of the Globe
What does it actually mean to acknowledge that “this thing of darkness, I acknowledge mine” ? It means accepting that we live, participate in, and collude with a culture that worships only money and success; that adores power, and denigrates love, compassion, and justice; and that each one of us has been contaminated by this culture’s complete lack of conscience, responsibility, and obscenely superficial values. It means that we have learned to lie for our own advantage, to scheme to ensure our domination of others and build our security and that we all are paying the spiritual price in paralysis, cynicism, and despair. In fact, what this ferocious shadow work reveals is that we are as responsible for this situation as those whom we can conveniently characterize as its Darth Vaders and Genghis Khans. [Pg. 20 ]
This is a terrible recognition that all of us would love to avoid; however, it leads to the kind of self-knowledge we all now need to negotiate with the other inmates of a worldwide madhouse. If we do not recognize our own insanity and the ways in which it deforms and informs our increasingly chaotic actions, how will we ever have compassion for others driven by the same dark whirlwind, and how will we ever evolve the skillful means to attempt to deal with them beyond the corrupt safeties of judgment and condemnation? [Pg. 21]
Reconnection Alongside Resistance and Resilience As we have been emphasizing, the only legitimate ground on which to stand as we resist a neo-fascist agenda is the ground of intimate connection with the Self, each other, and Earth. Dean Walker, author of The Impossible Conversation: Choosing Reconnection and Resilience at the End of Business as Usual, argues that our unwillingness to discuss the severity of catastrophic climate change and a number of other topics dealing with our planetary predicament results not only from the fear of facing the issues directly, but from our profound disconnection from Self, other, and Earth. Taken together, these make the issues strangely surreal and out of reach, and any discussions we have about them are ventures into the absurd... [Pg. 21- 22]
In 2016, Carolyn [Baker] and Dean [Walker] began facilitating twice-monthly online calls with individuals who are eager to engage with each other in the “impossible conversation” in a heartfelt manner. Named Safe Circle calls, the online encounters have become a prototype for the kind of reconnection required for resistance as well as living resiliently… If we do not reconnect with each other by sharing our heartbreak, we will not be able to resist or live resiliently. What is more, the Safe Circle-call model creates a consistent container for discussing and mobilizing strategies of resistance and employing the fundamental tools of resilience… Moreover, to attempt to live resiliently without reconnection is to miss the essence of resilience. As stated above, resilience is “the power or ability to return to the original form, position, etc., after being bent, compressed, or stretched: elasticity.”
Dedicate one day to taking a personal inventory of ways to which you are disconnected from yourself, others, and Earth. Notice the ways in which you are disconnected from your body. How are you disconnected from your emotions? How are you disconnected from other living beings? How are you disconnected from Earth? ...
With a trusted ally in your life, share one emotion you are feeling as you reflect on our global predicament. As much as possible, speak from your heart and not your head. Also invite your ally to share with you, and listen carefully and attentively to them as they speak...
Spend at least 15- 20 minutes (or more) in the solitude of nature. If you are not used to doing this, it may be challenging at first. Simply sit or stand in nature and observe what is around you. Notice the smells, sounds, and textures of the elements of nature as well as colors, light, and shadow. Touch the trees, leaves, water, and soul…
Say the Name of the divine by whatever name you know it, repeatedly in the depths of your heart. Over time, you will be initiated by grace into the truth of your non-dual relationship with the divine and into the depths of the strength, peace, truth, and wisdom of your deathless, divine Self. [Pg. 24- 25] //
Putting the concept of unity-in-diversity into action would call for a wider loyalty, a broadening of affiliations without giving up any legitimate allegiances, and subordinating national interests for the greater good of a unified world... [Pg. 46- 47]
Unity is not uniformity or sameness. Unity is harmony with difference. Unity can co-exist with difference. Diversity is a fact of life, and always will be. The goal is unity in diversity, or unity with the diversity that exists everywhere... The flowers of a garden are diverse in color, shape and form, yet are nourished by the waters of one spring and the rays of one sun. They owe their beauty and charm to their diversity. As a rainbow of hues enriches the garden, so does diversity of thought, temperament, and character in the human family... Unity is central to the evolutionary process, yet its fulfillment depends ultimately upon what is going on inside our own minds. As Teilhard de Chardin notes, ‘Unity grows only if it is supported by an increase of consciousness, of vision.’
Sharing the Baha’i vision prior to World War II, Shoghi Effendi wrote, “World unity is the hallmark of the stage which human society is now approaching... the goal towards which a harassed humanity is striving. Nation-building has come to an end... A world, growing to maturity, must recognize the oneness and wholeness of human relationships. Writers from many disciplines recognize this emerging unity, too. Historian Arnold Toynbee, who said, “The ultimate work of civilization is the unfolding of ever-deeper spiritual understanding,” recalls mythologist Joseph Campbell’s vision… “the unity of the race of man, not only in its biology but also in its spiritual history, which has everywhere unfolded in the manner of a single symphony.”
This collective unity was recognized by pioneering quantum physicists, too, who discovered a century ago that there is no separation between physical or spiritual bodies, or among any objects in the universe. As David Bohm said, “Deep down, the consciousness of mankind is one,” or as Einstein put it, “The field is the only reality.” [Pg. 87- 88]
Leading thinkers today recognize this fundamental principle of the global age. Ervin Laszlo states that mankind “needs a star to follow”, or “standards by which we can direct our steps.” These will come from the “great ideals of the world religions,” he says, from the Christian vision of universal brotherhood, Judaism’s vision of all the families of the earth being blessed, Islam’s universal vision of an ultimate community of God, man, and nature; the Hindu vision of matter as the outward manifestation of spirit attuned to cosmic harmony, the Buddhist vision of all reality as interdependent, and the Confucian vision of supreme harmony in ordered human relationships.
Laszlo goes on, “The essential goal of the Baha’i Faith is to achieve a vision that is world-embracing and could lead to the unity of mankind and the establishment of a world civilization based on peace and justice.” These are “perennial ideals based on universally human values,” and need to be rediscovered to guide our steps. [Pg. 109]
Just as the revelation of religious truth is continuous and progressive, so are the discoveries of science. True religion and sound science support one another. The principles of one cannot be in opposition to the other. They are complementary paths to the same reality. Both are needed, just as are two wings to fly. Reason is one wing, faith the other. Science and religion are the yin and yang of reality: both have the same source assisting their unfoldment and the same creation to illuminate. Both have to be in harmony, and both are necessary for us to fully understand reality as a whole. [Pg. 119- 120]
To move from a consciousness of duality, where many cultures exist in conflict, to a consciousness of oneness, where many cultures exist in harmony - may not be as earth-shattering, challenging, or dramatic as it sounds. All it really requires is a shift of awareness toward a new and deeper understanding of our core nature of non duality, where we recognize that reality is one, and that truth is indivisible. To see non duality as the essence of all of existence enables us to adopt a consciousness of oneness, which is what will lead to a culture of oneness…
The crisis facing humanity is, ultimately, spiritual. Our greatest danger is complacency, remaining entrenched in a part-focused worldview. What is required is a change of consciousness, a spiritual transformation freeing ourselves from attachment to inherited assumptions and habits that no longer fit the needs of the day.
Our task in this emerging global age is re-conceptualizing everything we think we know anything about: the way we see the world, the way we understand reality; the way we understand human identity; the way we relate to one another and the earth we share, the way we approach science and religion; the way we understand the nature of conflict, the way we envision the journey of life; and, perhaps most of all, the way we see the very nature and purpose of divinity…
Martin Luther King, Jr called for this wider identity over a half century ago, as well: “Every nation must now develop an overriding loyalty to mankind as a whole in order to preserve the best in their individual societies. This call for a worldwide fellowship that lifts neighborly concern beyond one’s tribe, race, class, and nation is in reality a call for an all-embracing and unconditional love for all mankind.” [Pg. 134- 135] //
One afternoon, as I was piecing together material for my class, I stumbled upon a description of our relationship to the universe by Albert Einstein:
“A human being is part of the whole, called by us ‘Universe’, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separate from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. The striving to free oneself from this delusion is the one issue of true religion. Not to nourish the delusion but to try to overcome it is the way to reach the attainable measure of peace of mind.”
Einstein’s exquisite words stopped me in my tracks. He was expressing everything I believed about our limited vision and about the oneness we have trouble seeing, but that we are all part of. Einstein was describing the mystical teachings I’d been studying for years - the Narrow Mind and the Expansive Mind, the World of Separation and the World of Unity that we all have access to. Yes, I thought, we are living in a state of blindness. When we feel alone, we are wrong... [Pg. 13]
Einstein never uses the word “soul”, but in just four sentences he manages to paint a picture of an eternal life that exists in the here and now, an infinite life that we are blind to. According to Einstein, the ultimate goal of religion is to help us see and experience that greater whole we are all part of. He believed we have the power to free our ourselves from the delusion that we are separate entities, when in truth we are all interwoven strands in an elaborate and infinite web.
If the mission of Einstein’s ‘true religion’ is to help us see the underlying oneness of all things, then as a rabbi I consider it my mission to spread the word about a faith that can unite people of all religions and races. A meta-religion we can all agree upon and belong to. A religion of universal interconnectedness, a unity that holds us all together.” [Pg. 22- 23]
…I knew about the summer cottage in Caputh. Einstein loved to escape into his thoughts there; it was a place where he could daydream and contemplate the workings of the universe. He kept a boat there too that his friends had given him for his fiftieth birthday. Einstein would sail off alone, and let the boat take him where it wanted to go. He wrote eloquently about the perfect life he experienced in Caputh: ‘The sailboat, the sweeping view, the solitary walks, the relative quiet —it is paradise.’ In Caputh, Einstein ruminated over his famous Unified Field Theory, the theory he was never able to solve.
Perhaps it was the scenic beauty of the home by the lake that inspired Einstein to pen ‘What I Believe’ in Caputh. It was an essay where he articulated the foundations of his faith:
‘The most beautiful emotion we can experience is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of all true art and science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead, a snuffed out candle. To sense that behind anything that can be experienced there is something that our minds cannot grasp, whose beauty and sublimity reaches us only indirectly: this is religiousness. In this sense, and in this sense only, I am a devoutly religious man.’ [Pg. 110] ...
[Rabbi Levy continues,] How many times have I said the words, “Thank God it’s not me.” How many times have I counseled people who told me —in the face of a professional setback, a harsh diagnosis, or a devastating loss: “This can’t be happening to me. Not me.” Things like this happen to other people, to those unlucky, unfortunate souls.
We delude ourselves that we are separate from others because we don’t want to feel vulnerable and small. But our denial makes us small. It is the source of pain, distance, and callousness too. We have the power to respond to suffering with soul. We have the power to step forward into our lives and into the lives of others with heart and compassion… Pity is the ego’s way of protecting itself from admitting to vulnerability. But the soul doesn’t need protection - it craves connection.
We are capable of so much more than “It’s not me.” Your soul wants to mentor you in the ways of conscience, kindness, and caring… Lean on your soul and let it show you how you are tethered to people you don’t even know. Let it lead you to speak out, to get involved, to fight for justice. Put soul into the causes you are moved to get engaged in.
Every day we have the power to welcome deep soul connections in this world and beyond. I recently learned that the word “hobo” is an abbreviation for “homeward bound.” We are all hobos looking for a way back to our goodness, to our holy essence, to our Creator, to our own hearts and souls. [Pg. 243]
And the Soul of Souls keeps calling out to us, “Return, my children.” Can you hear it? It’s a call your soul knows intimately. So instead of saying “It’s not me”, say, “I’m in. Count me in!” The good news is, the homecoming you seek is already within you, within your very soul. You are hardwired for love. You are hardwired for generosity and humility, for giving and receiving comfort. Hardwired to help. Hardwired to connect…
The Eternal Force is here to teach you, it longs to show you a bigger picture of the world around you and your place in it. There is a mission you are here to fulfill every day. The situation of our world demands that from you. Claim and own the true depth of your own humanity, because by claiming your empathy you are also claiming your destiny. And by doing that you will live to bless people you’ve never even met. [Pg. 244-245] //
When I was eighty years old, a journalist asked me if I ever planned to retire as a spiritual teacher. I smiled and explained that teaching is given not by talking alone, but by the way we live our life. Our life is the teaching. Our life is the message. And so I explained that as long as I continue to practice mindful sitting, walking, eating, and interacting with my community and those around me, I will continue to teach... I had already started encouraging my senior students to begin to replace me by giving their own Dharma talks. Many of them have given wonderful Dharma talks, and some have been better than mine! When they teach, I see myself continued in them.
When you look at your son, your daughter, or your grandchildren, you can see that they are your continuation. When a school-teacher looks at their class they can see their students as their continuation. If they are a happy schoolteacher, if they have a lot of freedom, compassion, and understanding, their students will also be happy and feel understood. It is possible for each of us to see our continuation right away. This is something we have to remind ourselves to do every day...
Even if we are still very young, we already have a continuation body. Can you see it? Can you see how you are continued in your parents, in your brothers and sisters, in your teachers and friends? Can you see the continuation body of your parents and loved ones? We don’t need to get old or die in order to see our continuation body. We don’t need to wait for the complete disintegration of this body in order to begin to see our continuation body, just as a cloud doesn’t need to have been entirely transformed into rain in order to see her continuation body. Can you see your rain, your river, your ocean? [Pg. 70-71]
Each one of us should train ourselves to see our continuation body in the present moment. If we can see our continuation body while we’re still alive, we’ll know how to cultivate it to ensure a beautiful continuation in the future. This is the true art of living. Then, when the time comes for the dissolution of our physical body, we will be able to release it easily…
We can visualize our human body as a wave, and our cosmic body as all the other waves on the ocean. We can see ourselves in all the other waves and all the other waves in us. We don’t need to go looking for our cosmic body outside us. It is right here within us at this very moment. We are made of stardust. We are children of the Earth, made of all the same elements and minerals. We contain mountains, rivers, stars, and black holes. In every moment of our life the cosmos is going through us, renewing us, and we are returning ourselves to the cosmos. We are breathing the atmosphere, eating the earth’s food, creating new ideas, and experiencing new feelings. And we are emitting energy back into the cosmos, in our thinking, speech, and actions, in our out-breath, in our body’s warmth, and in releasing everything we have consumed and digested. [Pg. 73]
... Our eighth body is the deepest level of the cosmic: the nature of reality itself, beyond all perceptions, forms, signs, and ideas. This is our “true nature of the cosmos” body. When we get in touch with everything that is —whether it is a wave, sunshine, forests, air, water, or stars —we perceive the phenomenal world of appearances and signs. At this level of relative truth, everything is changing. Everything is subject to birth and death, to being and nonbeing. But when we touch the phenomenal world deeply enough, we go beyond appearances and signs to touch the ultimate truth, the true nature of the cosmos, which cannot be described in notions, words, or signs like “birth” and “death” or “coming” and “going.”
We are a wave appearing on the surface of the ocean. The body of a wave does not last very long —perhaps only ten to twenty seconds. The wave is subject to beginning and ending, to going up and coming down. The wave may be caught in the idea that “I am here now and I won’t be here later.” And the wave may feel afraid or even angry. But the wave also has her ocean body. She has come from the ocean, and she will go back to the ocean. She has both her wave body and her ocean body. She is not only a wave; she is also the ocean. The wave does not need to look for a separate ocean body, because she is in this very moment both her wave body and her ocean body. As soon as the wave can go back to herself and touch her true nature, which is water, then all fear and anxiety disappear. [Pg. 74-75] // < End of November 2018 Feature Focus
September 2018 Feature Focus
Today we share with you beautiful insights from several Nautilus Award Winning books (2017) of different paths to "finding home"... the journey of Belonging, our true core-center, and the richness of life experienced and ever unfolding from that origination-point. May you enjoy these excerpts! If you wish to get a copy of any of these books, we encourage you to ask your local bookstore or library to order a copy!
"Inasmuch as we are searching for our purpose and occupation in the world, the more salient pursuit is in the who we are becoming. It is the vibratory signature behind our enterprise that has the most impact. So the real art-form is a kind of open question to the needs of the larger Self: How can I serve you? Do you feel understood? Where is your rapture? What are the conditions necessary for your expression and well-being?
"Though we may think of questions like this as self-absorbed, they are actually what lead us to our greater nature that is in service to the broader inclination of the whole. Artful questions such as these penetrate our daily, surface concerns to take us into the deeper quest of the world, carried within our soul's code.
"As long as we are attending to the well-being of the Self, purpose then becomes a thing as simple as flowering in all its stages: from dormancy to emergence; the slow, almost imperceptible unfurling; and eventually the trumpeting colour of your truth." (Pg. 101-102)
"Place your roughly hewn piece into the world in the faith that, wherever you are, another is elsewhere doing the same. If they aren't, it is because they don't yet know their worth. And if you don't, it's because you don't yet know how gravely you are missed. Your small disappearances, your holding back, your choosing to forget, is what breaks the momentum of our belonging together.
"Take your attention down into the tiny, miraculous stitching of the life you are creating from nothing - and trust that each small thread is connecting you to the greater body of belonging. One day, maybe today, you will look back on everything that came after your decision to attend to your life like an artwork, and you will see a great number of years symbolized in moons and stained with blood, stretching across a great landscape behind you, and you'll know you have come a great distance. Here, with your great cape of wound-moons, a piercing presence in your eyes, a living history on your skin, you will know you have always belonged." (Pg. 172) //
Gold Award: Personal Growth / Large Publisher
"A wild heart is awake to the pain in the world, but does not diminish its own pain. A wild heart can beat with gratitude and lean in to pure joy without denying the struggle in the world. We hold that tension with the spirit of the wilderness. It's not always easy or comfortable - sometimes we struggle with the weight of the pull - but what makes it possible is a front made of love and a back built of courage.
"The mark of a wild heart is earned in the wilderness, but there is also a daily practice that I learned from this that is critical to our quest of belonging. This practice changed how I show up in my life, the way I parent, and the way I lead:
Stop walking through the world looking for confirmation that you don't belong. You will always find it, because you've made that your mission.
Stop scouring people's faces for evidence that you're not enough. You will always find it, because you have made that your goal.
True belonging and self-worth are not goods; we don't negotiate their value with the world.
The truth about who we are lives in our hearts. Our call to courage is to protect our wild heart against constant evaluation, especially our own.
No one belongs here more than you. " (Pg. 157-158) //
Author: Byron Katie, with Stephen Mitchell
Gold Award: Inner Prosperity & Right Livelihood
"As it does The Work, mind can lose its grip on identity safely, gently. When you question your stressful thoughts and surrender everything that "you" thought you were, you come to a place where you wonder, 'Without that thought, what am I?' Just because an identity appears doesn't make it true. No one knows what he or she is. The minute it's said, it isn't.
"Once it thoroughly questions its thoughts, the mind projects a world that's completely kind. A kind mind projects a kind world. If someone else sees something that's not perfect, the questioned mind can't comprehend that at first, because it can't project it. But it remembers its ancient dream-world, when it believed that too, so in stillness there's a kind of reference point, an echo. It's always grateful for how it sees things, and it understands how others see them. That leaves a lot of energy for it to make amazing changes in the moment, because clarity keeps none of the options hidden. This is a fearless state of being. There's no limit to it." (Pg. 259-261) //
Publisher: LMR Publishing
Silver Award: Personal Growth /Self-published & Small Press
"Through the lens of imagery steeped in both music and water (after all, this is who I am - a pianist, a composer, a fly fisherman and above all, a worshipper of nature), I hope the reflections in this book will inspire you to resonate with an everyday awareness of the subtle music that plays within you, to become attuned to its synergistic components the way a caring orchestra conductor listens to his musicians.
July 2018 Feature Focus
Living Lightly, Deeply
We are honored to share some of the wisdom, love, hope, and creativity that flow from our recent Award-Winning books. Each book below expresses an aspect of the theme, Living Lightly, Deeply. We will share some excerpts from other 2017 Award-Winners throughout the year, each time with a different theme.
If you wish to get a copy of any of these books, we encourage you to ask your local bookstore or library to order a copy!
Andy Couturier captures the texture of sustainable lives well lived in these ten profiles of ordinary – yet exceptional – men and women who left behind mainstream existences in urban Japan to live surrounded by the luxuries of nature, art, friends, delicious food, and an abundance of time… This intimate and evocative book tells of their fulfilling lives as artists, philosophers, and farmers who rely on themselves for happiness and sustenance. By inviting readers to enter into the essence of these individuals’ days, Couturier shows us how we too can bring more meaning and richness to our own lives. (Back Cover)
"... It is easy to see the benefits of modern production techniques: convenience, access to an incredible range of goods and services, getting a lot done in a very short amount of time. Machines give us an incredible leverage. What is more difficult to see is what we have lost. Although I had read a lot about the alienation that often accompanies “progress”, it wasn’t until I met the craftsman Osamu Nakamura that I could experience how his “simple” life and his palpable contact with the physical world is actually so much richer than the hamster-wheel lives that many of us have become accustomed to. By using his hands to provide for his needs, he has found a richness of heart and a sensitivity of perception that so many of us long for." (p. 39)
Andy: "I'm a bit embarrassed to be asking such a student-to-teacher kind of question to my friend Murata, but I do anyway. 'One of the things in the world I spend a lot of money on is books. Now you go to the library, and you borrow the books, and return them. But I just somehow want to actually have those books around, just so that in case, if I want to read it again someday, I have it nearby.' Deciding to get serious with me, even though there's mirth still in his voice, he looks directly at me, his eyes wide, 'What do you really need? What is the thing that is absolutely a necessity for you?' 'Well', I'm embarrassed again, 'love... '
" 'It's not a camera, is it? And it's probably not that book either, is it? Maybe love... I think it's love.' Sayaka at the sink, watching us talk, starts laughing to herself. Murata continues, 'The fewer things you have, the better. Reduce your baggage as much as you possibly can. When you get rid of your things, you get easier in yourself, and you decrease your suffering more and more. But 'I want, I want...' -- that's the beginning of suffering.' Andy: I look up at the sky turning pink, high in the mountains of Japan, and think, what does Murata "have"? The sound of the flute, disappearing, no more than vibrating air; the seasons changing; his time with his family; the life cycles of rice. I remember a line from a New Year's card I got from him once: 'Blue sky, white peaks, snow fields, it's a perfect winter these days! And a nice warm wood stove.' Is he deprived at all? He doesn't look it. ... We move into the adjoining room, and listen to Murata play several songs on the flute. Then, contemplatively, he tells me about searching for 'the true sound.' Although he says he's never heard it, he believes it exists, and that looking for it is the real work of the bamboo flute player. (p.141)
Andy: "The moment we step in the door, the ambience changes completely, and we are surrounded by the smells of spices, the quiet tones of a sitar, tasteful Indian decor, and the tactful waitstaff of a relatively upscale Tokyo establishment. From rustic peasant artist in the big city, Ito morphs in one breath into the distinguished and gracious gentleman with impeccable manners who makes one feel entirely at ease with oneself... His weathered farm garments remind us, however, that we are with someone from an utterly different world. I think back to his exhibition at the gallery. On the blue walls in the low and quiet lighting hang Ito's many paintings illustrating the life of a Japanese man of letters living in the mountains, and the forest plants and creatures in the circle of life around him there. On several tables he had displayed copies of his richly colored children's books, a single-edition book of watercolor paintings of wildflowers... But of all the quite different works at the exhibition, the most moving for me was the smallest: a hand-sewn volume that fit into a box about the size of two packs of cards. The book, a loving documentation of traditional Nepali paper making processes, displays Ito's affection for the ways of life of traditional rural peoples. 'I made this,' he told me at the gallery, 'as a way to support their way of life at the time that industrially produced paper was coming into Nepal from factories in other parts of the world. I had been doing research on handcrafts in the Himalayas in the 1970s, and I devised this project as a way to introduce Nepali methods to Japanese craftspeople, artists, and collectors.' By gathering funds from 'subscribers' in Japan, Ito hired Nepali artisans to make the paper, carve the woodblocks, produce the prints page by page, and sew the pages together to produce a boxed edition of several hundred copies." (p.180-181)
"The paper itself is baby soft, and so pleasing to the touch that I felt myself relaxing just holding it in my hands... Like the meshed fibers of the supple paper, the people in the images seem completely woven into the energy of the landscape. In this book I can feel what Ito cherishes. The pictures are of the peasant life of Nepal, yet the influence of Japanese folk art is evident as well... Bringing his skills as an illustrator, a writer, and a book designer, and being the son of a traditional craftsman himself, Ito manages to have the book 'say' (without saying) that in these mountain villages of Nepal, the daily life of the people, their artisanal craftwork, the specific local culture, and the entire life-world are enmeshed into one single fabric. I think to myself that the project of this book is such a creative and nourishing way to accomplish actual cultural preservation and save traditions from extinction: financially supporting craftspeople so that they can continue to do their work, while at the same time both documenting the craft for posterity and introducing it to people in another country. It revitalizes both parties." (p.181-182)
'Doing better than our parents' generation.' These mantras have been spoken into our ears since before we knew their true implications. Society values achievement. While this view of the purpose of life is reinforced at every turn, when we adopt that view, what do we lose? How does the collective trance of our society cause us to make choices we're not even aware of making? And if we do choose a different path than the culture surrounding us, how does that affect the next generation, the children in our house? Spending time with Asha Amemiya and watching how she raises her three girls, I saw how enriching it might be to have a lot more 'good enough' in my life.
"When Amemiya says 'It's good enough as it is,' she really means it. She's prepared to let things be, just as they are. Her house, for example. It's an old house, and it has in no way been gussied up. You'd never find it in some coffee-table book of rural chic. It serves its purpose: it keeps out the rain, there are some bedrooms, a workroom, a kitchen, bathroom, and a toilet. When I arrived, her middle daughter, Shanti, was repairing the shoji screen doors. One (or several) of the cats had torn the paper, jumping after the shadow of a moth at night. (p.151)... "We're just finishing lunch: cooked cucumbers in a creamy broth. I would never have thought of something like this, but it's fantastic. In a nation of exquisite food, Amemiya's cooking is not only delectable, it's really unique. She's made do with what's in season, minus what they weren't able to grow successfully this year... Almost all the corn was eaten by crows and there was a blight on the tomatoes. 'So what vegetables do you have?' I ask. 'Cucumbers, green onions, carrots, green peppers, leeks, potatoes,' she says. 'And the eggplants are coming in a week or two!' I ask, 'Don't you sometimes have the desire to just go by the store and pick up some eggplants? I saw them on the way here in big bags, and cheap.'
'That would be bad-mannered!' she exclaims. Then more softly, 'There are flowers on the eggplant bush,' the delight of seeing those pretty light-purple flowers audible in her voice, 'and soon we'll have eggplants. It would be rude to the eggplant bushes - just ugly - to go out and buy them, don't you think?' I laugh out loud. It's funny, but she also does mean it. They're part of her community; she feels the relations of common courtesy toward them... Later in the afternoon, as I am looking through my notes, I glance across the room and Amemiya is stretched out on the floor reading a book, occasionally looking out the open door at the green... To my eyes, she seems utterly content. I don't see such faces in the massive and glamorous department stores, fourteen stories high and crammed with every sort of possible stimulus that offers -- no, promises -- to slake our thirsts."
"Sometimes it's just simple silence: the lack of any sound at all, or rather it is the lack of any machine sound. I think about how much humming, buzzing, roaring, accelerating, revving, and beeping I have slowly gotten used to in Japan without even noticing. In the late afternoon, the weather changes and the soft sound of a summer rain comforts my ears. I feel the intimacy of the sounds as the rain and light wind rustle in the trees, and the old house settles under the impact of the weather, with the susurrating downpour enveloping us all around." (p.167-168) //
Matter & Desire: An Erotic Ecology
Gold Award in Ecology & Environment
Author: Andreas Weber
Publisher: Chelsea Green Publishing
"It was a special evening because in its solemn stillness I heard the nightingale sing again for the first time. The nightingale, that magical being of transformation whose voice can enchant the whole world, as though everything were suddenly transformed into some new material, as though things were made of chiming glass and the air of red velvet cloth beneath an immense bell. The nightingale, oh! that wonderful bird, which I could write a whole new book about every spring. The nightingale, that tiny creature weighing just a few grams, practically immaterial, purely voice. On that evening, its world-altering power overwhelmed me with a feeling of wonder and gratitude. I also felt melancholy for the already certain transience of our encounter...
"My heart pounded and as I grasped how much I loved this little bird, how much my soul was attached to it, how much my feeling was changed by the touch of its tones. And my heart beat faster as I understood that all emotional encounters inevitably transform us. All relationships are transformations that leave both me and world changed by one another, encounters in which one penetrates the other and leaves it altogether different than it was before." (p. 79-80)
"A line of cranes divides the sky. Their fluting calls sink through the empty whiteness above the pine fronds. I stroke the burst, cracked trunk of the oak and ask myself what it feels when my skin touches it --could it express it in words? I feel warmth, restrained and velvety hardness, finely delineated structure, calm, symmetry. And then, startled, I perceive the tenderness with which something, someone gives me their attention when I lend my attention to them. And I am flooded with the joyous feeling that every encounter is a communion, an exchange of gifts, a feast...
"The world differentiates itself only in the presence of countless bodies, cells, eyes, buds, wings, and lips, when individuals reciprocally bestow reality upon one another in relationships. This is interbeing: generously enabling existence in a web that has been created by all. 'If... we and the beings of the natural world reciprocally create our perceptual capacities through our entwinement with one another,' says the psychologist Shierry Weber Nicholson, 'then this co-creation is a reciprocal gift giving.' (p.192) "The ecology of the gift enables a practice of love. Love as a practice demands that one carry on and thereby understand the act of creative giving, by constantly producing oneself anew as part of this living fabric. The ecological side of this understanding includes my ability to understand that by existing with my senses in constant relationship, by not judging, by not concealing my needs, I already carry the entire creative biosphere within myself. Because of this experience, Richard Rohr says, 'your life is not about you, but you are about Life.' " (p.196)
"What researchers have been calling cognition for a long time -- thinking and perception within the natural world -- is, in fact, poetic expression. And this expression is no idyll. It includes everything. In the natural world, aliveness appears as the poetic principle, and this includes birth and death, growth and decay, ecstasy and grief. The natural world is a home, not a site of salvation, though many people still make it into that nowadays. I can understand this nostalgia. But what draws us to the natural world is the fact that it encompasses the whole of aliveness, all of the jubilation and torment -- the fact that it is the embodied side of the yearning to be and to come into form, the poetic space from which everything comes and to which everything returns. (p.201)
"In our cores we perceive nothing less than that: pure aliveness, unspoken, beyond words, aliveness from within, which can respond to the traces of aliveness among other things we encounter. This is what heals us when we are despairing, what streams toward us as power from the natural world. Life heals life. Nowadays, some troubled patients are treated with 'animal-assisted therapy': An assistant places an animal on their bed, maybe a young chick, or a gentle but boisterous puppy. The patients' medicine consists of nothing more than a high dose of pure aliveness, undiluted." (p.202) //
Being the Change: Live Well and Spark a Climate Revolution
Silver Award in Green Living & Sustainability
Author: Peter Kalmus
Publisher: New Society Publishers
“Such changes don’t require sacrifice so much as exchange, swapping daily actions that aren’t satisfying for ones that are. In this way my everyday life has gradually come into harmony with my beliefs. My experience has been that congruence between outer and inner life is the key to happiness. I’m no good at fooling myself. I also came to see how deeply I had been influenced by the subconscious whisper of culture, and how completely I accepted the illusion that the way things are is the only way they could be. My old mindset is separation; my emerging mindset is connection. I’m learning that acceptance and detached observation of my own mind is the basis of compassion. I’m learning how to become sustainable, internally. (p.8)
" How can we go to that [new] story? It's possible to come out of wanting, but it's not easy. In Chapter 11, I describe a simple meditation practice for developing awareness of and gradually coming out of the habit of wanting. There are other practices in this book which can support this journey, such as opting out of the consumer economy, but meditation is the most direct path I know. Meditation has allowed me to begin to see how my own wanting works.
" How long will it take us to get there? I don't know. I see people around me waking up and helping others to wake up, but it's a long and gradual process; and I see many others who aren't taking even the first step. I have faith that beings living on this planet will get there eventually, but I don't know if it will take 50 years, 50,000 years, or 50,000,000 years." What can we do in the meantime? ... My own experience informs me that as we change ourselves for the better, we become more able to change the world for the better --at least our corner of the world. But the main reason to begin walking is that this path is a richly satisfying one, and well worth walking on for this reason alone." (p.124)
" Food. Your individual emissions from food production naturally depend on your diet -- what you eat, how much you eat, and how your food gets to your plate. Producing the food for typical meat, vegetarian, and vegan diets emits about 3,000, 1,500, and 1,000 kg CO2e per year, respectively. The average American diet emits 2,900 kg CO2e per year, slightly less than the average meat diet, since 3% of Americans are vegetarian (about half of whom are vegan)... In 2012, I stopped eating meat primarily to avoid harming animals, and I personally prefer vegetarianism. In addition, it reduced my emissions by about 1,500 kg CO2e per year. Over the next few years, I began growing food, trading surpluses with neighbors, and rescuing supermarket discards (freeganism). Most of my food now comes from these sources. I estimate that freeganism alone reduces my food emissions by an additional 1,000 kg CO2e per year." (p.156) " The average US person spends a little over $6,000 per year on new stuff. (Remarkably, 1/3 of this goes toward new cars, another measure of the automobile's dominance in our lives.) Therefore, average emissions are something like 3,000 kg CO2e. My wife and I both prefer not having much stuff; our four-person household spends about $4,000 per year on goods (clothes, books, hardware, stuff from Target, etc.). My portion of these emissions is 500 kg CO2e. (p.157)
" Waste. When we send our stuff to the landfill, the organics -- food waste, yard waste, paper, and textiles -- decompose anaerobically (without oxygen), producing methane. US landfills emit 1,300 kg CO2e per person per year. Let this sink in for a moment: our society has reached a point where even one person's trash, taken by itself, generates more CO2e than the average Bangladeshi generates for everything... This analysis highlights the needs for change at the systems level: as a society, we should never, ever put organic material into landfills. It also highlights the interconnection between our food and waste system, which I've begun thinking of as one integrated system. For example, two-thirds of food waste occur before the supermarket checkout line; as an individual, you have no control over that methane-emitting waste except by opting out of the industrial food system (see Chapter 13). (p.158)
" Stillness and silence. Before we get into the nuts and bolts of meditation, let's take a moment to consider stillness. People in our society are always running, anxiously putting out fires in their lives. They keep running, mentally if not physically, right up to their last breath. But without stillness, it's impossible to know who we are and what we want out of life. If we don't know those things, we're just running pointlessly... Since we're always running like this, when we do get an opportunity to sit in stillness, it's disconcerting. We want to get up and start running again. The stillness can be frightening to us, because when we're still, we may come face-to-face with our suffering. Being still, at first, is like riding a bucking bronco. But to come out of the suffering, we need to face it. And to face it, we need to be still. Stillness takes courage. (p.193)
" Gardening practices. When I first started, gardening felt like too much work. It seemed that critters and pests were out to get me, and that nothing would grow for me. Eventually I developed soil appreciation. I've also become less attached to getting a crop. Plants come, and plants go. Sometimes they yield a good crop, sometimes they don't... I've also developed patience for the hungry critters. This is their land as much as mine. They don't mean anything personal by eating "my" avocados or digging in "my" garden beds. Like me, they're just trying to make a living. Squirrels enjoy taking one bite out of every avocado, but I don't mind. I just cut the bite-scarred area away as I peel the ripe fruits. -- I've noticed that if I feel frustrated by critters, I suffer and they seem to do more damage. But when I feel compassion toward them, I don't suffer, and they seem to do less damage. (p.211)
" Biospherism and the law. Consumer society has its preferred way of doing things; opting out of these preferred ways can bump against the legal system. Backyard beekeeping is illegal in Altadena [CA], (although this may soon change). War-tax resistance is illegal. So is growing food in my front yard; growing food in vacant lots; using WVO as fuel; composting humanure; keeping chickens in my backyard; saving seeds; and using greywater from the washing machine...
" But love is greater than law. Laws change and reflect the priorities of the dominant social group. And legal systems have been used as tools of the utmost violence and oppression. Indeed, the very foundations of the US were built on the legal genocide of native peoples, and the legal institution of slavery. Whenever love and the law are at odds, I'll choose love. Still, despite this moral clarity, exploring mindful biospherism can be scary. In addition to occasionally pushing against the legal system, it pushes against social norms. I've faced ostracism from friends who don't want to think about global warming, and neighbors who want me to have a tidy green lawn. I've been on the 'wrong' side of the police line at Occupy Los Angeles... In my opinion, this risk is all quite tame considering the stakes. (p.256)
" This story can change. Indeed, I think we’re already starting to change it. The key is for you and me to decide to live this way, and then to practice living this way. It takes work! But when others see us living according to a new story, that story will spread. The more I live like this, the happier I am; so I’ll keep doing it in any case, whether or not it catches on. Whatever you choose to do, do it in a spirit of dance: lightly, gracefully, with a smile, knowing well that this song will soon end, and a new song will start. The universe is your partner. The lizard in the woodpile is your partner. Enjoy it, and realize through your own experience that it's constantly changing." (p. 300) //
“Trees change through the seasons – springing to life, bearing fruit, and losing their leaves before they rest for the winter. They clean the air we breathe, provide homes for creatures, and offer shade to everyone equally. Trees are constant, patiently learning to grow and flourish wherever they might be. (Back Cover)
There is much we can learn from the trees that surround us.
May 2018 Feature Focus
We are honored to share some of the wisdom, love, hope, and creativity that flow from our recent Award-Winning books. Each book below expresses an aspect of the theme, Embracing Diversity. We will share some excerpts from other 2017 Award-Winners throughout the year, each time with a different theme.
If you wish to get a copy of any of these books, we encourage you to ask your local bookstore or library to order a copy!
Embracing Diversity - May 2018
Colorful Girls, a program of Girl Determined -- Nanda Wadi, age 14, from Myanmar says: "In my village there are no doctors. Many people die. ...As for education, there are only a few government schoolteachers. In rural areas, people have few opportunities to know what the world is like. I want to teach there and also help with health care." Nanda has attended two Colorful Girls summer camps- "There is no discrimination there [at camp]. The important thing is to learn from each other, respect each other, and increase understanding. If we do those things, we can achieve peace... If I could tell girls all over the world one thing, I would say, 'Believe in yourself. Try to become a leader. There are now women leaders all over the world!' " (p.128)
"Inside this school, where the reality of refugee resettlement was enacted every day, it was plain to see that seeking a new home took tremendous courage, and receiving those who had been displaced involved tremendous generosity. That is what refugee resettlement was, I decided: acts of courage met by acts of generosity.
... I would even say that spending a year in Room 142 had allowed me to witness something as close to holy as I've seen take place between human beings. I could only wish that in time, more people would be able to look past their fear of the stranger and experience the wonder of getting to know people from other parts of the globe." (p.391)
"For as far as I could tell, the world was not going to stop producing refugees. The plain, irreducible fact of good people being made nomad by the millions, through all kinds of horror this world could produce, seemed likely to prove the central moral challenge of our times. How do we want to meet that challenge? We could fill our hearts with fear or hope. And the choice would affect more than just our own dispositions, for in choosing which seeds to sow, we would dictate the type of harvest. Surely the only harvest worth cultivating was the one Mr. Williams had been seeking: greater fluency, better understanding." (p.392)
Review from a fellow author: “Few books could be more vital, in this particular moment or in any moment, than this book. Helen Thorpe writes expansively about one school, one classroom, one teacher, one group of students —students who hail from the most severe places in the world and come together at South High. Confused, troubled, bright, magnificent: They converge, ostensibly to learn English, learning so much more than a language —learning about us and about themselves, all the bad and all the good. You need to meet these young people. Once you do, everything you read or hear or say will be illuminated and changed.” —Jeff Hobbs, author of The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace
It was May 1967 [just weeks before outbreak of the Six-Day War]: "I wrote to my mother, telling her I had decided to extend my stay in Jerusalem, hinting at a romantic liaison. Her alarmed letters, which I picked up at the American Consulate, begged me to leave immediately and questioned my ability to think rationally. 'War might break out at any time, and you are living with Arabs. It's dangerous,' she said. Looking around, I saw Faisal, Samira, Marwan, Herminia, Yusra, Amty, and Ibrahim. There were times I found Marwan's contrite manner annoying, Samira's beauty rituals tedious, Ibrahim too macho, Amty too saintly, Yusra too understanding, and wished Faisal spoke better English - but I never saw dangerous enemies...
"Under the influence of divine knafeh, I promised myself to a man I had known for about two weeks, extinguishing Mom's dream of marrying her only daughter to a Jewish doctor. My capricious decision to marry a foreign man living on the other side of the world, who spoke broken English and came from a family considered the enemy by my family, was more complex than either of us was willing to admit. But our tango with realism was finished for the day." (p.57-58)
Guidelines for Entering
Award Winning Books from the 2018 Season were announced to the Nautilus mailing list in April 2019. Bookcover images of all the Winners are posted on our webpages, 2018 Grand/Gold Winners and 2018 Silver Winners.
For the current 2019 Season: Entry packages postmarked from Sept. 21 through Oct. 31, 2019 will benefit from Early Entry Fees. Entries postmarked Nov. 1- Dec. 31, 2019 will have Regular Entry Fees. And Entries postmarked from Jan. 1 through Feb. 7, 2020 will have Final Entry Fees.
See Entry Guidelines for specifics! When the new season opens, there is a link and details for the Entry Form.