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Jerry Katz "" RSS Feed (Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada)

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The Ferryman's Dream
The Ferryman's Dream
by Stewart Bitkoff
Edition: Paperback
Price: $9.86
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5.0 out of 5 stars Nourish Your Being, April 11, 2012
This review is from: The Ferryman's Dream (Paperback)
Dr. Stewart Bitkoff is a trustworthy and seasoned guide for the spiritual traveller. If you feel your life could be more substantial, consider the nutriment of the teachings contained in this book. Beautifully and breathtakingly sane, they nourish every cell of your being.

A Guru in the Guest Room
A Guru in the Guest Room
by Vicki Woodyard
Edition: Paperback
Price: $10.25
26 used & new from $8.98

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Just Not Sayin', April 4, 2012
A Guru in the Guest Room is a collection of writings by Vicki Woodyard about her fictional housemate, Swami Z. It includes a small cast of characters including Vicki herself. They attend satsangs, and even satsnag, with Swami Z.

Like the movie actor in The Purple Rose of Cairo who stepped out of the movie screen and into the real world, Swami Z steps out of the book:

"Vicki has a good sense of humor when she writes about me, but when she leaves the computer, she forgets how funny being human is. She mopes around with the best of them."

And although Swami Z has a cookie habit that "would sicken more than it would heal," this cookie dough that is A Guru In The Guest Room consists of humor, wisdom, and cool chips of reality. But, Vicki points out, "Cookie-making is a messy thing. I swear we have sugar rings in the bathtub."

Thanks to that messiness, there is lots of life in this book. Through it all, the eye of wisdom never blinks. Is that the eye painted onto Ruin, the stick pony? Some say Ruin is the true Guru in the book.

Who is the true Guru? What was Swami Z's response to Vicki's question, Who am I? Did Larry really sell Ruin on eBay? What does it mean to chew the scenery instead of the cookies?

Maybe it all comes down to what Vicki calls her direct path: "Loving the script and the characters." Speaking of which, one of the characters in this book is one of the greatest fictional Gurus in history. I'm just not saying who it is.

The Direct Path: A User Guide
The Direct Path: A User Guide
by Greg Goode
Edition: Paperback
Price: $14.70
46 used & new from $10.71

29 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Many reasons to read this, March 16, 2012
Greg Goode goes to unheard of lengths to show you that your experience is awareness, whether it is the experience of a chair, your hand or brain, a thought or subtle impression, or the witnessing awareness.

He carves new paths through the wildernesses of experience to the ancient pond of awareness. These paths are called experiments in this book and there are about 40 of them.

There are many reasons for reading this book.

If you are drawn to the direct path teachings of modern teachers Francis Lucille and Rupert Spira, this work is in that tradition, yet very different.

If you are drawn to a stepwise teaching beginning with investigation of the world, then the body, then the mind, then the witnessing awareness, and culminating in the dissolution of witnessing awareness, this book parallels advaitin traditional teachings, though it is not intended to be a substitute for them.

If you prefer to read nonduality books freely, without any particular structure or order, Greg encourages that too. Perhaps all you need to do is go through a few experiments and read the amazing section on deep sleep, for example.

If you want to see how your inquiry is doing, check yourself by going through this book. Is your inquiry perhaps stuck at the realization that there is only awareness? Greg might nudge you into freedom.

If you like Greg Goode as a person or want to get to know him, this is a great way to "feel" him. The book is rounded out with personal experiences in inquiry and self-realization, including some old school stories.

If you want to see how crazy love manifests, this book is a model for that. Reading this book may help you see how crazy love is distinguished from crazy wisdom, the latter being more immediate and splash-like. Upon collapse of witnessing awareness, it may be seen how crazy wisdom arises.

This book is well structured. The Table of Contents is seven pages long. There is a separate listing of the experiments. There is a good index. The publisher is to be commended for printing all that. And the book is divided into main sections: World, Body, Mind,Witnessing Awareness, Nondual Realization. Through its structure, you get a clear overview of what this book is about and what it covers.

Greg Goode goes crazy leading you lovingly down paths leading to the ancient pond of awareness. Whether or not you leap in like a frog, may not be up to anyone at all, but you will be led to the pond.

Getting Out of Our Own Way: Love Is the Only Answer
Getting Out of Our Own Way: Love Is the Only Answer
by Michele Doucette
Edition: Paperback
Price: $19.95
18 used & new from $15.95

5.0 out of 5 stars A clear presentation, December 27, 2011
Michele Doucette's love of research is matched by a joy and confidence that delivers one surprising turn after another as she leads you on a tour of your mind. On this tour, she serves up a stimulating and revealing exposé of what is required to get out of your own way.

Above all, this author inspires trust.

Put yourself in the hands of Michele Doucette and let her show you the way out of the prison of thoughts and conditioning.

Not only do I thoroughly enjoy the work she puts into her books, but I am deeply appreciative of how she presents the material.

Sufism for Western Seekers: Path of the Spiritual Traveler in Everyday Life
Sufism for Western Seekers: Path of the Spiritual Traveler in Everyday Life
by Stewart Bitkoff
Edition: Paperback
Price: $10.95
30 used & new from $7.95

5.0 out of 5 stars Plain and direct communication, November 20, 2011
Beginning with the inviting Table of Contents and carrying through the numerous stories, the quotations, the lessons, the education, and the quietly incorporated wisdom, I feel Stewart Bitkoff's warmth and one-to-one voice. I easily connect with his plain and direct communication. I so much appreciate his quality writing. Do you understand "waking up" as gradual growth along a path? Does it make sense to monitor your thoughts and feelings in order to allow efficient passage toward your highest potential? Do you accept that your life experiences are a necessary part of a path? If these questions resonate, you will find in Dr. Stewart Bitkoff a most dedicated and experienced guide toward further advancement, and Sufism for the Western Seeker the perfect vehicle.

The Last Hustle
The Last Hustle
Price: $9.45

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars As Real As It Gets, November 4, 2011
This review is from: The Last Hustle (Kindle Edition)
Most books in the genre of spiritual awakening focus on the claims of the awakened state: "There is only consciousness (or God, love, awareness)," and so on. They invite the reader to see things as they are, not as they appear to be.

Sometimes an awakened author will speak about life before awakening, but not so often since it is seen as less than enlightened to appear as though attached to memories.

Rarely will the author reveal the shadow side that lurks after awakening: the unpretty impulses that continue to stir and surface.

However, Kenny Johnson tells it all. The Last Hustle is about life before awakening, awakening itself, and life after awakening. What is most valuable about this book is the distinction between the perception of things before awakening and that perception after.

Life before awakening was a loveless childhood, thieving, pimping, violence and years in prisons. With a firm grip on your arm he takes you into the bowels of places you would rather not go. But the grip is purposeful and you know where this journey is going.

His awakening itself was, like all awakenings, unique. It was prepared by remembered things spoken to him by his mother and aunt. It was developed by exposure in prisons to meditation, Yoga, Buddhism, the Black Israelites, and various conscious and intelligent men including a caring guard. It culminated in a connection with Gangaji and it -- the awakening -- happened when she visited his prison.

Life afterward was radically different:

"It is really humbling to come from the streets as one who brought destruction to everyone he met and now to find myself trying to bring as much love as possible to all whom I meet."

"Just as I had come from the lineage of Iceberg Slim, The Magnificent Seven, Fillmore Slim, Minnesota Bob, and Sly Ryan, now I was in the lineage of Ramana, Papaji, and Gangaji."

Though he would never return to crime after his final release from prison in 1997, Johnson still had to face episodes of anger, alcoholism, drug abuse, and their roots in poor self-esteem. He clearly shows that life after awakening includes directly looking at these arisings. Nor have shadow issues ceased in his life. He writes:

"I don't know what a final awakening will mean for me, but I do know that Kenny Johnson is a far better and more content human being whose greatest desire now is to serve that awakening. He is no longer hustling and thieving, beating on women or giving the judicial system hell. He gets up each day and makes an intention to live a life of peace as best as he can and to try to guide others to do the same. Yet he's also mindful and respectful that any moment he could re-experience all of the old anger, sadness, mistrust, delusion, and denial of the truth of his being."

Often painful, often loving and spacious, The Last Hustle chronicles a full life and transmits a palpable sense that love is here and now and that it demands you face your life here and now. The Last Hustle is as real as spiritual books get.

Kenny Johnson has returned to prisons as an educator and spiritual guide through his organization ThisSacredSpace dot org. His journey is highly worth experiencing.

Now Consciousness: Exploring the World Beyond Thought
Now Consciousness: Exploring the World Beyond Thought
by Albert Blackburn
Edition: Paperback
10 used & new from $23.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Discover Now Consciousness, October 31, 2011
Albert Blackburn was born in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1910 and died in 1987. He had a career in aviation as a pilot and owner of a flight school. He trained World War II pilots. Blackburn's real interest, however, was exploring consciousness.

Blackburn was a member of the Theosophical Society from 1934 to 1944 and immersed himself in the study of auras, spiritual evolution, reincarnation, karma, kundalini. However, a conversation with Jiddhu Krishnamurti led to the falling apart of Blackburn's psychological world and his entrance into the world of nonduality or Now-Consciousness. The conversation is recounted early in the book, the turning point being Krishnamurti's questioning of whether Blackburn's beliefs were true.

The rest of the book develops the teaching of Now-Consciousness, about which Blackburn writes, "[Now-Consciousness] is a nondualistic state in which the idea of the I and not-I does not exist." He says it is the process of the mind coming to know itself.

The book consists of five essays written between 1944 and 1982. Each essay addresses Now-Consciousness from its own angle: from initiation into Now-Consciousness, from the psychology of Now-Consciousness, from a practical approach involving attention to thoughts, and through bold confessions.

Besides Now-Consciousness, here are the other major themes, each treated in different ways throughout the book:

Intelligence. Also known as awareness, consciousness, the Tao, or truth. Blackburn says, "Because intelligence is real, it can only be found through the negative approach. In discovering what is not, truth is perceived."

Not-knowing. He writes, "Be in the moment of questioning, so awake, so aware that you realize you don't know."

Time. "This idea of time gives rise to the false ideas of postponement, spiritual growth, progress, a Savior, Gurus, the Path, and reincarnation as the ultimate postponement. These are given as excuses for our own inadequacy, in not being able to follow one thing directly to the end."

The I-process. The I is the ego, the world we've created about ourselves that causes us suffering. It's that way we are that we know isn't our true self. Blackburn identifies several steps in this process of generating and sustaining the false self and shows how we cut ourselves off from intelligence or truth.

The Cycle of Perception. In watching the I-process we find that there is a magic moment before associating a perception with habits, memories, and conditioning. The ability to access this magic moment is now-consciousness and it unfolds in stages that Blackburn calls the Cycle of Perception.

Blackburn says, "The first thing is to become aware of what the mind is occupied with, its patterned thoughts, habits, and reactions. ... Slowly you come into the cycle of perception or Now-Consciousness. And the oftener this state is experienced, the more you realize it is true life."

Blackburn fits right into the current world of nonduality. He stood alone and encouraged others to do so. Although he acknowledges his teacher Jiddhu Krishnamurti, Blackburn claimed that his teachings were his own. As his own authority in these teachings, he was straightforward and eschewed the guru role and even the teacher role. He went where he was invited and held dialogues. He didn't give talks, as such. These travels took him and his wife through the U.S., Canada, and Europe.

Blackburn is also the author of Worlds Beyond Thought: Conversations on Now-Consciousness, which is also available as a series audio cassette tapes. Though his books and audios are not widely distributed or known in the Internet era of the last 15 years, they are still in print and distributed by his wife Gabriele through IdylWildBooks at reasonable cost.

The Table of Contents is spare, however the topic and themes of each section and chapter are stated clearly. There is no index which would have been very useful in a book such as this where each main theme is scattered throughout the book. A proper index would gather and make sense of all those appearances.

I highly recommend this book for anyone exploring nondual spirituality or nondual psychotherapy. It is clear, simple, and straightforward enough to enhance your understanding of how we get lost in our beliefs, memories, thoughts, our words, and conditionings. He points to the "magic moment" when, instead of getting lost in imaginings of how we think things are, we turn instead to Now-Consciousness and get directly to the point and through to the end of whatever we are considering. That is, we learn to deal directly and fully with stressful situations and move on.

LIFE WITH A HOLE IN IT: That's How the Light Gets In - The Wisdom of an Awakened Heart
LIFE WITH A HOLE IN IT: That's How the Light Gets In - The Wisdom of an Awakened Heart
by Vicki Woodyard
Edition: Paperback
Price: $14.35
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Vicki Talks Truth and Requires You to Face It, November 10, 2010
Vicki Woodyard tells about her experiences, feelings, friends, teachers, and spiritual realizations during her husband Bob's nearly five year struggle with the cancer known as multiple myeloma.

Vicki says on page one, "I just want you to have an experience."

This book IS an experience. You're going to take Vicki's approach:

"Oh God, I am not strong enough. I can write, I can joke, but I cannot cure my own heartache. The irony is that I know that nothing will take it away. I would choose insanity if I could, but choice has nothing to do with things like that. My teacher [Vernon Howard] said, `When you are carrying your cross up Crucifixion Hill, offer no resistance whatever.'"

You're going to walk the chemo halls with Vicki, yes, but you'll also share a table with her and the Buddha at the Waffle House. More buttah? More wisdom that brokenness brings?

While experiencing these stories of struggle and humor, and while being brought as low as one human spirit can go, you somehow rise to an experience of rich wholeness and the truth of being human.

How is that done? By facing pain and suffering so that you see it in fullness, which is its abidance within a peaceful energy field.

Regardless of what Vicki went through in the loss of her husband, the loss of her seven year old daughter to cancer, the losses of close friends to cancer, there was never a severing from inherent wholeness, nor, as Vicki says, can there be. "The eye of wholeness doesn't cry."

This book is often hard-going, sometimes light, deeply loving and humanitarian. It requires the reader to face pain and suffering. This is a powerful, cleansing, truth-talking book. No other nonduality book has the texture, the quality of writing, the points of focus as Life With A Hole In It. It is an extremely worthwhile addition to one's nonduality education.

The Shortest Way Home: a contemplative path to God
The Shortest Way Home: a contemplative path to God
by Wesley R. Lachman
Edition: Paperback
Price: $10.95
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Come Into the Quiet Atmosphere, November 6, 2010
"Contemplative prayer is simply a wordless, trusting opening of self to the divine presence." ... "If you begin to walk this path your heart will love it," writes Wesley Lachman.

Wesley Lachman is a retired minister in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and still teaches spirituality in the Church. He is a student at the Center for Sacred Sciences in Eugene, Oregon. He is a father and grandfather.

About a hundred pages in length, The Shortest Way Home is a smooth read. The chapters are short; at the end of each one is a contemplative exercise allowing the reader to practice what was read. The table of contents has a consistent structure, each chapter featuring a duality: Suffering and Happiness, Belief and Experience, Existence and Impermanence, and so on. The author seamlessly includes quotations. In this example is revealed the point of the book:

"It is a path that must be walked or practiced, and yet it leads to where you already are. `It is a journey from a place we have never been to a place we have never left.' It can begin with some rational description such as found in this text, but the mystery of God is its true end." The quotation-within-the-quotation is from John W. Groff, Jr. All quotations are referenced. The bibliography is carefully selected and annotated.

The first third of the book considers the experience of the world. Lachman says, "Trust your own direct experience of life." He shows how everything is dissolving moment by moment including what we assume of ourselves and God. "How did we ever delude ourselves into thinking we could find lasting happiness in our possessions when we are losing every one of them?" He asks; we contemplate, remembering to trust our experience and to open to divine presence.

In the next two-thirds of the book he considers the experience of our self: "If I really possess nothing at all, then what or who is this self?" Lachman exposes the story of I, showing that one's true nature is the space of divine presence in which the story of I apparently manifests and dissolves. Who we are is that divine presence, that space, awareness, consciousness. Not our thoughts. Not our story of I.

This is the nondual confession beautifully expressed within Christian contemplative context, full of experiential opportunities, and serving beginners to the contemplative path and to nonduality itself.

Our true nature is known as beginninglessness, the cloudless empty sky. Suffering is experienced as a long haul, scars, and weariness.

Lachman says, "The first step on the contemplative path is just to acknowledge our desire not to suffer, our yearning for something better. The second step is to begin to experiment with drawing closer to our God, our Happiness, by exploring someone made in God's image: us!"

The Shortest Way Home easily draws you into the quiet atmosphere of the contemplative challenge and toward the realization of what you actually are.

Peculiar Stories
Peculiar Stories
by Mora Fields
Edition: Paperback
19 used & new from $11.78

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Invite Uncle E into your Household, September 11, 2010
This review is from: Peculiar Stories (Paperback)
I thoroughly enjoyed these stories written for young people ages 6-10 and up. The stories are character driven and literary. Each story communicates a teaching of nondual spirituality, as imparted by Uncle E to his young niece and other children.

The young people in the book may get the teaching, they may not totally get it, but it is never excessively spelled out. Rather, the teaching unfolds with each story.

In the end, you can't help but align with the character Uncle E who is a person with a heart and humor and an ability to reach and teach children, like the one or two great teachers you may have been fortunate enough to know in your life.

True, Uncle E is a family outcast because he lives a raw, artful, and natural life. Hence he is looked upon as a little crazy. However, the truth is that he is an adult teaching the kids things that will make them mature adults. You absolutely cannot go wrong buying this book. Get it for yourself AND for a young one and invite Uncle E into your household, even if he is kinda crazy. There's no better crazy, ya know.

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