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The Book of Awakening: Having the Life You Want by Being Present to the Life You Have Paperback – May 31, 2000
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From the Publisher
Embark on a journey of the soul every day of the year.
An invitation from author, Mark Nepo
This book is meant to be of use, to be a companion, a soul friend. It is a book of awakenings. To write this I’ve had to live it. It’s given me a chance to gather and share the quiet teachers I’ve met throughout my life. The journey of unearthing and shaping these entries has helped me bring my inner and outer life more closely together. It has helped me know and use my heart. It has made me more whole. I hope it can be such a tool for you.
Gathering the insights for this book has been like finding bits of stone that glistened on the path. I paused to reflect on them, to learn from them, then tucked them away and con- tinued. After two years, I’m astonished to dump my bag of broken stones to see what I’ve found. The bits that have glis- tened along the way are what make up this book.
Essentially, they all speak about spirit and friendship, about our ongoing need to stay vital and in love with this life, no matter the hardships we encounter. From many traditions, from many experiences, from many beautiful and honest voices, the songs herein all sing of pain and wonder and the mystery of love.
From the Foreword by Wayne Muller
Our life is made of days. It is only in the days of our lives that we find peace, joy, and healing. There are a thousand tiny miracles that punctuate our days, and Mark Nepo is a student of the miraculous. An alchemist of the ordinary, he invites us to see, taste, touch, dance, and feel our way into the heart of life.
Mark had cancer, and it shook him awake. His descent into illness gave birth to an astonishing mindfulness. Now, he invites us to use his eyes and heart to see and feel how awake our being alive can be. Having survived his cancer, Mark brings with him the eyes of a dying person who is grateful simply to breathe. But more than gratefulness he brings wisdom, clarity, kindness, and a passionate enthusiasm for sucking the marrow out of moments, out of the bones of time.
If you ache to live this way, Mark is your guide.
Sample from February 9: The Thing in the Way
"We tend to make the thing in the way the way."
We were up early, eager to walk the Botanical Gardens of Montreal, where they have the largest bonsai collection in the world outside of Asia. We strolled toward the Chinese Temple Garden, a lush yet simple retreat from the streets that covers acres, a place of renewal originally constructed in the 1600s in China and moved stone by stone to Montreal in 1990.
As we approached the massive gate, it was locked. I panicked, ready to demand entry after driving 400 miles from another country to see this. Robert calmly, like an Oriental sage himself, treated the situation as if it were a koan, a riddle to be entered until its very assumptions shifted.
He began to walk the outer wall of the Garden. It seemed insurmountable. I was frustrated. He kept walking slowly along the high wall. Since the Garden stretched for acres, I wondered if we would have to walk its entire perimeter. The thought made me cranky. He kept strolling.
Suddenly, when we had walked farther than was originally in our view, the walls disappeared. It turned out that the Garden had no walls, save for the facade at its entrance. So we simply walked through the open grass to a path that welcomed us.
How many thresholds that seem blocked or barred or locked only seem so from their initial viewing? How many opportunities for true living are barrier-free, if we can only remove ourselves and our minds from their traditional points of entry?
Each entry helps you to live, love & find your way to joy
- Notable Quotation
- Short daily poetic reflection
- 3 - 5 Suggestions for meditation and application
Selected as one of Oprah's Ultimate Favorites
"A year’s supply of inspiration every day and the perfect gift for yourself and your friends." - Oprah Winfrey.
The time when we walk in the shadow of death is, ironically, a time when we feel illuminated by life's true meaning. Poet and philosopher Mark Nepo has firsthand experience with this mystery--he had cancer. During his arduous recovery, he sought inspiration and guidance that would reflect his growing appreciation of life. Although this daybook is exactly what Nepo longed for as he struggled with a difficult disease, , it can be appreciated by all readers.
This collection of essays, one for every day from January 1 through December 30, offers a poet's sensibility and sensuality and gives the reader Nepo's well-harvested wisdom. "Water reflects everything it encounters," Nepo writes in a May 5 essay. "This is so commonplace that we think water is blue, when in fact it has no color.... But the water, the glorious water everywhere, has taught me that we are more than what we reflect or love. This is the work of compassion: to embrace everything clearly without imposing who we are and without losing who we are." After each entry, Nepo offers a short list of suggestions or questions to help carry the essay into the day. There are many inspirational daybooks out there. What sets this one apart is the mature poet's voice rising from a seasoned soul. --Gail Hudson
"A year’s supply of inspiration every day and the perfect gift for yourself and your friends." -Oprah Winfrey
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Top Customer Reviews
The Book of Awakening, which is beautifully produced by Conari Press, is in the form of a daybook, having an entry of wisdom for every day of the year. This allows us to take a dip into this vast ocean of insight every day or to dive in at random when the spirit moves us. Each page of wisdom is followed by a short and profound meditation on the topic at hand which helps put the reading into the context of one's own life, and is suggested in such a way that even the meditation-shy could be enticed to participate.
In his introduction, Mark describes his book as `a companion and a soul-friend'. I agree that this book can act as a soul friend, which is a different relationship than is possible with most wisdom books. And that is quite a gift to give to yourself or a friend. The key reason for the possibility of this almost human relationship with the book is, I believe, to be found in the divinely human writing style of the author.
Mark is born a poet whose eyes perceive the divine patterning within the everyday experiences of life. He has crafted the art of painting that depth so that others may begin to see into and beyond the mundane. Each new entry seems to invite a deeper friendship of the soul as Mark lays himself bare in his truly personal stories of struggle and revelation. He interweaves his own perception with gems of collected treasures from many spiritual traditions, giving us access to his own spiritual advisers in their many forms.
--- Carmella B'Hahn, Sufi Journal, London
The work comes across as if time is infinite (spoiler alert: it is), so why not settle down and make note of a few things while you can. A calendar book, meaning you can read the day’s entry or you can skip around and read it in any order you like, The Book of Awakenings is not about deadlines, but lifelines. I am reading it slowly, savoring it like I would an expensive box of chocolates, but in orderly fashion, leaving randomness for the second round that I know there will be. You can’t absorb this book through a single read; it’s too rich with its lifetime worth of wisdom crammed into a bit more than 400 pages. The Book of Awakenings is a perfect read for anyone who feels as though they’re muddling through: losing life, losing purpose, losing love, identity, focus, or worse, the malaise has manifested as a dis-ease in the body and there you are, broken, alone, clueless as to how to break the cycle. It’s also perfect for someone with no problems, but many questions.
If any of these scenarios sound like yours, I have a suggestion: read The Book of Awakenings. While not a guarantee of success — only you can do that — it will help you find a path in the worst of times. The Book of Awakenings shows you why everything is a blessing, even cancer, and why there is no such thing as curses, only cursed thinking, which with a little work can be changed. Nepo wants you to celebrate life by seeing the good in all things, but don’t misunderstand. This is not a touchy-feely self-help book. Rather, it’s a retreat for the mind and Soul that will provide the self-loving space for the body to follow.
It’s hard to imagine a more beautiful book ever having been written. A modern day Rumi, Nepo meets you where you are and turns you from the outside in. You owe it to yourself to follow.
So, for the past few years I have searched for a book that would really feed my soul. I have no idea what Mark Nepo's religious beliefs are. I think it may be intentional that he doesn't say. Maybe he, like me, is drawn to many spiritual truths and believes all can hold beauty and value. All I know is everyday his writing touches me, makes me think and slows me down for a few minutes to read and meditate on the mediation suggestions after each reading.
I call this book my "non christian my utmost for his highest". If you have a Christian background, you will know what I am referring to!
If you like me have been searching for something to feed your soul...this may be your book!