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Light Years: A Spiritual Memoir Paperback – August 3, 2011
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About the Author
Barbara Du Bois, Ph.D. (Harvard 1976), brings the liberating essence of Dharma together with her rich life experience as educator, social scientist, psychologist, writer, and artist, to shed a frank western light on the path. With clarity, compassion, freshness, and humor, she helps people recognize all experiences as mirrors of the naturally indwelling awake nature. Barbara is known as a teacher of fearless love who meets us exactly where we are, pointing out and helping us take the next step…or the next leap.
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Top customer reviews
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Du Bois gives the reader the gift of raw experience nakedly exposed. The journal entries are compiled chronologically making very clear that her Path was a series of glimpses. In the journal entries Du Bois adds modern commentary; both to her younger self and to the reader. On pages 74-75 the modern commentary reflects, "Seems as if through the months and years just about any one of these light-filled insights might have sufficed, doesn't it? Because here it is again: inner awareness of nonduality-yet look at the pages still to turn!" Du Bois shows the reader that the Path can be glimpses: not always is Awakening accomplished and stabilized in the same moment. Footnotes add further clarification and insight to the entries.
Because the journals were kept over two decades we can see the transformation that takes place. The rage, anger, and every other emotional arising are laid bare and eventually dissolve into Love and Clarity. Also, Du Bois lets us see how great insight may then be followed by great obscurations. And how the desire to serve can pull a person from their happy little home mentally, physically and emotionally.
Personally, I found this to be an invaluable book. The detail to which Du Bois uses her own experience to point out the distinct negative mental states the West -particularly the U.S.- is capable of generating is powerful.
Little gems are tucked throughout the book to offer further guidance:
"Nothing to grasp at
or push away --
mind's pure play" (p. 376)
I would recommend this book to those looking for an honest offering of Truth and Love, and how "We already are what we aspire to become. We are templates of truth, to be laid bare by love." (p. 17)
The "truth" for this memoirist, however, included all the blemishes, peccadillos, grand errors and personal breakthroughs she encountered during this period, unflinchingly described in often poetic prose and occasional verse. Moreover, beyond the limits of the genre, readers will be delighted with her fondness for words and word play. She seems to be a playful sort (e.g., at p.186-87, "Blowing my Knows," "Prophecies according to Nostrildamus" and "S'not what you think it is.") One senses there is an Ivy Leaguer lurking there somewhere.
Most importantly her book imbues in the willing reader the fortitude to "stick with it" and never stop watching the mind. Sogyal Rinpoche has noted that this generation needs spiritual "role models" and Barbara DuBois gives us that here in reminding us that "to err is human," yet we have to get back up on that saddle and continue to ride. In that she demonstrates the indefatigability that distinguishes the masters and can inspire us all.
Her memoir style is a bit challenging, but worth the rewards. I have the tendency to read early and closing sections of books before I launch into them fully and I feel the reader will benefit from that here by reviewing pages 381-383 at the outset to maximize their appreciation of the author's adventure. Yet this limitation is a trifle. One is left wondering when and if DuBois will pen the next chronological section of her journey in this life, late adulthood. We all need role models. I think we have a courageous one here.