Saturday, April 18, 2009

Other Recent Reads

I am accepting that I will not have time to write about every book I've read. So, I just wanted to mention some recent ones (two of them I plan to blog about elsewhere).

Birthwork--this was a masterpiece of a book. Took me ages to finish, because it was very complex. I've never read a book like it. It was really extraordinary. I've already written a bit about it on my birth blog and I will again. Plus, I will be writing a complete review for CfM.

Women and Doctors--this is an older book written by a doctor and covers the anti-women attitudes that many doctors have bred into them in medical school. Also talks a lot about hysterectomies and how they are extremely overperformed. I'm going to be writing about this one on the CfM blog for sure.

Innovative Teaching Strategies Handbook for Birth Professionals
--this was a quick read and I got several good ideas from it. I think I will use one of the breastfeeding demonstration ideas for an LLL meeting soon.

The Secret Life of Amanda K. Woods--I read this after I finished Birthwork. I was immediately going to jump into another heavy read and realized I needed a quick break. This is a young adult book about an 11 year old girl in rural WI the 1950's. For some reason it made me cry several times. I read it in an hour.

What Do Buddhists Believe?--This was a short book about "meaning and mindfulness in Buddhist philosophy." I was familiar with most of the ideas already (but that kind of makes me an empti-full cup!).

A quote from this one I liked when talking about various turning points in the history of world thought (like Newton and gravity or the Buddha and his enlightenment under the tree): "...these seekers after truth did not find anything that had not been there before. Theirs was a discovery not an invention. Their genius consisted in realizing for the first time something that had been in front of them all along. It was as if they perceived a deeper layer of reality, a glimpse of the underlying structure of the phenomenal world." This kind of thing makes me wonder about the ideas and concepts yet to be discovered--what is in front of us right now, that we haven't yet figured out, etc. As reading Buddhist stuff always does, I went into a bit of a tailspin about "what is the nature of reality" and "who am I" and "what does no-self really mean" and "if I have no-self then who the heck am I." All questions I've asked before, no answers! I read somewhere else: "if someone says to me that they don't know who they are anymore, I say, good!" So, maybe I'm making progress by feeling like I don't know who I am! (by that, I mean I don't know who I am "ultimately" speaking--is there a core "me," a real reality, or is it just shifting, changing collection of personality traits. I think it is difficult to ever say with any certainty that you know who anyone *really* "is" and the same for yourself. However, this then depresses me somewhat...)



Hope said...


I love the thoughts about who we are and where our personalities play into that... it can be depressing but also liberating to know that we aren't just this small, superficial thing we call personality.

I think of personality and self like this: If we are all just a cup in the ocean that is God (or the Universe or whatever word someone may choose) then perhaps our personalities are just a cup from the RIVER that is our self. The ultimate goal of this life it to try to fill our cup from as close to the source of the river as possible for this is where the purest part of our self is.

I also think that the realization of things already there, or a lack of realization, is a part of that personality; the more we realize about the realities of the Universe the closer we move to the source of our own river.

Molly said...

I think it is really interesting that you posted this, Hope, because one of the other quotes I marked in the book was this one:

"As the saying goes, 'You cannot step in the same river twice.' We see immediately that the river never stands still. The Buddha's great insight was that the 'You' who is standing in the river is changing all the time too."

I have more thoughts, but have to leave right now, so perhaps later!

Molly :)

Molly said...

Adding some thoughts. I've been musing about the nature of the self, personality, the soul, the ego, and things like that for about 10 years now (and not really making any progress, LOL!) I really like Your Sacred Self by Wayne Dyer. Have you read that?

I was thinking about your river analogy and about how the better you know someone (like, say, my husband), the harder it is to describe/define them. The less well you know someone, the easier it is to sum them up in a couple of words ("judge" them or put them in a box as people, "like x y and z"). I think it is telling that "knowing well" often means "hard to describe in words" to me--I think this because in knowing well, you see "past" the the personality and to the essence (maybe).