The Light from Within: A Letter

gilbert_sunset2

A Southwest Sunset

 

“My friend, do not lose yourself in blinding faith. Find yourself through sparks of insight. You will then advance toward the soothing flame of enlightenment.

“Life, at all levels of abstraction, can be visualized as Chakras, or circles of energy. It involves stages of knowing, communicating, acting, and observing, leading to knowing again. Causation is circular, not linear as most religions would have you believe. Neither is it primal as Aristotle and others imagined and taught.

“At the highest levels of thought known to us is knowledge of the self or self-awareness. That leads to a realization of identity. And to a state of continual learning and refinement, and tranquility beyond par. When shorn of all ego, pretense, and material attachment, one is free from all ‘maya’ or illusion. Such a self attains…whatever you may want to call it!

“But one doesn’t get there by believing things, following others, and closing one’s mind! Fill your mind with blind faith and belief, and there will be little room for any light to enter within.

“Only the light that shines from within can be true enlightenment.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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Review: The Moonstone

The Moonstone
The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Rewarding, engaging, and yet bewildering.

Wilkie Collins’s writing style is unique. At the start of this very long work of fiction and mystery, he addresses a reader so very often that it’s simply distracting. And, he does so to apologize for diversions, digressions, that he introduces into the story. Now isn’t that a mite facetious? Doesn’t that appear insincere? It gave me pause, enough of Mr. Collins’s creative writing techniques and this work thought I, but I’m glad to have persevered on through. The work is indeed engaging, with all sorts of twists and surprises, and ultimately rewarding to the diligent reader.

As the long story unfolds, he springs another novel technique, surprising (and distracting) even a seasoned veteran. He changes the voice – by moving the story forward through the very distinct perspectives of his interesting characters. He yanks a reader from one perspective, somewhat jarringly, into that of another…and the narration, the attention to detail, the musings and judgments all change. One feels much the same as his principal protagonist, who, having gained learning and experience in the German, Italian, French, and his native English cultures, displays a bewildering variety and transitions in his movements through the complex story. Yet, somehow, Mr. Collins makes all this seamless, more or less. It did not seem to help that the various narrators all seemed to know what others had conveyed.

And yes, Mr. Collins does tell a lot more than he shows. Perhaps this was one of his more contemplative works.

The story does take an incredulous turn, toward the end, bordering on metaphysical hocus-pocus, which he does introduce early in the work as well. It is hard to suspend disbelief in such matters, and this work is no exception.

One more curious instrument with which Mr. Collins shaped this work. He ages a voice, one that he employs to bring closure, having begun the story in the same. I thought he did that exceptionally well.

A very long, complex, convoluted work of mystery and fiction that may exhaust most contemporary readers, but will surely reward aspiring writers.

I enjoyed it!

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Posted in Literary

Review: The Dhammapada

The Dhammapada
The Dhammapada by Anonymous
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

An intriguing introduction.

Elements of patriarchy, a male-dominated philosophy, are evident. Abstract concepts such as rebirth, heaven, hell, and the various gods mentioned have no obvious synthesis within, and originate from ancient Hinduism, perhaps. An emphasis on letting go of desires, on a passionless life.

A poetic style, an easy read, appreciable by initiates into the eightfold path…

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Review: Journey to the Centre of the Earth

Journey to the Centre of the Earth
Journey to the Centre of the Earth by Jules Verne
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

“Where there is life, there is hope.”

True!

Perhaps the only thing true about this highly imaginative, fantastical narrative. An engaging adventure, replete with marvelous descriptions of exotic places, and people, Jules Verne holds a reader’s attention and entertains the wandering, wondering mind. Deeper into the work, one encounters incredible scenes and adventures…

Yet exactly that is where I felt the work loosen its hold on me. The incredible lends disbelief, which the work, regrettably, does not suspend.

The center of the Earth? The CENTER? The adventurers barely penetrate…granted that is just a fanciful title, and this is a journey into the interior of the Earth. But a compass needle pointing upwards? The Earth would’ve to be smaller than the Moon for that to make sense. Light in the interior sometimes casting clear shadows, and sometimes not…

And what’s with the phlegmatic eider-down hunter? He seemed as flat a character as can be, while others are developed well, albeit not altogether rounded. The interesting bits of language foreign to most readers was catchy.

Boredom with over-dramatization and with an overactive imagination sped up my reading as well. Perhaps, as a writer myself, I am overly critical!

A good read, one that the very young or casual science-fiction aficionados may enjoy.

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Review: The Mysterious Island

The Mysterious Island
The Mysterious Island by Jules Verne
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Imaginative, and engaging, filled with engineering details, but not altogether convincing as science fiction. Jules Verne connects this work to his Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea through the inimitable character of Captain Nemo, and offers a version of judgment on his actions. Nevertheless, the story appears somewhat contrived.

Yet, science fiction lovers will surely enjoy a Jules Verne work!

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Review: Learning to Silence the Mind: Wellness Through Meditation

Learning to Silence the Mind: Wellness Through Meditation
Learning to Silence the Mind: Wellness Through Meditation by Osho
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

“God is a constant search for more and more happiness, joy, and ecstasy.” – Rajneesh (Osho)

If that be true, it seems to me, God must be a process of indulgence in endless materialism. Rather contradictory, but this godman’s definitions have a tendency to be opposed to traditional thought and religion. He is quite clever in his thought and speech, which are recorded in the book, but he caters to his doting audience (American, in this instance) with observations that resonate with their beliefs – for very material reasons. Clearly, if the ‘pursuit of happiness’ be God, Americans must be a very godly people.

“Emptiness is Self.” Another one of his curious observations, presumably equating stillness of the mind, through meditation, to realization of the ‘self.’ Unsupported and unworthy, for it borrows from Buddhism (Tibetan, specifically) while seemingly contradicting that group’s belief that there is no ‘self.’

I read no further. Not recommended at all.

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Review: The Count of Monte Cristo

The Count of Monte Cristo
The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Enchanting…masterful, and deeply moving.

The sure sign of a great master – of the arts – is that he can evoke powerful emotions through his illustration. Monseuir Dumas does so brilliantly in The Count of Monte Cristo. He paints most imaginative visions, and yet suspends disbelief. He tells… like the ancient storytellers who enraptured audiences through their refined narration.

Oh, how I crave to be an apprentice to this great artist!

The translation does have its flaws…some words, such as ‘toilet,’ appear ludicrously employed. Perhaps the usage of the times then. The linearity of the narration is noticeable, as is a penchant for the religious and the supernatural. Cultural aspects of the times, too, perhaps, or what readers appreciated then. A tendency to engage a reader solely in conversation gives way to lengthy reflection in latter parts of the work. Yet, from a master, these are but his distinction.

Bravo, M. Dumas!

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Posted in Literary