Two mind-blowing classics every spiritual seeker should read

Excerpted from High Existence.

Nietzsche and Zen: Self Overcoming Without a Self – André van der Braak

nietzscheEverything you ever wanted to know about Nietzsche and Zen can be found in this magnificent book. Both Nietzsche and Zen propagate that selves don’t exist. Both deny an intrinsic order or value at the core of the cosmos. Both hold it is possible to reach a higher existence through the cultivation of the bodily drives. For zen, it is the goal of no-goal, Nirvana. For Nietzsche, it is the progression from the camel, through the lion to the child. In this fascinating book you can learn everything you ever wanted to know about Nietzsche and Zen. How do we attain truth? How can we overcome ourselves if selves don’t exist? How can we break the chains of God and his Shadow? Prof. van der Braak writes eloquently when he looks at Zen through the eyes of Nietzsche and at Nietzsche through the eyes of Zen. A powerful book, a book for everyone and no-one.

“Discover the fallacies of the ego! Recognise the ego as misconception! The opposite is not to be understood as altruism! This would be love of other supposed individuals! No! Beyond “me” and “you”! Feel cosmically! –Nietzsche (KSA 9,11[7])”

The Perennial Philosophy: An Interpretation of the Great Mystics, East and West – Aldous Huxley

HuxleyThe bible for the enlightenment seeker, Aldous Huxley’s ‘The Perennial Philosophy’ is a must have for anyone who wants to understand the differences between the great religions and the same mystical ground they came from. While his main thesis is heavily debated today, this work remains a powerhouse of mind-blowing ideas. Huxley covers Zen, Hinduis, Rumi, Meister Eckhart and Taoism and discovers they share one fundamental fact – a yearning for transcendence. This is not a book to read in one go, but one to which you will return many times to ponder and re-ponder. The fascinating quotes in this book are complemented with a sharp analysis and will stay food for thought while a new light will shine on your path – the path to uno mystica! Get ‘The Perennial Philosophy‘ now.

Have you read these books? What did you think? 

Book review: Deshi

Cutting spiritual insight infuses martial arts thrillerDeshi byJohn Donohue new age fiction spiritual novel martial arts thriller

Rating: 4  out of 5 stars

Steeped in Eastern philosophy, rich with language that evokes the sweat and intensity of a Japanese dojo, and peppered with gritty cop talk and wry humor, John Donohue’s “Deshi” smoothly folds mysticism into this top-notch Zen action thriller.

Story: Dr. Connor Burke, a history scholar and black belt, gets enlisted by his NYPD detective brother Micky, who’s his spiritual polar opposite, to decipher the calligraphic writing left by the victim at the crime scene. The inked message implicates followers of a revered Tibetan lama in this and two other murders. Charged with protecting the lama, who’s at the center of a conflict involving a rising charismatic sensei (aka teacher), political threats in Tibet and competing martial arts disciplines, Burke journeys to the lama’s reclusive mountain retreat, where he’s stalked by a hulking Korean-American named Han. (From Publisher’s Weekly)

Spiritual/metaphysical content: High. The villain is a martial arts sensei who teaches a potent blend of Tibetan mysticism and the lethal heritage of the samurai.  Connor Burke, master of the Japanese sword, is a thinking man’s hero who embodies both the physical and spiritual aspects of the Asian disciplines. He is guided by a Tibetan rimpoche (lama), a clairvoyant mystic who grounds the story in spirituality.

My take: I loved the spare, elegant prose that reflects the spiritual simplicity of the story. Donohue underpins the intense action with depictions of a mystical martial arts culture that evoke the beauty of haiku. The characters–sensei Yamashita, deshi (student) Connor Burke, and the Tibetan rimpoche–are as finely drawn as the missing calligraphy scroll that holds the clues to solving the mystery. At once a gripping exploration of Eastern wisdom and a gritty cop thriller, Deshi fed both my desire to seek truth and my need for bloodthirsty catharsis in a satisfying balance of oriental philosophy and Western sensibility.

Details:
Deshi: A Martial Arts Thriller, by John Donohue
Thomas Dunne Books, 2005
Paperback, 288 pages
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Book review: Dark Horse

Quirky “God,” crisp plot make spiritual mystery series a bargain for a buck

Dark Horse JR Rain spiritual novel metaphysical fiction new age mystery series

Rating: 3 1/2  out of 5 stars

The first novel in a new ebook series by veteran writer J.R. Rain, “Dark Horse” follows Jim Knighthorse’s emotional and spiritual growth as he struggles to solve murders both new and old.  Selling for 99 cents on Kindle, this enlightened spin on the mystery genre promises to engage readers with its fast-paced story line and nontraditional theme.

Story: When high school student Derrick Booker, the only black student at a posh Orange County high school, is accused of killing his white girlfriend, ex-college football hero and detective Jim Knighthorse is hired to dig a little deeper into the murder. It doesn’t take long for Knighthorse to realize that not all is as it seems at tranquil Huntington High, from a band director who preys upon the innocent to a vice-principal with a secret agenda of her own. Not to mention someone’s hired a professional killer to keep Knighthorse permanently off the case.

As the investigation continues, Knighthorse’s personal life is shattered by the discovery of new evidence relating to his mother’s unsolved murder, a murder dating back twenty years. Reeling from the discovery, a determined Jim Knighthorse sets out to bring two killers to justice. (From amazon.com)

Spiritual/metaphysical content: Medium. In this spiritual mystery, God takes the form of a filthy homeless man who hangs out at McDonalds. His only purpose in the book is to launch Knighthorse’s spiritual education, which does not mesh seamlessly with the plot. However, J.R. Rain may deepen this relationship in future novels, lending the series greater emotional richness as it matures.  Although the novel’s religious orientation is vague, Rain’s version of God leans more toward spiritual agnosticism than Christianity. He discusses reincarnation in detail, including an interesting take on soul agreements prior to incarnation and the soul’s ability to leave the body during times of distress.

My take: At first Jim Knighthorse, private eye, did not charm me. He comes across as a shallow, narcissistic superjock with Daddy issues. He’s cavalier toward his devoted girlfriend and not shy about openly assessing other women’s assets and his own sexual prowess.  However, give the novel a chance. As the plot thickens, so does Knighthorse’s character, into a rich stew of contradictions–equal parts honor and failure, brutality and morality. He desperately wants to be a better man for his girlfriend, his clients, his father, and himself. He discovers “God,” a homeless man named Jack who is one of the more interesting people in the novel; I look forward to seeing how Rain develops that character.  Rain uses the Southern California setting to set expectations about Knighthorse, and then proceeds to shatter the stereotype by introducing a richness of heart and humanity that promises to evolve in future releases.

As the first novel in a spiritual fiction series, Dark Horse sets up the premise that Knighthorse’s spiritual growth may drive his actions and relationships in future releases and deliver more emotional complexity and personal insight. The first installment doesn’t quite deliver on that promise, but Rain is a talented,  experienced writer and Dark Horse is a good beginning. Selling for under a dollar on Kindle, this enlightened spin on the traditional mystery series  should garner a good following in the ebook market. Count me in.

Details:
Dark Horse (Jim Knighthorse Series #1), by J.R. Rain
Amazon Digital Services, 2010
Kindle, 4500 (short)
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Book review: The First Rule of Ten

Spiritual mystery embodies great writing and even greater insight

First Rule of Ten Gay Hendricks new age fiction spiritual novel metaphysical fiction

Rating: 4 1/2  out of 5 stars

As the first book in a new mystery series, “The First Rule of Ten” is an engrossing page turner and well worth reading. As a work of spiritual fiction, however, Hendricks and Lindsay’s novel is exceptional. The narrator, a Buddhist monk turned L.A. cop turned novice investigator, strives to live according to his spiritual principles every day. His experiences offer a simple, flexible model that can encourage us us to live our own lives more deeply and successfully.

Story: Tenzing Norbu (“Ten” for short)—ex-monk and soon-to-be ex-cop—is a protagonist unique to our times. In The First Rule of Ten, the first installment in a three-book detective series, we meet this spiritual warrior who is singularly equipped, if not occasionally ill-equipped, as he takes on his first case as a private investigator in Los Angeles. Growing up in a Tibetan Monastery, Ten dreamed of becoming a modern-day Sherlock Holmes. So when he was sent to Los Angeles to teach meditation, he joined the LAPD instead. But as the Buddha says, change is inevitable; and ten years later, everything is about to change—big-time—for Ten. One resignation from the police force, two bullet-wounds, three suspicious deaths, and a beautiful woman later, he quickly learns that whenever he breaks his first rule, mayhem follows.  (From amazon.com)

Spiritual/metaphysical content: High. Ten spent half his life in a Buddhist monastery,  but the charm of this book is not the wisdom he can spout, but rather the challenge he faces in applying it to the stresses of  his own life. It’s easy for the reader to relate to Ten’s spiritual successes and failures because they parallel our own. We recognize when his actions come from a place other than spirituality, and see how that negativity plays out in his life. And we can rejoice in his small successes from day to day, such as holding his tongue when an ex-girlfriend calls to needle him, and be reminded to rejoice in our own daily triumphs.

My take: I am delighted that this novel is the first in a series. Ten has tremendous appeal as a protagonist; his “outsider” perspective adds great range to his character. Hendricks’  insights are clean and simple, adding just the right note of spiritual depth to what is primarily a mystery novel. Lindsay’s writing style is fast paced and a pleasure to read. I highly recommend this spiritual mystery to anyone who enjoys top-notch writing and inspirational fiction.

Details: The First Rule of Ten, by Gay Hendricks and Tinker Lindsay
Published by Hay House Visions, 2012
Paperback, 297 pages
Buy at Amazon