Wednesday, May 23, 2007

My Grandfather's Blessings

by Rachel Naomi Remen
I started this book many months ago, but didn't get far. My husband lent the book to his sister, who read it and then her husband read it. I finally got it back and finished reading it. It's a great book to pass around and share with friends and family.

This is the perfect 'bathroom' book. Short sections of 2 or more pages provide meaty kernels of wisdom. It's the type of book you'll want to own because you'll want to highlight many passages. My husband read this book first and highlighted in yellow. I loved pausing and considering the parts he marked. I used a soft lavender crayon-type marking tool to differentiate mine from his. Of course, there was lots of overlapping. I could fill pages with the quotes, but I will choose just a few for this review.
A blessing is not something that one person gives another. A blessing is a moment of meeting, a certain kind of relationship in which both people involved remember and acknowledge their true nature and worth, and stengthen what is whole in one another.

Many times when we help we do not really serve. When we help we become aware of our strenght because we are using it. Others become aware of our strength as well and may feel diminished by it. Service is a relationship between equals. A helping relationship may incur a sense of debt, but service is mutual. Serving is also different from fixing. When we fix others, we may not see their hidden wholeness or trust the integrity of the life in them. Fixers trust their own expertise. When we serve we see the unborn wholenss in others; we collaborate with it and strengthen it. (italics are my own)

Whenever someone has found the courage to live more deeply, more courageously than before, no matterhow short a time it may be, theyhold open that door for anyone who tries to follow.

Life wastes nothing. Over and over again every molecule that has ever been is gathered up by the hand of life to be reshaped into yet another form. The molecules in you and me and indeed in everyone are secondhand, borrowed for the occasion and returned when outgrown. How strange to think that great pain may be impermanent. Something in us all seems to want to carve it in granite, as if only this would do full honor to its terrible significance. But even pain is blessed with impermanence; slowly, drop by drop, it may be worn away until even the most devoted searchers cannot find it unless they look for compassion or some other form of wisdom.

Meaning is dynamic. Over time, new meanings may evolve that are far less universal and more our own. It is important to revisit our woulds to see what new meanings may have grown there. If we become frozen in anger and pain, it may be many years before we recognize what these are.

Spiritual awakening does not change life; it changes suffering.

The Buddhists say that one of the signs of true enlightenment is the experience of a vast, immutable joy that underlies the personal joys and sorrows of this life. The Cosmic Giggle suggest that for those in the know, the essential nature of life is such goodness that the only possible response is joy.


Debi said...

Oh, this book sounds wonderful! The kind of book you need to buy for yourself, and then buy copies for all your friends and family as well. Thanks for the review!

Les said...

This sounds like a book both my husband and I would enjoy. And like you and yours, we like to read with highlighters in hand. I love to read after my husband so I can see what he's marked, trying to figure out why.

Beth said...

I LOVE this book. I helps me through rough places in my life. I always keep it near and read parts of it over and over!