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Living As a River: Book Review

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The Review

I love it when I find a book that deepens my understanding of things (understanding being more a river than facts). Science and spirituality are twins in this book, as they are outside of it. Though the author is Buddhist, the possibility for clarity of mind extends to people of all faiths, agnostics and atheists.

Sometimes the best way to see what is, is to look at what is not. Living As a River takes the idea of each of us each having a separate self and does a great job of blurring the edges between us - until they virtually disappear. This doesn't mean you disappear, of course. You will still get up tomorrow and slog to the bathroom to do business. This book might, however, shift a person's perspective about themselves in relation to the world.

Ultimately, the book hopes to allay human fear by pointing out the obvious we often deny: everything's always in flux or impermanent. To put our sense of security into things that seem permanent but are not is cause for fear. Bodhaipaksa has the reader take a look at "Self" by way of a tour through the Meditation of 6 Elements: Earth, Water, Fire, Air, Space and The Conscious Element. There are no exercises or steps to follow, only an enjoyable read on the tour bus.

Bodhipaksa writes, "We imagine there's a "thing" called an eddy, and that this thing is embedded in another "thing" called "water." But when we reflect more deeply we see there's only flow. " In other words, we humans are a process, or maybe I should say life is a process. No movement, no life. Our bodies are in a constant exchange with the elements of our world. That is the core of the 6 Element Meditation - to realize how much of what we consider us is actually borrowed. The author opens up the enormity of this element-exchange and backs it with data from science (not a lot of data, just enough to illustrate).

Why is this material is so attractive to this reviewer? I believe if we all bravely look at what we share in common and how intertwined we are, it would seem a self-advantage to support all life everywhere. I'm also of the opinion that keeping up with science deepens one's spiritual sense and makes the stuff of life even more amazing. If you haven't learned any science since, let's say, 1940, you're perceptions are outdated! Knowing what's been recently discovered about our universe heightens one's enjoyment of the miraculous.

The book contains a Reader's Guide which gives suggestions and asks questions related to the main content. I find it helpful. Just reading through the 12 paragraphs jogs my memory, or I can focus on one at a time as a contemplation or meditation point.

If you've ever asked yourself what it means to be human, this is a book to savor. If you believe we are all separate individuals, this book will challenge you. Enjoy.

A highly readable mesh of science and spirituality regarding who we are by way of who we're not.

Your Turn - Review, comment, debate.

Does "Living As a River" provoke insight?

It does for me

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    Not for me

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      The least movement is of importance to all nature.

      The entire ocean is affected by a pebble.

      ~ Blaise Pascal ~

      (quote from the book)

      Love It or Hate It - Rate It!

      On a scale of 1-7, what did you REALLY think?

      • 1-This book changed my life!
      • 2-Very insightful and enjoyable. I highly recommend it.
      • 3-I give the book a thumbs-up. I learned some interesting things.
      • 4-Reads well, but I'm not frothing at the bit over it.
      • 5-Meh.
      • 6-Are you kidding me? This is over-rated
      • 7-Couldn't say - I haven't read it
      See results without voting

      "As the body makes a journey across the continent of life, from the coast of conception to the far shore we call death, it too is continually changing, the physical and mental components forever being replaced." (pg. 67)

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      We are like violins,

      We can be used for doorstops, or we can make music

      ~ Barbara Sher ~

      (quote from the book)

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      All that is born, all that is created,

      all the elements of nature are interwoven and united with each other.

      ~ Gospel of Mary Magdalene ~

      (quote from the book)

      Meditation CDs - guided meditations

      If you are interested in Living As a River, you may also enjoy . . .

      An Easy Way to Give

      If you buy any of the books recommended above, this page automatically makes a donation to the incredible nonprofit, Donors Choose, which helps provide classrooms and students in need with resources that our public schools often lack.

       Last updated on January 21, 2013

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