non-fiction books and articles
- Andrew Weil, M.D., “Self-Healing"
Living This Life Fully
March 5, 2011
Although I interviewed nearly 200 people around the world for Living This Life Fully, much to my delight, more individuals who knew Munindra keep popping up. I have the pleasure of learning new stories that reinforce what I have written about his qualities. It’s curious that I did not hear of these students when I was working on the book, but maybe that’s to my advantage. Otherwise, I would have had to interview hundreds, even thousands, more! How would I ever have completed the book? (more…)
February 3, 2011
During a hike among the redwood trees along a river, one of my friends brought up an issue she’s been wrestling with. She often feels overwhelmed by the inundation of data on the Internet and in email. I can easily sympathize. Because there's far too much to take in about environmental degradation, poverty, war, abuse of women and children, and other negativity, she finds herself simply hitting DELETE. Then she realizes, “It's so easy to blame the world, but nobody shuts down my heart except me.” How to deal with the joy of letting one’s heart open versus the disappointment at its closing? How to deal with all that’s out there trying to get our attention? (more…)
January 24, 2011
Recently, Dean Crabb a.k.a. Jagaro generously hosted a double book give-away on his blog themindfulmoment.com/. He asked readers to express what “living this life fully” means. The variety of responses left me reflecting on how differently people understand the same words. I was impressed by the thoughtfulness of those who sent in an answer. A few people even expressed themselves through poetry. Although there could be only two winners, I feel that everyone is a winner, simply because each person took time to consider this concept. (more…)
December 8, 2010
Yesterday, I received an unexpected gift that evoked great joy: a calendar for 2011. Usually, calendars don't bring up that kind of joy, even though I revel in the gorgeous photos of nature or human-made works of art. But this is the most precious calendar I've ever gotten because it contains photos of a girl I’ve come to love.
Each month has a combination of photos of Jessicah. I get to see her Jessi-ness from before we first met, when she was seven years old. In January, she'll turn nine. She's the closest I'll probably ever come to having a granddaughter, though I'm not a relative. We call each other "my special friend."
I understand, even better now than through experiences earlier in my life, why Munindra loved to be with children and why they were so attracted to him. He had a sense of humor and laughed easily. He was friendly and cheerful. He had a childlike curiosity and was interested in the smallest detail, such as a tiny purple flower growing by the roadside. Most of all, he didn't take himself too seriously, though clearly he was completely dedicated to Dharma, practicing and sharing it with everyone he encountered.
October 5, 2010
We often hear the ancient African proverb, "It takes a village to raise a child." As a non-fiction author, I've come to believe that it can also take a worldwide community to write a book. Where would we all be, whether children or writers, without the generosity of others?
Generosity is a form of interconnectedness. Even a nod accompanied by "Good Morning" is a generous act. One could just as easily walk by without saying a word, without acknowledging the human being right in front of us.
Generosity is a quality of mind and heart and a physical behavior that ranks high in spiritual traditions around the world because it undermines and acts as an antidote to the "poison" of greed. The importance of this quality was reinforced when I worked on Living This Life Fully: Stories and Teachings of Munindra, about a meditation master and scholar who helped introduce mindfulness practice to the West, because the project took more years than I ever anticipated, even longer than getting a Ph.D.
Part of what made it keep growing were the generous gestures I experienced from others. I was privileged to receive so much from so many from almost every continent: interviews, referrals, audiotapes, DVDs, correspondence, journal notes, photos, scholarly expertise, translations, hospitality, encouragement, and more. I can't help but think that this outpouring of generosity is an echo of what Munindra taught to those who came to know him. (more…)