Tag Archives: philosophy

Give Me Liberty! by Gerry Spence

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I picked up Give Me Liberty! because Gerry Spence’s How to Argue and Win Every Time greatly influenced me. I would have never read either of these books if it were up to me. First off Gerry Spence looks like some shit kicking cow boy that going to lecture me about how on how rope steer and read the bible. My wife bought, New York Times Bestseller, How to Argue and Win Every Time because she says I’m an argumentative person and wanted some inside tips on how to smash me. Ironically she didn’t end up liking the book, and I got a lot out of it.

In Give Me Liberty! Spence puts forward a bold statement: We are all slaves in an American era of neo-slavery in which the Government and Corporate world have merged together into what he calls “The New Master.” We all serve this non-person master that has gone out of control and is designed to burn up human life and the earth in the self-destructive quest for dead money. It’s sort of like George Orwell’s “Big Brother,” but nobody even knows it exists because we’re free, according to the never ending propaganda. For some people the premise will sound too outrageous to even be considered. But many others are becoming aware of the constant chipping away of their rights, of the government preference towards aiding corporations, and faulty rational for continuing the never ending War on Terror.

This book reads like the memories from a man who’s spent the better part of his professional life deep within the power system, the courts. Spence isn’t a shock jock media personality whose only credentials are the network’s blessing. Spence has been through the legal battles and has the track record to prove it. What I truly enjoyed about this book is that he instills a human feeling. He puts a face on the people affected by this abusive system. His ideas are radical as any of the championed counter culture figures, but since he doesn’t drop acid and jam out on a guitar, he isn’t as appealing. The spirit of the Enlightenment thinkers and Pamphleteers of Revolutionary America runs deep through his work. Spence is a true patriot, but first he’s a real human being.

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Creating True Peace by Thich Nhat Hanh

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Creating True Peace is more than a book about spiritual enlightenment and peace. It’s a map that helps guide you through the wilderness in ourselves and the hectic world we live in. The destination is inner peace for all living things. Creating True Peace is written by world renowned Zen Buddhist, Thich Nhat Hanh, who has lived through two major wars in his homeland of Vietnam while practicing the philosophy of none-violence and peace. In Creating True Peace, Hanh expresses his solutions for actively engaging the epidemic of violence invading every level of our lives, from person conflict to war, in concrete ways. This book avoids vague metaphysics that often feel irrelevant when put in the context of modern life. Nhat presents Buddhist philosophy infused with a clear understanding of the global situation today.

 ‎”Alcohol production requires large amounts of grain that could be used to feed the starving people of the world. Alcohol is directly related to the suffering of children. For instance, to make one glass of rice wine takes a whole basket of rice. Every day 40,000 children die in the world for lack of food. We who overeat in the West, who are feeding grains to animals to make meat, are eating the flesh of these children.”

This book embraces all religions and levels of spirituality. It reveals an option; it doesn’t try to strong-arm a way of existing. His stories of living through the horrors of the Vietnam War are saddening and courageous. It exemplifies how even in total madness, peace is powerful enough to sustain us. Nhat introduces the idea of “engaged Buddhism,” which is similar to Martin Luther King’s idea of direct none-violence and civil disobedience with the aim of transforming the hatred and violence in our society into harmonious brotherhood. I highly recommend this book for anyone seeking inner peace in themselves, within their social circle, society, or the world. If you’re interested in learning what Buddhism is about, this is a great way to start. Peace and love to you all.

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Modern Man in search of a soul by Carl Jung

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Modern Man in Search of a Soul is a great introduction to Carl Jung’s theories of analytical psychology. The book is broken down into eleven essays dealing with topics of dream analysis, Freudian psychology, spirituality, and religion. Some consider Jung’s ideas radical because they take into account the soul. While many people believe that the soul exists, it’s impossible to prove it either way and thus begin the arguments. Taking this stance introduces an element of metaphysics into treating mental illness. Eighty years later, the school of psychiatry is still hesitant about treading in the dark forest of spirituality. Jung goes deep inside this forbidden territory and brings to light the nature of our darkness.

Much of this book deals with the subterranean part of our mind, the subconscious. The subconscious is a total mystery because it has either been ignored as irrelevant or purposefully avoided for being an ultimate source of our knowable. But it can only be ignored at the price of damaging our soul. This is reflected in the ever growing number of people seeking out psychiatric help, suicides committed, wars waged, and other forms of violence. Until we can bring a balance between the two half of our minds, the dark and light, we’ll suffer the spiritual decay that has become a cornerstone of modernity.

Jung keeps a complicated subject as straightforward as possible. The humility of this book is commendable. It invites conflicting points of views and inspires exploration into the unconscious for the good of humanity. Modern Man in Search of a Soul combines elements of psychology, philosophy, religion, spirituality, and metaphysics. Looking at today’s world, approximately eighty years after this book was written, Jung’s theories take on a prophetic tone which urges us to embrace the shadow part of our mind, for that is where the healing light will be found.

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What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami

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Haruki Murakami’s memoir What I Talk About When I Talk About Running is not a book I can easily categorize. I enjoyed it and found it enlightening to get a personal glimpse into the mind of a modern literary giant. First off, I do admit that my views are bias. I’ve read almost all of his works, and if you haven’t heard of him, I suggest picking up at least Hardboiled Wonderland and The End of the World. But what about this book, though?

It wasn’t as earth shatteringly revealing as I had hoped. His novels investigate humanity and metaphysics on a much deeper level. I sort of expected this from the title and size of the book. There’s only so much truth that can be revealed in a 180 pages. In his memoir, Murakami takes a much more humble and laidback approach. The majority of the book deals with his analogy of being a serious novelist and running marathons. While the writing is very pleasant to read, I don’t know if there’s enough to keep non-runners/writers/ and Murakami fans interested.

I don’t run, but I like to surf, and found his views on reaching higher spiritual levels through physical discipline a very honest analysis. He spends a lot of time writing about accepting getting older but enjoying the quality of life rather than by how many points one gets. I wished there was more on the actual art of writing (something similar to Stephen King’s On Writing), but sadly most of it stayed on the topic of running and its connections to writing, which we’re usually vague. One thing I’ve learned from living in Japan is that Japanese people love to be vague. It is part of the culture to avoid being so direct. It kills me in real life and it sort of annoyed me in this book. Still, when he did directly write about writing, his advice was indispensable.

In the end, despite my bitching, I have to label this a book that was fun to read. It was easy going, the imagery was strong, and you could feel a genuine quality of sincerity. I recommend you give this book a try. Read a sample, it might be for you.

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Don’t Wait for Permission

It’s been several weeks since I released my book and entered the indie writing world. Discovering the indie writing community has been a beautiful thing. It gave me a feeling similar to when I first found out about Hip-hop, Rock, and counter culture. “What! This has been here all this time?” When I first heard about indie writers I imagined a bunch of turtleneck wearing intellectuals drinking overpriced/undersized cappuccinos, yammering on about irrelevant topics, and snapping their fingers whenever somebody delivered an extra steamy pile of verbal bullshit. Once again, stereotypes had failed me. The indie crowd isn’t just a bunch of beatniks hanging around Starbucks. It’s a diverse community which sort of reminds me of a college campus. There are the different camps, nerds, jocks, hipsters, punks, loud minorities, sitting at their spots.

I knew I had to network if I wanted to get my book out there. At first, Facebook sounded like an obvious route. I created a page and badgered all my friends to join. Their words of encouragement we’re greatly appreciated but after a while I began to notice that most people don’t read books. “I’m happy for you, but reading isn’t really my thing.” Although I’ve suspected this much, it was shocking to me nonetheless. I can understand if somebody doesn’t like reading a sort of genre, but all of them? In America this type of attitude doesn’t turn heads. Which is funny because if you tell someone you don’t watch TV, they look at you as if you’re Amish. They say the average person watches 2-3 solid months worth of television a year. Considering there’s only 12 of them in a set, I rather do something else.

Let’s see what else is on.

Yet, the reading community has inspired me to shake my head too. The bookworms are a lot like the music listeners. Most people have horrible taste. First of all, if you’re a grown adult and the only books you’ve read are Harry Potter, Twilight, and Fifty Shades of Grey, backhand yourself now. But at least they’re reading something. There was a time when, for certain individuals, teaching and learning to read was severely punishable. Even now there are places where having a wrong type of book can cost you your life. Why is that? Because of what’s contained in books, ideas that have taken people a lifetime to arrive at. And those ideas exist in relation to other people’s philosophies, which in turn create an intellectual web that is deeply human. Some people fear this.

I understand that a lot of people are completely turned off to reading. Public schools fail greatly in turning students into avid readers. I didn’t pick up a book for almost a year after graduating high school because I thought all books were boring and useless to me. Then I was lucky enough to pick up writers such as Malcolm X, Audre Lorde, Charles Bukowski, and plenty more. Thanks to these greats minds I’m increasingly connected to the great human spirit that drives us to continually evolve. My mind is like a raging river that’s never going to stop. Without books, it would be reduced to a murky creek. If you’re reading this, then you know exactly what I’m talking about. Don’t let the anti intellectual climate bring you down. Express your ideas through whatever means possible. The next time you see another friend becoming a zombie in front of the TV, hand him a book. You’d be surprised how it can change some people’s lives. 

Photo Credits in order of appearance:

http://indiewritingblog.com/

http://www.hangthebankers.com/nielsen-sued-for-billions-over-allegedly-manipulated-tv-ratings/

http://www.wpi.edu/offices/ih/diversity.html

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