Book Reviews

mb39-BookReview1Peace Begins HerePalestinians and Israelis Listening to Each Other

By Thich Nhat Hanh

Reviewed by Lois Schlegel

Peace, it’s something all human beings want. Yet, when most of us think about the painful conflicts in the world, we feel helpless and full of despair. The problems seem far too big and our resources inadequate.

In this new book by Thich Nhat Hanh, however, we discover ways of creating peace that seem within reach. We learn practical, day-to-day processes that bring peace first to our own lives and communities and then offer the possibility of peace in places like the Middle East.

Nhat Hanh says, “Reconciliation needs to take place in yourself, then with your beloved, and then with your group. We usually begin by going to our beloved and asking her to change, trying to force her to change. This is not the real peace process. The real peace process is to go home to yourself, be reconciled with yourself, and know how to handle your difficulties: how to deal with despair, suspicion, fear and anger.”

Peace Begins Here is a guide. It offers instruction in core practices such as mindful eating, walking, and speaking and in the more challenging processes such as deep listening, taking care of our feelings, beginning anew, and use of a personal peace treaty.

Sprinkled throughout this hope-filled book are the voices of Palestinians and Israelis who have chosen to take steps toward their own peace, who have chosen to listen and speak with compassion, who have stopped watering the seeds of despair and anger and stepped instead toward reconciliation.

mb39-BookReview2Still the Mind An Introduction to Meditation

by Alan Watts

CD review by C.K. Richards

An icon of the Beat Generation, Alan Watts became interested in Buddhism in the early 1930’s when he was only sixteen. This wonderful reproduction of a classroom lecture, in his own words, takes the listener on a simple journey down the river of thinking about reality to experiencing reality through meditation.

His understanding of the meditative process is conveyed clearly and concisely, coming from his own daily practice experience. He describes how our “chatter in the skull” has caused us to lose touch with reality. We are encouraged to see this not as a blind alley but as a very important communication that “this is not the way to go.”

Watts guides the listener through our personal perception about reality into a guided meditation where we can experience reality without thought, without past or future. First through drumming, then a ringing bell, and finally using breath as an instrument of sound, you are gently guided into free mantra chanting. He encourages us to notice our experience while meditating, to watch without judging what is going on both inside and outside ourselves.

Alan Watts reminds us that like the acorn, sapling, oak tree, or snag, we are perfect at every stage, whether new or seasoned in the practice of meditation. Anyone interested in meditation can find benefits from his clarity of thought and simple presentation of meditation in daily life. His guided mediation gives the listener a good idea of what the meditative state is.

PDF of this article