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Sati's Book Club: Autumn 2020

Updated: Mar 11

Dear Friends:

The air has cooled, and the days have become cloud-filled and moody. The leaves are starting to change colors, and the winds are blowing harder than usual. Autumn in Oslo has arrived. I'm happy to share a new book list with you.

1. Dreaming Yourself Awake: Lucid Dreaming and Tibetan Dream Yoga for Insight and Transformation

By B. Alan Wallace

Non-specialists may be surprised to learn that Tibetan Buddhism views the difference between our daily waking state of consciousness and our dream state every night as not so radically different. Buddhist sages assert that these states of being are so similar that we can use our nightly dreamscape to help train our waking minds for enlightenment (a.k.a. Buddhahood). To do so requires that we learn to become lucid dreamers, those who can become "conscious" of what we are dreaming. The book explores how we can actively determine the dream-state experience as a conscious creator, not a mere witness responding to stimuli. Through this process, we gain tools to become lucid in our waking life and maybe glimpse a truly awakened mind.

2. In Search of Buddha's Daughters

By Christine Toomey

If you have any preconceived notions surrounding who becomes a Buddhist nun, this book will provide an amusing (and captivating) course correction. This generous volume explores the lives of Buddhist nuns before and after taking their vows. Toomey meets nuns in India, Burma, Nepal, Japan, the U.S., Britain, and France. This mix of stories is particularly fun as she meets several nuns who lived quite unique pre-monastic lives, such as a Bollywood star, a concert violinist, and a policewoman. I'm always fascinated by those who choose to make contemplative and spiritual training a significant part of their life. I think you'll enjoy this eye-opening series of true stories.

3. The Heart of Learning: Spirituality in Education

By Steven Glazer

The book contains a series of penetrating essays by professional educators (and diverse spiritual leaders who also take on educational roles) detailing the theories, practices, and reports of their work in contemplative education. I was quite moved by several of the essays; one in particular by Rachel Naomi Ramen, M.D., stands out in my mind. In this essay, she discusses what occurs in her course at the University of California San Francisco called The Healer's Art, a course for medical students and practicing physicians. The general crux of the book looks at how we can imbue education with tools to support a student's holistic well-being and evolution: mental, physical, emotional, psychological, intellectual, and contemplative/spiritual. This view pushes education beyond the quest to consume information by honoring other modes of knowing and placing human well-being in a place of prime importance.

4. The Last American Man

By Elizabeth Gilbert

Before Elizabeth Gilbert became mega-famous from her book Eat, Pray, Love, I discovered her via her 2002 book, The Last American Man. This fascinating biography explores the life and mind of Eustace Conway, a man who consciously chose to leave contemporary society at the young age of 17 to live off the land in the Appalachian Mountains, and I mean off the land. At the time of writing, he'd been living off the land (i.e., trapping animals, wearing skins, etc.) and living by his own hand for twenty years. It's an incredible study of his history, psychology, and the relationships he has had along the way. Inside this story, larger questions also probe how humans should live in a relationship with the natural world for a sustainable future.

Happy Autumn!



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