Posts Tagged ‘Philosophy’

Peace Is Every Step by Thich Nhat Hanh

Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday LifePeace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life by Thích Nhất Hạnh
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wonderful read, wish I had read it long ago. “Peace In Every Step” gives you the building blocks to finding peace, mindfulness, and making the world a better place for everyone. It all starts with conscious breathing and a smile, it’s that easy. Every step after is just as easy, the only catch is that you have to practice the steps.

I’m not a Buddhist and even after reading this wonderful book I have no desire to become one. However, I feel that no matter what religion or spirituality you follow or don’t follow, this book is worth the read. And that everyone that does read it will be closer to peace, more mindful and a little more enlightened.

I am not one for mandatory reading lists but if I ever made such a list “Peace In Every Step by Thich Nhat Hanh would not only be on that list but it would be towards the top of that list.

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The Way of Chuang Tzu by Zhuangzi, Thomas Merton (translator)

The Way of Chuang TzuThe Way of Chuang Tzu by Zhuangzi
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

After finishing and enjoying “Chuang Tzu: Basic Writings” I was still hungry for more Taoist writings. “The Way of Chuang Tzu” satisfied that hunger. It has many more “poems” and stories to help direct the reader towards the Tao. There was some overlap in stories between the two books but I feel that both should be read. Again I was all ready familiar with many of the stories but they are stories worth reading again and reading them from the original source. Some of my favorite stories are: Flight from the shadow, The useless, True man, and Chuang Tzu’s funeral. If you are interested in Tao, Zen, Buddhism or just looking to explore alternative ways of thinking this book has something for you. A great book to read and read again.

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Chuang Tzu: Basic Writings by Chuang Tzu, Translated by Burton Watson

Chuang Tzu: Basic WritingsChuang Tzu: Basic Writings by Chaung Tzu
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Over the years I have read many books about Tao, and I’m more than a little embarrassed to admit that this is the first book I have read by Chuang Tzu. Chuang Tzu was one of the earliest and most prolific writers on Tao/Taoism. Several of the stories in this book I have heard/read versions of in other books. Some of my favorites are “The Useless Tree”, “3 In The Morning”, and “Training a Cock to Fight”. Even though these stories along with several others were already known to me it was nice to read them as written by Chuang Tzu (translated by Burton Watson). Chuang Tzu: Basic Writings is poetic, humorous and will help direct the reader to the Way, it also left me wanting to read more of Chuang Tzu’s writings.

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Hagakure by Yamamoto Tsunetomo

Hagakure: The Book of the SamuraiHagakure: The Book of the Samurai by Yamamoto Tsunetomo
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Hagakure: Book of the Samurai was written by Yamamoto Tsunetomo, a samurai who lived from 1659-1719. The version that I read was translated by William Scott Wilson.

The book was written in short thoughts and anecdotes, this combination gives the reader a look into not only the mind of the samurai but it also helps the reader understand the times and the culture of the samurai.

As one would expect there are many thoughts and stories about what death and honor meant to the samurai. But it also covers some less expected subjects, such as education, religion, compassion, politeness, and even thoughts on homosexuality (seemed that sexuality wasn’t nearly as important as duty).

There are many things in the book for the reader to think about and several may be a bit difficult for people of modern times to understand, like the fact that by the age of 15 a samurai was expected to go to where the condemned prisoners are kept and practice decapitation. Or committing ritual suicide to follow their retainer into the afterlife. One of the things that really made me stop and think; loyalty equals sincerity.

Even though there are things that might be difficult for people of today to relate to there are several thoughts that people of today would be all the better if they incorporated into their lives.

Yamamoto Tsunetomo tells his thoughts on the younger samurais of his day compared to the older samurai of just 50 yrs before and the story reminded me that the more things change the more they stay the same. I can’t remember his exact words, so I’ll paraphrase: “Damn kids today have no respect or idea of how things should be done” (and yes I even pictured him shaking his fist in the air as he said it).

Overall I enjoyed the book and it did give me a lot to think about and a better understanding of a people. Highly recommend Hagakure to anyone interested in samurai, the people or the philosophy.

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