Just finished this morning. Enjoyed it very much. It will be a challenge for those interviewing SM about the book to avoid asking the questions that they usually avoid just because every page of the book addresses those very questions. It will be interesting to watch/listen to/read.
Not sure if Terry Gross has ever interviewed SM, but this would be a great book for a Fresh Air interview!
Anyone care to discuss the book further in the Books forum or should we dig in right here? I'll go first--a few observations:
1. First, before getting to the content, I really appreciated the layout of the book because it invites you to write in it. I am never without a pen in my hand when reading a book, and I love the occasional questions sitting on pages by themselves with plenty of space for me to speculate and write questions of my own!
2. Loved the speculation beginning with "What if I were married with children, grandchildren, a husband, and a household to run?" and ending with "Wake up, women of the world! . . . Perhaps you are the true warriors for peace." (pp. 51-52). Don't you think this is true? We need to return to the goddess path and bring some yin sanity to the world. As Robin Williams said in a standup routine at the Met decades ago, "if women ran the world, there would never be any war. You know it's true. Just serious negotiations every 30 days." (or something to that effect).
3. Also loved the speculation on hope and its deleterious effect on our culture. (pp. 183-84). Pema Chodron and other Buddhists often write about this very idea. That in placing emphasis, effort, and energy on "hope" (which is some future idea) we miss our appointment with life in the present moment. I liked, also, SM's idea about prayer having more intention and focus on the now. It reminds me of that line at the end of Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth during the credits at the end of an old African proverb: "When you pray, move your feet."
4. Question related to the "hope" speculation: How does the idea of "hope" being dangerous fit in with Obama's 2008 election campaign slogan of "Hope"? Remember that? Had he not had such focus on "hope," would he have won? I wonder. Were the masses seduced by this idea of "hope"? Did campaign strategists know this when coming up with the campaign theme? What would Ben Franklin have thought of the campaign strategy? "He that lives upon hope will die fasting?" Interesting.
5. This speculation ties into SM's speculation on democracy: "What if democracy is a trick perpetrated on the human race by higher-level beings who want to control us in the guise of freedom of choice?" (p. 144). When I see resolutions like the one in Washington state to require GMO labeling of food get voted down, I begin to believe more and more that democracy is a trick. As SM states, "[d]emocracy is having a hard time because we don't understand the consequences of our individual freedoms and choices. We are free to be profitably materialistic (in the short term) at the expense of destroying Nature and life itself." (p. 144).
6. I think SM and Edgar Allan Poe are the only two writers in all of American literature who have used the word "phantasmagorically" in a sentence. (p. 136). Thank you!
Namaste from the soggy Midwest,
"I wasn't going to spend my life doing what had already been done." - Georgia O'Keeffe
"May we all work to drive away the sorrow of the world. Less bullshit, more Bodhisattvas." - Sensei Irene Kaigetsu Bakker