Anger: Wisdom for Cooling the Flames

Thich Nhat Hanh

1. “Deep listening, compassionate listening is not listening with the purpose of analyzing or even uncovering what has happened in the past. You listen first of all in order to give the other person relief, a chance to speak out, to feel that someone finally understands him or her. Deep listening is the kind of listening that helps us to keep compassion alive while the other speaks, which may be for half an hour ot forty-five minutes. During this time you have in mind only one idea, one desire: to listen in order to give the other person the chance to speak out and suffer less. This is your only purpose. Other things like analyzing, understanding the past, can be a by-product of this work. But first of all listen with compassion.”

2. “So if you believe that there is no love in you, and that you feel only hate for the other person, you are wrong. Wait until the other person dies. You will cry and cry and wish that he could come back to life. This shows that love is there. You should give love a chance to manifest, while the other person is still alive.”

3. I found the insights about “non self” to be very power in reframing a great deal of what I have been inadvertantly been taught of separation… And the more I look into my own experience I can see that being glued to an idea of “separation” has generated suffering in me.

4. “People who use venting techniques like hitting a pillow or shouting are actually rehearsing anger. When someone is angry and vents their anger by hitting a pillow, they are learning a dangerous habit. Thet are training in aggression. Instead, we generate the energy of mindfulness and embrace anger every time it manifests…”


Out of Solitude

Henri Nouwen

This is one of those extraordinary little books that packs a wallop in just a few pages. Henri Nouwen is a well-known spiritual writer who here discusses the roles of and powers in isolation, community and ministry.

That all three parts have critical roles for us. And I thought as I read a great deal about the help that having time in solitude/isolation can be in developing my own thoughts – I am here at Jean Jacques in Pleasantville on the morning of Super Bowl sunday here in the states. Super Bowl sunday has become embraced in a viral fashion as one of our key days of community in the United States of course — so maybe I am getting some balance of isolation/solitude in advance.

A friend recommended the book, so, “thank you”. Almost all of the books I read now come by way of friends recommendations… Community.

A few points inside of the framework that Henri Nouwen presents really register as to “watch out” for…

++ “a life without a quiet center easily becomes destructive…”

++ “the compulsion to cure is like action without a deep silent center… An alternative is to care for ourselves, each other, and our world. We wouldn’t need change and cure if we were in a constant caring mode…” “In the long run, cure without care is more harmful than helpful…”

++ “when we start to become too impressed with by results of our work, we slowly come to the erroneous conviction that life is one large scoreboard where someone is listing the points to measure our worth. And before we are fully aware of it, we have sold our soul to the many grade-givers. That means we are not only in the world, but also of the world. Then we become what the world makes us. We are intelligent because someone gives us a high grade… And the more we allow our accomplishments – the results of our actions – to become the criteria of our self-esteem, the more we are going to walk on our mental and spiritual toes, never sure if we will be able to live up to the expectations which we created by our last successes…”

The book is all of 63 pages widely spaced words… Further reinforcing that less can be much much more as well…

Related to that “less is more” but maybe unrelated to the rest of the story (or not) I was recalling the last time we visited Gettysburg where one of the most critical battles of the Civil War took place. It was a three day period when the north held its ground but is not to be confused with a point at which the war was by any means “won” for the north.

Well… A while after that battle Abraham Lincoln visited the battle field and gave his well known Gettysburg address. What I learned was that he wasn’t the first speaker that day apparently. Another politician gave an hour or so spirited talk before sitting down. I don’t recall his name, position, specifics of discussion – but long oratory was the flavor of the day apparently. Lincoln then got up and shockingly was done speaking in two minutes or so… And his words were deeply centered and likely crafted in isolation and solitude I suspect unwilling to merely conform to the measuring stick of the moment… And seem to be ever lasting and filled with care.


Finite and Infinite Games

James Carse

I highly interesting series of observations about the distinctions of those that play games that either have an end or people who play continually thinking that the game ends versus the spirit those live from that life and all subsets of life are part of an infinite game… The purpose of which is participation among as many as possible.

The Seven Storey Mountain

Thomas Merton

This was an extraordinary book. I have been hearing Thomas Merton’s name mentioned a little here and there and everywhere during the last five years… He was a Trappist monk who lived in the the Gethsemani monastery in Kentucky. He continued to write and communicate with many world leaders of his time.

Here is what I found so inspiring about this autobiography — his vulnerability. 90% of the book is about his confusion. 10% is about an awakening. He does nothing to defend his ego or to portray a “certainty” in his meanderings. He is incredible human. In my own upbringing the priests in the church seemed like non-human figures for much of my life and perhaps that in part played a role in my own religious experience being limited. I was to afraid of religious leaders to listen closely enough to hear their humanity. that is probably my fault not theirs! In reading Thomas Merton’s autobiography his humanness is ever present and his thinking is very approachable.



Herman Hesse

A simple powerful parable revolving around the spiritual journey of a man. The interconnection and oneness of all is explored, the perfection of the world at all times is contemplated and the importance of love over thinking…


The Creat Divorce

CS Lewis

Where to start with this or any CS Lewis book is a reasonable question! My interest in reading so much is to challenge my own current thinking with an endless stream of new thinking and this book certainly accomplishes that. What it shines a light on are all the man-made and developed and “human” ways that serve to get in our way of open-hearted love… Our daily ways that we consider “normal” and don’t bother to question.”Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: what are you doing for others?”… Martin Luther King Jr.


The Winners Manual

Jim Tressel

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: what are you doing for others?”… Martin Luther King Jr.

I am in the habit now of most mornings reading for 15-20 minutes froma thought leader in the world that I find helps me get the day off on a good foot… It might be Pema Chodron or Thich Nhat Hahn or, well, Jim Tressel the coach of the ohio state buckeyes.

Why do I classify this as “spiritual” book? Because the message is about finding meaning in life by connect our personal work to a greater context of “team” or “community” or “society”… Something where one has the experience of connection to the “whole”.

A great way to spend a few minutes each morning — a reminder of the way I want to spend my own life.

“It is impossible to be grateful and unhappy at the same time…”


Taking The Leap

Pema Chodron

A dose of Pema Chodron each day… I find myself circling her thoughts as so much of it resonates for me. Along with the Dalai Lama and Thich Nhat Hahn, Pema Chodron is one of the most recognized Buddhist teachers known to Westerners.

In this piece she focuses on “shenpa” which might translate into “those moments when our buttons get pushed and we suddenly are a series of reactions and no longer truly at our best.” Lots for me to learn… And, yes, there is the clear translation over to investing.


True Love

Thich Nhat Hahn

Simple short notes from Thich Nhat Hahn that aide in generating personal mindfulness.


Peace Is Every Step

Thich Nhat Hahn

This is a series of short, very powerful reminders about basic ideas in living “mindfully” which might be considered code for living with awareness, effectiveness, compassion. I find much of writing as well as his general abstracts to be very helpful in a very very practical day to day sense.


The Future Of Peace

Scott Hunt

Scott Hunt interviews a number of world figures to ask their view of what peace is and to understand how their view of peace impacts their view of how change can occur. Psychotics of “change” will love the deep connections and others may fall asleep. I LOVED it!


The Holographic Universe

Michael Talbot

A review of quantium physics leads to a comprehensive review of the world of holistic thinking… interesting collection


The Art of Happiness, 10th Anniversary Edition: A Handbook for Living

Dalai Lama

Every time I read something from the Dalai Lama it is said in such a simple easy graspable way that it seems “easy” for him… What isn’t so clear is all of the study and an never ending pursuit of mastery…


Conversations with God : An Uncommon Dialogue (Book 1)

Neale Donald Walsch

A down and out man just starts writing and his conversation with god starts floating out on to the paper. Ideas such as accountability, empowerment and authoring one’s life are ever present.


Chariots of the Gods

Erich von Däniken

Just a whackey book with whackey conjectures about aliens that may or may not be right but here at least are extremely poorly supported. If it wasn’t so short I certainly would have bowed out before the finish.


Awakening Loving-Kindness

Pema Chodron

Extremely simple reflections on life that are so unordinary… For me this series of short passages are profound and resonate and provided a balance for the bizarreness in the world.


You Are Here

Thich Nhat Hahn

As with all Thich Nhat Hahn writing it is simple. He discusses three elements of all genuine Buddhist teaching: impermanance, non-self, nirvana. Nirvana which is sometimes misconstrued as a form of “heaven” is useful in our thinking about mental models because as Thich Nhat Hahn describes “nirvana” it is the absence of all concepts and “models”… A direct opposite of our attempts to use the l!est” models… Great food for thought…


From the Holy Mountain: A Journey among the Christians of the Middle East

William Dalrymple

one of the most powerful stories I have read… Involves a journey of Christian outpost from Greece through the heart of the Middle East and on to Egypt 2000 years after Christ. Extremely engaging and griping.


The Best Buddhist Writing 2008

Melvin McLeod

A series of sensational short articles from many different angles.