Tom Robbins for Gourmets of the Mind
Good books and good meals make you want to finish them. A great book is a cupboard: one to which you return over and over again for wisdom, solace, stimulation, and pleasure. Tom Robbins writes great books.
As I would share a box of expensive bonbons, I dole out tantalizing bits of Robbins to friends, family, students, and myself. They are sweet, cinnamony sayings to savor. "The beet is what happens when the cherry finishes with the carrot." Or, they are philosophical puzzles to chew on. "I mean that the gods do not limit men. Men limit men." Both quotes from Jitterbug Perfume exemplify the candy dish assortment so many have come to count on in Robbins books. From Another Roadside Attraction and Even Cowgirls Get the Blues to his latest, Fierce Invalids Home from Hot Climates, the books are tasty but nutritious too.
I recently had the opportunity to interview Tom Robbins, and here, in buffet style, are some morsels of his characteristic wit and reasoning.
Don Miguel Ruiz not only teaches the mastery of love, but he embodies love. The first time I met him, he gave me an unsolicited hug. Not really sure what to do at the time, I returned his hug, and found myself overwhelmed with the most amazing feeling of love. In his quiet way, he truly allowed me to feel what unconditional love was like.
Ruiz, the author of The Four Agreements (1997), The Mastery of Love (1999), and The Four Agreements Companion Book (2000), has gained international attention for his practical approach to Toltec shamanism. He presents this philosophy in a very simple style, giving his readers easily understood tools they can immediately utilize to transform their lives. Don Miguel has fully integrated the age-old traditions of his ancestors into the modern-day world, and he has demystified Toltec shamanism by developing tools that anyone can follow to become a spiritual warrior.
Eating Happy vs. Eating "Right"
Last week a group of high school students came through the natural foods store where I work for an hour-long tour. My colleague and I split up the group and, while she headed to the aromatherapy section, I led my kids over to the produce department. There, instead of celebrating the goodness of the earth and all her gifts to us, I subjected them to a lengthy discourse on the evils of pesticides and non-sustainable farming methods. From there I went to the meat and dairy section, where of course I took it upon myself to reveal to them the horrors of commercialized animal food production. I shouldve taken my cue from the confused looks on their faces, but it wasnt until much later that I realized I had committed the gravest of all errors when sharing information: Id had an agenda.
The Eyes Have It
Seven years ago, the first Messages in Stone column was printed in July. This month, the column comes full circle to its last topic. Fittingly, the topic that emerged for saying adios is petroglyphs, especially those found in the Pacific Northwest. July, August, and September are excellent months for traveling to petroglyph sites. One picture is worth a thousand words.
Messages in Stone, for me, has been about listening to voices: the voices of living minerals, people, and places. Until I considered petroglyphs, fossils provided the closest link to the ghostlike energies of life passed. Petroglyphs, along with ancient cave paintings, cairns, pyramids, and stone monuments such as Stonehenge, evoke stories yearning to be told through time.
By adding the universal year 2001 (2+0+0+1=3) to the 7th month of July, we come up with the vibration of 10/1. The 10/1 month is a time for new beginnings. It is a particularly good month for initiating any new projects that require you to draw on your creative energies. Take some time this month to reflect on how you can bring more joy and meaning to your work. If you have wanted to begin a new project that you are really passionate about, now is the time to tune in to how you can make it happen.
Sorting through the Feng Shui "Schools"
Feng Shui, the ancient Chinese art of placement, began its rise in popularity throughout the United States in the early 1980s. An authority on Feng Shui from the perspective of Black Sect Tantric Buddhism, Professor Thomas Lin Yun is credited with introducing the concepts to the Western world. Attributed with the ability to create balance and harmony in a given space, Feng Shui techniques are many, and confusion abounds.
It has become clear to me that there is a need for unbiased information meant to inform and educate the general public, not to sell a specific school of thought or service. It is my sincere intention that the following provide insight into the varied techniques used to create harmonious environments based on the Chinese principles of Feng Shui.
The Mystery of the Osireion
As a tour guide, I have had the good fortune of visiting many of the most ancient and enigmatic temples and megalithic structures around the world. If I were to compose a list of these thought-provoking structures, I would, of course, include many of the towering pyramids dotting the globe. But I would also have to place near the top of my list the Osireion of Abydos, Egypt.
It is a curious circumstance to have a friend. It is delightful to be one. Emerson has said that a new friend should cause us to lose sleep in favor of enraptured thought engendered by recollections of intercourse with one who has shaken our souls. Curious and delightful the hours I have lain awake of late, speaking with you across the night and imaging your reply, impatient to hear your thoughts on every subject of our mutual interest.
The Blueprint of the Soul
The reporter challenged me. Id been answering her questions about my newly released book, Moonlight on the Ganga, and the transformative trip to India that had birthed it. I allowed her initial questions to direct our steps while we drank lattés at a café.
The reporter seemed fascinated that Id left a twenty-year career in business and management because "it just wasnt fun anymore," and that this move had led me to be placed in close, trusted proximity with a mystic. Id been a hardheaded cynic most of my life, most keenly cynical about anything having to do God, religion, metaphysics, and goodness, so this rerouting of my life had sent me into strange, new territory and into a state of acute discernment and fascination with new possibilities of how life was meant to be lived that began seeming vaguely possible. Unlike those cynical years before, rather than turning a deaf ear, Id begun saying "yes" to learning more.
In the years my mother had it, "cancer" was still a dirty word. There was no open forum, no family support, no grief counseling. The various stages of her illness were discreetly discussed only in intimate circles; it was not a topic for polite conversation. Outside of adult family members and close friends, her illness was ignored or denied, as the situation required. This may seem mean, but it was actually intended to protect rather than to harm. Cancer was a dirty disease, and anyone who got it was unclean, so why turn her into a pariah?
Honesty as a Spiritual Practice
"What I want most in this relationship is honesty." "I believe in being honest." "I want to be honest with you." "You can trust me to tell the truth."
I have heard these or similar words most often when someone wants to tell me what he or she doesnt like about me. For example, a friend once said to me, "I must be honest with you. Your smile bothers me." Another honest person I know said to her partner, "To be frank, I think you are a terrible cook, even though you try really hard."