by Arlene Arnold
Thank you, Deverick, David, and Amanda, for your generous welcome to the New Times family.
Already I have begun to meet the many helpful and supportive people at our distribution locations and those who are our advertisers. Recently I stopped in Ellensburg, Moses Lake, Spokane, Moscow (ID), and Vancouver (WA) while on a trip and found new locations for The New Times and met some of you who have known The New Times for some time. My goal is to cover each area thoroughly throughout Washington, western Idaho, and Oregon so that all those who might otherwise wonder where to find information and support for their spiritual, emotional, and physical well-being can experience a friendly connection through The New Times.
Connections are a natural part of my being. I believe that getting to know you and introducing you to others who are on a spiritual path is an important part of why I am here in this lifetime, so feel free to call me and connect. Let me know your ideas of how we can be that link between you and others here who are seeking the highest and best in their lives and for the life of our precious planet.
Starting in October, you will see additional mini-reviews of books, music, and spiritual tools. If you have a favorite that you feel deserves recognition, let me know. I am available most days at The New Times, or call anytime and leave me a message there at extension 14.
I would also remind you that The New Times depends on the many advertisers with their varied products and services. If you need a mechanic, we have a good one. If you need a health practitioner, there are lots to choose from. If you need help in your transformation, browse through the directory. If you know someone who operates from the heart with integrity and skill in any field, encourage her or him to advertise here. Please use The New Times as your resource for all kinds of needs. Remember to tell our advertisers that you saw them in The New Times.
I look forward to new experiences, lots of fun, and an opportunity for great creativity with The New Times family. I hope to meet you soon in person or by phone. BOOKS Daily Word Prayer Journal by COLLEEN ZUCK Daybreak Books $12.95 (hardbound) reviewed by Douglas S Johnson
Daily Word Prayer Journal
by COLLEEN ZUCK
reviewed by Douglas S Johnson
Four months ago, I reviewed for The New Times a book entitled The Daily Word, a compilation of 365 inspirational entries taken from the pages of Daily Word magazine which were to be read, one a day, for a year. Colleen Zuck, editor of the first book and of the widely distributed Christian periodical, has put together another volume, The Daily Word Prayer Journal. Unlike with the first book, finishing one's work with the prayer journal is not a yearlong event, but rather one of forty days, a time period significant in many ways during biblical times. (Zuck views it as a good span of time for establishing prosperous new habits.)
While working with the prayer journal, the aspirant will begin to have valuable spiritual experiences like "Awakening to God," "Opening Oneself to Love," "Learning to Pray Every Moment" and "Seeing Oneself as a Work of Art, Signed by God." Each of these aspects of spiritual growth is attended to during a ten-day period, so at the end of the forty days, all have been given a balanced amount of time.
The way the book is set up is simple and harmonious: one receives each day an inspirational quote, a poem, or a model prayer, and then a page in which to write one's own prayer or simply to journal one's thoughts or feelings. (For a sample of the inspirational quotes, I have chosen a line by Charles Fillmore, taken from the "Works of Art, Signed by God" section: "The search of all people is for God. They may think they are looking for other things, but they must eventually admit that it is God they seek.")
As with The Daily Word, The Daily Word Prayer Journal comes from a Christian point of view, but, as I noted in the review four months ago, Zuck presents her message from a genuine Christian standpoint (that is, employing the Christianity of the loving, accepting Christ, not the monstrous fire-and-brimstone hybrid that has done so much damage to so many of us over the years.) There is even to be found in these quotations and poems and prayers the often-neglected idea of our innate unity with God (as when Christ stated that "the Kingdom of God lies within.") This is apparent in Richard Rainbolt's "To Find the God We Seek":
And on his last day
The student said to the Master:
"You have shown me the wonders of life
And made me hear the winds of love
Rushing through the universe,
And helped me to understand
That God lives in all things;
Yet there is again something higher.
How do we find the God we seek?"
And the Master said,
"When all among the human kind
Focus their thoughts on God
At the same time,
They will create a universal oneness
That is the God they seek."
Replete with quiet, gentle wisdom, The Daily Word Prayer Journal comes as highly recommended as The Daily Word. This reviewer hopes that Colleen Zuck has new ideas for new books in the future and that The Daily Word continues to reach people around the world with its truly "good news." The Wheel of Time The Shamans of Ancient Mexico, Their Thoughts about Life, Death and the Universe by CARLOS CASTANEDA LA Eidolona Press $25 (hardbound) reviewed by Cat Saunders
The Wheel of Time
The Shamans of Ancient Mexico, Their Thoughts about Life, Death and the Universe
by CARLOS CASTANEDA
LA Eidolona Press
reviewed by Cat Saunders
I've been a fan of Carlos Castaneda's work for nearly thirty years, so I jumped at the chance to read the uncorrected publisher's proof of his latest book, The Wheel of Time (released posthumously). This book is a compilation of brief excerpts from Castaneda's first eight books, with commentary following each of the eight sections.
The quotations are arranged chronologically, as they were originally conveyed. Castaneda said that he tried to arrange them otherwise, but they had a life of their own. Somehow, the quotations manage to transmit the very teachings they describe. I don't know how this happens, but it's like a connect-the-dots drawing. Although the excerpts provide only a few dots in the overall "drawing" of ancient shamanic knowledge, it's enough to allow the whole picture to come through. It's as if The Wheel of Time gives you a chance to directly experience the instruction Castaneda received from others. In other words, if you let this book into your heart, it will work on you.
Throughout the book, Castaneda's trademark candor, playful self-deprecation, and outrageous wit are as evident as ever. In addition, the ways he has grown since his last book make this one all the more magnificent. Many times, I laughed out loud or made profane exclamations of wonder. Then, when he wrote about his personal devastation after don Juan's death, I felt his heartache as if it was my own.
As I read the closing commentary in Castaneda's book, I had the eerie feeling that he knew when he was due to die. Of course, he doesn't come right out and say this, because he died the way he lived, shrouded in mystery, but I'd lay money that he knew, and if he did, I bet he was smiling all the way to infinity. Gardens of the Spirit Create Your Own Sacred Spaces by RONI JAY Sterling Publishing $19.95 (hardbound) reviewed by Douglas S Johnson
Gardens of the Spirit
Create Your Own Sacred Spaces
by RONI JAY
reviewed by Douglas S Johnson
Do you have a vision of heaven on earth? Ever wonder how you could bring that vision into reality? If so, then Gardens of the Spirit is for you.
Now, don't let the title fool you. It is not about fertilizing your soul or spreading beauty bark around your heart; it is a detailed and practical guide for setting up a wide variety of beautiful and functional botanical gardens. Don't let the price fool you, either. For the twenty dollars or so that you spend on this book, you get not only useful instruction and enlightening history, but dozens of glossy color pages illustrated with photos of the world's most lovely gardens, a surprising bargain.
Jay gives seven major examples of traditional gardens: Taoist gardens, Zen gardens, Islamic gardens, Medieval gardens, Italian Renaissance gardens, English Knot gardens, and Healing gardens.
Taoist gardens follow the philosophy of Lao Tzu's "Simple Path." They include unobtrusively though carefully placed flowers, rocks, trees, and waterways. They are designed as "a resting place for the eye as well as the body," and many of the ornaments (such as pagodas) and flowers have symbolic significance.
Zen gardens are a bit of a paradox. They are artistic representations that strive to exactly imitate nature. Zen gardens are designed as places for spiritual contemplation and include small evergreen trees, ground-level greenery, rocks, a very few humble flowers, and waterways that flow in natural patterns. Some Zen gardens also include raked gravel, but this is as close to the appearance of artifice that one will see in them.
Islamic gardens often complement major architectural structures, but one need not have the Taj Mahal to construct one. The Islamic garden is much more systematized than Taoist or Zen gardens, with carefully placed gazebos, trees, plants, and shrubs. Such gardens often divide a piece of land into four even squares to represent the quadripartite universe issuing from the center of divine power.
Medieval gardens are even more structured, for they were originally temporary havens for the people of a plague-ridden Europe. Whereas Taoist and Zen gardens "flow," like the Islamic garden, the Medieval variety is based in carefully plotted straight lines: conscientiously placed boundaries, paths, and square flower beds that serve as an ordered comfort in a disordered world.
The Italian Renaissance garden is, if not the most intricate, at least the showiest of all the gardens. In these gardens, artifice is flaunted. Usually set on a hillside, they include stairways, elaborate paths, carefully patterned flower gardens, mounting statuary, and complicated fountains or water devices. If the Zen gardens are intended to pacify with their natural patterns and colors, the Italian Renaissance gardens are meant to stimulate with their rich beauty and brilliance.
The English Knot gardens are by far the most intricate of the gardens, made up of painstakingly contrived shrubbery that is made to form designs as labyrinthine as the imagination and the flexibility of plant life will allow. These designs are usually contained in a surrounding square shape of hedge, giving them a certain order, and they are best placed in view of the manor's (or A-frame's) upstairs window.
Healing gardens are based on the original, which was cultivated by Mount Vernon, Oxfordshire physician Edward Bach. Dr. Bach realized that concentrations of certain herbs can heal or treat a great many physical complaints and was the first great homeopathic doctor. There is no particular arrangement of one's healing plants, but there are certain herbs that are believed to be most beneficial for those born under given astrological signs, so that a Taurus might wish to plant ample supplies of lovage, mint, and thyme.
It must be noted at the last that, as elaborate (and expensive!) as some of these gardens sound, they can be scaled up or down, almost as much as one wishes or can afford. I am currently working on a Zen garden in a fenced area of the yard that is our greyhound's play area. There were already white roses, and so far, everything else has come free: found wood and rocks, a transplant of ivy and moss. If one is imaginative and patient, quality "yin/yang" doesn't have to cost an arm and a leg. Already, there's good chi beginning to form there. I work on my 16x30' garden in the mornings, cultivating my little bit of heaven, and my spirit as well. The dog fertilizes the roses, sniffs the ivy, and digs in the dirt with me. I think he is more at peace, too! Finding True Magic by JACK ELIAS Five Wisdoms Publications $24.95 (paperback) reviewed by Leona Moran
Finding True Magic
by JACK ELIAS
Five Wisdoms Publications
reviewed by Leona Moran
What is true magic? Sogyal Rinpoche says the Tibetan mystic, Terton Sogyal, was not really impressed by someone who could turn the floor into the ceiling or fire into water. A real miracle happens, he said, if someone can liberate just one negative emotion. Most of us would be happy to liberate just one negative emotion for ourselves, and, if we are in one of the many helping professions, for others. Jack Elias' book, Finding True Magic, makes that kind of miracle accessible for professionals and for those seeking personal growth.
True magic, in Elias' perspective, can be found in the basic goodness of each individual. Grounded in uncompromising and unsentimental faith in innate basic goodness, he assembles a wealth of practical techniques that make the magic of healing profoundly inspiring and understandable. He makes simple observations and then explains how they transform and empower the therapeutic process and personal growth.
Finding True Magic is a resource for therapists, a guide for individuals, and the manual for a comprehensive hypnotherapy training course. A radical key to Elias' therapy is his "de-hypnosis" approach. He assumes that therapy's goal should be to wake us up from unnecessary, limiting trances, not simply to make ourselves more comfortable. For example, he states, "Hypnotic processes are redundant...because we are always already in trance," and, "We think we live in the world, but we live in our minds." It seems so simple once you hear it, but recognizing that people are already in trance, that their problem is their trance, and that your job is to help them wake up from the trance, radically alters and empowers therapy.
Elias takes this notion one quantum step further by declaring that the greatest limiting delusion, the most powerful trance distortion we experience, is the sense of being a separate, fearful self. This false-self trance, this "egoic minding process" as he calls it, is the cause of all suffering.
Text, instructions, examples and scripts incorporate and teach the arts of hypnotic communication: trance induction techniques, deep relaxation, pacing and leading, neuro-linguistic processes, vivid use of metaphor, imagery, and more. The whole approach relies on the natural way the mind perceives, interprets, stores, processes, and retrieves sensory information to quickly resolve problems such as phobias, trauma relief, motivation and performance enhancement.
The goal of all these techniques is to accomplish brief therapy that is based in natural mind/body healing capacities that are powerful, deep and transformative. Finding True Magic is a resource that makes this liberating kind of work possible for therapists of a variety of persuasions. It provides unforgettable insights about the role of the helper and illuminates the path of personal growth.
Elias' voice is clear, touching and compelling in these pages, enlivening the text with passion for the material and revealing the depth of his own rigorous honesty and contemplation of the ideas he presents. Direct, articulate, and poetic, his writing invites the reader whether experienced therapist or layperson to embark upon a journey toward awakening. Finding True Magic evokes fresh new understandings and insights with each rereading. WISDOM OF THE EARTH Visions of an Ecological Faith by GORDON MILLER Green Rock Press $19.95 (paperback) reviewed by Douglas S Johnson
WISDOM OF THE EARTH
Visions of an Ecological Faith
by GORDON MILLER
Green Rock Press
reviewed by Douglas S Johnson
In the middle and late 1800s, the literary works of the Transcendentalists extolled the glory of God in the environs of creation, perhaps gaining their highest marks in this regard in Emerson's Nature and Thoreau's Walden Pond. Even in the time of the Transcendentalists, most orthodox religions had lost touch with what Gordon Miller, author of Wisdom of the Earth, calls "the cosmic Christ," and these one hundred years later, those heading up the realm of mainstream Christianity are not much closer to this idea. In fact, in this age of thundering industry and technology, they have no doubt fallen even farther away.
In Wisdom of the Earth, Miller seeks to remind the aspirant of the goodness, and the Godness, of natural creation. Miller's view of God is not only that of the Transcendent Creator, but also that of the Immanent Sustainer. His religion is not limited to the origin and ultimate destiny of humankind, but concerns itself also with the spiritual origin and ultimate destiny of the entire universe.
The layout of the book is quite simple. When one opens Wisdom of the Earth, one finds on the left a passage of Christian writing and on the right a beautiful color photograph illustrating the thought. (These glossy pages boast of the natural glories of northwest Washington, showcasing everything from Mount Rainier and Reflection Lake to a stunning sunrise on Mercer Island.)
In the first half of the book, Miller presents his readers with excerpts from the Old and New Testaments: David's resplendent praise of God's creation, Christ's parable of the birds of the air and the flowers of the field, John's marvelous apocalyptic view of "the world made new," and much more of the Bible's beautiful natural imagery.
In the second half, the reader is presented with passages from the teachings of the early Church fathers: Irenaeus' lyrical tenets concerning the Incarnation of the Word in the manifest universe, Basil of Caesarea's calling for all to listen to "the creative Word still working in the world," John Chrysostom's proclamations of God the sustainer of natural beauty and order, Augustine's admonitions concerning the spirit constantly at work in nature's patterns, and finally, John Of Damascus' ringing exhortation for everyone to love all things of the body and of nature since "God made nothing despicable."
Wisdom of the Earth is truly a delight for the eye, the mind, and the spirit, and will leave the reader refreshed and reassured of God's gentle but eternally capable command of the cosmos. (Miller subtitles this volume "Ancient Christianity" and has made plans for a second book in the same format, this latter concerned with Christian faith in the medieval and modern eras.)
(Green Rock Press, P.O. Box 28129, Seattle, WA 98118) ONLINE reviewed by Elana Lindquist The Ascension Is Life Lived from Joy
reviewed by Elana Lindquist
The Ascension Is Life Lived from Joy
Brilliant insight into how the changes taking place on Earth will create joy and peace in the millennium. "All that is required is for each individual is to begin focusing on, and taking full responsibility for his life. When the majority are living from joy, the planetary experience will have moved into a world of love and oneness."
Links galore leading to organizations monitoring hate groups online as well as to groups that are combating untruths told in the media about religious beliefs.
Help for Health
A concise selection of some of the best sites for health issues, including alternative health sites and local health information for the Seattle area.
A journal exploring dreams and myth, evolving a dream-cherishing culture
A list of all major virus hoaxes.
Elana Lindquist publishes Online Solutions for Success at <http://www.seanet.com/~lindquist>; e-mail <email@example.com> or call (253) 858-7969. MUSIC Flutemania! reviewed by David A. Young VOICES TIM "WINDWALKER" CRAWFORD WindWalker WOMANSPIRIT MARINA RAYE and OLABAYO Native Heart Music PRAY DOUGLAS SPOTTED EAGLE Higher Octave Music WINDS OF DEVOTION R. CARLOS NAKAI and NAWANG KHECHOG EarthSea Records
reviewed by David A. Young
TIM "WINDWALKER" CRAWFORD
MARINA RAYE and OLABAYO
Native Heart Music
DOUGLAS SPOTTED EAGLE
Higher Octave Music
WINDS OF DEVOTION
R. CARLOS NAKAI and NAWANG KHECHOG
What a tribute to the human creative spirit and to Spirit preparing this month's column has been! Of course, every month brings fresh reminders of and appreciation for the musician's art. I remember thinking when I was very young that, since only a finite number of notes exists, surely eventually during my lifetime, I feared all the different combinations of them would be used up and there would be no new songs. Now that I know that it's not just notes but heart and soul that make music, it's an inspiring and humbling task to compare and contrast four of my favorite flute recordings released this year.
A flute's range is somewhat limited, so it is especially telling that each of the five flautists involved in these seemingly similar recordings successfully conveys such different listening experiences through his or her unique musical vision. It is as though each disc has been imbued with the spirit of its creator(s), offering the listener a meditative variation on Microsoft's slogan, "Where do you want to go today?"
Anchorage, Alaska resident (and former student of R. Carlos Nakai see below) Tim "WindWalker" Crawford turns in the most plaintive-sounding set of the bunch, but the melancholy of the music is not directly infectious. Instead, it's the soundtrack to uniqueness, and the isolation one feels as one individuates vibrates to the slow, sure dance of self-discovery rather than the dirge of loneliness (or, as one of my favorite album titles would have it, "the din of inequity").
Crawford punctuates his solo and multi-tracked performances with other organic sounds on occasion, and adds some credible chant to the track "Story Circle." When used, the percussion is highlighted but not overbearing in the mix, although the nature sounds employed from track to track seem somewhat randomly chosen, superfluous, and even distracting at times. For this reason, you may wish to familiarize yourself with this tour-de-force and then handpick a specific track or two to take into meditation with you for specific moods or intentions, taking advantage of your CD player's "repeat" function.
The artist is a talented one (this is his fifth album) and at his best sans gimmickry, a fact made most obvious on my favorite cut, the appropriately titled "Alone." I've renamed it "Alone And Loving It," because it speaks not of the sorrow of separation but the joy of solitude, and most completely crystallizes what I like about the flute's "masculine" voice.
(WindWalker, Box 91492, Anchorage, AK 99509)
Marina Raye has crafted an album using many of the same conventions, but Womanspirit is more of a unified whole and easier to enjoy in one continuous sitting. My inference is that "womanspirit" is the spirit of soaring, for the music never fails to take me higher than I was when I put it on. Drumming and other rhythmic touches (by Nigerian Olabayo) are utilized more consistently on this offering than on Crawford's, but with a restrained subtlety in the mix that gives it the illusion of being muffled despite the high quality of both the recording and the mixing. I have come to think of it as "the breath within the breath," and this phrase alone offers a great place for me to synchronize music and meditation.
It's hard for me to explain why I'd label this "feminine" music, and in attempting to try, I have to admit wondering whether I'm being influenced by the album's title and/or the artist's gender. I prefer to think that it's because it has the earthy warmth of a mother, the purity and clarity of a goddess, the self-assurance and serenity of a crone, and the wide-eyed wonder of a little girl within its considerable depths.
This is Raye's fifth album, too, and evidence of the reasons for her staying power. In it, she has created a seamless work that defies rather than invites (unlike Voices) individual track listenings or even preferences. The flute playing and its accompaniments (musical and natural) flow effortlessly from one song to the next. On first listening, I felt that I was in the presence of something that was always there. After many, I feel that I have the privilege of being connected to something that will always be.
Offhand, I can't think of a better yin/yang balance in flute albums than these two; get them both and experience and celebrate the differences!
(Native Heart Music, Box 6250, Colorado Springs, CO 80934)
With the benefit of a major label (read: big budget) and a vision that sees into the future from a place of respect for the past, Douglas Spotted Eagle delivers a breathtakingly original masterpiece in Pray. He has simultaneously incorporated and turned on its ear all that is traditional in Native American flute music, bringing the sensitivities of the ambient music genre where I never thought they would go but now know they always belonged.
A slow-motion house beat percolates almost imperceptibly under the bulk of the songs, but there's plenty more that makes this foreground music. Given the album's title, the musical mood is appropriately mystical and reverent, but fresh and alive enough to remind one of the relevance the necessity of prayer.
The incantation at the beginning of the disc tricks one into believing that one is in for a conventional Native musical experience, but it turns out that it is merely an invocation prefacing the menu of surprises and delights in store. Although hushed and peaceful, the sounds are not content to be merely "laid back," and would never be confused with anyone else's music. Just when you settle into a preconception suggested by a song's introductory measures, "Spot" (that's his nickname) introduces a didgeridoo or a synthesized riff that snaps you back into attention and awe.
Regardless of whether the accompaniment is stark or rich, plucked or struck, the flute is always out front, always vital, always urging. Because of the delicious contagion of the lead instrument, I can't help visualizing what would have happened had the Pied Piper of Hamlin been leading a band of disparate instruments rather than a parade of mice.
This is the kind of album that causes people, when they hear it, to ask, "Who is that?" before going out to buy it for themselves, but unlike many of those albums, it continues to yield new pleasures after many listenings.
Another truly unique album is Winds of Devotion. The brainchild of recording artist/composer/producer Peter Kater, the project brings together two artists who have been unusually successful at bringing the traditional music of their cultures to a wide audience thanks to the "world music" boom: Native American R. Carlos Nakai and Tibetan Nawang Khechog.
Although this didn't strike me as a pairing as odd as that of, say, Frank Sinatra and Bono, I was still curious how they'd pull it off. The two cultures are far apart geographically, but both have strong integral spiritual components inexorably linked with music, and with the wooden flute in particular.
The answer, in brief, is that they pulled it off brilliantly. It's not "When Worlds Collide"; it's "When Illusions of Separation Evaporate." There are moments when one influence or the other is dominant, but they are brief and purposeful. The overall effect is one of a perfect melding, born not of assimilation but of harmony, literally and figuratively. For a perfect example, check out the second track, "Wisdom," with its insistent, steady drumbeat and its singing bowl keeping time while Tibetan drone backs up Native chant over a brooding cello.
Each of the four tracks lasts exactly a quarter of the album's total 75 minutes, and although the piece is designed as a suite, each movement stands nicely alone, too. This is the third album in EarthSea's Healing Series (it's billed as "an integration of Tibetan and Native American healing traditions in music"), but the first to reach me so deeply. I am ever amazed at what has been accomplished here, especially because what is happening musically is not only rewarding for its own sake but also as a symbol for what is happening in our world.
Traditional prayers of the respective indigenous cultures are woven into the musical tapestry, but it's the music itself that becomes the prayer for the listener. It is a prayer of gratitude, hope, and, yes, devotion. In fact, maybe it is the fulfillment of those prayers, for, to me, it is the very sound of synergy and serenity.