Tuesday, February 9, 2016

A Review of The Yoga of Max's Discontent by Karan Bajaj

Based on bestselling novelist and spiritual teacher Karan Bajaj’s own experience, The Tao of Max’s Discontent, takes the reader on a breathtaking and often brutal journey in search of spiritual transformation—the dissolution of one’s sense of self and union with universal (or divine) consciousness.

Bajaj’s giant-sized protagonist Max Pzoras, shaken by his mother’s untimely death from cancer at the age of forty-nine encounters Viveka, a scantily clad East Indian food-cart seller whose experience living among yogis 20,000 feet high in the Himalayas intrigues him. Driven to make sense of his life and to attain what Viveka explains as the “un-born, un-aging, un-ailing, sorrowless, and deathless state” of immortality Max begins to investigate such a journey. 
When he learns of a South American yogi living high up in the Himalayas who teaches a method of yoga that leads to the end of suffering, Max impetuously leaves his job to seek this yogi. 

Gripped already by Bajaj’s gift as a story teller, this reader avidly followed Max as he confronted ordeals and disappointments bound to shatter many a spiritual seeker. Despite his focused effort to reach Nirvana, Max remains endearingly human. He might be living as the student of the great yogi guru Ramakrishna, but he is beleaguered by guilt for having abandoned loved ones in order to pursue his own goals. Starvation, intense cold, debilitating heat, exhaustion, fear, regret and anger threaten to overwhelm him as he continues his journey. 

Driven by the belief that his purpose in this life is to lose himself within the divine, Max continues his journey, experiencing intense love of and union with all of creation as his sense of self dissolves and union with the divine consciousness consumes him. 

The Yoga of Max’s Discontent is Bajaj’s brilliant and riveting meditation on the quest for spiritual insight and transformation. I couldn’t put it down.

Monday, February 1, 2016

A Review: Dog Medicine: How a Dog Saved Me from Myself

Chances are most Americans know someone suffering with depression or have grappled with it themselves. Julie Barton, a bright and talented young woman on the cusp of a successful career in publishing, woke one morning on her kitchen floor, the room filled with smoke from the meal she’d been preparing the night before when she lost consciousness. Terrified, she crawled to the phone and called her mother, convinced she’d had a nervous breakdown. Thus begins Barton’s powerful depiction of the catastrophic depression that unraveled her life until an adopted puppy called Bunker released the love that would eventually help her heal. Behind Barton’s depression lurked memories of the violent physical and verbal abuse to which her older brother subjected her and which her parents failed to address. Convinced she was the stupid ugly loser he said she was, she thought of herself in those terms and continually berated herself with those words. Caring for Bunker, however, taught her to forgive and trust herself. When a medical condition elicits a doctor’s suggestion to put him down, Julie she asserts her belief in his life, obtaining for him costly surgery to correct his bone deformities. In nursing Bunker to health, in saving Bunkers life, in giving him a better life she achieved the strength to save herself. Dog Medicine celebrates the reciprocal sharing that can occur between man and dog. It’s an exquisite testimony to the power of that love to heal. 

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Don't pick it up. It might be a snake.

Today, the first completely sunny comparatively warm day, my husband rode his bike through Okeeheelee Park in West Palm Beach Florida, while I walked the exercise course several times. I’d made a recent resolution to be attentive to my surroundings (actually I’ve made numerous such resolutions, this being the most recent) so as I traversed the park I focused on the cedar trail itself. Doesn’t sound very interesting does it? As I normally look everywhere but down while walking, looking down is a novel experience. An exercise my husband advises me to do each time I trip on a rock or branch.

Composed of cedar chips, the exercise course offers a huge variety of cedar chip shapes and sizes as well as the cones and needles that fall from surrounding pines. If these pose obstacles to walkers, I pick them up and toss them onto the side of the path. Encountering a beautifully shaped twig of some sort, I bent to pick it up to examine before tossing (maybe it would be something to collect) I noticed square markings down its length.  As it was less than a foot long, I didn’t think snake. But snake it was, making me very glad I was exercising attentiveness. I squatted down to observe it more carefully as it lay without moving on the cedars, determined to look up Florida snakes on the internet to determine its identity. The Florida Museum of Natural History offers an excellent guide to identifying snakes. A check the box kind of aid: “Is the snake banded?” “Is the snake blotched?” “Is the snake cross banded?” “Are its colors uniform?” and so on.

I learned my snake was a common brown water snake that fully grown averages between 25-60 inches. The snake I saw was less than a foot long, the size of a newborn which runs from 7-11 inches long with hatching season from June to October, but this is February. Then I read that though harmless, it is often killed because it resembles a Copperhead . . .?????

Friday, January 22, 2016

It's raining yet they're out there

Today, as huge snow storms hurtle toward the north eastern states, southern Florida is touched by the merest edge. It is even warm, 72 degrees, but we are told to expect high winds and rain, lots of it. I look out our kitchen window and see rain pelting off the tennis courts, but on the golf course greens elderly men swing their clubs and a condominium employee mows the lawn. Perhaps they've given up on the sun. Decided to make the best of what is. Meanwhile, my husband has pulled shut the hurricane shutters and darkened the apartment.