BOOK REVIEW (actually more of my experience with a book):
Beauty as a State of Being: Mastering Mind and the Spiritual Path by Solomon Katz
Received as an ebook from Speakeasy for review
I like books. I don’t have oodles of time for reading so I usually choose books I know I will like. So, it felt like an adventure to apply to Speakeasy. They offer books (in Canada, ebooks) in exchange for honest reviews. This is the first book I picked.
Katz comes from a religious tradition he names as “neti, neti” – not this, not that. Versed in several traditions, he outlines a spiritual path through negative-thinking, positive thinking, and no-thinking.
I was reading the no-thinking chapter waiting in a garage for snow tires. Hardly a conducive spot for meditation, but something ‘caught’ for a moment and I had a brief sense of the “no two-ness, no within or without” that he described.
“There is no without. There is no duality, no two-ness, no within and without. What appear to be outside the body is still within Consciousness. So the seeming “outer” world in all its glory – earth, trees, lakes, rivers, people, cities, sky, stars – is also the majesty within, taking myself as Being/Consciousness within which everything appears.” – page 222 (iBook reader)
I felt it. For a moment. Looking out the window at all the glory I could see. That non-dual consciousness that has been part of my reading and and meditating in the last few years.
The book is drenched in story, metaphor and “elegant” poetic writing. It was more burdensome in the early chapters but in No-thing, my favourite section, it was helpful. I knew if I didn’t catch something (and I didn’t catch it all) I could keep reading and I would ‘get it’ in another form.
A frequently used saying stays with me:
“If you can work yourself, you can work your self down.” (pg. 119) If you can create anxiety by thoughts of catastrophe, you can create calm by thoughts of peace. This was from the Positive Thinking chapter.
He suggests many practices. Here is one I use since reading it: Using the breath as a way of focus and creating distance from the content of thought, when the “mind is haywire”, he says.
Breaths can also be counted, usually on the outbreath, inwardly saying ‘one’ on the first outbreath, ‘two’ on the second, up until ten and then starting over. (pg. 194)
And there are some beautiful passages that are guided meditations. You can read or listen to them on his website.
So, I finished the book and just within 30 days. And I’m grateful. It’s not every book that can transform waiting for snow tires into a wonder experience.