Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Books -- Day 4

Day 04 – Your favorite book or series ever

'Ever,' when you're 62 years old and have been reading since age 5, is a long time. I don't know. I have had important books in my life at different stages and ages. To call out one as my 'favorite' is pretty nigh on to impossible.

One that definitely contributed hugely to my life as it is today was "A Path with Heart" by Jack Kornfield, an American Buddhist priest and founder of Spirit Rock Meditation Center in Woodacre, CA, Marin County. It's one I probably should re-read and see what it says to me now.

I heard about it in about 1996, when I lived in Birmingham and had just discovered the Internet world. I frequented a chatroom, Syadash, housed on a site that was, shall we say, a more 'adult' oriented site, and certainly didn't expect to find what I did:

A gathering, probably serendipitous but with overtones of predestination, of some of the wittiest, most literary, intelligent people I have ever met, all in one place for a brief period of time. I believe we all needed what we found in that group. It didn't last long, maybe a year, but even today I think of them with every full moon, with every lime I slice, and when I look at the little carved moon talisman that sits on my desk, and I say a little prayer for each of them.

We all had pseudonyms, of course. I ended up meeting at least five of them in 'RT' -- real time -- including two of them who helped me in my move to California.

It was there that I was introduced to Kornfield and Buddhist practice, and I remember reading and sobbing my way through "A Path..," recognizing that I was in good company with my own struggles and doubts within the Christian church. I don't think I read any fiction that whole year -- I read Kornfield, Thich Nat Han and others who were on that path of right thinking, right action, loving kindness. I absorbed "Full Catastrophe Living" by Jon Kabat-Zinn. Slightly off-topic, I read Gail Sheehy's " New Passages" and realized that I was in the throes of huge change that was not unexpected nor a phenomenon. I found a meditation group in Birmingham, unlikely as that may seem with churches that had whole blocks as part of their physical plant, and learned to use meditation as a tool for coping. When I traveled on business to San Francisco for a 10-day training and video shoot, I enjoyed a day-long weekend retreat at Spirit Rock with Kornfield and saw for the first and only time an aura around someone -- him.

That book was quite a transformational experience for me. While I am not Buddhist nor practicing much meditation these days, and reading more beachy fiction than inspirational non-fiction, I was forever changed as a result of that little group of people and the encouragement I found to become my true self.

Thanks to Lacy, Angelfire, gentle one, Graham, Fortune Cookie, Avery, Agassi, North Star, Glory, and so many others whose chat names I can't remember now, but who were there at that magical time. May you be happy, may you be well.


Anonymous said...

I was one of those who frequented the chat room called SYADASH. It made me smile to see names that I remember, i.e., Glory, Graham, Fortune Cookie, etc. Perhaps you may remember a "couple" by the name of Bonnie & DJ. :)

Anonymous said...

I remember the SYADASH, as I was one of those who frequented that site. Bonnie & DJ, were the two people that I remember fondly.