An Invaluable Resource on a Major Stream of Buddhist Thought, Experience, and Practice

The Three Pillars of Zen: Teaching, Practice, and Enlightenment by Philip Kapleau

4/5

This is a book that, I think, people will come to having already cultivated a degree of awareness of some of the forms of Buddhism, and of their philosophies and approaches to practice. They may currently be developing their own practices and have even attended some sesshins.

Maybe they’re experiencing some dissatisfaction with aspects of this present practice and are looking for guidance in order to improve its course and correct their path. Maybe, in the absence of access to sesshins, other practitioners, or a teacher, they are looking for an alternative, substitute support system. Maybe they want to compare their practice with the form of Zen detailed here – to adapt or see if there is anything worth cherry-picking, adopting, and incorporating, which may make it more satisfying and rewarding.

If it is approached in this way, with a discerning mind formed of experience and direct knowledge, there is a lot that can be got, and maybe dismissed (until a later date?), from this book.

As many of us will approach this text within our own frames of experience and knowledge, it is up to the individual reader to distinguish between the good and the bad, the correct and the incorrect. Suffice to say that I did find much here to assist me in my own practice, both to correct and affirm certain aspects of it, and to complement my experience. And while there are aspects here that don’t speak to me at my present level of progress, who knows how this may be reframed as experience continues to evolve? Subsequently, I do consider this book an invaluable resource to have and to have had recourse to.

Whether you adopt or dismiss, there is a lot of well presented insight here from convincing sources, which a mind already on some kind of Buddhist or mindfulness path will find very rewarding and will get a lot from. It is easy to see why this book has been so popular for so long and why it is considered a classic in many circles. And while I feel, due to it being more of a text for people already on the path, it is not as transformative, life-changing, or revelatory as maybe other Buddhist or philosophic works, it still comes highly recommended from me.

Clarity, Intelligence, Integrity

Anarchism - A Collection of Revolutionary Writings

Anarchism: A Collection of Revolutionary Writings by Peter Kropotkin

4/5

‘Anarchy,’ a non-dispassionately abused and confused term, used as a tool to stoke fear and perpetuate the institutions it threatens. In a world of misinformation and misappropriation, a collection of writings by one of anarchism’s better known proponents offers clarity.

Polemical, yes, being, as it is, a collection of writings issued in pamphlet form or for public performance. But there are sufficient enlightened gems sparkling throughout to arouse a spirit laid dormant by the fear and apathy engendered by institutional indoctrination.

Being conditioned, as the majority of us are, to evermore elaborate and convoluted linguistic and discursive contortions built out of an imperative to obscure a central deceit – a fundamental faultline underpinning an ideological foundation – its straightforward, accessible, even ‘commonsense’, style may in some ways work against it as appearing akin in tone and style to the simplistic, populist, reactionary tracts that pollute so much popular discourse.

As an open philosophy created for and by us all, its analyses and conclusions are inherently accessible in nature, and apparently self-explanatory – but they are satisfying; being built upon a body of rigorous thought, observation, and experience, it robustly withstands and negotiates intellectual and academic scrutiny.

As a platform for political action, it may or may not convince: that is for you to decide. However, if this book does nothing more than demystify what ‘anarchism’ represents, which it does with clarity, intelligence, and integrity, then that is reason enough to recommend it in this world of misinformation and misappropriation.

Great Adaptation for Polish (and English) Language Learners

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Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
Alicja w krainie czarów adapted by Scotia Victoria Gilroy

5*/5

As an adaptation and translation, I felt the vibe of the original Alice story, and found myself laughing and smiling throughout. I can happily say, therefore, that this was a job very well done and performed with care to the source material, allowing me to confidently recommend this to Polish language learners at around the B1/Lower Intermediate+ level who may be interested in improving their skills while enjoying an adaptation of a classic tale that talks to rather than down.

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*Of course, this mark reflects my opinion on this as an adaptation and translation rather than as a piece of literature.

Simple Things

Zlechov to Kyjov: Saturday 08 July 2017

7:20am.

Keep thinking I’m in Italy.

Cracking night’s sleep. Was it the fact that we slept snugly amongst the huddled orchard trees – apricots, walnuts and nie-wiems? Was it feeling less at risk of exposure to accidental humans stumbling across us?

Probably.

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This was stealth camping. Great spot.
Just outside Zlechov.
The town that doesn’t accept cards.

I’m in Czechia.

On we go…

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What was I thinking bringing The Communist Manifesto as optional reading? I’ve read it – on more than one occasion – and found the statist conclusions, if not the analysis, clearly wanting on each of them. Some kind of reminder of a path not to follow? Some kind of continuity and grounding within this venture in liberation? Whatever, an inflatable-mattress-mate this does not make. Do widzenia.

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1:33pm. Kyjov (three hours since we set off).

Emotions rose to the surface outside Borsice.

“Let’s go this way.”
“But where are we?”
“This way.”
“But where the fuck are we?!”

Need coffee. Food.
Czechia doesn’t accept cards widely.

On.

“No.”

 

And on.

 

“No!”

 

“Fuck it!
let’s just get to Kyjov.”

And

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The Holy Grail
a cash machine.
“Let’s go and eat somewhere!”

Three hours after setting off, six hours after getting up, we can eat and drink properly ☹️

Lovely town, though. Lovely.

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Six days in a row riding. Three days in a row under canvas. That’s a lot for us, in our first week – technically, the second day of the second week, but, well … though our morale is good and spirits are high, our tempers are quite short when the simple things – ‘the simple things’ – don’t go our way.

I guess that’s good: if it were the major things like camping or riding the bikes that were a problem, that may be a more significant issue.

But hassles

– ensuring we’re always carrying enough cash in local currency
– acquiring a hard copy of a map of the country and local area asap, so you have a
good idea of your general geographical position, not just your specific location

are just simple logistical details.

But ones that can have a huge impact on the quality of your day; as those little hassles can become major inconveniences when you’re just trying to pedal from one place to the next.

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