Book List 2013

Siddhartha
You cannot discover the truth about yourself through the teachings of others, only through your own experience.

Wisdom is not communicable, only knowledge.

From Me to We
Our ‘progress’ has failed to lead us where we want to go, due to false perceptions.

Self-awareness is directly linked to self-control, a vital ingredient for pursuing positive change and avoiding dysfunctional behaviour.

We Are All Weird
Try to please everyone and you will fail.

And… people identify far too much with the crap that they buy.

 

The Natural Step Story
If you try to change established norms and don’t encounter resistance, something is fundamentally wrong.  Also, humans are very good at looking after themselves and each others if they are given, or give themselves, the freedom to reflect on and influence their own situation.

To Have or To Be?
A new society can only come with a profound change in the human heart.

Otherwise, the new will just recreate the conditions of the old version.

 

My Ishmael
Civilised people are considered not to need to learn how to survive on their own.

Schools aren’t there to prepare children for self-directed lives, but to regulate the flow of young competitors into the job market.  Business is valued over people.

 

Monoculture
A dominant and rigid Economic Story has evolved.  It demands conformity and discipline, while life requires diversity and freedom.

There is a choice between following our own values or the monoculture’s values; each exacts a different toll.

21 hours
Materialism and economic growth promise satisfaction but actually promote a cycle of dissatisfaction and damage.  Working too much is a key element.  Switch from economic growth to human growth to reverse the cycle.

Your Money or Your Life
We earn money in exchange for life energy, so use life energy wisely.

Over-exchanged life energy leads to stress, dysfunction and dangerous strain on social and ecological systems.

 

On Disobedience
Freedom and the capacity for disobedience are inseparable, but we have grown to equate disobedience with sin.

Disobedience is an act of affirmation, obeying your own authority rather than someone else’s.

Coming Home to Story
Storytelling can bring the ‘life world’ into the ‘system world’, by calling into question the unspoken assumptions about power and purpose that drive institutions, and getting people to relate to each other more like humans, and serve more human needs.

 

Punished by Rewards
Control breeds the need for more control, and only achieves compliance, not values.

Motivation can’t be ‘done’ to someone, all that can be done is to create the conditions for motivation: make the work meaningful, bring people into the process, support their autonomy.

On the Shortness of Life
“Some men, after they have crawled through a thousand indignities to the supreme dignity, have been assailed by the gloomy thought that all their labours were but for the sake of an epitaph.”

 

Bring Me the Rhinoceros
A book of guided Zen koans.  I read most of it in contented bafflement, but then one koan got me, and got me good: “There is nothing I dislike”.

I think by the end I began to get what a koan is…

 

How to Change the World
A little is enough, take small steps and enjoy them in their own right without focusing on the future too much.

Refuse to undermine anyone around you; to solve external conflict involves resolving internal conflict that poisons our thoughts and feelings.

Imagine: How Creativity Works
Unless we encourage creativity by addressing how our culture inhibits it, we’ll find it increasingly difficult to find solutions to our increasingly complex problems.

The process of encouraging creativity sounds like a lot of fun – muck around messily.

 

The Miracle Of Mindfulness
I am typing on my keyboard. I am summarising a book about mindfulness. Oops I just checked my email.  OK…  I am typing on my keyboard again.

“A person who looks at a table and can see the universe is a person who can see the way.”

Impro
Children are not immature adults.  Adults are atrophied children.

We struggle against our imaginations, especially when we try hard to be imaginative.

 

Why Do You Overeat?
Stored fat is made of fat bonded to sugar.  Fat is only stored when insulin is released.  Insulin is only released when there’s sugar in the blood.  Sugar in the blood only comes from carbs.

So eat real food, lots of nutritious fat, no empty processed carbs, and avoid eating carbs and fat together, so there are no conditions to store fat.  Boom!

Outdoor Survival Handbook
To save the planet, perhaps you can set up a business or begin an online movement.

Or maybe the most effective thing to do is to go to the woods, build a shelter, build a fire and sit amongst the trees for a while.

Permaculture in a Nutshell
The technical solutions to our problems are easy.  But it’s the human solutions we need to be concerned about.  Dealing with human emotions like greed and fear is complicated, and is what prevents us from making progress.

P.S. the Earth and everything on it is one single living organism

The Power of Myth
Living in terms of the system you’re in rather than in terms of yourself makes you a robot, a bureaucrat rather than a human.  The world is full of people not listening to themselves.  Myths inspire the possibility of recognising values in your life that are not confined to the maintenance of the body or the economic concerns of the day.  The necessary changes are not outward, but inward, and everyone needs to work this out themselves.

The One-Straw Revolution
What. A. Book.  The greater one’s desires, the greater one has to work to satisfy them.

The clamour of desire and the activity of the intellect crowd out nature’s subtle voice.  Joy and happiness are lost in the attempt to possess them.

Religions, Values, and Peak-Experiences
Maslow – often talked about, but only his hierarchy. Man has a higher and transcendent nature, and this is part of his essence.  Too much materialism, a mechanistic approach and the idolatry that comes from taking important symbols too literally makes him unable to experience beauty or operate from this “higher” self.

The Naked Ape
To forget or deny that we are animals is to delude and fundamentally misunderstand oneself.  But we do this, as we have a very complex and recently evolved culture, but carry the same primitive biology that has had no chance to catch up.

This inevitably leads to confusion and conflict – inside and outside.

Journey of the Universe
Matter is not passive.  Over the course of 4 billion years, molten rocks transformed themselves into water voles and dandelions.  But the way our culture has structured the world and altered its evolutionary dynamics, and it’s no longer just about biology, but about our actions.  By isolating ourselves from natural rhythms we are threatening the system we have forgotten we depend on.

 

Stories of the Great Turning
Inner and outer struggles, including the emotional ones, have to be faced again and again, with increasing resilience and also love.  Any move to challenge a tightly-held self-image may involve a profound self-confrontation, which is a fundamental part of a shift in consciousness.  There is no set lamguage to describe this path, and no map; you can just walk.

Instinctive Fitness
Modern lifestyles have confused and corrupted our deepest human instincts; losing touch with them has been a great mistake and the source of many problems.  And also a source of unfortunate personal loss, as spontaneous playfulness provides the spark of creativity, and great joy.

 

The Spell of the Sensuous
The civilised mind feels itself separate from bodily nature, and this allows us to deny or repress our interdependence with the living, non-human world.

The way forward does not lie in regressing to being cavemen again, but in rediscovering our ability to embrace and experience the sensuous natural landscape, and combining this rapport with our brain-driven rationality.

The Disobedience of the Daughter of the Sun
We become adults and discover our art through our painful losses, not our slick wins.

There is no such thing as safety; parents would do better to resist the urge to meddle and prevent, and instead to allow their loved ones to get blown to bits, and be there to help them put themselves together, again and again.

Wild: An Elemental Journey
It really is fine to find nature extremely erotic.

 

Long Life, Honey In The Heart
Human beings consist of unsolvable imperfections which can be chosen either to be beautiful or ugly.  The way these imperfections are portrayed and dealt with in a society will decide which one it is.

Mayan culture is a rich example of how being human can be beautiful.

Where Did You Go? Out. What Did You Do? Nothing.
True childhood adventure canonly be found in unstructured time.

There is a big difference between doing nothing and being bored.

 

The Earth Speaks
We are selfish children who cannot control our appetites.

We have developed a sterile preoccupation with things that are artificial, alienating us from the sources of our strength.  Nature heals us.

 

The Book: On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are
Judges rely on crooks in order to exist.  Love relies on a dose of selfishness, mysticism with materialism, with the positive pole ideally having the edge.

Through their angelic actions, angels evoke devils to restore the balance, as man is both.

The Wisdom of Insecurity
To want to be secure in life is to want to be separate from it.  The desire for security and the feeling of insecurity are the same thing.

Only through uncertainty can you discover anything new; certainty can only involve repetition.

 

The Hunger Games
If your every moment wasn’t spent hunting and scavenging in order to allow your survival, if food could be delivered with the press of a button, what would you DO with your time?

 


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