Archive for the ‘Consciousness’ Category

‘What does God do all day long? God lays in a maternity bed, giving birth’

Monday, December 8th, 2014

An interview with author and theologian Matthew Fox on the radical medieval mystic Meister Eckhart and his encouraging message for us today.

by Femke Wijdekop

Why did you decide to write this book, Meister Eckhart: A Mystic Warrior for Our Times?

It’s my third book on Meister Eckhart, but my first one in over 30 years, and in those 30 years, I have learned from teaching Meister Eckhart to thousands of adults how transformative he is, how profoundly he touches people’s hearts and minds. I wanted to explore more deeply why that is so, why he is so relevant to today. And as I put out in the book, I think part of it is that he is so interfaith, that is to say that Buddhists call him a Buddhist and Hindus call him a Hindu, and Sufis call him a Sufi. But in fact he was a Christian but he went so deeply into his experience, his own soul, his own lineage that he went to that place of commonality, of universality, between traditions, and I think we are recognizing that today. With our global village and our rubbing of elbows with Buddhists and Hindus and Christians and Jews and Muslims and more, we have to start thinking more universally and less in sectarian terms. I don’t know anyone that has that kind of voice like Eckhart, living or dead, it’s just uncanny how he is able to speak to people of many traditions over the years.

Yet many people in the mainstream Christian world are not familiar with his teachings, are they?

No they aren’t, because he was condemned a week after he died by the Pope. He died in 1329. And so his work kind of went underground and mainstream Christianity has not taken note of it. He speaks from the depth of experience which is, of course, what mysticism is about, it’s about tasting and experiencing, and he is unique in that regard, in that he is so articulate about the spiritual experience. But you’re right, he has not been hailed by the mainstream. But he has influenced so many people on the edges, who have been powerful, for example Carl Jung. Carl Jung quotes Eckhart over 30 times and says Eckhart gave him the key to the unconscious. Dag Hammerskjold, the Secretary General of the United Nations in the 1950s, who was a great mystic and was Scandanavian, drew heavily from Meister Eckhart. And Larry Dossey, the medical doctor, told me personally that in his library at home he has a whole section on Eckhart and that Eckhart is so important to him. Karl Marx was even influenced by Eckhart according to great Marxist philosopher Ernst Bloch. And in my book I have two chapters on Eckhart and women: Eckhart and the divine feminine. Eckhart was very close to the Beguines, the medieval women’s movement of his time. He is both broad and deep, and that makes him very special and very needed today.


You Review a Local Author: A Journey to the Sea – Francis R. S. Hardie

Friday, June 13th, 2014

Reviewed by Catarina Queiroz

A Journey to the Sea didn’t strike me as an interesting title to start with, and the subtitle A Goddamn Thing or the Unlived Life was too crude for my taste. Nevertheless, after actually reading the book I have to acknowledge that it’s a good combination: The Sea symbolizes the unconscious roots, the depths and the mysteries of the self. If the self never bothers to examine those depths, the pathetic result will be a passive life, an unreal person, an individual that never got around to doing a goddamn thing. Through references to poems, movies, philosophers and poets, this book dares you to reflect on the meaning of your life, or to make your life meaningful, which in the end might turn out to be the exact same thing.

At the heart of Francis Hardie’s argumentation is the Axiom of Maria, an obscure quotation from a 3rd century alchemist: “One becomes two, two becomes three, and out of the third comes the one as the fourth”. Roughly following the interpretation of the psychiatrist Carl Jung, One is the starting point, unconscious wholeness. Two is the differentiation that comes with consciousness or individuality. Three is the effort to solve the conflict or tension between the conscious and unconscious, reaching wholeness again. This resolution is symbolized by Four, which is the same as returning to One. A Journey to the Sea is the journey of the self that goes from passive observer to active entrepreneur of its own life, stepping from conflict to resolution and hopefully reaching wholeness.

Summing things up, I wouldn’t say this book is a masterpiece of existential philosophy, but it has some interesting thoughts and insights into the human condition. If you’re interested in exploring the depths of your being in a witty and somewhat blunt way, with lots of difficult questions and no easy answers, read A Journey to the Sea. You might get bored, or you might get excited with the prospect of actually doing a goddamn thing with your life. Either way, it’s your call.

You Review a Local Author: Books with an orange connection, reviewed by ABC customers.

Francis Hardie presented his book at Meet My Book! in April.  It is sold on consignment at ABC Amsterdam.

Staff Review: Life’s Operating Manual – Tom Shadyac

Thursday, May 15th, 2014

Reviewed by Jilles

Life’s Operating Manual is a great read by a very unexpected author, Hollywood director Tom Shadyac, who is the man behind most of the successful Jim Carey movies like Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, Liar Liar, and Bruce Almighty.

And yes, this book is very entertaining, but also very serious about its subject. Contrary to what the title suggests, this is not a self-help book in the regular sense of the word that tells you how to become happy. This book talks about our society as a product of our collective consciousness and how we are slowly destroying ourselves and the earth. He doesn’t point any fingers at systems or companies, but at values underneath these systems and companies, which makes so much more sense because that brings the responsibility back to us again, to who we are as human beings and what our values are in our life.

The book reads like a spiritual book, but one from the outside in instead of from the inside out which is what you normally get with these titles. Very entertaining and insightful are the dialogues between his ‘love side’ and his ‘fear side’ that end every chapter. These two forces that are part of him are trying to battle out who is right and who is wrong, but in the end that is not the purpose of these dialogues. It is to show a different perspective on ourselves and the world we live in, and to see that we have the power to make different choices.

What makes this book also very personal is that Shadyac shares his own story of having had a brush with death, something that transformed the way he looked at society and the world. It inspired him to make radical changes in his own life. One of the things he did was giving up his mansion and private jet, bought a bicycle and started living in a double trailer. His company started distributing income to what people needed, not what the Hollywood system normally uses. There is more to Tom Shadyac than him just being a funny guy. He is paving the way to a new way of looking at ourselves and our life’s.

Jilles is ABC Amsterdam’s Consciousness and Film & TV buyer, and part of the Windows team that always produces such beautiful displays.  More staff reviews can be found here.

An ebook version of Life’s Operating Manual can be found here.

You Review a Local Author: Ritual: The Magical Perspective – Luc Sala

Wednesday, March 12th, 2014

In January, we started with a new event series: Meet My Book! These events give local authors a chance to present their book to a live audience. Each Meet My Book! author provides 2 review copies that are reviewed by a group of ABC customers who signed up for the You Review a Local Author program.

This inaugural post combines two reviews of Ritual: The Magical Perspective by Luc Sala, who was one of the authors at the very first Meet My Book! in January.  Ritual: The Magical Perspective is self-published and printed at ABC on our Espresso Book Machines.

Reviewed by Catarina Queiroz

In Ritual, the Magical Perspective, Luc Sala defends that rituals are basically practical and effective magic, present everywhere even if we don’t acknowledge them. Through extensive explanations with reference to a large number of different sources that range from philosophers to magicians, Sala addresses the basics of rituals according to his research and personal experience with the spiritual realm.

The first volume points out that, regarding rituals, our focus should be on the magical, the spiritual world, which can be reached once we learn how to let go of our ego and access our true self or inner child. According to Sala, rituals existed before language, myth or religion. They were a decisive factor in the creation of cultural identity and helped prehistoric men build a structured society, thus enabling progress and modern civilization as we know it. The author also attempts to make a connection between rituals and the notion of information, raising some good questions about rituals in virtual environments, cyberspace ethics and information freedom. The second volume is practical and aims to elucidate the theories presented with the study of rituals related to fire.

This is an interesting book if you’re into the theme and are keen to find arguments in favor of the effectiveness of magic. On the other hand, it’s kind of overwhelming in terms of size and references to different thinkers, perspectives and historical moments. The approach is also very personal (the author makes a point of saying so) and I think that without a background on the various references that Sala mentions it’s difficult to have a clear understanding or position about the book. Nevertheless, the author’s intention is clear: it’s urgent that we embrace the magical aspect of life, accepting ritual as a bridge between the material and spiritual worlds.

Reviewed by Richard Metcalf

This is an audacious and thought-provoking work by a fascinating author. In this self-published volume Luc Sala – entrepreneur, would-be politician, psychonaut, and writer – sets out his views on ritual, and examines its role in just about every aspect of the known (and unknown) universe.

Sala claims that – in contrast to a “ceremony”, which has a merely social and psychological function – a proper “ritual” involves a conscious attempt to change the world (both future and past) through an intangible connection to “the otherworld”, and argues that contemporary science (quantum brain, string theory) offers a possible explanation for how this back door to the universe works.

In over 500 large, two-column pages, Sala presents his personal views and theories, together with a survey of other perspectives in an impassioned, rambling style which make it sometimes hard to find the thread of his arguments. There is something rather dubious about such passionate advocacy of the power of the magical arts, and there’s a hint of frustration at an inability to change the world through more conventional means (the author seemingly believes that the “thought police” behind the “Wikipedia website” have it in for him). If rituals can effect real change through magical means, why bother to argue the point? Surely it’s better to spend your time performing those powerful rituals? True enough, in Sala’s definition, the publication of a book could clearly qualify as a series of rituals, but this one might have more impact after a hefty spell of “Wielding the Magical Red Pen”.

Despite these misgivings, there is a huge amount of interesting information here (Timothy Leary, Burning Man, Roger Penrose, Aleister Crowley and Rudolf Steiner all get a mention or three), accompanied by striking illustrations, and it’s certainly worth giving Sala’s multi-faceted perspective some degree of consideration.

Ritual: The Magical Perspective is a relatively long and somewhat frustrating read; but it’s also highly entertaining, and in a way, curiously compelling. (Hmmm… Who knows, perhaps there is some strange magic at work here after all?)

You Review a Local Author: Books with an orange connection, reviewed by ABC customers.

Exploring the Afterlife: An Interview with Julia Assante

Tuesday, November 26th, 2013

“If anyone is going to teach us the value of life and how to live it, it’s going to be the dead”

Exploring the afterlife with dr. Julia Assante: an interview by Femke Wijdekop

Julia Assante is a social historian of the ancient Near East.  She is a well-established scholar with a PhD from Columbia University who lives in Germany and considers ABC Amsterdam one of her favourite places in the world (!). She is also a professional intuitive and medium with more than 30 years of experience in the field of remote viewing, healing arts, afterdeath communication, remembering the future and reincarnational recall.

Combining her scientific knowledge, spiritual insight and experiences as a medium she has written one of the most fascinating books I have read in years: The Last Frontier: Exploring the Afterlife and Transforming Our Fear of Death (ebook availablere here).

Julia, what made you decide to write a book about the afterlife?

Well, the immediate thing was the death of a very beloved friend of mine. I watched his death, I watched him leave his body, I watched the problems he was having getting out – because they kept trying to resuscitate him – and it was the frustration he had trying to get through to me afterwards. I had so many problems – electronic problems – in the house. For 11 days I had these problems: fax machines twittering and the phone ringing, and even the door of my New York City apartment was open in the mornings – that’s scary – lights blinking all that kind of thing. And I knew what it was but I kept avoiding it. I was so busy with his funeral and everything else. And finally I was in the kitchen and he stood there – huge, larger then life. There is a transparency to the dead when you see them that clearly – usually you don’t see them clearly at all. And the look of sorrow and panic that he couldn’t be heard. And finally I acknowledged him – and then the relief, the gratitude, the spread of love – little sparks came of his aetheric body. And we started conversing – I mean really conversing. He was so ‘newly dead’ that you could hear it word for word. It was amazing. It went on for one hour and it was passionate, there was laughter, there was argument, explanation – it was amazing. It was that moment when I vowed to write the book.

So there is a difference between ‘newly deads’ and those who’ve crossed over for a longer period of time?

Well first of all, Michael, the man I’m speaking of, is what I call a ‘loud mind’: he is a good communicator and a terrific telepath. And he was still very orientated towards our side. He was still thinking in sentences, in a way. He was delivering information in sentences. When people are over for a longer period of time, they are delivering telepathic packages, but they are not word packages. Sometimes you can pick out certain words, but in general it’s just that you know what they are saying. It’s a sort of hearing, but not quite.