I loved this book and want to encourage everyone to read it. It presents a simple but ultra powerful practice that can make all the difference in your life. It can jumpstart your spiritual progress. I give it 5 stars.
We read this together with our book discussion group, and suggest it for yours. After reading this, we thought differently and responded differently to situations. One even said it changed her thinking enough to become her new favorite book. This response is similar to why this book got on my list to read to begin with: one of you dear blog readers insisted that I read it. So I (we) did– albeit years later– and I’m so glad for the suggestion.
The author tells many stories in this book which will stay with the reader. There is one asking a drowning man how badly he wanted to breathe, and then asking us in comparison, how much do we actually want what we say we do? Another story tells of a priest sanctimoniously teaching some uneducated holy men the Lord’s prayer, and later the holy men come walking over the water to the priest’s boat asking for help remembering the words. There is also a story about a healthy concentration captive who was not gaunt like the rest of his bunkmates because, even though he had witnessed the Germans kill his wife and children, he made the choice to refuse to hate them.
As an example of “you get what you give,” there is a pertinent analogy about two types of birds, one of negative thoughts, another of positive thoughts. Whenever you send out a good thought, there is an available perch for a good thought from elsewhere to come home and roost with you. However, whenever you send out a bad thought, the same is true. If you send out no bad thoughts, there is nowhere for bad thoughts to come your way and find shelter with you.
This book references an exceptionally wide range of spiritual traditions in discussing the over arching spiritual laws included in them all. The author is approachable, experienced, and open to all the ways blessing can change our world. He presents this work in such a way that you realize, you can actually do this, and you want to, not just for a while but for the rest of your life.
Here are some bits:
- “If you find the explanation of this law difficult to accept, take it simply as a working hypothesis to test in your life. Do not accept anything this book speaks about until you have proved it for yourself.”
- “Blessing is not something we do to attract good into our life; that would be attempting to manipulate the universe. However, the result will be that you will find more and more harmony pouring into your life. You will find greater peace of mind, greater poise.”
- “No one can be our enemy (or a total bore, or a pain in the neck, or whatever unflattering names we occasionally feel like applying to others) unless we ourselves stick such a label upon them. Ultimately, no outside event, encounter, or person can harm us unless we give it the power to do so. This is because all of life is a subjective process of interpretation and definition. Absolutely everything that happens to us in life, everything we are aware of, is filtered through our consciousness, our perception. An event– in itself– does not exist. We interpret all events, all encounters, every single sensual impression. You might say that in this way each person creates his or her own reality, every day, at every single moment.”
- “After a life of carefully observing human behavior in many cultures, I have come to the conclusion that a spirit of judgment (with its divisions of labeling, cheap criticism, and above all the habit of comparing people and their achievements) represents the social evil par excellence. Judgment entertains fear in all areas, kills spontaneity and creativity, crushes joy in its claws, feeds gossip and the spreading of murderous tidbits of personal opinion, poisons hearts and minds, sows doubt. If you ever, even for a few days, had the opportunity to live with others in an atmosphere devoid of all criticism and judgement, where you were accepted unconditionally just as you are, with your strengths and weaknesses, you are aware of what an extraordinary experience this is. Creativity, joy, and spontaneity burst forth, hearts open, trust and self-confidence blossom.”
- “In its deepest meaning, blessing means understanding and rejoicing that the being we are blessing is in a state of grace, of total freedom and innocence in front of our Creator, and that this being’s cup overflows, as Psalm 23 states.”
- “…changes in our thinking may change what we see.”
- “…one can only be a prisoner of one’s self-image…”
- “…chance becomes God’s way of staying anonymous…”
The Gentle Art of Blessing is a delight to not only read, but especially to do. Don’t deny yourself the immense blessing of it.