Saturday, October 30, 2010

So many books, so little time....

Grimmly turned to The Ramayana, and Boodiba is thinking about giving it shot. (I love the audio version, read by Ram Dass). I recently re-re-re-read How to Know God: The Yoga Aphorisms of Patanjai, and started on Volume One of The Upanishads. That should keep me busy for a few years.

I also like to thumb through Swami Sivananda's Self Knowledge, although it can leave me feeling a bit unworthy (hence the small doses).

Before bed, I'm re-reading Chandra Om's The Holy Science of Yoga.

But the book that's captivating me at the moment is Radhanath Swami's The Journey Home: Autobiography of an American Swami.

It combines a few of my favorite things:

Memoir + entertaining story + lessons and information about the Science of Yoga.

In other words, it is a painless, engaging read that one does not have to feel guilty about enjoying.

Plus the author is Richard Slavin, a former hippie who was born in Chicago and grew up in Highland Park before making the hellish trip overland from Europe to India, via the Middle East, in 1970. In India, he lived as a wandering renunciant, meeting a who's-who of holy people (including Mother Teresa, the Dalai Lama, S.N. Goenka, Neem Karoli Baba, Swami Satchidananada, Swami Muktananda and Ananda Mayi Ma) before committing to his Guru, ISKCON founder Swami Prabhupada.

Some of the stories are rather fantastic; I heard the swami speak at YogaNow a couple of weeks ago, and he is quite a charming raconteur.

Not that there's anything wrong with that. The lessons he learns in the book are real - and those of us on the path need all the help we can get.

Here's a brief excerpt:

"In every spiritual path, there are those who are true and those who are false. Saintliness is not determined by one's title, dress, hairstyle or place of residence. This man, for example, had the title of swami, a shaved head indicating he had renounced worldly pleasures, and the robes of a sadhu. Yet he'd tried to exploit me to satisfy his own carnal desire. Real saintliness should be understood by a person's behavior. Exerting one's spiritual authority to exploit the innocent is a grave injustice. I prayed that this incident would not create doubt in my my mind towards sincere devotees."

I'd like to submit that when it comes to saintliness, gender too is largely irrelevant.


  1. C.K.

    Always interested in books and book reviews. Let’s have some more. I’ll check out the Richard Slavin book. What you quoted reminds me of one I just finished – The Great OOM – by Robert Love.

    Ralph from DeKalb

  2. Dear Ralph,

    Your book sounds interesting.

    I often do reviews for Yoga Chicago:
    Click here for a list.

    See you Saturday!