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Wyote (a planet rich in iron and water)

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Way To God
Way To God
by Mohandas Gandhi
Edition: Paperback
24 used & new from CDN$ 1.94

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent excerpts from modern saint, Aug. 2 2001
This review is from: Way To God (Paperback)
So many people admire Gandhi's life and his very visible, political spirituality. His spirituality had deep, Hindu roots, which he explained in many writings. This book is excerpts of those writings, arranged by subject. In the introduction we are told of an incident where a politician told Gandhi that they were both men of God. Gandhi replies, "You are a politician disguised as a man of God. I am a man of God disguised as a politician." The truth of that statement comes out in his writings.
"It is the duty of every human being to look carefully within and see himself as he is, and spare no pains to improve himself in body, mind and soul. He should realize the mischief wrought by injustice, wickedness, vanity and the like, and do his best to fight them."
His life is an example, despite his imperfections, and his teachings are a reliable guide. This is a challenging, gentle, profound book, to be read and re-read later.

Maximus the Confessor
Maximus the Confessor
by Andrew Louth
Edition: Paperback
13 used & new from CDN$ 40.38

5.0 out of 5 stars just trying to even the score some more, Aug. 2 2001
This review is from: Maximus the Confessor (Paperback)
The first reviewer's criticisms might matter if there were a better translation of Maximus' work available. There is not. Maximus is such a brilliant, insightful theologian, he deserves to be read; perhaps I should say contemporary Christians need to read and consider him seriously.
Louth's introduction is indeed superlative.
Perhaps Maximus' most approachable work are his Centuries on Love, available in the Classics of Western Spirituality Series and in the Philokalia, Volume II, edited by Palmer, Sherrard and Ware (but not in Louth's book). Thunberg's works, "Microcosm and Mediator" and the shorter, more accessible "Man and the Cosmos" are the best English works on Maximus (perhaps the best in any language). Another recent scholar, who has translated a number of Maximus' works into English, is Joseph Farrell.

A Diary of Private Prayer
A Diary of Private Prayer
by John Baillie
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 11.69
11 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, a classic indeed., Aug. 2 2001
John Baillie was an Anglican theologian, and evidently not a bad one. But his greatest work was this compilation of prayers. It is arranged into prayers for each morning and evening of 31 days, plus extra prayers for Sundays. The odd-numbered (right-side) pages have the prayers, while the even-numbered pages are empty for your own notes. The prayers are a combination of ancient prayers, various Christian liturgies, Scripture, and Baillie's own writing. It is written in elegant King James English, but it is certainly accessible to anyone who can read.
I can't recommend this highly enough for anyone, in any Christian tradition, wanting to grow in prayer. My God-mother gave it to me, and very quickly I was buying copies for my own good friends. Some of them were buying copies for their friends before long as well. I recommend it very enthusiastically. At least give it a try.

Cao Dai: Faith of Unity
Cao Dai: Faith of Unity
by Hum Dac Bui
Edition: Paperback
16 used & new from CDN$ 31.37

5.0 out of 5 stars an apology for Cao Dai, Aug. 2 2001
This book is a nearly-proselytizing apology for the Cao Dai religion, popular in southern Vietnam. Cao Dai is a fascinating religion, and this is one evidence of it. It includes a conversation between the spirit of Victor Hugo and a Cao Dai leader in 1930, illustrations of symbolic hand gestures and other symbols, common prayers and vows, and Hum Dac Bui's presentation of Cao Dai philosophy. In short, it is an incredible primary source. But if you want an outside perspective, look elsewhere. I've heard that Victor Oliver's book "Caodai Spiritism" is good, but I haven't read it. Joyce Werner's "Peasant Politics and Religious Sectarianism" is a Yale doctoral thesis, an account of the spread and popularity of Cao Dai. Graham Greene considered converting to Cao Dai but became disillusioned; he gives his interesting, humorous perspective in "The Quiet American," which I recommend for literary reasons as well.

Pagodas Gods And Spirits Of Vietnam
Pagodas Gods And Spirits Of Vietnam
by Ann Unger
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 75.00
18 used & new from CDN$ 9.37

5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful pictures, good essay, Aug. 2 2001
This is a coffee-table style book: hundreds of beautiful, color pictures, with a short, informative essay. In fact, the nearly 50-page essay is better than many coffee-table books are. If you're interested in pictures, this is your book. If you're interested in descriptions of beliefs and practices, this is merely an introduction. Unfortunately, I don't know of a good book for that purpopse, although I've looked around both in Vietnam and the United States. Also, this book doesn't cover Hoa Hao, Vietnamese Catholicism or the Montangards' religions at all, and only the most famous Cham and Cao Dai sites.

Lonely Planet Myanmar Burma: Travel Survival Kit
Lonely Planet Myanmar Burma: Travel Survival Kit
by Joe Cummings
Edition: Paperback
20 used & new from CDN$ 0.37

4.0 out of 5 stars good, Aug. 2 2001
This book was useful to me in Myanmar. Joe Cummings is very insightful, and I enjoy his guidebooks (also Thailand and Laos). It's very easy to travel in Myanmar, so you barely need a guidebook. But I met a couple who were traveling without one, and without any other prior knowledge evidently. It seemed to me that they missed a lot, they had no idea what they were seeing, or what people were talking to them about.
Some of the maps aren't exactly accurate, unfortunately. But they're good enough.
Some people hesitate to visit Myanmar because Aung San Suu Kyi has asked people not to support the current government. Actually, visiting Burma helps people a lot, financially and politically. The government is sensitive to foreign opinions. Further, many industries (such as hotels, bus companies and two airlines) have been privatised, so you don't have to support the government at all. But you can get locals in trouble, so keep that in mind if you're used to countries with nearly free-speech.
I think Bago is very under-rated by this guidebook. Spend a day exploring the city with a English speaking guide, and another day visiting the Golden Rock Pagoda on Mt. Kyiaktiyo. These were my two best days in Myanmar. Also, eat from the street stalls; the food is better and it's more fun. Do your best to attend at Nat-Pwe, usually they have one somewhere every week-end. Visit the smaller, more peaceful pagodas in Bagan. Get used to long, punishing, brutal bus rides. And have a great time in a beautiful, hospital, wonderful country!

Lonely Planet Thailand
Lonely Planet Thailand
by Joe Cummings
Edition: Paperback
34 used & new from CDN$ 0.40

4.0 out of 5 stars watch out for some of these reviewers..., Aug. 2 2001
This review is from: Lonely Planet Thailand (Paperback)
Some of these reviewers work for other guidebooks; these guys are pretty unscrupulous, as their guidebooks reveal.
Joe Cummings wrote the Lonely Planet guides to Thailand, Myanmar (Burma) and Laos. His insight into the societies and politics is unsurpassed, and I recommend his guidebooks for that reason alone. (Sometimes LP authors are a little condescending; Joe is not at all. This is important to me.) However, I had the old guide and I recommend you get this newer one (it came out while I was gone).
I didn't give it five stars just because, for Christ's sake, it's a guidebook, not War and Peace.

When Heaven and Earth Changed Places (movie tie-in)
When Heaven and Earth Changed Places (movie tie-in)
by Le Ly Hayslip
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 14.44
90 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars You do not understand the Vietnam war..., Aug. 2 2001
...unless you've read this book. Hayslip is insightful, honest even about her own tragedies and mistakes, and beyond blaming or hating anyone. One of her desires is to help Vietnam war veterans find peace in their own hearts, and I think her book can help. I cannot believe how good this book is, and I strongly recommend it. I read 20 books this summer, and this was easily the best one!

Living Dharma
Living Dharma
by Jack Kornfield
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 27.96
22 used & new from CDN$ 2.56

5.0 out of 5 stars almost the very best source on Theravada Buddhism, Aug. 2 2001
This review is from: Living Dharma (Paperback)
This book records the teachings of 12 Theravada Buddhists, mostly famous ones in their own societies: Achaan Chaa, Mahasi Sayadaw, Sunlun Sayadaw (via a disciple), Achaan Buddhadasa, Achaan Naeb, Achaan Maha Boowa, Taungpulu Sayadaw, Mohnyin Sayadaw, Mogok Sayadaw (via a disciple), U Ba Khin, Achaan Dhammadaro, and Achaan Jumnien. These are basically the most famous meditation instructors in Myanmar (Burma), Thailand and Laos. If you want to learn about Theravada meditation, either for scholarly reasons or to practice, you can't do better than this book without learning their languages.
However, I think it represents a sort of elite perspective on Theravada Buddhism. Many practitioners don't share exactly the spiritualities expressed by these teachers, and I think their practices and beliefs (some would say superstitions) are an important and valuable part of Theravada Buddhism, not to be neglected by either scholars or practioners.

Dimensions of the Sacred: An Anatomy of the World's Beliefs
Dimensions of the Sacred: An Anatomy of the World's Beliefs
18 used & new from CDN$ 25.92

2.0 out of 5 stars I agree, basically, with Christopher Chase, Aug. 2 2001
I found this book nearly impossible to read. I don't think Smart's opinions are as passe as the other reviewer did, though they would have been uncontroversial so long ago. Smart's basic concern seems to be to avoid any kind of controversy. His perspectives are so mundane that they're boring. Further, his train of thought often amounts to hesitant implications rather than arguments.
I think he misunderstands Theravada Buddhism very badly. I wouldn't have thought he was in Eliade's tradition. I've read a lot of Eliade books, but I don't know why the other reviewer said that he was. At any rate, Eliade's books are all much better than this. In short, I can't imagine why anyone would want to read this book. Instead, I recommend books by Mircea Eliade, Huston Smith, Solomon Nigosian, William James, Karen Armstrong, Evelyn Underhill, Levi-Strauss, Rudolph Otto, Mary Douglas, Clifford Geertz... nearly anyone...

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