Into the magic shop : a neurosurgeon's quest to discover the mysteries of the brain and the secrets of the heart
Growing up in the high desert of California, Jim Doty was poor, with an alcoholic father and a mother chronically depressed and paralyzed by a stroke.
Today he is the director of the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education (CCARE) at Stanford University, of which the Dalai Lama is a founding benefactor.
But back then his life was at a dead end until at twelve he wandered into a magic shop looking for a plastic thumb. Instead he met Ruth, a woman who taught him a series of exercises to ease his own suffering and manifest his greatest desires. Her final mandate was that he keep his heart open and teach these techniques to others. She gave him his first glimpse of the unique relationship between the brain and the heart.
...But he neglects Ruth’s most important lesson, to keep his heart open, with disastrous results—until he has the opportunity to make a spectacular charitable contribution that will virtually ruin him. Part memoir, part science, part inspiration, and part practical instruction, Into the Magic Shop shows us how we can fundamentally change our lives by first changing our brains and our hearts.
An absent mind : a novel
Seventy-one, and a man accustomed to controlling those around him, Saul finds himself slipping into what he describes as his slow dance with death.
His ramblings, humor, emotions, lucid moments, and confusion are laid bare, as well as the thoughts and feelings of his loved ones: his wife, Monique, conflicted and depressed, caring yet angry; his daughter, Florence, compassionate, yet proper and reserved; his son, Joey, self-centered and narcissistic, seemingly indifferent to his family's challenges; and his doctor, an Alzheimer's specialist, who cares for Saul until his final days. From the beginning Saul and his family know how it has to end, because no one has ever outsmarted Alzheimer's. But as they navigate the meandering road that will eventually bring Saul's demise, they leave behind their once disconnected lives and come together to weather their difficult journey.
Option B : facing adversity, building resilience and finding joy
Opening the door of your heart
During his wanderings and work over the last 30 years as a Buddhist monk, Ajahn Brahm has gathered many poignant, funny and profound stories. While traditional Buddhist philosophy is at the heart of this collection, these thoughtful stories are written like playful parables, which are used to launch into a deeper exploration of subjects such as mindfulness, suffering, forgiveness, hope, wisdom and unconditional love. Told with wit and good humour, they reveal moments of compassion in the lives of ordinary people and the timeless wisdom of the Buddha's teachings.
book review: I can't praise this book highly enough. Firstly, let me say I have no interest in pursuing Buddhism (or any other religion), and I am also not the type to be found in the "self-help" section. But this book is a thing of absolute beauty. On the two occasions I've read through it - firstly whilst going through a messy breakup in 2008, and again recently whilst confronted with a different flavour of awful - different stories have jumped out at me and helped me find peace. Reading it really is like having a calm, endlessly patient and understanding friend in the room, and I never say this, but I actually would recommend this to everyone. Yes, everyone!
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