Powerful, persuasive encouragement toward better and wiser loving.

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A spirited analysis of the concept of love and romantic relationships.

In his debut nonfiction work, Hakim tackles the very nature of love and its “four great enemies”: violence, pettiness, vanity, and what he calls a mindless, automatic “reproductive agenda.” He’s quick to stress that these enemies come from within each one of us: “Out of fear, confusion, or habit, we have convinced ourselves that a small or large dose of them is necessary for our survival,” he writes. “Without them, we feel naked, unbearably vulnerable.” His literate, straightforward narrative proposes to counter them with four cardinal virtues, reinforced by the Shambhala Buddhist tradition in which the author grew up: gentleness, grace, charm, and mystery, along with their parallels: meekness, perkiness, outrageousness, and inscrutability. Hakim takes his readers through a highly detailed, levelheaded exploration of these concepts, fleshing them out with references to a wide array of sources and inspirations, from the Hawaiian forgiveness ritual of Ho’oponopono to the writings of the Tao Te Ching to the wisdom of the Star Wars franchise’s Yoda. In many ways, the cry of medieval troubadour Bernard de Ventadour, quoted here, provides the raison d’être of the book: “Ah God! If one could distinguish sincere lovers from fakes, and if flatterers and cheats wore horns on the forehead!” Similarly, Hakim’s work aims to help readers make their way through a confusing thicket. One of its hallmarks is its engagingly direct focus on relationship essentials, such as earnestly listening to one’s lover, looking at him or her directly in the eye, and resolving disputes with affection and understanding. This genuinely helpful relationship book reads smoothly and quickly, propelled by often graceful prose: “Having overcome violence, we possess great gentleness,” the author writes in a typical passage. “Having overcome pettiness, we have grace. As a further extension of the drive toward greater humanity, we come powerful, charming.”

Powerful, persuasive encouragement toward better and wiser loving.

Pub Date: April 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-9981553-0-2

Page Count: -

Publisher: Wise Love Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 28, 2017



This a book of earlier, philosophical essays concerned with the essential "absurdity" of life and the concept that- to overcome the strong tendency to suicide in every thoughtful man-one must accept life on its own terms with its values of revolt, liberty and passion. A dreary thesis- derived from and distorting the beliefs of the founders of existentialism, Jaspers, Heldegger and Kierkegaard, etc., the point of view seems peculiarly outmoded. It is based on the experience of war and the resistance, liberally laced with Andre Gide's excessive intellectualism. The younger existentialists such as Sartre and Camus, with their gift for the terse novel or intense drama, seem to have omitted from their philosophy all the deep religiosity which permeates the work of the great existentialist thinkers. This contributes to a basic lack of vitality in themselves, in these essays, and ten years after the war Camus seems unaware that the life force has healed old wounds... Largely for avant garde aesthetes and his special coterie.

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 1955

ISBN: 0679733736

Page Count: 228

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1955


A very welcome instance of philosophy that can help readers live a good life.

A teacher and scholar of Buddhism offers a formally varied account of the available rewards of solitude.

“As Mother Ayahuasca takes me in her arms, I realize that last night I vomited up my attachment to Buddhism. In passing out, I died. In coming to, I was, so to speak, reborn. I no longer have to fight these battles, I repeat to myself. I am no longer a combatant in the dharma wars. It feels as if the course of my life has shifted onto another vector, like a train shunted off its familiar track onto a new trajectory.” Readers of Batchelor’s previous books (Secular Buddhism: Imagining the Dharma in an Uncertain World, 2017, etc.) will recognize in this passage the culmination of his decadeslong shift away from the religious commitments of Buddhism toward an ecumenical and homegrown philosophy of life. Writing in a variety of modes—memoir, history, collage, essay, biography, and meditation instruction—the author doesn’t argue for his approach to solitude as much as offer it for contemplation. Essentially, Batchelor implies that if you read what Buddha said here and what Montaigne said there, and if you consider something the author has noticed, and if you reflect on your own experience, you have the possibility to improve the quality of your life. For introspective readers, it’s easy to hear in this approach a direct response to Pascal’s claim that “all of humanity's problems stem from man's inability to sit quietly in a room alone.” Batchelor wants to relieve us of this inability by offering his example of how to do just that. “Solitude is an art. Mental training is needed to refine and stabilize it,” he writes. “When you practice solitude, you dedicate yourself to the care of the soul.” Whatever a soul is, the author goes a long way toward soothing it.

A very welcome instance of philosophy that can help readers live a good life.

Pub Date: Feb. 18, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-300-25093-0

Page Count: 200

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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