A thought-provoking, conversational description of Hindu principles and their modern relevance.

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The Power and Intelligence of Karma and Reincarnation

In this spiritual guide to karma and self-improvement, Dharma introduces Hindu ideas that transcend the idea of heaven after Earth and reinforce a less common perspective on reincarnation.

Action and work, Dharma says, are the true essence of karma. Karma, he explains, is not about beliefs, religion, or labels. It is simply based on what we accomplish, how we behave toward others, and how our conduct and character interact with the world around us. Explaining in clear, conversational chapters the relevancy of Hindu beliefs to modern life, Dharma encourages the reader to be a student rather than a servant. “The servant is all about the reward,” he says. “For the student the question is reversed: What can I do for God? How can I make God proud of me?” The author posits these ideas as pathways toward a better, more fulfilling life, and he likewise warns against evils masquerading as virtues. For example, in one chapter, the author discusses vengeance masquerading as justice. Yet he explains that the Hindu god Sri Rama is a teacher, not a torturer, and his spiritual reaction to bad acts is to offer a person a chance to redeem himself in the next life through lessons. While advocating Hinduism over other religions, the author explains in detail why the concept of heaven is a fallacy. He posits that running away to safety, comfort, and ease are actions taken by those who seek heaven, while staying to help, work, and fight for a better present situation are actions taken by those driven by karma. One anecdote, among many, involves a flood: a man gets in a vehicle and drives to safety, sleeping in a hotel and watching the disaster on the news the next morning, only to see his neighbors drowning and struggling to survive on the screen. This man, the author explains, should shrink “to the size of an ant” if he has any heart. His guide shows readers how to incorporate the teachings of Hinduism into mindful practice.

A thought-provoking, conversational description of Hindu principles and their modern relevance. 

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-909477-63-6

Page Count: 308

Publisher: Clink Street Publishing

Review Posted Online: Nov. 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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A timely, vividly realized reminder to slow down and harness the restorative wonders of serenity.

STILLNESS IS THE KEY

An exploration of the importance of clarity through calmness in an increasingly fast-paced world.

Austin-based speaker and strategist Holiday (Conspiracy: Peter Thiel, Hulk Hogan, Gawker, and the Anatomy of Intrigue, 2018, etc.) believes in downshifting one’s life and activities in order to fully grasp the wonder of stillness. He bolsters this theory with a wide array of perspectives—some based on ancient wisdom (one of the author’s specialties), others more modern—all with the intent to direct readers toward the essential importance of stillness and its “attainable path to enlightenment and excellence, greatness and happiness, performance as well as presence.” Readers will be encouraged by Holiday’s insistence that his methods are within anyone’s grasp. He acknowledges that this rare and coveted calm is already inside each of us, but it’s been worn down by the hustle of busy lives and distractions. Recognizing that this goal requires immense personal discipline, the author draws on the representational histories of John F. Kennedy, Buddha, Tiger Woods, Fred Rogers, Leonardo da Vinci, and many other creative thinkers and scholarly, scientific texts. These examples demonstrate how others have evolved past the noise of modern life and into the solitude of productive thought and cleansing tranquility. Holiday splits his accessible, empowering, and sporadically meandering narrative into a three-part “timeless trinity of mind, body, soul—the head, the heart, the human body.” He juxtaposes Stoic philosopher Seneca’s internal reflection and wisdom against Donald Trump’s egocentric existence, with much of his time spent “in his bathrobe, ranting about the news.” Holiday stresses that while contemporary life is filled with a dizzying variety of “competing priorities and beliefs,” the frenzy can be quelled and serenity maintained through a deliberative calming of the mind and body. The author shows how “stillness is what aims the arrow,” fostering focus, internal harmony, and the kind of holistic self-examination necessary for optimal contentment and mind-body centeredness. Throughout the narrative, he promotes that concept mindfully and convincingly.

A timely, vividly realized reminder to slow down and harness the restorative wonders of serenity.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-53858-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Portfolio

Review Posted Online: July 21, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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