A collection of well-written, perceptive, and quietly powerful essays, meant to be savored.

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THE SOUND OF WATER

A PSYCHOLOGY OF THE SOUL

Linden, in his debut nonfiction work, shares insights gleaned from his years of reflection on the nature of the soul.

The book begins with a fable that serves as a metaphor for awakening. In it, a human named Turtle Wolf, using patience and stealth, moves through the jungle to the “‘living water’” that comes from freeing oneself from the ego (“the ultimate tyrant”). Numerous short chapters follow, containing brief essays on the nature of ego, “Mind,” “Soul,” and “the Source.” Among other things, the book touches on reality and unreality, and says that unrealities arise only when one isn’t truly present in the moment. However, it cites the ego as “a necessary and important unreality,” which can lead to awakening; when one ceases to identify with the ego-based view, it says, the Mind can finally merge with the Source. Linden notes that the ego seeks problems, and that the solutions to those problems only reinforce the ego; he also says that thinking and analysis are ego-based processes that are “fundamentally forms of competition.” As a result, he says, ego-directed creations are likely to be mediocre, while Soul-directed creations are great works of art. He goes on to say that the disintegration of the ego is a necessary, significant passage in human development, often called “the Dark Night of the Soul”: “The Soul is at peace when the Mind and the Source are one in and of the present.” In this book, Linden effectively shows that even unrealities have a purpose, as they serve as tools for abandoning illusion. His primary sentiment, however, is that people should be present without judgment and without resistance—one that’s also espoused by Eckhart Tolle (author of the 1997 spiritual self-help guide The Power of Now) and fellow author Esther Hicks. Ultimately, his book gets across the message that reality is the experience of “living life awake.” Although Linden’s text sometimes echoes the teachings of the aforementioned Tolle, its message organically arises from the author’s personal experience and process—a clear, simple approach to life that uses straightforward language throughout. However, it’s not a quick, easy read; instead, its weighty statements invite readers to pause and ponder, and ideally, to be present.

A collection of well-written, perceptive, and quietly powerful essays, meant to be savored.

Pub Date: Jan. 14, 2015

ISBN: 978-1618520883

Page Count: 154

Publisher: Turning Stone Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 16, 2015

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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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Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our...

THINKING, FAST AND SLOW

A psychologist and Nobel Prize winner summarizes and synthesizes the recent decades of research on intuition and systematic thinking.

The author of several scholarly texts, Kahneman (Emeritus Psychology and Public Affairs/Princeton Univ.) now offers general readers not just the findings of psychological research but also a better understanding of how research questions arise and how scholars systematically frame and answer them. He begins with the distinction between System 1 and System 2 mental operations, the former referring to quick, automatic thought, the latter to more effortful, overt thinking. We rely heavily, writes, on System 1, resorting to the higher-energy System 2 only when we need or want to. Kahneman continually refers to System 2 as “lazy”: We don’t want to think rigorously about something. The author then explores the nuances of our two-system minds, showing how they perform in various situations. Psychological experiments have repeatedly revealed that our intuitions are generally wrong, that our assessments are based on biases and that our System 1 hates doubt and despises ambiguity. Kahneman largely avoids jargon; when he does use some (“heuristics,” for example), he argues that such terms really ought to join our everyday vocabulary. He reviews many fundamental concepts in psychology and statistics (regression to the mean, the narrative fallacy, the optimistic bias), showing how they relate to his overall concerns about how we think and why we make the decisions that we do. Some of the later chapters (dealing with risk-taking and statistics and probabilities) are denser than others (some readers may resent such demands on System 2!), but the passages that deal with the economic and political implications of the research are gripping.

Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our minds.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-374-27563-1

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Sept. 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2011

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