An elaborate spiritual handbook that intriguingly builds upon multiple traditions.

Trinitarian Wisdom

THE ART OF LIFE

A spiritual guidebook based on the principles of the mystic trinity.

In his inspirational debut work, Pi reminds his readers at the outset that mankind has been inventing ideologies of the trinity for thousands of years. “It is called Middle Path in Confucian culture, the Kybalion in ancient Egyptian myth, and the Middle View in traditional Buddhism,” he writes. “In Tibetan Buddhism, it is called the Great Zeal as well as the Great Enlightenment under different traditional lineages.” Of course, in addition to these, there is the trinity with which most of Pi’s readers will be familiar: the Christian concept of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Pi maintains that “[t]o know God is to know life,” and he explores in his book’s opening sections the ways in which a tripartite philosophical outlook facilitates what he views as the ultimate goal of any spiritual system: the closer interrelation of “the absolute and the relative.” In prose that manages to explain a great many complex philosophical concepts without oversimplifying, Pi pieces together a fusion of Eastern and Western religious traditions in an extremely well-designed argument. Concepts of karma and meditation appear side by side with frequent, apposite quotations from the Old Testament and New Testament, all of it designed to convey a unified framework that answers what Pi considers to be the basic question of human life: “[I]s there really any purpose behind all forms of manifestation and existence?” In Pi’s view, the closer humans can come to achieving “absolute perspective,” the closer they come to glimpsing “ultimate truth”—though the tripartite view of existence is the only way to that perspective, “the only means to unfold the overall and ultimate reality of God.” The book’s assured, readable combination of Zen mysticism, ancient Chinese philosophy, traditional Christian teachings and the author’s own observations on the nature of life make the book pleasingly unpredictable and ultimately quite thought-provoking. The end goals of all this theorizing are refreshingly practical: Pi is offering a kind of blueprint for re-engineering an individual’s life. “We transform all negative conscious energies into positive and productive ones,” he insists.

An elaborate spiritual handbook that intriguingly builds upon multiple traditions.

Pub Date: Jan. 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4922-0075-8

Page Count: 340

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: April 1, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2014

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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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THE MYTH OF SISYPHUS

AND OTHER ESSAYS

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

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