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Lovingkindness - A Book Appreciation

I am an avid reader. I always have been. There is nothing more delightful to me than spending hours in a book store. It is not unusual for me to buy as many books as my budget will allow and I chose books that I think will bring me to a better understanding of myself. Okay! It sounds like that same old self-help stuff we used to buy to try to get well because we would not admit we were addicted to anything, right? Not really. The self-help material I read today supports my recovery and I now find joy in reading spiritually-based books without feeling any hypocrisy.

There is a special book I would like to share with all of you. This is not a book review but what I call a book appreciation. A “review” in someway indicates that someone is critiquing a publication by both positive and negative comments. Trust me. There is absolutely nothing negative about this book. “The Art of Forgiveness, Lovingkindness, and Peace” by Jack Kornfield is like a friend. It has helped me through my most difficult times; the times when I felt alone and afraid; the times when I had to focus on prayer and meditation because I needed to rid myself of the pain.

Mr. Kornfield is a Buddhist monk but please do not believe that he is writing as a religious leader. I am not a Buddhist but if you are in a 12 Step Recovery program and work the steps, you will find that many of the principles of recovery reflect Buddhist beliefs; i.e. the title of this book. Actually, the principles that are written about in this book are based on a spiritual way of life for all people. There are no words written about recovery, addiction, or relapse but the book reminded me of the Promises of Alcoholics Anonymous because it offers an opportunity to find that peace and serenity that sometimes seems to elude us.

This book is a “treasury of insights from many spiritual traditions, together with modern stories and time-honored meditations”. Each quotation or story has a message that will touch your heart, mind and soul and in some way, you will find a relevance to you, your life and your recovery.

Step Eleven suggests that prayer and meditation will help us improve our conscious contact with God. If you are trying to find a good subject for meditation and even need direction to meditate, you will not be disappointed. Every page could be a prayer but there are specific meditations on forgiveness, letting go, grief, and reconciliation. These are the meditations that I practice over and over again because they have worked for me and instill tranquility and calmness that I do not feel most times.

There are also meditations on lovingkindness, compassion, gratitude and joy. The book ends with a meditation focusing on peace followed by additional meditations that support this quality of peace. Even if you find meditation difficult, I think you will be quite eager to follow these to heal, to find peace, or to move into a more spiritual self.

“The Art of Forgiveness, Lovingkindness, and Peace” has become one of my favorite and most valued books. I keep it close at hand. There are times when I just want to sit quietly and read or meditate and there are those times when I so desperately need the hope it offers. It is a “new way to meet life’s greatest challenges with acceptance, joy and hope”.

I want to leave you with the very first quotation of the book: “You hold in your hand an invitation: To remember the transforming power of forgiveness and lovingkindness. To remember that no matter where you are and what you face, within your heart peace is possible.” I not only invite you but urge you to read the beautiful messages this book delivers. There is no doubt that you will understand why I could not review but could only appreciate this book.

Namaste’. May you walk your journey in peace and harmony.

(“The Art of Forgiveness, Lovingkindness, and Peace” by Jack Kornfield, is published by Bantam Books)

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