Monday, May 9, 2011

A life of being, having, and doing enough

A life of being, having, and doing enough
By Wayne Muller

Book review by Richard L. Weaver II, Ph.D.

The author writes: “What, then, can we do?  We begin by listening, paying attention, gradually uncovering our own clarity and wisdom.  If we are to learn to trust that inner knowing and rely upon the authority of our deepest heart’s intuition, this is where we must begin.  For the voices of the world are loud, they are legion, and they are growing exponentially.  These outer voices each have their most decidedly necessary prescription for our lives.  Each screams louder than the next, insisting we listen to what they [sic] say, what we should need, want, buy, and do, to have a life of enough” (p. 8).

“Wayne Muller,” it explains on the back flyleaf,”is a Santa Fe-based therapist, public speaker, minister, and bestselling author.  His previous books include Legacy of the Heart; How, Then, Shall We Life?; Sabbath; and Learning to Pray.  He is the founder of Bread for the Journey, a nonprofit organization that supports community organizing and neighborhood philanthropy.”  I mention this simply because you would expect this book to be a religious one.  The author, however, responds: “I have no concern whether one is religious or not, whether one believes in heaven, or hell, or penance for indulging in these sins. . .” (p. 15).

Later in this same early chapter he says, “I have no interest here in any moral argument regarding sin as a religious precept.  I honor and respect any spiritual community that dedicates itself to creating a world where people’s lives matter, where they try to do more good than evil, do no harm, practice loving compassion and service to others.  Indeed,” he adds, “I take this seriously enough that I answered my own personal call to graduate from theological seminary and become an ordained minister” (p. 18).

I love the many truths that you find between these covers.  For example, “Let us be clear: The choices we make each day are rarely bold, weighty things that immediately, absolutely, and irreversibly eradicate the life we know and force us into a completely new, untried, and untested path for the rest of our lives. . . “ (p. 29).

Another simple truth: “If we can know with confidence and trust the source of love, the unshakable veracity of why we live and work and struggle and give, and remember always what we are living for, the choices we face each day regarding how we will choose and act and move will become vastly less complex and more simple” (p. 37).

And this comment, too, reveals the quiet, peaceful, soothing, and reassuring approach Muller takes: “In opening ourselves to the unknown, our choices may not find an authority within logic, reason, and accumulated evidence but rather in more subtle nuances of intuition, feeling, and sense.  So rather than presenting themselves with bold, decided confidence, bolstered by facts and figures, our choices reveal with tender humility, in a soft, open palm.  We may not know if we are choosing ‘correctly,’ but we can begin to trust from where the choice arose” (p. 43).

Now that you have a sense of how Muller writes, let me explain a number of other things about this book.  The book is 239 pages long (8.1 x 5.7-inches in size) with 61 short (average 4-pages each) chapters.  Each focuses on a particular story or example, and often there are additional poems to illustrate or simply expand on an idea.  Occasionally, too, there are short pieces that relate to religion.  For example, “This is, of course, nothing at all revolutionary or new.  For ages people have described feeling guided by the Holy Spirit, following the will of God, or living in respectful obedience to the ways of the Great Spirit; others take refuge in the precepts of right speech, right mindfulness, or right action” (p. 61).  There is nothing pushy here, just references and reminders and notations.

Muller concludes his chapter on “Listening,” saying, “So we begin by listening—a deep listening, with the ear of the heart, practiced among widely diverse spiritual communities.  We listen for, name accurately, feel our way into, make peace with, what is, for us, for love, for life, for today, enough” (p. 149).

This is the kind of book that is best read in solitude — a place where you can meditate, contemplate, ponder, reflect, ruminate, and lose yourself in thought.  It is a gentle, peaceful, soothing book that has the same effect on your mind as it has on your body.  It is an absolutely wonderful collection of thoughts, stories, and ruminations, and I assure you, that if you put this book on your “must read” list, you will not be disappointed.

This book is available at A life of being, having, and doing enough

No comments:

Post a Comment

Have you read the latest book review? Have you read the book? What do you think? Thank you for your comment.