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#2820 - Tuesday, May 22, 2007 - Editor: Jerry Katz  

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One: Essential Writings on Nonduality:      


Book Review of Living Reality: My Extraordinary Summer with "Sailor" Bob Adamson, by James Braha  

Review by Jerry Katz  

The purpose of this book, the author says, is "to share nonduality with you. ... to expose the personal reference point - the `me' - for what it is: a phantom created by the mind. My hope is to do for readers what Nisargadatta Maharaj, the great Indian sage, did for my teacher, Sailor Bob Adamson, and what Sailor Bob did for me. And that is `to take the seeker beyond the need for help.' If, after reading this text, you are able to see clearly that the `me' you have live with your entire life is a false creation of the mind, you will never need help again. You will know your true nature and the real meaning of understanding."

There may be other books that share nonduality as satisfyingly as Braha's does, but probably none surpass it. And perhaps no other book in the nonduality genre brings a living sage, in this case Sailor Bob Adamson, so close to you, in a physical and "real" sense, in the way this book does.

The dialogues are realistic talks with a group of nice people with Bob Adamson at the center of attention and including Bob's wife Barb, who contributes sagely to the dialogue as well. The tone of the dialogues varies from serious, to wildly free, to nearly silly, but is always kept genuine by the presence of Bob. Of course the author has to be commended for selecting the most lively and meaningful portions of discourse, and for revealing what it was like to be in the company of Bob Adamson.

Numerous topics are covered in the dialogues: Buddha, good stories about Nisargadatta Maharaj, the Now, Muktananda, infinity, the mind, thoughts of torture, reality, karma, religions, desire, reincarnation, and of course nonduality, and others. But there's really only one topic: "Life is awareness constantly seeing awareness," says Bob. Other quotations could be given basically saying that no matter what topic is addressed it comes down to awareness or present existence (or nonexistence), or getting the mind to stop.

A very important part of the book is the writing by James Braha himself. His writings make up about one third of the entire book. Braha's writings consist of introductory chapters to the book as well as a conclusion. James's commentary precedes each of the dialogues with Bob and prepares the reader for them.

In James's chapters he talks about his own experiences with nonduality, his developing spiritual life, until near the end when it becomes obvious that there's no point to speak of such things as a spiritual life or stages of understanding. They are imaginings. Also in Braha's chapters he talks about Bob's visit, how it came about, how it progresses, Bob's arrrival. James brings the reader into the events as they unfold, so we feel we are with Bob and the rest of the gang when the dialogues are taking place. James also talks about nonduality itself in the chapters he writes.

Braha's writings are as significant as Bob's utterances. Thus this book transcends Bob and Braha and becomes about waking up itself. As well, this book includes all the elements readers want: a sage, a seeker or two, the sage's wife, story of a physical journey, story of a spiritual journey (or two), dialogues with a sage, a collection of friends and others, color photographs, a sense of warmth, family, humanity, solid and identifiable beginning, middle, and end. The writing and editing are professional. Thus this is a great book. This book must be recommended along with the very best books on the teaching of nonduality.

I like the dozen or so clear, color photographs very much, showing the main people in the book. They make for a special inclusion, unheard of in other nonduality books. With all the names, subjects, concepts, themes, this book could use an index. I wanted to find all the places in the book where Barb, Bob's wife, was mentioned, because I thought she was so cool, but I couldn't. On the other hand, I can understand where indexes enforce searching and encourage avoidance of the message of nonduality which is found on every page of a book such as this, and needs no looking up.

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My next review will be of Deepak Chopra's new novel, Buddha. Chopra's purpose is solidly and perhaps surpisingly nondual. Chopra is a true nondual teacher and at the same time, let's face it, a spirituality industrialist. Hey, he knows how to enjoy his stay here. The story is told in scenes that feel like epic cinema. I'm enjoying the book as much as any good novel. Any spiritual teacher interested in writing a novel might want to invest in this book. But wait till you've read the review. Looking forward to completing the book and writing the review today.  

photo: Sailor Bob (L) with James Braha.

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