Books Reviews



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Author: Dr. Rudy Scarfalloto (@)
Title: The Dance of Opposites
Format: Paperback
Rated: *****

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Dr. Rudy Scarfalloto is both a chiropractor and anatomy instructor at ASHA massage school. In his book, The Dance of Opposites (previously published under the title The Alchemy of Opposites), he expresses some rather profound yet obviously simplistic truths. On one level Dr. Rudy’s words express ways individuals can overcome depression, anger, fears, anxiety, addiction, and learn to have healthy relationships. On another level he expresses profound mystic wisdom. The Dance of Opposites helps us change our dualistic paradigm and learn to see the world not as a grocery list of paired and opposing views but instead helps us learn integration of all dualistic opposites in the effort to live more fully and holistically. I know this may sound like the typical self-help drivel but I assure you it is not. This book does not waste time with antics nor systems’. This book gets at what is at the very heart of our existence as human beings. The Dance of Opposites works on many levels. Some may not want to put it down once it is taken up as the information is so clear that you will find yourself wondering why you had not thought of things this way before, it seems so obvious. Also, it is very useful as a daily tool for personal growth and meditation. I personally found it very useful to read small sections at a time to let it gestate and give my psyche something to ponder through the day or week while I am busy with other studies. This can also turn out to be very synchronistic. I have also spent the past few years studying a wide range of mysticism, psychology, and spirituality literature and Dr. Rudy just lays it all out in simple terms in black and white. One of the students that attended ASHA said that she actually considers this book to be her new "Bible" and I can see why. While it may sound blasphemous to some at first, I challenge you to compare the wisdom in this book to any standard "religious" text. You will find that scholars are still trying to guess at the intended meanings of the religious books while The Dance of Opposites is understandable to anyone with even a low education yet possibly more profound. There is also a companion to this book called 90 Days of Inner Integration which I’ve not had the time to peruse fully yet but I can only imagine the transformative processes it could create in the common individual. Dr. Scarfalloto does not hold back with his writing either, he instead bears all by revealing some of his own personal growth experiences, even those that may seem controversial. Knowing him personally, in the class room setting at least, he is a most respectable being and wise beyond what he reveals publicly. The ideas in this book can definitely be life changing for most. It does not matter if you are Agnostic or Christian or anything in-between. This book can change the way you view the world around you in such magnificent ways. You may even find you enjoy life much more!

Timothy Leary: High Priest

 Posted by TG Mondalf (@)   Philosophy (Modern, Social, Religious)
 Edit (1079)
Feb 10 2004
cover
Author: Timothy Leary
Title: High Priest
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Ronin Publishing (CA)
Rated: *****

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High Priest chronicles various psychedelic trips taken by individuals in the 1960's before the drug was made illegal. Timothy Leary, who's concepts resurfaced in the late 80's to mid 90's when CyberPunk was the rage, believes the drug to be useful as a religious sacrament in that it can readily bring an individual closer to an enlightened consciousness especially if used under the right conditions. He also states that any sacrament eventually loses it's potency should it become too commonplace. It's interesting to read how Harvard scholars began studying drugs like LSD and psilocybin and took their own subconscious journeys into the inner mind and were revealed the wisdom of the ancient shamans and mystics. I've always believed that the right minds in the right setting would find these chemicals useful for such experiences. Anyone who has experience with any psychedelics will readily understand the writer's descriptions of conscious perspectives though they may be confusing, misunderstood or nonsensical to one who has no experience with it. Cellular, DNA memory is encoded in each and every one of us and experiences with this can be either elevating or horrifying depending on your current state. One of the things I find frustrating about this book is that when one begins to see the history of psychedelics in the United States one readily begins to see that not only has the government banned these drugs as illegal they have taken them in their own possession to perform their own experiments hidden from the public and I can tell you from personal experience that this is true. However, if you are in doubt you can read about government mind control experiments and easily see the correlation although myself personally I did not see them in connection to those particular experiments as this was before my time in the military. Some conspiracy theories are true! Once of the most interesting chronicles in this text is the experiment performed Marsh Chapel on Good Friday. The drug was given to some people and not others and the results when in a religious setting are very interesting especially when one considers that those who took the 'sacrament' had profound experiences they had been seeking on their religious path while those who did not take it did not have experiences. Even more interesting is that these positive results ended with a ban on the experiments. The experiments with prison inmates were a bit less impressive. A perspective which Timothy states in his book is one that has always been strongly held at RhythmUS Network and that is, "...every expression of American society-however secular, materialistic, scientific, or agnostic it may appear-is based on deeply held unconscious religious assumptions. America is an immature, irrational, superstitious, materialistic, priest-ridden, intolerant religious state." I would go further to replace the word 'religious' with 'spiritual' and 'America' with 'The World'. Turn-On, Tune-In, Drop-Out: Start Your Own Religion Drop-Out--detach yourself from the external social drama which is as dehydrated and ersatz as TV. Turn-On--Find a sacrament which returns you to the temple of God, your own body. Go out of your mind. Get high. Tune-In--Be reborn. Drop-back-in to express it. Start a new sequence of behavior that reflects your vision. I think this successfully summarizes what we have all heard from Leary in the past. Personally, I believe that psychedelics that are not dangerous like LSD and psilocybin (also found in mushrooms), mescalin (also found in cactus and used by Native Americans) should be legalized and not withheld from the public. We should have the right to Turn-On if we wish, especially in the privacy of our own home or in our churches or spiritual circles. Above all else the Two Commandments for the Molecular Age as proposed by Leary should be followed. 1. Thou shalt not alter the consciousness of thy fellow men. 2. Thou shalt not prevent thy fellow man from altering his or her own consciousness. What right does government have to keep this from us? If you look at all the evidence you will easily see that the US government created the drug problem which gave us the War on Drugs. While I admit that drugs like heroine and cocaine are extremely harmful I see no wrong is a moderate use of psychedelics especially when used for the purpose of 'expanding' ones conscious awareness. As you can easily see this book brings up many controversial topics relating to the subjects of drugs, religion, consciousness, government regulation, etc. I don't believe everything Leary says and I think that his idea of religious cults is misleading and could easily create harmful circumstances. Of course we have people like Charles Manson, Jim Jones and David Koresh for much of the American negative view toward religious cults and I think that Leary did not foresee such individuals and events being possible because he has a more blindedly positive view towards humans in general than I or most of us would take. However, there is much in the research conducted by himself and others regarding drugs like LSD which I think people should read, learn from and open their minds to as much could be learned about our existence and purpose as humans in general.

Jean Baudrillard: Simulacra and Simulation

 Posted by TG Mondalf (@)   Philosophy (Modern, Social, Religious)
 Edit (1078)
Feb 10 2004
cover
Author: Jean Baudrillard
Title: Simulacra and Simulation
Format: Paperback
Publisher: University of Michigan Press
Rated: *****

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First I must admit that what brought me to even find out about this book was the movie The Matrix. In The Matrix Revisited Keanu Reeves talks about the script, the authors, and how he was introduced to it. He claims that this book was one of three in a list of required reading (along with Out of Control by Kevin Kelly and Introducing Evolutionary Psychology by Dylan Evans and Oscar Zarate )that the actors must experience before even viewing the movie script. Needless to say this aroused my own curiosity enough to read it as well. In the movie you will note when Neo gets the wooden box to five the 3.5" floppy to the guy at the door in the beginning the box is designed to look like a book with the cover title of this book. This is the first full-length English translation of the French novel in postmodernism by Frenchman Jean Baudrillard. Baudrillard uses the concepts of simulacra--a copy without an original--and simulation to display how perceptions of reality’ are altered bases on cultural stigma. "The simulacrum is never that which conceals the truth--it is the truth which conceals that there is none. The simulacrum is true." Baudrillard points out very clearly how our modern culture is contrived of images and other stimulus from media sources and simulations rather than what is considered real and how it becomes what is real to us by perception. For instance, we are all familiar with various commercials and other forms of advertising that are creations, sometimes of non-real visuals and events, to promote products. We see people and places on TV that we have never been to yet we know them visually as if we had. The simulation is real to us not the real place. Another and maybe even better example would be how we relate to ancient cultures. Archeologists dig them up and create simulations of their cultures in museums that we see. We have never seen the real societies and thus the simulacra of these cultures is what becomes real to us about these cultures. Baudrillard clearly defines how various things like Disney, multi-media advertising and many other sources have replaced the stimulus of the real for us and how our media culture has become our reality. Amazingly much of his writings are perfect analogies for technologies that did not exist in his time period. Another important aspect of his thoughts that I think should be brought up that seemed to impress me was that an opposite can serve to illuminate or stand as prove of existence for another. This is rather difficult to explain and the Möbius Strip is used to explain this theory. [For more information on the Möbius Strip please read my review of the vampire novel Necroscope.] By traveling the path of logic to one perspective it can then lead to proof of it’s opposite. This can be used to explain many aspects of the psyche as well as cultural issues revolving around such topics as war and peace. This whole concept and topic of discussion of simulacra and simulation brings in the realization of the hyperreal and the implosion or collapse of opposites. Much of the book is actually philosophical but yet very valid for our modern times and well worth the read. However, like many books on philosophy don’t expect to get any real answers only new perspectives of thinking. According to Baudrillard we now exist is a world which is comprised of the hyperreal and self-perpetuating simulacra.


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