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Saturday, 3 March 2012

into the Mystic: Akashic Record (for Dummies)

book reviews/reflections

THE AKASHIC RECORD (the complete Idiot's Guide to)
Dr. Synthia Andrews, ND and Colin Andrews
2010, Alpha Books - Penguin Group
314 pages
isbn: 978-1-59257-996-9

For many years Terry Barker and I have discussed our mutual interest in spiritualities and philosophies considered Eastern. Several months ago Terry picked up the book Re-enchantment: Tibetan Buddhism Comes to the West at a used book store. I bought a copy so we could find more common ground in our discussions - a shared vocabulary at least.

Re-enchantment turned out to be a chronology of mini-biographies of the people who have explored and introduced Tibetan Buddhism to the West for the past 150 years - interestingly, mostly Westerners - and the book does give a good introductory overview of this movement.

What surprised me in reading RE was the amount of cross-influences early Westerners have already exhibited on our understanding of Tibetan (and other) Buddhist practices.  

A month ago I picked up The Akashic Record to deepen my own Buddhist understanding, and to further Terry and my rambling discussions. I loved the first third of the book - and I kept praising it to friends. Then I felt the middle section of the book devolved into New Age mush, and I almost stopped reading. I diligently plodded through, shrugging off some of the stickier self-helpism, and then I did feel I was finding some major answers, or at least plausible explanations,  to cosmic issues in the final third.

So what is the Akashic Record? In one of Terry's many carefully typed letters he quotes Norman Blundson  in A POPULAR DICTIONARY OF SPIRITUALISM:

Akashic Records: an occult term said to be a cosmic picture gallery and record of every thought, feeling and action since the world began. Often advanced as an explanation of clairvoyant and psychometric perceptions. Somewhat akin to the idea of Cosmic Consciousness. Yogis believe that this record can be contacted when in certain psychic states of consciousness.

Synchronistically - and AK points out several times there are no accidents, and  as human consciousness evolves, we will all experience far more synchronicity in our lives - the first section of the book covers much of the same ground at RE. I had always considered Westerners, especially occultists like Madame Blavatsky, harmless spiritual goofballs.

But the combination of long chats with Terry, his well-thought-out letters, and now this New Agey Complete Idiot's Guide were giving me a new respect for and interest in these early Western spiritual pioneers.

                                                               . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

     (time out to walk Chase - more later - both books are a great read & highly recommended)

It's a dangerously windy early March day - I decided it was too risky to drive to any of our favourite trails, so Chase and I braved the 70 km winds and marched to the boat launch.

                                                            blustery wind
                                                            blows the honk back
                                                            into the geese

                                                            . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

an observation

I've been observing and participating in the merging of Eastern thought (consciousness) with my Western upbringing and lifestyle since I was 18 or 19. I believe yoga and meditation saved my life in the mid 1960s, when I was eligible for the Amerikan draft as a resident alien Canadian.  Through these practices I encountered a 'private Buddha', opposed the Vietnam War, and then left the U.S. forever in 1969.

For almost half a century it has both annoyed and amused me to observe the way we Westerners incorporate Eastern consciousness and practice. It seems we always incorporate Eastern ways at the lowest level possible.

First was our love affair with martial arts - judo and karate - rather than with yoga and meditation.

And as Westerners we always have to screw with methods long proven in the East. Yoga has slowly become mainstream, but first we had Pilates and Madonna  : ) And even now, there are probably as many wannabe yoga practitioners parading in "LuluLemon" yoga wear as people actually practicing yoga.

To me, yoga is just the form for practicing meditation. Sure, it's healthy, but so is taking a good windy walk. I believe the point of practicing yoga is to meditate, but we are taking our good time incorporating these powerful Eastern concepts, always first commercializing and bastardizing them.

Haiku: A case in point is haiku. I've been writing and publishing haiku - following the haiku path - since 1968, when Eric Amann kindly published my early efforts in his seminal magazine Haiku.
Yesterday I skimmed the intro to the latest Haiku Canada members' anthology (our 35th anniversary!)
The intro noted there were about 35 Canadians writing haiku (haijin) in the late 1970s when a handful of us formed Haiku Canada (initially the Haiku Society of Canada I believe), and now there are many hundreds, if not thousands, of Canuck haikuists.

I've also kept abreast of the international English-language haiku movement. Apparently haiku has become the latest fad in creative writing. There are milllions of sites on haiku/haibun on the web now! But how serious, how in tune with the spirit of Basho and the early haiku masters are most of these self-proclaimed haijin? Is this a bad thing? No, of course not. Just as anyone even attempting yoga has at least taken a first step on the path to meditation (and ultimately enlightenment), so anyone observing their life and recording it in haiku is on a genuine path, whether they realize it or not;  and of course it's irrelevant if they annoy the hell out of me with their arrogance and silliness ("sci-ku"??)  My problem, not theirs  : ) 

but ultimately, is the poet/haijin on the path to Buddhahood (bodhisattva) or just to ego aggrandizement?

                                                                . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

back to reflecting on the 2 books
(March 5/12)

I've had a couple of more days to reflect on these two books. I've come to the conclusion Re-enchantment was disappointing, in that it didn't tell much about Buddhism and its practices. Not surprisingly for a Western author and publisher, the book focuses on individuals rather than a movement, or what I believe is an ongoing and major shift in consciousness.

On the other hand, The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Akashic Records may tell readers 'too much'. If New Age hippie/dippyness bothers you, this definitely isn't a book you'll enjoy. But if you have begun to experiment with yoga, meditation, Buddhism, or any of the other mystical practices such as I Ching, this book may answer some questions for you and provide guidance further along these paths.

Want to contact angels, or spiritual guides and ascended masters? AK's authors are only too willing to give you advice! Want to read your own life past & future (!) histories - read on.

Humans are at a planetary crossroads. Our little spinning ball  - our home itself - has become collateral damage to our recklessness. Physical science has brought us to this very edge of destruction (cue song The Eve of Destruction). In the West we have developed physical powers which are sadly beyond our own mindless ability to control.  In the East, and in many First Nations cultures around the globe, humans have found ways to live in harmony through a developed 'higher' spiritual awareness and consciousness. The time has come to merge these seemingly disparate and opposed cultures - the yin and the yang if you wish. The completed whole of human physicality incorporated with a higher awareness will lead us to a New Age almost beyond our current comprehension.

Reading these books makes me write silly things like this! ...

peace & poetry power!
- Chris/cricket


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