28 January 2011

Tao of Forgiveness - Book Review

The Tao of Forgiveness The Healing Power of Forgiving Others and Yourself by William Martin
This is my first contribution to the Take a Chance Challenge 3 (staff members choice), book reviews.  I need to begin with the fact that I have never written a non-academic book review or one for a blog, so I'm going to wing it a little.  I selected this book from a grouping chosen by my local library staff.  I will probably get all of my books for this challenge from the library versus book stores.  First, because I have a really good system near my home, and second, because said awesome system just passed another property tax levy that I will be paying for - I should use it!

Brief description:
Martin has a series of books influenced by his use of Lao-tzu's Tao Te Ching.  This book focused on forgiveness in many different ways.  The book is laid out in a series of short stories (23), followed by brief discussion, a few questions, and finally a Tao mind exercise.  I imagine it was meant to be read and re-read as life changes.  You can return to a particular piece and review what you have learned or how it can be applied to life.  It is meant to be digested slowly, preferably (in the author's view) with a journal for reflection and I found, in small doses.

His introduction refers to the practice of forgiveness, because like most things in life, we get better with practice.  He reminds the reader that forgiveness is already there, but understanding it, applying it, and adjusting the "conditioned mind" is where the work comes in.  The brief narratives are diverse, probably in attempt to cover a range of ideas and hopefully provide something for anyone who may happen upon it.  Each topic/section is related to the others, but may also stand alone. 

The book is only 198 pages, but would not refer to it as a light read, if the reader's intent is to learn.  However, it can also be enjoyed for the stories and discussion on face value, without all the interaction of the exercises, if that is the goal.

My Thoughts: 
I am a very practical person, so it was a stretch for me to look at a philosophical book so clearly out of my daily processes.  Or so I thought.  Once I stopped trying to summarize while I was reading (an old academic habit), I actually got much more out of this book.  It did not feel judgemental, but rather, provided new ways of thinking about situations I have encountered.  It spoke to forgiving ourselves and others, because quite often, that is the "solution" we might be seeking.  I found the narratives entertaining, and some of the exercises useful.  Others I skipped, and then forgave myself for using the time elsewhere in my day.

Some of the subtopics that caught my eye (and this would be different for each reader I imagine) included not taking things personally, acceptance can be freeing, conditioned mind and voices can still change, fear does not bring safety, and separateness is a dream (Martin, 2010).  I am pondering these subtopics a bit more and can see myself incorporating them into future posts, individually.  So for those of you visiting regularly, stay turned!  For new folks that have found their way here through the book challenge, I hope you'll return later for tea and a chat.



Denise said...

A fascinating post MarieElizabeth, and one I enjoyed reading. Thank you and thanks for stopping by.

SouthernSass said...

I really want to read this book - it is very fitting for me at this time. Thanks for posting!