Myth and Philosophy Book Reviews

  •  The Power of Myth

    by Joseph Campbell

    • Paperback: 296 pages
    • Publisher: Anchor
    • Language: English
    • ISBN-10: 0374506841
    • ISBN-13: 978-0374506841

    One of the most rewarding books I've read.

    Rating *****  5 stars out of 5.  Absorbing, exciting, , meaningful; Campbell's life work

    This was one life-expanding book for me It renewed my interest in mythology, after reading it (and seeing the DVD's) I read all the classic myths and the Torah and found new insights and deeper meanings in all these stories.




     One Robe, One Bowl: The Zen Poetry of Ryokan

    By Ryokan, Stevens Translator


    • Paperback: 96 pages
    • Publisher: Weatherhill (2006)
    • Language: English
    • ISBN-10: 0834805707
    • ISBN-13: 978-0834805705

    Everyday life seen through the eyes, ears, mind and heart of a Zen monk. The hermit-monk Ryokan, long beloved in Japan both for his poetry and for his character, belongs in the tradition of the great Zen eccentrics of China and Japan. His reclusive life and celebration of nature and the natural life also bring to mind his younger American contemporary, Thoreau. Ryokan's poetry is that of the mature Zen master, its deceptive simplicity revealing an art that surpasses artifice. Although Ryokan was born in eighteenth-century Japan, his extraordinary poems, capturing in a few luminous phrases both the beauty and the pathos of human life, reach far beyond time and place to touch the springs of humanity

    If I only owned one book, this would be it. This is a beautiful work, full of poems touching on the completely ordinary matter, of everyday life. This everyday life wich contains everything we need/yearn for, yet almost always overlook. Ryokan was a Zen monk, but felt a gamut of emotions and completely accepted them as a dynamic part of life. Often writing beautifully about them as in this book. Ryokan shows us a Zen life doesnt have to be a sterile and emotionless one.He writes of walking along uneven mountain trails. Gazing at misty bamboo groves with various creatures scurrying about. Drinking sake with the villagers from time to time. Gathering supplies for his mountain hut. Writing poems and/or caligraphy for people when they would visit his him.

    Theses poems will appeal to anyone for their descriptive naturalness and down to earth feel. In a few simple lines, Ryokan shares his fascinating daily life with us. I would highly recommend this book for anyone looking for poetry of a spiritual and aware life.

    I also have a pre-publication copy of the text, that I received from John Stevens when he presented a reading at the Sanfanciso Zen center many years ago.




    A Primer of Jungian Psychology

    by Calvin S. Hall, Vernon J. Nordby

    • Paperback: 144 pages
    • Publisher: Plume
    • Language: English
    • ISBN-10: 0452011868
    • ISBN-13: 978-0452011861

    Rating ****  4 stars out of 5.  Great Introduction (though would prefer a bit deeper)..., December 26, 2001


    Jung's writing can provide a better insight into the meaning and method of life than any philosophical text. His writing on the Archetypes alone is worthy of deep study and contemplation. Symbols are a most powerful communication means to the soul. And I am convinced that these Archetype exists long before the universe was created and are innately part of us and give meaning and form to all of life's experiences. This is a good starting point, a good introduction.


    Being and Time: A Translation of Sein and Zeit

    by Martin Heidegger, Joan Stambaugh (Translator)



    Rating 5 of 5    Heidegger's worth contemplating., January 10, 2002


    To me, Heidegger is one of the most interesting philosophers, his writing is very meaningful and cause of great reflection and insight. If you get the point of his contemplations, this book (and his later writings) can give you the tools to change you life. This is difficult reading, but is very rewarding. However, Being and Time is not the place to begin reading Heidegger. There are several very excellent introductions: Steiner's Martin Heidegger, and Macquarrie's Heidegger and Christianity both are very excellent. When you read Being and Time (which is so much better than Being and Nothingness, I can't begin to tell you) you WILL need a commentary, there are several, but I would recommend Being-in-the-world by Dreyfus. I approached Heidegger as a Buddhist, so his main concept, dealing with the recognition of Being, was very familiar to me. I found Heidegger to be wonderfully enriching in my own insight into the most essential question of philosophy. Then I studied German for 2 years in order to read Heidegger in his Original language (and also to read Rilke's poetry in it's original). The German source is very precise (a trait of the German language, which lends itself to precision of language with new word combinations to create new expressions). The terms are necessary to get us to see the meaning that would not be visible with out new expressions. For me this works, and put into words (as nearly as anyone has) some of the great "mystical" insights. If you are reading only in English, you must have a commentary and both translations; start with the Joan Stambaugh, it is easier reading; but you will need the older Macquarrie & Robinson translation for comparison. Some concepts are better explained in one, some in the other. Also recommended Basic Writings : From Being and Time (1927 to the Task of Thinking) and WHAT ARE POETS FOR? and Heidegger's writing on Kant and Holderin. If you enjoy philosophy, this has my highest recommendation. This is philosophy that will awaken you in this moment.

    I am most interested in Heidegger's later writings, but this is his foundational work.


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