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Bare Essential Reading

Survival kits rarely include books, unless they are books on first aid, survival, edible plants, etc.  Yet we do not live on bread alone, and some of us insist on having something to read even in the most extreme circumstances.  Etty Hillesum had to pack a survival kit when she became an inmate at Westerbork (a collection camp for people being "transported to Auschwitz).  Among her very meager packings were six books The Bible, Rilke's  Book of Hours, an Letters to a Young Poet two small Russian dictionaries, and Dostoyevsky' The Idiot.  Had she a larger bag, i'm sure she would have taken more Rilke, Carl Jung' Symbols of Transformation Saint Augustine's Confessions and even more Rilke.  The Russian dictionaries were there because she was a Slavic scholar. The other books were for her spiritual journey.  She inspires me to read St. Augustine Symbols of Transformation, and much more Rilke.  

What if i had to pack for such a difficult journey?  Would i have the sense to bring books?  Which one's would i bring.

First, Th Tao Te Ching - The classic on the Way and its virtue.on how to live a good life.

The Gospel According to Saint Matthew - or the sermon on the mount, the great parables of the prodigal son and the good Samaritan, and the Works of Mercy.
the most practical guide to living in accordance with the Way.

Th Dhammapada -- llegedly the actual words of the Buddha to his closest disciples.  Another good guide on the Way, and beautifully written.

Since i probably can't download the entire contents of poetrychaikhana.com, a compendium of sacred poetry from all over, i will content myself with Stephen Mitchell' The Enlightened Heart.

And i could go on: maybe Surya Das on Buddhism, Rumi's Mashnavi, The Cloud of Unknowing or Etty Hillesum's diary


( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 26th, 2013 03:02 pm (UTC)
What lists for Etty Hillesum and yourself.

A lot of those I do not know except for Rilke's Book of Hours, and Letters to a Young Poet.

The lists seem like "bedrock" or essentials for ultimate living in the midst of hardship/difficulty.

I would have to think more about this.

I imagine I would take my mother's Bible, some poetry obviously.

Very interesting prospects to consider.
Jan. 26th, 2013 03:54 pm (UTC)
You have always been generous in sharing your reading with your LJ friends and i know many of us have greatly appreciated it. A short list of "required reading" from you would be nice to see. I don't like recommending books to other people, it often disappoints in both directions. But my heart leaps a little when i know a friend is enjoying a book i once enjoyed. Rilke and the sermon on the mount are what made me feel closest to that young woman, Etty, who died when i was ten.
Jan. 26th, 2013 10:33 pm (UTC)
You remind me of Stephen Mitchell. I keep his two books, The Enlightened Heart, and The Enlightened Mind in a special place.

Rilke, yes, and Dag Hammarskjold's book, Markings.

Roger Housden's book, Ten Poems to Open Your Heart.

Perhaps Middlemarch by George Eliot.

Also, the books you mention work for me.
Jan. 26th, 2013 10:50 pm (UTC)
Thank you,

Middlemarch and Housden are terra incognita for me.

Markings i read 50 years ago. I must take it up again.

Mitchell and Rilke, yes! and Rilke translated by Mitchell.
Jan. 26th, 2013 11:32 pm (UTC)
Middlemarch is a novel but an amazing one. When I was in college, my professors felt it should be read once a year just like the Bible. It is jam-packed.

Roger Housden is a local guy, and gathers poems into books, so "Ten Poems to Change Your Life," like that. As I scanned my shelves, this little book popped into my hand.

The ten poems in this book are: West Wind by Mary Oliver, The Knowing by Sharon Olds, Saint Francis and the Sow by Galway Kinnell, Love at First Sight by Wislawa Szymborska, Love, by Czeslaw Milosz, Kindness by Naomi Shihab Nye, The Ache of Marriage by Denise Levertov, Love Sonnet LXXXXIX by Pablo Neruda, The Third Body by Robert Bly, and Buoyancy by Rumi.

As you see, it is a great selection of poems. He presents the poem and comments on it.
Jan. 26th, 2013 11:47 pm (UTC)
Thank you.
Jan. 27th, 2013 12:00 am (UTC)
I'm adding another: The Gift, Poems by Hafiz, translated by Daniel Ladinsky.
Jan. 27th, 2013 12:41 am (UTC)
Yes, i like both Hafizes.
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )



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