books, Buddhism, education, Growth, James Joyce, Life, Reading, Self discovery, spirituality, Ulysses, Zen
What if you burned for knowledge, I mean truly craved growth and learning, hungered to get your head and heart around what is going on today in our seemingly chaotic world, even to the extreme point of yearning for ‘enlightenment,’ for want of a better term? Where would you start, where would you go?
I ask that—and I write this—because I was that person at twenty-two years of age. Thirty-five years ago now!
Things were different back then, definitely easier. Far fewer distractions, far less pressures. Though incredibly hard all the same.
This in a nutshell is the advice I wish I was given from the very outset:
1) Most adults haven’t got a clue. Whether they have an education or not they are merely following the party line, and the party line went awry centuries ago.
2) You are not completely on your own, because other passionately caring souls have gone before you. The challenge is those souls I speak of are NOT the ones you might one way or another be directed towards.
3) However, the true guides to the perplexed soul sojourner are out there and mostly readily available in libraries, bookstores, and now over the net.
And finally: 4) When, with the best intentions towards learning and growth you wander into a library or bookstore to begin your quest, you should be picturing all the books and resources available as occupying a great many shelves on a colossal triangular or pyramidal bookshelf. That’s what I call the Pyramidal Bookshelf of Life.
Simply put, the higher the shelf you read from, the more comprehensive and whole the viewpoint and outlook upon Life. And of course as you reach higher and higher the shelves become progressively narrower, leaving room for fewer and fewer volumes. Now the thing is, from whatever shelf you choose to read, the world viewpoint contained in that particular book encompasses all books on shelves in a pyramidal shape below it.
But here’s the catch: when you start out, even with this Pyramidal Bookshelf of Life in mind, how do you know what shelf you are plucking a book from? Whether a lofty perch or one you might be stooping down to?
No easy task at the outset, believe me. That’s mainly why, starting out a veritable blank slate at age twenty-two it has taken me over thirty years to get to this point today where I strive to share this mystery with you.
Here are a few keys:
1) If an author fires your imagination, if your whole body says YES to the words and images he or she is imparting, take careful note of those souls who influenced or fired them.
That’s because if you are a true learner and grower your world viewpoint is straining upward, so a book that inspires and expands you is probably located on a shelf higher than where you are presently on your journey. It’s not for nothing that Buddhists likened the path of The Awakened One to climbing a mountain.
2) For the most part you can throw aside books that leave you cold. You’ve probably grabbed them unknowingly off of lower shelves.
Now I say ‘mostly,’ because there are certain volumes occupying very high shelves which you just might not be ready for. That is, they might not fire your hungering soul until you have climbed high enough to partake of their light.
For me, James Joyce’s Ulysses was one of these books. Hearing and reading so much about it, like many others I tackled it at a young age, and like most others, derived less than nothing from it. It wasn’t until many years later, having ascended the shelves on a different route, that I discovered it again… and to my surprise, it was on a very topmost shelf!
3) Even if you chance upon one of the very few top shelf books, such as Ulysses, it will probably still require years of growth to comprehend its majesty and magnitude. Put it in a special place on your home bookshelf and let it sit there for a few years, even longer. Or you can just let it go if you feel the need to lighten your load. It’ll still be there when it calls to you again. I suppose one benefits of the internet these days is the almost universal availability of books, unlike the many years I’ve spent in the past hoping to stumble upon a rare but highly regarded volume.
Lastly: 4) Have faith and above all enjoy the journey, for that is all that Life is. Growth, development, blossoming, fulfillment!
And that’s the oneness and unity that is the Pyramidal Bookshelf Of Life!