Posts tagged ‘history’

The Spiritual Teachings of Yoga

Yoga Kindle Cover

I finally managed to produce my first e-book, The Spiritual Teachings of Yoga , which I wrote with my former wife Jo Manuel in 2002. The book has sold consistently in print, and in the past few years has become a resource for yoga teachers in training.

Many yoga courses include some philosophy into the mix, so that the root of yoga is not forgotten. Yoga philosophy is difficult to penetrate, and if it’s not taught well can be very confusing and off-putting. Jo and I wanted to write a book that presented the philosophy in as clear and accessible a way as we could, without simplifying it or dumbing it down.  This collaboration seemed to work. I wrote the exposition of the book (with input from Jo) and she tackled the writing of the 3 classic Yoga texts (with some editing from me).

I had a 4 book deal with Hodder and it was at Jo’s suggestion that I proposed the yoga book. Unfortunately I had always had a difficult time getting into Indian philosophy texts, although I felt very at home with Chinese ones. What held me back was both the strangeness of some of the ideas and the Sanskrit in which these ideas were expressed. Some Sanskrit words- like yoga and karma – are quite well know, but nama and niyama for example have less profile. Jo thought that having to study these yoga texts would force me to persevere and get a handle on them.  Once I understood them I could communicate that understanding to others in a language they could appreciate.

So when wannabe teachers have to read the Bhagavad Gita, or the Yoga Sutras, or the Upanishads, they can turn first to the chapters in our book that give them background and explanation.   After this, it’s easier for them to gain entry to the texts themselves, and hopefully to understand what they are saying.

The book also has some really fascinating material on the history of yoga. I know an author shouldn’t be saying his work is fascinating, but when I was making the e-version I had to revisit the book, and it just struck me that there are some very rare sections of interesting material. This was the result of my months of preparation and reading. There is a mountain to read in yoga, but my guiding principle in writing was that I needed to research until I became expert enough to convey the ideas in an interesting way. I wanted to be able to see the field and the trees at the same time. Many experts who know far more than me have perhaps lost site of the field and are only seeing the trees, while those who have not penetrated far enough are only seeing the field and missing the trees.

I wish the book the best of digital success.  If you read it or have read it, a review on Amazon or Goodreads always helps

 

 

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June 30, 2013 at 1:15 am 3 comments

Standing On Others’ Shoulders – Part 1- (don’t hold your breath for Part 2)

I think it’s time that I started standing on my own creative feet and stop standing on the shoulders of others. In my case that means old philosophers – both east and west.  My first 5 books were all about philosophies or philosophers: Marcus Aurelius, Seneca, Taoism, Yoga and Socrates. I explained the ideas behind the philosophy, followed by key texts I had referred to.

My latest book – I Survived A Secret Nazi Extermination Camp – is entirely different. The first part of the new book is a short introduction to  the little known but infamous Nazi death camp called Belzec. In this isolated, forested camp in SE Poland,  the Nazis killed an estimated 650,00 Jews and Gypsies.  The time between arrival by freight train to death in a gas chamber was only two hours. Rudolf Reder, a Polish Jew, managed to stay alive for four months as a worker in the camp, before making a miraculous escape. By the end of the war, Reder was the only survivor of the camp, and he gave a Witness Statement recounting his experiences.

It is this Witness Statement of Reder’s that forms part two of the book. He recounts the horrific, pathetic and harrowing events that took place in Belzec, and the cruel and criminal acts of the Nazi and Ukrainian guards.  It is a difficult account to read – one man recounting the hell that the Nazis’ madness had created, and which he saw first-hand.

Part three is an account by me ( a kind of memoir ) about how and why I came across this Statement of Reder’s. It’s partly about my family and partly about my relationship to the holocaust, and its victims.  A few years ago, I decided to search for my Grandparents’ roots online via JewishGen which led me to discover hundreds of ancestors. This search ultimately led me to Lublin, and it was on a visit to the Majdanek Concentration Camp that I found Reder’s Statement. At the same time I learned the fate of my grandfather’s family – those who he left behind had been sent from their homes in Lublin to be killed in Belzec .

How is this book different to the other 5? Of course it’s much more personal. I am not writing about dead philosophers but about the terrible fate of my own (newly discovered) family. It’s about history, but told in a personal way. I’ve set out my reflections on what I was learning, and my own memories were part of this discovery.   Obviously I am not a survivor of the camps and no known relative of mine had been one either. We were Americans, not Europeans. All my grandparents emigrated to the USA in the early 1900s, and my parents and all of our family had been born in America. Growing up, I never realised that my grandparents had left family behind – parents, sisters, cousins, aunts and uncles. It is the fate of those family members that my search revealed, and my memoir reflects how I came to terms with this dark knowledge.

June 28, 2013 at 9:26 pm 1 comment


The Blog That Fell From The Sky

Reflections on an age of anxiety.

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