I used to always turn to the books that surround me at the Center for solace, advice, and instruction. And books are great helps. But now I also can browse the Internet to find gems of insight for my Commonplace Book. Here are a few recent ones from both sources on how to live in our times.

Do Not Lose Heart
by Clarissa Pinkola Estes

"Do not lose heart. We were made for these times.

"I have heard from so many recently who are deeply and properly bewildered. They are concerned about the state of affairs in our world right now. . . . Ours is a time of almost daily jaw-dropping astonishment and often righteous rage over the latest degradations of what matters most to civilized, visionary people. . . .

"Ours is not the task of fixing the entire world all at once, but of stretching out to mend the part of the world that is within our reach.

"Any small, calm thing that one soul can do to help another soul, to assist some portion of this poor suffering world, will help immensely.

"It is not given to us to know which acts or by whom, will cause the critical mass to tip toward an enduring good. What is needed for dramatic change is an accumulation of acts, adding, adding to, adding more, continuing. We know that it does not take 'everyone on Earth' to bring justice and peace, but only a small, determined group who will not give up during the first, second, or hundredth gale.
". . . One of the most calming and powerful actions you can do to intervene in a stormy world is to stand up and show your soul. Soul on deck shines like gold in dark times.

"The light of the soul throws sparks, can send up flares, builds signal fires, causes proper matters to catch fire. To display the lantern of soul in shadowy times like these -- to be fierce and to show mercy toward others, both -- are acts of immense bravery and greatest necessity. Struggling souls catch light from other souls who are fully lit and willing to show it. If you would help to calm the tumult, this is one of the strongest things you can do."

Deep Violence
by Joanna Bourke

War walks into people's homes, dominates the media, and spreads into other arenas, including the war against terrorism and the war on drugs. Many citizens would say that the militarization of American society is necessary to promote security and to insure freedom. In Deep Violence, Joanna Bourke shares other ideas about warfare and military violence.

"We can stop wounding the world," writes Bourke and she is right. We can switch our allegiance from military ideologies, practices, and symbols to peace, ecology, and justice. We can choose life by becoming nonviolent in our own activities. We can give up our enslavement to violent movies, TV shows, and games. We can read authors who lift our spirits with visions of cooperative living. We can refuse to listen to those who are hostile rather than hospitable to strangers and outsiders. We can abandon the dualistic view of the world that is so central to military perspectives. We can join anti-war movements and march in demonstrations. And we can pray for our children and our children's children that they will not have to live under the pressures and insanity of war without end.

Caring Economics
by His Holiness the Dalai Lama

This book of dialogues holds up a new model for economics as a pro-social activity based on altruism and compassion. "Economics needs to broaden its horizons. Questions of fairness and more equitable distribution, as well as larger social and environmental impacts need to be taken into account."

The Conscious Activist
by James O'Dea

Here are the character qualities needed to become an effective agent of change today: "a gut for justice, a little fire in the belly, a moral compass and a kind heart; and, of course, the courage to act when that supercharged lightening of integrated passion illuminates the way forward."

The Resilience Dividend
by Judith Rodin

Here are the five characteristics of resilience, another character quality needed in challenging times: Being Aware, Diverse, Integrated, Self-Regulating, and Adaptive.

Next Post: My Heart and Conscious Aging