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Andrew Phillips "Andy Phillips" (Colchester, UK)

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A New Earth: Create a Better Life
A New Earth: Create a Better Life
by Eckhart Tolle
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.99

5.0 out of 5 stars A perfect expression of where humanity is right NOW, 15 Sept. 2014
Did 'something new'- bought the audiobook. Tolle's exposition shimmers with Truth.


A Heart Blown Open: The Life and Practice of Zen Master Jun PO Denis Kelly Roshi
A Heart Blown Open: The Life and Practice of Zen Master Jun PO Denis Kelly Roshi
by Keith Martin-Smith
Edition: Paperback
Price: £15.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You don't have to be perfect to be Enlightened, 18 Nov. 2013
Jun Po Roshi's life is so rich in drama it reads like a thriller. While the biographer is hard put to do his subject justice, the book's flaws mirror those of the subject to make the parable: a narcissistic personality pursues his goals, through actions 'right' and 'wrong' and their roller-coaster consequences. What a ride it is.

Denis Kelly leaves his dysfunctional family as soon as he can. Tall and strong, intelligent and amoral, he catches the wave of hippy counterculture, surfing its uncharted waters with daring and skill to become a kingpin of the 1960's acid scene. His vision (following such luminaries as Aldous Huxley and Timothy Leary): to 'wake people up' through the use of LSD. (Such rationalisation seems stretched now, but to one who bought into it at the time, Kelly's descriptions of the psychedelic drug business and the Establishment's hysterical reaction provide valuable perspective on the events of that era, which continue to reverberate in the present.)

That is just the start. Thereafter unfolds a kaleidoscopic tale of hubris and nemesis: peak experiences in India and prison life in America; relationships which reach heights and plunge depths; discipline and shadow; sickness and health; life and death, all underpinned by the hero's driving pursuit of 'Enlightenment'. If that consummation still eludes the reader, this life story both points the way and paints a warts and all picture of what it is to be a human - albeit a slightly intimidating one.


Boomeritis: A Novel That Will Set You Free!
Boomeritis: A Novel That Will Set You Free!
by Ken Wilber
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.33

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Are you still living in Flatland ?, 8 May 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The thing to understand about Ken Wilber is that he is an academic, and sensitive to criticism from his peers. He has a tendency therefore in his work to justify his ideas with learned references. To call this a 'novel' is thus tongue-in-cheek. In fact it is a thesis structured as a 'post-modern' novel, in which Ken enjoys himself demonstrating that he knows what he is doing, at all levels ;-). All the same, you can forget story and characterisation: the 2D personalities are props for the ideas, the action is a series of lectures interspersed with some discussion and sexual scenes. It is, to be candid, repetitive, self-conscious and arch. None of which detracts in the least. When one is engaged in synthesising huge bodies of work across many disciplines to create a new map of consciousness, thereby pushing the boundaries of human understanding and perception, to pre-empt quibbles is perfectly in order, especially when that is also what the book is partly about. As any good teacher knows too, repetition is the key to learning, while a sense of humour is always conducive. It is clear (to this reader at least) that with Boomeritis, Ken is trying to make his ideas accessible to a wider (possibly a younger - to judge from the otherwise gratuitous lashings of exuberant sexual imagery) audience, and he is going to poke a little intellectual fun on the way (geddit?). I found the book a great way to expand, alloy and embed some of his ideas in my own awareness and I recommend it as a light-hearted and oh-so-clever introduction to 'Flatland' and the AQAL model of human development (go on, look it up!-).


Storm of Steel (Penguin Modern Classics)
Storm of Steel (Penguin Modern Classics)
by Ernst Junger
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Last of the Teutonic Paladins, 8 May 2012
For those who do not understand it, this book will give you a peek into the true warrior mindset. It is striking how Junger's tone - almost eager (and this is the most recent, 'toned-down' version) - differs from the disillusionment of other famous WW1 chroniclers such as Sassoon, Graves and Remarque. Stylistically it most reminds me of the adventures of James Bigglesworth. I recall that Biggles used to pity those in the trenches below, and if Captain Johns' is one of the definitive, if fictional, British impressions of the war in the air 1914-18, this is its true-life German counterpart in the mud. Whereas Biggles' heroism comes primarily from a sense of duty however, Junger's seems to derive from something more primal: an atavistic appreciation of battle. It must be remembered that, born in 1895, Junger had joined The Foreign Legion well before the Great War broke out, and it is only towards the end of that, nearly four years of all-encompassing violence, gruesome butchery and fantastical ruin, that he detects in himself an inchoate fatigue. The book is remarkable for many reasons: its understated descriptions of 'modern' warfare; its tactical focus; its candour and (occasional) poetry; and for the very fact that Junger kept a journal of it all and survived to recount it. In an age where the concept of chivalry is no longer current, Junger exemplifies what it used to mean.


Nausea (Penguin Modern Classics)
Nausea (Penguin Modern Classics)
by Jean-Paul Sartre
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.99

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Through a glass, darkly, 6 May 2012
I first read this book when I was a student, in the original French. Then, frankly, I thought the protagonist, Roquentin (and by extension the author, Sartre) was a social misfit, a bore and half-mad to boot. The book depressed me: it was de-stabilising, I felt vaguely threatened by it. 40 years on and the situation - and by that I mean primarily the psychological situation, although 'external' circumstances have changed too - is quite different. So my first observation is that if you are young and still full of the joys of Spring, it is possibly more difficult to connect with this book, which is ostensibly about a man for whom the chewing-gum of life has lost it flavour. Ultimately, the novel is about the nature of meaning, in particular the absence of it. Loss of meaning is something which may strike many of us at some point or other: the question is whether we confront and deal with it, or ignore it and anaesthetise or distract ourselves. Roquentin is a man of few roots, which makes it difficult for him to avoid the issue of meaninglessness. As he describes his experience, we get to grips with the related ground: reality/perception, alienation/relationship, time, identity, despair, freedom, action and art - indeed the whole kit and caboodle of so-called existential angst. Clue: the book does not take you to a destination but it may lead you to a jumping-off point. Tip: don't take it too seriously :-)


The Naked and the Dead (Harper Perennial Modern Classics)
The Naked and the Dead (Harper Perennial Modern Classics)
by Norman Mailer
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.68

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the great American war novels, 29 April 2012
Maybe not "the best war novel ever," which is what has been said of this work, but undeniably up there with the greats. Mailer is educated, perceptive and articulate: he has something to say and does not pull his punches. The book may have been superseded in its portrayal of war as a very nasty business, but in this respect it was a pioneering work, and otherwise it very much stands the test of time. Part of its originality, and of its value today, lies in the evocation of the political, social and economic atmosphere of the 30's and 40's, using biographical vignettes of the principal characters; part of it is comprised in the detailing of the day-to-day management of war. The worldview of General Cummings evokes that of certain elements of the time, and counterpoints Lt Hearn's existential querulousness. Mailer manages with similar skill to convey the more elemental thinking and preoccupations of enlisted men, but here - for me at least - he errs in two respects: an apparent preoccupation with Jewishness (even if partly 'balanced' by Catholic references); and an unadulterated cynicism regarding human nature, verging on the nihilistic. These are however minor criticisms: indeed the first may be excused as echoing one of the key themes of the epoch, and the second may also mark time and place. There is much more one could say, especially about the ending, but that might spoil things - suffice to say that it is preceded by masterful piece of sustained writing which kept me up until the wee hours. The overall result remains one of the great American reads - especially if you like war stories. Enjoy.


I Escaped from Auschwitz
I Escaped from Auschwitz
by Rudolph Vrba
Edition: Paperback

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Compelling, 17 Oct. 2011
The Holocaust - aren'tchasickofit ? For many the subject is by now boring, even irritating. The whole c.6-million person massacre has, sadly, been 'done to death'. It's always about the Jews. Why won't they stop whining ? Don't they know 25 million Russians died in the Second World War ? How are they different from Stalin's disappeared or Mao's millions ?

The answer is of course that they are no different, and the strength of this book lies in that there is no special pleading. This is no Hollywood tale about a people done down, misunderstood and mistreated. This is the story of what humans do to humans. It is the account of a boy who lived it. He tells a spare, unvarnished, unsentimental story about what happened to him. As he recounts the events of his youth, you get to see his community - Slovakian, Jewish - warts and all, and all the other groups and individuals with which he becomes necessarily involved: Hungarian, Polish, German; Zionist, Communist, Nazi; politicians and bureaucrats; fools, saints, sadists, traitors, heroes; the quick, the weak and the dead.

Even after a lifetime of being subjected to the story of the 'Final Solution', one thing came through to me from this narrative which to my surprise I had never properly understood: the staggering scale of what the Nazis did. The best one might do perhaps is to envisage a project to kill everyone in London, with limited means and methods available. It would take years, and could not be achieved if the population were ever to suspect what is going on. Yet the Nazis built an entire economy of genocide. They were fighting a world war on multiple fronts, but managed to find the means - and critically, willing men and women - to organise, transport, maltreat and murder hundreds, thousands, millions of other men, women and children. More, they had to dispose of the mountains of cadavers and possessions of those they had killed - which they did with industrial efficiency - all the while keeping the whole damned, pathological enterprise a secret. One can almost understand the deniers: it is too stupendous, too horrific to be grasped by any sane mind.

Word by word, phrase by phrase, incident by incident, Rudolph Vrba communicates how it was done and what it was like. As he strains to survive in the diseased hell which is Auschwitz, he gradually builds an understanding of what is going on. As he does so, we go with him, until we are enmeshed in something so nightmarish that we can scarcely believe it. What he succeeds ultimately in communicating is the reality of Evil, in all its incredible mundanity. Ordinary people beating, torturing and killing other people - every day, for years and years, rain or shine. This book is the literary equivalent of Pieter Bruegel the Elder's 'Triumph of Death,' and much, much more frightening.

Most shocking of all perhaps, over and above being told with remarkable economy and restraint what some humans are capable of doing to others, is the revelation of how, after the war, so many of the perpetrators and collaborators got away with it, and continued (continue?) to live as normal members of 'society'. It makes one sick at heart to think of it and casts a troubled light on the world we live in, even today, 70 years on.

One of the greatest books of the 20th century, perhaps ever. Read it, and have your world changed.


Philips QT4050 Turbovac Rechargeable Vacuum Beard Trimmer Plus With Contour Following Comb
Philips QT4050 Turbovac Rechargeable Vacuum Beard Trimmer Plus With Contour Following Comb
Offered by ELETTRO MARVEN
Price: £79.00

18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Philips QT4050 Turbovac Rechargeable Vacuum Beard Trimmer Plus With Contour Following Comb, 16 Oct. 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Third one I've had, bought for the vacuum facility more than anything else - that's the USP. Each model is both cheaper, smaller and lighter, which you'd think would be a plus, but actually the impression of quality is diminished (although it's marginal and one appreciates that freight cost savings are achieved). The reason this doesn't get a higher score however is the 'contour-following comb' which as a feature fails on two counts: 1) a contour-follower is not required (that's what a wrist is for); 2) the comb is coarse, clumsy and gets in the way. What I personally need (and I'm sure I'm not alone) is a finer comb, which picks up the hairs lying flatter than others to give an even trim, and which enables one to get immediately below the nose. A feature to trim the bottom of the moustache could be a bonus, which I think might be achieved with a finer tooth arrangement on the actual cutter. As it is I have to keep both scissors and a razor for these jobs, thus negating the whole smaller/lighter issue. 6/10 - probably the best on the market still, but could do much better.


Spiritual Enlightenment: The Damnedest Thing
Spiritual Enlightenment: The Damnedest Thing
by Jed McKenna
Edition: Paperback

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sounding Brass in an Infinite Universe?, 8 Dec. 2008
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
It's a good read, simply yet beautifully constructed, and it makes a great point, built largely around an embellished Plato's Cave metaphor. Jed guesses there might be perhaps 50 enlightened people on the planet and I'm not one of them, although more than 30 years into my own quest for the Absolute Truth, most of what he says chimes with me. However, if I could talk to Jed (which I would love to do) I would have 3 questions for him: 1) For a man who suggests a key word is "further", you give a very good impression of having reached a terminus; 2) I like storms too, but although the evidence is moot, Jesus is supposed to have actually told them what to do; and 3) Where is the Love ?
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 16, 2011 10:05 AM BST


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