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Alastair McIntosh (Scotland)
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Mysticism (Pelican)
Mysticism (Pelican)
by F.C. Happold
Edition: Paperback

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's a great introductory book, 26 Feb. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Mysticism (Pelican) (Paperback)
O what a pity that somebody has sourly given this book a 1 star review, not on account of the book, but on account of its non-delivery from a vendor.

Let me just say that I first read this in my late teens forty years ago. It had a huge effect on me that has been enduring. It may be out of print now, but that is a reflection on the superficiality of our times, and not the quality of Happold's work or the mystics he has chosen. It's a great introductory book.

Happold has been criticised for being a "perennialist". That's one who subscribes to Huxley's "perennial philosophy" - the idea that much the same mystical principles arise in different cultures and at different times, it's just that Christians will see it as Christ, Hindus as Krishna, and so on. This point of view is rejected by those who believe that their point of view is unique in a way that sets it apart from, and usually, above, other faith perspectives. Personally, I am a perennialist, albeit one who thinks that the Christian faith has some very special insights and embodied experience to bring to the world spiritual table. As such, I embrace Happold's perennialism. But then, I would, wouldn't I: I read him at a tender age!

I do hope you'll enjoy reading a 2nd hand copy of this book, and that the person who gave such a dismal review based only on the vendor service might re-think his star rating, so as not to put others off.


Traveller's Guide To Sacred Scotland: A Guide To Sotland's Ancient Sites and Sacred Places (Traveller's Guides)
Traveller's Guide To Sacred Scotland: A Guide To Sotland's Ancient Sites and Sacred Places (Traveller's Guides)
by Marianna Lines
Edition: Paperback
Price: £16.99

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A lovely guide that honours all our ancient traditions, 15 Nov. 2014
Until now Marianna Lines has been best known as a remarkable visual artist, taking as her inspiration themes from Pictish stones and Celtic grave slabs and presenting their images in new ways that breathes life into the contemporary imagination. Her website is worth a visit to see some of these. She has now complemented that skill of paint brush with the pen. This book shares with us places around Scotland that have fed her with inspiration. As a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland she is better qualified than many to interpret these sites. Typically she provides about a page of text with location and photography to a very high standard. I must acknowledge a (non-financial) interest in that she asked me to write a couple of pages introduction to her section on the Outer Hebrides. I value the manner in which she has included both Christian and the pre-Christian sites. We have before us a heritage of layer upon layer of spiritual depth. Weaving these together encourages us to tread gently over all, with reverence.

In assessing this book I had as a yardstick in my mind Nick Mayhew Smith's "Britain's Holiest Places". That work has, rightly, been very well received. Its only real criticism (on Amazon) is that it focusses on Christian holy places. In spreading her net more widely Marianna overcomes that limitation. Also, because Nick's book covers the whole of Britain it requires a rucksack more than a pocket to carry around. This volume is in a narrow format that renders it eminently portable.

All of this genre reflect a resurgence of interest in pilgrimage in these islands. I am minded of a line by R.S. Thomas: "The parish has a saint's name time cannot unfrock" (The Moon in Lleyn). Reminded, also, of Leonard Cohen: "I forget to pray for the angels/ and then the angels forget to pray for us." There is a sense in which these ancient places matter because, as T.S. Eliot has it in Four Quartets, they are places "where prayer has been valid." But that's me getting inward about it. The thing about so many of these sites is that they simply speak for themselves as places or creations of outstanding beauty, many as sacred natural sites. Sacred Scotland takes its readers by the hand and leads us deep into the land. For that, thank you.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 17, 2014 2:02 PM GMT


Meditations on a Blue Vase: and the Foundations of Transpersonal Psychology
Meditations on a Blue Vase: and the Foundations of Transpersonal Psychology
by Arthur Deikman MD
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.20

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Restoring "worth" to the ship of life, 12 Nov. 2014
I have not read this book, but I have read several of its original contributions at source and they have long influenced my work and writing. In fact, I found out that Deikman has published this collection of his papers only today when checking out references for something I'm writing for a forthcoming volume from Green Books on "spiritual activism". I would like to honour Arthur Deikman's contribution to transpersonal psychology and perhaps the best way I can do so is to quote, below, what I drafted about his work this very morning.

.... It is one thing to create analogies of reducing valves or apertures of consciousness, but is there any evidence? One source, as we saw earlier, is the study of spiritual experiences. Many who have had mystical, “peak” or other such ways of describing transpersonal experience describe seeing the world in terms of “freshness”, “with new eyes” or being “born again”. As we quoted George Fox in Chapter Two, “Everything was new. And the whole creation gave off another smell to what I knew before…”

Another evidential source is experiment. A celebrated example is the set of experimental meditation studies conducted by the clinical psychiatrist, Arthur Deikman. Deikman built on studies that suggest that the brain sustains efficient housekeeping by rendering certain perceptual and cognitive processes automatised. Because human consciousness can’t be everywhere at once they drop, once learned, below the threshold of consciousness. For instance, when learning to ride a bike consciousness will fixate on every motion. Once the skill is established such detail of awareness drops into the unconscious and cycling becomes “automatised”. This frees consciousness to be present, instead, to the birds, the bees and the view.

Deikman wanted to see if perception and cognition that had become automatised could be deautomatised. He invited subjects to meditate intensely on a beautiful blue vase. Afterwards, people reported their subjective sense of what shifted. For example, the blue was described as becoming not just blue, but very blue. After all, why should there be qualitative limit on “blueness”? The meditators also reported shifts in their sense of the vase’s shape and in the passage of time during the exercise.

These effects seem consistent with automatised structures becoming deautomatised and perception and cognition shifting, as it were, to a more primal level. It was as if concentrating on the vase allowed it to become more real. As William Blake wrote: “If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear to man as it is, Infinite: for man has closed himself up, till he sees all things through narrow chinks of his cavern.” In Deikman’s opinion this is probably what happens in mystical experience.

At one level this is all common sense. At another, it gives powerful insight into why “presence” matters and its implications for activism. Automatisation of values and how other people or nature are viewed might shed light on Mark Twain’s disturbing remark that “familiarity breeds contempt.” The soldier quoted above who said that after a while you get used to the blood and gore of killing – “you don’t see it, you don’t smell it, you don’t feel it” – is describes a grotesque deautomatisation. What could be the antidote? Deikman’s work would suggest spirituality, and it is interesting that the word “worship” comes from the Old English, weoršscipe in West Saxon meaning worth-ship. A lovely one of Deikman’s collected papers is about “Service as a Way of Knowing”. That’s the name of the game. To give worth that restores the ship of life to worth.


A Sociological Phenomenology of Christian Redemption
A Sociological Phenomenology of Christian Redemption
Price: £13.00

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Developing an Integral Sociology of Scotland, 10 Nov. 2014
I have not read this book and am not going to be able to at present; however, I have spent an hour on the introduction, and think it appropriate to say that this appears to be a most remarkable study of the Scottish social psyche, broaching an "integral sociology" that introduces the spiritual into understanding the underlying dynamics leading up to the Referendum of 2014. I simply want to flag that up and wish that I had time at the moment to read and say more.


Caledonian Dreaming: The Quest for a Different Scotland (Open Scotland Series)
Caledonian Dreaming: The Quest for a Different Scotland (Open Scotland Series)
by Gerry Hassan
Edition: Paperback
Price: £11.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A primer of history in the making, 29 Aug. 2014
No time to write a proper review with so much happening on the Scottish independence front, but for those wanting to grapple in-depth with the issues, and from a perspective that respects both sides of the debate, this book is both a key primer and will, in time, take its place amongst indicative historical documents.


Canoe T Paddle Handle
Canoe T Paddle Handle
Offered by H2o Kayaks Ltd
Price: £4.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Size info, 25 Jun. 2014
This review is from: Canoe T Paddle Handle (Misc.)
Just to say, I got one of these and it was a Palm 26 mm. It was easy to shave down slightly with a knife and sandpaper to the size I wanted. Palm also do a bigger one at 29 mm but at the moment they seem to be out of stock on Amazon. I've asked Kent Canoes to order one of each for me. I use them with RUK 4-part paddles so I can vary between using a double paddle or 2 singles, but you need one of each size to fit the tubing.


Hamma 5 Pack Carabina / Carabiner / Carbine Clip 5mm x 50mm - A4 316 Stainless Steel Marine Grade
Hamma 5 Pack Carabina / Carabiner / Carbine Clip 5mm x 50mm - A4 316 Stainless Steel Marine Grade
Offered by Premier Fittings Direct
Price: £6.99

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Robust and beautifully crafted at a great price, 20 Jun. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I'm really pleased with these and arrived within 3 working days. Stamped AISI 316 which is molybdenum-based marine grade stainless steel they claim a break-load of 160 kg, which I could well believe. The clips are beautifully sprung - strong and smooth movement, with lipped ends for extra strength - and what looks like a robust hinge pin. Exactly what I need for clipping things into my canoe and built to last forever, unlike the aluminium and galvanised iron equivalents that are not that much cheaper. I've just ordered more as they'll make the perfect small but thoughtful gift when visiting sailing/outdoor types. "I was hoping for a bouquet of flowers, but all he brought was a pouch of 5 carabiners!"


The People Say Yes
The People Say Yes
by Kenyon Wright
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Kenyon Wright - Father of the new Scotland, 31 May 2014
This review is from: The People Say Yes (Paperback)
What? No other reviews of Kenyon's book on the run-up to the new Scottish Parliament? I recall one of the key events when the various parties gathered to launch a key part of the process in the Assembly Hall (sorry, this is a from-the-hip review, and don't recall the precise event). They were all there - Donald Dewar and the lot except the SNP who were not at that time participating, but when Kenyon came in in his kilt the entire hall rose and applauded. I thought: "here is the person who's undergirding Scotland's constitutional transformation" - deeper than the level of politics because, as he once told me, "I learned my liberation theology while in India". It's years since I read this book so I can't offer a proper review now - I only checked it out to recommend to a friend involved closely in the 2014 Referendum, but Kenyon's wisdom will remain relevant for a long time. Just a snippet from p. 14 about an earlier Assembly Hall event:

"I had a strange sense that I was surrounded, not just by the many hundreds present in the Assembly Hall, but by a 'cloud of witnesses' from the past. On the one side I felt the guardian presence of those Scots who in the 1320 Declaration, so far in advance of its time, told the King at Arbroath that he ruled 'subject to the consent of the realm,' and who pledged their lives 'not for honour, glory or riches but for freedom alone.' .... To my other side I felt the presence of ghosts from my own past, those who had helped me in my pilgrimage an brought me to this time and to the convictions which I hold dear."

Kenyon now lives in England for family reasons but his mind remains very active on the independence question. This book records key strata of that history. His blog - google "Kenyon Wright blog" - shows how fresh and relevant his though continues to be.


Wounded Leaders: British Elitism and the Entitlement Illusion - A Psychohistory
Wounded Leaders: British Elitism and the Entitlement Illusion - A Psychohistory
by Nick Duffell
Edition: Paperback

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Duffell at his best, speaking painful truths to power, 30 May 2014
Nick Duffell's "The Making of Them" had a huge impact on me, showing how the "Balfourian Manner" as it is sometimes called (worth Googling) is constructed from childhood and impacts on nations. Afghanistan, Iraq and Boris Johnson's "Spirit of Envy" speech saying that what made Britain great was our having invaded 90% of the world's countries gives Duffell's work fresh impetus, rendering him, in my view, one of the most challenging thinkers of our times and holding out a key to understanding how the British establishment wields invisible power. The American theologian Walter Wink said that we must name, unmask and engage the Powers that Be. Duffell's work is about the unmasking - revealing the depth psychodynamics of power that oppresses.


Wickwyn: A Vision of the Future
Wickwyn: A Vision of the Future
by Robert Van De Weyer
Edition: Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars Time to read this again, 28 April 2014
I was just recommending this to a friend who has worked internationally in climate change diplomacy, and is seeking deeper answers to how we live. I wrote to him: Wickwyn was important to me when it came out in 1986, influencing the work I went on to do on Eigg (with Scottish land reform). Here are its closing sentences:

“The bread and the wine are symbols of the fruits of human work, and in offering, consecrating and consuming them together people are celebrating a community in which production and consumption are sacramental: through working together and through sharing the fruits of that work, man’s deepest spiritual needs are satisfied also. The social order that is emerging in the twenty-first century is sacramental in its values, its structures and its aspirations. It is a society in which, whether or not they regard themselves as religious, people can through the course of their daily lives find fulfilment both in body and in spirit; and so come to experience personally something of that which Christians call God.” (p. 90)

My memory of the book from 1986 when I read it is that it was not an exciting read - it had a steady, almost pedestrian pace, but it was gently meditative in a way that opened out a vision, and as such, left a lasting impact. I must read it again now almost 30 years on and see what I think this time, but I think his closing lines as quoted above say a lot.


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