Writing Fiction – More than a year has passed

More than a year has gone by since I began writing my first novel. I’m 47 Chapters and 68800 words into it, and I’ve learned a lot about writing fiction in the process. There have been some breaks in the writing process here and there, as I have taken two fiction writing courses on-line. They were useful at the time since each provided me with a useful framework for writing fiction.

My progress is hampered by an uncontrollable urge to edit my work. Not a good thing because it breaks the flow of writing. On the other hand, by constantly reviewing my work I have become more in tune with my characters, their needs as people in my fictional world, and how the interact and respond to that world.

I once wrote that I make use of technical supports available on-line. The big three for me are, Grammarly, NaturalReader, and now AutoCrit. These are essential supports which compensate for a moderate form of dyslexia. Without these tools I could never hope to produce anything of merit. These are useful tools for any writer.

The greatest insight into writing fiction to date is that technique is important, but without creativity there is no story. Although the support services promote good technique, more critically, the promote good rewriting and attention to structure and flow.

I need to get back to my manuscript now, so I’ll end this short post. More to follow.

L. A. Weiss

My first work, a work of non-fiction is  Through a Lens of Emptiness  

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The Day I Met the Jewwwzz Man

The day I met the Jewwwzz Man was a day like any other day. Well, not exactly like any other day, because we (my lovely wife of 48 years and I) were not home in gray, dreary Ontario, but in sunny, warm Mexico. So, it was a day like any other day, while on vacation in Mexico avoiding the gray, dreary Ontario winter that I encountered him, but again, not exactly like any other day.

The day I met the Jewwwzz Man, was a day during our yearly sojourn in Mexico when two friends were visiting for the week. One of them has limited mobility and uses a walking stick, and the other has a chronic lower back problem and doesn’t move along so well either. That meant our daily routine now included taking electric transports from place to place within the resort.

Taking transport vehicles, means that one’s person might be exposed to others who are also escaping their own version of a cold, gray, dreary winter. That inevitability means certain beings can intrude inside my Dome of Heaven. Whenever such intrusions occur, they might be limited to an I-It category of relationship, or elevated to an I-Thou level. They might be permitted to remain under my Dome of Heaven, or be banished to the netherworld far from that idyllic place.

If you don’t know the difference between I-It and I-Thou relationships, you can read my book Through a Lens of Emptiness or you can read Martin Buber’s “I-It and I-Thou.” Suffice it to say, that I-It relationships are limited to factual knowledge about something or someone, and I-Thou relationships imply emotional interactions. When the Jewwwzz Man intruded into my Dome of Heaven, we were on such a transport vehicle. He didn’t even have a name at the time and there was no way of telling who he really was. He was just there, seated one seat behind me on the transport.

Leaning forward into my space, he asked where we were headed, and I politely responded with the name of the restaurant. As these sorts of informal inquisitions go, I responded in kind. We exchanged some impressions of the quality of food at each place. He asked “Did you have the Paella?” I responded as best I could, offering my opinion of the cuisine, and he in turn offered his. He increased the audacity of his intrusion by introducing himself. Thus marks the transition from just another human traveling on the same transport vehicle as me, to an I-It relationship called Mike from Illinois.

Sometimes one can choose his I-It interactions and sometimes they just happen. Mike from Illinois just happened because to ignore him would have been contrary to normal civil discourse, and certainly contrary to my Canadian manner. However, it was not until the next morning that I-It Mike transformed into I-Thou.

Mike and I crossed paths on our way to and from the exercise facility (El Gimnasio) at the resort, he on his way to, and me on my way from. Because of our newly formed I-It status we immediately recognized each other and stopped to exchange a socially appropriate “good morning.” Mike decided to elevate his end of the relationship by asking “Where are you from?” to which I responded, “Near Toronto in Canada.” That should have been the end of it, but Mike decided to push the limits of our relationship to the next level.

He prolonged the interaction by saying, “My son (or perhaps it was his brother, I can’t remember which because I didn’t really care) lived in Toronto for a year and told me there were all kinds of different people living in there.”

To which I countered, “There certainly are, Toronto is one of the most cosmopolitan cities in North America.” Mike’s rejoinder tipped his hand, for with his next words I discovered his true identity.

Mike then remarked, “I understand there are a lot of Jewwwzz in Toronto ―a lot of Jewwwzz,” I knew who I was dealing with. It was the Jewwwzz Man in the flesh.

imagesT00DR7FU I responded, “That’s true,” all the while controlling an enormous urge to laugh a great big, loud, roaring laugh. You see, at that very moment, as the word Jewwwzz left his lips, Mike from Illinois transformed into a human-like Dr. Seussian character. There was just something about his face, the way his mouth formed the word Jewwwzz, and the way those sounds oozed and slithered out of his mouth, prolonging the “…wwwzz” sound that strongly resembled the Grinch, or a Whovien creature from some oversized Whoville. It was at this point in our relationship that I-It became I-Thou, at least for the moment. e999841f42e76f81e3b05891fdfb8974[1]

What the Jewwwzz Man didn’t know, couldn’t know, is that I happen to be Jewish. I took his comment to be a reflection of an intrinsic level of anti-Semitism, a form of the resident evil present in xenophobes. There was just something about his emphasis on “many different kinds of people” and “lots of Jewwwzz,” that screamed XENOPHOBIA. I-It Mike from Illinois, became, I-Thou Mike the Jewwwzz Man.

I went from just identifying Mike as a human being with a certain physical form from a certain place (just knowledge), to what Mike was like on the inside — a xenophobic, Mid-Western Caucasian, American, who had the temerity to evoke an emotional response in me. I am not angry with Mike. I do not hate him or care to get to know him better, fear his presence on the face of the earth, or revile him. Indeed, there is a smidgeon of sympathy for this narrow-minded and prejudiced individual.

There is something pitiable about a person who cannot see past the image of “all kinds of people living in Toronto” to describe a multicultural, cosmopolitan city. Mike’s true, negative feelings about people who are not like him, Caucasian, American, and Christian, came across when he said “lots of Jewwwzz” in conversation. After mulling this thought over in his head for a few seconds during a thoughtful pause, and then saying “lots of Jewwwzz” a second time without taking a second breath, confirmed it.

The essence of any I-Thou relationship is that it persists as long as the emotions related to it exist. I usually cherish I-Thou relationships because they fulfill me, but not this one. The Jewwwzz Man is more like the Grinch than he knows. I may never be able to relegate Mike from Illinois to an I-It status again, but I certainly can exclude him from my Dome of Heaven, relegating him to the nether provinces of my life experience. My Dome of Heaven definitely does not, and never will, include xenophobes.

As always, your faithful blogger,

L Alan Weiss (Larry) – Author


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A New Adventure in Writing Begins

A New Adventure in Writing – Young Adult/New Adult Fiction

This is the first in a new series of posts. The initial series followed my adventures in self-publishing. Those posts focused on everything from working my way through editorial supports, revisions, financing the whole adventure, and some experiences related to marketing my book. Now, I’m going to try to get a book written and published by a traditional publisher.

There may be some expenses related to this adventure, but that will depend on how well I have learned to write and edit on my own, as well as developing channels for getting critiqued that do not require money or contract agreements. My adventures in self-publishing were exciting in their own way and netted me the experience I sought. I just don’t want to repeat the experience, nor can I afford to do so.

I had an idea for a plot for a story aimed at the Young-Adult market and promptly when about writing a partial first chapter. I sent it to a friend who writes middle-grade fiction. His comment was kind but pointed. He wrote, “Remember that dialogue is king,” which was a polite way to tell me that text full of exposition was not “king.” Obviously, I had another steep learning curve ahead of me, so I dusted off some software I own titled Dramatica Pro: The Ultimate Creative Writing Partner. How could I go wrong with that?

How has Dramatica Pro worked for me, you ask? The jury (ie my intellect) is still out on that question, because Dramatica Pro is based on something called Dramatica Theory, which is a theoretical, deconstruction of the structure for works of fiction, be they novels, or short stories, or plays, or screenplays. The analytical side of me, honed by years of study in pure science and later in educational psychology, loved Dramatica. The creative side of me was still that of a rather naïve individual who is ignorant about what constitutes good dialogue and how to develop great characters. The analytical side of me was happy with a useful structure to work with.

I have been engaged in this personal right brain/left brain conflict for about four weeks now, and so far it hasn’t ripped my brain into two. Here are some things that I have gleaned from Dramatica which have been useful so far:

· I have identified and developed the basic descriptions for eight archetypical characters.

· I have started sketching out my plot using a five act, rather than a three act format.

· I consider each act as journeys between signposts that mark the beginning, middle, and end of my story. Act I is the journey to the first signpost, and Act V is the journey from the last signpost to the very end of the book. I note that my favourite Scandinavian crime novelists, namely Jo Nesbo and Henning Mankell, both use a five act structure to great effect, although I had no idea what a five-act format for a novel was until I worked through the Dramatica materials.

· Dramatica is not for the impatient novice fiction writer. Fortunately I am doggedly persistent and manically capable of endless repetition. These are the very traits that tend to drive others crazy and exactly the traits required to survive using Dramatica Theory as an approach to writing.

Thus far, I have an idea of structure and an idea of character and character interactions. I have a sense of plot development and understand the Dramatica concepts of theme and genera. I am still struggling with character development and am not even close to developing an approach to dialogue. I’ve engaged other muses, genies and gurus to help me in that area. They will be the subject of my next post.  akinator_1_defi1[1]

As always, your faithful blogger,

L Alan Weiss (Larry) – Author


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The Kicking Horse River and the Way of Water

The Kicking Horse River and the Way of Water

Last evening (May 27), I attended another performance of the Kitchener Waterloo Teachers Choir. My son and daughter-in-law are members of this amateur choir. Each Christmas and Spring they give a concert. This year’s Spring Concert included the song, “Kicking Horse River”. The lyric of this song is based on a poem of the same name by the Canadian poet Pauline Johnson. The music is composed by Jeff Smallman. This song is strongly evocative of the power and personality of the Kicking Horse River as it cuts its way through the Canadian Rockies.kickinghorsemapKickinghorseRiver

The music and words “grabbed me” and tugged at the heart of a man who loves the mountains of British Columbia and the wild rivers that emanate from their glaciers and a myriad of springs on high. The words of the immortal Pauline Johnson, mated with Smallman’s composition, and the sounds of the human voice, conjured up the Taoist ideas related to the power and qualities of water, sometimes known as the Water Way.

If you go into the natural world and observe water or you experiment with it, water reveals its qualities: [Quoted from Tao and Water – The Real Spiritual Lesson]

– Water is relentless.  It never stops exerting its force.

– Its force is a manifestation of its nature.  It does not try to be something it is not, applying neither morality nor immorality.

– When it is restricted, Water seeks the weakest spot of any obstruction and applies constant force until it is free.

– When it is pressed or attacked, it changes form and repositions itself.  It exerts constant counter force to search for weakness.

– Water is opportunistic.  Given the slightest opening it will pass through.  It will do so while the opening is present.  It will widen the opening if possible.

– Water always seeks to do the easiest thing as long as it can.

-Water does not complain about the path it follows.  It simply follows the path.

– Water has a wide range of energetic expressions but continues to be Water.  It can be still.  It can be sluggish.  It can be swift.  It can be pounding.  It can be vapor.

When you compare the words and feelings expressed in Johnson’s poem to the qualities of water, the similarities are striking. Pauline Johnson was no Taoist, but she was a First Nation’s person who lived in the late 19th Century and on into the beginning of the 20th..PaulineJohnsonThe First Nation traditional view of the natural world is very close to the Taoist concept of the unity of man and nature. The Way of Water and the Unity of Man and Nature, are two significant themes found in Through a Lens of Emptiness: Reflections on Life, Longevity and Contentment.

Water plays an important role in all lives as an essential basic need. Beyond that, when the Way of Water in all its manifestations and qualities, becomes part of one’s way of living, he cannot help but seek the Tao. I look for evidence of the Tao in all peoples, in all cultures, and in all things. Of course, I do not always find it, but that’s not surprising. Sometimes you just cannot see the Tao (which cannot be seen), but one can always feel the Tao when he is on the right path.

There are times when one is so moved by an experience, sharing it with others is the only thing he can do. The rendition of “Kicking Horse River”, and the words of Pauline Johnson created just such an experience for me. Have you had a similar experience. Please share it through the comment section.

As always, your faithful blogger,

L Alan Weiss – Author – “Through a Lens of Emptiness: Reflections on Life, Longevity and Contentment.”



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Marketing a Book #5 – Keeping Pace with Social Media

steeplearning2lMarketing a Book #5 – Keeping Pace with Social Media

I began working with my social media publicist about seven weeks ago. The first few weeks were dedicated to organizing the campaign to come. This Wednesday marks the fourth week of the official relationship between the publicist and me, and I find myself climbing an ever steepening learning curve week by week.


Holy Moly, this is really steep.

Each successive week’s session begins with a review of progress based on the previous session and then we move on to a new topic. The first session focused on blog and twitter strategies, The second week focused on Facebook and the third on differentiating the role of a personal Facebook page and a fan page. This week we will look at Hootsuite: mechanics and strategies, and how to incorporate Sway into a strategy. I have been working away at building up a LinkedIn presence at the same time.

The only way one can learn about social media is to work with it. In my case, I’m a generation or two out of step with how these various social media channels function. I’m learning a great deal and making some progress, but I often feel like I need to catch my breath. Even this post will become a Twitter and Facebook entry because that sort of thing is the essence of social media strategies. I’ve also signed up for something called classmates.com with the intent of connecting with people I knew in the past. So far, I have linked up with one individual and started a conversation.

Trying to stay on track

Trying to stay on track

Social media coaching is certainly beneficial, particularly for a novice. It is impossible to say how effective social media networking will be as a marketing tool, but I certainly believe I’m getting the word out about my book Through a Lens of Emptiness: Reflections on Life. Longevity and Contentment through many channels. Some individuals may even become familiar with my Nom de Plume – L Alan Weiss, part of my regular blog post sign off. I’ll continue to blog on my book marketing experiences as they unfold, including any progress made in the area of social media.

As always, your faithful blogger,

L Alan Weiss – Author

Please vista me at www.lalanweiss.com or on my newly created Facebook fan page

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Jews, Tribes, Trials and Tribulations

Please visit my author websiteJews, Tribes, Trials and Tribulations

Before I begin my discussion, I highly recommend The Historical Atlas of THE BIBLE: A visual Guide from Ancient Times to the NEW TESTAMENT: THE FASCINATING HISTORY OF THE SCRIPTURES by Dr. Ian Barns, to anyone interested in the history of religions which trace their origins to the Patriarch Abraham.

imageThe previous post posited the idea that socio-behavioral evolution selected for characteristics that enabled small hunter-gatherer groups to survive. It further implies that these are the same qualities that allow larger political units, like city-states, to develop and prosper. I also suggested religion in these civilizations was polytheistic with the exception of the Jews, but this oversimplification of history is consistent with the beliefs of the Judeo-Christian world, however less than accurate.

This map represents the tribal regions in Palestine before unification under Saul, the first king of a unified nation. This nation of the Israelites was formed about two centuries after the time of the exodus from Egypt in the mid to the latter part of the 13th Century BCE. Such maps as these imply that areas of Palestine were distributed to Jacob’s sons, who were twelve in number. Ten of Jacobs sons led ten of the tribes, and two carry the names of Josephs sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, which Jacob (Israel) had adopted. This was the extent of Palestine at the time of the Judges, who were the leaders in each of these tribal political zones of influence. This image of an organized nation reflects the Biblical record but belies the evidence of history.

Did Abram (Abraham after the covenant) exist? Perhaps! The Biblical record led archeologists to sites that represent settlements mentioned in the text of the Bible. There is also evidence of the wanderings of a group of nomadic/semi-nomadic peoples who left the region of Ur in ancient Sumer towards the very end of the late 3rd Millennium BCE. This wandering tribe of nomadic Semites, who may or may not have been led by a historical Abraham, travelled through the region of the Fertile Crescent to Egypt, then back to the land of the Canaanites. This wandering tribe or group of tribes, are the Hebrews) in search of a place to settle.

The biblically oriented view of the Patriarchs – (Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph) – is as great leaders and founders of the Hebrew/Israelite nation. I tend to look at these leaders as pragmatic and politically astute individuals who shaped a peoples perspective on the nature of God. Each of them in their turn, built a foundation of an intellectually challenging and rational belief system that enabled the peoples who became the Jews to survive the trials and tribulation of history.

The individual identified as Abram (Abraham) was certainly a leader. He led his peoples from Ur to the Nile and back to the land of the Canaanites (also semi-nomadic Semitic peoples) to set up settlements in the part of the Fertile Crescent that received the most rainfall and had a fertile river valley included. This once wandering band of Semitic peoples now began to infiltrate the region and take over some of the Canaanite cities by force. Those Canaanites who played ball with the tribes following Abram became absorbed into the group, and those that didn’t met the fate of all conquered peoples who refuse to co-operate with the conquerors. There is no room for illusion or delusion here. The political masterstroke of the leader of these peoples was the single most important idea of this leader or cluster of leaders, and it all had to do with the beginnings of a monotheistic belief structure.

The principal god of the Canaanites was El. There were other gods to be sure, but El was the chief god amongst them. The word Elohim, which we find in the text of the Bible, simply meant gods. It is also possible that El was a god familiar to the wandering Semitic peoples led by Abraham. At this point in Abrams conquest, he conceives of an idea that is matched only by Saul of Tarsus (Paul), and his epiphany on the road to Damascus. Abram, desiring to grow his following, adopts El as the god of the Hebrews and now says that he is the one true God. Thus, it is possible to co-opt the people of Canaan who wished to join up with Abram’s followers. God also became portable and personal, which is important, because the Jews have literally wandered the globe throughout their history and have carried their idea of God with them.

The idea of one God was not easy to instill. Many pagan gods persisted among these early Hebrews, and that was fine, because leaders like Abraham knew that bold new ideas take time to become core beliefs for a group. Every time a new group of Canaanites were incorporated into the growing numbers of Abram’s followers, the proselytizing and conversions began again. The other master stroke of the leader we shall call Abram was to have a vision of God, establish a visible sign of the covenant (circumcision), and change his name to Abraham from Abram. The next problem for the leaders of this group of nascent monotheists was to eliminate human sacrifice. That was Abraham’s next task.

Abraham deals with the issue of human sacrifice by relating a story about how he was commanded by God to sacrifice his only son, Isaac. It was a test of loyalty. In the end, God saves Isaac from being sacrificed and offers a ram to be sacrificed in his place. The message was clear. Abraham let his followers know that God (El), did not approve of human sacrifice. Isaac takes Abraham’s place as patriarch, and besides his faithfulness to the God of the Hebrews, contributes two sons to the mix, Esau and Jacob. Although polygamy was an acceptable practice, he takes only one wife, which presages the idea of monogamy.

Jacob fathers twelve sons by three different wives. As the number of followers of the Hebrew God increases, it becomes a management issue. When a famine threatens the population, Jacob, his son’s and many of the Hebrew peoples go to Egypt. This, of course, becomes the story of Joseph. The Hebrew peoples manage to survive the famine and live in Egypt comfortably, increase in number, and settle in the area until the leadership changes. Joseph loses whatever political pull he had and the people are enslaved. By now, the Hebrew peoples are divided up into tribes led by the sons of Jacob.

The next great political leader of the Hebrews is Moses, who may or may not have been a Hebrew. It really doesn’t matter, because the exodus from Egypt had begun under the leadership of a man we call Moses. The Hebrew may have given up human sacrifice, but polytheism had not been completely extinguished. Moses’, with the support of the leaders of the Hebrew tribes, managed to work a deal that freed them from slavery. Thus began the return to Palestine. On the way, Moses ascends a mountain, stays for many days, and returns with the tablets containing the Ten Commandments. Another master stroke of political thinking.

Eventually, this large population of wandering Hebrews returns to Palestine under the leadership of ten of Jacob’s sons and Joseph’s sons who had been adopted by Jacob when Joseph died. The key thing to remember is that not all the Hebrews left for Egypt, and there was a population of Abrahamic Hebrews that were there when the Israelites who followed Moses out of Egypt arrived. The Patriarchs of the bible were astute political leaders who understood human nature. They understood the power of the idea of an invisible, ever present, personal God. They used some clever stories to bring those they led to monotheism and away from pagan beliefs. They also established a leadership structure that adjusted to the size and needs of the population they led.

The monotheism of the Hebrew/Israelites was the foundation for the Judeo-Christian world, and the Islamic peoples. It was also more than a religion. It was a political philosophy based in God (a theocracy) let by political and militarily capable men who are indeed Patriarchs (founders) of a people.

In my next post, I will address the development of the system rule by Judges, Kings and Clerics.

What do you think God would think of this post? Please comment…

Yours as always, your faithful blogger,

L Alan Weiss (Larry) – Author of Through a Lens of Emptiness: Reflections on Life, Longevity and Contentment

Please visit my author website at www.lalanweiss.com

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Trade Routes, Religion and The Way

The Way continued…

I ended my last post with the thought that the basic precepts of Eastern and Western religions and philosophies are the products of social evolution and trade between diverse peoples. As this line of reasoning continues, the term ‘The Way’ is used in a generic sense to represent positive social and personal behavioural attributes, not in reference to any specific religion or philosophy.

Ancient trade routes are present by the 3rd Millennium BCE. Trade routes between the civilizations in Asia, Asia Minor, Africa, India, the Mediterranean civilizations and major trading centers in each, are all very well established by the 1st Millennium BCE, thus providing ample opportunity for proponents of different Eastern belief systems to share ideas. This time frame neatly encompasses the period when the world’s great Eastern religions and philosophies took form; namely Hinduism, Judaism, Buddhism and Taoism.

The Vedas of Hinduism are pegged at about 1200 BCE. The origin of Judaism is reputed to begin with the migration of Abraham and his family from the city of Ur to Canaan in about the beginning of the 2nd Millennium BCE, but the Pentateuch (Five books of Moses) only took shape between the 9th and 5th Centuries BCE. The origins of Buddhism and Taoism are traced to somewhere in the 6th Century BCE. All of these peoples were involved in the exchange of goods and materials through trade. At the same time traders must also have exchanged ideas including codes of behaviour. Social organization beginning with primitive hunter-gatherer groups, continuing with the formation of permanent settlements, transitioning to city-states, the great empires of antiquity and extending to modern society, all depend on workable codes of behaviour.

All animal life must satisfy basic needs for food, protection from the elements, the opportunity to procreate and protection from harm. Stone Age man provided for those needs by forming small groups of cooperative hunter gatherers. Positive social evolution is driven by forces; basic human needs, the natural world, human emotion and interaction between and among people. With the discovery of edible plants and grain types that could be purposely cultivated, human communities began the transition from nomadic hunter gatherers to settlement dwellers about ten millennia ago. The socio-behavioural characteristics of altruism, respect for the property and person of other, nurturing and protecting the young and cooperating in all manner of ways, were prerequisite for the success of even the most primitive of human social organization.

Thus, The Way, becomes a path to survival and success for humanity. Difficulties and conflicts arise between peoples become an issue when one form of The Way is held to be superior to any another, or one or more precepts are subverted or ignored. Corruption, bribery, aggression, greed and whichever other of mankind’s negative behaviours are all the consequence of deviation from acceptable codes of behaviour. Unfortunately, such behaviours have not been extinguished from human society despite the best efforts of well-meaning people.

Until next time, as always, your faithful blogger,

L Alan Weiss –Author of Through a Lens of Emptiness – Release date TBA

Please visit me at my author website at   www.lalanweiss.com

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This past Saturday, my wife and I turned to Netflix for some movie entertainment and came up with a movie called The Way starring Martin Sheen, based on a screenplay written by his son Emilio Estevez. I’ll leave it to the reader to investigate the details of the story line. At its heart, It is a ‘journey’ or ‘quest’’ story about a man that follows the pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela, which is called The Way. Coincidentally, the previous morning, I was discussing the possibility that ‘The Way’ adopted by the Nazarene sect, the early followers of Jesus, might have arisen from much earlier influences.

Many centuries Before the Christian Era (BCE), there are two significant groups that are dedicated to following The Way; namely the Buddha Way and the Tao. Research related to the content of my soon to be released book, Through a Lens of Emptiness, delved deeply into Eastern religions and philosophies, including Buddhism and Taoism. Even the Hindu caste system specifies a way of behavior that defines each caste.

Buddhism is grounded in the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path to enlightenment, and Taoism is defined by precepts, the most important of them are ten in number. The Nazarenes, initially a sect of Judaism was based on the Ten Commandments and the practices of Judaism. It was the ideas of Saul of Tarsus (Paul) that influenced the evolution of the Nazarenes into a group whose beliefs resemble Christianity today. When the foundational precepts of Buddhism and Taoism are examined and compared to the Ten Commandments and the purported teachings of Jesus, one is struck by the similarity in theme and prescription. Judaism is also essentially an Eastern belief system since it originated in the Near East.

In addition to the similarity in theme, I believe there is a similarity in purpose. Each of these systems of basic precepts represents the end product of millennia of social and behavioural evolution. They are all fundamentally moral codes of and prescribed behaviours that foster stability in human society. Even the description of the characteristics of a true pilgrim following The Way to Santiago de Compostela resemble aspects of the basic moral and behavioural characteristics of Eastern belief systems.

That’s enough deep thinking for tonight. In my next post, I plan to examine the role of trade routes in the interchange of religious and philosophical ideas.

What would Jesus think about this post? Please comment…..

As always, your faithful blogger . . .L Alan Weiss (Larry) – Author of Through a Lens of Emptiness

Visit my author website at www.lalanweiss.com


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Remembrance Day

Today is Remembrance Day in Canada and in the Western world in one form or another. It is a day that  marks the Armistice, the end of World War I.  It was a particularly special day for those of us fortunate enough to live in a nation of the British Commonwealth, for it marked the 100th anniversary of Great Brittan’s entry into the war. It is a day to remember, a day of quietude and thankfulness, not a day for retail sales, commercialism or big shows.

Perhaps those who know me as a life long pacifist will find a blog post about memorializing war unusual, even out of character; an expat American who is profoundly Canadian to his core. The True North Strong and Free has been my home since 1968, more than twice as long as I lived in the US. I, like many others, emigrated from the United States to other places because of  opposition to a profoundly unjustified conflict and government’s policies based in hegemony not humanity.

As I sat in my car today listening to the ceremonies from the cenotaph in Ottawa, I was profoundly moved, and as always cast into an abyss of thought and introspection. My first thoughts always go to my American brothers and sisters that fought and died in the Viet Nam conflict, and equally to those who came back physically and mentally damaged. You see, I am a pacifist, but I am not anti-military, just anti-militerist.

Viet Nam, and the conflicts in Iraq and to some extent Afghanistan, were political, economic and vengeful wars. The two World Wars were a different ilk of war. They were much more about preventing certain countries from dominating other countries. World War II and the battle for freedom in opposition to the horrors of Hitler’s Germany strikes particularly close to home, since my father and uncles all fought in one or another of the areas of conflict, in the Army, Navy or Marines.

The Cold War era, and all that flowed from the geopolitical tensions it brought to bear on governments and people, is the war of my youth. The philosophy of mutual assured destruction, the arms race, the Bay of Pigs, spies and spying and the Cuban Missile crisis were ever present from the post WW II era until the fall of the USSR. Although I was always a pacifist and a “peacenik,” it is easy to appreciate the dynamics of the times.

Canada became my chosen refuge in 1968 because its government and military were committed to peacekeeping and peace building. It was also a country that achieved its independence from Brittan by earning it, and by negotiating for it gradually, without the need for revolution or civil war.  I believe I was intrinsically Canadian from birth and just had to wait for the right time in life to discover my true homeland.

This year, two men in Canadian uniforms were taken in two acts of violence by individuals provoked by a twisted sense for right and wrong. These two events happened in the same week less than month ago. One of the men was run down by a mad man behind the wheel of a car, and the other was shot in the back as he was standing as an unarmed honour guard at the same monument that was the focus of today’s ceremonies. The same individual who committed the horrific and cowardly act of assassinating a young unarmed reservist, then went into our parliament buildings with the intent to commit further mayhem and destruction. Fortunately he was prevented from doing so. The events of that fateful week evoked a deep emotional response to this year’s Remembrance Day events in all Canadians.

My thoughts then wondered to my father, and his role as a medic in the 308th Tank Destroyer Battalion. This year those thoughts and feelings were substantially enhanced by this summer’s experiences. Travel to Western Europe brought me into close contact with the consequences of war. Visits to the battlefields of Normandy, Ypres, the Ardennes and Waterloo, and the museums, monuments and cemeteries related to those battlegrounds were intensely moving. In the Ardennes, the memorial to the American forces involved in the Battle of the Bulge, was particularly meaningful, since my father was involved in that theater of battle.

On the occasion of this visit to the Ardennes, we were stayed in Luxembourg where my father sustained a wound in the line of duty. Fortunately for me it was a minor wound to the earlobe, but a bit further to the left and I might not have been, and a few inches to the right he wouldn’t have received a Purple Heart. What really got to me was seeing the streets of Luxembourg today and thinking back to the old black and white photographs of that war torn city when he was there. I was able to imagine myself in the same local were he went into harms way to help wounded men and were he received his own wound.

I am a pacifist and a “peacenik” but I have only pride and admiration for those Canadians, and indeed those Americans, who voluntarily chose a military lifestyle. There commitment to duty in the defence of freedom and democracy (as long as that is their credo) is to be admired, respected and supported. They are the reason I am free to be the unrepentant pacifist and “peacenik”. The military carries on the act of warring, but it is the government that must be judged based on the battles they choose to fight, and the reasons the choose to send men and women into harms war.

Yes, this has been a very moving Remembrance Day, even for a pacifist like myself. I wish for an era of peace where war is just a matter for the history books. I will speak of peace, and push for peace and argue for peace, until a world is at peace making such actions unnecessary.

As. always, you faithful blogger,

L Alan Weiss (Larry) – author of Through a Lens of Emptiness

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In production – AT LAST

Today was indeed a special day. When I logged into my file on the publisher web site, and looked at the tag ‘book status’, I saw the words ‘in production.’ Those words mark the beginning of the end of a pathway I entered on the 29th day of May in 2012, when I purchased my publishing package. Writing a book is truly a long and winding road.

This is a short post to inform whom ever follows these posts, that Through a Lens of Emptiness will soon be a reality. The next step toward completion and publishing my project will be cover design approval. I’m leaving that up to the designers at the publisher, but I am certainly excited to see how it looks.

I have not revealed who I am working with yet, but will make that information public after the book goes live and is available in print. There is more to write about at that time regarding costs and the services provided.

Until next time . . .as always,  you faithful blogger,

L Alan Weiss (Larry) – Author of Through a Lens of Emptiness

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