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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.”

http://www.lalanweiss.com

 

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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.

steeplearning1

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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Marketing a Book #2 – Lemony Snicket’s Great Advice

Marketing a Book #2 – Lemony Snicket’s Great Advice

Wouldn’t it be great to come up with a concept as neat as Lemony Snicket. Of course, that idea reflects the genius of David Handler. It is up to others to come up with their own ideas for a great and entertaining series of books in the genre of their own choice. There is one product of David Handler’s thinking that we might all copy without fear of copyright infringement. That idea was expressed in an article by Sarah Shaffi in the Bookseller ( http://www.thebookseller.com/news/lemony-snicket-urges-authors-connect-indie-bookshops Oct. 16, 2015)

In the article, Shaffi relates Handler’s ideas on using indie bookstores to market your book, and that’s exactly what I plan to do. Obviously this is just one of several marketing techniques planned for my campaign to sell copies of my book Through a Lens of Emptiness. In Marketing a book #1, I already discussed using Google Ads and Social Media to get my book some profile. Here’s how I plan to implement Daniel Handler’s idea.

I have already approached my local independent bookstore, Pickwick Books in Watertown, Ontario, with the idea. I have asked them to give my book placement in their shop in return for free advertising on my personal website. The plan is for me to provide a few signed copies of the book for sale in their store, and for me to share the profit on the sale with them. Since I can get copies of my book at a discounted rate, and can set the sale price for those copies as I wish. This arrangement is a win-win for Pickwick Books and for me every time a book sells.

Working with my local independent bookstore is logical but clearly only good for moving a few books. To make this a viable plan of action, I’ll need to line up as many independent bookstores in as broad a geographic region as possible. Not only will this take some effort on my part, but also some thought as to how to approach a bookstore with the idea and how to select the stores I want to approach. The number of books I purchase at a discount from the publisher is limited by the resources available to me ($$$$ + time + proximity). Because of these limitations, I need to establish some meaningful criteria to guide my choices.

These are the criteria I will apply to selecting which bookstores to approach:

1. The store needs to have a good location and regular clientele.

2. The bookstore should be relatively well established.

3. Use the post office and a phone call to introduce myself.

4. The owner of the bookstore should show some interest in the content of my book.

5. The bookstore should be within one to one and a half hours drive from my home.

That’s the plan and this spring is the launch date. I’ll keep my readers informed about the efficacy of this plan as it unfolds. I thought Lemony’s Dan Handler) idea had real merit. My only innovation re his suggestion is to provide free advertising for each bookstore participating in my plan on the web.

Until my next post, as always your faithful blogger,

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

Visit my author website at http://www.lalanweiss.com

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Working with an E-Publisher The Final Steps #1

Working with an E-Publisher – The Final Steps #1

This is the next in the series of blog posts related to working with an E-Publisher. The process has reached the production and printing stage after thirty-one months. The final stages revolve around entering the proof reading changes, reviewing the block design proofs for the cover and inside of the book, reviewing and accepting the proof reader’s changes, another review of the text and cover to make sure everything is correct, accepting the final cover and inside designs, indexing, reviewing and approving the index, and final review of the Galley Proof for problems. I am required to accept and sign off on each step.

The ‘quality edit’, which was performed on the last version of the manuscript was submitted after corrections were made, along with a corrected version of the text that would be printed on the back of the book. This is the version that was submitted for layout to fit the 6×9 format plan for the finished book. Once formatted, the block design proofs were reviewed by a proof reader. The book cover was also designed and my suggested text was polished. Once complete, the inside block design proof, proof reader’s corrections, and cover design were sent back in PDF format.

When the PDF files with the block designs for the inside matter and the cover were received, I also received a list of the proof reader’s findings and had to review and accept each suggested change. Each change was listed on a form which was indexed by the page number, the paragraph number, the sentence number, along with the suggested correction and a reason for the change. That file, along with the accepted changes were sent back to the publisher, the changes were made, and the PDF files were sent back for my review. Any changes that I felt still needed to be made were entered on a form in the same manner as the proof reader had provided.

I received the PDF files of the cover and inside matter once again. This time, I needed to verify that the final changes I wished to be made, had been made correctly. Once again, I needed to state explicitly that the changes had been made as requested. Following that acceptance e-mail, and before the process of set up and printing could move forward, I officially signed off on the block designs. The publisher can get on with the remainder of the process now that my approvals are official.

I’ll describe the remainder of my experiences as my project moves toward the final published work. However, before this post concludes, there are a few important reminders.

· The publisher provides support all along the way, but the author bears responsibility for the quality of the final product.

· The amount of support from the publisher depends on the publishing package you purchase. Make sure you know what services to expect based on the package purchased.

· Make sure you review your manuscript carefully at each step of the process. If you are less than diligent in your review, costly and embarrassing mistakes are inevitable.

· Use the best writing support available. These include a top quality word processor and a quality grammar checking service. I used Word 2013, Grammarly (available at www.grammarly.com ), and also a high quality text-to-voice software package. As stated in an earlier post, the text-to-voice software allows the author to step back from his work and be objectively critical, listen to the rhythm of the language, and listen for the clarity of meaning in the language written for others to read.

· Always save backup copies of your work.

Until the next post, your faithful blogger, L Alan Weiss (Larry) – Author of Through a Lens of Emptiness.

www.lensofemptiness.com Release date TBA

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December 25 is a Day to Think about Jesus

Knowledge of the life of Jesus comes to us from the Gospels, so we need to accept them as written for what they are, a post facto rendering of history. Historians place the birth of a male child called Joshua, who is considered to be the historical Jesus, in either 4 BCE or 2 BCE. His death by crucifixion at the hands of the Roman Procurator of Jerusalem, Pontius Pilate, takes place when Jesus is thirty to thirty-three years old. What is certain, is that there was a man called Joshua the Messiah (Jesus Christ) who played a significant role in the history of the Jewish people at that time in Roman Judea.

Before continuing, I should make two points clear to the reader; this blog is written by a very Secular Jewish person who views Jesus as a co-religionists who was a courageous advocate for his take on Judaism at that time. Jesus was a well-educated Jewish person who was raised in the Pharisaic tradition of the Oral Law. The Pharisees followed a more personal form of Judaism which did not depend in the Temple or the priestly class represented by Sadducees. The importance of a personalized form of Judaism independent of the need for a Temple in Jerusalem was critical, since it would be destroyed in 70 CE.

Why then, should a Jewish person, advocate for the importance of Christmas as a time to recognize the birth of an important leader of a significant Jewish sect? As such an advocate for the memory and respect for Jesus as a person, and as a Jew, there is no room in my heart for the mythology of Jesus which forms a significant part of the four gospels. There is no room in my head for the idea of an Immaculate Conception or miracles or resurrection or even a Messiah. These ideas are impossible to accept as anything other than a significant mythology because of my focused study of the history of the Jewish people and a rigorous education in the sciences. Now let’s continue with these points clearly stated.

Jesus is important to me because:

1.  He was a scholar, a thinker and a leader of an important Jewish sect.

2.  He, and those who followed him maintained the essentials of Jewish practice, including all the celebrations of holidays, dietary laws and the rite of circumcision, but decried the idea of sacrificing animals as a part of religious practices.

3. He had the courage of his convictions, and was willing to accept the consequences of his actions knowing that the High Priests and the Sanhedrin were the puppets of the Roman State in Judea.

4. He advocated a belief that is based on all that was good in Judaism and was a kind a gentle leader. He truly led with the consent and support of his followers.

Jesus had the audacity to challenge the practice of ritual sacrifice by attacking the practice of changing foreign currencies to the coin of the realm. This service was required by those who came to the Temple, so they could purchase animals for sacrifice by the priests of the Temple. This has to be true, because such people as money changers operated in the Hall of the Gentiles, the first great courtyard inside the Temple where commerce of various sorts was allowed by all peoples, Jews and non-Jews alike. When he attacked these activities within the Temple, Jesus knew he was attacking the dominance of the priestly class as well as the Roman State that controlled them. Jesus was not naive politically. He knew exactly what he was doing and why.

There was nothing Jesus did as a sect leader that would have bothered either the Jews or the Romans, because he was simply the leader of another of the many sects of Judaism that were common throughout Judea and the Jewish diaspora that existed in those days. He only became a problem when he attacked the practices of the Temple. At that point he became a threat to stability in Judea, after all, he had a growing following which might begin agitating against the practices advocated by the Sadducees. They might had fomented rebellion, all be it a minor one, that would undermine the authority of the Temple and the Sanhedrin. Since there had been several revolts and rebellions by the Jews in Judea, Rome was not going to allow the possibility of any disruptions to peace (under the strict control of Rome) and law and order in Judea.

I won’t go into the matter of the trial and punishment of Jesus in this post since the intent is to honour his birth and his importance as a Jewish person in the history and evolution of a religion. There a few interesting ideas to present before ending this post, including the role of the Essenes in this story, and the matter of Jesus’ lost years.

1. The Dead Sea Scrolls informed us that the Essenes practiced Baptismal rites and held a strong belief in resurrection and the idea of a Messiah as early as 200 BCE.

2. The Essenes were apolitical and had no place for all the arguments between the Pharisees and the Sadducees or the struggle for power between the Priestly class and the Roman government. They separated themselves from all of that by retreating from society.

3. It is likely that Jesus spent some time with the Essenes. Jesus disappears from the Gospels at the age of 12 and reappears when he is baptised by John in the river Jordan. John the Baptist was a Jew and his practices were very clearly influenced by the Essenes. That is exactly why Jesus accepted baptism.

4. Jesus is supposed to be of the House of David. He had twelve disciples. King David ruled with the consent and assent of the Twelve Tribes and their leaders, a striking parallelism. Initially the power was in the hands of King Saul who came from the tribe of Benjamin. Saul was not the popular choice. When Saul died as a result of his failed attempt to conquer Philistia, David was announced king. David came from the tribe of Judah and had been the popular choice all along.

The idea of the popularity of Jesus and the modified Judaism he espoused, makes him a significant person in my mind. Has the followers of Jesus continued as a Jewish sect without the pressures of persecution, would it have survived as a sect? Would it have grown into the major streams of Christianity, Catholicism, Orthodoxy and the all the manifestations of Protestantism that exist to day is a good question with no answer? Of course that’s not the way history unfolded.

Have a great Christmas, and let’s all celebrate the birth of a great man, Joshua the Messiah, Jesus Christ.

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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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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