Monday, May 8, 2017

Crow 31 Days: Day Eight: Ten Books on the Bookshelf

In honor of Asian-American Pacific Islander Month I am blogging daily about the experiences of a life well lived in study and exploration of Asian Art and Culture. Books are a much-loved and vital part of my study of Asia over the last 14 years as the Director of the Crow Collection of Asian Art.

I've acquired books for the Asian Art Library, enjoyed books shared by our board president, offered book clubs both at work and at home. Just this weekend I re-sorted my own collection of books at home. It was a sentimental journey back through the past few months of reading and studying. Books give me ideas, but they also give me content for talks and moments of mindfulness in the museum.

Here is a short list of recent favorites:

Twelve Steps to a More Compassionate Life, Karen Armstrong: this has become a handbook for being for our staff at the museum. After a lifetime of study of comparative religions, Dr. Armstrong settled on Compassion as the vital connector across faith systems. It is an accessible and relevant guide for understanding what real compassion takes and how it can exist in new contexts.

Offerings: Buddhist Wisdom for Everyday, Danielle and Oliver Follmi: A recent gift this beautiful coffee table book offers daily meditations and inspirations. Today's for May the 8th: "In Buddhism, ignorance as the root cause of suffering refers to a fundamental misperception of the true nature of the self and all phenomena." - His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama

God Makes the Rivers to Flow: An Anthology of the World's Sacred Poetry and Prose, Eknath Easwaran: For talks and moments of mindfulness, or before a meeting where conflict may be present, this is my go-to. Also a gift, this book is brimming with wisdom. Not only does it offer sacred texts, but in the back the author offers a description and history of the source at it's writing. I've found this book essential to my exploration of other faith systems.

When the Trees Say Nothing, Thomas Merton: this little book, like my treasured copy of The Nature-Lovers Knapsack, is one to have and to hold. Thomas Merton entered the first Cistercian Monastery in the US in 1941 at age 26. He was a poet, a social commentator, a scholar and one whom others in the world of interfaith compassion studies hold with immense reverence. In this book, divided into categories of nature, Thomas Merton takes us there just for a moment, or a mini-meditation. Merton journeyed to Asia and was instrumental in framing our understanding of not just nature, but also Asian spirituality in the west.

Search Inside Yourself: Chade Meng-Tan: This "how to" is based on the wellness curriculum for Google and became our first study as a museum staff this spring at the Crow Collection. Inspired by a workshop I attended at the Omega Institute with Mirabai Bush and Gopi Kalayil, the Director of Education and I immediately put this little bound book of goodness into action. All 44 members of our team studied the book over a period of ten weeks and I recommend it to anyone with a wish to be a better human at work AND at home. It's a gem.

Real Happiness, Sharon Salzburg: The Museum's Happiness Committee took this treasure on as it's first book study. Sharon, a leader of Buddhism and mindful meditation in America has published several books and is active as a teacher and practitioner of mindfulness. This practical book breaks down how happiness isn't found by looking outside, but rather looking in: getting quiet and honoring the lovingkindness we all hold. I am looking forward to the June release of "Real Love".

Into the Magic Shop, Dr. James Doty: Dr. Doty, a member of the board of the International Charter for Compassion and founder of CCARE (Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education) at Stanford University spoke recently in the galleries of the Crow Collection. His talk was everything: authentic, human, loving and raw. He is living compassion and this book is a beautiful introduction for a seeker just beginning to explore how mindfulness makes a Life Different.

To Bless this Space Between Us: A Book of Blessings, John O'Donohue: There is something in this book for every moment: for sadness there is joy, for despair there is hope, for obstacle there is path, for fear there is surrender. This book is my companion for many talks and a gift for anyone walking a difficult journey.

How to Wrap Five Eggs: Traditional Japanese Packaging, Hideyuki Oka: This book has been on my desk for several months, and it is one of the most inspirational and creative books I have. Every artist will love this, every Japanophile will love this. How do you wrap eggs safely? The art of wrapping is one of Japan's many gifts to the world--each package is a sculpture.

The Art of Relevance, Nina Simon: Nina is fearlessly taking museums into their next chapter: gone are the silent galleries: Nina's museum is engaging, educationally charged and fun. This book, however is for anyone looking at a purpose-filled life: what is the relevance in your work, in your message and in your being? This book has also been an important book study for our education team over the past year, and our path to relevance, while challenging, is chartered and brimming with promise.

Books like these catalyze my creativity--managing the time to read them and absorb their pearls is the hard part. It is said leaders read five hours a day, and as I meditate and pray, this is the wish. Happy reading, dear friends.

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