Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Book Review: A Brief History of Death

'A Brief History of Death' by DOUGLAS J. DAVIES, is a part of a series of books on interesting topics:
– A Brief History of Heaven, A Brief History of Heresy, A Brief History of Islam, A Brief History of Death, and A Brief History of Saints
It begins by putting the history of death as a history of self-reflection, asking questions like, Who are we? Whence do we come, and whither go after death?
The book then sketches some other myths of death’s origin. How the early traditions, like roots of Zoroastrianism, the ancient Persian religion expressing the human sense of morality, popularized resurrection and post-mortem judgment.
How religions originating in India, by contrast, set less dependence to things, either by this world or any imagined and perfected landscape of eternity. Hinduism, Buddhism, and Sikhism took death to be part of the immense cycle of ongoing existence from which the vital self should and might be released.
Whatever the origin of religions, it remains the case that they have been the prime channel for explaining and coping with death. Whether it is the nature of moral acts and their outcome within the framework of transmigrating souls and reincarnation, as practiced by Indian religions, or the use of resurrection as another way of dealing with the evaluation of moral life in relation to the divine, religions have been playing a pivotal role in our appreciation of death, by permitting our entry to paradise with full honours.
Further chapters examine some of the dynamics of death rites, both by involving ideas of the soul and human destiny on the one hand and varieties of funeral ritual on the other. The role of religions in offsetting the sense of loss experienced in death and the sense of hope we all get is made clear. Then comes the fear of death. The deep anguish of leaving one's family and, the wider psychological and philosophical themes, are scrutinized, again in the light of religious therapy. Quoting instances of history where the death of famous people caused a shift in our view, the book ends with an observation that our view of the meaning of life, values and beliefs, is dynamic, and the history of death depicts this dynamism even in our appreciation of life in its entire reach.

However, this book fails in giving a logical background to the fear of death, which I have tried to address in my books.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016


'100 QUOTATIONS TO MAKE YOU THINK' By Wolfgang Riebe has a good collection of quotations that sparked my interest. At the very beginning, "A kiss is just a pleasant reminder that two heads are better than one" raised my hopes of a pleasant feast ahead. Immediately I was reassured, "Everyone is gifted - but some people never open their package!" gave me an indication that better ones are on the way. I wasn't wrong, quotes after quotes followed, each of which harbouring at least one philosophical thought. "Nobody trips over mountains. It is the small pebble that causes you to stumble." and "I've learned that to ignore the facts does not change the facts." could easily exemplify that. Towards the end, I found another gem - "a smile is an inexpensive way to improve your looks".
This small book contains much value. I think many of the quotations are capable of enlivening a conversation while leaving behind a lot to stimulate future gatherings.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Book Review: Brain Plasticity: The Ultimate Guide To Brain Plasticity

'Brain Plasticity: The Ultimate Guide To Brain Plasticity' by Ryan Cooper contains proven steps and strategies on how to understand brain plasticity and how one can quickly and efficiently change ones brain to be the most effective and useful to help one in reaching the desired outcomes.
In the first chapter the book explains two ways to benefit from this. The first option is to master the mechanism and dynamics of the brain by learning how to fully operate it. The second option is to learn new ways to grow the skills that are already in possession, further.
The next chapter tries to prove that brain plasticity works at any age, followed by a brief introduction to the concepts of brain plasticity, namely:
-Plasticity can vary by age. It can happen throughout your lifetime. There are specific kinds of changes that are dominant for certain life stages.
-Brain plasticity involves many different processes. It is continuous and it occurs from the beginning until the end of life.
-Aside from neurons, it also involves vascular cells and glial cells.
-Brain plasticity can happen because of any of the following: as a result of brain damage or as a consequence of learning, memory formation, and experience.
-Environmental factors in the process of brain plasticity. In addition, genetics is also a determinant.
-Brain Plasticity is of two types, functional and structural
Author thereafter discusses other areas of interest like techniques, plasticity and memory improvement, how plasticity affects concentration, as well as, the effects of meditation on brain plasticity.
I found this book giving a good introduction to the topic of brain plasticity and its possibilities. Like any other reader would have been, I was greatly interested in taking advantage of the suggestions for personal improvement. Though a short discussion on memory improvement as well as another one on meditation are contained in this book, I wish the author devoted a few more pages for a discussion on the practical use of these and other possibilities of plasticity, in real life. 

Friday, November 25, 2016

Book Review: Active Patience: A Simple Guide to Productive Writing

Active Patience: A Simple Guide to Productive Writing by NC Harley
This is a help for those struggling and frustrated with writing ones book. But it can be of help, to all those, who constantly start various projects only to shelve them.
Mentioning at the outset that the hope of achieving overnight success, the lure of procrastination or the desire for instant gratification are some of the barriers we need to remove, the author proceeds to introduce the idea of active patience. This is discussed as a combination of nine habits of success. Those are:
Habit 1. Change your mindset, without making a great change to ones outlook.
Habit 2. Let go of the ideal, that is, not having firm expectations such that there is no feeling of failure.
Habit 3. Shut that inner critic up for good; there is no more "I told you so".
Habit 4. Work consistently, ie., focusing on the task in hand.
Habit 5. Think Zen, do Zen, priority always to maintain ones energy.
Habit 6. Train for delayed gratification, concetrate on final results.
Habit 7. Practice Patience, make it an active part of ones routine.
Habit 8. Active reflection, continue to brainstorm the results.
Habit 9. The low-information diet, absorb fully in ones world.
Habit 10. Kill perfectionism, have always an inclusive view
I found many of the suggestions of this book, a deviation from the norm. Because of that itself, it is worth a try. And these look quite logical too, and feasible to be applied to all people interested in gainful activities. Some of the suggestions, like habit 6, is a boon, not only to writers, but also to those involved in planning, widely acknowledged as the heart of production. Congratulations NC Harley

Wednesday, November 23, 2016