by Wes Nisker
Wes Nisker would like you to be in awe, to stretch your awe muscle, the one that causes your jaw to drop in amazement. In awe is the beginning of your connection to the universe, to other beings, to all of creation. Tie this together with evolution, Buddhism, and a smattering of other spiritual pursuits, and you get much of Nisker's idea of a spiritual rebirth, his hope for humanity in these ever more trying times. On the radio throughout the late 70s, the 80s, and intermittently still today, the author was known as "Scoop" Nisker, reporting on the news of his day, and then into more colorful, humorous, and often profoundly compassionate commentary. Later, as a practicing Buddhist, he has written books and articles evoking a Buddhist notion of our connections with one another and based in notions of science and evolution. It is often said that the Buddhists presaged some of scientific thought, and it does seem to be true that the two interact with one another.
Anyway, this engrossing book is made up of selections from Nisker's writing, broadcasting and performance career. There are short scripts from radio commentaries, excerpts from his earlier books, and reprinted articles from (mostly) alternative publications. All of them are amusing, thoughtful and shot through with a charming compassion for our position in this universe. Nisker comments on the excesses of his generation, their spiritual profligacy, and the place to which that has brought us today. He reflects on his own spiritual journey and provides some genuinely accessible thoughts about the nature of Buddhist meditation. He discusses the challenges of aging (a notion we'll hear a lot about from Baby Boomers in the coming few years, and pertinent to this reader as well). And he proposes a new world view, in which experience is valued above acquisition of stuff, interconnectedness over capitalist individualism. His appeal to awe, though, in the closing chapters, is affecting and often quite moving. Overall, Nisker is an appealing companion in meditations on our place in history and in creation. A terrific book, highly recommended.
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Also by Wes Nisker: [The Big Bang, the Buddha, and the Baby Boom]