The Book of Awakening: Having the Life You Want by Being Present to the Life You Have (20th Anniversary Edition)
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A new edition of the #1 NYT’s bestseller by Mark Nepo, who has been called “one of the finest spiritual guides of our time” and “a consummate storyteller.”
Philosopher-poet and cancer survivor Mark Nepo opens a new season of freedom and joy―an escape from deadening, asleep-at-the wheel sameness―that is both profound and clarifying.
His spiritual daybook is a summons to reclaim aliveness, liberate the self, take each day one at a time, and savor the beauty offered by life’s unfolding. Reading his poetic prose is like being given second sight, exposing the reader to life’s multiple dimensions, each one drawn with awe and affection.
The Book of Awakening is the result of Nepo’s journey of the soul and will inspire others to embark on their own. He speaks of spirit and friendship, urging readers to stay vital and in love with this life, no matter the hardships. Encompassing many traditions and voices, Nepo’s words offer insight on pain, wonder, and love. Each entry is accompanied by an exercise that will surprise and delight the reader in its mind-waking ability.
From the Publisher
An Invitation from Mark Nepo
This book is meant to be of use, to be a companion, a soul friend. It is a book of awakenings. To write this I’ve had to live it. It’s given me a chance to gather and share the quiet teachers I’ve met throughout my life. The journey of unearthing and shaping these entries has helped me bring my inner and outer life more closely together. It has helped me know and use my heart. It has made me more whole. I hope it can be such a tool for you.
March 4 | For What Are We Saving?
When I was ill, I faced the very real possibility of dying, and suddenly the little money I’d saved, however prudent I was, didn’t matter. It was all worthless. It became immediately clear that the only true purpose of money was to help make love work. When ill, I didn’t hesitate to make all those long-distance calls I always put off. I met friends at concerts and bought albums and sent flowers instead of waiting for the perfect occasion. I bought plane tickets to the Caribbean for my wife and my dearest friends—and we went!
Once well, I couldn’t go back to deferring my life under the guise of saving. I still save some, but now I feel compelled to use whatever money I can afford to make love work, to bring truth into being, to allow generosity and compassion to flourish. This is more than altruistic. It is necessary to be fully alive. It’s part of the wood that keeps the inner fire burning.
September 13 | Wisdom Creatures
As spirits in bodies we live like whales or dolphins, always swimming near the surface, forever compelled by a light from above that we can’t really make out. And just as the water brushes against the eyes of these fish as they make their way in and out of the deep, the days shape how we see.
So much is going on at any one time beneath what we show the world that all our feelings, all our thoughts and expressions, splash like water on those we surface before. In this way, every person when looked squarely in the eye is a wisdom-creature, full of things that cannot be said. Each of us a spirit-fish breaking through for love and air.
We often don’t take the risk or time to stand before another long enough for their truth to surface. This is what I need, for you to wait till I can get there, all fresh from the deep. After all the trouble we go through to find each other, we must wait over and over for our loved ones to break through with their wisdom.
December 17 | Healing Ourselves
One of the most difficult things about healing from being hurt by others is how to put wounds to rest when those who have hurt us will not give air to the wound, will not admit to their part in causing the pain. I have struggled with this deeply. Time and again, I find myself confusing the want for justice with the need for a witness of the wound. Physical wounds are hard to miss, but emotional wounds are seldom visible. This is why they must be looked at and acknowledged if we are ever to heal. Yet so often, our pain is compounded by the very human fact that we may never agree on the nature of what happened. If we do, we may never admit it to each other. Or the amends we feel we so deserve may go with the hurtful one to the grave.
As with so many other crucial negotiations of life, what’s required is to honor what lives within us. We must bear witness to ourselves, for there is no power as embracing or forgiving as the authority of that portion of God that lives in each of us.