Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Simple Truths: Clear and Gentle Guidance on the Big Issues in Life by Kent Nerburn

Book Review by Zinta Aistars

# Hardcover: 112 pages
# Publisher: New World Library, 1996
# Price: $16.00
# ISBN: 1880032929

"Life is a creative experience," begins author Kent Nerburn in his slim little volume of basic truths on which to build a life of value for oneself and others. They are, as the title states, basic and simple truths, but it is these simple truths that have been lost in the muddle and busyness and confusion of modern life marked by an embarrassment at claiming a value system. Nerburn continues in explanation of why we must reconnect to these simple truths: "We are shaping ourselves at every moment by every decision we make."

And so we are. A moment taken to consider carefully the meanings and values of topics Nerburn has chosen here are moments well spent. To ponder these truths and to absorb them clears the path ahead and moves us forward with peace and conviction.

Short chapters illustrate in clean prose the values of education and learning ("without knowledge I could not play the violin. Without wisdom, I could not play the music"); work ("we are what we do, and the more we do it, the more we become it"); money ("be a giver and a sharer... in some unexpected and unforeseeable fashion, all else will take care of itself"); possessions ("possessions are as likely to make you unhappy as they are to make you happy, because they define the limits of your life and keep you from the freedom of choice that comes with traveling light"); giving ("you have the power to create joy and happiness by your simplest gestures of caring and compassion"); travel ("if we don't offer ourselves to the unknown, our senses dull. Our world becomes small and we lose our sense of wonder"); loneliness and solitude (the first is a void, the second a sense of self-fulfillment); love ("treat what love brings you with kindness"); marriage ("if you believe in your heart that you have found someone with whom you are able to grow, if you have sufficient faith that you can resist the endless attraction of the road not taken and the partner not chosen, if you have the strength to embrace the cycles and seasons that your love will experience..."); parenthood ("in the bondage to a child you will find a freedom you never imagined, but neither should you seek parenthood as a way to fill an emptiness in your life. A child will hold a mirror to your life..."); strength ("true strength does not require an adversary and does not see itself as noble or heroic. It simply does what it must without praise or need of recognition... strength based in love is strength people crave"); tragedy and suffering ("they are the fire that burns you pure"); the spiritual journey ("spiritual understanding never becomes deep unless you subject yourself to the spiritual discipline of practicing your belief"); elders ("they were you and you will be them"); death ("it brings us to a judgment, so it is ours to control by the kind of life we live"); and concludes with an epilogue on embracing the mystery.

"If we have played our part well - offering love where it was needed, strength and caring where it was lacking; if we have tended the earth and its creatures with a sense of humble stewardship - we will have done enough."

Simple, yes, and shining with a timeless truth.

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