Darnell Lamont Walker leading Rituals Writing Workshop
Esalen Reads: What's on Ira Israel's Nightstand?
"The phrase, 'there are no black people in Africa,' jumped out at me from the book. Similarly, as you know, there were no 'American Indians' on our soil before Columbus landed on the wrong continent and mistook the Sioux, Cheyenne, Lakota, Dakota, Cherokee, Apache, and Essellen tribes for the people with shiny spices on the other side of the globe. We are all simply human. It is categorically absurd to label people by pigmentation and it must end."
—Ira Israel

We delve into books for so many different reasons: guidance, knowledge, curiosity and oftentimes to lose ourselves in a captivating tale that can take us to the farthest stretches of our imagination. Esalen News invites our faculty to share what’s on their nightstand and why.

Esalen faculty Ira Israel is the author of How To Survive Your Childhood Now That You’re an Adult: A Path to Authenticity and Awakening and the creator of the best-selling video series, A Beginner's Guide to Happiness, A Beginner’s Guide to Mindfulness Meditation, Mindfulness for Anxiety, and Mindfulness for Depression.

As a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor, a Marriage and Family Therapist, and Mindful Relationship Coach, Ira knows how to swim deep waters. He shares his latest book pick with Esalen News.

Esalen News: What is the latest book you read?

Ira Israel: Isabel Wilkerson’s Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents.

What drew you to the book?

For the past 35 years, the Sunday New York Times has been my portal into Western civilization or lack thereof. I read the review of Caste and in light of the recent public execution of George Floyd, I knew that this book would be revelatory. Wilkerson juxtaposes the Nazis’ treatment of the Jews in Germany, the Brahmins’ treatment of the Dalits (untouchables) in India, and the white people’s treatment of the black people in America.

Last year I read Capitalisme et Idéologie by Thomas Piketty and I had a feeling that Caste was going to reframe racism in terms of classism just as Piketty evokes in his opening salvo: “Every human society must justify its inequalities: unless reasons for them are found, the whole political and social edifice stands in danger of collapse. Every epoch therefore develops a range of contradictory discourses and ideologies for the purpose of legitimizing the inequality that already exists or that people believe should exist.”

What did you find most inspiring about the book?

The phrase, “there are no black people in Africa,” jumped out at me. Similarly, as you know, there were no “American Indians” on our soil before Columbus landed on the wrong continent and mistook the Sioux, Cheyenne, Lakota, Dakota, Cherokee, Apache and Essellen tribes for the people with shiny spices on the other side of the globe. We are all simply human. It is categorically absurd to label people by pigmentation and it must end.

What are several other things that really stood out?

Wilkerson systemically avoids words such as “white,” “black” and “race” and replaces them with “dominant caste,” “favored caste,” “upper caste” and “lower caste.” It’s utterly brilliant!

What other things did you learn?

I was ignorant regarding the extent of the horrifying ramifications of the Jim Crow laws. Wilkerson recounts the story of a young black boy in the middle of last century sending a Christmas card to a young white girl from the store in which they both worked.

The girl’s father and some other men took the boy and his father to a lake, handcuffed the boy and made his father watch his own son drown. I broke into tears and almost vomited when I read this passage.

The atrocities that human beings commit against other human beings are truly unfathomable. And obviously unnecessary. There is something profoundly wrong with us and we need to found our next society on compassion, not competition.

How would you sum up the book in a few words?

Harrowing, staggering, apocalyptic.

Learn more about Ira Israel at http://www.iraisrael.com.

“Remembering to be as self compassionate as I can and praying to the divine that we're all a part of.” 
–Aaron

“Prayer, reading, meditation, walking.”
–Karen
“Erratically — which is an ongoing stream of practice to find peace.”
–Charles
“Try on a daily basis to be kind to myself and to realize that making mistakes is a part of the human condition. Learning from our mistakes is a journey. But it starts with compassion and caring. First for oneself.”
–Steve

“Physically: aerobic exercise, volleyball, ice hockey, cycling, sailing. Emotionally: unfortunately I have to work to ‘not care’ about people or situations which may end painfully. Along the lines of ‘attachment is the source of suffering’, so best to avoid it or limit its scope. Sad though because it could also be the source of great joy. Is it worth the risk?“
–Rainer

“It's time for my heart to be nurtured on one level yet contained on another. To go easy on me and to allow my feelings to be validated, not judged harshly. On the other hand, to let the heart rule with equanimity and not lead the mind and body around like a master.”
–Suzanne

“I spend time thinking of everything I am grateful for, and I try to develop my ability to express compassion for myself and others without reservation. I take time to do the things I need to do to keep myself healthy and happy. This includes taking experiential workshops, fostering relationships, and participating within groups which have a similar interest to become a more compassionate and fulfilled being.“
–Peter

“Self-forgiveness for my own judgments. And oh yeah, coming to Esalen.”
–David B.

“Hmm, this is a tough one! I guess I take care of my heart through fostering relationships with people I feel connected to. Spending quality time with them (whether we're on the phone, through messages/letters, on Zoom, or in-person). Being there for them, listening to them, sharing what's going on with me, my struggles and my successes... like we do in the Esalen weekly Friends of Esalen Zoom sessions!”
–Lori

“I remind myself in many ways of the fact that " Love is all there is!" LOVE is the prize and this one precious life is the stage we get to learn our lessons. I get out into nature, hike, camp, river kayak, fly fish, garden, I create, I dance (not enough!), and I remain grateful for each day, each breath, each moment. Being in the moment, awake, and remembering the gift of life and my feeling of gratitude for all of creation.”
–Steven
“My physical heart by limiting stress and eating a heart-healthy diet. My emotional heart by staying in love with the world and by knowing that all disappointment and loss will pass.“
–David Z.


Today, September 29, is World Heart Day. Strike up a conversation with your own heart and as you feel comfortable, encourage others to do the same. As part of our own transformations and self-care, we sometimes ask for others to illuminate and enliven our hearts or speak our love language.

What if we could do this for ourselves too, even if just for today… or to start a heart practice, forever?



About

Esalen Team

Darnell Lamont Walker leading Rituals Writing Workshop
"The phrase, 'there are no black people in Africa,' jumped out at me from the book. Similarly, as you know, there were no 'American Indians' on our soil before Columbus landed on the wrong continent and mistook the Sioux, Cheyenne, Lakota, Dakota, Cherokee, Apache, and Essellen tribes for the people with shiny spices on the other side of the globe. We are all simply human. It is categorically absurd to label people by pigmentation and it must end."
—Ira Israel

We delve into books for so many different reasons: guidance, knowledge, curiosity and oftentimes to lose ourselves in a captivating tale that can take us to the farthest stretches of our imagination. Esalen News invites our faculty to share what’s on their nightstand and why.

Esalen faculty Ira Israel is the author of How To Survive Your Childhood Now That You’re an Adult: A Path to Authenticity and Awakening and the creator of the best-selling video series, A Beginner's Guide to Happiness, A Beginner’s Guide to Mindfulness Meditation, Mindfulness for Anxiety, and Mindfulness for Depression.

As a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor, a Marriage and Family Therapist, and Mindful Relationship Coach, Ira knows how to swim deep waters. He shares his latest book pick with Esalen News.

Esalen News: What is the latest book you read?

Ira Israel: Isabel Wilkerson’s Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents.

What drew you to the book?

For the past 35 years, the Sunday New York Times has been my portal into Western civilization or lack thereof. I read the review of Caste and in light of the recent public execution of George Floyd, I knew that this book would be revelatory. Wilkerson juxtaposes the Nazis’ treatment of the Jews in Germany, the Brahmins’ treatment of the Dalits (untouchables) in India, and the white people’s treatment of the black people in America.

Last year I read Capitalisme et Idéologie by Thomas Piketty and I had a feeling that Caste was going to reframe racism in terms of classism just as Piketty evokes in his opening salvo: “Every human society must justify its inequalities: unless reasons for them are found, the whole political and social edifice stands in danger of collapse. Every epoch therefore develops a range of contradictory discourses and ideologies for the purpose of legitimizing the inequality that already exists or that people believe should exist.”

What did you find most inspiring about the book?

The phrase, “there are no black people in Africa,” jumped out at me. Similarly, as you know, there were no “American Indians” on our soil before Columbus landed on the wrong continent and mistook the Sioux, Cheyenne, Lakota, Dakota, Cherokee, Apache and Essellen tribes for the people with shiny spices on the other side of the globe. We are all simply human. It is categorically absurd to label people by pigmentation and it must end.

What are several other things that really stood out?

Wilkerson systemically avoids words such as “white,” “black” and “race” and replaces them with “dominant caste,” “favored caste,” “upper caste” and “lower caste.” It’s utterly brilliant!

What other things did you learn?

I was ignorant regarding the extent of the horrifying ramifications of the Jim Crow laws. Wilkerson recounts the story of a young black boy in the middle of last century sending a Christmas card to a young white girl from the store in which they both worked.

The girl’s father and some other men took the boy and his father to a lake, handcuffed the boy and made his father watch his own son drown. I broke into tears and almost vomited when I read this passage.

The atrocities that human beings commit against other human beings are truly unfathomable. And obviously unnecessary. There is something profoundly wrong with us and we need to found our next society on compassion, not competition.

How would you sum up the book in a few words?

Harrowing, staggering, apocalyptic.

Learn more about Ira Israel at http://www.iraisrael.com.

“Remembering to be as self compassionate as I can and praying to the divine that we're all a part of.” 
–Aaron

“Prayer, reading, meditation, walking.”
–Karen
“Erratically — which is an ongoing stream of practice to find peace.”
–Charles
“Try on a daily basis to be kind to myself and to realize that making mistakes is a part of the human condition. Learning from our mistakes is a journey. But it starts with compassion and caring. First for oneself.”
–Steve

“Physically: aerobic exercise, volleyball, ice hockey, cycling, sailing. Emotionally: unfortunately I have to work to ‘not care’ about people or situations which may end painfully. Along the lines of ‘attachment is the source of suffering’, so best to avoid it or limit its scope. Sad though because it could also be the source of great joy. Is it worth the risk?“
–Rainer

“It's time for my heart to be nurtured on one level yet contained on another. To go easy on me and to allow my feelings to be validated, not judged harshly. On the other hand, to let the heart rule with equanimity and not lead the mind and body around like a master.”
–Suzanne

“I spend time thinking of everything I am grateful for, and I try to develop my ability to express compassion for myself and others without reservation. I take time to do the things I need to do to keep myself healthy and happy. This includes taking experiential workshops, fostering relationships, and participating within groups which have a similar interest to become a more compassionate and fulfilled being.“
–Peter

“Self-forgiveness for my own judgments. And oh yeah, coming to Esalen.”
–David B.

“Hmm, this is a tough one! I guess I take care of my heart through fostering relationships with people I feel connected to. Spending quality time with them (whether we're on the phone, through messages/letters, on Zoom, or in-person). Being there for them, listening to them, sharing what's going on with me, my struggles and my successes... like we do in the Esalen weekly Friends of Esalen Zoom sessions!”
–Lori

“I remind myself in many ways of the fact that " Love is all there is!" LOVE is the prize and this one precious life is the stage we get to learn our lessons. I get out into nature, hike, camp, river kayak, fly fish, garden, I create, I dance (not enough!), and I remain grateful for each day, each breath, each moment. Being in the moment, awake, and remembering the gift of life and my feeling of gratitude for all of creation.”
–Steven
“My physical heart by limiting stress and eating a heart-healthy diet. My emotional heart by staying in love with the world and by knowing that all disappointment and loss will pass.“
–David Z.


Today, September 29, is World Heart Day. Strike up a conversation with your own heart and as you feel comfortable, encourage others to do the same. As part of our own transformations and self-care, we sometimes ask for others to illuminate and enliven our hearts or speak our love language.

What if we could do this for ourselves too, even if just for today… or to start a heart practice, forever?



About

Esalen Team

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