Thursday, August 30, 2012

"Awakening's Treasure" by G.A. Codazik is a disastrous, bungling attempt at transcendent prose-poetry


There is a common saying within the Zen community: “To speak about Zen is to not know Zen.” To write and read about it is to not know it either. Of course, that hasn’t stopped uncounted monks, teachers, lecturers, poets, sages and authors (of all traditions) from spewing millions of words and publishing tens of thousands of pages about – ironically – “that which cannot be named.”

But that’s the way it is. And you know what? There’s nothing wrong with it. It’s a paradox. Talking and reading about transcendence will not help you achieve it or get there, but you have to talk and read about it anyway. That’s what’s endlessly weird about “enlightenment” or “full realization” or whatever you want to call it.

However, that doesn’t mean that every book written on this ultimate topic is of equal quality – and this book, AWAKENING'S TREASURE, is an unqualified disaster.

This is a struggling, stumbling, clumsy and muddy attempt to point the way and inspire, but goes fantastically awry on multiple levels.

It’s riddled with imprecise metaphors, clichés and hackneyed phrases, painfully repetitive imagery, and that imagery is pedestrian, pretentious, dull, pompous and boring – and depressingly so.

Let me prove that what I am saying is accurate with selection examples, starting with:

Hackneyed and cliché phrases

EXAMPLE: “We’re drawn to our inner garden/ignoring all else/Like a moth focused only on the flame”

Not only is a ‘moth to a flame’ a hackneyed metaphor, the way it is used here misses the mark.

When we use ‘moth to a flame’, we are generally talking about a negative event, or an unfortunate happening. The moth gets fooled, and then singed or burned to death – yet the author choses this negative cliché to describe how we are drawn to the transcendent state!


EXAMPLE: “… when our inner Ocean rains its grace/A rising tide lifts all boats.”

Well! How about a tired phrase gleaned from politics and greedy businessmen? The ‘rising tide’ comment was popularized by Ronald Reagan in the 1980s in reference to his trickle-down economics favoring tax breaks for the extremely wealthy, and has since worked its way into common usage.

The phrase was actually first coined in a speech by President Kennedy in 1962 – and his speech writer borrowed the phrase from some businessmen selling yachts in New England.

But the bigger offense is that ‘A rising tide lifts all boats’ is a dull, overused image that does nothing to inspire – much the opposite, it drags us down by invoking the dull dreariness of life.

I could go on with many more but let’s move on to:

Improper, imprecise language:

EXAMPLE: “Waiting only the turning of our heads to see it, Like (sic) sunflowers tracking the motion of the sun.”

Again, a worn-out metaphor – but also an inaccurate one based on a common misconception – you know – a delusion.

Let’s me tell you as a guy who lives in a rural area next to a large field of sunflowers – they don’t follow the sun. Sunflowers come up facing the sun in the east, and when the sun sets, their faces remain glued to the east.

This from Wikipedia:

This old and chronic misconception was debunked already in 1597 by the English botanist John Gerard, who grew sunflowers in his famous herbal garden: "[some] have reported it to turne with the Sunne, the which I could never observe, although I have endevored to finde out the truth of it.

One of the primary paths to enlightenment involves what spiritual masters call, “just seeing.” That is, just see your world for the way it really is. Don’t overlay your world with pre-formed ideas or what you have pre-conceptualized based on common knowledge – but just perceive directly. So I find it painfully ironic that the author trots out a metaphor based on a common misconception – and a well-known one at that.

That’s inexcusable.

That this is a short book, and that there are so many examples of clumsy usages and utterly bland imagery borders on the astounding.

My rather severe and strict Ninth Grade English teacher, Mrs. Allen, often withered us with her red-penciled condemnations if we allowed “colloquialisms” to slip into our school essays. A colloquialism is a word or phrase that is employed in conversational or informal language but not in formal speech or formal writing.

Mrs. Allen would roll over in her grave if she knew that books like Awakening’s Treasure were on the shelves and floating around as ebooks in cyberspace – it’s almost as if the author made a concerted effort to break the record for the amount flat colloquial usage that could be fit into a limited space.

Just a few of the "dead wood" and "junk phrases" clogging up this manuscript:

"Asleep at the wheel ..."

“All this stress calls out for a cosmic shock absorber …”

“Just running on autopilot with life in overdrive …” (Yet another automobile metaphor, I guess)

“Prime the pump …”

“Dirty laundry is laid bare …”

“Grasping at straws …"

“Crawl out on a limb …”

“Can’t get a word in edgewise …”

“Collapse like a house of cards …

“Providing a wake-up call …”

“Speaking with a forked tongue …”

“A poster child on automatic pilot …” (the author uses both forms, ‘autopilot’ and ‘automatic pilot’, demonstrating again a painful inattention to word choice)

“Emerge from a cocoon…”

“Like a hall of mirrors …”

“Swept under the carpet …”

And there's lots more.

So the writing is either lazy, sophomoric or amateurish, but is there at least some substance delivered in terms of what the book promises – to help people find their way out of the delusional daydream of unreality to a state of transcendent clarity?

The answer is that is offers absolutely nothing of substance. Rather, this document is like a caged parrot repetitively squawking without understanding threadbare phrases which do nothing to illuminate transcendent concepts that have been been known for centuries.

Ken Korczak is the author of: BIRD BRAIN GENIUS

Monday, August 27, 2012

"The Mystery Experience": Author and philosopher Tim Freke says forget about "full realization" and don't worry about enlightenment; get with Cosmic Love and you'll have all you need


While I was reading The Mystery Experience by TIM FREKE I kept thinking about how many weight-loss books are published every year. Here in the U.S. we have an obesity epidemic despite the fact that whole forests have been cleared by the weight-loss book industry in past decades and millions of people have read them.

Yet millions are still fat. It this bizarre, or is it something "paralogical," as Freke might call it?

I mean, everyone already knows how to lose weight, right? You eat less and exercise more. That's it. And yet, weight-loss books, some of them hundreds of pages long, keep spewing forth from publishing houses. The armies of the obese keep buying them - looking for that key, that fix, that cure, that "secret" method to stop being fat and flabby!


Why not just eat less and exercise more? Ask any weight-challenged person and he or she will quickly tell you: "It isn't just that easy!"

Well, I never said it was easy - sure, a few will have hormone or biological component exacerbating their obesity-- but the fact remains that the best way for most to lose weight is no secret at all -- to eat less and exercise more.

So wherever you find an agonizing problem with a simple solution that people cannot accept, you will find an almost unlimited opportunity to sell thousands of books that talk about anything but the most simple solution to the problem - and the more elaborate the solution the better.

That's sort of what this book, THE MYSTERY EXPERIENCE, is. It's an extremely elaborate solution to a universal problem - except that the solution is about a billion times more elusive than the "secret" to weight loss - making it all the better for the book seller and seminar promoter.

Tim Freke
The problem here is what Buddha called the "Dukkha" - the dull, aching misery of daily life that we all feel, which sometimes inflames into true suffering, only to recede again, but never completely. I like the way the great American writer Henry David Thoreau put it: "The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation."

Tim Freke experiences this too. His solution is to not deny the Dukkha, or meditate it out of existence -- just the opposite - he opts to acknowledge it, embrace it forever, and use it - as a "paralogical" lever to induce a communion with that ultimate source of cosmic bliss, the Universal Loving Energy or Consciousness of All That Is, God, or whatever you want to call "IT."

His solution is a positive addiction to what he calls the "WOW!" experience.

Resorting to an addiction is a common and desperate attempt to fight the Dukkha. Some people drink, some take drugs, smoke a lot of pot, others watch TV and play video games. Some practice meditation or give themselves over to the teaching of a guru. Some people eat, become obsessed with accumulating money, and some flit off to an Amazon rainforest to imbibe in hallucinogens with a jungle shaman. Some buy into a mainstream system of religion, others try to have all the sex they can have before they die.

Certainly, some addictions are positive addictions, while others are negative and destructive. But in the end, an addiction is an addiction. Like Deepak Chopra said: "A positive mind is still an agitated mind."

Tim Freke has opted for a positive addiction - to that ineffable experience of cosmic bliss of Ultimate Love. He was fortunate to have this "WOW" thing drop spontaneously upon him like a bomb when he was 12, which led him to commit the rest of his life to pursuing more of the same, and to figuring out just what all that WOW is and what it means.

But wait a minute - is Tim Freke's addiction to something that is real, or is it an elaborate self-delusion? Well, yes and no.

Clearly, the Cosmic Love he speaks of is well-documented throughout history and throughout all cultures- and while IT could never be nailed down in a laboratory setting - I am satisfied that there truly is an ultimate field of energy that is pure love and that we are all connected to it, whether we know it or not. In a deeper sense, however, it's still a delusion when we experience it - but so what? The fact that it's a delusion doesn't make it bad - something that is not real cannot be good or bad.

So is there anything wrong, then, with a guy like Time Freke being addicted his quasi-delusional Universal Field of Love and basking in its all-embracing warmth and joy?

There's nothing wrong with it.

It makes him feel good, and if he can teach it to others, a lot of other people will feel very good, too. Indeed, Tim Freke makes his living writing and selling books about Cosmic Love - and also conducting seminars throughout the world, which anyone with something like $45 to $90 can attend, not including travel and hotel expenses. No harm done, I say.

My only purpose here is to point out what is manifest: Like weight loss books, thousands of people will read Tim Freke's books, thousands will attend his seminars, and he'll write even more books, and people will buy them too. And then they'll continue to buy dozens of other such books by other writers. Hundreds of books offering salvation from the Dukkha will endlessly grind out of the publishing mills or be produced by self-publishers - and millions will keep buying them.

Does it sound familiar? It sounds like the weight-loss book industry wherein millions are sold and the problem always remains. The "secret" is ever elusive. It reminds me of what Jesus said: "The poor will always be with us."

And as long as there are the poor - spiritually and materially - there will always be a Jesus figure. And as long as the Dukkha remains manifest in the experience of human consciousness, there will always be a Tim Freke with a book and a seminar at the ready - and lots of others, too.

Ken Korczak is the author of: THE FAIRY REDEMPTION OF JUBAL CRANCH

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Free mystery novel ebook: "The Mystery of Lincoln's Inn" is a pure delight, almost certainly based on true events of a major scandal which rocked Canada nearly a century ago


Robert Machray is described as a writer of “simple-minded mysteries” in the Oxford Companion to Edwardian Fiction, and this novel The Lincoln’s Inn Mystery would probably qualify as that. In my view, however, it rises above simple-minded. Certainly, this is not a work of literary depth – but it is a well-plotted yarn that is a delight to read and highly entertaining.

What’s even more intriguing is the story behind the novel.

As it turns out, Robert Machray was the nephew of the Anglican Bishop ROBERT MACHRAY, an extremely important figure in Canada from the mid-1800s into the early part of the 20th Century. He was instrumental in the development of the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg.

Bishop Machray was also elected the “First Primate of all Canada” by the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada. He was the bishop of Rubert’s Land” a huge area within the vast land of Canada.

In 1874, Bishop Machray’s two nephews, John and Robert Machray, were sent from Scotland to live under his care. John was educated at the University of Manitoba and went on to become an extremely powerful and later notorious public official in Winnipeg. He was eventually convicted of embezzling and/or misappropriating $1.8 million in funds from a variety of sources. (John Machray)

This was an enormous amount of money in early 1900s Canada, making John Machray something of the “Bernie Madoff” of his time, at least in this region of southern Canada. He died in prison in 1933.

So what’s remarkable to me is that in this tale a criminal British lawyer, Cooper Silwood, has embezzled funds from his own law firm and partners, Eversleigh, Silwood and Eversleigh. It is almost certainly inspired by the machinations of John Machray.

And yet, this book was published in 1910, some 22 years before Robert Machray's brother was finally prosecuted and convicted. It seems amazing to me that author Machray would write a novel that is so obviously based on the shady practices of this brother. One might think the book would have tipped off the Powers-That-Be that something was rotten in Denmark ... er, I mean, Canada!

It makes me wonder if the author was making a kind of back door attempt to flush out his own brother. Like his famous uncle, Robert Machray was ordained clergy of the Church of England. Even though he resigned his clerical duties to pursue the life of a writer, perhaps he maintained a high degree of moral propriety, and thus may have been disgusted about what he apparently knew about his brother.

Anyway, you don’t have to appreciate the extraordinary background to enjoy The Mystery of Lincoln’s Inn. All the juicy elements of a great mystery are here. There’s a dastardly criminal. There are pure-of-heart good guys and women who get caught up in an agonizing web of deceit, greed and corruption. A mysterious death and a jilted lover also thicken the plot and add depth to the narrative.

But what I really liked about this book is a hint of an understated cynical humor. This is almost a black comedy. It’s as if the intelligent, sophisticated and former Anglican minister Robert Machray found the folly of his fellow human beings not just sad, but slightly ludicrous.

The book is set mostly in London, but I was delighted that some of the events take place here in my native Minnesota. I think any lover of mystery novels will find this a first-class read. It hasn't lost it's edge or relevance despite being published more than a century ago.

Note: This book is available as a free download ebook in all formats on the Project Gutenberg site HERE.

Ken Korczak is the author of: THE FAIRY REDEMPTION OF JUBAL CRANCH

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

"One Just Man" by Stan I.S. Law will be a mind expanding feast for some, but others may find it's philosophical theme well-traveled and well-worn ground


Two central motifs that pervade ONE JUST MAN center on dualism and paradox. And so it is appropriate that my review will be somewhat dualistic and paradoxical. That is, I am going to very highly recommend this book, but I will also offer some rather sharp criticism.

The premise is one common in literature: a man who has a Messiah complex, or a man who really is the Messiah, but doesn’t know it yet. It’s a theme that pops up across all genres: In science fiction there is Michael Morcock’s “Behold the Man” and Philip K. Dick’s “The Divine Invasion.” In New Age literature there’s Richard Bach’s Don Shimoda. In contemporary literature Chuck Palahnuik’s creates Victor Mancini. In classic literature there are many: Camus’ Meursault, for example. Of course, Nikos Kazantzakis reimagined Christ himself in his 1953 classic, “The Last Temptation of Christ.”

In ONE JUST MAN, then, we have Dr. Peter Thornton, a brilliant, up-and-coming Montreal physician who slowly begins to realize his powers of healing go well beyond medical science. He’s a resistant and reluctant messiah, but eventually his “gift’ overpowers him. As the novel progresses, he must accept his fate for what he is.

Because the best fiction is based on character author STAN I.S. LAW scores high marks for crafting a viewpoint character in a way that is subtle yet powerful – but it is another character that looms over every moment of the narrative in an even more subtle and powerful way – the family butler Winston Smith.

Imagine if you could a mix of Batman’s man Alfred with the legendary Hermes Trismegistus. Or maybe if you combined equal amount John the Baptist, Simon Magus, Erwin Schrödinger and Sir John Gielgud – you would then have the mysterious Winston Smith.

The first third of the novel is absorbing because Dr. Thornton's fierce introspective struggles are compelling. We meet a cold-as-ice clinician who is the consummate professional, yet has a penchant for sleazy liaisons; he “relieves tension” by banging nurses in hospital linen closets, only to forget their faces before he gets his pants zipped up. All his off duty time is spent in heartless, robotic study of the chemistry and plumbing of the human body so that he can become the most efficient doctor, more akin to a mechanic of bodies than a healer of people with souls.

To paraphrase Viktor Frankl (echoing any number of Zen masters): “One does not pursue enlightenment; it must ensue.” This is the case with Peter Thornton. The time comes when he can no longer deny the reality that he has the power to heal by touch. His transcendence from ordinary doctor to messianic healer happens quietly but definitely. He doesn’t ask for it, but he gets it.

Thornton suddenly cannot suffer personal material wealth and possessions; prestige means nothing; all goals and graspings drop away. He becomes a simple “faith healer” of men, banishing pain, disease and suffering with a touch.

But then the novel goes drastically off course. Peter Thornton becomes a conduit for healing, but he has no control over his gift. The power of healing nearly kills him, even as it gives life to others. He then is rescued by the mysterious Winston Smith and proceeds to enter upon a long period of convalescence. Unfortunately for the reader, this period of integration involves endless discussion and heady philosophizing with his girlfriend in a remote cabin in the Canadian wilderness.

There’s a lot of lofty philosophical blather, but nothing happens.

All tension is drained from the narrative. Thornton and his partner are free to enjoy food, sex, blissful natural vistas and starlight as they ponder the enigmatic duality of soul and spirit, the paradox of matter as energy, and the numbing conclusion that a particle singularity exists simultaneous as a wave form.

One of the most inexplicable choices the author makes is to reduce Dr. Thornton’s love interest from a brilliant, beautiful, powerful woman crackling with aggressive sexuality into a simpering girlish sycophant – she goes from being one of the world’s most erudite physicists to a mildly confused scrub woman, cook and sex partner for her exulted new Messiah, who adopts the appallingly pretentious (egotistical?) name, Petrus Latter.

I mean, if the original Jesus Christ was as preachy, dull and bordering on maudlin as this guy, it’s little wonder he was crucified.

Stan I.S. Law
What seems to be happening here is that the author has contrived a fictional scenario to serve as a vehicle to deliver his metaphysical determinations – he does an excellent job of creating interesting, vivid characters, but then settles in to string them like puppets, commanding them to chatter on about the nature of human reality, physical reality and consciousness – and about how all of it is informed by implications falling out from quantum theory.

But does the author at least present a sound philosophy and metaphysics? Yes, he certainly does – and he does so with great lucidity and eloquence. Stan I.S. Law is obviously a brilliant guy, and a writer with a great heart. He is a marvelously elegant wordsmith. His prose is effortless and beautiful. However, in the meta-analysis, there is not a single revelation being made here that isn’t already known by a large segment of today’s reading public.

So the measure of how much you enjoy this novel depends on the level to which you understand timeless, universal principles of metaphysics (Vedic, Buddhist and Gnostic Christian ), and your awareness of how modern quantum mechanics appears to support what enlightened visionaries have been shouting out to us for millennia.

If you don’t know a lot of this stuff, you’ll find this book a scintillating, mind expanding feast. But if you already have at least an intellectual understanding of the metaphysical concepts presented here, you might be bored stiff through the last half of the book.

Ken Korczak is the author of: THE FAIRY REDEMPTION OF JUBAL CRANCH

Monday, August 6, 2012

Free ebook: "The Autobiography of a Cornish Smuggler" not much about smuggling, but a rather a man's spiritual journey to renounce the greed, violence and suffering of the world


When I saw this free ebook, THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A CORNISH SMUGGLER, I eagerly downloaded it and settled in for what I hoped would be tales of intrigue, danger and adventure on the high seas. The book is based on the manuscript of Captain Harry Carter an Englishman who was born and raised in Cornwall, and who grew up to adopt the life of a smuggler.

But there’s precious little about smuggling in this manuscript.

Most of the document written in 1809 by Carter describes his personal spiritual journey as a God-seeking Methodist after abandoning the illegal and harrowing life of a smuggler.

But I must also add that I was not entirely disappointed. His quest to find God and inner peace does not read like most of today's (or any era's) insufferable Christian tripe. Rather, Carter’s journey projects more like the journal of an acetic monk. He pitches no dogma, offers no haranguing lectures and does no proselytizing.

His journey might better be compared to that of a Buddhist renouncing all the material illusions of the world, or a Hindu seeker determined to focus only on the transcendent, and a desire to merge with the omnipresence of Universal Consciousness.

Carter’s strength is his ignorance, something he confesses to repeatedly throughout his many travails and travels. He possesses what Zen master D.T. Suzuki called “beginner’s mind.” Innocent like a child, he uses the broad tenets of Methodism, but finds his own way with constant simple prayer, fasting, singing (chanting), and a refusal to strive and grasp for wealth. He never resists the aggressive forces which confront him along the way. He only doggedly seeks peace, anonymity and to be left alone.

Carter is like a spiritual Ulysses, buffeted about by the winds of chance and circumstance. Like Ulysses, he often finds friends and aid at unexpected moments. His post-smuggling travels take him all the way to New York – which must have been a fascinating place in 1789 – back to England and then to France where he was caught up in the Reign of Terror precipitated by the French Revolution.

He becomes a political prisoner, but his incarceration is light-handed and mostly “in-house.” Carter demonstrates that a man who has absolutely nothing to gain, nothing to lose, and absolutely no worldly agenda cannot truly be imprisoned.

His aura of complete humility, his renouncement of all things material and his laser focus on aligning his soul with God is inspirational, no matter what your faith, maybe even for an atheist.

Even more famous than Harry Carter’s was his older brother, John, who to this day enjoys a lustrous status among Cornish culture. In Cornwall, John Carter's star eclipses that of another legendary English social malcontent -- Robin Hood -- except Carter was certainly a real person and a real smuggler.

Smugglers were part pirate, part free-enterprise businessmen, part organized crime – but for the most part – few of them considered what they were doing wrong, even though they knew it was illegal under British law. The people of Cornwall were dirt poor. Their only options were to work seasonally in local tin mines as near slaves, scrabble out a living on a rocky patch of farm, or maybe eke out a living as fishermen.

Smuggling was a road to riches – it not only enriched the smuggler, but the loot trickled down considerably throughout Cornish society.

This document was published in 1900 under the auspices of John B. Cornish, who provides a helpful introduction and notes, and who is also listed as editor. A bit of Internet sleuthing turned up nothing about Mr. Cornish, so I’ll leave it at that.

My bottom line is that I find this to be a remarkable tidbit of history. It may not provide much insight into the world of Cornish smuggling, but “Captain” Harry Carter is an endearing and admirable soul. I was delighted to to have met him through the words he left behind.

Ken Korczak is the author of MINNESOTA PARANORMALA

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

"The Roswell Legacy" by Jesse Marcel Jr. is written by a man who was there, but this book offers nothing new and the prose struggles


Let me just say that Jesse Marcel Jr. has my great admiration. He’s lived an honorable life as a hard-working physician, healer of the sick, father of eight children, grandfather, National Guard member, served in the Iraq War for 13 months as flight surgeon – he's a classic all-around, All-American good guy.

He also projects a warm, avuncular vibe in the TV and video interviews I have seen -- he’s obviously a marvelous human being – I wish he was my uncle or my next door neighbor.

And thus it pains me to inform my readers that THE ROSWELL LEGACY is a fairly awful book.

There isn’t a single new revelation to provide a single shard of information that might shed new light on what really happened at a remote desert about 75 miles from Roswell, New Mexico, on June 14, 1947. Everything said about the supposed crash of an alien spacecraft (or something) at the location has already been aired ad nausea in a blizzard of other books, articles, TV shows, movies, Internet sites.

True, Marcel is more than a footnote in the annals of UFO lore. By virtue of his fiddling for about 20 minutes with some of the debris of whatever crashed in the desert when he was an 11 year old boy, Marcel has gained a minor star in that strange constellation of players that comprises the field of ufology.

He says he wrote this book to clear up scads of egregious misinformation and false statements that have been made about his father by debunkers and skeptics over the years, as they questioned Jesse Marcel Sr.’s role as one of the first men to see the Roswell crash site, and collect some of the wreckage.

Dr. Jesse Marcel Jr.
But he adds absolutely nothing new to the record. Everything he tells about his father is known. If anything, Marcel somewhat dulls the luster of his father’s reputation. He describes Marcel Sr's slow descent into alcoholism and a bitter sense of cynicism and alienation from the military, possibly related to the government’s attempt to control whatever message it wanted to control about the Roswell incident. I give the author high points for unflinching honesty, however.

The quality of the writing is barely adequate, if not poor – it reads like a high school student turning in a report about what he did on his summer vacation. There is also more than a little flat-out padding with bland information about space travel anyone can find on Wikipedia, a superfluous appendix, too much info about weather balloons, and a chapter written by his wife who adds minor, irrelevant pleasantries.

A number of errors are made as well, – for example, the Soviet-Era space station MIR is misidentified twice as “Muir.” Also J. ALLEN HYNEK'S name is incorrectly spelled “Hyneck.”

Furthermore, Marcel mistakenly says that the famous “swamp gas” concept was a favorite go-to explanation that Dr. Hynek used to debunk UFO reports. The truth is, it was reporters who misunderstood something Hynek said in a press conference which led to the popularization of the “swamp gas” term, and it was the media which subsequently hammered “swamp gas” into the public consciousness.

If the price was maybe .99 cents for the Kindle edition, I would say go ahead and buy it. But this is not a significant contribution to the Roswell legacy.

Ken Korczak is the author of: MINNESOTA PARANORMALA