Sunday, February 14, 2010

Read: Forgiveness and other acts of love

Stephanie Dowrick
Forgiveness and other acts of love
Penguin Books Australia Ltd, 2000

ISBN 0670873608

I was reading Stephanie Dowrick's Forgiveness and other acts of love for the past few weeks. This is a book containing wisdom on how the humane qualities of courage, fidelity, restraint, generosity, tolerance and forgiveness could help sustain and support us, be it good or difficult times.

After a good read of Stephanie Dowrick's other book,  Choosing Happiness: Life and Soul Essentials, when I came across yet another book by her, I decided I could put time aside to read it. I like her wise and encouraging style of writing.

Here, I attempt to share a few of the learning points that I have gained from the book:

On the value of courage, I have found this section in the book to be noteworthy: "To step more fully into courage's embrace, it may help to discover that you don't need to give up fear. Fear may be an old familiar in your life, and fear itself can be courage's best teacher. Sometimes it is only courage that allows us to acknowledge that we are afraid."

If I were to put it into context of my own life, perhaps this quote on courage is a reminder to me that it is still possible for me to be courageous even when I am feeling fear. One can act in courageous ways despite experiencing fear.

From the chapter on fidelity, the gist that I have learnt is to be true to myself. Fidelity isn't just about being faithful to a sexual partner. The concept of fidelity also encompasses being true to oneself, one's destiny, one's beliefs, values and vocation.

The chapter on restraint contained many clear examples to illustrate this very value. I suppose one thing I would like to remind myself years after this book would be the concept that restraint and very different from the concept of "constraint". Constraint restricts a person's life. Restraint, however, is according to the author, "not a habit. ...It is an expression of your choice to act - or not. Your choice to be true to what you believe is important, or not. Your choice to be loving to yourself and thoughtful about the social good, or not."

From the chapter on generosity, I was reminded that it would be ideal that the impulse to generosity arises from unconditional love. Here, unconditional love is a commitment to love for love's sake, to go on believing that there is good in humankind. I particularly like to share a section from this chapter which suggests that generosity can teach us to cultivate a sense of trust that we do now have enough and in giving where giving is needed, one will have no less. In cultivating this sense of trust, we are led to experience freedom and love that is beyond riches. Having read this chapter, I could then better appreciate the generosity that many people in my life have showered me with. My words of deep appreciation to them. Thank you.

Tolerance is perhaps one of the more profound chapters to understand. Other than discussing about tolerance to difference, it speaks about being tolerant to that dark side of ourselves. It is quite a thought-provoking chapter to read.

Finally, the book concludes with the value of forgiveness. I would find it helpful to highlight this teaching from the Dhammapada, "Hate is not conquered by hate. Hate is conquered by love. This is a law eternal."

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I may probably need more time to appreciate the wisdom that is found in Forgiveness and other acts of love. Nevertheless, it has been a good read.


EastCoastLife said...

Happy Chinese New Year!
Gong Xi Fa Cai!
Wishing every one a great Tiger year ahead!

oceanskies79 said...

Eastcoastlife: Wishing you a great Tiger year, and a Happy Chinese New Year. Good health and Gong Xi Fa Cai.

Doreen said...

Wishing you a very happy new year. Gong xi gong xi!

kyh said...

Happy Roarrrs! Best wishes and luck to you in this CNY! :)

pinkie said...

Looks like a good book to read :)

oceanskies79 said...

Doreen: Gong xi! Gong xi! Thank you for sharing joy here. :)

kyh: Thanks a lot for your wishes. :)

pinkie: It is a good book to read!