#4506 - Tuesday, February 7, 2012 - Editor: Jerry Katz
- #4506 - Tuesday, February 7, 2012 - Editor: Jerry Katz
The Nonduality Highlights - http://groups.yahoo.com/group/NDhighlights
Orva Schrock is one of those authors that makes me want to write books. I read his stuff and say to myself, "I can write like that." Of course I can't. At least not without great efforts. Featured is an Amazon review of Orva's new book, Worthless Boy: A Memoir.
I've also included my review of his first book, Grandpa's Notebooks: Evolution of an Amish Soul.
If you've read Grandpa's Notebooks, you'll want to read Worthless Boy in order to round out your connection with Orva.
Worthless Boy: A Memoir, by Orva Schrock
Worthless Boy - But Not a Worthless Story, February 4, 2012
Reviewed By Shannon L. Yarbrough (TOP 1000 REVIEWER) (VINE VOICE) (REAL NAME)
This review is from: Worthless Boy: A Memoir (Hardcover)
Imagine being the outsider amongst a dozen siblings. You are the one who is eager to fit in and be a good worker like your older brothers, but you are labeled "worthless" by your father. You yearn for the attention of your mother, but she is too busy raising your younger siblings and attending to the family household.
Imagine being this child in an Amish household, eager for the attention that a young blossoming mind deserves, but lost in a world of religious stronghold and misunderstanding.
This was the childhood of Orva Schrock, and this book, Worthless Boy, is his memoir. Divided into 2 parts consisting of just seven chapters over 81 pages, Schrock wastes not a word painting a picture of a troubled and disturbed childhood, a boy yearning for the attention of his parents but getting most persecution instead.
The book begins with this sentence: I was born as fuel for hell, or so was the deepest metaphysical understanding I was capable of.
Part 1 of the book begins when Orva is three and traces several concrete moments throughout his childhood and teen years. He longed for the attention of his father, but got mostly verbal and physical abuse which resulted in quite a bit of mental anguish which led to Orva becoming quite the young rowdy boy who acts out for attention.
Add to this the "hardcore" religious beliefs of his Amish upbringing and the move of his large family for better work to keep the family fed. Part 1 ends at his ninth grade year of school, which was also the end of his formal education.
Part 2 is a quick glimpse into the 50 years that have passed as Orva reflects on the death of his father, and spends one whole chapter quoting from various books he has read and which made him a stronger man.
Though the book is very heart wrenching, and impeccably polished when it comes to editing and formatting, it is more of a long essay and carries quite a hefty price for a book that is under 100 pages and hard cover. But, our stories are not always full of detail with long drawn out pictures. Such is the joy of self-publishing, and this is Orva's story.
Grandpa's Notebooks: Evolution of an Amish Soul, by Orva Schrock
Review by Jerry Katz, written in 2007:
Orva Schrock lives on "5 mostly wooded acres in northern Indiana." He claims these as his interests: Wife and kids, grandkids, friends, peace, solitude, Gaia; the earth and mother nature, good books, Jnana yoga, Advaita Vedanta, nondualism, Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi..."What better life than this? Sitting quietly by my window, i watch the leaves fall and the flowers bloom as the seasons come and go".-Seccho-
Grandpa's Notebooks: The Evolution of an Amish Soul, is dedicated to the author's grandchildren. The book is a gift to them. The book is also written in a way that is clearly pleasing to the author: you can tell by the way it is freely but logically constructed. There is no sense of
imitation. Orva is writing and building a book in the way that pleases himself.
These are two important qualities for a book or creative work to possess: that it be a gift and that it be pleasing to the author or artist. Grandpa's Notebooks contains these two elements. Of course there are other qualities necessary for a successful work. In the case of a book, it has to be well written. This book is written plainly, consistently, coherently, literary by virtue of not trying to be literary.
Thus the book "breathes," vibrates with life, feels real and authentic, and allows the inner light of the author to shine through. These elements of gifting and self-pleasing -- and you need to have both happening -- exist in the book as a whole and within each chapter. Some chapters may be gifts to God, to an unknown reader, to a specific email recipient, to people interested in nondual spirituality. Orva probably has his own inner sense of what this gifting is.
Also, this book is beautifully designed and printed on high quality paper and in hardback. The book is a pleasure to hold, read, and page through. It is a very high quality publication, which goes along with good gift giving.
The purpose of this book, then, is to present a gift.What is being given? The author is giving himself fully, fully enough to offer confessions of Truth. Truth can't be given; it can be confessed:
"I did survive and get away from my oppressive home of origin. I did have wonderful children to love. I did find an interesting and successful career in business. A great light did finally dawn on me. Every worry was for naught, because there was always a greater hand guiding mine. A greater purpose seemed to surge ahead of my own feeble reasoning and efforts."
"The Self doesn't know the truth. It IS the truth. And 'life' goes on as it should, in spite of our efforts and not because of them."
This book ends with the wordless knowing of love, being, acceptance, gratitude. It begins and carries through with themes of questioning, doubt, insight, loss of insight, pain, suffering, struggle, pleading to God. This is a human story, autobiographical, told in short chapters of no more than a page or so. The chapters are poems, short stories, short essays about his life and family, book reviews, emails, some quotation of other authors.
Schrock takes the point of view of ongoing inquiry into life itself at every point of his life. In a 1973 journal entry, he wrote: "We need to search within for truth, and follow the path wherever it leads. If the search is sincere, honest, and a work of love, we can only ascend." The book proceeds chronologically. Schrock reveals a hard life built on the fractured foundation of physical and mental abuse by his Bible thumping preacher father. The book ends in 2004. We see that the statement above holds up throughout the book. Ultimately, Schrock can say, "Not only am 'I' not a damned sinner destined for hell but instead I am God in disguise playing out a dream in maya."
At its core, nondual literature consists of confessions of the nature of reality as nondual. These take the forms of scripture from major traditions, scriptural-like writings by legendary and great writers, transcribed talks of recognized saints, Masters, gurus, teachers; popular writings by people such as Alan Watts, Deepak Chopra, Eckhart Tolle, and several others; and semi-popular or little known writings by so-called ordinary people who take advantage of available publication and marketing opportunities. Of course these "ordinary" people are no less enlightened or self-realized than anyone who composed scriptural texts. However, they may not have the extremely rare gift to write stuff that will last a thousand years. Then again, maybe they do. Who knows?
While the confession of the nature of nondual reality is the core of the genre, there are other kinds of writings that serve to define the genre. At some point these other forms of nondual literature will often include writings which are confessional: fiction, non-fiction, poetry, novels, autobiography, how to, book reviews, emails, journals and notebooks and blogs, essays, articles, question and answer books, anthologies. That is, every form of the written word finds its way into the genre of nondual literature. However, the hallmark of nondual literature is the confession of the nature of reality as nondual.
We can also describe nondual literature in terms of how extreme it is. Neo-Advaita is perhaps the most extreme teaching, which says you don't exist and there is nothing you can do. It is a zero-point teaching. What I have said about Neo-Advaita is not and cannot be what it is, because it is nothing. Less extreme teachings within nondual literature speak of directly experiencing reality. They may say there is nothing you can do to directly experience reality other than see it. Other teachings expressed in nondual literature advise practice, surrender to God, meditation, awareness of various levels of consciousness. I have tried to give a broad sense of the genre of nondual literature.
Where does Orva Schrock's book fit in? As demonstrated above, the book contains the hallmark of nondual literature: confession of the nature of reality as nondual. The book as a whole is autobiographical, showing the evolution of the author's awareness of truth. Most interestingly, the author uses a variety of literary forms, noted above, to achieve wholeness. Because of the overall quality of the book and the mix of literary forms, this book is unique in the genre of nondual literature. That makes this book important and a must to own.
During my ten year online involvement in nonduality, I have tried to make the teaching of nonduality accessible and encourage people to be active participants within that process. I would like to encourage people to write books. Anyone who has written some poetry, emails, book reviews, a story here and there, an article, an essay, can construct a book. It is not easy! It's a very hard thing to do. You have to compile your works and make sense of them, as Orva has done. You have to put some money into the endeavor. You have to sell the book knowing you may never break even.
Orva's book is important because it serves as a model for what others can do. The elements of a book like Orva's get written in the course of living and spending time online, writing about spiritual life, living life, figuring things out, seeing the truth and confessing it over and over again in a unique way.
Orva Schrock has made a significant contribution to the culture of nonduality. This book is powerful and inspiring reading. If you have a lot of writings and don't know what to do with them but you feel they could be made into a book, get this book to inspire and guide you.
There are two essential teachings within this book that are not separate from the spiritual or nondual: (1) make your writing a gift -- a gift to God, perhaps -- and (2) write your book so that you are pleased.
A couple of things to mention:
I think my favorite writings in this book are the chapters where Orva talks about his job and the workplace. I wish there was more. I hope Orva writes another book.
This book has two excellent appendices. One is a 4-page reprint from the book, Seven Words That Can Change the World, A New Understanding of Sacredness, by Joseph R. Simonetta. It is a stunning cosmological statement which finishes off the book nicely. The second appendix is a solid list of 25 recommended books for further reading. There is also a helpful index, which most books in the genre lack. As well, the Table of Contents is over 5 pages long and serves as its own readable chapter.
I like Orva's voice. He's a regular guy talking about a rare knowledge, a rare process of development. Reading the book, it sounds like he's barbequeing while talking to you. He has the easy, everything's-under-control voice, even at times when the coals are too hot, too cold, the kids are teasing the dog, the mosquitos are thick, or -- God forbid -- your veggie burger has fallen through the grating. There's a sense of calm and real-ness throughout this book.
Grandpa's Notebooks: The Evolution of an Amish Soul is a successful work. Orva Schrock accomplished what he intended: to create a gift for his grandchildren. On many levels, it is a gift for the world.