Eastern philosophies influence Carlisle author

WhatsOn May 07, 2015 by Mac Christie Flamborough Review

Carlisle’s L. Alan Weiss recently published his first book, a memoir, which he describes as a work of “creative non-fiction.”

Weiss, a retired special education specialist and biologist, lives in Carlisle with his wife Margaretta. He originally started working on the book, Through A Lens of Emptiness: Reflections on Life, Longevity and Contentment, based upon an idea of documenting a legacy and encouraging others to record their own stories.

“I’m trying to promote the idea of the value of exercising autobiographic memory,” he said.

“I kind of reflected back and thought, ‘I don’t know very much about what my father thought about, how he made decisions,’” Weiss continued, noting his father lived through both World Wars and the Depression.

“What was that like? I have no idea.”

The former high school teacher noted in modern society the tradition of the extended family and passing down oral history has diminished.

“There’s a wealth of information that is no longer handed down,” he said.

So Weiss set about writing a book with the intent of encouraging people to write their own autobiographies, using his own life as a reference point. He was also inspired by a younger cousin who was afflicted with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, and in his last years, forgot who he was.

“Let’s say that happens to me,” he said. “You can read the book, you can relive their life with them.”

The first draft, said Weiss, was very much a how-to, non-fiction work, which laid out how to write an autobiography.

The first-time author published the book through a company that put him in contact with several editors, who provided feedback on his writing. He noted several people who read the first manuscript suggested many of Weiss’s ideas came from Eastern philosophies, such as Buddhism and Daoism.

“I’m not a guy who knew a lot about that when I wrote my first draft,” Weiss said, noting that led him to research various philosophies.

“I started looking into this philosophical matrix,” he explained. “And I’m going, ‘What’s really interesting here is not so much telling people how to write an autobiography, but letting them in on the experience of writing an autobiography.’”

So through the three-year process, Weiss researched numerous philosophies and settled on the plan to model his work on a Zen garden.

The idea, Weiss said, came from a small model of a ritual fountain from a Zen temple he kept on his desk. The model, which his wife brought him from a trip to Kyoto, Japan, led him to researching Zen gardens.

The gardens, explained Weiss, have six fundamental structures: rocks, ponds or water, plantings, setting, lanterns, and bridges.

The rocks, in Weiss’s telling, are parents, religion and upbringing, while water is the external qualities that surround him.

“These are the qualities we have acquired that govern everything that happens in life,” he said.

The plantings are the decisions that affect people’s lives, and the setting is the way he fits into society. Lanterns are symbolic of enlightenment or learning; bridges symbolize transitions.

“I said, ‘If I use that model, I should be able to look back at myself and answer all these questions,’” Weiss explained.

He admits the title, Through A Lens of Emptiness, may seem like an odd choice for a book about life, but stressed the concept of ‘emptiness’ is very important in Eastern philosophy.

“A coffee cup, before it has coffee in it, is empty,” he explained. “But it was useful for coffee or (holding) loose change or game pieces. You could put anything in it. Before you have experiences, you’re empty of those experiences. When you have them, you become enriched.”

So emptiness, said Weiss, is the idea of looking at something through the potential for experience. “You develop as a human being because of your experiences,” he said.

In Buddhism, Weiss said, the idea of ‘emptiness’ means a lack of ego. This applies to an autobiography, he said, by being able to look at your life through an egoless or unbiased lens.

Through A Lens of Emptiness can be purchased at Pickwick Books in Waterdown, and is available online as an e-book, hardcover or paperback at www.lensofemptiness.com or various online booksellers.

Eastern philosophies influence Carlisle author

WhatsOn May 07, 2015 by Mac Christie Flamborough Review

Carlisle’s L. Alan Weiss recently published his first book, a memoir, which he describes as a work of “creative non-fiction.”

Weiss, a retired special education specialist and biologist, lives in Carlisle with his wife Margaretta. He originally started working on the book, Through A Lens of Emptiness: Reflections on Life, Longevity and Contentment, based upon an idea of documenting a legacy and encouraging others to record their own stories.

“I’m trying to promote the idea of the value of exercising autobiographic memory,” he said.

“I kind of reflected back and thought, ‘I don’t know very much about what my father thought about, how he made decisions,’” Weiss continued, noting his father lived through both World Wars and the Depression.

“What was that like? I have no idea.”

The former high school teacher noted in modern society the tradition of the extended family and passing down oral history has diminished.

“There’s a wealth of information that is no longer handed down,” he said.

So Weiss set about writing a book with the intent of encouraging people to write their own autobiographies, using his own life as a reference point. He was also inspired by a younger cousin who was afflicted with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, and in his last years, forgot who he was.

“Let’s say that happens to me,” he said. “You can read the book, you can relive their life with them.”

The first draft, said Weiss, was very much a how-to, non-fiction work, which laid out how to write an autobiography.

The first-time author published the book through a company that put him in contact with several editors, who provided feedback on his writing. He noted several people who read the first manuscript suggested many of Weiss’s ideas came from Eastern philosophies, such as Buddhism and Daoism.

“I’m not a guy who knew a lot about that when I wrote my first draft,” Weiss said, noting that led him to research various philosophies.

“I started looking into this philosophical matrix,” he explained. “And I’m going, ‘What’s really interesting here is not so much telling people how to write an autobiography, but letting them in on the experience of writing an autobiography.’”

So through the three-year process, Weiss researched numerous philosophies and settled on the plan to model his work on a Zen garden.

The idea, Weiss said, came from a small model of a ritual fountain from a Zen temple he kept on his desk. The model, which his wife brought him from a trip to Kyoto, Japan, led him to researching Zen gardens.

The gardens, explained Weiss, have six fundamental structures: rocks, ponds or water, plantings, setting, lanterns, and bridges.

The rocks, in Weiss’s telling, are parents, religion and upbringing, while water is the external qualities that surround him.

“These are the qualities we have acquired that govern everything that happens in life,” he said.

The plantings are the decisions that affect people’s lives, and the setting is the way he fits into society. Lanterns are symbolic of enlightenment or learning; bridges symbolize transitions.

“I said, ‘If I use that model, I should be able to look back at myself and answer all these questions,’” Weiss explained.

He admits the title, Through A Lens of Emptiness, may seem like an odd choice for a book about life, but stressed the concept of ‘emptiness’ is very important in Eastern philosophy.

“A coffee cup, before it has coffee in it, is empty,” he explained. “But it was useful for coffee or (holding) loose change or game pieces. You could put anything in it. Before you have experiences, you’re empty of those experiences. When you have them, you become enriched.”

So emptiness, said Weiss, is the idea of looking at something through the potential for experience. “You develop as a human being because of your experiences,” he said.

In Buddhism, Weiss said, the idea of ‘emptiness’ means a lack of ego. This applies to an autobiography, he said, by being able to look at your life through an egoless or unbiased lens.

Through A Lens of Emptiness can be purchased at Pickwick Books in Waterdown, and is available online as an e-book, hardcover or paperback at www.lensofemptiness.com or various online booksellers.

Eastern philosophies influence Carlisle author

WhatsOn May 07, 2015 by Mac Christie Flamborough Review

Carlisle’s L. Alan Weiss recently published his first book, a memoir, which he describes as a work of “creative non-fiction.”

Weiss, a retired special education specialist and biologist, lives in Carlisle with his wife Margaretta. He originally started working on the book, Through A Lens of Emptiness: Reflections on Life, Longevity and Contentment, based upon an idea of documenting a legacy and encouraging others to record their own stories.

“I’m trying to promote the idea of the value of exercising autobiographic memory,” he said.

“I kind of reflected back and thought, ‘I don’t know very much about what my father thought about, how he made decisions,’” Weiss continued, noting his father lived through both World Wars and the Depression.

“What was that like? I have no idea.”

The former high school teacher noted in modern society the tradition of the extended family and passing down oral history has diminished.

“There’s a wealth of information that is no longer handed down,” he said.

So Weiss set about writing a book with the intent of encouraging people to write their own autobiographies, using his own life as a reference point. He was also inspired by a younger cousin who was afflicted with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, and in his last years, forgot who he was.

“Let’s say that happens to me,” he said. “You can read the book, you can relive their life with them.”

The first draft, said Weiss, was very much a how-to, non-fiction work, which laid out how to write an autobiography.

The first-time author published the book through a company that put him in contact with several editors, who provided feedback on his writing. He noted several people who read the first manuscript suggested many of Weiss’s ideas came from Eastern philosophies, such as Buddhism and Daoism.

“I’m not a guy who knew a lot about that when I wrote my first draft,” Weiss said, noting that led him to research various philosophies.

“I started looking into this philosophical matrix,” he explained. “And I’m going, ‘What’s really interesting here is not so much telling people how to write an autobiography, but letting them in on the experience of writing an autobiography.’”

So through the three-year process, Weiss researched numerous philosophies and settled on the plan to model his work on a Zen garden.

The idea, Weiss said, came from a small model of a ritual fountain from a Zen temple he kept on his desk. The model, which his wife brought him from a trip to Kyoto, Japan, led him to researching Zen gardens.

The gardens, explained Weiss, have six fundamental structures: rocks, ponds or water, plantings, setting, lanterns, and bridges.

The rocks, in Weiss’s telling, are parents, religion and upbringing, while water is the external qualities that surround him.

“These are the qualities we have acquired that govern everything that happens in life,” he said.

The plantings are the decisions that affect people’s lives, and the setting is the way he fits into society. Lanterns are symbolic of enlightenment or learning; bridges symbolize transitions.

“I said, ‘If I use that model, I should be able to look back at myself and answer all these questions,’” Weiss explained.

He admits the title, Through A Lens of Emptiness, may seem like an odd choice for a book about life, but stressed the concept of ‘emptiness’ is very important in Eastern philosophy.

“A coffee cup, before it has coffee in it, is empty,” he explained. “But it was useful for coffee or (holding) loose change or game pieces. You could put anything in it. Before you have experiences, you’re empty of those experiences. When you have them, you become enriched.”

So emptiness, said Weiss, is the idea of looking at something through the potential for experience. “You develop as a human being because of your experiences,” he said.

In Buddhism, Weiss said, the idea of ‘emptiness’ means a lack of ego. This applies to an autobiography, he said, by being able to look at your life through an egoless or unbiased lens.

Through A Lens of Emptiness can be purchased at Pickwick Books in Waterdown, and is available online as an e-book, hardcover or paperback at www.lensofemptiness.com or various online booksellers.