Tag Archives: Yoda

DO – A.C. Ping

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No, try not! Do or do not! There is no try. I just love that. Yoda is my guru. And A.C. Ping leads off a second packed volume of his self-help trilogy with Yoda’s line from The Empire Strikes Back. DO is the lime-green paperback, appearing between Ping’s other well-received books, BE and FAITH, and it is packed with pragmatic tips and observations culled from traditional and new age spiritual teachings. Ping wastes no time getting to the call to action. This is a serious guide for personal transformation and its mantra might be “no excuses.”

There are lots of good examples of the teachings in action, from the certainty required to manifest through creative visualization to an admonition to “Change your story” when it isn’t going well. Accompanying the advice are methods for doing so—not thinking about it or trying to do it but moving in the direction of your dream. Ping talks about the risk inherent in putting everything on the line, and the necessity for doing so. He gets pretty explicit about it, confessing incidents when he convinced himself to take the easy way out and then missed an important opportunity for growth.

“There is no road” said poet Antonio Machado. “We make the road by walking.” (Another favorite quote.) DO is the imperative, the active verb that machetes the underbrush and clears the way. There is nothing startling and brand new in Ping’s prescriptions. You can find advice about meditating to build inner strength and clarity, evaluating energy transactions between people to determine whether they are positive, writing intentions down to concretize them, daring to be honest and authentic even when it makes you uncomfortable, cultivating the patience to wait for exactly what you want and need and then going for it. The virtue of the book is that so many of the classic teachings about self-realization and creating your own life are contained in one place.

DO would be a great carry-along for a blast of inspiration when you’re stuck in a line or commuting to work. It’s a practical workbook with space to make your own notes as you adapt the ideas to your life and experience. In some ways, this is a compact primer of common sense but it’s full of universal principles, not homespun. Ping’s message is a digest of all the nuggets of wisdom in all those volumes of self-help you’ve read—or despaired of ever reading. Dip into it in the library or the bookstore and see if it speaks to you. Just do it.

Do   A.C. Ping | Marlowe & Company   2004


Merlin: Priest of Nature — Jean Markale

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Merlin is the seductive puzzle, the druid trickster, the bearded mentor of young kings, the pawn of priestesses and faeries.  Merlin steals the story as Gandalf, Yoda, Dumbledore and other reincarnations of the powerful, aphoristic sage. But the Merlin we think we know is a mere shade of the many Merlin’s captured in literature from ancient times.  Merlin: Priest of Nature, by the Celtic scholar Jean Markale, traces this Merlin backwards through time and tomes to a 12th century tale in verse called Vita Merlini by Geoffrey of Monmouth. That story came from ancient bardic myths and legends about a woods hermit and wild man called Myrddin Wyllt and a mash-up with a warrior chief named Aurelius Ambrosius (Merlinus Ambrosius), both figures that pre-dated Geoffrey’s work and had nothing or little to do with Arthur and Excalibur. Geoffrey also developed a Merlin in his well-known Historia Regum Britanniae, and in his Prophetiae Merlini (Merlin’s Prohecies).  

Markale spins his Merlin story from etymological threads. There are amusing observations, like the probability that Merlinus was a more acceptable latinization of Myrddin than Merdinus, which comes uncomfortably close to the French merde. Geoffrey’s audience was the educated class of Britain and Normandy and they would have known the French word to the detriment of the character. The Welsh, Celtic, Roman, Irish, Anglo-Saxon and other influences in the British Isles and along the Norman coast all serve to clarify the myriad bits that coalesce into a Merlin we accept today. If you enjoy getting lost in the etymological notes of the Oxford English Dictionary, as I do, you will be fascinated by the various permutations of Vivian, Niniane, Nimue, Gwendydd, Ganieda, Mordret, Medrawt, Morgan and more.     

But, if that’s too wonky for you, Merlin the enchanter is intriguing and ambiguous, as much myth as historical person. He may have been a wild woods-hermit, a bard, a sage, a magician who engineered Arthur’s birth and set in motion a legend treasured for a thousand years, a madman besotted with the charms of the Lady of the Lake who immured him under a rock and tricked him into giving her his power. Markale makes the case that Merlin was an heir to druids, a prophet, a master of the natural world, a madman–above all, a literary construct borrowed from appealing narratives and emerging as a powerful and enduring celebrity.

Robert De Boron, a court cleric, added Merlin to a grail history and may have written Lancelot in Prose that firmly fixes Merlin in the story of Arthur. That Merlin goes on to meddle spectacularly with history and ultimately retires to the forest in isolated, divine madness. Sir Thomas Malory wrote a great Merlin character in his thousand-page epic Le Morte D’Arthur, which I keep taking off the bookshelf and then regretfully slipping back when I realize I still don’t have time to finish it. Merlin’s literary evolution is as interesting as the wizard himself.

Merlin: Priest of Nature is a read for those who like to unravel language, or anyone obsessed with the idea of Merlin, flawed bard, outsider, prophet and magician. Markale has included a prodigious amount of scholarship and reference material that would be a good jumping-off point for an in-depth study of Myrddin-Merlin, whoever he was or whatever we would make of him.    

Merlin: Priest of Nature    Jean Markale    Inner Traditions   1995