Book Report: The Relationship Sutras

Asheville-based spiritual teacher Michael Mamas leads classes on meditation, personal growth, healing, and a number of related topics. He is also the founder of The Center of Rational Spirituality, “dedicated to assisting the evolution of human consciousness.” Mamas has authored several books including a children’s book, one on psychotherapy, a home study course, a fictional account based on his own spiritual journey and, most recently, The Relationship Sutras (Somagni, 2008).

Sutras is a slender volume of poem-like observances on the nature of love. Divided into 37 sections, each with an accompanying nature photo, the book reads like a Tanka collection. Though each sutra (a Hindu literary composition of condensed lines intended for spiritual study) can be read in a matter of seconds—the entire book devoured in a half-hour’s time—Mamas’ gentle, measured voice sets the pace, encouraging readers to take their time and extract the deeper, layered meaning of each passage.

Mamas writes:
“‘I’m sorry.’
This simple acknowledgment
can go so far in healing a relationship.”

“Everything about you
is clearly visible
for everyone to see.”

Like marriage counseling distilled, Mamas’ sound bites offer seemingly obvious nuggets of advice. However, upon reflection each sutra contains a kernel of wisdom. In the same way that maxims are morals are drilled into the collective conscience for a reason (cliched though they may be, they also make sense), Mamas’ sutras serve up similarly sage guidance.

However, it’s not all easy and breezy. Mamas tackled harder subjects, such as when to speak and when to hold one’s tongue:

“The feeling of urgency
to express your feeling
or make your point
all too often undermines
your ability to do so.”

Best bet with Sutras is to read one a day, digesting each tiny poem before continuing on to the next. And, in the spirit of the upcoming holiday (Valentine’s Day), sharing this book with a sweetie could also work well.

—Alli Marshall, A&E reporter

About Alli Marshall
Alli Marshall is the arts section editor at Mountain Xpress. She's lived in Asheville for more than 20 years and loves live music, visual art, fiction and friendly dogs. Alli is the winner of the 2016 Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize and the author of the novel "How to Talk to Rockstars," published by Logosophia Books. Follow me @alli_marshall

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