Grain of Truth
The Ancient Lessons of Craft
By Ross Laird
(Walker & Company, Hardcover, 9780802713896, 200pp.)
Publication Date: September 2001
Other Editions of This Title: Paperback
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On the surface, Grain of Truth is a brief, simple book in which the author makes objects out of wood – a hand plane for himself, a marimba for his children, a box to hold the cremated remains of his grandmother-in-law. It’s not a how-to book, not a description of technique so much as an exploration of craft as a contemplative and spiritual practice. It shows how one’s hands can serve as guides in the unfolding of awareness.The book is organized into eight chapters, based on the essential symbols of ancient Taoism (wind, earth, thunder, deep water, mountain, shallows, fire, and the unfathomable). Each chapter deals with a particular craft project – its inspiration, the materials it requires, the rewards it offers. Using sharp tools and a delicate touch, Laird uses the creative process to discover his essence.Grain of Truth is lyrical and mesmerizing. Like Eugen Herrigel’s Zen in the Art of Archery, it explores physical discipline as a path to spiritual awakening. Like Thoreau’s Walden, it places the unadorned self in nature, simple experience opening a door to unforeseen depths. Like Annie Dillard’s Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, it evokes the mystical through keen observation of the natural world. It’s a book to cherish.