--from Adrienne Baksa, Chuang Yen Monastery, Carmel, New York, (photo above):
It's a haunting book. And for me what made it even more so was the extraordinary candor of the author. It's one thing to discuss these topics in general terms and even learn from them in some instances, but it's quite another for an author to take you through her own journey on that path, sharing deeply personal information. I doubt if there's anyone on the planet who can't relate to her message, if they're willing to, that is.
Oh, Judith, I've just read the four columns you sent... read Forgiveness last and it has knocked me for a loop. I definitely agree that it has to be in the Feb. issue... I just can't say how powerful this is; I know it will be life-changing for many, many of our readers. Thank you for sharing this. --Sandi Tomlin-Sutker, Editor, WNC Woman
"I just finished reading Murder As A Call to Love but know that it will be reading me for the rest of my life. If you are not concerned with the transformation of suffering, this is not a book you need to read."
--Richard Brady, editor, Tuning In, Mindfulness in Teaching and Learning, and senior Dharma teacher for Thich Nhat Hanh
Judith's partner, R Philip Toy, is an Aliquippa guy and a high school buddy of mine when we explored jazz, beat poetry and other things circa 1959-60. They now live in a Zen center in the Smokies...But her spiritual true story stands on its own as one of the more powerful I've ever heard... --Carl Davidson, field organizer for Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism
"My feelings at the end of the book were many. First I could feel the strength of Judith's practice - the palpable strength and long-term commitment to it. Then at the very end I was aware of the complexity of real-life situations - with the concern that other family members would resent her telling her story. And the difficulty being clean and clear in relationships, and the split with her brother. And the losses in Philip's family, especially James. We do so much want to quiet the turbulence (speaking for myself here....) and it keeps popping up in new places. Even when so much really big work was done to process and forgive for the murders, there was more waiting in the wings. So my feeling was that the practice, in its full expression, can 'cook' all kinds of pain, but that there are times when so much gets piled on the plate..... that's when we need our friends to help us hold it." Andrea Stoney, Charleston, SC [This woman is absolutely on the mark. Spiritual friendship is the whole of the spiritual life.--JT]
“A compelling story which embraces the whole spectrum of human experience from darkest suffering to radiant freedom. The author manages to keep those two extremes in delicate balance, infusing the whole with a fine gift for color and light. Best of all we see step by step how to work with emotions that block our way to forgiveness and love.”
--Sara Jenkins, author of This Side of Nirvana
"Your video brought me to tears. Your transformation and healing, your forgiveness is healing, forgiveness for us all...We come to know deeply that we are all victims; we are all offenders. Your journey is testament that transformation is possible, and that, yes, forgiveness is possible...Thank you for sharing your story. Your book is a gift to us all."
--Susan "Who else but Judith Toy could write a page-turner about forgiveness? And can 'present' it with such power? --Barbara Bates Smith, actor
I finished your book last evening. It was very powerful. And, this from a reader, very well written. Beautiful prose! --Melissa Mantz
"I sat captivated for three evenings with the book. Please know that was most unusual for me. I was personally surprised. It was an honor to be your first review on Amazon. There will be many more." --Bobbe Allender
"Thank you so much for the work you do. It is life--and world-changing." --J.L.
"Jude, what an amazingly strong and spiritual woman you are. What you are doing with this book is powerful beyond words." --D.L.
"Your writing has had such an effect on me. It wasn't until I read your column with the quote from Isaiah, and about the terrible things that happened to you, yet you had learned to forgive. It takes an epiphany...before it can happen to some of us. It happened to me while reading what you wrote, or else it came from who and what you are. Your column, your writing, in fact all that you are made me realize I should not wallow in grief nor in anger or bitterness...."
"Thank you, Judith, for being here, for being such a loving spirit and for sharing your wisdom and knowledge with my wonderful circle of friends."
"Judith Toy has made a courageous effort to bare her soul in this book. She openly shares all of herself, and her poetry shines. Skillfully employing the Buddha’s teaching of no separate self, she helps us open our hearts to the depths of our own and others’ suffering.
There we find that beneath our fear lies the fire of our longing to give and receive unconditional love. Toy shows us that finding the courage and determination to face our deeply entrenched fears -- especially fear of the dissolution of our egos -- comes from our innate wholeness.
Intense, yet tender and gentle, exposingour resistance, Toy takes us into the depths of pain, transformation, and finally love and forgiveness. This is a masterful literary effort by a very talented teacher." --Roger Shikan Hawkins Sensei, author, Great Doubt, the Spirit of Self-Inquiry
Your book is very brave. Your honesty about everything from substance abuse to abortion to the murders really did make you vulnerable. I think what you wrote, and your husband’s letter at the end of the book too, effectively addressed potential criticism by family members or any others who might be critical. I hope with all my heart that you will be supported. To me, your book was not at all exploitative; you laid yourself too bare for that. There are so many powerful parts to the book. Among those that especially stood out to me were the sort of merging of the Isaiah passage with what you wrote about the murders, and your sense of identification with the killer that helped lead to your forgiving him, the story of the selfless work you and Philip did in Romania and in prison, and the ongoing account of how your mindfulness practice developed.
--Carol Cole Czeczot
"When I started reading the article on forgiveness, I was curious about how you "got over" the trauma, anger, grief... and yes, blame about the deaths of your family members. Then I read the "poem" about the actual event and was brought to tears. THEN, after a bit I was able to read on to the connection you made with the killer's mother. It became so clear to me that forgiveness comes when we let go of separation and blame and embrace the knowledge that we are all in this together, somehow. We may not know the reasons or the story behind this murder but it is clear that all suffer, all grieve and somehow we must go on with love... or bitterness takes over our lives and then... are they worth living?
"I thank you for your honesty and the deeply human path you show us toward forgiveness and understanding."