His unwavering candor, his dogged insistence on examining his faults, pain, and weaknesses, give him nowhere to hide (not even from himself). He’s laid bare, and I can’t imagine the courage it took to do that.


By Brent R. Oliver

Chris Grosso is a man who is full of heart.

That heart, in turn, is full of sadness, pain, humor, and hope. He brings all of that to his newest book, Dead Set on Living: Making the Difficult but Beautiful Journey from Fucking Up to Waking Up. It’s especially compelling considering how many times his heart has almost stopped beating.

Mr. Grosso isn’t shy about laying out his history of self-destructive behavior, and the fact that it’s something he still struggles with. He writes with a bold and often painful honesty regarding his addictions and recoveries, loves and losses, triumphs and defeats. As bleak as the subject matter can be, it’s there to be contrasted with Grosso’s persistent, battle-scarred efforts at healing through his spiritual path. Like most ridiculously difficult endeavors, this isn’t something that can be done alone, and Grosso doesn’t rely solely on his own experience to illustrate the healing theme of this book.

His story is woven throughout Dead Set on Living, but he calls on numerous other teachers, meditators, writers, doctors, activists, artists and anyone else who can shed light on addiction and recovery. They share their own tales, as well as the things that have helped them and their clients the most. Together, they present numerous practices from many different traditions and approaches designed to allow us to be more forgiving and compassionate with ourselves. In addition, they shed light on how our brains and bodies can sink into deeply unhealthy habits and harmful behaviors and, more importantly, how to climb out.

Grosso and his cohorts are investigating suffering, from both spiritual and scientific viewpoints, and showcasing methods to alleviate it.

This book is priceless because of the sheer volume of information and techniques included. I was exposed to lots of stuff I’d never considered before. Hell, some of it I’d never even heard of. This is a primer on how to deal with the stress and discomfort inherent in being human.

But, for me, it keeps coming back to Mr. Grosso and his story. His unwavering candor, his dogged insistence on examining his faults, pain, and weaknesses, give him nowhere to hide (not even from himself). He’s laid bare, and I can’t imagine the courage it took to do that. He’s showing us that it’s possible to keep going, to always keep going, no matter how often we stumble, fall, and break bones.

This book is an important reminder that the spiritual path isn’t one of gleaming perfection or sainthood; it’s dirty, rough, and often brutal. But it’s also beautiful, as are we perfectly flawed humans. We will all continue to fuck up; the important thing is we keep trying to wake up.

Chris Grosso is an amazing example.


Photo: Source

Editor: Dana Gornall


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Brent R. Oliver

Brent R. Oliver is a freelance writer, horror enthusiast, amateur Buddhist troublemaker, comedic mastermind, and genuine tattooed freak. Reading his work has been compared to stepping on Legos and he’s been offered several high-profile positions scrawling absurdities on some of the finest bathroom walls in America. He has turned them all down in order to stay home without pants so he can tell ludicrous tales in front of his grimy computer. Ninety percent of what he writes is outrageous nonsense and the other ten percent is genius beyond compare. The trick no one has figured out is deciding which is which. He lives in Lexington, KY with a beautiful wife he doesn’t deserve and a jet-black cat that shreds furniture and flesh alike. He does deserve that.
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