Where are Wisdom and Virtue?


We live in a surprisingly turbulent time. And because of that, I'm so very glad to be writing and publishing novels of positive philosophy that can help people across a broad sweep of ages navigate the roiling waters of the present day. We need wisdom and virtue now more than ever—two major components of the human adventure that far too often seem to have vanished in our culture. But the embers are alive and can be fanned back into flame. I hope these books can help.

I want to thank all the early readers who have written me about what they've called "a palpable sense of goodness" that comes through these stories. I had no idea that, after 19 nonfiction books, I'd be writing an epic tale set in Egypt in 1934 and 1935 that would be compared in various ways to such modern classics as The Little Prince, The Alchemist, Harry Potter, Indiana Jones, and in the words of one reviewer, "The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew Meet Aristotle!" In these simple stories, a 13 year old boy finds himself steeped in the wisdom of the ages and fighting the biggest battles of his life, while experiencing true friendship and the real promises of love for the first time. As we watch his challenges, we learn about our own, whatever our stage in life might be. I also appreciate all the early readers who have written such amazing testimonials for these books that can be found at their website. I hope the books can continue to make a difference in our time, to enhance both the wisdom and the virtue we have. In case you haven't seen them yet, you can learn more at this site, www.TheOasisWithin.com.

The Diary of Walid: Inner Peace


From the Appendix at the end of The Oasis Within, these are excerpts from a diary kept by the thirteen-year-old Egyptian boy, Walid, as he's crossing the desert in 1934 with his uncle Ali. At the end of the day, by the light of a candle or lamp, he writes down things he's learned from what he's heard, seen, and experienced. I'll provide some early samples here, and then comment.

An oasis is fun, safe, and relaxing. We can carry an oasis within us wherever we go, an inner place of calm and refreshment, by using our thoughts well.

We all have in our minds something like an emotional telescope. If we look through the end everyone uses, things will seem bigger than they really are. But we can flip it around and look through the other end. That will make things appear smaller and less threatening. So whenever anything looks big and overwhelming, say to yourself, “Flip the telescope!”

Almost anything needs interpretation. That’s where freedom begins.

Whether something is a big deal or not often turns on how we see it. If you think it’s a big deal, it is. But you can change your mind on many things and shrink them down to size.

Wisdom for life is about seeing things properly. It’s about perspective. This gives us power, because it brings peace to our hearts, and then we can think clearly, even in difficult times.

If I live most fully with my heart and mind in the reality of the present moment, I will feel better and be more effective.

Things are not always what they seem. In fact, they often aren’t.

Whenever life brings us a storm, we should use what we have, stay calm, and move quickly to respond well.

An oasis within us is a place of peace and power in our hearts.

We can learn the most from the most difficult things.

We can’t control the day, but only what we make of the day. We should always try to make the best of whatever comes our way.


Originally, The Oasis Within did not include Walid's Diary. A man I often see at the gym read the first draft of the book and he said, "It's amazing how many good ideas are in this book, really vital perspectives we all need. It would be really nice if there was some way to summarize the main points at the end, to help the reader remember all the great concepts."

I thought that was an interesting suggestion. But I had seen many books with summaries of chapters, or even of the whole book, that weren't very helpful, and were naturally very repetitive. I didn't want to add anything artificially to the book that had come to me, as if from outside me. So I waited. And then a little voice told me that Walid was keeping a journal during the trip across the desert. Sometimes he would record or summarize the wisdom he had gleaned from his uncle that day. Other times he would ponder it a bit more. And he would even have his own insights to add. And the journal began revealing itself, just as the chapters of the book had. Now, each novel in the subsequent series also has a diary at the end. To get these, I had to go into a zen meditative state and allow it to come to me. And it did.