Book reviews: Mind Body and Spirit
Reviewer Mike Alexander looks at the latest Mind Body & Spirit books.
END YOUR STORY BEGIN YOUR LIFE
By Jim Dreaver
There are a multitude of books within the "new age" genre that promise more than the actually deliver.
The problem lies not in disingenuous authors but in the faulty road maps they attempt to detail on the path of spirituality.
The worst imply the universe is merely a place of wishful thinking and you can simply order up whatever it is that you heart desires. The best understand that the process of manifestation on the physical level is a temporary reward in itself and not the end goal.
Jim Dreaver, is such a writer - a native of New Zealand who nowadays calls home somewhere else but also understands somewhere else is still a temporary abode,.
End Your Story Begin Your Life is not a self-help manual in the traditional sense. It is a clear and lucid observation of awakening and connects the dots between the thinker and their thoughts and feelings and gently and deftly reveals how the notion of a personal self - I am this or that - is simply a reflection of a "I, me ,mine" drama inside our heads.
Dreaver is a genuine seeker of the truth and how it presents it, free of the usual delusions that can distract those on a spiritual path, is what makes End Your Story Begin Your Life one of the "personal Bibles" you can dive into and be inspired by whenever you've gone back to sleep Highly recommended.
WHAT IN GOD'S NAME
By Simon Rich
It's not how you might imagine God to be. He's obsessed with Lynyrd Skynyrd, loves Nascar driver Trevor Byrne - possibly because with every - often improbably victory - he says 'thank God' - and is the almost absentee CEO of Heaven Inc.
Looking after humanity and its affairs is far too mundane for God, who has structured his corporation in the same sort of way a multinational might.
There is the Prayers Department and Miracles Department, for example, where God's employees - the angels - keep alive the idea of divine intervention.
And yet working in heaven can be hell, as newly promoted angel Eliza and the workaholic Craig discover when God declares that he is no longer interested in mankind, whom he regards as a failed experiment. The religious might bristle at such an idea but Rich is no agnostic.
In fact, his beautifully written doomsday scenario is witty, clever and compassionate with subtle metaphoric overtones.
When Eliza and Craig negotiate with God on behalf of humanity and offer to perform a love miracle, God gives them 30 days grace to pull it off before he pulls the plug and earth becomes toast.
The countdown makes for absorbing, heart-racing, brilliant dark humour from a writer who obviously doesn't take anything for granted - least alone God.
NOTES ON THE MYSTERIUM TREMENDUM
By Hugh Major
Insights into the nature of reality can be elusive. As one layer is peeled away, another reveals itself, and then another and another until seemingly nothing is left.
Such a process is often frightening because it often feels like we are losing our sense of identity.
New Zealand author Hugh Major's Notes On The Mysterium Tremendum - the term used by Richard Otto to describe the awe-ful power of which we are the subjective reflection - is a clear and concise window into consciousness.
It's written in a snapshot kind of way, which isn't always cohesive but delves masterfully into various aspects of the undifferentiated.
The way he expresses the "here and now" is particularly enlightening.
It's so obvious in its simplicity that it's easy to overlook.
Major writes: "Stuff happening is an interaction between me as a centre and everything else, but the experience is and the experience are both aspects of one thing and in this way are co-creators of stuff happening.
Quantum physicists would agree, which is one of the strengths of Notes On The Mysterium Tremendum - it marries mystic insights with science in a holistic approach to the fundamentals of creation.
By Alan Cohen
We live in a day and age where everything seems so sped up and unpredictable that it's hard to keep pace with all of the constant changes around us.
And yet we still want what we want and we want it now.
Alan Cohen, whose The Dragon Doesn't Live Here Anymore, is a classic of the Mind Body Spirit genre, addresses many of the dynamics that leave us feeling discontented with the way we are or the way things are.
The sub-plot of Enough Already is the power of radical contentment - something that seems elusive and yet which, as he explains, is the cornerstone of being able to navigate out of struggling with life and into flowing with it.
The belief in more - as in I need more - is a natural human motivation.
It is also a circuitous belief that robs us of being satisfied with what we have and where we are and veils a subconscious neurosis - life is not capable of providing me with what I want and need.
Such a belief is a primary obstacle to being content in the assurance that you already have and will always have enough already.
By WM Paul Young
The author of the word of mouth best-seller, The Shack, returns with another visionary fiction novel that turns traditional concepts of Christianity on its head.
Tony is successful, as the world might judge it, a crafty and astute businessman, who has become so driven and paranoid that he builds a safe house to protect his fortune from his ex-wife whom he remarries just to hurt her more, a daughter he loves but can't get to know because his heart is so closed and a brother who he sees as a loser.
When a heart-attack leaves him in hospital on his death-bed, he finds himself out of his body and witnessing the effects of choices he has made in his life.
God sends him on a mission of sorts that no one seems to understand least of all Tony as he flip-flops in and out of the bodies of others - ironically transferred from one to the other by a kiss.
The lessons Tony is confronted with are as Ralph Waldo Emerson so eloquently put it, like entering through a private door to touch the lives of all of us.
While Tony is ultimately the one who is touched and finds personal redemption, readers will undoubtedly be drawn into his story. That's the magic of Young as a writer, his insights are grace notes for all of us.
All of the Mind Body Spirit books reviewed are available from Pathfinder Bookshop. A 10% discount on titles reviewed is exclusively available to Stuff readers. Just mention stuff.co.nz when placing your orders.