Book reviews: Mind, Body and Spirit
Reviewer Mike Alexander looks at the latest Mind Body & Spirit books.
THE GRAND ILLUSION
By Brendan Murphy
For the simple pilgrim on the path in search of truth, masterly and voluminous tomes such as Brendan Murphy's The Grand Illusion can often seem quite daunting despite their invaluable insights. The fact that this 500-page synthesis of science and spirituality is signalled as Book One might make it seem even more so. Thankfully, Murphy is an aspiring musician and very much an ordinary truth seeker with an extraordinary ability to dissect the commonalities in science and spirituality. Much of his focus is on what we might think of as extra-sensory abilities, such as clairvoyance, clairaudience, telekinesis, telepathy and psychokinesis but put in the context of scientific discovery which co-relates to mystical experiences and "unexplained phenomena" throughout history. While his exploration into what determines consciousness and how it impacts on the individual would make a worthy thesis, he writes and explains complex concepts in layman's terms, which is what makes The Grand Illusion one of those reference books that you dive into and come away with a better understanding of what is real and meaningful and what isn't.
DAWN OF THE AKASHIC AGE
By Ervin Laszlo and Kingsley L Dennis
Ervin Laszlo, founder and president of The Budapest Club, whose honorary members include Mikhail Gorbachev, Peter Gabriel, Paulo Coelho and Desmond Tutu, is a futurist who makes sense. In his latest book, a co-write with sociologist Kingsley L Dennis, on the changing and emerging times we live in they outline why we are at the precipice of a new age and why humanity must change if it is to have a future. Their basic premise is that the narrative of our time - perpetual growth - is simply not feasible anymore. We have advanced to the point where the resources of the planet can no longer meet our demands for food, minerals, fresh water, arable land and fossil fuels. There needs to be a mass shift in consciousness to make the necessary changes at a political, financial, social and inter-personal level if we are to avoid being the cause of our own extinction. They present a series of models addressing these issues, which irrespective of how one might feel about doomsday prophets (and their not) is almost required reading. The bottom line is that for the past 1000-odd years humanity has developed into a modern society on the back of a generous gift of nature that we have taken for granted.
YOU CAN HEAL YOUR HEART
By Louise Hay and David Kessler
Loss is an intrinsic part of the ebb and flow of life. How we move through it is often painful. It can be difficult to come to terms with the loss of someone we have loved, the ending of something we have valued and, curiously enough, even the termination of something that we know no longer serves us. Both Louise L Hay, a pioneer in empowering people to discover and implement their own personal power and David Kessler, who was mentored by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, are well qualified to write about how it is possible to find peace through the grieving process. Although You Can Heal Your Heart is primarily aimed at "finding peace after a breakup, divorce or death" as they point out loss is loss is loss. As each of the stages of grief is explained and clarified, the emphasis is very much on how we can change our thoughts around what we are feeling, and through that realisation, ultimately bring about resolution. The affirmations dotted throughout are more like alternative windows in how we can re-frame the thoughts around our pain. Grieving is neither denied nor underplayed but, as the authors point out in the introduction to one You Can Heal Your Heart, their intention is to help people honour the love and not the pain or suffering.
THE TURNING POINT
By Gregg Braden
We know we are living in a rapidly changing world. It's a time of extremes, a signal, perhaps, that we have outgrown the past but haven't yet fully accepted a new vision for the future. In his last book, Fractual Time, Gregg Braden examined the "choice points" or precise moments in time where similar cycles have begun and ended. The Turning Point explains further why we need to be aware of "choice points", integrate them into turning points and cross them before "we reach a tipping point of no return". In precisely detailing why we need to change he offers lengthy summaries of the four over-riding factors - climate, population, energy and economic - that make the times we live in so different from times past. The facts are nothing new to what has been presented in the past. The potential ways forward simple common-sense if the facts are not to be denied. As Braden cautions though we cannot change and "thrive in the new world if we are focussed on waiting for the old world to return". Agree with his conclusions or not, Braden is always a must-read.
By Deepak Chopra
Life isn't meant to be a struggle. That's a challenging statement for anyone who has a life because we are all inevitably confronted by situations that can be challenging and difficult. What Deepak Chopra challenges in Self Power though is the notion that we have to be at effect of circumstances and external conditions. His premise is simple - there is a pattern and purpose behind everything and nothing is random. The real challenge is how we can meet head on, and with awareness, the difficulties we face, transcend them and take charge of our lives. As a physician, Chopra is well-placed to comment on what happens to the body when it is placed under physical, emotional or mental stress, which often results in a state of fear or anxiety. As a meta-physician, he offers refreshingly insightful perspectives on how or inner circuitry of body responses, emotions, thoughts and beliefs are interconnected with what we experience and how we experience it. In one of Self Power's more illuminating sections he breaks down the seven illusions or problems that arise from contracted awareness, the default state most of us are in when we are at crisis point or simply struggling with a challenge. His conclusion, backed up with anecdotal evidence, is that there is a freedom that lies deeper within us that is more powerful than the toughest of problems.
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.