BTRIPP (btripp) wrote,

The way these should have been ...

Well … some times you wish for something and it comes to pass. Of course, James Redfield's The Celestine Vision: Living the New Spiritual Awareness has been out for 14 years, so I might have sought it out before now, but this is the book that I kept saying he ought to write, rather than his consistently frustrating “novels”. As regular readers of this space know, I spent a goodly amount of the 80's studying shamanism, with a couple of notable trips down to Peru. When The Celestine Prophecy came out in 1993, I had a number of people recommend it to me for the Peruvian elements in it. I found reading that an exercise in irritation as he had scenes in that which were so wrong that he might as well have been saying that the Eiffel Tower was in London, but then he'd follow up that section with a very cogent presentation of high-level Incan shamanic exercises! Over the years, I came to realize that his “novels” were simply his attempt to “pill the cat”, as it were, stuffing bits of truly esoteric knowledge into a matrix of “popular” fiction like one might attempt to hide a pill in chopped liver to get it into one's feline companion. Every time I read one of his awkward, wooden, shallow “novels” I'd think “why doesn't he just write this stuff out?” without the trappings of an adventure story. Well, The Celestine Vision is pretty much that book.

I do, however, wish that he'd update this, as there have been materials in his later two books which don't appear in here, and I'd really like to know, if not his sources, the more straight-forward presentation of the information! This was preceded by two “experiential guides”, and the sense I get from this is that it arises out of running “Celestine workshops”, and needing to have a non-fiction based resource for the folks attending those.

I'm always happy when a New Age book presents a solid, cohesive, and reasonably focused exposition of a spiritual path, and this (to a greater or lesser extent) does that. Spread out over a dozen chapters, this is a collection of sub-sections ranging from 1-3 pages, a format that prevents too much wandering off into “woo woo”, and so keeps the book well on track. The chapter titles give a fairly good idea of where the book goes, so here they are: Early Intuitions; Experiencing the Coincidences; Understanding Where We Are; Entering the Responsive Universe; Overcoming the Power Struggle; Experiencing the Mystical; Discovering Who We Are; Evolving Consciously; Living the New Interpersonal Ethic; Moving toward a Spiritual Culture; The View from the Afterlife; and Visualizing Human Destiny.

The book brings in lots of pieces, there are “law of attraction” sorts of things which are likely to owe more to the Napoleon Hill era books than to the more recent manifestations, there are inter-personal dynamic bits that, while framed in “energy” work, seem likewise sourced from psychology, numerous university-based psi experiments are described (if not outright referenced), and there is a lot of material about energy and different levels of being that certainly have resonance with significant shamanic and mystical traditions with which I'm familiar. This bit is for those working with "intention", and could be applied in various settings:
One group of studies showed something else that is especially interesting. Though our ability to affect the world works in both cases, nondirective intention (that is, holding the idea that the very best should happen without injecting our opinion) works better than directive intention (holding the idea that a specific outcome should occur). This seems to indicate that there is a principle or law built into our connectedness with the rest of the universe that keeps our egos in check.
The techniques presented here are almost always brought around to “practical” applications, from “finding the best seat” in a room to allow for synchronistic encounters to happen, to ways to best manage group and relationship dynamics, and even proposals for “tithing” economies.

Needless to say, this was a very pleasant surprise when stacked up against his other books, and I would recommend it to anybody interested in “newagey” things. Obviously, this caveat comes into play because The Celestine Vision is in the “woo woo” stream of the novels, but the material is reasonably presented here, and even is written in a far more amenable style that anything else I've read of his.

Both Amazon and B&N have this at about 1/3rd off of cover, but I was able to snag my copy from the new/used guys who currently have “very good” copies of even the hardcover (I got the paperback) for as little as a penny (plus shipping). If this sounds like something that would appeal to you, I'd definitely recommend picking up one of those!

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Tags: book review

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