Trust: Living Spontaneously and Embracing Life
The author, Osho, is known by many names. A principal name for him is Shree Rajneesh. He also called himself “the rich man’s guru.” This slim volume has almost as many contradictions as aphorisms. It is a strange concept to publish a book by a spiritual leader who also was accused of rigging elections, bioterrorism, and assassination plots. His basic truth is to follow no commandments but rather to be inner-directed. This is the eleventh volume of Insights for a New Way of Living, so there must be readership for this philosophy. While his five thousand followers seem to have complete trust in him, he urges readers to only trust themselves. And that seems like good advice.
The husband of Rajneesh’s secretary bought him a sixty-four-thousand-acre ranch in Oregon and a fleet of from seventy-four to ninety-six Rolls Royces. Upon deportation, at least twenty-one countries denied him entry. He died at age fifty-eight in India. This book seems nonsensical to me, but for those seeking enlightenment, they may catch something I have missed.
St. Martin's Griffin
Art on the Human Heart
Art on the Human Heart is the moving true story of author, Dr. Paul C. Ho. A brilliant heart doctor, at the age of only 39 he is unexpectedly struck down by a major heart attack that leads to open heart surgery. Dr. Ho’s (or Dr. Paul, as he is affectionately known by his patients) story begins with the traumatic event of his heart attack and procedures leading him ultimately to open heart surgery. He then takes us back to the beginning of his life in China and his immigration to America at age 13. He starts by telling us of the open-hearted and free spirit he was as a child and how he was drawn to all types of artistic expression. It is when he starts sharing his experiences as an American immigrant and the cruelty and hardship faced by both himself, as well as members of his family. He also shares that, during this time, he is drawn from the carefree artistic person he once was and succumbs to the American ideal of success being defined by his professional advancement. He turns away from his type-B artistic tendencies to focus on schooling and depends on a regimented, type-A personality. He goes to Nome, Alaska, and works in the remote medical centers as part of his schooling. He finds love upon returning to California but is still focused on becoming the best heart doctor in the field of heart catheter procedures. He achieves this success by treating patients who come to him praising his skills and putting their lives in his hands. However, his enthusiasm and lack of tolerance for those in his field who do not share his work ethic, especially when he is asked to help overhaul a failing hospital’s cardiac unit, challenge him professionally and garner him as “unfavorable” to other cardiologists who are happy doing things the way they always have.
Ironically enough, it is also during his time he has his heart attack. As he recuperates, he is torn between making the necessary improvements to the hospital and the tranquility of Alaska, taking the first of many trips back there to center him. Ultimately, as he continues with his work at the hospital, he begins to question what matters most success or self-fulfillment. He must decide does he follow his calling as a doctor or follow the call deep in his heart.
Despite all of the medical terms, procedures, and information that would confuse anyone not in the cardiac field, Dr. Paul shows that even though the medical field is technical and must follow procedures for success, it is an art form that is amazingly beautiful. As he describes several of his procedures in the book, he does it in a way that you could easily compare it to an artist carefully and purposefully moving their paintbrush across a canvas. This book is about the human heart on many different levels, and Dr. Paul is able articulate that to perfection. He shows readers that you must take care of your heart, not only physically but emotionally and spiritually to be truly fulfilled. Whether you are a doctor, lawyer, teacher, or any other person in a high-stress job, you must read this book because it will make you take a step back and look at your life. This book touches your heart and informs, as well as inspires.
Tomorrow Comes: An Emma Story
Get out the tissues, because Tomorrow Comes: An Emma Story will make even the most steel-hearted person cry. The book is about a 19-year-old girl named Emma. She’s spunky, vivacious, and full of life…that is, until she unexpectedly dies in her sleep. With no explanation as to why she died, her family struggles with feelings of sadness and loss. However, what they don’t know is that Emma’s spirit lives on in a place called After. For awhile, Emma doesn’t even realize that she has died; it takes the appearance of a familiar deceased relative to make her understand that although After looks similar to where she used to live, it’s much different. As Emma starts to understand her place in this new afterlife, she pushes the limits of her abilities and watches over her family.
What makes Tomorrow Comes especially heart-wrenching is that it is based on a true story. Donna Mebane, the author, had a daughter named Emma who died in the same way. The book seems to be a result of how she coped after Emma’s death: by imagining another world for Emma, one in which she can still be herself – happy, vibrant – Mebane was able to move past her grief. Despite the fictional elements of Emma’s spiritual world, only someone who has experienced loss could write such heartfelt words. It took an act of incredible bravery to publish something so personal, and therefore open it up to critique from others.
The book has many different chapters, each one with a different person’s point-of-view. At times, the inexperience of the author shows through (for example, she chooses to use italics instead of quotes, which can be somewhat confusing); however, the story holds its own strongly enough that the reader will likely be able to see past these writing flaws.
With its honesty, beauty, and hopeful outlook, Tomorrow Comes: An Emma Story will resonate with anyone who has ever lost a close friend or family member.
Mason Michael: The Heaven Projection
Alexa Dyson—eighteen, pregnant, and alone—lives in a world that has lost sight of God. Satan’s minions hold sway, the majority of the world’s Bibles have long since been found and destroyed, and proclaiming Christ means certain death. After nearly getting killed, Alexa flees her home and finds herself in a mysterious house which seems destined to be hers. It doesn’t take long for pursuers to locate her, however; her Christian beliefs make her a target. And then one of her enemies seemingly turns traitor and offers to become her protector instead; is he really what he seems? Alexa will have to trust her own intuition, as well as her angelic guardians, in order to see the truth and face the future head-on, living the destiny that awaits her.
Dawn Dyson started the “Beautiful Justice” series with Bella Maura and continued it with Justice Quinn, and now she finishes this epic work with Mason Michael: The Heaven Projection. If you haven’t read the previous books, this is definitely not a good place to pick up the story. The author has an ethereal writing style that readily floats between different points of view and even between first- and third-person with regards to Alexa; this can be a little confusing for even those already familiar with the series. Add in passages from Sienna’s book and Sienna’s current point of view—that of an angel silently guiding Alexa from heaven—and it may take a little while for readers to find their bearing. Stick with it, though, because this novel is worth it! It is a bit heartbreaking at times as you struggle through the end days with Alexa, but you will find yourself cheering her on as she gets stronger, and her eventual victory will leave you breathless with hope for humanity. If you’re looking for a good spiritual uplift, Mason Michael and indeed the entire “Beautiful Justice” series will be a balm for your soul.
From Three Feet Off the Ground
In an effort to reconnect with the beauty and joy of life, Havey Smith tried to view the world from the perspective of those who are the best in reveling in pure happiness – children. Here, she chronicles her year of seeking amazement, letting go, being attentive to her inner voice, being present in the moment, and learning to open her heart. Her story is wonderful and offers insights that can benefit everyone.
Her overall goals are similar to those found in many books on spirituality, but she offers a unique spin on things by first describing these goals as actualized by her children. This creates a lot of room for storytelling, and she does a splendid job of making everyday occurrences, like getting the kids ready for a playdate, into humorous tales that are both engaging and poignant. She is also very good at teasing out the profound implications of these moments, gradually shifting a funny story into a deep inner realization. The entire book is a delightful combination of these heartwarming stories and beautifully worded philosophical inquiries. It’s a truly entertaining look at spirituality.
The insights themselves are also fantastic. By explaining how she learned to find amazement by letting it come to her, for example, she also guides the reader toward the same discovery. Though this book is largely personal, it is impossible to read it without feeling inspired, and Havey Smith describes her journey in such detail that her methods are easy to follow. She isn’t giving advice so much as she’s living it, and that is the best way to inspire.
My only complaint with the book is that it focuses so strongly on how this spiritual journey allows her to be a better mother, and I feel like she’s not giving her experience enough credit. The things she strives towards and discovers over the course of the year can help everybody be better at living and loving, and I think a lot of readers would benefit if the book’s language reflected that universality. Still, non-mothers can definitely enjoy and find purpose in this book. From Three Feet off the Ground is fun, inspiring, and brilliant.
The Kingdom Within
Certainly, anyone faced with a terminal illness or the reality of imminent death begins to ponder his or her Earthly existence. In The Kingdom Within, L E Madden opens the reader’s mind to the possibilities of reflection on the meaning of life from a fresh perspective. He gives readers the true sense of what it means to be alive. The book expands on building a relationship with the spiritual power within each of us by “stilling” the mind. Apparently, we achieve this by “external awareness.” Segmentally, the book proceeds with miniature chapters. These encapsulate each new concept singularly and ultimately connect them developmentally to build the concept the author intended.
The author firmly believes that thought is connected to space and time in such a way that it flows like an electrical current, [author’s analogy]. Many of the topics discussed place us in a position to reconsider how our energies work. The book is surprisingly well documented, providing an excellent source of further reading.
Among the more troubling concepts, however, occurs under the category of reincarnation. The difficulty of accepting this belief is seated in the number and complexity of stages that are necessary to refine the soul—as it were, to a higher state of consciousness. Again, the book succeeds in superseding the reincarnation concept. Madden looks to the nature of the cosmos for answers. He claims that pure awareness is embedded in every cell; an interesting idea stilted with philosophical leanings.
Madden’s doctrine even rises above the Christian doctrine, quoting Biblical passages along the way. See The Big Picture for a fuller illustration. It appears almost at once that Madden makes a strong case for reaching within for our salvation. Indeed, Part 2 demonstrates the Plan to Eternal Awareness by way of 120 Keys [presumably unlocking the secrets of stillness.]
The book is written in a healthy, easily understandable prose style. It is literate, articulate, and ardent, driving the reader to side with the author’s views. Although it may be hard to agree with everything Madden presents, he does provide a strong argument for what he puts foreword. If anything, the reader gains a little insight into the nature of our Earthly existence.