NEW AGE BOOK REVIEWS

 

from New Age Retailer

by Dennis William Hauck

 

 

The Philosophical View of the Great Perfection in the Tibetan Bon Religion

 

Donatella Rossi    ISBN 1-55939-129-4, $21.95 QP, Snow Lion Publications

 

     The Dzogchen, or the Great Perfection, is a group of teachings considered to be the final step in spiritual alchemy by Tibetan Buddhists. Through the study and meditation on these teachings, the student can advance to a direct perception of reality, which is a common view shared by all enlightened beings.

     In this book, the Dzogchen philosophy is presented in two Bonpo Buddhist texts that have long been orally transmitted as part of the sacred terma (treasure) of teachings. This is the first English translation, perceptively edited by Donatella Rossi, who has her doctorate in Religions and Tibetology from the University of Oslo in Norway.

     The ontological basis of these teachings is based on the identity of the macrocosmic and microcosmic realities as expressed in the three eternal essences common to both. The first is Condition, which is the primordial basis of the universe, the alchemical Sulfur or soul in Western beliefs. The second is Ultimate Nature, the unalterable archetype of perfection, the alchemical Mercury or spirit in the West. Finally, these two find expression in Identity, the Pure and Perfect Mind, which in the West is symbolized by the alchemical Salt, the Philosopher’s Stone or perfected embodiment of soul.

 

 

Serpent Fire: A Modern View of Kundalini

 

Darrel Irving     ISBN 0-87728-830-5, $14.95 QP, Samuel Weiser Inc.

 

      The problem with most books about kundalini is that they tend to be either simplistic approaches to psychic development or convoluted treatises by self-appointed holy men. Finally, there is a straightforward book which deals with the psychological and physiological reality of kundalini as it applies to everyone. While the author writes from the perspective of his own experiences with the subtle energy, he recognizes that it is the birthright of everyone and not a special dispensation granted by fate to a priviledged few. 

      The roots of kundalini go back 3,500 years to India, and a formidable edifice of myth and religion has been built up around the subject. The author shatters that barrier and reveals kundalini for what it is — a fundamental evolutionary and healing force contained within the human body.   

      That natural force has been shamelessly ignored by Western science, especially by medicine and psychiatry. According to this book, schizophrenia is kundalini. But in our culture, these patients are given antipsychotic drugs to return them as quickly as possible to their roles in society. As a result, the most dynamic aspect of kundalini, the pure energy that is curative and transcendent, is blocked. The release from the schizophrenic experience in kundalini-activated individuals is denied them. Instead, the healing fire that could have brought real relief, that could have made the entire experience worthwhile, is doused with thorazine, stelazine, or lithium.   

      This book provides strong evidence that the chakras really do exist and that the energy contained in them is responsible for both our physical and psychological vitality. Stated in contemporary terms, kundalini is a veritable mechanism of evolution, a living pathway to mental and bodily enlightenment. 

 

 

The Instructions of Gampopa

 

 Kinpo Karthar Rinpoche     ISBN 1-55939-046-8, QP, Snow Lion Publications

 

      Gampopa was a twelfth-century Tibetan monk who had a profound influence on the development of Buddhist thought. He is considered the father of the Kagyu tradition, which is a graded path to enlightenment that emphasizes self-discipline and grounded meditation. Gampopa has a large following in the United States, including a magnificent monastery in Woodstock, New York, and twenty-five affiliated centers nationwide.

     Gampopa said that for those in the future who have strong faith in him, studying his texts would be exactly the same a receiving teachings directly from him. His two most influential works are The Jewel Ornament of Liberation and A Precious Garland of the Supreme Path. This book is based on the later work and was written by the abbot of the Woodstock monastery.

     The author has organized Gampopa’s teachings into twenty-eight categories of what practitioners of various levels need to know to in order to perfect their spiritual practice. They include such topics as the ten causes of loss, the ten necessary things, the ten things to be practiced, the eleven marks of a holy person, the fourteen useless things, and the eighteen hidden evils of practitioners. Gampopa’s Instructions present the correct attitude, meditation, and conduct for aspirants in elegant yet precise terms, almost as if we were sitting at the knee of the bodhisattva himself.

 

 

The Essential Gay Mystics

 

Andrew Harvey     ISBN 1-57453-152-2, $17.95 Two Cassettes, Audio Literature

 

     What strikes one about this collection of homosexual mystics is not their abnormality but their universality. This collection of sixty gay and lesbian writers, which spans twenty centuries and dozens of cultural traditions, reveals to even the most fundamentalist mind the sacredness of mystical passion. From classical Greek to Native American traditions, from Michelangelo’s love poetry to Allen Ginsberg’s ecstatic moment reading Blake’s “Ah, Sunflower,” this work is a testimony to the oneness of God and the inherent ecumenism of the human spirit.

     Andrew Harvey is the author of several insightful works, including A Journey in Ladakh, The Way of Passion, and The Return of the Mother. He recorded all of these for Audio Literature and has also reads Prayers for All People for the same company. Harvey’s reading of his latest book, The Essential Gay Mystics, is full of empathy and spiritual maturity, and his comments on the nature of the mystical experience contribute greatly to an expanded understanding of contemporary theology.

     “The mystics interpret their experiences,” Harvey notes in his introduction, “in terms of their individual societies and religions. The perception itself, however, remains timeless and essentially beyond all formal expression. The mystical experience is born from a wordless conversation with God ¾ life and its source ¾ that is more intense and intimate than any other relationship.”

     The common theme of the varied material on these tapes is not about the gay experience as much as it is about the human experience. The genius and extraordinary range of insights presented here is not governed by any transitory notions of morality. These works are connected to an eternal realm of spirit that lies beyond any behavioral assumptions inflicted upon us by society and outside of the ego-bound arena of personal judgment.

 

 

After Death: How People Around the World Map the Journey After Life

 

Sukie Miller    ISBN 0-684-83869-9, $12.00 Qpk, Touchstone.

  

     Using interviews with hundreds of people who have died and were brought back to life, the author of this book attempts to answer the age-old question “What happens to us after we die?” As director of the Institute for the Study of the Afterdeath, Sukie Miller worked with the world’s leading researchers on life after death and concluded that each of us possesses a “Vital Imagination” of encapsulated consciousness that survives physical death. What is more, there seems to be a common “geography” to the Other Side that most near-death experiencers describe in the same way.

     First, there is a waiting place, where the deceased is transformed from a physical being into a spiritual being in order to travel in the new realm. Second is a judgment area, in which the traveler’s previous life is reviewed and evaluated. The results of this scrutinizing phase determine the deceased’s destination on the Other Side. Third comes the realm of possibilities, where the traveler enjoys (or endures) the new spiritual reality into which he or she has been immersed. This is a period of pure experience in which the deceased simply exists within the landscape of the Afterdeath. Finally -- for near-death experiencers at least -- there is a return to the earthly realm that is experienced as an unpleasant descent into darkness and matter.

     Most who spend any time on the Other Side also report sensing a grand pattern to the universe, a divine mechanism for the evolution of soul. They feel that if they had not returned to earth in their former body, their essence or soul would have returned within the chrysalis of a new body and new identity. At the same time, they are aware of a greater possibility. They understand how it is possible to achieve a state of perfected consciousness that escapes the Wheel of Fate, the cycle of birth and rebirth, and joins the universal mind in an eternal embrace of wisdom and bliss.  

 

 

Beauty, Wonder, and the Mystical Mind

 

Wilson Van Dusen      ISBN 0-87785-388-6, $14.95 QP, Chrysalis Books

 

     The author of this book is a clinical psychologist, who has spent a lot of time thinking about the source of mystical feelings and the relationship between mysticism and religion. Chief psychologist at Mendocino State Hospital, Wilson Van Dusen also wrote Returning to the Source: the Way to Experience God, Natural Depth in Man, The Presence of Other Worlds, and The Country of Spirit. Van Dusen was one of the first psychologists in the world to apply spiritual techniques to working with mentally ill people in a clinical environment.

     Van Dusen’s focus on practical spiritual techniques is the strong point of his latest book. Inspired by the work of the great mystic Emanuel Swedenborg, the author has distilled some practical methods based on our innate appreciation of art and beauty that allow us easy access to the spiritual realm. This book, with its serene cover art of a man sitting cross-legged in a misty field, is an innovative addition to the meditation section of any bookstore.

 

The Bloomsbury Review Booklover’s Guide

 

Patricia Jean Wagner      ISBN 0-9631589-4-5, $12.95 QP, Bloomsbury Review

  

     Despite the prophecies of computer avatars and Internet aficionados, the end of the Gutenberg Era is not yet upon us. As usual, the technocrats have forgotten the human element, since many of us love books and are not about to curl up with a modem no matter how nice it purrs. There is something about working a book, feeling its weight and turning its pages, that makes reading a very personal and  pleasurable experience.

     The Booklover’s Guide is a bible for bibliophiles. Not only does it reviews the glorious history of books, but actually instructs us in the craft of making our own paper and binding our own editions. It guides us in the selection, organization, cataloging, and appraisal of personal libraries as well. The chapters on book maintenance alone are worth the price of admission and include practical information on fighting critters that feed off books, unseemly odors, restoring books, and storing and displaying rare editions. Of course, the best way to preserve a book is never to read it, so that makes irreverent slobs out of all of us bibliophiles.

     Wagner’s book also has fun sections on book fairs, library sales, book clubs, and establishing a home archive of genealogical and personal information. But her comments on the role of retailers deserve repeating in this magazine: “I admire prosperous booksellers and publishers, because I believe that making money off of books fuels individuals to write, print, and distribute books, as much as love of art and culture does. Used book dealers, in their quests for profits, rescue many precious books from oblivion. My experience is that many of the people who have disdain for profitable enterprise in the book community rely on someone else or something else to pay the rent.”   

 

Radical Spirituality

 

Dick Sutphen      ISBN 0-87554-583-1, $12.00 QP, 216 pages, Valley of the Sun Publishing.

     

         This is Dick Sutphen’s most controversial book to date. The author of You Were Born Again To Be Together and several other best-selling titles, Sutphen has recorded hundreds of tapes on metaphysical topics and holds training seminars on past-life regression. But in his latest book, he trashes many of the New Age movement’s most cherished beliefs.

      He belittles positive thinking, ridicules predictions of earth changes, denies the existence of a harmonic convergence, questions the idea of soulmates as destiny, attacks the superiority of a vegetarian diet, sees no value in trying to squelch ego, and even questions the desirability of extended meditation. In fact, he challenges the whole concept of enlightenment. For Sutphen, there is little going on in the world except karma and reincarnation.

      Yet within those two concepts, he fashions an entire system of metaphysics based on allowing life to fully express itself and fulfilling one’s earthly purpose. That purpose is to integrate fear-based emotions, which creates an absence in which only one’s God-self is left to interact with the world.

      “For years I’ve been telling people,” Sutphen said at one of his seminars, “that from a karmic perspective, fear-based emotions are nothing more than delusions programmed by current-life and past-life experiences. As you become self-actualized, you become aware of what is, and let go of the fears. Your earthly purpose, then, can be simplified down to just four words: ‘Cast away your delusions,’ or if you prefer, ‘Learn to let go.’”

      Sutphen claims that the 69 tenets of his Radical Spirituality are the only bible anyone will ever need. If he’s right, we had better all start working on the self-actualized foundation that will set us free from the endless cycle of karmic punishment.

 

 

Tree of Life Meditation System

 

Ra Un Neffer Amen     ISBN 1-877662-13-5, $12.95 QP, Kamit Publications

  

     By using ancient Egyptian insights into the Tree of Life, the author has taught thousands of people to tap into the eleven hidden powers of the spirit. His best-seller Metu Neter introduced readers to the Great Oracle of Tehuti and the Egyptian system of spiritual initiation, and this book continues the teachings with a meditation system that is easy to use and promises quick results. Based on the lunar cycle, the author presents a 21-day meditation program that he says will make revolutionary changes in one’s everyday life and spiritual evolution. 

     One intriguing component of the Tree of Life Meditation System is the Spiritual Quotient Test. By applying the mathematical archetypes in the Tree of Life, the author determined a hierarchical arrangement of spiritual values which he uses to devise a means of measuring one’s level of spiritual attainment, and hence, spiritual power. The test is a tool designed to allow the initiate to objectively evaluate his or her stage of development in each of the spheres on the Tree of Life and assess available power for achieving specific goals. The test can also be used to diagnose the causes of spiritual problems and blockages, and thus can be applied outside the Tree of Life system to anyone seeking help on the path of spiritual perfection.

        

 

Breath Sweeps Mind: A First Guide to Meditation Practice

 

Edited by Jean Smith  ISBN 1-57322-653-X, $14.00 Qpk., Riverhead/Berkeley Books

 

      This is the second volume of the “Three-Wheeler” series on beginning Buddhist practice from the publishers of Tricyle magazine. The first volume, EVERYDAY MIND, is a collection of 366 reflections on the path of Buddha. The present volume takes a more focused approach and contains writings on meditative practice from thirty Buddhist masters, including the Dalai Lama of Tibet, Vietnamese monk Thich Nhat Hanh, Rigpa founder Sogyal Rinpoche, Vipassana master Jack Kornfield, author Joan Halifax, and of course, the Buddha himself. The title of this book, BREATH SWEEPS MIND, refers to a basic principle of meditation: the way in which calm, attentive breathing clears and soothes both mind and body. Paying attention to breath is, in fact, the very first step in Buddhist meditation.

      Yet, there is more to meditation than just relaxed breathing. The editor tells the story of a hermit monk many centuries ago who went off to an isolated cave high in the Himalayas to meditate. Soon he got bored of his surroundings and painted the picture of a fierce tiger on the limestone wall of his cave, but afterwards, whenever he looked at the wall, he became frightened. The creations of our mind are like that.

     Two thousand years before that monk began his path of withdrawal and meditation, another man also sought isolation to meditate and was assailed by the creations of his own mind just like the monk had been. However, this man ¾ the Buddha ¾ saw his “tigers” for what they were. He saw through the illusions of fear, fantasy, and ego and found eternal truth in an unspoiled source deep within. For the next forty years, the Buddha sought to show others how to reach that same source of truth through meditation, and those teachings are the basis of this book.        

 

 

Chi Gung: Chinese Healing, Energy, and Natural Magick

 

L.V. Carnie  ISBN 1-56718-113-9, $17.50 Qpk, Llewellyn Publications

 

     This is a very different kind of book on the ancient Chinese art of Chi Gung. Most people approach this subject because they are interested in learning how to lead healthier lives and have heard amazing success stories about how Chi Gung revitalizes and heals the body. Chi Gung masters have successfully treated cancer, muscular dystrophy, rheumatism, and a variety of other ailments. But the same bodily energy that is responsible for restoring health, also flows outside the body and interacts with one’s environment.

     So the exercises presented in this book are designed to develop and store the vital Chi energy not only for personal health but also a variety of surprising other purposes. For instance, applying Chi Gung in the martial arts allows one to absorb blows without damage and project negative Chi to render an opponent helpless. Chi Gung energy can also be directed to mind control and used to develop paranormal abilities such as reading others’ minds, communicating with animals, or seeing into the past and future. There are even sections in this book on how to apply Chi Gung to increase sexual performance and satisfaction.

     The author describes how practicing Chi Gung puts one in touch with unseen energies. Once while visiting a used bookstore, she was overcome with a feeling that something terrible had recently occurred there. “The bad Chi,” she recalled, “emanated from somewhere down in the basement. The owner of the store didn’t even want to go down in the basement to turn on the lights, but being the lover of books that I am, I decided to go down anyway. I walked down a series of dark rickety steps covered from floor to ceiling with cobwebs. When I got down to the bottom, I found a single light bulb to turn on. It cast eerie shadows along the seven-foot-high rows of bookshelves. Following a sense of terror, I made my way through a confusing, irrational maze until I found the spot where it happened. Rape ¾ I knew it in an instant. My breathing accelerated for a moment or two as my pulse soared. The horror happened here but its energy permeated everything. It was almost overwhelming. Fleeing the store, I vowed never to go back.”

 

 

Qi Gong: Eight Easy Movements for Vibrant Health

 

Stanley Wilson     ISBN 0-915801-75-2, $16.95 Qpk, Rudra Press

  

     The ancient Chinese art of Qi Gong is a system of moving meditations whose purpose is to strengthen and accumulate life force in the body. By working with the body, mind, and spirit as one cohesive whole, the practitioner is able to achieve beneficial changes on all three levels. Stress is relieved, and concentration and memory are improved; the immune system is strengthened, and a wide range of physical disorders can be prevented or treated. The entire nervous system is balanced for psychological health and spiritual equanimity. The remarkable self-healing power of Qi Gong (also known as Chi Kung) has made it one of the fastest growing disciplines in the United States, and this book serves as an excellent introduction to the subject.

     In 1981, author Stanley Wilson was diagnosed with lymphoma and told he had only five years to live. He attributes his miraculous recovery to the extraordinary healing benefits of his twice daily Qi Gong practice. In this book, he shares those eight easy-to-learn movements (known as the “Eight Silken Movements”) and provides an illuminating overview of the energetic principles on which this therapy is based. These simple exercises require only six minutes a day and can be practiced by young and old alike, and they are so fundamental that Dr. Norm Shealey, president of the American Holistic Medical Association, remarked: “If all Americans learned just the Eight Silken Movements and practiced them daily, we could reduce health costs by fifty percent in this country!”

 

 

Mystical Sex: Love, Ecstasy and the Mystical Experience

 

Louis William Meldman     ISBN 1-85230-957-1, $14.95 Qpk, Element Books

 

      What makes this such an innovative book is the way it blends together numerous approaches to the basic subject of sex and its real meaning in our lives. Using psychological insights from the writings and drawings of Medieval alchemists and other mystical traditions, the author offers a transcendental vision of lovemaking which goes well beyond the desire to procreate or even the pleasure principle to an innate and fundamental need to experience altered states of consciousness.

     Dr. Meldman, a noted sexologist, explains the real reasons why organized religion and medicine have tried to control sex for centuries and argues that our left-brained approach to the subject has spawned such social problems as pornography, domestic violence, sexual abuse, economic sexism, and drug abuse. What is more, he shows us in very frank language how to rekindle the heat and fire of our sexual chemistry and use it in practical ways. These applications include solving such diverse problems as clumsy lovemaking and stagnant relationships, as well as how to gain more personal energy and break the downward spiral of drinking and drug addictions. Not only does Dr. Meldman’s vision reveal that our innate sexuality is common to all mystical traditions, but he demonstrates in practical terms how to free and make use of this powerful force within us to directly experience a state of ecstasy and love.   

The Healing Blanket: Stories, Values and Poetry from Ojibew Elders and Teachers

 

(Gina Jones, Maryellen Baker, Mildred Schuman)   ISBN 1-881394-24-7, $14.95 Qpk, Commune-A-Key Publishing

  

     In this book, three respected Native American women weave together a healing blanket of words that will warm your heart and heal your spirit. All are from the Ojibwe (Chippewa) tribe from the upper midwestern states and lower Canada, and their book has been endorsed by tribal elders as a “book of truth.” The stories are indeed authentic and the book even contains an appendix of original Ojibwe words used in the text. The words have subtle variances of meaning that add a spiritual dimension to the stories. For instance, “mishomis” means grandfather but is also the term for a spiritual healing stone that the Ojibwe carry with them to bring wisdom and good fortune. The stone represents the spirits of all their grandfathers.  

     The stories are divided into three broad categories. Gina Jones spins a beautiful love story with an urgent environmental message that crosses boundaries of culture and even life and death. Maryellen Baker shares stories of how the traditional way of life and values help her to be good in life and remain true to her ancestors’ values. Mildred Schuman offers an intimate look into the hearts of the Ojibwe people through stirring examples of their art and poetry. All three kinds of stories have one thing in common: they make your feel good inside, spiritually stronger. But this book is more than just Chicken Soup for the Indian Soul, it is nourishing age-old medicine for everyone in today’s world who has lost contact with their spiritual Source.

 

 

Sacred Fireplace: The Life and Teachings of a Lakota Medicine Man

 

Pete S. Catches Sr.    ISBN 1-57416-036-2, $14.95 QP, Clear Light Publishers

 

      In a clearing north of the town of Pine Ridge, South Dakota, a lone Native American Medicine Man has performed the sacred Spotted Eagle Sundance for the last 23 years. His name is Petaga Yuha Mani (“He Walks With Hot Coals”), and he is one of the last of the Spotted Eagle Clan. His goal is to reawaken the sacred spirit in the Oglala Lakota Sioux tribe and in the world as a whole. He and his son, also a Medicine Man, are guided by a shared vision they call Oceti Wakan (Sacred Fireplace). The Sacred Fireplace is a healing center for all mankind, a system of ancient values and simple beliefs for people who have become emotionally, mentally, spiritually, and physically ill in a world without values.

     That is the message of this straightforward book, which will make a welcome addition to the Native Spirituality section of bookstores because of its authenticity. There is no New Age parlance here, and the book is full of step-by-step instruction in genuine Native American rituals. The cover sets the book’s transformational tone. It shows the spirit of the author rising from the flames of his own funeral pyre.

 

 

Shamanism As A Spiritual Practice for Daily Life

 

Tom Cowan     ISBN 0-89594-838-9, $16.95 QP, Crossing Press

  

     For many modern people, shamanism seems like a spiritual path that is best practiced in the middle of a jungle or forest. Tapping into animal powers and going on vision quests is a tall order for someone living in a tiny apartment in the middle of a big city. This insightful book bridges that problem by showing how to develop a personal spiritual practice by blending the elements of shamanism with current religious and cultural traditions.

     The word “shaman” is derived from two Asian words that mean “knowledge” and “heat,” and the shaman is considered someone who is burning with knowledge from the spiritual world. He or she is a person who has tapped into the normally imperceptible realities of the Other Side. According to the author, not everyone can become a shaman, but everyone can become a shamanic practitioner, which he defines as “a man or woman like yourself who searches through the darkness of life for the spiritual path that is personal, creative, life-affirming, and joyful.”

     To that end, the book provides meditative techniques for journeying to the lower and upper realms of the spirit world right in the comfort of your own easychair, as well as visualizations to meet, honor, and live with the spirits of nature and the physical world ¾ whether or not you live in rural or urban settings. Especially useful are methods for recalling long-buried childhood mystical experiences that carry a profound sense of oneness with the universe. There are even ways of strengthening spiritual links with our ancestors and family members who have recently passed on.

      So gather your friends around the drumming circle and get ready to commune with the powers from beyond that penetrate even into the deepest reaches of our cities. The era of the urban shaman has arrived.

 

The Soul of Shamanism

 

Daniel Noel     ISBN 0-8264-0932-6, $24.50 Hbk, Continuum Publishing

  

     This book carries an important message for everyone connected with the New Age movement. Dr. Daniel Noel, author of five other books including Paths to the Power of Myth, argues convincingly in his latest book that we can achieve the initiatory depth of shamanism without having to pirate misunderstood pieces of the spiritual resources of indigenous people. Instead, by getting to the soul of shamanism, he presents a modern shamanistic discipline imbued with the rich heritage of Western culture that we can offer in true exchange with the original inhabitants, whose treasure we have only wanted to take until now.

     The basis and driving force behind Noel’s neoshamanism is the imaginal power of the psyche, the lost soul of the West that is to be rediscovered in the fictive power of our literary tradition and in the active imagining techniques of Jungian psychology. These disciplines offer a powerful shamanic otherworld for Western seekers with Western methods for approaching it. We have only to look back at our neglected heritage from 2,000 years of alchemy or the centuries of Arthurian legends to find new sources and new tools for spiritual transmutation created by Westerners.

     Neoshamanism is also good news for Native Americans and other indigenous peoples who have seen their natural religions adapted and translated into New Age parlance. This colonization of others’ spiritual territory is no longer necessary for Western seekers, for in our vast literary and psychoanalytic tradition, we can find and become fascinated by our own uniqueness and strangeness ¾ where the roots of our true transformation lie.

 

 

Quest: A Guide to Creating Your Own Vision Quest

 

Denise Linn  ISBN 0-345-40903-5, Ballantine, $22.00 Hbk, February 1998

  

     Perhaps the oldest religious tradition on earth is the shamanic quest for spiritual insight. For millennia, primitive and ancient cultures have embarked on specific rites of passage to gain entrance to the spiritual realms and reach self-knowledge. These mystical odysseys into nature provided insight, healing, and direction, and each journey was a powerful act that could change a person forever. Unfortunately, with the rise of technology-based societies, that purest of traditions has almost been lost. Few modern people stay connected to the higher realm, and fewer still understand the hidden forces that motivate their lives and shape their destiny.

     In this book, Denise Linn tries to revive that sacred tradition for contemporary readers in a series of guided meditations designed to give a person the tools needed to create his or her own “call for a vision.” Practical exercises and true accounts of people’s vision quests demonstrate how to make awaken the sacred voice within and journey to the center of your soul. That Linn has made that journey herself is obvious in this work, as well as in her previous books, The Secret Language of Signs and The Hidden Power of Dreams. Tapping into her own Native American roots, she has crafted an authentic program for anyone wishing to venture on their own quest to reestablish the basic spiritual connection we have all lost.

 

The Tai Chi Book

 

Robert Chuckrow    ISBN 1-886969-64-7, $19.95 Qpk, YMAA Publications, Boston.

  

     The nice thing about this book is the way it combines both beginning and advanced training in the ancient Chinese art of Tai Chi Chuan. It is like two books in one. It introduces beginners to the principles behind Tai Chi and outlines the Cheng Manching short form of exercises as a starting point. Following these guidelines, the practitioner can gain strength, improve balance and flexibility, and achieve increased vitality.

     For the advanced student, the book offers more complex topics, such as how to feel Chi moving in the body, how to cultivate and direct Chi, how to train mindfulness, and ways to develop the mysterious "relaxed strength" known as sung. The author also explores such expert topics as the debate over Tai Chi breathing patterns and the importance of proper body alignment while performing the exercises.

      The oversize (9x7) book with its striking cover (featuring large Chinese characters for "Tai Chi") makes an attention-getting shelf marker for the Alternative Health or Martial Arts section. With over a hundred illustrations and photographs, the book is a browser's delight. Author Robert Chuckrow has studied Tai Chi under renowned masters Cheng Manching and William Chen. He has a doctorate in experimental physics and teaches Tai Chi in the Ossining, New York, area.

 

 

The Spirit of Tibet: Portrait of a Culture in Exile

 

Alison Wright    ISBN 1-55939-107-3, $34.95 Qpk, Snow Lion Publications, Ithaca, New York

  

     This visually stunning collection of 177 full-color photographs captures both the everyday life and indomitable spirit of Tibetan refugees living in exile in northern India. The scenes portray children at play, people at work, monks in study, nuns in prayer, artists creating paintings and sculptures, opera singers practicing, and Tibetan doctors performing their ancient pulse diagnosis and prescribing herbal remedies.

     Photojournalist Alison Wright specializes in documenting the traditions and challenges of endangered people in remote areas around the world, and her work has included photo essays on the Amazon rainforests, hill tribes in South East Asia, Burmese refugees in Thailand, and the outback of Australia. Her photos have won her awards and recognition throughout the world, and she recently created her own department of Visual Anthropology at the University of California at Berkeley. 

     Her remarkable pictorial odyssey will make a great centerpiece for a shelf devoted to Tibet, which is a subject with which more and more people are showing concern and solidarity. As you page through this book, you soon realize what a labor of love it was. In her forward, Alison states that it was her intent to capture the resiliency and inner strength, the humor and determination of these wonderful people. According to the Dalai Lama, Alison succeeded primarily because her intent was good. "Good intent is very important," he told her after endorsing her work. "Most important in all you do. Never forget!"

 

 

 

Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui

 

Karen Kensington   ISBN 0-7679-0359-5  QP  $10.00. Broadway Books, New York

  

     This book is a natural follow-up to Karen Kensington’s bestselling Creating Sacred Space with Feng Shui. One of the chapters in that book, “Clearing Clutter,” emphasized that to really create something new, you have to get rid of the old and clear out the junk. The chapter elaborated on a branch of Feng Shui known as “Space Clearing” and proved to be one of the most popular sections of the book with readers. Everyone, it seems, has got some clutter in their lives.

     From the Feng Shui point-of-view, clutter is trapped energy that has far-reaching effects on us physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. The simple act of clearing clutter can transform your life by releasing negative emotions, generating new energy, and allowing you to create space in your life for the things you want to achieve. To that end, this little book offers practical and wise advice on clearing clutter in your house, office, mind, and spirit.

 

Feng Shui: The Book of Cures

 

Nancilee Wydra      ISBN 0-8092-3168-9, $14.95 QP, Contemporary Books

 

     In this nicely illustrated guide, feng shui expert Nancilee Wydra, author of Designing Your Happiness: A Contemporary Look at Feng Shui, offers 150 simple solutions for creating a healthier and happier home and office. By adjusting such factors as lighting, furniture, mirrors, and the placement of objects, the author shows how to transform the home or workplace into an uplifting, life-affirming environment.

     The ever-growing field of feng shui had its start at least three thousand years ago in China. The taoist philosophy upon which it is based recognizes the interconnectedness of all things and attempts to optimize the relationships between objects, space, and people. That such a connection exists has been proven by western psychologists (such as Alexander Maslow), and today, the art of feng shui is more popular than anytime in this century.

     This book documents the incredible impact spaces have on people and offers a variety of cheap, effective solutions to a negative environment. The reader will learn how to find the proper balance of yin/yang elements and allow the free flow of chi (vitality) in rooms. By establishing a positive relationship between the five elements (fire, earth, wood, water, metal), a permanent grid of healthful energy can be created anywhere. It is a fact that we Westerners are only beginning to realize and incorporate into our lives.

 

 

Feng Shui Today: Enrich Your Life by Design

 

Jami Lin    ISBN 0-9643060-6-9, $24.95 VHS Video 1997, EarthDesign, Miami Shores, Florida.

  

     Jami Lin is one of the nation’s leading consultants on Feng Shui. Her first book, Feng Shui Today: Earth Design, the Added Dimension was a breakthrough book that pioneered the Earth Design concept, which integrates practical interior decorating with ancient theories of energy movement and self-development. Her second book, The Feng Shui Anthology: Contemporary Earth Design, brought together the top forty Feng Shui experts in one volume and is considered the standard reference for the modern Feng Shui movement. Now, in her first video, Jami adds the personal touch and takes us on a guided tour through some beautiful private homes to point out good Feng Shui and tell us how to correct bad Feng Shui. Like an angelic interior decorator flitting from room to room on an earthly mission to encourage positive energies and destroy bad vibes, Jami hones in on those negative areas that detract from our well-being and stifle abundance.

     For instance, an innocent looking bathroom to the left of the entryway in one home is the cause of dissipating chi energies. How to keep the invisible life force that comes through the front door from going right down the toilet? Keep the bathroom door shut or close the lid on the toilet! In fact, to keep chi circulating and accumulating in desired locations is the goal of all Feng Shui. By placing mirrors, symbolic artwork, correctly shaped furniture, soft and sharp objects, colors and textures in their proper relationship to one another, our homes can truly become partners that can enhance our lives with greater health, wealth, and happiness.

 

 

The Essence of Feng Shui

 

Jami Lin    ISBN 1-56170-567-5, $12.95 Qpk, Hay House, Carlsbad, California

  

     Jami Lin, author of The Feng Shui Anthology and Feng Shui Today, has pioneered the transformation of Feng Shui into an approachable tool for mainstream use. A graduate of the University of Florida School of Architecture, she has over twenty years experience as a corporate and residential interior designer. In her latest book, she reveals that fragrance is a powerful yet subtle tool for creating the perfect environment. Her innovative use of aromatherapy in the creation of good Feng Shui is integrated with fascinating discussions of Kabbalistic, Indian, and Chinese wisdom to show that fragrance can be used to expand consciousness, reduce limiting fears and negativity, and enhance all of life's possibilities.

     The book's beautiful earth-toned cover makes an attractive in-store display that can be augmented with incense and aromatherapy sidelines. Jami Lin's own line of products can be added to make a complete Feng Shui resource center. Aside from her other books, her video "Feng Shui Today: Enrich Your Life by Design" is packed with practical tips, and the CD she made with visionary recording artist Steven Halpern ("Sound Chi: Feng Shui Music to Heal the Home and Spirit") is widely acclaimed. She also has introduced a line of Feng Shui EssentialsÒ ¾ pure essential oils based on the mind-body energies of the Chakras and the Feng Shui Bagua.       

 

 

The Complete Illustrated Guide to Feng Shui for Gardens

 

Lillian Too    ISBN 1-86204-355-8, $21.95 Qpk, Element Books

  

     According to the author of this book, garden Feng Shui is the most important part of Feng Shui practice, for it is here that the quality of the energy that surrounds our living space is determined. Along with beautiful flowers and vegetables, you can cultivate happiness, harmony, and good fortune in your life by letting the plants and trees and walkways in your garden guide the Chi life force right to your door.

     This beautiful, full color, 8x11-inch book makes a great centerpiece for a Feng Shui shelf and is certainly one of the most comprehensive books on the subject yet published. It contains dozens of easy-to-understand Pa Kua layout diagrams and hundreds of exemplary photographs. Lillian Too is a world renowned Feng Shui expert from Malaysia. She is the author of The Complete Illustrated Guide to Feng Shui, The Feng Shui Kit, and the Feng Shui Fundamentals series of books, also from Element Books.  

 

 

Call to Purpose: How Men Make Sense of Life-Changing Experience

 

Richard Solly     ISBN 1-56838-045-3, $11.95 QP, Hazelden Publishing.

 

      In 1987, Richard Solly became critically ill and had to undergo five major surgeries within a few months. During his recovery, he developed an abdominal infection which led to severe blood poisoning and two near-death experiences. On both occasions, he saw his dead father and sister standing at the foot of his bed assuring him everything would be all right.

      Solly’s spiritual encounter profoundly changed his outlook, and he began to seek out others who had had similar experiences. Immediately, he discovered that while women were open and willing to share their spiritual moments, men were reluctant to discuss them for fear of being misunderstood, patronized, or labeled as crazy, weak, or religious fanatics.

      Call to Purpose eloquently demonstrates the profound effect that acknowledging a sacred experience has had in the lives of eight very different men. Solly details how the men determined the meaning of their experiences and the impact on their lives, what choices they made in living out their revitalized spirituality, and how they integrated their new belief systems with their daily habits and routines, as well as how their general outlook on life changed.

      Above all, this book reminds us that vulnerability can be one of our most important strengths. Contrary to popular belief, men are not less sensitive than women when it comes to experiencing and interpreting their feelings; they are just less likely to discuss them.

 

 

Riding Windhorses: A Journey Into the Heart of Mongolian Shamanism

 

Sarangerel     ISBN 0-89281-808-5, $14.95 QP, Destiny Books (Rochester, Vermont)

 

     This is the first book written on Mongolian shamanism by a practicing Mongolian shaman. Sarangerel was trained in the Buryat shamanic tradition and lives in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. She is the foreign outreach representative for the Golomt Center for Shamanist Studies and travels periodically to the United States to hold workshops.

     Her book is a complete guide to Siberian and Mongolian shamanism with sections on animal guides, totems, drumming, hallucinogens, spirit travel, as well as actual ceremonies and rituals. She also discusses Mongolian cosmology, with sections on the Four Directions, the Sacred Circle, the Upper and Lower Worlds, and the World Center. The goal of the shaman is to accumulate personal psychic power, which is associated with the spiritual essence of air and wind. Its application is called hiimori or riding “windhorses.”

The reader comes away from this book with the knowledge that shamanism is one of the world’s most widespread belief systems – a beautiful, balanced, compassionate, and natural religion.

 

 

Eternal Echoes: Exploring Our Yearning to Belong

 

John O'Donohue     ISBN 0-06-018280-6 $25.00 Hrdbk, HarperCollins

  

     There is an eternal longing within each of us to be part of a greater plan, to serve a higher purpose, and to find meaning in our lives. This is our soul's deepest desire to belong. It is this divine restlessness that constantly draws us toward new possibilities of discovery, creativity, and relationship.

     This book explores this perennial longing and offers guidance from the Celtic tradition, a rich spiritual heritage that is enjoying increased popularity in our modern culture. Using Celtic legends, poetry, and prayer, the author gently takes us home to our true belonging -- the union of our meager selves with the greater Presence of which each of us is a part.    

 

 

Earthfire: A Tale of Transformation

 

Robert Simmons    Heaven and Earth Publishing $14.00 

 

     This metaphysical adventure story is fictional, but it carries the highest truths, and many seekers will read it like a manual of spiritual transformation. This tale of transformation is revealed through the human story of Will and Helen Lerner, proprietors of the Missing Link, an unassuming little book and crystal shop.  

     The underlying premise is that the world is approaching a critical mass of spiritual where our choices will determine whether we are each reborn into higher awareness or destroyed. Earthfire speaks not so much to the national headlines but rather to intuitive awarenesses individuals are waking up to everywhere. This book is a powerful reminder that each of us have great responsibility each moment of our lives. 

     The visionary tale interweaves the threads of ancient and modern oracles, alien encounters, near death experiences, the power of breath, the collective mind, and the startling prophecies that have foretold the human species' time of destiny. Gives readers resources for finding paths to spiritual fulfillment.