Marvelous Stories of Synchronicity
by PHIL COUSINEAU
reviewed by Douglas S Johnson
Have you ever tried really hard to remember something, all in vain, when an hour later, after the struggle had ceased, a little voice, unbidden, whispered the lost fact into your consciousness? Or more interesting still, have you ever begun singing a tune at the exact same time as a stranger standing nearby, the two of you beginning at the exact same place in the song? Most interesting of all is that we have all had experiences like these; they are, in fact (to some rare, to others not at all infrequent), a very vital part of human life.
In 1837, Edgar Allen Poe wrote a novella about a shipwreck in which two survivors cannibalize the cabin boy, who is named Richard Parker; a few years later, a cabin boy named Richard Parker and three other survivors were involved in an actual shipwreck. The "outcome" of the real Parker's story was, shall we say, the same as that of his fictional forerunner. Was this an incredible coincidence, or was (the now notoriously eerie) Poe privy to some subliminal peek into the grisly future? Did his creative consciousness, for some indefinite period of time, bleed over into that strange mental/spiritual hinterland, that bizarre metaphysical acreage which William James theorizes is the (subconscious) meeting place of all minds, where life itself may be plotted without our direct knowing?
Some might say that it is an unanswerable question, and if there were but one such case recorded, or even just a remote handful, that might be the end of it for lack of evidence. But again, the fact that anyone who pays even a little attention to life has such a story of "coincidence," "good luck," "mind-reading" or "fate" lends evidence to the idea of an interconnectedness of all life and certainly of human souls.
In Soul Moments, Cousineau has put together an anthology of "coincidence" stories told by people from all walks of life. They are varied and interesting tales: the dream in which there was a wild attacker whose face matched perfectly the description of the man who assaulted the dreamer's sister on that same night; two pairs of mating hummingbirds appearing out of nowhere at the moment when a sign from God was desperately importuned; a man who looked exactly like the singer Sting whose girlfriend left him to travel and perform with the band members who had been deserted by the real-life Sting; a son's warning to his mother which prevented her from getting into a horse carriage that crashed at precisely the time when she would have been riding in it; the man who nobly returned thirteen hundred lost dollars to their rightful owner, then wrecked his old car (which he no longer needed) and got exactly thirteen hundred dollars in insurance money; a bizarre and unlikely meeting with a schizophrenic cousin when the life of the narrator itself was going crazy; a huge flock of geese that showed up at the funeral of a man who had spent his life studying these migrating fowl.
Soul Moments itself offered a couple of interesting "coincidences" in regard to this reviewer as well. For one, Tess Gallagher, a friend and correspondent of mine, had a story in this book; I had been reading her work earlier in the day, and then in the evening felt compelled to start reading Soul Moments. I picked up the book, opened it at random, and there she was, friend Tess, ready to share some more with me.
Then there was Carrie Aginsky's "When The Leaves Get Restless" (an interesting twist on O. Henry's "The Last Leaf"). In the story, Aginsky's mother foretold her own death by stating that she would be gone when the last leaf of fall touched the ground. Just after her mother's passing, Aginsky went to the window, and, just as her mother had prophesied, she saw the seasons last persistent leaf turn loose and flutter away. Aginsky took great comfort in all this, because she thought that having foreknowledge of the time of one's own peaceful demise must give a kind of calm and tranquillity to one's soul. I finished reading this essay, and at once, a poem I wrote nine years ago sprang into my mind:
To know the time
To know the end
To know the why
And then to rend
Oneself from life
And like a parting leaf
The lines that I penned were not inspired by any particular life event; they simply "came to me" as I was walking down the steps in my dorm one fall afternoon during my college days. Was I, on some then-unknowable level, in tune with Aginsky, perhaps somehow unconsciously aware that I would read her story in the future? One might laugh at such a notion before having a look at Gallagher's tale. It seems that she awoke one morning with the story of a drowning woman boiling in her mind, demanding to get out. She wrote down the brief narrative as it appeared in her mind, not knowing at all from whence it came or what it might mean or even how it fit in with her own literary work. A few days later, she received a letter from a writer friend who had witnessed a drowning, the description of which fit exactly with the details of Gallagher's "fictional story."
What can we make of all this? What is the final message of Soul Moments? There is no easy way to sum it up. Perhaps best of all is Hamlet's admonition to his close companion: "There are stranger things in this world than in all of your philosophies, Horatio." But why do "fateful" happenings occur, and what meaning is there in these "strange things," these "coincidental" occurrences which, when examined in a certain light, seem anything but coincidental? Aginsky adeptly addresses this one and comes about as close as one can to an answer: "Is destiny something that happens or do we create it ourselves? If synchronous experiences are not noticed, destiny moves in from exterior happenings, but recognition and wonder and destiny emanate from the heart."
WELCOMING THE SOUL OF A CHILD
Creating Rituals and Ceremonies to Honor the Birth of Our Sons and Daughters
By JILL E. HOPKINS, M.A.
Kensington Publishing Corp.
reviewed by Carole Crane
If you are on a parenting journey, whether just beginning to feel the spark of possibility or already living in the thrilling chaos of daily mothering and fathering, you will find something meaningful and valuable in Welcoming the Soul of a Child. The book begins with the story of a beautiful tribal custom of listening for the song of your unborn child, then honoring that child with this soul song throughout life. This story powerfully captures the deep desire we each have to be fully honored, and offers a glimpse of how we might fully connect with the children who may bless our lives.
This book offers many exercises, perhaps an overwhelming number for anyone who likes to read a book cover to cover. In her "Prelude" section, the author describes this book as a "reservoir of experiences to choose from, which may be helpful to you on your healing adventure." Some exercises seem to be directed toward those with limited experience with meditation, such as "Creating a Sacred Space" and "Listening to your Inner Voice," while others are more involved, like "Dialogue with the Unborn Child Meditation." In the back of the book is a helpful "Index of Exercises and Rituals," which is organized by topic ("Communing with Your Baby and Child," "Inner Journey Healing," "Relationship Healing," "Grief Work," "Pregnancy/Birth," and others).
This book is an especially helpful resource for anyone working with fertility issues, as it offers alternative and/or complementary approaches to medical fertility intervention. The last chapter speaks to parents whose children are already here, and offers a refreshing and deeply spiritual approach to experiencing daily life with our children.
THE MASTERY OF LOVE
A Practical Guide to the Art of Relationship A Toltec Wisdom Book
by DON MIGUEL RUIZ
reviewed by Angela Mercy
Those of us who consider ourselves spiritual seekers will not find anything new in this deceptively simple little volume. It merely contains the wisdom of the ages, in unpretentious language, strung together in snappy, succinct sentences that make the book a pleasure to hear read aloud.
The book has a childlike innocence and simplicity. Ruiz does not appear to be out to impress the reader with his knowledge. Rather, he offers a variety of stories, analogies, and metaphors with symbols able to penetrate our awareness below the level of belief.
The author speaks of our lives and consensual reality as being a big dream. The book has a dreamlike quality in that, while reading it, I was startled by its simplicity and clarity. Once I put the book down, the experience dissolved and I found it difficult to recall or to explain.
Ruiz suggests that our most significant barrier to love is fear. When we are children, we express love naturally. As we grow, the adults around us begin to domesticate us. At some point in this process, we begin to fear that we are not good enough; the need for acceptance is born. To ensure acceptance, we pretend to be the way our significant adults want us to be. At some point, we forget that we are not the image we have created.
Isn't this just another version the story of Brahma and Maya? In that story, Maya cuts Brahma into thousands of pieces, hides a piece inside of every human, makes him forget what he is, and then asks him to find himself. The Mastery of Love contains ancient truths presented through a variety of vehicles that give readers a number of opportunities to glimpse the truth in a way that has meaning to them.
7 Principles that Bring Ideas to Life
by ERIC MAISEL
Jeremy P. Tarcher/Putnam
reviewed by Susi Henderson
Author Eric Maisel offers this book to help us write "deeply." And that, he says, is "writing passionately and well about those things that really matter to you."
A writer and writing coach myself, I am deeply familiar with procrastination and how the "demons" that Maisel refers to can come creeping, howling inside. His advice (principle one) was perfect: tell the demons to "Hush." No therapy, no rational discussion, just "Hush." The technique he suggests is similar to meditation, but direct and powerful.
Besides Hushing the Mind, Maisel offers these principles: Holding the Intention, Making Choices, Honoring the Process, Befriending the Work, Evaluating the Work, and Doing Whats Required. Every step is a vital one, a necessary one, and they are briefly and succinctly outlined by a creative writer who has also written nonfiction and who has coached authors.
Maisel uses a clever method that works in this case: five fictional examples of authors who have books they passionately want to write. These "examples" seemed to become almost real as they struggled with their circumstances and eventually overcame them by using Maisels plan (at least in part; after all, none of us is perfect).
He says bluntly that deep writing is a process and, as such, may take an inordinate amount of time as one waits for the right words, the right ideas. He says, "you accept these ups and downs without too much complaint." "You keep an open heart. You keep an open mind. You reread and revise. You accept that certain pieces will not work, and you rejoice when pieces turn out well."
One very good piece of advice is this: "Loving and befriending your work are principles second to none in the deep writers life." He says, and so correctly, that your underlying relationship with your work is one of love, and that to give your work a partners role, a voice in the work, is to empower both yourself and your work.
Maisel reminds us (principle six) that we bear responsibility for not only writing, but evaluating, our work. He suggests a "funhouse" in which to do this, one in which the mirrors bear names: The Mirror of the Adjective, the Mirror of the Original Idea, etc. This is a scheme that will resonate with many, as he recommends that we hold our work up (figuratively) in front of each mirror and see "only and exactly what that mirror reflects." You will learn, he suggests, just what you need in a matter of minutes.
Maisel has written a useful little book, one which only takes a couple of hours to read but which offers a wealth of healthy suggestions. It is one that will be dog-eared and dirty very quickly, as I loan it to fellow writers and use it myself. Get this one!
A Guide to Vegetarian Dining Around Seattle and Puget Sound from Olympia to Victoria
by CAMERON WOODWORTH
Wood Pond Press
reviewed by Arlene Arnold
If you love to discover new places to eat out and if you really enjoy vegetarian meals, you need a copy of Green Cuisine. Cameron Woodworth not only tells you where to find the known and not-so-well-known restaurants, but he also tells you what hours they are open, approximate cost of the meal, outstanding dishes to ask for, and whether or not they take credit cards.
When you are on a trip somewhere in the Puget Sound area, take Green Cuisine with you. Anywhere you go, you will find interesting places to eat and tastes to please your palate.
Bravo, Cameron! But, I want to know how long it took you to eat at all those restaurants. Is that a great job or what?
THE FOUR LEVELS OF HEALING
A Guide to Balancing the Spiritual, Mental, Emotional and Physical Aspects of life
by SHAKTI GAWAIN
New World Library
"For anyone seeking not just psychological maturity but spiritual growth as well, this book will be a valuable assist on their journey," says Larry Dossey, M.D.
THE SEEKERS GUIDE TO 7 LIFE-CHANGING VIRTUES
by BILL DODDS and MICHAEL J. DODDS, O.P.
Seven classic virtues are illustrated through scripture, examples of the saints, and interpretation of scholars to inspire closer relationships with God and others.
ONE LIKE JESUS
Conversations on the Single Life
by DEBRA K. FARRINGTON
Biblically based meditations create a roadmap for a full and satisfying life for those who are single by choice, through divorce, or by death of a spouse or even those not single.
LEARNING TO FLY
Trapeze Reflections on Fear, Trust, and the Joy of Letting Go
by SAM KEEN
At the age of 61, Sam Keen fulfills his lifelong desire to learn to "fly" on the trapeze. His unusual experiences encompass the deepest lessons of life.
WINGS OF SOUL
Releasing Your Spiritual Identity
by DADI JANKI
In simple, clear, wise vignettes, Dadi Janki shares her experiences of the divine, revealing the essential spiritual nature of the self and how that truth can be applied every day.
ZEN AND THE ART OF MAKING A LIVING
A Practical Guide to Creative Career Design
by LAURENCE G. BOLDT
Brings creativity, dignity, and meaning to every aspect of the work experience. An essential survival guide to working in the 21st century.
LIFE ON MARS
The Complete Story
by PAUL CHAMBERS
Is there life on Mars? The debate has gone on for nearly four hundred years. With additional information received in 1996, the question again arises. Find out what we know to date.
THE DARK SIDE OF THE LIGHT CHASERS
Reclaiming Your Power, Creativity, Brilliance, and Dreams
by DEBBIE FORD
Explains how we tend to hide and deny our "dark sides," the part of ourselves we dont want to acknowledge. When we embrace the complete self, hidden strengths may emerge.
BAREFOOT DOCTORS GUIDE TO THE TAO
A Spiritual Handbook for the Urban Warrior
by STEPHEN RUSSELL
Deep yet practical ways to bring the Tao into everyday life. Bring the skills of meditation, psychic shielding, mindfulness, and magic to your life as a busy urban warrior.
AWAKENING TO THE SACRED
Creating a Spiritual Life from Scratch
by LAMA SURYA DAS
Best-selling author of Awakening the Buddha Within provides seekers of all faiths with the tools and practices to build a spiritual life from the ground up.
RADIONICS AND RADIESTHESIA
A Guide to Working with Energy Patterns
by JANE E. HARTMAN
Aquarian Systems Publishers
Provides insights into energetic analysis and treatment of ailments in humans, animals, plants, and soil through color, gems, aromatherapy, flower essences, and homeopathy.
ANGELS AND OTHER BEINGS OF LIGHT
They Are Here to Help You!
by LINDA STEIN-LUTHKE and MARTIN F. LUTHKE, PH.D.
Ascended Master St. Germain answers questions about light, beings of light, angels, the role of ascended masters, free will/choice, higher self, and more.
A Collection of Key Passages from The Urantia Book
by KELLY ELSTROTT
Mighty Messenger Press
"It contains cutting-edge information on science, astronomy, genetics, and religion." Sentient Times
A SENSE OF THE SACRED
A Portrait of Helen M. Luke
$29.95 (VHS video, 75 minutes)
reviewed by Jane Lister Reis
There have been two times in my life when I have cried upon learning of the deaths of people I had not known personally, instead feeling the loss for the planet as a whole: Mother Teresa and Joseph Campbell. Although we have the wonderful PBS series Campbell did with Bill Moyers, I dont believe that anything can replace experiencing the spark of the divine that was in Joe, as he liked to be called.
Interestingly, when I watched the video of Helen Lukes life, I felt the same loss. Certainly I was not as familiar with her work as I was Josephs Campbells, whose writings I have used in teaching college classes on myth. Before watching this video, I had read only one of Helens books, Awakening the Perennial Feminine. I remember the impact that this book had on my life. It was her understanding of a womans journey that so impressed me: from the feminine to the masculine and then back to the deep feminine in order to release her true power and message into the world.
But it was seeing Helen Luke in person on this video recording and seeing the light emanating from her eyes that made me realize that I had missed another one a great one. At the age of ninety, Helen Luke had a sense of the sacred. "Wisdom," she said, "consists in doing the next thing that you have to do. Doing it with your whole heart and finding delight in doing it. And the delight is the sense of the sacred." Amen, Helen.
When you watch this video, I am sure that you will delight, as I did, in seeing Helen amongst those who loved her on Apple Farm, a community of people dedicated to living and being in that deeper sense of the sacred. The video also includes wonderful footage of interviews with her friends: Dr. Robert Johnson (the prolific Jungian author of He, She, We, etc.), Peter Brook, and Sir Laurens van der Post. Thomas Moore gives a welcoming introduction to the video.
If you are a Helen Luke fan, I highly recommend that you make this video a part of your personal library. Rather than just hear her voice, you will have the privilege of being able to see the kindness on her face as she asks you the question that she asks everyone who came to her as they awakened to the deeper significance of their life, "What kind of story is yours going to be?"
By the way, if you prefer your information in writing, the book Such Stuff as Dreams are Made On: The Autobiography and Journals of Helen M. Luke will be available in October 1999.
STRESS REDUCTION AND CREATIVE MEDITATIONS FOR WORK AND CAREER
by MARC ALLEN
New World Library
$11.95 (60-minute audiocassette)
Side one guides listeners to physical, emotional, and mental relaxation; side two contains meditations and affirmations to bring more satisfaction to ones work environment and career.
reviewed by Elana Lindquist
Is getting what you want important to you? Why? Try this goal mapping exercise to help you see quite clearly where your energy is focused and what your level of commitment is. You will gain understanding why the things you say you want may not be happening.
Psychiatry: Education's Ruin Destroying Lives
The consequences of psychiatric drugs on our children from the Citizen's Commission on Human Rights. Eye-opening and disturbing.
Center of the Peaceful Light
Healing stories to touch your soul with love. Webmasters: download the "flame of hope" image to put on your Web page.
Personal Development Central
A comprehensive directory of self-improvement resources. The article on perfectionism begins, "Perfectionism comes from childhood. It comes from trying to please a parent who was psychologically unable to be pleased. It starts to change when we realize that this was their problem, not ours."
Elana Lindquist publishes Fun with Success Online; sign up for her free newsletter at <http://www.seanet.com/~lindquist, e-mail <email@example.com>, or call (253) 858-7969.
reviewed by David A. Young
Im familiar with only a couple of Tim Wheaters twentysomething albums (and thats only counting his work as a solo artist!), but Incantation, his first on the Real Music label, stands way out from the rest. I tend to look for genre-expanding (or defying) works rather than genre-defining ones, so pleasant as the other albums were, I didnt see fit to review them.
From the very first, seemingly invocational, notes, one realizes that one is in for something special. If, indeed, "En Trance" does summon the spirits, then what follows gives them and therefore the listener cause to celebrate. Although there are influences from all over, some sampled and some performed by Wheater and associates, there is no unifying flag under which this world music can or wants to fly.
Wheaters primary instrument is the flute, and both in its playing and its contextualizing, he gives it as many "voices" as a pipe organ. He is also a skilled composer and innovator, obviously attracted to the possibilities inherent in bringing together diverse components. The singers that he has assembled add a rich layer that comes across as a blessing to the musical proceedings, sometimes with hushed reverence, and sometimes, as on "Benedictus," with a fervency that almost recalls parts of Orffs Carmina Burana.
Among the credentials on Tim Wheaters curriculum vitae is a three-year stint with the fledgling Eurythmics; perhaps this explains why I hear a hint of those staccato "Here Comes the Rain Again" strings on "Uluru." The only cut on which he lets his own voice and its lovely take the spotlight is "Love Is Here," which features a restrained but determined vocal backing at once foreboding and full of promise; its gripping stuff.
Looking at the liner notes and seeing credit doled out for everything to shamanic voice to Vedic chant, crystal bowls to didgeridoo, youd have every reason to question the cohesiveness of the project. One listen, though, will convince you that this paean to the quiet power of sacred places not only works, but works well enough to warrant many return visits to your consciousness. Breathtaking without being showy, Incantation, our album of the month, is the Tim Wheater album for Tim Wheater to beat.