225 of 228 people found the following review helpful
on September 16, 1999
The magic about this book is that it centers completely on the definition of the human experience and all the emotions that it entails. In addition it gives us guidelines usually through poetic pieces and beautifully scripted prose on dealing with many of life's issues.
I read most of this book on a flight back home to Ireland. I just couldn't put it down. As cynical and routine that life sometimes appears each of us has a yearning to break the mold, break the routine and deep down find our way, our reason for being on this earth. O'Donohue reminds us regardless of who we are and what the material world values us at - our soul has a yearning to belong and live life spontaneously and to avoid the clutter of routine and the depression of complacency.
There are important lessons in this book on the areas of love, death, belonging, depression etc. Finding your significant other for example is something that happens through fate. Death should be celebrated for the life that it gave an individual and the journey it now presents to the soul. Depression should be addressed not through constant interactions with pyschologists, who yes help, but confronting that which caused the depression in the first place and absorbing it as a strength rather than a weakness.
I was in Ireland for a funeral, which though a sad event, i left feeling happy - This book reminded me of what a great gift life really is.
133 of 140 people found the following review helpful
on May 10, 1998
Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom is truly a work of art. Over the past three years, I have been working on discovering myself through self-help books, 12-step programs, religious study, and personal introspection. This book summed up everything I have learned (the hard way) during this time, and presented it in a beautiful package that was invigorating and thought-provoking to read. It was a pure joy. I began reading it in January, and have only just finished it last night, because each sentance was a ponderable morsel. Sometimes I would read a phrase five times over in order to fully grasp and apply it's meaning to my life. This is not a 70 mph trip through the McDonald's drive-thru, this is a seven course meal in Vienna, and every bite demands that you hold it in your mouth to savor it.
Anam Cara is one of the best non-fiction books I have ever read. I plan to read it again in a year or so, because I know I will get new things out of it. I am already loaning it to a friend, and have a couple of others in mind I'd like to loan it to. I can't keep this from the ones I love.
98 of 102 people found the following review helpful
on February 16, 2002
In the Prologue, the author describes this book as "a phenomenology of friendship in a lyrical-speculative form." That is exactly what it is. It is one of the most compelling and lyrical works that I have read. It describes the "soul-friend" but more significantly it actually suggested the possibility of me becoming my own soul's friend. It is a powerful book, weaving Celtic mystical thought with a very accessible form of approaching self and soul -- all done in a rich, poetic language. It reads very well and John O'Donohue's erudition, poetic language and abiding compassion radiate every page.
This book gave me strength and deep insight at a time when I was searching for both of these. I greatly appreciate this book's contribution to my own understanding of self and highly recommend it to you if, like me, you recognize that you are on a spiritual journey.
65 of 69 people found the following review helpful
This book's best taken in small doses, a few paragraphs at a time. Each chapter's broken up into such sections, ideal for guiding meditation or inspiring reflection. It's a volume I gave away as a gift and re-purchased for myself after I read it, knowing that I'd return to its contents again and again. O'Donohue's learned much from those with whom he lives and talks and ministers, and his frequent interspersions of Celtic tradition and current Irish-language proverbs and observations attest to the continuity of the Gaelic worldview within the larger Anglo-American hegemony that dominates our lives.
One of the best recommendations for this guide is its refusal to romanticize the rural and rooted tradition's hardships as well as its comforts. The author comes from the people he writes about, and this grounding keeps his suggestions--however philosophical they may soar--concise, honest, and free of cant. The respect for the life lived under the radar and the flyover culture by those committed to the land energizes these stories. Mixing tales and legends and theology from the Irish perspective with contemporary analogies, incidents, and insights, this book somehow avoids touchy-feely simpering or wishful fairie musings.
It's appropriate for those of any faith, any skeptic, or any with spiritual longing. Written by a priest, but never limited to a Christian presentation, the transparent ecumenism of the author's approach speaks to any reader wondering about the Big Questions. Humbly, eloquently, and frankly, it's like having a personal confessor or soulmate with whom you can sit and listen companionably. There's no sloganeering, no ten steps to salvation in ten minutes a day, and no assurances of glib piety. With an open-hearted wonder, serious but never glum intelligence, and a generous capacity to listen to others and to nature, the wisdom distilled by the author here issues gradually, to be sipped rather than gulped. Antidotes for our fast-food generation, which will only work their healing power if we follow the prescriptions and elixirs gathered in its pages.
34 of 36 people found the following review helpful
on November 14, 1999
This book is a must read...i don't know how else to put it. It is full of wisdom and enlightenment, just reading it made me start feeling better about myself and my life. The poetry is beautiful. Even if you aren't interested in the celtic way of life, it will open you up to a whole new look on yourself and your life.
30 of 32 people found the following review helpful
on April 26, 2003
Powerful, insightful and incredibly thought provoking. I have read many books on celtic wisdom and spiritual enlightenment, and have come across nothing like this. It opens the mind and body to the heart and soul, it encourages you to look within, not without, to improve yourself, and although this books does not make you do anything, it almost forces you to take a damn good look at yourself and really assess everything you think you are. You will be surprised at the results you get!
There are so many self help books out there, but none come close to this! Well worth every penny, and please take time to read it, and read it over and over again, each time will show you something new. My copy is full of notes in the margin, underlined phrases or paragraphs, and serves as a useful place to turn when life gets you down!
I think the only thing I didn't like was the slightly Christian accent from the author's point of view, especially as it relates to the Celts. This is not a big deal and can be overlooked for the quality and insight of the writing itself.
35 of 38 people found the following review helpful
on November 8, 1999
As souls we explore life alone--and this has broken a lot of people, made them hurful and angry, sad. But still there has always been this need to express myself completely, to find those correct words, that absolute means of bridging all that separates me from another human being... It was a joy to have been recommended to this book, to see and think and reflect on where and how, why and for whom we can suffer so much alone when all we need to is express... A fantastic book, and one that I will share as a treasure not only as a tool for insight into my own soul, but as a gift to all of the special people in my life. It is a book about loving. Excellent!
25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
John O'Donohue's best-selling "Anam Cara" is one of the most profound books I have read this year and is a must read for those searching for the deeper meaning of life, purpose and eternity. "Anam Cara" (soul friend) is a rare synthesis of philosophy, poetry, and spirituality with O'Donohue moving your mind, heart and soul on every page. He has packed so much into this book that you may, as I did, want to read just few pages a day.
O'Donohue integrates philosophy, poetry, and spirituality as he reveals the mystery of friendship, the spirituality of the senses, the importance of solitude, the poetry of work, the beauty of aging, and our daily companion, death. You will be rewarded with uncommon wisdom and unique insights on each topic.
On friendship, O'Donohue speaks to the circle of belonging, love being the nature of the soul, and the soul being the divine echo.
On the senses - the holiness of the gaze, listening as worship, the language of touch, and the body being both the angel and mirror of the soul.
On solitude - the world of the soul is secret, transfiguring the ego is to liberate the soul, the natural is to be holy, and one of the greatest sins is the unlived life.
On work - the expression of the soul, weakness and power, the false trap of belonging, work and imagination, and how heartful work brings beauty.
On aging - time as a circle, our harvest, memories, passion and aging, wisdom as poise and grace, and the freedom aging brings.
And death - the unknown companion, the faces of death in everyday life, death as the root of fear
the dead are our nearest neighbors, birth as death, and how the dead bless us.
"Anam Cara" is a beautiful book that will increase your understanding of yourself, your relationships, the world around you, and how we relate to the divine in all aspects of life.
19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
Having some time and quietude during a recent power outage, I read this work again, and, in a time of some confusion and lack of direction, it was like holding the hands up to a hearth-fire. O'Donohue's lyrical skill with the pen, combined with some deep and personal convictions artfully unfolded, works to make this a book of prose nearly poetry. With all the Irish way with words, he wraps his ideas in beautiful language. While it is occasionally hard to get to the meat of what he has to say, this book encourages reading in an open, heedful way, as one would read poetry, letting the message sink in over time, rather than bringing a too-harsh (neon, as he himself would have it) light of ungraceful logic to passages which are constructed to enter by the way of beauty, rather than that of cut-and-dried science.
I find O'Donohue's ideology very refreshing, as it is a glimpse of the fast-fading Irish spirituality, deeply Christian and theocentric in the beliefs laid down by Patrick, but still finding expression through the poeticism of ancient Celtic religion. Far from the lack of reverence and respect toward the Christian world which is found in the reconstructed realm of Celtic paganism, this worldview is whole and confident in itself, the way of a people for a long time, and not manipulated to fit one's own spiritual self-satisfaction. While I do not agree with everything I read here, it is because I come from another tradition, and I think that every Christian will find inspiration in the ideas here which transcend tradition and upbringing. And by no means are these words exclusive for Christians, either.
Highly recommended, however not to be read as an insensitive factfinding-tour. Such is not the way of the intuitive Celtic mind.
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on July 14, 1999
This book 'found' me at the airport while leaving for vacation - what a gift! Mr. O'Donohue conveys thoughts and feelings in such an articulate, eloquent way. It is a nonjudgemental exploration and celebration of the spirituality that lies within all of us. I would highly recommend this to anyone who thinks about and feels a sense of spirit but doesn't know how to talk about it with someone. This book moved me and touched me deeply. You'll read it more than once.