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Essential Spirituality: The 7 Central Practices to Awaken Heart and Mind Paperback – August 21, 2000
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How about an Australian philosopher-psychiatrist with years of experience dealing with spirituality, transpersonal psychology, and mental illness? Roger Walsh makes no claims to have attained a spurious level of "enlightenment" beyond a measure of basic sanity in this world gone slightly mad. In "Essential Spirituality", Walsh provides the perfect companion to Huxley's classic "The Perennial Philosophy"- a book of practical spiritual exercises, advice, and wisdom from sages the world over. Divided into seven sections on what Walsh believes to be the seven essential practices of the world's "Wisdom Traditions", Walsh provides advice on reducing craving, cultivating emotional wisdom, living ethically, meditating, awakening the senses, growing intuition, and pursuing spiritual action. This isn't New Age mysticism- "Essential Spirituality" is grounded in the teachings of saints throughout the world and history, extensively documented by Dr. Walsh. Even the most sceptical mind can see the gentle wisdom in his approach to spirituality.
I give this book my highest recommendation to seekers of all faiths and none- may it help you on your way.
The individual chapters address craving, difficult emotions, ethics, calming the mind, vision, wisdom, and serving others. Each section contains a number of exercises that you can try, modify, or adopt completely as best suits your own life and outlook. As time goes on, the practices can serve as springboards to discovering new sources of inner guidance.
The discussion of various intersections of the religions is valuable for several reasons. The background provides specific reasons for engaging in spiritual practice. Rote repetition of formulas does not have the value of mindful attention to our actions, and these explanations help to put the practices in perspective. In addition, the discussion often reflects the gut-level experience of the seeker, and will likely resonate strongly with those on a spiritual journey. Also, the practices do not conflict with observance of any of these religions, and would instead enrich one's spiritual experience, irrespective of its formal context. Finally, the discussion of common ground is a beautiful example of how we can rejoice in our similarities, respect our differences, and share common goals for peace, rather than allow religion to divide us and breed hatred.
As the introduction by His Holiness the Dalai Lama states, a few minutes a day devoted to engaging in the practices and contemplating their significance will go a long way towards bringing compassion, and ultimately a sense of inner peace, into your everyday life.
Wouldn't it be helpful to have some guidance from someone who is both a scientist and a spiritual practitioner, who has managed to integrate both approaches to reality? Roger Walsh's Essential Spirituality is such help.
I was fortunate to see this book in manuscript form when the publisher asked me for a promotional quote. I was very rushed at the time and could only read through the manuscript lightly, but knowing the quality and depth of Walsh's work, I was able to enthusiastically say "I could not imagine a better person to write this book." I knew he was not only a first class scholar and writer in these areas, but indeed someone with a serious personal practice informing his writing. Rereading the book more thoroughly for this review has been a pleasure and a privilege, for the clarity, depth, and importance of it is very great indeed.
I should also take this as a lesson about the hurry in my life and what it costs me.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I will be re-reading this book soon. It is clear and beautifully written. Highly recommend it! May use it in an Adult Education program at my Progressive Christian Church!Published 13 months ago by RevKristi
This book keeps me grounded and focused, especially in my line of work!Published 16 months ago by Elissa A Parkerson
This is an easy to read and relate to book. I enjoy the exercises recommended and the insight it provides. This is the book that I needed at the right time in my life.Published 17 months ago by David McQuarrie