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Grace and Grit: Spirituality and Healing in the Life and Death of Treya Killam Wilber Paperback – November 17, 1992

4.6 out of 5 stars 89 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Ten days after transpersonal psychologist Wilber married Terry Killam in 1983, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. This harrowing account of her losing battle against disease is unusual in several respects. Killam (who changed her first name to Treya) shared her husband's belief in the "perennial philosophy" of the world's wisdom traditions embracing rebirth, enlightenment and the all-pervasiveness of Spirit. Her condition tested their faith simultaneously. Her lengthy, candid journal entries, interwoven with his narrative, form a tremendously moving love story. Killam, who died in 1989, combined orthodox treatment with such alternative therapies as diet, meditation and psychotherapy. Wilber ( The Spectrum of Consciousness ) disputes the imputed New Age view that mind alone causes all physical illness. He intimately participated in his wife's ordeal, and here presents cancer as a healing crisis, an occasion for self-confrontation and growth.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"A tremendously moving love story. Wilber presents cancer as a healing crisis, an occasion for self-confrontation and growth."—Publishers Weekly

"A singular achievement. It succeeds as a story of one cancer patient's experience, as a guidebook for patients and their caretakers, as a love story, as a survey of the world's mystical traditions, as an examination of death and dying, and as an exploration of relationship as a means for spiritual development."—Natural Health

"A deep and searing look at living, dying, loving, death, and resurrection."—M. Scott Peck, M.D.

"A rare book—a love story that brings the perennial wisdom of the ages to life in all the anguish and exaltation that comprise the human condition. Treya Killam Wilber's honesty, vibrancy, and compassion speak through her many journal entries, masterfully woven with Ken's text, to make Grace and Grit a true experience of sacred partnership."—Joan Borysenko, Ph.D.; author of Minding the Body, Mending the Mind and Guilt Is the Teacher, Love Is the Lesson --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 422 pages
  • Publisher: Shambhala; Reprint edition (November 17, 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0877736987
  • ISBN-13: 978-0877736981
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (89 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,080,175 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By F. C. Boyd on August 3, 2002
Format: Paperback
I'll admit it. I've written a lot of five star reviews. I tend to comment when I have praise to offer. This book just took me to a whole new level of appreciation for a writer. It's like the difference between, "Yes, I think you are a lovely person" and "There isn't one thing about you which I don't find absolutely loveable."
I urge you to buy this book, and expand your own vision of what is possible: in a loving relationship, as one approaches the end of this physical existence, and within the human heart and soul.
This book woke me up. It reminded me about Love. (Saying that, the words seem so inadequate) The truth is, I can't come close to conveying the Love which comes through in this book. It�s personal love directed toward a wife, a husband, a family. It's universal Love which calls to you to find your way home. It beckons "Promise you will find me again."
I just finished reading the last chapter, and I cried and cried. I remembered what it was like when my mom died. Dannion Brinkley said that when someone dies, the doors to Heaven open up, and energy flows in both directions. I'll second that. My mothers death was one of the most sacred experiences of my life.
Reading this, I also remembered Love. A friend of mine used to tease his wife. She would say "Honey, do you love me?" And he would respond, "Only when I stop and think about it." Love is like that isn't it? If we don't stop and become present to Love, then Love isn't present in our awareness, and that which isn't present in our awareness isn't real to us in the present moment. At best, it is a myth about a "Once upon a time/somewhere someday" experience.
This book, and especially the last chapter increased my awareness of Love so dramatically, I felt like I just woke up. And then it repeated the experience.
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By A Customer on September 29, 1999
Format: Paperback
An extraordinary story which makes such a welcome and necessary change from the superficial and happy-clappy stories about illness that all have such happy endings. This has a sad, powerful, truthful, enlightening ending. Treya dies, just like nearly all cancer patients and yet her dying IS meaningful, but not in the New Age way of "its all just your karma, or a life lesson you have brought upon yourself" - puke!
The philosophy is outstanding. Highly intelligent and compassionate. No-one I have ever read about worked at hard as getting her spirit well (in case that might cure her cancer) as Treya and yet she dies. A definitive repost indeed to all the Caroline Myss and Louise Hay's of the world. I have grown deeply angry with the "you can heal your life/ you create your own reality" approaches as I struggle with (I hope) grace and grit through my own, possibly terminal, illness. This book is a rare shining example of truth - bright, brilliant, loving truth - in amongst the heap of self-righteous publications out there.
Read it to be moved. To be enlightened. To grow in wisdom and courage.
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Format: Paperback
This book is a "supermarket" on love story, comedy,
psychology, spirituality, growth, enlightenment, alternative
medicines, life, death and healing. A real page turner that allows
you waste no time to finish it straight away. I read it during my
vacation two weeks ago. I took it with me during bath and each trip to
the loo. Every person, especially women,with or without cancer must
read this book. This is also a perfect gift for those with cancer
(the only downfall is of course the sensitive death issue so openly
talked about in this book the reality of which so many people in such
a predicament, both the patients and support people, find it difficult
to face and prepare for. This is most unfortunate since this could
perhaps be the only truly significant help and hope for both patients
and support people to make the remaining time left, say if miracle
doesn't come, worth living.)
It is a course on living (also death)
and how to be human and to accept all the human conditions that go
with it, written by both Ken and Treya Wilber. Ken Wilber has
skillfully increased my admiration and faith in the practicality and
superiority, both spiritual and intellectual, of (eastern)mysticism,
especially Buddhism, over mythical religions such as mainstream
Christianity and Islam (since there are also mystic branches in both
religions), although he wouldn't call himself a Buddhist for his deep
affinity for Christian mysticism and Vedanta Hinduism (despite his
rigorous Buddhist practice).As he noted in the book jocularly:
"All religions are the same, especially Buddhism".
love and dedication for Treya was so deeply touching.
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By A Customer on December 31, 1996
Format: Paperback
Here is a different side of Ken Wilber. More personal, more
vulnerable, more approachable by more people. It's easiest to
imagine Ken Wilber as a scholar/monk, locked in his study
grinding out title after title. (See _Sex, Ecology, Spirituality:
the Spirit of Evolution_ for a recent imposing example).
In _Grace and Grit_ we come as well to know an all-too-human Wilber,
a tragic lover with a heart stung by nettles of distraction and despair.
Putting his writing aside for a period of years, Ken became a full-time
support person for his wife Treya during her protracted struggle
with cancer. Until the very end, the Wilbers hoped and labored
for a cure. In the end, they chose to make Treya's death a
lesson in living for all of us. This is a sad and joyous book.
Saddest of all: what might Treya Killam Wilber have shared with us
had she lived longer? (Longer, not fuller. Her life was
full - there can be no doubt.) Most joyous: in this work the
Wilbers have shared both a vision and practice of hope beyond
the boundaries of biological existence. Recommended reading for
all who wonder how life can end, when love cannot.
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