Top positive review
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Profound, illuminating insights, tainted by absolutism
on December 11, 2000
It's amazing the divergent opinions one gets from reading the reviews of this book. It's also amazing, at least for me, how a second reading can completely change the way I feel about a book. When I read 'The Seat of the Soul' the first time I was completely turned off by the absolutism that is very apparent on many pages of the book. Yet a second reading changed my opinion of this book dramatically. I will cover the positive, and then the negative. One other point I want to make up front - for those who seek 'scientific proof' for spiritual concepts, I am afraid there isn't any under the current scientific model. I read this in many of the reviews.
I believe that Mr. Zukav defines what he intends to cover in the book very well from the outset, which is how to transform oneself from a five-sensory physical being to a multi-sensory 'spirit in a body.' I believe that he also explains what one can achieve in that transformation, which he calls 'authentic power,' remarkably well. Starting from evolution, which he asks us to see as souls experiencing multiple lifetimes rather than survival of the fittest physical beings, Zukav does rehash the basic teachings from Eastern religion, such as karma and reincarnation, but with precision and clarity. His insights are not really new, but they are of reference-level quality - if you should ever meet a person who starts to ponder certain aspects of the soul and were thinking of recommending one book, 'The Seat of the Soul' would be one to consider, for sure.
I liked his using the evolution of science as a metaphor for the evolution of our (hopefully) attaining spiritual consciousness as a species, found on p. 67. Indeed quantum physics has shown, no matter how much the determinists tell us otherwise, that our consciousness does interact with reality and thus creates it, at least in a sense.
Finally on the positive side, Zukav's explanation of how the process in which a person observes him/herself in a non-judgemental way is, next to Krishnamurti's ('The First and Last Freedom' and many other books) 'choiceless awareness,' the best I've encountered, and again all I say is that I do believe that if you follow the process he outlines you will attain higher levels of consciousness. The chapter entitled 'Illusion' is especially good, the way he interweaves that while we do need to learn lessons and know who we are at the deepest possible levels, from a broader perspective it really is an illusion! It is not easy to explain this paradox, but Zukav succeeds well.
Yet as I stated at the outset, the first time I read the book I was totally turned off by the unfortunate absolutism that permeates much of the writing. I agree with the reviewer who asked 'how does he know,' and another review that stated that he is uncomfortable with 'mystery and ambiguity.' This quest for absolute certainty is perhaps my biggest 'beef' with many New Age writers, and it diminishes the insights of 'The Seat of the Soul.'
I will give just one example. I don't think anyone would disagree that in general we get what we put out, but it is not an absolute truth. I have experienced over and over that life gives me *not* what I put out, but rather what I need to learn. I often project a lot of anger, and what I receive is not anger, but rather good feelings, which shows me that my projection is not the way the world is. But by observing it, 'choicelessly,' as Zukav and Krishnamurti teach, at least I transcend it to a certain extent.
I could give many other examples of general truths turned into absolutes, but suffice it to say that Mr. Zukav tends to use expressions like 'in all cases,' 'always,' and other absolutisms carelessly. On p. 53, while discussing reverence in a very meaningful way, he states that a reverent person 'harms nothing.' Excuse me, even vegetarians do harm. I would prefer him discussing this point using terms like ahimsa, which more accurately conveys the idea of 'least harm.'
At the beginning of the book Mr. Zukav claims that 'there is no such thing as an expert on the human experience.' Perhaps he should have heeded his own truth in certain wordings in this otherwise fine book.