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3.6 out of 5 stars
The Celestine Prophecy
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249 of 266 people found the following review helpful
on January 30, 2000
Format: Paperback
Many of you have heard about this book, but may be wondering... what exactly is the Celestine Prophecy? Some type of church or new age mumbo - jumbo? This book tells a story of an American, who is adventuring in the rain forests of Peru, and discovers a set of nine manuscripts. These manuscripts, referred to as "insights", offer ways of discovering a new sense of life. The story is told in 9 chapters, as our American adventurer discovers more information and interprets the meaning of these hidden "truths" (insights).
The first two insights reveal how mankind is currently undergoing a new spiritual awakening and touches on how coincidences in each of our lives may be more than mere coincidences after all.
The next three insights reveal that many of us may see the world we live in, as a material universe, when in fact our universe is one filled with dynamic energy. The book goes on to explain how this energy is the cause of most verbal/physical confrontations between humans as well as how to understand the power struggles that occur in most relationships ( son-father / daughter-mother / husband-wife / boyfriend/ girlfriend, etc. ). There is a great section on how each of us can learn to avoid the people in our lives who are continually manipulating or "draining" our own personal energy and how each of us can find a good source of constant positive energy!
The last four insights help you to begin discovering what your our own personal, spiritual "mission" in life may be and how each of us can contribute to the world around us. There is a great section about becoming personally aware of our own energy manipulations towards other people, and how overcoming these manipulations as well as allowing "coincidences" in our lives to take place will help guide us in fulfilling our own personal "missions" in life.
Why has this book been so life changing, and praised by millions of people worldwide? Because, in a way, it is getting each of us in touch with something we knew already, but didn't realize we knew. You begin to recognize your own half - conscious ability to follow hunches, taking advantage of coincidental opportunities that arise. Most importantly, without preaching anything religious at all, this book fills a spiritual void most people have had, by helping each of us determine what our own spiritual mission in life is. The Celestine Prophecy is not really about making a change in your personal philosophy, as it is about simply shifting our approach to life and how we sense the lives of those around us. Truly, as the back cover claims, "a book that comes along once in a lifetime, to change lives forever". Overall, an extremely important book, with something for everyone. A truly priceless addition to your personal library...( well, not really priceless... has it for only about 10 bucks, and it ships in 24 hours! )
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107 of 119 people found the following review helpful
Format: Paperback
It's amazing how people are diametrically opposed about this book. One group feels the book is incredibly simplistic and regurgitates messages already clearly explained by many other books. Another group feels the book is amazingly powerful and brings new insights not seen before. I think that very gulf shows why the book is so important. The book holds information both groups say is very important. The first group says "but you should have read this before, and understood it more completely, without the dumbing-down". If the second group is saying "this is new and amazing!" it's pretty clear they had never heard the message before despite the other books. This second group was now hearing it in a language that appealed and made sense.

In essence, James has studied many religions and philosophies, and distilled many of the common core thoughts down into a "9 step program". He's wrapped it up in a Peruvian / religious atmosphere, and then had an average, every day guy learn about it in less than a week. We, the reader, get to learn it along with him. Each step is even numbered and clearly explained to you, in very simple words and ideas.


The nine insights are:

1. Life is full of meaningful coincidences

2. Mankind decided to focus from 1500-2000 on simply creating a happy material life

3. An invisible energy field exists everywhere, based on beauty

4. Mankind competes for this psychic energy - feeling good at each others' expenses

5. If you appreciate beauty and love people, you share psychic energy rather than steal it

6. You need to understand your childhood-based issues to overcome them

7. Trust in your intuitions, listen to your dreams

8. Others bring you new insights, but avoid being addicted to a person for energy

9. Groups energize members jointly helping all to become more happy

So it's an odd mix of philosophy and spiritual beliefs. Of course, I really like that #1 makes it hard to criticize all of the amazingly silly plot devices in the book. How can you question the coincidences, when insight #1 says that coincidences magically appear when necessary? Heck, that means any badly written book is simply on its way to spiritual enlightenment :)

A number of the 'basis' for these beliefs are simply untrue. #2 says that in 1500, because we turned our back on religion, we focussed suddenly on making our life an easier one. But any student of history knows that man has *always* worked to make life easier - and that we have always sought religion. Sure, we sought a 'change' in the 1500s - but we sought a change in year 0 with Jesus. We sought changes many times over the years, and religions have evolved to match our current needs.

I have a serious issue with the many references to beauty meaning "long, slender" women and vivid colors. The point of beauty should be to appreciate each person in their natural shape - not to swoon at long, slender women and bright red flowers. Every object has an innate beauty which is not necessary slender nor bright. The push on vegetarianism is a little over-the-top. The "seeing smoke between fingers held an inch apart" is actually a well known child's optical illusion, where you see a floating finger if you unfocus your eyes. Having scientists who claim "how can you postulate the existence of anything before you get proof" is plain silly - the whole point of science is to have experiments to prove or disprove things. You *always* start with a postulation to then prove or disprove.

It also really bugs me that the "hero" cares so little about the people around him. He's started on his quest by Charlene who really wants to find the manuscript - but never thinks to call her and tell her of his discoveries. A guy he meets on the plane is shot down right next to him, but the hero abandons him and rarely thinks of him. There are occasonal "ooops I hope she's OK" (mostly about the girl he lusts after) but that's it. And this for a guy who is on the spiritual fast track.

There are also oversimplifications that are quite wrong. They claim that the only reason conflict occurs is that one side "holds on to irrational positions for energy purposes". Ah, so apparently when you have a couple where the guy wants to have children and the woman does not, one of them must be irrational. Sometimes conflicts exist because two people simply want different things for very rational reasons.

But on the other hand, there ARE many quite useful pieces of information in here, for people who have honestly never heard them before. Maybe they simply don't read books about philosophy or have friends that enjoy these discussions. There is a great section (insight 6, for those keeping track) about how most people learn in childhood to be an interrogator, intimidator, aloof or poor-me person. It develops as a reaction to your parents' styles. If your parents tended to yell at you a lot, you probably learned to be meek to get them to stop. If your parents ignored you a lot, you probably acted out to get their attention. These are things talked about in many pyschology books, but they are nicely distilled into easy-speak here. And truly, if you've never thought about these things or looked to understand why you are the way you are, it can be very educational to take a step back and find a way to move beyond your childhood issues.

There are also many feel-good messages in here. You're told to keep your goals and 'questions' in mind, and look for positive assistance in your daily life. You're told to take each hurdle as a new opportunity to grow, and to have a positive outlook on life. You're told to avoid dwelling on negative images, to instead build positive images and goals in your mind and work towards them. This is rather good information for any human being. You're told to seek true happiness in your own world - and then to share it with another. You're told not to become co-dependent - not to seek another to "make" you happy. You need to be happy as an individual, and then share your happy world with others.

There are even more specific feel-good messages. You're told to eat slowly, savoring each bite with the pleasure and nutrition it brings you. Many, many doctors have found that this leads to more healthy eating, healthy digestion and a maintaining of a good body weight. You're also told to only have as many kids as you can give a lot of healthy attention to. If you have a lot of kids, you have to divide your attention up between them, setting the stage for sibling rivalry. Also, the kids begin to 'raise each other' - meaning now the kids have inappropriate 'kid' role models teaching them poor lessons of how to be a 'happy person' - vs having a mature adult being a role model. Having other kids around as friends is great - but there always needs to be ample adult full-time attention so that each child has as much adult time and attention as they need.

The book really fizzles at the end, though. Where at least the main story had these insights sprinkled in with the silly coincidences and super-fast, super-shallow progress, the end seems like it was tacked on. It's not really an ending - it's more of a "Oh! There's a 10th insight, but you'll have to read the next book to learn about that." We learn that in the next 500 years, we will have a life with a ton of food and money, but that people will not become lazy or overindulgent. Yeah, right :) Remember us in the 1500s? If they saw our life now, they would think we had a life of incredible wealth and ease. Most of them were starving peasants with no books, heat or air conditioning. Only a tiny few were wealthy and well fed. So here in modern times many of us live the life of luxury - and we are fat and lazy :) To think that in 500 years the entire human population will suddenly become balanced and in love with each other is rather optomistic. Some might - but some will always resist.

So in the end, the book is a great, simple introduction for many people into the basics of philosophy and psychology. Hopefully it will get those people to take a look at their lives and try to be more positive and more aware of how they affect others. Many it'll encourage them to discuss issues with friends and family, and to read more books on the topic. If the book really achieves some of those goals, then its Indiana-Jones storyline and oversimplification can certainly be accepted as the 'chewable vitamin' method of delivery!
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499 of 577 people found the following review helpful
on June 24, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I found this book amongst a pile for a yard sale and decided to read it, unaware of its fame and hype. It advertises an adventure in Peru that changed the author's life. Wow- a manuscript written by an ancient culture that provides guidance to our current development. Interesting, no? Innocently enough, I did not know that this was fiction. I read it with the intent of believing the journey was real. Of course, as a historian, I immediately realized that there were flaws in the description of Peru's history and landscape. However, thinking that the journey was real, I figured the author was simply mistaken about some details. I also believed that his incredibly juvenile writing style could be attributed to the fact that he was not a writer, but a man eager to retell the world of this awakening he experienced. I continued to read. However, by the middle of the book, I was awfully skeptical and wondered how everything magically occurred on cue. Was he simply leaving out the intermediate details of his journey in order to shorten the story? Or am I living in an alternate world that's more mundane and less predictable? So I came to this site, read the reviews, and it all made sense. THIS IS FICTION!! Ha ha ha! Silly me, so gullible.
Reading the end of the book was all the more amusing after seeing these reviews and realizing that I was not imagining the author's delusions. HOWEVER, I must say that the book does have some positives. First, the "insights," although old as the wind and sand, are genuine. Any truly spiritual person, not bound by the conventions and restrictions of traditional religion, has probably realized these already. That does not, however, subtract from the appeal of seeing them solidified on paper. Agreed, this "novel" is a literary atrocity, its presentation is overwhelmingly archaic, and its message is profusely pounded into sickening flatness. Regardless, there is truth in the regurgitated notions/ideas/beliefs. "Insight" is something we all need to understand, even if this book is not what promotes the awareness.
I feel that The Celestine Prophecy is a wonderful book for those who are least concerned with fine literature and more concerned with beginning a quest into understanding the greater meaning of our existence. Of course, the book pales horribly when compared to the great ones. But the point is not comparison. The point is to get in-tune.
To those of you who are well-read and consider yourselves avid intellectuals, you might be better off skipping this one in favor of some of the greats. For those of you who feel something stirring deep within that makes you question our current human condition, The Celestine Prophecy may very well open up a new and positive way of seeing yourself and others. The awakening may very well help you on YOUR path. Do you NEED this "novel" to help facilitate this change? You decide. Personally, I found the basic skeleton of the book, the insights, worth embracing.
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275 of 318 people found the following review helpful
on April 21, 2001
Format: Paperback
To be fair the book had some good concepts. I personally got more out of Converstations With God and Encounter With A Prophet. But this book was certainly not bad.
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205 of 252 people found the following review helpful
on September 11, 2001
Format: Paperback
The Celestine Prophecy book is certainly an interesting book. I read it cover to cover, not skimming, and made mental note of each of the author's Insights. The first Insight, basically, is that coincidences are meaningful, and are happening more often, especially to those aware of and open to them.
I began to notice coincidences very quickly - first the main character met someone who told him Insight one, but only knew the first Insight. Then, the main character met someone who told him Insight two, but they only knew the first two insights. Then, the main character met someone who told him Insight three, but she only knew the first three insights. Wow!
Another interesting coincidence is that many people encountered by the main character speak in the same patterns - they are verbose, patient, kind and many of them explain their part of understanding of the Insights to the main character with the words: "Think about it...". After the fourth "Think about it" it gets a little weary.
Moving outside the book to the reviews, many people encountered by this person speak in the same patterns. A large majority of those who speak glowingly of the book have frequent spelling or grammar errors. A large majority of the people who hate the book have very little spelling errors and use longer and less-common words. More interesting coincidences.
A previous review said: "The book wasn't meant to have perfect english; if it did that it would be dry and boring." Umm, no. Stephen Hawking's "A Brief History Of Time" and "The Poky Little Puppy" are both written in perfect English. To be written in perfect English does not necessarily mean that it will go over your head or will be dry and boring - at least one hopes so.
Many positive reviews (by coincidence) have said to ignore the writing, though, and focus instead on the underlining message. These messages, as stated by many reviews previous, are simplistic and not original. The movie "Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure", to go to an extreme, had perhaps not the best writing, but contained the Insight: "Be excellent to each other". One would hardly take the opposite view, would you?
To close, as this is basically me getting some thoughts of the book off my chest and being review 580+ only the seriously dedicated or bored will read this anyway, thank you for reading this far.
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45 of 55 people found the following review helpful
on January 8, 1998
Format: Paperback
I hesitate to take the trouble to address a book already so thoroughly reviewed, but I found the other reviews so entertaining, I decided to give it a try. First, I'd like to point out something I noticed. There seems to be an inverse relationship between the number with which the various reviewers rated the book and the reviewer's literary skill. That's a tactful way of saying that the more intelligent readers gave this book lower marks. Of course, this relationship did not hold true 100% of the time, but it is at least a glaring trend. My husband bought this book during a business trip and recommended I read it without sharing his opinion of it. Because a very good friend had previously strongly endorsed the book, I decided to take the time. I picked up the book with an open mind and every intention of suspending judgment. Before I was 50 pages into the book, I had the same feeling I had about 8 days into basic training in the Army: what have I gotten myself into? Because I would rather eat lemons than leave a book unfinished, I forced myself to wade through the rest of the book, which I found to be so poorly written as to be comical and so sophomoric as to be embarrassing. You'll notice I gave this book a 4 - barely below average - rather than a 1 or a 2. The sole redeeming feature of "The Celestine Prophecy" is that it's a conversation starter. My husband and I spent a few hours debating a few of the insights listed in the book; there's nothing there that hasn't been said before, but it's presented from a reasonably fresh angle. This book is ideal for pseudointellectual poseurs or teenagers (of any age) who are on a mission to "find themselves." If you're neither of the above, you probably shouldn't waste your money. Although "The Celestine Prophecy" makes a few interesting points, it is ridiculously badly written for a book that has achieved near-icon status. The author must have used the phrase "he/she/they looked at me intensely" about 80 times in a 200 page book. A writer he is not, but as philosophy, it is slightly less inadequate. It's a pretty immature work, and its popularity and the passion it inspires in its followers are a sad commentary on the philosophical bankruptcy of the modern American mind.
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75 of 94 people found the following review helpful
on December 4, 2001
Format: Hardcover
That is the headline on the back of my copy's dust jacket,
and I must say it is accurate. I have truly never read
such a poor book that was actually published, like, by a
real publisher. Literary cliches, grammar errors,
spelling errors, literary cliches, poor development, and
no substance. Did I mention literary cliches? I really
felt that if this could get published, I could write
something of actual substance and get published also. But
the publisher probably overlooked all the flaws because it
saw a mass market that would eat this tripe up, especially
dressed up with words like "prophecy" and "adventure", not
to mention the faux mystical sounding "celestine".
And that is the second problem. I can overlook poor writing
if the content is worth it. But the "adventure" story is
so lame as to not be a factor. There is no "prophecy"; I
think the publisher or the author knows that that word
will play well in the new age crowd. So I think it is
disingenuous of the publisher/author to throw those words
around in or near the title to sell more books when they
are not at all factors. If you want adventure, read Clive
Cussler. If you want prophecy, read Nostradamus.
Which brings us to the real point of the book, I guess,
the new age eastern mysticism. Why or how this ended up
in Peru, we have no idea, and our stomachs are so turned
that we don't really care. But here is a random quote
from the drivel, judge for yourself:
"The Fifth [insight] shows us that an alternative [energy]
source exists, but we can't really stay connnected with
this source until we come to grips with the particular
method that, we, as individuals, use in our controlling,
and stop doing it -- because whenever we fall back
into this habit, we get disconnected from the source."
What? And it goes on and on like this. There is no
spiritual magic here; you're better off finding a good
book on new age mysticism. This book doesn't get it
The book, simply put, is poor quality in every
conceivable dimension.
There are people who think they want or need this book.
To those, I would recommend taking up sports or music
or some other hobby (or if physically challenged, mental
gymnastics, such as puzzles or well-written classical or
popular literature. One interesting suggestion is "The
Outsider", by Colin Wilson, the first book by the new age
writer which is an incredible blend of classical allusions
and modern insight by someone with superb writing talent).
To everyone else, click the back button on your browser
as fast as you can. Don't get suckered.
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36 of 44 people found the following review helpful
on January 14, 2003
Format: Paperback
I can see that these days THE CELESTINE PROPHECY doesn't have as many fans as it used to. And I don't want to change anyone's opinion about it (you may like it, you may not), but in this review I'd just like to share my personal experience with this book with readers who are looking into buying a copy or borrowing one from the library.
Technically, THE CELESTINE PROPHECY may not be the best-written book ever. There have been many comments from disgruntled readers regarding the way author James Redfield wrote this book. In my case being a picky reader has not affected my reading experience when it came to this book. The novel (sometimes dubbed a "spiritual parable") is written using language that's quite simple and easy to follow. Maybe other readers wanted something a little more "grown-up" or "mature" in terms of the writing style, but the simplistic way that this was written worked very well for me. There are a lot of spiritual principles in THE CELESTINE PROPHECY that might be difficult to understand if they weren't explained as simply as they were.
And those spiritual principles--outdated though they might be for the advanced student of metaphysics--could be very inspiring for someone new to exploring their spirituality, or someone terribly down in the dumps. In my experience, reading this book in my college years (around 5 years ago) certainly helped me see beyond our physical world so that I could better understand the purpose of my life and not get stuck thinking negatively.
I'd like to share, too, that while I was reading the book, whatever spiritual principle was being discussed, I was experiencing acutely in my life. I got to see CLEARLY the energy around plants, and it was also at this time that I began to see the auric field surrounding humans.
For those only beginning to explore the spiritual world, you might want to give this book a try. I recommend it to you with love. :)
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on September 6, 2006
Format: Hardcover
OK, as long as we get this straight: the plot is juvenile and robotic and the characters are see-through and under-developed, we have somewhere to go. What I mean is that if you are expecting a well-written thriller about ancient documents set in modern Peru, you're going to be very disappointed.

However, if you're perhaps at one of those points in your life when you're not sure if anything is fitting together in the world and why you can't connect and how the world works at a 'cosmic level', then perhaps you'll find the book interesting. I certainly found some pices of the book interesting and it also provided me with some insight on my own 'control dramas', how I interact with other people in my life and why there are certain aspects of my life that just don't click. Bottom line is: I think the author found a very palatable vehicle for spreading his own new-age gospel. No offense intended. Some people just aren't into this stuff and others live it every day. Others simply exhibit an open mind and some interest, like me.

I think if you pick up the book based on these thuoghts you won't be disappointed. If you don't buy the book based on these thoughts it probably best anyway. What got me interested was the 'coincindences' that are addressed in the book. A coworker had mentioned that this was all covered in the book and she actually bought a used copy for me as a gift. No regrets and I would like to discuss some of these points more with some of my more "new-agey" friends.
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66 of 84 people found the following review helpful
on November 1, 2001
Format: Paperback
The Celestine Prophecy by James Redfield is a self-help book. It provides advice to people who are feeling lonely and sad. Like the self-help books of Dale Carnegie (How To Stop Worrying And Start Living) and Norman Vincent Peale (The Power Of Positive Thinking) it gives encouragement to people who are feeling overwhelmed. It's also an introduction to Eastern religious mysticism. It's also a novel with some science fiction elements (written without any metaphors - the lack of metaphors makes the translator's job easier) that tells the story of a man who makes a trip to Peru in search of an ancient manuscript that contains nine insights into the meaning of life. The man's name is never given, and the reader is left wondering whether it is Redfield himself who is narrating the story. The manuscript is said to have been written in Aramaic, about 600 B.C., but Redfield never explains how it ended up in Peru. (Here the book contains a factual error. We are told that Aramaic is "the same language in which much of the Old Testament was written," but in fact, the Old Testament was written almost entirely in Hebrew. Very little of it was written in Aramaic.)
Our hero proceeds on his quest, and encounters quite a bit of unexplained hostility from the Peruvian government and the Roman Catholic church. Undaunted, he continues his journey, dodging bullets, falling in love, and discovering insights, until at last he has found all nine of them. (It turns out that none of them would be anything new to a person who was familiar with Eastern religious philosophy. Our hero could have saved himself quite a bit of trouble by simply going to a library and looking up Buddhism in a good encyclopedia.)
The character development is weak. Redfield gives us characters who move rapidly from moods of serene tranquillity to explosive rage, and then back to tranquillity again. One of Redfield's favorite literary devices is to have the narrator encounter a mysterious stranger who leads him to the next insight and then dies in a blaze of gunfire.
The book contains enough pseudoscientific claptrap to gag any thinking person, and I'm not even going to begin trying to detail it all. Here I will just say that the idea of using life's mysterious coincidences (unrelated events that have the superficial appearance of relatedness) to guide us in making decisions seems flaky to me. People who think this way are going to fall for every charlatan that comes along.
If you like the books of Deepak Chopra and Uri Geller, and others of their New Age mystical ilk, you'll like The Celestine Prophecy. But if you prefer books that have a more hard-bitten edge of reality to them, I would recommend, for a self-help book, The Conquest Of Happiness by Bertrand Russell, and for a religious novel, The Flight Of Peter Fromm by Martin Gardner. Also, I recommend the books of Carl Sagan (The Demon-Haunted World), James Randi (Flim-Flam!), and Richard Dawkins (Climbing Mount Improbable.) These books should cure you of any brain damage that was caused by reading Redfield's drivel.
The Celestine Prophecy must satisfy something in people, or it wouldn't have become such a major best-seller. Redfield himself explains the book's popularity by saying that "there is a need out there to discuss the spiritual experiences that are coming into consciousness simultaneously for all of us." He obviously takes his own fiction very seriously.
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