We are all students in the "Earth school," according to authors Gary Zukav and Linda Francis in The Heart of the Soul
. And the time has come to create a whole new lesson plan. For thousands of years we were outwardly focused, as we mastered the tasks of cultivating food and building shelter. Unfortunately, we are still outwardly fixated, obsessively accumulating more wealth, material objects, and power. "What enabled our species to survive so long is now bad medicine. In fact, it is poison," according to Zukav and Francis. What we need now is an inward focus, in which we cultivate the heart and live in alignment with our souls.
As it turns out, The Heart of the Soul is a timely guidebook, with a release date exactly three months after the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center. "The pursuit of external power produces physical violence and destruction between nations. You can see this in every newscast," the authors write:
Billions of people live in poverty, are hungry, and suffer oppression, and brutality. Changing these circumstances requires our hearts. It requires the ability to feel the pain and joy of others, and to take their needs as seriously as we take our own.
And here is where the heart lessons come in. "As long as there are parts of yourself that reach outward to make you feel safe, valuable, and loved, you need to identify them and heal them." The authors include numerous exercises and activities to help readers feel and understand their emotions in order to "empower the soul" and live a more rewarding and joyful life. The words and intentions are indeed poignant and worthwhile. The numerous boxes, diagrams, and passages in bold print create a self-help structure that some will find simplistic and others will find inviting. --Gail Hudson
From Publishers Weekly
Asserting that "our species is undergoing an unprecedented transformation," Zukav (The Seat of the Soul; Soul Stories) urges people to focus not on "external power" but on "authentic power," and to seek to align their personalities with their souls. People should learn to read emotional pain (manifested in physical symptoms) as energy being released in "fear and doubt" rather than "love and trust," Zukav says. He includes a diagram of "your energy system," which he doesn't acknowledge as the seven chakras common in ancient Eastern religions. In fact, while drawing on Hindu and Buddhist thought, Taoism, Christianity, psychology and many other sources, Zukav credits no previous study or tradition. Reincarnation, detachment, present-moment living and bringing unconscious emotions to the surface are not original concepts, but the author's lack of references implies that they are. Questionable claims "a new human species is being born," for example, or "energy continually flows into the top of your head" are also offered as indisputable facts. Zukav's abundance of vague metaphors and lack of specific personal stories leaves the reader wondering how (or if) the concepts he presents might be applied to everyday issues and events. This book could be another adequate tool in the pursuit of New Age spirituality, but it is hardly the complete and final word the author suggests. Still, with Zukav's track record and Oprah-readiness, expect hefty sales.
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