This book is excellent. No words are wasted, no persuasions needed, no high level of sophistication required--just a readiness to travel simply and truthfully--and that is how Wesley leads you. This could only be written by one who has been there. ~ Richard Rohr, Franciscan, Director of the Center for Action and Contemplation, Albuquerque, New Mexico and author of Everything Belongs: The Gift of Contemplative Prayer.
This book is a real surprise. Beneath its apparent simplicity, a subtle mind is clearly at work. Stepping-stone by stepping-stone the author builds a fascinating bridge between familiar Christian reference points and the classic awareness practices of East and West. ~ Cynthia Bourgeault, Episcopal priest, Teacher and Advisor to the Contemplative Society of Victoria, B.C., and author of Centering Prayer and Inner Awakening.
The author offers us a wonderfully succinct and lucid introduction to contemplative self-understanding and practice within a Christian framework. The many practical exercises he suggests along the way give the reader an opportunity to test their own experience of contemplative awareness. I believe it expresses the authentic heart of contemplative understanding and practice, which upholds a liberating awareness of our true self and life in God. ~ Tilden Edwards, Episcopal founder of Shalem Institute, Bethesda, Maryland and author of Living in the Presence: Spiritual Exercises to Open Our Lives to the Awareness of God. --~ From the back cover
With a sweet, relaxed clarity and economy of expression, Wesley introduces selflessness and spacious awareness on an interfaith basis to Christian churchgoers and other readers.
It is a wonderful book. In its blend of simplicity and thoroughness, it is reminiscent of the works of Meister Eckhart. Wesley developed the content based on Joel's teachings [Joel Morwood is the Spiritual Director at the Center] as well as his own teaching experience at Central Presbyterian Church in Eugene, Oregon. He expresses appreciation to both of his spiritual communities.
In defining two approaches on the contemplative path, devotion and wisdom, Wesley chooses to focus on the wisdom path, saying it is devotion that gives us perseverance.
Step by step the book moves from the beginning to the end of the spiritual path. It illuminates our need to investigate for ourselves, from within, as the moment-to-moment observer, witness, and experiencer. The title refers to Realization of our inherent Divinity, True Nature, and the Kingdom that is always before us. In each chapter, Wesley recommends a practice or two under the heading, You find out.
I love the book. It explains many of the concepts on the path that can be confusing to new practitioners. I think this would be an ideal addition to the Foundation Studies reading list [at the Center]. Although it emphasizes Christian teachings, the practices and their results are universal and inclusive.
Wesley has included comments in the bibliography to indicate the accessibility of various resources. Of the 73 footnotes, three refer to talks or articles by Joel. Many refer to Christian contemplatives and mystics, and many to the Bible (New Revised Standard Version).
Though Wesley considers his slim volume introductory, he covers each principal step toward Recognition of our natural but forgotten union with the Divine. --~ Sylvia Hawley: Center Community News, The Newsletter of the Center for Sacred Sciences
To follow this shortest path to home is to take a slow and gentle walk with Wesley along his contemplative trail of quiet, gradually-developing, ever-growing insights. His chapters are very short, and each ends with a brief "you find out," a directed pause for the time to try out the truth opened to you, the reader, in that chapter. We begin to realize how our lives are so involved with what Wesley describes as "the story of I." Then may come the gradual understanding of the need to change self-important thoughts into a deep awareness and an experiencing of all that surrounds us in God's world. This is a thoughtful unfolding of understanding how those contemplative experiences will lead to (or can change) beliefs and then can open one to union with a cosmic God. --~ Marion Leslie: The Central, Newsletter of Central Presbyterian Church, Eugene, Oregon