From Publishers Weekly
Cofounder of the upstate New York Omega Institute and author of The Seekers Guide, Lesser uses her own life story, and those of others, to explore what she calls the "Phoenix Process," or positive life change that can emerge from very difficult life events. In short, episodic chapters, Lesser cites stories of those who have gone through a divorce (as she has), lost a child or suffered a terminal illness. She brings in thinkers such as Tibetan Buddhist Pema Chodron, the late philosopher Joseph Campbell and her longtime friend and colleague Ram Dass to illustrate how meditation and belief in a spirit that works through people can help break through fear and hopelessness. Lessers own Phoenix Process began when, having previously been "betrayed" by her husband, she embarked on an adulterous affair (with a "shaman lover") that lasted a year and, in her terms, broke her open and allowed her to change. Lesser doesnt describe her life events in enough detail for them to stand on their own as memoir; rather, she puts them in the service of an explicitly Nietzschean argument: that one needs to embrace ones own "evil" in order to grow. Lessers resolve comes through in her clear, even, declarative prose, and her use of jargon is sparing and directed. But with conventional morality off the table and frequently overgeneralized musings sprinkled in ("Women still nurture and sustain me, but it is men who call me to grow, to examine my presumptions, to widen the boundaries of my heart"), the book can feel less the delineation of a process than a careful set of self-justifications. That sense is mitigated, however, by the anecdotes of other Phoenix veterans, via Omega and other parts of Lessers life.
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"Elizabeth Lesser bravely and beautifully explores one of the most compelling questions of life: how do we emerge from suffering and challenge with real, encompassing wisdom and love. Broken Open
is personal, pragmatic and enlightening."
—Sharon Salzberg, author of Faith: Trusting Your Own Deepest Experience
"Never again will a painful experience wipe me out. This book shows how you can transform any difficult transition into a time of great strength and awakening."
“There's more food for philosophical mastication--and more sparkling good sense--in one lucid chapter of Broken Open
than in a library of ordinary books on similar subjects.”
“Elizabeth Lesser has written a most extraordinary book that examines our relationship to the changing nature of life. Lesser, a brilliantly gifted writer, has created a treasure chest of personal stories that bring wisdom, insight, compassion, and common sense to the experiences familiar to so many of us as the years of our lives unfold within their immortal cycle of endings and new beginnings.”
—CAROLINE MYSS, author of Sacred Contracts and Anatomy of the Spirit
From the Hardcover edition.