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The Holotropic Mind: The Three Levels of Human Consciousness and How They Shape Our Lives Paperback – May 28, 1993
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From Library Journal
- Dave Summers, Holly Twp. Lib., Mich.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
About the Author
Hal Zina Bennett, Ph.D., is a lecturer, consultant, and the author or co-author of twenty-seven books, including The Lens of Perception, The Well Body Book (with Mike Samuels, M.D.), The Holotropic Mind (with Stanislav Grof, M.D.), and Follow Your Bliss (with Susan J. Sparrow). He is also a contributing editor to Shaman's Drum magazine
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Top Customer Reviews
Dr. Grof is skilled psychiatrist and researcher with solid academic credentials in the US and Europe. He was one of the first to experiment with LSD--experiment in the laboratory sense, not in the adolescent escapade sense. His decades of research with thousands of subjects, including himself, has convinced the doctor that altered states of consciousness are the gateway to understanding the nature of the human experience.
P. 133 neatly summarizes Dr. Grof's approach, and his book's challenge to the typical Western reader: "The prevalent bias of the modern industrialized world is one of excluding all forms of spirituality as erroneous and misleading. ... While the existence of the experiences is a fact that can be confirmed by any serious researcher familiar with non-ordinary states of consciousness, there are various ways to interpret the same data. This is not so different from any other scientific question. After all the theory of gravity is not the same as gravity itself. Similarly, while we might refuse to take seriously past life experiences because we do not like the theories of reincarnations, we would not think of applying the same thinking to gravity, that is, denying that objects are falling because we do not like the theories of gravity that explain it. There are observable facts about reincarnation. ... It is important to remind ourselves that science never 'proves' anything; it only 'disproves' or 'improves' existing theories."
This book is an easy read because it is filled with compelling case histories and stays away from polemic or 'newage' (rhymes with 'sewage') cant. Grof presents his data, places it in the context of other's theories, for example, Jung, William James and Maslow, then leaves the reader free for his own explorations and meaning-making. I wished for more details on his experimental methods, but perhaps that is better covered in one of his many other publications rather than in this slim and brisk volume.
Grof's research suggests that profound healing happens automatically when people enter certain non-ordinary states of consciousness that are intrinsic to their own being. The process usually begins with a working through of emotionally charged memories from the lifetime. Eventually it deepens into a confrontation with biological birth and the inevitability of death, sequences that are intermixed with historical, karmic, and archetypal themes. Finally the process opens out into ecstatic transpersonal and spiritual realms, beyond the boundaries of individual consciousness. This book is full of fascinating case histories of people who have had the courage to look beneath the surface of everyday reality. Some of the accounts of healing and personal evolution described here will move and inspire you.
Self-exploration of this type is truly a kind of final frontier. Grof makes a solid case for the reintroduction of healing practises that use non-ordinary states of consciousness, techniques that have been used in non-industrial cultures for thousands of years. The documented effects of these suggest a potential for healing and transformation "undreamed of" in traditional psychotherapy.
Stanislav Grof was born in in 1931 in Czechoslovakia, where he received an MD in 1956, and PhD in 1967. It appears that he spent his time between the two degrees doing research in LSD-induced psychic states, often using himself as the subject. But when he came to the US in 1967, LSD use became prohibited, and so he eventually continued his work in "Transpersonal Psychology" (defined as a study of non-ordinary states of consciousness) with techniques that involved controlled breathing in a controlled setting. If nothing else, the reader of this book can get an idea of what a psychedelic trip feels like.
The book consists of two parts, framed between what could be called an introductory and a concluding chapter. In the introduction he mentions how some avant-garde physicists have introduced theories that connect together everything in the universe into one mathematical or even conscious entity: Talbot's holographic universe, Bohm's implicate order, Sheldrake's morphic resonance, and finally Jung's (an avant-garde psychiatrist in his day) collective unconscious. He then takes off into his favorite subject, LSD-induced regression into early childhood states and the birth process.
The next four chapters are allocated to studies of regression into the womb and birth experience, which he considers as the most important factors that are unconsciously affecting our adult feelings and actions. Even if you strongly disagree with what he is saying, try not to throw the book in garbage at this point. The following five chapters deal with wider transpersonal expansions of one's consciousness. Although he starts by discussing how under regression he was able to remember his existence as the spermatozoon that caused his own conception, and how others regressed to previous lives, or even plants and inanimate objects, most of the information here comes from published work by others. A lot of it is interesting, and a sufficient reason to have kept reading the book to this point. There is a good discussion of Carl Jung and his myth and archetype ideas, a brief discussion of synchronicity, and an excellent listing of many inventions and ideas that originated in people's minds as complete, inspired insights.
In the concluding chapter, he ignores the contents of the preceding five chapters, returns to his favorite subject of birth trauma, and generalizes it as the cause of all problems that have plagued mankind through its existence.
Obviously, this book is directed to the open-minded reader. Personally I disagree with the author's conclusions. I think all the data he presented could have been explained better if he followed through with Jung's and others' ideas of a universal subconscious rather than his own birth trauma theories.
The writer is the author of "Christianity without Fairy Tales: When Science and Religion Merge."