Top critical review
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Disappointing - I'm skeptical of but also unsure of the author's message
on July 10, 2014
I wanted to like this book! It is clearly one that has resonated with so many people and changed lives, but sadly it fell completely flat with me. I kept hoping that at one point it would start to resonate, but it did not. I believe these are some of the reasons why -
1. I'm suspicious of authors who claim it is possible to live life free of worries, problems, and unhappiness. This author makes such claims throughout the book and many times indicates that freedom from suffering should be the goal of the spiritual journey. I see life and the spiritual journey differently, and though I do believe we all should strive for a happier life and a more peaceful spirit, I don't believe it is desirable to live without some unhappiness, some worries, some fears. We need to experience and honor both the dark and the light in order to live in balance. That is my view at any rate, and this book did not make a strong enough case for me to change it.
2. Contradictions. The author contradicts himself many times, but more importantly doesn't indicate any awareness that he has contradicted himself. In one chapter he is claiming that God only likes to be around happy people, but in a later chapter he points out that God does not judge, that the sun shines equally on us all, etc. Confusing, right? Thus, while the author makes many statements throughout that I agree with, he also constantly is making other statements that contradict previous ones, giving me the impression that he is just writing a stream of consciousness of statements cherry-picked to resonate with a broad range of spiritual-enlightenment-seekers, without much regard to whether those statements gel together to form a cohesive whole. Which brings me to. . .
3. Structure. To me the book reads like a long-winded, disorganized, repetitive lecture on how the reader should be living his life. While there may be many helpful suggestions and kernels of wisdom sprinkled throughout, the lack of structure, evidence, and strategies for how to go about actually doing what the author is suggesting really rubbed me the wrong way. For me, these types of commands - "just open" or "just do it" or "let go of fear" - are never helpful. These types of life-suggestions happen on every single page, as if it just takes reading the words enough times to know how to actually go about doing things that take enormous amounts of courage and practice. I need help with the how, and I found this book was like a list of ingredients with no recipe, assuming that the reader was already an experienced chef.
Perhaps the book is simply not written in a way that speaks to me. As I said at the beginning, it has clearly resonated with many, and so I feel badly giving it such a poor review. If the book has helped you to find happiness and live a more peaceful life, then wonderful! I would not want to take that away from anyone, but sadly, it is not the book for me.