The core thesis of this book is that within each person, there are potentialities that are dormant, if not asleep. This may be what Whitman had in mind in "Song of Myself" when he asserted, "I am large, I contain multitudes." As Alan Shelton explains, "Who you really are bubbles up continuously to form the intuition that initiates the seeking. And the seeking that you undertake [during a journey of self-discovery] can indeed eradicate your identification with who you think you are. Moving toward recognizing the truth is a transformational journey in which the `you' that you believe yourself to be will be lost and something [someone] entirely new will take its place."
I share Shelton's affection (passion?) for metaphors but wary of them when in danger of excessive use, a form of abuse. However, I am comfortable with "journey" because it has several relevancies insofar what this book is about is concerned. First, with regard to man's lifelong quest for knowledge and understanding on a personal level; next, as a progression through various stages of employment (including self-employment) that require rigorous scrutiny in terms of perils and opportunities; and finally, the process by which (hopefully) we improve our ability to answer questions and solve problems.
For Shelton, if I understand his key points correctly (and I may not), progress is best measured in terms of the nature and extent of increased [begin italics] awareness [end italics]. His objective is to provide the information, insights, and counsel his reader needs to experience the multi-dimensional reality of "the highest form of awareness."
Here are a few of the several dozen passages that caught my eye:
o The significance to Shelton of the song, "Puff, the Magic Dragon" (Pages 29-30) o His inability to believe in a God others believe to be "unseen and unfelt" (Pages 36-37) o His difficulties with graduate school education (Page 76-77) o The significance of his firm's success during his absence (Pages 83-84) o What he learned during an extended residence in an ashram (Chapters 9 and 10) o The significance to Shelton of the Systems Dynamics Theory (Pages 187-188)
While reading Chapter 18, "Doorways to Awakening," I was reminded of this passage in Alan Watts's book, The Book, in which he discusses an especially serious threat to self-discovery and self-fulfillment: "We need a new experience -- a new feeling of what it is to be 'I.' The lowdown (which is, of course, the secret and profound view) on life is that our normal sensation of self is a hoax, or, at best, a temporary role that we are playing, or have been conned into playing -- with our own tacit consent, just as every hypnotized person is basically willing to be hypnotized. The most strongly enforced of all known taboos is the taboo against knowing who or what you really are behind the mask of your apparently separate, independent, and isolated ego."
No one can duplicate Alan Shelton's journey of self-discovery and self-fulfillment, nor can he duplicate anyone else's. But he and (yes) we can embark or remain on that perilous journey, encouraged by others en route while encouraging them to stay the course with patience but persistence. Wherever we are, wherever we go, we are always alone...and together.
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