Books by Benjamin Shield

HANDBOOK FOR THE SOUL by Richard Carlson
Released: Sept. 11, 1995

Brief inspirational essays from 30 popular gurus, presented by West Coast therapists Carlson and Shield. This anthology, the editors tell us, is an attempt to understand and connect us with the ``world of Soul.'' The essays are grouped into seven sections, with names like ``Rekindling Your Soul'' and ``A Return to Soul''; but since the material for the most part lacks differentiation, these divisions have little meaning. Rabbi Harold Kushner points out that, rather than remove a problem, God more often offers us inner strength to face it; Elisabeth KÅbler-Ross speaks of how crises have the power to open life up for us; while Stephen Covey reminds us of how nourishment of the soul has plenty to do with obedience to our conscience and our role in the community. Although there is much here about the importance of meditation and awareness in daily life, most of the contributors do not refer to the struggle that this involves and content themselves with exhortations and truisms about life's hidden possibilities. Furthermore, with rare exceptions, including Ram Dass, they do not tell us what they actually mean by ``the soul'' and how they understand its nature, even though many, like Wayne Dyer, presuppose the doctrine that the soul is in some sense God, or that one soul is common to all of us. The reader is left with a bland spirituality that, while it may provide a little depth for busy Americans, lacks so much as a hint of the awe and searing passion of a Milarepa or a John of the Cross. Popularized, feel-good wisdom, presented as a bromide instead of an incentive to more serious seeking. Read full book review >