Spiritual fiction, as in The Pilgrim's Progress and Tolstoy's moral tales, can be sublime. In less imaginative works, such as The Celestine Prophecy and this debut novel, fiction turns to fortune cookie. Hunt (Learning to Learn: Maximizing Your Performance Potential, 1992, not reviewed) is an international business consultant, motivational speaker, and cofounder of a learning institute. Her present work tells of a band of 25 luminous beings as they are trained to take on human life and help rebuild human conditions on a spiritual foundation. At first completely ingenuous, each sentience comes to have a special quality: ``Zendar is centered and strong. Justin is feisty. Ashley is insightful. Jaron is open-minded and resourceful, and êlan brings enthusiasm to every adventure.'' They are led singly or in pairs through the Window of Time into simulations of Earth-life, where they have confrontations that generally dismay but eventually strengthen them. The whole band then experiences them at once, and discussion follows each simulation, while other learning devices include the nine Matos Mantras (willingness prayers) that the beings must remember and use. The Bunyanesque central device is that the beings should attempt to reach and climb Mount Akros to find the Cave of Compassion, where the peace and wisdom essential to spiritual life will be found. Occasionally, a being meets up with a difficulty faintly resembling the depravity of human life that causes prisons to be built (the climax, surprisingly, turns on a genetic defect: club feet), but a focus on inner strength and compassion sees the temporarily beleaguered being through despondency. The Message: There are two purposes to human life, one planetary (``to live the law of unconditional love in action'') and one personal (to use love in fulfilling minor missions that contribute to the whole of the human family). All you need is love, as John Lennon told us in three minutes. Is there an audience? Does care of the soul sell books? Are you kidding?
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