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An enthusiastic New-Age autobiography of one woman’s journey to enlightenment.

Becker reflects on the wonders of the spiritual world in her autobiography.

For Becker, traveling the road to spiritual awakening has taken a lifetime. In what the debut author dubs a “spiritual autobiography,” she compiles the moments of her life that helped her become a healer and teacher. This is by no means a typical memoir, if there can be such a thing. Becker does touch on some big moments — her divorce, changing jobs, finding new love — but mundane, everyday life isn’t her concern. It’s her spiritual journey of discovery that she hones in on. She begins with the moment that catalyzed her awakening: a car crash, which led her, for the first time, to access her higher consciousness. Becker entered a world beyond the normal, logical world most people inhabit to contact her guardian angels, become a reiki master, take up tai chi and become a healer. Skeptics or those who don’t agree with Becker’s worldview may question her stories and beliefs. Becker’s “spiritual autobiography” is definitely not for doubters. But she does offer amazing anecdotes about the spiritual world that will inspire believers and may lead skeptics to reconsider. Becker undergoes jin shin jyutsu healing, a practice of creating harmony between life energy and the body. After her treatments, Becker is finally free of the harsh allergies that plagued her, as well as the emotional residue of her past. Likewise, Becker tells a story about helping her friend heal from a surgery while also helping her heal from past-life injuries. A trip to Peru allows her to banish her fears and anxieties about money. While the autobiography is inspiring, it bears a few stylistic flaws: It doesn’t give the reader a very good sense of the chronology or scope of events in the author’s life. Also, many points in Becker’s journey are mentioned briefly, leaving one wanting more, and conversely, some get more ink than seems warranted.

An enthusiastic New-Age autobiography of one woman’s journey to enlightenment.

Pub Date: Nov. 20, 2012

ISBN: 978-1470048754

Page Count: 196

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Feb. 7, 2013

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A very welcome instance of philosophy that can help readers live a good life.

A teacher and scholar of Buddhism offers a formally varied account of the available rewards of solitude.

“As Mother Ayahuasca takes me in her arms, I realize that last night I vomited up my attachment to Buddhism. In passing out, I died. In coming to, I was, so to speak, reborn. I no longer have to fight these battles, I repeat to myself. I am no longer a combatant in the dharma wars. It feels as if the course of my life has shifted onto another vector, like a train shunted off its familiar track onto a new trajectory.” Readers of Batchelor’s previous books (Secular Buddhism: Imagining the Dharma in an Uncertain World, 2017, etc.) will recognize in this passage the culmination of his decadeslong shift away from the religious commitments of Buddhism toward an ecumenical and homegrown philosophy of life. Writing in a variety of modes—memoir, history, collage, essay, biography, and meditation instruction—the author doesn’t argue for his approach to solitude as much as offer it for contemplation. Essentially, Batchelor implies that if you read what Buddha said here and what Montaigne said there, and if you consider something the author has noticed, and if you reflect on your own experience, you have the possibility to improve the quality of your life. For introspective readers, it’s easy to hear in this approach a direct response to Pascal’s claim that “all of humanity's problems stem from man's inability to sit quietly in a room alone.” Batchelor wants to relieve us of this inability by offering his example of how to do just that. “Solitude is an art. Mental training is needed to refine and stabilize it,” he writes. “When you practice solitude, you dedicate yourself to the care of the soul.” Whatever a soul is, the author goes a long way toward soothing it.

A very welcome instance of philosophy that can help readers live a good life.

Pub Date: Feb. 18, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-300-25093-0

Page Count: 200

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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A moving, heartfelt account of a hospice veteran.

Lessons about life from those preparing to die.

A longtime hospice chaplain, Egan (Fumbling: A Pilgrimage Tale of Love, Grief, and Spiritual Renewal on the Camino de Santiago, 2004) shares what she has learned through the stories of those nearing death. She notices that for every life, there are shared stories of heartbreak, pain, guilt, fear, and regret. “Every one of us will go through things that destroy our inner compass and pull meaning out from under us,” she writes. “Everyone who does not die young will go through some sort of spiritual crisis.” The author is also straightforward in noting that through her experiences with the brokenness of others, and in trying to assist in that brokenness, she has found healing for herself. Several years ago, during a C-section, Egan suffered a bad reaction to the anesthesia, leading to months of psychotic disorders and years of recovery. The experience left her with tremendous emotional pain and latent feelings of shame, regret, and anger. However, with each patient she helped, the author found herself better understanding her own past. Despite her role as a chaplain, Egan notes that she rarely discussed God or religious subjects with her patients. Mainly, when people could talk at all, they discussed their families, “because that is how we talk about God. That is how we talk about the meaning of our lives.” It is through families, Egan began to realize, that “we find meaning, and this is where our purpose becomes clear.” The author’s anecdotes are often thought-provoking combinations of sublime humor and tragic pathos. She is not afraid to point out times where she made mistakes, even downright failures, in the course of her work. However, the nature of her work means “living in the gray,” where right and wrong answers are often hard to identify.

A moving, heartfelt account of a hospice veteran.

Pub Date: Oct. 25, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-59463-481-9

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2016

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