A moving exploration of personal and spiritual transcendence.

FIXATION TO FREEDOM

THE ENNEAGRAM OF LIBERATION

In this motivational guide, Leela Foundation founder and author Jaxon-Bear looks at how to overcome the ego and find true freedom in every area of one’s life.

Everyone, in their heart of hearts, longs to be happy—so why are there so many unhappy people? Jaxon-Bear has dedicated his life to answering that question, spending years traveling and studying different religious disciplines, such as Buddhism and Sufism. The author has created a unique take on the Enneagram, a popular personality-mapping tool that focuses on nine distinct personality types. But rather than seeing that test as a way to put oneself in a rigid box, Jaxon-Bear encourages readers to see it as a guide to what no longer serves them, as this will ultimately pave the way for them to go beyond the limitations of ego. According to the author, there comes a point in everyone’s spiritual journey when they hit a fork in the road and must choose a path to follow: “You can either continue to believe yourself to be a limited ‘me,’ or you can begin to fully examine the false belief that who you are is bound by time and form.” He explores the nine dominant personality types in depth, including their common traits and negative tendencies. He also offers several inspirational quotes by prominent gurus that help to illustrate key points and themes. The book as a whole is divided into three parts that effectively cover the gradual process of “waking up,” which includes examining the nature of reality, deciphering the Enneagram, and entering a final stage of spiritual evolution. The author’s tone is gentle but insistent throughout this book, and he frequently uses terms like “fixation” and “super-ego” to convey the meanings of complex topics in an accessible manner. For those readers who are new to spirituality-based texts or have never practiced self-inquiry, the book may sometimes feel overwhelming. However, those who are already familiar with Buddhist thought and Middle Eastern religious teachings will feel right at home.

A moving exploration of personal and spiritual transcendence.

Pub Date: May 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-73295-235-5

Page Count: 292

Publisher: New Morning Associates, Inc.

Review Posted Online: April 21, 2020

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A lucid (in the sky with diamonds) look at the hows, whys, and occasional demerits of altering one’s mind.

THIS IS YOUR MIND ON PLANTS

Building on his lysergically drenched book How to Change Your Mind (2018), Pollan looks at three plant-based drugs and the mental effects they can produce.

The disastrous war on drugs began under Nixon to control two classes of perceived enemies: anti-war protestors and Black citizens. That cynical effort, writes the author, drives home the point that “societies condone the mind-changing drugs that help uphold society’s rule and ban the ones that are seen to undermine it.” One such drug is opium, for which Pollan daringly offers a recipe for home gardeners to make a tea laced with the stuff, producing “a radical and by no means unpleasant sense of passivity.” You can’t overthrow a government when so chilled out, and the real crisis is the manufacture of synthetic opioids, which the author roundly condemns. Pollan delivers a compelling backstory: This section dates to 1997, but he had to leave portions out of the original publication to keep the Drug Enforcement Administration from his door. Caffeine is legal, but it has stronger effects than opium, as the author learned when he tried to quit: “I came to see how integral caffeine is to the daily work of knitting ourselves back together after the fraying of consciousness during sleep.” Still, back in the day, the introduction of caffeine to the marketplace tempered the massive amounts of alcohol people were drinking even though a cup of coffee at noon will keep banging on your brain at midnight. As for the cactus species that “is busy transforming sunlight into mescaline right in my front yard”? Anyone can grow it, it seems, but not everyone will enjoy effects that, in one Pollan experiment, “felt like a kind of madness.” To his credit, the author also wrestles with issues of cultural appropriation, since in some places it’s now easier for a suburbanite to grow San Pedro cacti than for a Native American to use it ceremonially.

A lucid (in the sky with diamonds) look at the hows, whys, and occasional demerits of altering one’s mind.

Pub Date: July 6, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-29690-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Penguin Press

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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