An impressively researched, authoritative, and absolutely mind-boggling survey of ``the transformative capacities of human nature.'' As to be expected from a co-founder of California's Esalen Institute, the emphasis here is very much on mind-body phenomena, with the focus on individuals who apparently have extended the usual reach of human possibility—saints, mystics, psychics, artists, geniuses, etc. Drawing on an astonishing array of eyewitness accounts, scientific studies, biographies, letters, monographs, etc., Murphy rigorously organizes his vast material into three categories: ``Possibilities for Extraordinary Life''; ``Transformative Practices''; and ``Evidence for Human Transformative Capacity.'' In the last category, for example, he discusses and documents placebo effects, spiritual healing, hypnosis, ``somatic'' disciplines such as the Alexander Technique and the Feldenkrais Method, yogic powers, the charismas of saints, etc. All this fascinating if sometimes sensational information does serve a purpose, of course—to illuminate the author's ``central observations and proposals,'' e.g., that ``the evidence for extraordinary human attributes strongly supports some sort of penentheism....the doctrine that Divinity is both immanent and transcendent to the universe.'' Whatever one thinks of Murphy's conclusions, even a casual dipping into his text, which will no doubt become a primary source for future mind-body investigation, will reveal a world of inspiring wonders.
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