A comprehensive glossary of spiritual minds, this effort from a husband-and-wife team highlights the similarities between ancient, controversial and contemporary spiritualists.
The Kononenkos land this book right in the sweet spot: Each one- or two-page biographical entry of a historical figure is simple, sincere and without adulation or pretentiousness. The writing is spare and considered, despite the occasional hint of foreign-language syntax and a habit of capitalizing words that aren’t actually proper nouns (e.g., Awakened, Consecrated, Knowledge). In two introductory essays, the authors nonjudgmentally list the commonalities between the numerous teachers’ messages; yet the authors don’t dismiss the characteristics that distinguish one spiritualist from another. The result is not so much homogeneity as a sense of collegiality, giving the reader the space to decide whether Pythagoras, Jesus Christ, Don Juan Matus, Elizabeth Kübler-Ross and more than 70 other distinguished persons really did have the same basic message in mind. Purists may be scandalized by the inclusion of controversial figures like Matus—whom some believe to be a fictional character invented by anthropologist and author Carlos Castaneda—or Osho, who was arrested in the United States for “problems with local residents and due to misunderstanding with the local authorities.” However the diversity of this book’s characters—including not just the Eastern mystics one might expect, but also a number of Western thinkers, healers and philosophers—is one of its greatest strengths. Some spiritually oriented books suffer from a sort of forced humility, but the Kononenkos’ clean, conversational writing style feels genuine.
To be leafed through leisurely and used as a gateway to further reading and contemplation.