The Biology of Consciousness

CASE STUDIES IN KUNDALINI

An elaborately detailed introduction to a yoga practice.
Semple’s (The Backward-Flowing Method, 2009) latest work is a clear, well-written examination of the ancient practice of Kundalini yoga, which is influenced by Hinduism. Throughout the book, the author attempts to clarify exactly what Kundalini is—and is not. He writes that he’s aware of the scorn that “biological materialists and nouveau atheists” have heaped on Kundalini, so he stresses that “Kundalini takes no position on God; it’s pure energy, agnostic and ecumenical.” You can’t be converted to Kundalini, he asserts, “any more than you can be converted to a heart attack or an orgasm,” and practitioners who let their religious fervor carry them away, he says, are doing more harm than good to the public’s understanding of the phenomenon. Kundalini, Semple says, has “gained a strip-mall notoriety” that’s largely based on such misunderstandings, and the bulk of his book tries to counterbalance a mystical view of “the wanton nature of a Kundalini eruption, its intensity and variety,” even going so far as to argue that the practice, when properly managed and understood, can have actual evolutionary impacts. (Semple claims that “Kundalini creates favorable genetic mutations and incorporates them into DNA that is then passed along to future generations.”) The author fleshes out the book with a dramatic section devoted to case studies of different types of Kundalini encounters, showing the different ways that practitioners “awaken” energies inside themselves, as well as how Kundalini helps people tackle personal challenges. These studies give the work an instantly relatable, human dimension that’s often missing from books of this kind and underscores Semple’s approachable, ordinary-guy tone throughout. New readers approaching this complicated subject will feel immediately at ease, and longtime Kundalini practitioners will no doubt find details that remind them of their own experiences. Skeptics may still take issue with the author’s declaration that “biology is an expression of consciousness,” but even they will find much food for thought in these pages.

A challenging but accessible demystification of the Kundalini worldview.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Life Force Books

Review Posted Online: July 3, 2014

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Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

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UNTAMED

More life reflections from the bestselling author on themes of societal captivity and the catharsis of personal freedom.

In her third book, Doyle (Love Warrior, 2016, etc.) begins with a life-changing event. “Four years ago,” she writes, “married to the father of my three children, I fell in love with a woman.” That woman, Abby Wambach, would become her wife. Emblematically arranged into three sections—“Caged,” “Keys,” “Freedom”—the narrative offers, among other elements, vignettes about the soulful author’s girlhood, when she was bulimic and felt like a zoo animal, a “caged girl made for wide-open skies.” She followed the path that seemed right and appropriate based on her Catholic upbringing and adolescent conditioning. After a downward spiral into “drinking, drugging, and purging,” Doyle found sobriety and the authentic self she’d been suppressing. Still, there was trouble: Straining an already troubled marriage was her husband’s infidelity, which eventually led to life-altering choices and the discovery of a love she’d never experienced before. Throughout the book, Doyle remains open and candid, whether she’s admitting to rigging a high school homecoming court election or denouncing the doting perfectionism of “cream cheese parenting,” which is about “giving your children the best of everything.” The author’s fears and concerns are often mirrored by real-world issues: gender roles and bias, white privilege, racism, and religion-fueled homophobia and hypocrisy. Some stories merely skim the surface of larger issues, but Doyle revisits them in later sections and digs deeper, using friends and familial references to personify their impact on her life, both past and present. Shorter pieces, some only a page in length, manage to effectively translate an emotional gut punch, as when Doyle’s therapist called her blooming extramarital lesbian love a “dangerous distraction.” Ultimately, the narrative is an in-depth look at a courageous woman eager to share the wealth of her experiences by embracing vulnerability and reclaiming her inner strength and resiliency.

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0125-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dial

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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A declaration worth hearing out in a time of growing inequality—and indignity.

ECONOMIC DIGNITY

Noted number cruncher Sperling delivers an economist’s rejoinder to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Former director of the National Economic Council in the administrations of Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, the author has long taken a view of the dismal science that takes economic justice fully into account. Alongside all the metrics and estimates and reckonings of GDP, inflation, and the supply curve, he holds the great goal of economic policy to be the advancement of human dignity, a concept intangible enough to chase the econometricians away. Growth, the sacred mantra of most economic policy, “should never be considered an appropriate ultimate end goal” for it, he counsels. Though 4% is the magic number for annual growth to be considered healthy, it is healthy only if everyone is getting the benefits and not just the ultrawealthy who are making away with the spoils today. Defining dignity, admits Sperling, can be a kind of “I know it when I see it” problem, but it does not exist where people are a paycheck away from homelessness; the fact, however, that people widely share a view of indignity suggests the “intuitive universality” of its opposite. That said, the author identifies three qualifications, one of them the “ability to meaningfully participate in the economy with respect, not domination and humiliation.” Though these latter terms are also essentially unquantifiable, Sperling holds that this respect—lack of abuse, in another phrasing—can be obtained through a tight labor market and monetary and fiscal policy that pushes for full employment. In other words, where management needs to come looking for workers, workers are likely to be better treated than when the opposite holds. In still other words, writes the author, dignity is in part a function of “ ‘take this job and shove it’ power,” which is a power worth fighting for.

A declaration worth hearing out in a time of growing inequality—and indignity.

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-7987-5

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Penguin Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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