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A thorough, accessible investigation that will guide seekers through the difficult but ultimately satisfying journey of...

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A guide to personal exploration of enlightenment.

Burgess Novak’s debut self-help title makes a strong case for acceptance and surrender as a path to one’s higher self. Expansion of the mind can come by following a simple three-step recipe: “Awareness leads to Consciousness, which leads to Enlightenment.” Put in practice, these transcendental transitions may be difficult, but they are profoundly worthwhile. Through an in-depth look at our four aspects—mental, emotional, physical and spiritual—Burgess Novak tackles such issues as the holographic universe (how can we know anything within or outside of ourselves?), the daily struggle against the ego and the unique path each of us must follow to reach Consciousness. One noteworthy chapter devotes itself entirely to exploring the concept that everyone is a unique aspect of God; with faith and trust, she says, we must open ourselves up to embrace this simple, beautiful idea. The energy radiating from us allows us to manifest our desires, Burgess Novak says, and the only real obstacle between each of us and enlightenment is our “egoic child’s mind,” or ecm: “I use lowercase letters for this acronym because I want to emphasize that this is a small, limited, and spiritually, mentally, and emotionally immature part of us despite the fact that this energetic construct of the ego often runs the show.” Its tendency to keep us alive and safe through fear of change and the unknown presents an antagonistic force we must overcome. The ecm develops during the first few years of life, as one struggles to comprehend the world, building a worldview based on misperceptions and contradictory emotions; the somewhat-flawed assumption, though, is that the ecm always forms in a dysfunctional environment and is therefore always fear-based. Despite this subtle logic gap, the central tenet holds true: In surrendering the energy we use for survival and opening up to using that same energy toward creating the life we want, we find peace and enlightenment.

A thorough, accessible investigation that will guide seekers through the difficult but ultimately satisfying journey of enlightenment.

Pub Date: March 11, 2014

ISBN: 978-1491232132

Page Count: 186

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: June 12, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2014

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Readers unfamiliar with the anecdotal material Greene presents may find interesting avenues to pursue, but they should...

Greene (The 33 Strategies of War, 2007, etc.) believes that genius can be learned if we pay attention and reject social conformity.

The author suggests that our emergence as a species with stereoscopic, frontal vision and sophisticated hand-eye coordination gave us an advantage over earlier humans and primates because it allowed us to contemplate a situation and ponder alternatives for action. This, along with the advantages conferred by mirror neurons, which allow us to intuit what others may be thinking, contributed to our ability to learn, pass on inventions to future generations and improve our problem-solving ability. Throughout most of human history, we were hunter-gatherers, and our brains are engineered accordingly. The author has a jaundiced view of our modern technological society, which, he writes, encourages quick, rash judgments. We fail to spend the time needed to develop thorough mastery of a subject. Greene writes that every human is “born unique,” with specific potential that we can develop if we listen to our inner voice. He offers many interesting but tendentious examples to illustrate his theory, including Einstein, Darwin, Mozart and Temple Grandin. In the case of Darwin, Greene ignores the formative intellectual influences that shaped his thought, including the discovery of geological evolution with which he was familiar before his famous voyage. The author uses Grandin's struggle to overcome autistic social handicaps as a model for the necessity for everyone to create a deceptive social mask.

Readers unfamiliar with the anecdotal material Greene presents may find interesting avenues to pursue, but they should beware of the author's quirky, sometimes misleading brush-stroke characterizations.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-670-02496-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Sept. 12, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2012

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These platitudes need perspective; better to buy the books they came from.

A lightweight collection of self-help snippets from the bestselling author.

What makes a quote a quote? Does it have to be quoted by someone other than the original author? Apparently not, if we take Strayed’s collection of truisms as an example. The well-known memoirist (Wild), novelist (Torch), and radio-show host (“Dear Sugar”) pulls lines from her previous pages and delivers them one at a time in this small, gift-sized book. No excerpt exceeds one page in length, and some are only one line long. Strayed doesn’t reference the books she’s drawing from, so the quotes stand without context and are strung together without apparent attention to structure or narrative flow. Thus, we move back and forth from first-person tales from the Pacific Crest Trail to conversational tidbits to meditations on grief. Some are astoundingly simple, such as Strayed’s declaration that “Love is the feeling we have for those we care deeply about and hold in high regard.” Others call on the author’s unique observations—people who regret what they haven’t done, she writes, end up “mingy, addled, shrink-wrapped versions” of themselves—and offer a reward for wading through obvious advice like “Trust your gut.” Other quotes sound familiar—not necessarily because you’ve read Strayed’s other work, but likely due to the influence of other authors on her writing. When she writes about blooming into your own authenticity, for instance, one is immediately reminded of Anaïs Nin: "And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” Strayed’s true blossoming happens in her longer works; while this collection might brighten someone’s day—and is sure to sell plenty of copies during the holidays—it’s no substitute for the real thing.

These platitudes need perspective; better to buy the books they came from.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-101-946909

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Aug. 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2015

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