A work focuses on how to expand consciousness using tools and ideas gleaned from metaphysics, yoga, and philosophy.
Two travelers, stranded by a storm, start up a conversation while waiting at La Guardia Airport. One, the narrator, is a harried vacationer. The other is a mysterious stranger, Chin Li Wei, the titular “wise man.” Over the course of 28 hours, Li Wei presents his perceptions about the universe to his receptive fellow traveler, along with techniques to symbolically escape the force of gravity, which, Li Wei explains, “exerts its influence not just on your body, but also on your mind—and the thoughts contained within.” Li Wei uses space travel metaphors to get his points across, with sections titled “Preparing for Launch,” “Developing Your Astronaut Eye,” and “On Reentry and the Continuation of Practice.” He further amplifies the celestial exploration theme with the mentions of Edward White, the first American to walk in space; Edgar Mitchell, another NASA astronaut, who walked on the moon; and Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield, a commander of the International Space Station. (Li Wei also relates some of Mitchell’s and Hadfield’s observations.) As the conversation concludes at the end of the book, the narrator offers exercises to continue the journey Li Wei describes, including ways to mentally create a private wormhole, pursue a race against time, or write a sci-fi scenario. Whitten (The Book of Extremely Common Prayer, 2014, etc.) packs his provocative tale with whimsical illustrations, and each chapter begins with a quote from one of a diverse group of thinkers, including Darwin, Kierkegaard, Churchill, Dr. Seuss, and Talking Heads. The thoughts of philosophers like Plato are integrated with Einstein’s mathematical equations and scientific principles, creating a stimulating intellectual brew. Bursting with ideas, the text also sparks interest in the lives of figures mentioned in passing, like Swedish artist and mystic Hilma af Klint and Charles Fort, an American writer of paranormal phenomena for whom the term “Fortean” was coined. Readers may find themselves thinking about the people and concepts discussed in this short book long after they’ve finished it.
An eclectic, entertaining, and often enlightening examination of the inner workings of the mind.