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How interested are you in power? Do you crave it? Fear it? How well do you understand it? Gary Zukav's latest book, Seat of the Soul, devotes several illuminating chapters to the subject. He divides power into "internal" and "external." Internal power is soul power and follows along the lines of acting with "love, forgiveness, humbleness and clarity." He equates these qualities with "soul energy."
External power is symbolized by "Anything we fear to lose -- a home, a car, an attractive body, an agile mind, a deep belief," because what we really fear is "an increase in our vulnerability." Gaining true power depends to what extent we use our senses. Zukav postulates two types of humans: the five-sensory human and the multisensory human. He claims that we humans are in the process of becoming multisensory. He discusses these two types throughout the book, occasionally sounding like the author of The Dancing Wu Li Masters: An Overview of the New Physics, his only other published work (1979). For example, in his chapter entitled, "Light," he writes, "Our species is evolving from one frequency range in the spectrum of nonphysical Light into another, higher range of frequency."
His ideas are very strong for the most part, but unfortunately, he fails to give specific applications to anchor them into the left brain. In fact, there is only one detailed example in the entire book -- on page 188 -- but it is a doozy. Along with his lack of specific examples, Zukav uses terms that can be confusing. What are the differences between "person's personality", "personality" , "persona", "collective energy system", "higher self", "higher self experience", "smaller soul self" and "the full-bodied water tank"? He uses the word "it" too much and many of his sentences are overly long.
Lack of clarity and some awkwardness intrude from time to time as in, "In other words, loving others, or how you treat yourself, is your own dose of your own medicine that you really give to others at the same time." A neat little example right here would have aided understanding. The book is quite serious in tone -- don't look for a sense of humor here -- and can even be admonishing. In his chapter on Addiction he offers the addict a more intellectual directive, albeit just as stern and as ineffective as Nancy Reagan's "Just say no." He uses phrases like, "consider," "remind yourself," and "ask yourself." What follows is a high spiritual overview, but most people in the throes of their addictions aren't thinking to begin with. It's like telling a two-year old, "Be reasonable."
One of the best parts of the book is found within the first 50 pages. If you have longed to learn the empowering practice of nonattachment, Zukav lays out clearly and firmly how to change your life by using this method. He marries nonattachment with acceptance, binds them together with "no resistance," and makes a holy union. He shows that nonattachment is the essence of nonjudgment; it is the foundation of total acceptance. Other subjects that receive excellent treatment from Zukav are Illusion ("How can you say what within the illusion is worthy and what is not?"), Relationships ("You put your partnership most at risk by avoiding that which you are most afraid will destroy it."), and Karma ("In order to become whole . . . the soul must experience the effects that it has caused.").
An abstract thinker who is good at grasping concepts will have minimal difficulty understanding this book. Someone who needs things spelled out will find a few blank spots in their understanding by the time they've finished the book. Other topics Zukav covers are evolution, intuition, intention, choice, psychology and trust. The one that looms by its absence: joy.
A rude question needs to be asked at this point: How does Zukav know? You can't throw out information such as the dolphins have decided to die (they are "leaving the Earth,") or "The archetype of marriage is no longer functional," or that we are coming to the end of a three-part cycle (2,000, 25,000, 125,000 years) -- and myriad other statements -- without suggesting a source for these things. Other writers of spiritual psychology and thought tell us where they got it from! Jane Roberts made no secret of her trances in which a higher spirit being named Seth spoke through her. Neale Donald Walsch, "co-author" of the popular Conversations With God books, frankly states that he picks up his pen and "listens," and "God" tells him what to write. Australian nature mystic Michael Roads regales us with tales of being swept into other states of awareness by Pan. Carlos Castaneda and his teacher Don Juan Matus flatly point out that Don Juan's teachings come from a respected Toltec lineage thousands of years old. Robert Monroe, who pioneered out of body research, brought us his information from the sleep lab and what he learned from being "out there." Even Einstein based his opinion that "God doesn't play dice with the Universe," on his own math formulas. The only person we know of who, according to the Bible, "spoke with authority" was Jesus. He referenced no
one but himself.
There are certain similarities in Zukav's statements that correspond to the accepted body of modern spiritual thought. They are: the two basic emotional elements are love and fear; your intentions create your reality; no two people have the same reality; love heals everything; love is all there is; the Universe is compassionate. But important dissimilarities can be confusing to the reader, namely that age-old question: Why are we here? Walsch and Co. claim we are here to "re-member." Seth says we are here to experience and learn. But Zukav insists we are here to heal our souls, no matter that many believe the soul to already be in a state of perfection. Zukav simply declaims his truth without a trace of "I" on any page. What are we to make of this? Overall, this is an important and loving book. Zukav is a master at explaining "the impersonal." He includes both genders in his language, which is appreciated. His descriptions of cause and effect are thorough and brilliant.
He has written what Oprah Winfrey has called, "The most important book" she's ever read. A frequent guest on her show, Zukav demonstrates a quiet sense of the dramatic both in person and on paper. He waits until the last page to lay before us the book title's meaning. The seat of the soul is "the hourglass point between energy and matter." Reading it, one is forced to agree with Zukav's last sentence: "It is exciting to come of age spiritually."
Zoe Calder is an adjunct professor at several colleges in Maine. She has degrees in English, Speech, Psychology and Education. In addition, she is a professional writer, editor and book reviewer with consuming interests in anthropology, nature, philosophy, religion, space, physics, history and humor. This last makes the aforementioned more meaningful.
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