O Books, 2011, 144pp
Reviewed by Marian Van Eyk McCain
Many years ago, a skilled winemaker of my acquaintance used to make, from his own secret recipe, a rich, mellow fruit mead that was one of the most heavenly drinks I have ever tasted. As well as his own grapes, he used a range of other fruits, in just the right proportions, including raspberries, blueberries, blackberries and blackcurrants. The wine did not only taste good. It packed a punch.
Stephen Wollaston, in this powerful book, has done something very similar. From what is clearly an extraordinary knowledge and deep understanding of dozens of the world’s spiritual traditions he has sought the deepest wisdom in each of them and synthesized the result into something both informative and rich with insights.
As he explains in his Introduction, “with all great teachings, there is a need to reflect on what they imply in order to discover their deeper meaning.” Stephen as a GreenSpirit person to his core reflects on and searches for the two main properties of spirituality in these traditions, which are (a) the understanding of our true relationship with the rest of Nature and with the Earth of which we are a part and (b) the perfusion of spirit into all matter. He shows that both these elements are in fact present, to a greater or lesser extent, in every one of our wisdom traditions, from the Abrahamic religions through Eastern spiritual teachings to the world’s many shamanic and indigenous cultures.
Furthermore, he explains that whatever the trappings of our personal, spiritual practice, it is our alignment with these key spiritual principles that enables us to reach our full creative potential. For, as he says:
When we acknowledge deeper dimensions of Nature, we touch realms of experience that have been realised by many of the world’s great shamans, seers, mystics and prophets. We in fact become shamans, seers, mystics and prophets ourselves when we realise that God is in all, and how all things are ultimately in God. We recognise the intrinsic spark of divinity and divine consciousness that unites us. We awaken to the nonseparateness of the spirit and discover that physical life is wondrously embedded in divine existence. This boundless aspect of being is always there inviting us and is an expression of supreme creativity that intimately connects us with the powers of the universe, which can be manifested in each moment and called upon to benefit the world in which we live. Spirituality is in many ways about being awake to this potential, and the abilities and possibilities that are available to us at all times, which can lead us to being spontaneously creative and participate skillfully in life as it unfolds.
As a highly creative person himself (he is a writer, a musician, an artist and a designer) Stephen not only preaches this message but practises it also. Definitely a recommended text for the GreenSpirit bookshelf.