Author House, 2010, 408 pp.
Reviewed by Howard Jones
In the last analysis, the psychological roots of the crisis humanity is facing on a global scale seem to lie in the loss of the spiritual perspective. ~ Stanislav Grof
So opens one of the sections of Chapter 3 in this book and the quotation encapsulates the ethos of the whole book. This is essentially the story of the author’s enlightenment. Like myself, he qualified and practised as a scientist, but realized that science alone does not have all the answers to some of the greatest questions and most uplifting phenomena relating to human life. He was raised in a tradition of organized religion but found also that their rituals and dogma alone are little help in resolving life’s most challenging issues. The answers to the most profound questions as to the reasons for existence must be sought within, by freeing oneself from the limitations of fundamentalist science or religion. There are events in his life that he attributes to Jungian synchronicity – events that have shaped his world-view. The author has put a page of wonderful, informative and inspiring quotations at the opening of each chapter section.
The focus of van Montfoort’s argument is the metaphor of horizontal and vertical motion. He compares the material world and our understanding of it like the vertical movements of waves within a vast extended ocean. He also draws comparison between the physical explorations of science extending our field of knowledge ever wider horizontally, and the introspection of religious prophets – and, by extension, ordinary human beings – that give us a deeper understanding of the ultimate reality of things representing vertical ‘motion’.
Van Montfoort’s message will be a familiar one to those who are already well on their spiritual journey – but sadly one that materialists and extremists from both sides of the science or religion argument will probably be slow to accept.
The book is full of experiences from the author and wisdom words from some of the greatest thinkers that humanity has produced. There are accounts of some of the ‘horizontal pursuits’ of scientists in the fields of physics, biology and medicine that support van Montfoort’s conclusions. These are complemented by ‘vertical pursuits’ in philosophy, psychology, the arts and religion. In our everyday lives, we should be focusing more on the spiritual and less on the material. In the environmental sphere, we should not be dominating Nature, and even less so desecrating it, but welcome Gaia as a partner.
This substantial book ends with over 50 pages of Notes and references but, unfortunately, there is no Index to allow readers to readily re-investigate points in the argument. Still, there is a detailed Contents list.