Permanent Publications, 2014
Reviewed by Howard Jones
At first sight, the overall message of this book seems a depressing one: ‘The world is reaching crisis point, and it’s clear that human behaviours have contributed to many of the global problems we are facing.’ But the text is full of encouraging suggestions as to how we can develop spiritually and try to avoid what seems to be the impending extinction of humankind, for ‘…there is still time for us to adapt and create an improved future together.’
Just as the early twentieth century German philosopher Erich Fromm urged us to focus on the ‘being’ aspect of our lives rather than the ‘having’, so Collins is encouraging us to ‘being’ and ‘doing’, championing ‘the doing as an evolutionary force in nature’. Collins urges ‘renewed engagement of our human potential and purpose [so that it may be] profoundly useful in our responses to the global crisis we are all facing. We need to create a fundamentally new spiritual philosophy and attitude to our planetary home, and all the life upon it. As evidence that this is even possible, Collins cites the examples of those who have had transpersonal experiences, either in mystical states or in out-of-body or near-death experiences.
The book is the result of the author’s own spiritual emergency in the 1980s and is a reworking of his Ph.D. thesis. There is an Overview at the start and Exercises at the end of each chapter, like a self-help book, the author’s aim being to encourage the reader into a process of deep self-examination. But its academic style, sophisticated vocabulary and small type may not appeal to those who most need to implement its message, such as politicians and the senior executives of businesses. It would be suitable for those who have begun their spiritual journey and are now seeking to progress, though they will need some stamina to work through these 250 highly-referenced pages. And to get full value from this book, a reader will need to follow-up on some – or as many as possible – of these references and also perhaps to look up the meanings of some of the terms which the author has not defined.
I certainly resonated with the spiritual message of the book. To be of ‘practical’ use—and for completeness—I would have liked to see more on the actual, behavioural steps we can take in our everyday lives to try to save planet Earth. However, this author’s intent was to be non-prescriptive as regards behaviour and to address the psychological and spiritual changes that need to happen in individuals before we, as a human community, can change our ways. Hopefully, changed attitudes will then flow on into behavioural changes and although this book does not go into detail about those we can seek out other books that do.