Welcome to this stop
on the tour for The Door Is Open,
Innovative Online Book Tours!!
Paperback, 186 pages
May 19, 2012
Religion, Mythology, Spirituality
Nonfiction books can be absolutely fascinating, although I have noticed that nonfiction book reviews don't seem to get as many comments as those dedicated to fiction books. I would love to post more nonfiction reviews in spite of this. They are, after all, as necessary to my reading diet as books about supernatural creatures, or exciting adventures in fantasy lands and outer space.
Andrew Cort's The Door Is Open grabbed my attention as soon as Innovative Online Book Tours notified me about it. I have always enjoyed reading books about metaphysics, mythology, and spirituality. Seeing all three combined into one book seemed just too good to be true, so I knew I had to participate in the tour!
This author has certainly exceeded my expectations. I simply could not put this book down. I realize that this is the type of comment frequently made about fiction books, but it certainly applies to well-written nonfiction books, as well. This particular book is definitely not boring or 'preachy' in any way. Instead, it engages the reader at every level -- intellectually, spiritually, and emotionally. Those who, like me, enjoy reading such stimulating books, will be amply rewarded. My one regret is that the book is only 186 pages, although there's a lot of fascinating food for thought packed into them. Still, I would have loved it if the book had been twice as long. To make up for this, I will simply have to read more of this author's work, which will be a pleasant task to look forward to!
The book begins with an age-old question: what is happiness? Cort then notes that many people "...associate happiness with pleasure, others may associate it with worldly achievement, still others with the attainment of money or possessions." He adds that other people may relate it to good health, having good friends, and being surrounded by one's family and loved ones. He then refers to the ancient Greek philosopher, Socrates, who rejected all of the above views, affirming instead that happiness "...is to be found in the perfection of the soul". This is the grand theme of this book, and it's a noble, beautiful one. Since Socrates believed in the soul's immortality, he stressed the importance of achieving this perfection because this would have major consequences in the world beyond.
The author goes on to state that perfecting one's soul is a personal decision, one that is frequently made only when a person has reached rock bottom, and there's nothing else they can cling to. Life experiences have a way of bringing us to this point. He uses the parable of the prodigal son, from the New Testament, as an example of a soul having exhausted all of life's experiences, and having nowhere else to go but back home. Although I don't agree that it's necessary to experience such things as drug abuse and sexual promiscuity (included in the idea of experiencing all of life) in order to come to a decision to embark on the spiritual quest, some people are so deluded and spiritually unaware that they might not realize what they're doing to themselves, until the consequences bring them up short. There are other people, however, and I include myself among them, who have always felt drawn to the deeper spiritual as well as intellectual life. For such people, the world of total, uncontrolled gratification of the senses has never held much appeal. It's the path to total destruction.
Once the decision has been made, the next step is, as Cort puts it, "healing the shattered soul", which is covered in Chapter Two of the book. This step is a vitally important one. As I read this particular chapter, I could see the influence of Gnostic thought. Gnosticism is a religious philosophy that stresses the possession of intuitive knowledge as the way to salvation. It was present in early Christianity, as well as Judaism. The soul, according to this philosophy, which Cort obviously espouses, has fallen into this world of illusions, and must begin the ascent back to the divine world. During the descent, it has been shattered, with its thoughts, feelings, and desires "strewn about the world". Thus, the soul lacks unity.
Throughout the rest of the book, Cort details what is called The Great Work -- the process of perfecting one's soul. He refers to strengthening one's mind, which contributes to strengthening one's body at the same time. Also important is the 'opening of the inner eye', which involves the activation of intuition. This is achieved through the discipline of meditation. Next come the 'purifying of the heart', the necessity of serving others, especially those who are not yet enlightened, and 'surrendering to bliss'.
The author shows how the journey to enlightenment can be found in mythology as well as religion. He mentions several well-known Greek myths, such as the myth of Persephone's descent to the underworld, among others. He also brings in stories and parables from the Bible, mentioning, for example, the story of Adam and Eve and their fall, the story of Moses and the burning bush, and the sayings of Jesus.
Adding to the book's fascination, additionally making it a practical manual, is the inclusion of several psycho-spiritual exercises at the end of every chapter. Some of these consist of answering certain penetrating questions, which perhaps most of us have been avoiding all our lives. Cort recommends writing the answers in a spiritual journal, which can either be kept private (my preference), or shared with a study group, if one is participating in one. In Chapter One, for example, the questions relate to a sense of dissatisfaction with one's life, and how that feels. Another type of exercise involves writing poems about one's beloved, oneself, and God. Yet another gives instructions on how to be present to oneself, how to be aware. This is the practice commonly known as 'mindfulness'. There is a part of us that can sit back and observe our lives as they unfold, as we take action in the world. Who is this observer?
In the book's epilogue, Cort refers to the mystical union of the soul with God, which is symbolized by a holy banquet. He references the Sacrament of the Eucharist, in which the 'bread' symbolizes the outer, the material, while the 'wine' symbolizes the inner, the spiritual. So the process of soul perfection will culminate in union with the Divine.
One of the appendices includes a beautiful rendition of 'The Song of Songs', taken from the Old Testament. This is the spiritual love poem attributed to King Solomon.
This very profound book will appeal to all those who are interested in the inner quest. It's a well-rounded blend of spiritual insights, intellectual essays, and entertaining myths and parables from mythology and the Judeo-Christian tradition. The book stresses the great importance of symbols and myths in our lives, for these illustrate in a very graphic way the inner realities of our souls.
One reading of this book is not enough to glean all its riches, so I will be re-reading it, and not once, either, but many times. I'm eager to distill all of its insights and recommendations, and I'm sure those who feel attracted to it will do the same! It already occupies a special place in my library, right next to other books on spirituality, self-development, mythology, and world religions.
Dr. Andrew Cort
Andrew Cort is an expert on the inner message of Spiritual Awakening that is always ready to be found in the wonderful stories of the Bible and Greek Mythology. To receive several FREE GIFTS from Dr. Cort (a copy of Chapter One, ‘Making the Decision’, from his new book, THE DOOR IS OPEN; a copy of his article on RECONCILING SCIENCE AND RELIGION; and a complete version of the Bible’s erotic masterpiece, SONG OF SONGS , adapted as a Poetic Dialogue to be read out loud by lovers; as well as a subscription to his SPIRITUAL GROWTH NEWSLETTER) click here http://www.andrewcort.com/Gifts . You can also learn more on his blog, Spirituality and Religion.
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