Monday, April 27, 2015

Book Review: The Spontaneous Healing of Belief, by Gregg Braden


The Spontaneous Healing of Belief: Shattering the Paradigm of False Limits
Gregg Braden
Trade Paperback, 217 pages
Hay House, Inc.
April 1, 2008
Metaphysics, New Age, Nonfiction, Philosophy, Psychology, Self-Help, Science, Spirituality
Source: Purchased from Barnes & Noble


Book Synopsis What would it mean to discover that everything from the DNA of life, to the future of our world, is based upon a simple Reality Code—one that we can change and upgrade by choice? New revelations in physics and biology suggest that we’re about to find out!

A growing body of scientific evidence suggests that our universe works like a Consciousness Computer. Rather than the number codes of typical software, our Consciousness Computer uses a language that we all have, yet are only beginning to understand. Life’s reality code is based in the language of human emotion and focused belief. Knowing that belief is our reality-maker, the way we think of ourselves and our world is now more important than ever!

For us to change the beliefs that have led to war, disease, and the failed careers and relationships of our past we need a reason to see things differently. Our ancestors used miracles to change what they believed. Today we use science. The Spontaneous Healing of Belief offers us both: the miracles that open the door to a powerful new way of seeing the world, and the science that tells us why the miracles are possible, revealing: why we are not limited by the “laws” of physics and biology as we know them today 

Once we become aware of the paradigm-shattering discoveries and true-life miracles, we must think of ourselves differently. And that difference is where the spontaneous healing of belief begins.



https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2263714.The_Spontaneous_Healing_of_Belief
 





Braden is a very well-known figure in New Age circles, as well as beyond. He's certainly a very engaging writer, with a smoothly flowing prose style, as well as fascinating insights, which he backs up with scientific data. Furthermore, this book is very well-researched and annotated.

I have discovered, however, that books in the New Age category do not completely satisfy me. While their philosophical views are frequently innovative and interesting, there's always something in these books that gives me pause, that conflicts with my Christian values, no matter how open-minded I might want to be. Furthermore, if one wants to leave religious values aside, these books also conflict with rational values, at times.

I am still interested in reading such books, however, because there's much food for thought in them. Depending on a reader's religious and/or philosophical views, I would advise proceeding with intellectual caution.

Braden follows a pattern laid down by other New Age authors in years past -- using science as validation for New Age philosophy. Fritjof Capra, the Austrian-born American physicist, was probably one of the first to do this, with his The Tao of Physics, published in 1975. Another example is Migene Gonzalez-Wippler, the Puerto Rican cultural anthropologist, with the book A Kabbalah for the Modern World, first published in 1974, with subsequent revised editions. Both of these authors linked New Age philosophy to quantum physics. So does Braden. I can see why they have all made this connection, too, as quantum physics has been a revolution not only in science, but also in philosophy, which is necessarily affected by new scientific discoveries.

Braden's basic theme is that, as most New Agers say, it is our beliefs that shape our reality. Citing data from quantum research, he states that we, and everything around us, "are made of a shared field of energy that was scientifically recognized in the 20th century and is now identified by names that include the field, the quantum hologram, the mind of God, nature's mind, and the Divine Matrix." (Introduction, pg. xiii, quoting from Braden's The Divine Matrix: Bridging Space, Miracles, and Belief, pg. 54)

Elaborating on this, Braden gives a brief, simplified explanation of the world of quantum mechanics, in which energy can behave as either visible particles or invisible waves. He then proceeds to what seems like a logical conclusion: if energy, which our bodies are made of, can behave in what appear to be -- according to the laws of science -- miraculous ways, then we, too, can do the same. Although  this is admittedly an interesting, even exciting concept, I have to ask myself whether it holds up as a logical conclusion. Still, it does stimulate one to think about it.

Another of the concepts presented in this book is found in Chapter One, titled "A New View of Reality: the Universe as a Consciousness Computer". The idea of the universe as a thinking computer was originally put forth in the 1940s by Konrad Zuse, who developed the first computers. Braden interprets this to mean that "everything is information" (pg. 17), and the universe is really the product of a huge program that has been running for a very long time. If human beings can come to know the program's code, they will then know "the rules of reality itself". (pg. 18)

This chapter also discusses the idea that the universe is made up of patterns, as exemplified by fractals.

Chapter Two expands on the concept of the universe as a consciousness computer through a discussion of how this computer can be programmed. The method involves beliefs and feelings, according to Braden. A thought, he states, is just that -- a thought -- until it's energized by emotion to create a feeling. He defines a feeling as "the union of what we think with the fuel of our love or fear for our thought." He then proceeds to the conclusion that belief is a form of feeling. 

This chapter also includes a short discussion of the function of thoughts, wishes, affirmations, and prayers.

Chapters 5 and 6 deal with techniques for 'shattering the paradigm of false limits' and 'rewriting one's reality code'. Quite honestly, I haven't gotten to these chapters, as I have been unable to finish the book. I don't normally write a review for a book that I have not finished reading, but I felt it important to do so with this one.

It was Chapter 4 that changed everything for me. This chapter gets to the crux of the matter -- why I cannot accept New Age philosophy in its entirety. 

The chapter is titled, "What Do You Believe? The Great Question at the Core of Your Life".  This 'great question' does indeed strike at the core of everyone's life, but I totally disagree with the author's view of just how it does so. 

Ironically, Braden states, in the same chapter, something that I do believe is true, and he backs it up with medical data.  To quote: "Our beliefs about unresolved hurt can create physical effects with the power to damage and even kill us." (pg. 111) I have read this same thing elsewhere, and do agree with it. The heart is not just an organ that pumps blood; it is the seat of emotion. Every painful emotional event we undergo can and does have lasting physical effects, unless we learn to forgive, which is not an easy task at all. I'm glad that Braden raises this point here.

It's right after this, though, that Braden gets to the question I mentioned above, which is the following: "Do you believe that there is one source for everything that happens in the world, or do you believe that there are two opposite and opposing forces -- good and evil -- one that 'likes' you and one that doesn't?" (pg. 116) Braden's own answer points to a reconciliation or acceptance of both forces in life. He states that, when we see the world as a battleground, then life becomes a battle. According to him, this then affects us physically, as we therefore see the world as not being a safe place. Braden goes on to say that seeing life in terms of light and darkness, good and evil, means that we must see the world as a very scary place.  Instead, we should see the world as a wonderful, beautiful place in which to live. He also brings up the point that judging people in terms of light and darkness will affect all of our relationships.

While there might a be a grain of truth in everything the author brings up above, the idea of reconciling good and evil, light and darkness, in short, of going beyond this polarity, is what really bothers me. Braden himself recognizes that such an idea can be very shocking to some people. On page 128, he states the following: "It flies in the face of everything that they've ever been taught -- and may even sound like heresy!" That is precisely how I feel about this concept. 

Every Christian denomination, whether Catholic or Protestant, draws a very clear line between good and evil. There is no possible reconciliation between them. The Bible itself clearly demonstrates the difference between the two, although, ironically, God in the Old Testament does not always behave in ways consistent with a good and loving deity. Still, Christianity is founded on the basic idea that good and  evil are, indeed, locked in a battle that will only end with the second coming of Jesus Christ. 

Leaving religious beliefs aside, however, the concept of 'reconciling' light and darkness, good and evil, goes against reason, as well. It's very evident that the two cannot be blended, or joined together, in any way. While there may be gray areas at times, there are, for the most part, very firm boundaries between the two forces. This is logical, and evident to any reasoning mind. 

As i skimmed through this book in order to refresh my memory before writing my review, I also realized that Braden's mentioning of the universe as a thinking computer, which can be programmed through our beliefs and intentions, coupled with strong emotions, entirely leaves out the idea of a personal God. Of course, those who are not theists or even deists will not be troubled by this at all. As a matter of fact, I do think that I might need to dwell on this further, as the fact of consciousness being present obviously indicates the existence of some type of being. Braden doesn't make it quite clear whether this 'consciousness' is merely the material universe, or whether it is an immanent deity that might also be construed as transcendent.

This is obviously a rather deep book, in spite of its easy-to-read, elegant style, so i need to go back to it and read it more slowly, carefully analyzing it as I go along. Therefore, I might return with a second review of it. However, I'm sure, as of this writing, that I won't be changing my mind in regards to the question of 'reconciling' good and evil.

In spite of my strong religious and rational reservations about this book, I have given it four stars, because Braden successfully engages the reader on very interesting topics that do bear some thinking and investigation. He is anything but boring, and is able to present even the most seemingly outrageous topics in a way that will not get him classified as being 'fringe' or 'wacky' in any way.

For those who share my own reservations, this might prove to be a reading experience that will leave them with some mixed feelings about the book, as has been the case with me. Still, I do think it's an intellectually stimulating book, well worth the read.


MY RATING:








New York Times best-selling author Gregg Braden is internationally renowned as a pioneer in bridging science and spirituality. Following a successful career as a Computer Geologist for Phillips Petroleum during the 1970s energy crisis, he became a Senior Computer Systems Designer for Martin Marietta Defense Systems during the last year of the Cold War. In 1991 he was appointed the first Technical Operations Manager for Cisco Systems where he led the development of the global support team that assures the reliability of today’s Internet. For more than 22 years, Gregg has searched high mountain villages, remote monasteries, and forgotten texts to uncover their timeless secrets. To date, his work has led to such paradigm-shattering books as The Isaiah Effect, The God Code, The Divine Matrix and his 2008 release, The Spontaneous Healing of Belief: Shattering the Paradigm of False Limits. Gregg’s work is now published in 17 languages and 27 countries and shows us beyond any reasonable doubt that the key to our future lies in the wisdom of our past.

Website/Goodreads/Amazon/Facebook /Twitter



 


Saturday, April 25, 2015

Shelf Candy Saturday #148: Sabriel, by Garth Nix




Welcome to Shelf Candy Saturday!!


This is my weekly feature
showcasing beautiful book covers!
It also provides information,
if available, on their very talented creators!

For more information
about Shelf Candy Saturday,
simply go HERE.



Here's my choice for this week!



Sabriel 
(Old Kingdom, Book 1)
Mass Market Paperback, 496 pages
Harper Teen (Reprint Edition)
August 23, 1997
Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult Fiction


https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/518848.Sabriel?ac=1





My Thoughts About This Cover

This is such an exquisitely designed cover! The overall composition is very strong and bold. The boldness and simplicity of the design contrasts with the rhythmically flowing, sensuous sleeves of the tunic worn by the character on the cover. The suggestion of wind in the hair billowing out behind the character's head, and echoed in the left-hand sleeve, are also a marked contrast with the character's firm, static pose. The lower, left-hand side of the character's tunic also seems to billow with the wind, and forms a rather curious little image that resembles a wave in the ocean. All of these elements create compositional tension, which makes for a more dynamic image.

I suppose this character is Sabriel, the female protagonist of this novel, because the left hand has long fingernails, and is holding up a little silver bell in a rather delicate manner. This pose contrasts sharply with her firm hold on the sword, which I think points to contrasts in her personality -- courageous and decisive, versus delicate and sensitive. It's interesting, too, that there's yet another  contrast -- between what her right hand and left hand are doing; this seems to point to left-brain versus right-brain behavior.

I love the tunic Sabriel is wearing, too. It's obvious that the fabric is richly-detailed, yet resistant to wear and tear. The two belts crisscrossing it are fascinating to look at; the one at her waist has a glowering face for a buckle, while the one across her chest displays hanging decorations whose purpose is not entirely clear. In fact, her whole outfit points to someone of royal lineage, who is also a warrior.

Another very interesting element of this composition is the mysterious, sinister-looking creature standing behind Sabriel's left shoulder. Sabriel seems to be totally unaware of this figure, which is puzzling. I wonder if this "thing" (not sure what it is) is really an ally of the kingdom. Whatever it is, those long, claw-like fingers sure look menacing!

The one thing I really don't like about this cover is that I'm not entirely sure whether the character portrayed is, indeed, Sabriel, the female protagonist. If it is, then I have to say that she looks a bit too masculine. The character is thus rendered sexually ambiguous, which is something I am not at all comfortable with.

The letter font used for the title and author's name has a distinctly medieval flavor to it, and complements the artwork beautifully. I do wish, though, that the title had been done in a lighter shade of brown, so that it would stand out more.

As I had suspected, this stunning cover is the work of Leo and Diane Dillon, the brilliant artist duo who have created so many great fantasy covers. Their covers are always beautiful, unique, and are done in a style that, while realistic, is also very much influenced by the overall abstract design,

I have featured the work of these artists, who are among my favorite book illustrators, in other posts. They have never failed to delight and fascinate me with their work!

Sadly, Leo Dillon passed away on May 26, 2012, at the age of 79.


   
From the Locus Magazine Article

Leo Dillon (Lionel John Dillon, Jr.) and Diane Dillon (née Diane Claire Sorber) were born 11 days apart in March 1933, on opposite coasts. He grew up in Brooklyn, she was born and raised in California, and they met in 1953 while attending Parsons School of Design in New York City. They married in 1957. Son Lee (Lionel John Dillon III), born in 1965, also became an artist; in the '90s, he collaborated with them on several projects, including the illustrations for Pish, Posh, Said Hieronymus Bosch by Nancy Willard (1991).

They met Harlan Ellison in 1959, after doing illustrations for Rogue, the men's magazine he was then editing in Chicago. That meeting would eventually have major consequences for the field of SF and fantasy art, thanks to their illustrations for Dangerous Visions (1967), and a subsequent meeting
with Terry Carr, who recruited them as cover artists for the Ace Specials in the '60s and '70's.It was mainly that work
for Ace which earned them their
1971 Hugo for SF art.




You can access the entire article,
which includes a
fascinating interview with Karen Haber,



Online Links







 

What do you think of my 
choice this week?
Please leave a comment
and let me know!







Thursday, April 23, 2015

Blog Tour: Mini-Review/Excerpt/Giveaway!! A Devilish Slumber, by Shereen Vedam



Welcome to this stop in the tour for
A Devilish Slumber, sponsored by
Bewitching Book Tours!!

I am featuring an excerpt 
with a mini-review, together 
with a BBT giveaway!!




A Devilish Slumber
(The Rue Alliance, #1)
Shereen Vedam
Trade Paperback, 222 pages
Cover Artist: Debra Dixon
ImaJinn Books
February 17, 2015
Fantasy, Historical Romance, Mystery,
Paranormal Romance


anightsdreamofbooks.blogspot.com



Inspired by Sleeping Beauty

BEAUTY AWOKE, AND THEN THE TROUBLE BEGAN . . .
Since dealing with the death of her sister, and her abandonment by Sir Phillip Jones—the man who professed to love her—Lady Roselyn Ravenstock has lived as if sleepwalking. Mired in grief, she sequestered herself in her home, avoiding all callers. Then she meets Mrs. Helen Beaumont, and Rose starts to come to life . . . until Helen is murdered. But this time, Rose isn’t going back to sleep. Vowing to avenge her friend, Rose dons a costume and goes out into the night looking for a killer.

Sir Phillip, the Regent’s favored spy, returns from war determined to win back the woman he was forced to leave three years ago. But when he witnesses Rose covered in blood, racing from a brutal scene while gripping the murder weapon, he goes on a desperate mission to unravel what he hopes is a case of mistaken identity.

The investigation leads Rose into a world of enchantment, where people can reshape their features, fires are begun with a snap of fingers, and objects move of their own accord. But the real magic is the blazing attraction that is re-awakened between her and Phillip.

Will Rose ever get her happily ever after? Possibly. But first, she’ll have to convince Phillip of her innocence—before the killer strikes again. . . .





As I began reading this excerpt, the excellent prose style instantly caught my attention, and had me suddenly sitting up straight, totally focused on the scene so well depicted here. Ms. Vedam is without a doubt a powerful writer, and this is very evident from the very first sentence in this short but tension-packed selection from the first chapter of her novel. Her attention to detail brings this scene alive, as well. I haven't really met the characters, and yet, I am totally absorbed and intrigued by them already!
As for the book's premise, I absolutely love it!
Not that mysteries are my favorite type of read, but I do love Regency romance, and this author has combined that with a fairy tale background, and a paranormal romance, as well. This is indeed a heady mix! Besides, I also find a touch of Sherlock Holmes in the narrative. It's there, under the surface. Last but most definitely NOT least, the cover of this book is simply GORGEOUS! In short, I MUST own this novel as soon as possible, so that I can plunge right into this enthralling narrative! I recommend the readers of this blog do the very same thing, too!!




Chapter One

Midnight, Wednesday, April 8, 1813, London, England

A SCREAM RIPPLED across the misty, dockside air.

Sir Phillip Jones's pulse lurched at that mournful cry. Gripping his walking stick, he raced down the hilly road of the deserted warehouse district in Wapping. A second muffled scream rang out and was then abruptly cut off. No longer concerned about keeping his movements covert, he ran toward those terrified shrieks. Rounding a corner, he tore past a man staring toward where the screams had come from.

"Imbecile," the large man grumbled from behind him.
Phillip was ten feet away before it registered that the man had sworn in French. By then, the woman who ran out of a warehouse gripping a bloody dagger had captured his focus. For a split second, her face was clearly highlighted by a stray shaft of moonlight piercing the mist. He stumbled to a halt, his chest heaving for air as stunned recognition sank in.

Rose?

The lady started and swung toward him. Had he spoken aloud? Pulling her hood up, she then sprinted off into the night.

Phillip instantly gave chase, but when he reached the open warehouse door through which she had fled, he pulled back. If that had been his Rose, he knew where she lived.

Rapidly retreating footsteps behind him suggested the irate Frenchman, probably a sailor, was also prudently withdrawing from this possible crime scene.

Inside the warehouse, despite the wide open door, it was pitch black, but that coppery scent of fresh, spilled blood was unmistakable in the chilly sea air. Instead of blindly stepping in, Phillip pulled out his candle and circular silver tinderbox from his pocket. He had not survived the dangers of being an intelligence officer for the past five years by acting foolishly during a crisis.

He methodically placed the candle's wick end into the hole on the lid and struck the flint until the candle lit. Then, with flickering candle attached to the tinderbox's socket, he cautiously proceeded inside, his walking stick, with a sword hidden inside, raised to act as a club. If someone lurked within this warehouse, he would need blunt force, not blade finesse.

The warehouse was empty except for the victim who was slumped on the grimy floor, blood pooling at her side. Her throat had been slit. Her eyes were wide open as if in shock. He lowered his weapon, placed his candle holder on the ground, and knelt to check for signs of life. Her arm was limp and there was no pulse at the wrist, and not even a hint of a breath. Her skin was still warm, but her spirit had been effectively extinguished.

With a defeated sigh, he searched her reticule and found calling cards which confirmed her identity. This was indeed Mrs. Beaumont, the woman he had come to meet tonight. Not many from this riverside section of London could afford the luxury of calling cards. Her gown was serviceable, but not of high fashion. He strode restlessly around the empty warehouse, kicking aside empty crates and litter, poking at the walls in search of a hidden door, anything to prove that Rose was unlikely to be the culprit of this crime.

Anger built as he returned, empty handed, to the body. With a grunt of frustration, he flung his weighty walking stick across the room. It struck the wooden wall with a satisfying bang and then clattered as it rolled across the hollow chamber.

Shoulders set with resolve, he proceeded with his last distasteful but necessary search. He examined the underside of Mrs. Beaumont's sleeves and delved into her bodice. Nothing. He then lifted her gown in case she had strapped something to her limbs. Disappointed there too, he removed her boots and stripped off her stockings. Finding nary a clue, he carefully redressed her, making sure she would be respectably covered before the river police arrived. All the while, words rang through his mind. That cannot have been Rose running away.

As he re-positioned her arms at her side, he noticed one of the lady's clenched hands. Pulse speeding in anticipation, he raised her fist for closer study. Probing with his forefinger revealed something held inside her fist. He pried her fingers apart until they revealed a scrunched-up handkerchief. Drawing his candle holder closer, he carefully spread apart the material on the floor. There, on the top right, was a small, black, neatly embroidered crest of a raven.

That further evidence of Rose's guilt left him in choking silence as he battled the urge to compare it to the handkerchief now burning a hole in his breast pocket. Finally, knowing he had no choice, he pulled out the other and gently unfolded it beside the crumpled one. The two crests were a match. His handkerchief had been a gift from Lady Roselyn Ravenstock.



 
Purchasing Links
Amazon US/Amazon UK
Amazon CA
Barnes & Noble
The Book Depository
Indigo
Google Books 







Once upon a time, Shereen Vedam read fantasy and romance novels to entertain herself. Now she writes heartwarming tales braided with threads of magic and love and mystery elements woven in for good measure. She’s a fan of resourceful women, intriguing men, and happily-ever-after endings. If her stories whisk you away to a different realm for a few hours, then Shereen will have achieved one of her life goals.

Website/Twitter/Facebook/Goodreads
Pinterest/Google+/Blog




 

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