3 out of 4 stars
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The Unbound Soul, by Richard L. Haight, is a delightful combination of memoir of his spiritual journey and instructional manual with spiritual insights he acquired along the way. His childhood was unique, especially after he heard Jesus asking him for help. Jesus desperately needed him to find his bones, the hidden core of his teachings, because most of what was written about him was untrue and used for selfish gain. As a young adult, he traveled to Japan and discovered new spiritual insights through his experiences in the martial arts. Even so, he struggled with guilt, depression, and suicidal thoughts. Then one day, he heard a voice declare that he should find his purpose, be himself, and do what he felt was right. He was transformed in an instant as all doubt and self-consciousness rapidly evaporated.
The remainder of the book is instructional as Haight continues to weave in his spiritual journey. In Part 2, he explains how to arrive in the body we now inhabit with no memory or judgment, just vibrant aliveness through unbiased perception and feeling. He defines the concept of “isness,” and he describes tools for spiritual “unfoldment,” such as Observation Meditation and Dance of the Self. In Part 3, he expounds on the challenges that accompany daily unfoldment and how to overcome them. In Part 4, he discusses the differences between soul, spirit, and self and how they are related.
Haight conveys unique insights in a humble manner. His brief discussion on psychotropic substances for the purpose of gaining insight was particularly interesting. His recommendation is tentative, warning they are not for everyone and to be careful of not becoming dependent on them for spiritual insight. They are an option for opening the mind to an initial experience, but if used for entertainment or escape, then they are not any different than any other drug. He is a proponent of health and fitness and includes practical advice on caring for the body and the mind as part of the unfoldment process.
I liked most the discussion of problems that we may encounter during mediation and how to resolve them, such as methods for staying awake. I found it interesting that focusing too much on one sense during meditation can be unbalancing. One of his students had focused on listening during meditation to the extent that he heard sounds of a party in the room from years earlier. I think this seems like a gift rather than a hindrance. Haight insists, though, that this tuned the student into a direction of disharmony rather than toward the whole self.
I disliked that some of his stories did not seem realistic, such as being able to measure the thickness of the energy fields surrounding individuals. I also disliked the superior attitude that he had a special message to convey to the world; however, he does not hesitate to disclose his weaknesses and failures and seems to be a humble man with a good heart.
The narrative material does not flow as easily as the instructional material and could use more descriptive language. It seems it may have been professionally edited because I noticed only a few minor errors. Some of his concepts were too abstract for me to grasp, and inclusion of examples and illustrations might have advanced my understanding. For these reasons, I rate the book 3 out of 4 stars.
I recommend The Unbound Soul to those who are interested in enlightenment, New Age spirituality, the Tao, and an assortment of ideas from a variety of spiritual beliefs. I do not recommend this book to those who hold tightly to orthodox Christian doctrines or other traditional religious beliefs who may not be open to ideas that contradict their belief systems. Anyone who enjoys both memoirs and spiritual self-help books will find this book interesting and potentially life-changing.
The Unbound Soul
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