4 out of 4 stars
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The Unbound Soul by Richard L. Haight is a spiritual memoir for personal transformation and enlightenment. The author published the book by himself in 2016. The book follows the story of the author in order to explain the discovery of 'shinkaido.' The book is a perfect balance of personal experiences and the introduction to a new way of living.
From a very young age, the author found the role of religion and spirituality to be interesting. He learned about the bible when he was eight years old. The teaching promised damnation for all those not born again or those of different denominations. His father educated him on the error of this kind of approach toward God. Later that year, he had a vivid dream where he saw Jesus Christ. Jesus asked him for help in finding his bones which he called 'the core of his teachings.' The author, at a very young age, did not handle this pressure well. His only friend Tim moving away was very hard on him. When he discovers that their farmhand, John, is a fugitive, he decides to keep this from his parents on the condition that John has left his criminal acts in his past. Predictably, John betrays this trust. He is arrested for selling crystal methamphetamine. The guilt of keeping John's past from his parents eats at the author. It leads him to the precipice of suicide. God intervenes and guides him on the journey to enlightenment. When he discovered his path through meditation, he has an inspiring experience (inspirience) through communicating with God. It was here that he chose to describe God as Isness; a limitless being communicating without words, but with direct understanding. He travelled to Japan to study martial arts with a new teacher. Seeking to understand how his martial arts fit into his plan, he travelled to the Amazon on a vision quest. This is the place he discovered that healing, along with aikido, would lead to a path to enlightenment. His teacher called this shinkaido, meaning open-heart path. What did he do next? What is his goal in teaching this art to others? How does one go about learning shinkaido? Is it applicable to everyday life? All these questions will be answered in this book.
I enjoyed the stories the author shares. The author nearly got mugged in Georgia. It is hilarious how he turned this situation to his advantage, and he did not even use his martial arts skills. When his friend Jane tries to heal his ankle, she inadvertently makes the pain worse. It is funny that the author was willing to risk excruciating pain in order to be polite to his friend. While in the Amazon, he accidentally ate a salad in Ecuador. Due to the diarrhea-causing bacteria in the country's water supply, he found himself exploding out of both ends. I also found it funny how their pilot in the Amazon would look at them and smile before directing the plane to dive. It was a humbling experience for the passengers. Mrs. Pacetti's interpretation of the bible was hilarious. Telling children that their parents would burn in hell if they were not 'born again,' was wrong. Converting those children into her personal messengers was funny. The author's interpretation of black cars arriving at his farm had me in stitches. He said, "The property was crawling with what appeared to be thugs, drug dealers, and pimps armed with shotguns, automatic weapons, and pistols." The humour in this book made the teaching on enlightenment exciting.
The main theme I encountered was peace. The author spent most of his life trying to fulfill a promise he made to God. His breakthrough occurred when he discovered that internal peace would lead people to the path of enlightenment. I encountered faith as a major theme in this book. From a very young age, the author's life has been directed by faith. His encounter with Mrs.Pacetti was a sobering moment. The ideas that Mrs. Pacetti placed in his head were in conflict with what he believed God was. I encountered themes like friendship, family, betrayal, depression, fear, pride, anxiety, humour, mysticism, greed, trust, and love. The author used these themes effectively to make the book memorable.
I rated this book 4 out of 4 stars. This is because I found the book impossible to put down. The personal experiences were an excellent addition. They made the author relatable and likable. I found the explanation of the art of shinkaido to be brief and easily understood. I did not encounter a single spelling or grammatical error. This led me to believe that the book was professionally edited. It was not until I read the acknowledgments that I discovered that the author published by himself. I did not encounter a single thing that I disliked about this book.
I would recommend this book to non-fiction fans. The book would also appeal to readers of self-help and religious books. The book was relatively short. The author wrote the book as a combination of his role as a student and a teacher. This helped me measure the development he made using this technique. This was a well-written book which deserved a 4-star rating.
The Unbound Soul
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