4 out of 4 stars
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Make no mistake: there are a lot of self-help books out there to help you come to terms with yourself and life in general. Everyone finds a handful that resonate. However, The Unbound Soul: A Spiritual Memoir for Personal Transformation and Enlightenment by Richard L. Haight will likely resonate with a lot of people and should be on your list.
Don't be fooled by the word "memoir" in the title. It is so much more. True, the first of the book's four sections are his memoir in terms of his journey to his techniques and concepts. As is so often the case, he reached the major milestones of his journey following the most difficult periods in his life -- self-confidence and identity crises in his teenage years which included a close call with suicide and a debilitating ankle injury which prevented him from participating in the training he loved. While recovering from the ankle injury, he reached a new understanding, which he termed "Isness." This becomes the cornerstone of the rest of his life.
The remaining three sections provide the reader ways to reach comparable understanding, while acknowledging that much of it may be difficult and/or painful. The author, at several points, encourages the reader to put down the book and work on concepts with themselves.
Even though I do not totally subscribe to Haight's views, this book gives much practical advice for a reader to take away. A section describing "Care for the Physical Body" could be helpful beyond concepts presented in the book. Similarly, the section regarding "Care for the Mind" gives guidance on staying present and eliminating negativity in thoughts to dispel life's disharmony. The author repeatedly encourages the need to have a sense of purpose beyond self. Couldn't we all use that in today's world?
This book is for anyone looking for a very introspective approach to enlightenment; however, as described above, there are sections that are more inclusive than to Haight's journey and would be helpful to many audiences. For example, the author's explanation of why any identification is harmful would be completely appropriate for adolescents. His explanation of why "I am pretty" is equally as detrimental as "I am ugly" is exceptionally insightful and easy to understand. Conversely, this book is not for anyone seeking a quick read. It is not a lengthy book, but the level of thought for it to be useful will take time.
What I liked most about the book was the usefulness of it beyond the author's original intent. I think everyone can get something positive from reading it. What I liked least was the very lofty explanation of Ascent and Descent following death. It was difficult to read and seemed out of context with the rest of the book.
I rate this book four out of four stars. It is exceptionally well edited; there are no distractions from grammatical errors or awkward sentences.
The Unbound Soul
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