email page    print page

All Topic Reviews
50 Reasons People Give for Believing in a God50 Voices of DisbeliefA Companion to Buddhist PhilosophyA Companion to Muslim EthicsA Frightening LoveA Mirror Is for ReflectionA Mirror Is for ReflectionA People's History of ChristianityAdieu to GodAn Ethics for TodayAristotle's ChildrenAugustine's "Confessions"Bad FaithBehind the GospelsBeyond the SelfBig DreamsBig GodsBody Piercing Saved My LifeBrains, Buddhas, and BelievingBrief Inquiry into the Meaning of Sin and FaithBuddhism and ScienceBuddhist Boot CampConfucianismConfucianismConfucius and ConfucianismContemplative ScienceCorporal Punishment, Religion, and United States Public SchoolsCourage to SurrenderCross and KhoraDarwin's Gift to Science and ReligionDarwin, God and the Meaning of LifeDeath and the AfterlifeDebating DesignDeeper Than DarwinDivinity of DoubtEmbracing MindEncountering the DharmaEngaging BuddhismEsalenEscape Your Own PrisonEvidence for PsiEvilEvolution and ReligionExplorations in Neuroscience, Psychology and ReligionFaithFaith and Wisdom in ScienceFingerprints of GodFor The Bible Tells Me SoForgivenessFrom Shame to SinGodGod & TherapyGod Is Not GreatGod Is Not OneGod: The Failed HypothesisHereticHidden DimensionsHooked!Hours with the MysticsHow to See Yourself As You Really AreHow Would Buddha Act?Incorporating Spirituality in Counseling and PsychotherapyInto Great SilenceIslam and the Future of Tolerance: A DialogueJewish DharmaLife After FaithLiving DeeplyLiving with a Wild GodLiving with DarwinMaking Chastity SexyMedicine and Health Care in Early ChristianityMedicine and ReligionMedicine of the PersonMorals Not KnowledgeMysticism & SpaceNature and the Human SoulNothingOn AnimalsOn Life After DeathPanpsychism and the Religious AttitudePathways to SpiritualityPeaceful Death, Joyful RebirthPhilosophers without GodsPhilosophical Myths of the FallPorn UniversityPray the Gay AwayPsychotherapy without the SelfPurgatoryRadical GraceReason, Faith, and RevolutionRecruiting Young LoveReligion without GodReligious and Spiritual Issues in Psychiatric DiagnosisSaving GodScience and NonbeliefScience and Religion at the CrossroadsScience and SpiritualityScience vs. ReligionSecular Philosophy and the Religious TemperamentSelf Hypnosis for Cosmic ConsciousnessSelf, No Self?Sex and the Soul, Updated EditionSmile of the BuddhaSong of RiddlesSpirit, Mind, and BrainSuperstitionTen Lectures on Psychotherapy and SpiritualityThe Accidental MindThe Belief InstinctThe Bodhisattva's BrainThe Cambridge Companion to AtheismThe Cambridge Companion to Science and ReligionThe Case for GodThe Chosen OneThe Dao of NeuroscienceThe Dark Night of the SoulThe Darkening AgeThe Delight of Being OrdinaryThe Forgotten CreedThe Fundamentalist MindsetThe God DebatesThe God GeneThe Hero with a Thousand FacesThe Improbability of GodThe Joy of SecularismThe Language God TalksThe Language of GodThe Meaning of BeliefThe MiracleThe New AtheismThe New Religious IntoleranceThe Philosophy of ReligionThe Power of FaithThe Power of ForgivenessThe Power of Religion in the Public SphereThe Psychology of Religious FundamentalismThe Psychology of SpiritualityThe Puppet and the DwarfThe Secular OutlookThe Sense of SelfThe Spirit of the BuddhaThe Spirit of Tibetan BuddhismThe Tibetan Book of the DeadThe Trauma of Everyday LifeThe Watkins Dictionary of Religions and Secular FaithsThe Watkins Dictionary of SymbolsTheology, Psychology and the Plural SelfThoughts Without A ThinkerTop SecretUnifying HinduismWays of KnowingWhat Is Buddhist Enlightenment?What Should I Believe?When the Impossible HappensWhy I Left, Why I StayedWilliam James on Ethics and FaithWriting as a Sacred PathYoga, Karma, and RebirthZealot

Related Topics
Living DeeplyReview - Living Deeply
The Art and Science of Transformation in Everyday Life
by Marilyn Mandala Schlitz, Cassandra Vieten, and Tina Amorok
New Harbinger, 2008
Review by Mary Hrovat
Feb 10th 2009 (Volume 13, Issue 7)

The changes this book discusses are not the stuff of New Year's resolutions: lose weight, get a better job, stop smoking. Rather, it's about deep, positive transformation in the way you experience the world. It examines not just the peak moments that can provide glimpses of insight, humility, gratitude, or transcendant beauty, but the practices that can nurture a more positive worldview and the ways that life-altering experiences can manifest themselves in thought, feeling, and action.

This book is the result of a ten-year research project at the Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS) that investigated multiple perspectives on life-transforming experiences. The Institute was founded by astronaut Edgar Mitchell and others in 1973 to explore our experience of consciousness with scientific rigor but with an openness to people's direct perceptions of phenomena that might lie outside the purview of mainstream science. Researchers at the institute held three focus groups in the late 1990s for people to discuss the transformation of consciousness, and then selected 50 high-profile scholars and practitioners from a wide range of spiritual traditions for in-depth interviews. The book is a distillation of what the researchers learned, emphasizing the common threads they found.

Quotes from the interviewees make up a large part of the book. This gives the effect of sitting in on a conversation, and the diversity of the voices allows for the expression of multiple viewpoints on key questions. There are plenty of opportunities for further exploration; many of the interviewees have web sites (URLs are given in capsule biographies) or books (listed in a reference section) that you can turn to for more information on a topic or viewpoint that resonates for you. Overall this book is a rich resource for seekers; however, it lacks an index, so it can be hard to locate a particular name or concept. A companion DVD offers guided introductions to nine practices from a variety of spiritual traditions, but this review does not cover the DVD.

The book begins by discussing the nature of life-changing experiences and the many doorways that can open onto transformation. The change can be sudden or gradual, and can take place in an ordinary setting (an epiphany while taking a walk in your neighborhood) or in an unusual place (like Mitchell's experience of seeing the earth from space). They can be triggered by pain and loss, or by an exhilarating peak experience. The factor linking them is that they have the potential to shift the foundations of your worldview in profound ways.

Even if your transcendant experience happens, like Mitchell's, in someplace well outside of the everyday, such moments of deep insight are most valuable when they are used as seeds for permanent change. The middle of the book explore ways that people can prepare themselves for and nurture positive changes in worldview. Two chapters explore the essentials of a useful spritual practice and the ways that practice can help people change their behavior and their outlook. This is followed by a chapter on how to incorporate the sacred into relationships and everyday activities. The book concludes with several chapters describing the results that a sustained effort at transformation can produce, in particular a feeling of connectedness with other people and other living things, a sense of responsibility for the well-being of others. and a feeling that the sacred permeates the everyday world.

Each chapter concludes with an exercise, mostly journal exercises that guide your reflections on how the material in the chapter applies to your own life. The exercises are not linked to any particular religious tradition, except for one involving Tonglen  meditation, a practice from Tibetan Buddhism. While some of the exercises are stronger than others, and some might need to be repeated regularly for best results, their presence emphasizes that this book will yield the greatest benefits if you work with the material.

The use of the word "science" in the subtitle is problematic. While psychological explanations are woven into the discussion, they form only a minor thread in the whole. Furthermore, some of the connections to science are dubious; for example, although Dean Radin claims to be investigating the science behind parapsychological phenomena, many mainstream scientists find his method unscientific. Although this goal is not articulated in so many words, the book seems to be about how to tap into a spiritual truth that exists outside of us, rather than to tap into the capacity of the human brain for feelings of transcendence, connectedness, compassion, and overwhelming beauty. The book is not about understanding the neurochemistry, evolutionary history, or other factors that might provde a scientific understanding for this capacity.

However, the approach is empirical. If you view religious and spiritual traditions as providing time-tested guidelines for changing not just behavior but our experience of the contents of our minds, the IONS research project can be seen as a search for general rules and practices that have proven valuable. Readers are invited to try different approaches for themselves and see what works for them. Before deciding if the book is for you, you might want to look at the IONS web site and see how closely the institute's approach matches your own views. If they mesh, you may find this book useful for learning about some of the many ways humans have found to try to live according to their better natures.

© 2009 Mary Hrovat

Mary Hrovat is a freelance science writer and editor; she has written about science and information technology for Indiana University's Research & Creative Activity magazine, Indiana Alumni Magazine, and Discovery Online. She also posts news items, book reviews, and articles on the Thinking Meat Project [], which deals with brain science, psychology, human evolution, and related topics.


Welcome to Metapsychology.

Note that Metapsychology will be moving to a new server in January 2020. We will not put up new reviews during the transition. We thank you for your support and look forward to coming back with a revised format.

We feature over 8300 in-depth reviews of a wide range of books and DVDs written by our reviewers from many backgrounds and perspectives. We update our front page weekly and add more than twenty new reviews each month. Our editor is Christian Perring, PhD. To contact him, use one of the forms available here.

Metapsychology Online reviewers normally receive gratis review copies of the items they review.
Metapsychology Online receives a commission from for purchases through this site, which helps us send review copies to reviewers. Please support us by making your purchases through our Amazon links. We thank you for your support!

Join our Google Group!

Interested in becoming a book reviewer for Metapsychology? To apply, write to our editor.

Metapsychology Online Reviews

Promote your Page too

Metapsychology Online Reviews
ISSN 1931-5716