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Human Development/Consciousness Evolution
Record Type: Review   ID: 152

The Radiance of Being: Complexity, Chaos and the Evolution of Consciousness

Combs, Allan

In effect, this provocative volume is about the history, present, and possible future of human consciousness. Allan Combs is a psychologist who in his commuting as in his thinking embraces opposites. He teaches at the University of North Carolina in Asheville and the Saybrook Graduate School in San Francisco, In the course of tracing consciousness he cites many theorists of the past while he thrusts his own fresh way into the future. Refreshingly, although he is a psychologist interested in working with testable theories, he does not shy away from the nonempirically-oriented theorists of the past, and he even refers often to mystical philosophers such as Aurobindo, Plotinus, Nicholas of Cusa as well as such later thinkers as Jean Gebser and Ken Wilber. He himself is at the leading edge of chaos theory applied to psychology.

In this book he presents the interface between traditional spirituality and the latest findings in evolutionary, systems, and chaos theory. Thus spirituality is integral to his concept of consciousness. The main value of the book, it seems to me, is that it serves as an intellectual bridge between the modern and postmodern approaches to life, with the emphasis on psychology. For scientists in any field and sophisticated general readers, this book may prepare us, more than any other, for the world-changing shift our species must make if it is to avoid dropping out. We must learn to swim in a sea of chaotic change with joy and verve and thus become a part of the new millennium. In evolutionary terms, it would be tantamount to the huge step taken when aquatic creatures learned to live on land. Combs tells us why this step is necessary and what sort of life we may expect if we do it. Read the book and find out why it will be well even with the effort and agony.

I may have made this sound like a pop psychology book, which it definitely is not. It is a very serious, scholarly work, well worth working your way through. With only a little effort, you will be in the flow and feel the joy of clarity and heightened consciousness.

Publisher Information:St. Paul, MN: Paragon House, 1995. 4-351p. Appendix A: Technical terms 277-284; Appendix B: Transpersonal psychology in the work of Stanislav Grof and Michael Washburn: 285-292; Bibl: 325-342; Chapnotes: 293-324; 2 figs; 15 illus; Ind: 343-351; 1 photo; 4 tables
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