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Record Type: Review   ID: 1008

The Life We Are Given: A Long-Term Program for Realizing the Potential of Body, Mind, Heart, and Soul

Leonard, George, & Murphy, Michael

This book and the long-term program it describes cannot only change individual lives but can change the world. This is because it is about becoming more than we ever realized we could be. The authors’ bedrock assumption, with which any EHEer is likely to agree, is that "the human heart and the world’s heart are one in their self-surpassing.…As we grow in love and strength, we become vehicles for the world’s growth" (p. xi). I interpret this, from the surrounding context of those lines, to mean that we change the world through the influence of the sense of love and interconnectedness that is a major outcome of engaging in what Leonard and Murphy call integral practice. I would carry this a step further and hypothesize that by conscious knowledge of our oneness with all, we not only help to make others conscious of it and so socially and culturally create a world-embracing worldview and way of life, but the knowing heart we grow to embody is the heart of the world. Changes that can come about are not simply indirect but can be direct.

There can be few people better qualified than George Leonard and Michael Murphy to develop such a program or to write such a book as this. Both have been at the forefront of consciousness (r)evolution since the 1960s and have played a large role, through Esalen Institute, which Murphy cofounded; via Leonard’s martial arts school and Leonard Energy Training; through the marvelous books they have written individually; and now the program of Integral Transformative Practice, which this book is about. They live and practice what they teach. They are experts not only in knowing but also in being. Charles Tart, in his book Body Mind Spirit, performed a great cultural act in eliminating the hyphens that used to join those words together. Leonard and Murphy add Heart to the mix but like Tart, separate them. Their book, however, is about learning how to simultaneously be bodyheartmindspirit


The Integral Transformative Practice (ITP) program they teach is in essence showing and demonstrating to people how they can be part of the spearhead of conscious evolution. Of it they say: "The program we have described in this book has proven to be of significant value to most of those who have participated in it, with extraordinary outcomes for some. There’s no doubt in our minds that a regular, long-term practice which involves body, mind, heart, and soul, and which aims at good health and the cultivation of our untapped potentials, can enhance individual lives and contribute to the social good.…If a significant minority of a society’s people consciously and constructively engage in such a quest, we could see something new on this planet: one of those events that cannot be adequately predicted by what has gone before" (p. 196).

ITP is aimed at ordinary people who have jobs and families. Its purpose is to foster transformation in the midst of life, not apart form it. The book describes not only various practices and exercises, but it provides a theoretical basis for it grounded in the latest findings of Western science and the wisdom literature of the world’s historical and practicing mystics and other adepts. They have built on the best that world culture has to offer, and they have produced a guide to a spirituality that is rooted in life and earth and is as bracing as a mountain brook in springtime. They have managed to distill from the life we have been given the means of becoming more of our human essence in the course of which we will come spontaneously to give more back to Life Itself.

Publisher Information:New York: Tarcher/Putnam, 1995. Pp. xi + 220. Appendix A. Further Resources for Practice: 205-206; Appendix B. Statistical Summary: Cycle 93: 207-313; Appendix C. Selected Readings: 215-220; 40 figs
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