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EHE Process/Spiritual Path
Record Type: Review   ID: 116

The Unfolding Self: Varieties of Transformative Experience

Metzner, Ralph

 Metzner presents one of the most complete portrayals of the traditional spiritual path, from ordinary awareness to enlightenment, drawing on all religions, mythology, esoteric schools, literature, and psychology, and psychotherapy. He describes psychospiritual transformation in metaphors with the idea that they provide "signposts and markers on the way" (p. xi). Moreover, he thinks "these metaphoric markers may themselves stimulate and catalyze the inner transformations they describe" (p. xi). This is based on his own personal experience in writing the book in which whatever metaphor he was describing set off corresponding experiences. The book is also an outgrowth of his realization that although there are hundreds of methods for achieving transformation, the same handful of metaphors are used over and over to describe the process that was recorded in the sacred traditions throughout the world and in all major cultures. He works with "fluidic processes of change in their manifold variety and individual uniqueness" (p. xiii) as opposed to mere linear developmental models. Although this is supposed to be an "abstract." I think it is important to quote his view of human transformation, which he prefers to the more traditional one that there are many roads but they lead to the top of the same mountain, Metzner prefers "the ancient symbolism of humans as radiating sources of light, as ‘walking stars’ treading the earth path; or the image of giant trees rooted in the earth, with crown and branches reaching to the heavens; or that of caterpillars dimly sensing their potential as scintillating, liberated butterflies. The exploration of the psyche, of inner space, seems to me analogous to the exploration of outer space: one can go in all directions for an infinite distance and length of time. As Buckminster Fuller pointed out, each individual exists at the center of a movable sphere of omnidirectional awareness, that moves, like a shadow, everywhere we move" (p. 9). There remains space only to list the 12 key metaphors, which also serve as chapter headings. They are: Awakening From the Dream of Reality, Uncovering the Veils of Illusion, From Captivity to Liberation, Purification by Inner Fire, From Fragmentation to Wholeness, Reconciling with the Inner Enemy, On Dying and Being Reborn, From Darkness to Light, Integrating the Inner Wild Animal, Unfolding the Tree of Our Life, Journey to the Place of Vision and Power, and Returning to the Source.
Publisher Information:Novato, CA: Origin Press, 1998. xiv + 319p. Bibl: 301-311; Chapnotes: 269-300; 11 illus; Ind: 312-319; 29 photos
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