This book is about a skeptical mother seeking non-traditional healing for her daughter by shamans in the jungles of Belize. She is surprised and refreshed at the problem receiving resolution. I could relate to this since the much more radical spiritual healing methods of Christian Science have resulted in seriously dramatic healing in my life, and turned me from an atheist into a believer.
However, this book promised profound insights that I kept reading for but sadly never materialized. It was often a ponderous read too, rife with unessential and irrelevant detail, particularly about the Mayans. Much of it was simply a travelogue, beefed up with guidebook style information. For these reasons, I can give this book only three stars. The best part of this book was that it made it plain to me what a blockbuster my own memoir could be.
None-the-less, I earmarked some interesting bits below…
• “I took in deep gulps of the jungle’s bright, wet promise, the loamy, rich animation of the dirt marrying with chlorophyll to form air so dense it temps you to take a bite.”
• “Here in the land of the Maya, where body, mind, and sprit are tightly intertwined, physical and spiritual illness are considered one and the same…. Those who are sick in body are believed to be first sick in spirit, and so Maya healers always treat both.”
• “He rushes upstairs, leaving me with the cognitive dissonance that has become CNN.”
• “He didn’t think I’d be open to such ideas… As if I stubbornly and deliberately walk around with an aperture that’s too small.”
• “What do I believe in? ‘Well. I believe in the sound of a lone acoustic guitar strumming in the back of a smoky bar. I believe in the scent of night-blooming jasmine. I believe in the look of calm wonder I saw on my daughter’s wet face right after she was pulled from my body and placed on my chest. I believe in the miracle of radio and the way it pulls music right out of the air. I believe cats can smile. I believe… that New York City is the most magnificent city in the world. I believe in the possibility of everything,’ I told my husband. ‘But I can’t place my trust in anything without visible proof.’”
• “But a white man a shaman? It felt like a vocational oxymoron, an appropriation that had gone a step too far into comedy, like a Amish electrician or a Buddhist drill sergeant.”
• “How is it possible to simultaneously discredit an idea and hold forth hope in its existence?”
• “The Maya, who thought of time as cyclical, he said, identified nine creation cycles of consciousness, which they called the Nine Underworlds. The first one started 16.4 billion years ago with cellular development, the second began about 40 million years ago and tracked mammalian evolution, the third saw the establishment of family systems, and so on and so forth all the way up to the ninth and final underworld, the Universal, which will start in 2011. When that one ends, a new form of human consciousness is expected to emerge and the Maya master calendar will be reset to zero. … According to their calculations, each of the Nine Underworlds lasts for exactly one twentieth of the time of the one it’s built on. For example… the Seventh Underworld, which started in 1755, is 256 years long. The Eighth Underworld, the one we’re in now, started on January 5, 1999, and will last for 13 years which is one twentieth of 256. The ninth and final underworld starts in February 2011 and will last for only 263 days. This is why, the man said, it took 15 billion years for cells to develop but only about a dozen for the Internet to take hold. Because the shifts…happen twenty times faster in each new underworld, the amount of change that used to take place in a lifetime now occurs in a single year. If it feels as if time is speeding up, the man said, that’s because it is.”
• “One reason I’m always eager to plant myself in worlds so different from my own has been to to achieve the traveler’s sense of disorientation that, ultimately, reaffirms who I am.”
• “A person in the act of traveling from one place to another is a person stripped down to her very essence, perhaps the truest self that can exist.”
• “I’ve always thought of Jesus as the original divine leader. Blessed are the meek; turn the other cheek: he handed us all the key insights we need for living in equality and peace. It makes you look around the world and wonder, what if? What if more people lived by the purity of his teachings, instead of the dogma that grew out of them?”
• “I’ve always believed that a culture is only as smart as its current systems of technology allow it to be, but then along came the Maya, who mapped out astonishingly accurate astronomical charts with only a couple of sticks, their bare legs, and enough time to get it right. Talk about making the most of what you have.”
• “You can change the course of events in your life, more or less. But why would you want to? It’s much more exciting to discover the plan.”