Conscious Love: Insights from Mystical Christianity

Richard Smoley, Author
Richard Smoley, Author Jossey-Bass $24.95 (212p) ISBN 978-0-7879-8870-8
Reviewed on: 03/31/2008
Release date: 04/01/2008
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Heady, eclectic and bold, Smoley's latest book is a thoughtful treatise on humanity's vaulted and elusive bond: love, that which ""unites self and other."" Kin in structure to C.S. Lewis's The Four Loves, Smoley (Inner Christianity: A Guide to the Esoteric Traditions) looks at romance, marriage, families and friends, but goes deeper with chapters to explore social justice and forgiveness. Much emphasis is placed on the transactional ""exchange"" basis of most love relationships. In Smoley's seemingly cold eye, this is not necessarily a shortcoming, but more a direct biological and social assessment of the way things are. Each love type has redemption because ""each type of love contains a sort of gamut that runs from our basest impulses to our highest."" Agape, or conscious love, ""enables one to relax the sense of self and other"" and move toward a ""sense of the cosmic Christ."" Befitting his education at Harvard and Oxford universities and his post as Quest Books editor, Smoley's reach of sources and metaphors is exceptionally broad, strong and scholarly. Fresh and utterly devoid of syrup, the book renders a sublime image that distills love's evanescence, pain, beauty and joy. Contemplative readers, who need not be Christian, will find much new food for thought here.
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