Letters to Vanessa: On Love, Science, and Awareness in an Enchanted World

Jeremy W. Hayward, Author
Jeremy W. Hayward, Author Shambhala Publications $21.95 (256p) ISBN 978-1-57062-077-5
Reviewed on: 09/01/1997
Release date: 09/01/1997
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Concern for the spiritual well-being of his teenage daughter and her friends prompted Hayward (Sacred World) to write this epistolary treatise against the contemporary nihilism that, he believes, is derived from, and inspired and supported by, the mythos of mechanistic science. As a physicist who is also a follower of Tibetan Buddhism, Hayward offers an unusual perspective on the development and consequences of seeing the world in a pre-conceived, aspiritual way. His ideas are offered with gentle, if ironic, critical respect for the questing nature of Western science and its adherents. Yet, says Hayward, the presumptions of this scientific grounding of our society lead to a vision of a ""Dead World"" without sacred underpinnings. In his letters, the author explains to his daughter--and the reader--how today's science has arisen from the early medieval conflicts between heretical alchemy and the Church to its dominance of the modern worldview. Hayward's history is enlivened with anecdotes about great scientific originators, juxtaposed against art, artists and myths and legends from non-Western (Navajo, Shinto, Aborigine, etc.) interpretations of metaphysical reality. Interspersed throughout are personal observations, descriptions of meditation and mystical experiences that support Hayward's contention that there exists a magical core to being that is inhabited by ""energy-presences,"" variously known around the worlds as sprites, fairies, kami, dralas and Holy People. Well-written and lively, this book stands as an animistic response to the barriers with which, in the author's view, our science-based culture has bound the coming generation's experience, understanding and appreciation of the aesthetics of holiness. Illustrated. (Sept.)
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