Soul Without Shame

Byron Brown, Author Shambhala Publications $18.95 (240p) ISBN 978-1-57062-383-7
Brown, a disciple of the Diamond Way Approach, a ""modern spiritual path based on self-understanding,"" encourages readers to rediscover their life spirit by silencing their inner critics in this dense and rather ponderous guidebook. Chapters alternately muse on soul characteristics such as compassion and explain how the self-defeating superego, which the author calls ""the judge,"" can be identified, understood and finally disengaged. Inexplicably, Brown never refers to the many classic and contemporary thinkers who have written brilliantly on these topics (a bibliography lists only eight books, four by Diamond Approach founder A.H. Almaas, who also provides the book's foreword). Reading this book is thus a little like sitting at the Indy 500 and watching someone try to reinvent the wheel. Painstaking explications of commonly understood concepts, frequent restatement and a hectoring tone (""The fact is, you do not recognize yourself as soul. You do not know the source of your own aliveness"") make for laborious reading. Some of Brown's insights--particularly about the ways bodily awareness can both signal and halt the self-judgment cycle--are helpful, but fuzzy generalities far outnumber practical suggestions, while stories that might ground the book in actual experience are often unintentionally funny: ""Frank observed the hairs sticking out of his nostrils and wished his fingers didn't enjoy scraping the inside of his nose so much."" (Dec.)
Reviewed on: 11/30/1998
Release date: 12/01/1998
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