Notable Books

Notable Books 20

Poos-Benson, Stephen. Sent to Soar: Fulfill Your Divine Potential for Yourself and for the World. Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, Quest Books, 2014. Pages xiv + 261.

This is a spiritual self-improvement book. Each of its ten chapters is followed by a list of “Questions to Help You Discover and Explore Your Divine Purpose.” The chapters skim over a wide variety of approaches to self-discovery beginning with traditional religions and going on to a potpourri of others. The approach seems to try for humor, with the self-referred to as “the Goo that is you” and free will called “the Holy Hairball.” A problem with the book’s diversity of approaches is that a reader may find in it a confused tangle of ways rather than a clear path. Its bibliography lists forty-odd volumes, none of which are Theosophical.

 King, Serge Kahili. Happy Me, Happy You: The Huna Way to Healthy Relationships. Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, Quest Books, 2014. Pp, viii + 280. $16.95.

This book is a mixed bag. It is one of several King has published on the “Huna Way,” which he calls “a Polynesian philosophy of life” (p. 279). Wikipedia reports that “Huna is a Hawaiian word adopted by Max Freedom Long (1890–1971) in 1936 to describe his theory of metaphysics which he linked to ancient Hawaiian kahuna (experts). It is part of the New Age movement.”

The subject of happiness in life has been approached in two dimetrically opposite ways: optimistic and pessimistic. The optimistic view is expressed, for example, in South Pacific, a musical by Richard Rodgers, Oscar Hammerstein II, and Joshua Logan, in which the nurse Nellie Forbush sings the following song:

When the sky is a bright canary yellow
I forget ev’ry cloud I’ve ever seen,
So they called me a cockeyed optimist
Immature and incurably green.
I have heard people rant and rave and bellow
That we’re done and we might as well be dead,
But I’m only a cockeyed optimist
And I can’t get it into my head.
I hear the human race
Is fallin’ on its face
And hasn’t very far to go,
But ev’ry whippoorwill
Is sellin’ me a bill,
And tellin’ me it just ain’t so.
I could say life is just a bowl of Jello
And appear more intelligent and smart,
But I’m stuck like a dope
With a thing called hope,
And I can’t get it out of my heart!
Not this heart...

The pessimistic view, on the other hand, was famously expressed by the British philosopher Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679), who asserted that life in a state of nature is “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short.”

Between those two extreme views, a third seeks a practical via media, as in Anne Nichols’s comedy Abie’s Irish Rose, in which a nice Jewish boy (Abie) falls in love with and marries a Catholic girl (Rose), and boy’s Jewish mother tells the couple that if it makes them happy to be happy, then they should be happy.

Whether King’s new book will make a reader happy is unpredictable and depends on whether the reader is a cockeyed optimist or a Hobbesian pessimist or an in-between Jewish mother.

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