Reviews: Face of Consciousness

“In answering the questions, ‘Who am I? What am I? and Why am I here?’ Doctors Patrick Donovan and Herb Joiner Bey weave us through a course on mysticism, mythology, archetypes, religion, history, quantum physics, physical chemistry, chaos theory, fractal geometry, and psychoneuroimmunology. They tackle dualities of the universe: I/Thou, part/whole, self/others, humanity/divinity, wave/particle, yin/yang, man/woman, good/evil, health/illness, and weave through their lessons teachings from the Kabbalah, the Bible, the Egyptian Book of the Dead, the Hindu Rig Veda, the Tao Te Ching, the I Ching, Carl Jung, systems theory, and ancient Celtic stone carvings.

Their research is exhaustive and scholarly, and yet their writing is friendly—they hold your hand and lead you through these complex and diverse terrains. What they end up delivering is a remarkable integration and synthesis, a whole-world view of consciousness and being. They distill out the simple truths and destinations we are all seeking: self-identity, self-affirmation, personal destiny, and connection to a greater whole.”Ralph T. Golan, M.D., Author of Optimal Wellness, Where Mainstream and Alternative Meet

“The Face of Consciousness leads the reader on speculations involving mysticism, quantum physics, biochemistry, fractals, the causes of disease and Jungian archetypes, venues of human experience accessible to us all. The authors pose the monumental questions of who we are and what we are and attempt to systematically solve the riddle of human existence. The Face of Consciousness is primarily a book about healing—its authors are naturopathic physicians—and the fact that healing comes through community and the act of questioning the purpose of our existence in conjunction with other seekers. In the early pages of the book, Donovan and Joiner-Bey propose that ‘as you recognize your true essential nature of being (I), you recognize the true essential nature of the whole (Thou) of which you are a part and your participation within it. By this act of recognition…the purpose of life is fulfilled.’ The key to gleaning value from this book, however, lies in the ability to apply its truths to your own lived experience. In this context, the authors’ speculations assume new life and reality as they are translated from pure theory to the reader’s spiritual quest as embodied in individual phenomenological experience. I heartily recommend this book to all seekers of truth.

One of the book’s benefits is the enduring perspective it brings to the great mystics and thinkers that have preceded us, illustrious men like Martin Buber, C. G. Jung, Abraham Maslow, Rumi, Kahlil Gibran, and Spinoza, to new a few. As the authors define the modern phenomenon of the self, they introduce the science of DNA, organic chemistry and geometry to substantiate their views, often mixing the primordial human experience with modern notions of reality. Our main problem is the illusion of separateness, the ego, a tenet found in Buddhist thinking. I couldn’t help but agree with Donovan and Joiner-Bey that ‘the ubiquitous tendency to disassociate from a sense of responsibility for the consequences of our choices due to our cultural story of exclusivism has allowed the extreme patriarchal ego mind to engage in an insidious form of self delusion that has wrecked havoc on humanity and the planet.’ The book wages war against the Cartesian dualism rampant in our most solipsistic beliefs, and it also lampoons the idea that matter is ‘dead.’ The authors declare that the natural world assumes the form of a goddess ‘alive, organic, conscious and self-aware!’ To further support this theory, the book explores the mystery of the trinity in religion, organic biology and philosophy. I was thrilled to find that the 64 hexagrams of the I Ching, one of the best oracular systems known to man, matches the sixty-four possible combinations of DNA. Both systems are based on a series of triplet codes. Amazing!

I have read books on chaos theory, holographs, string theory and quantum physics and was always left feeling both better informed and more perplexed. The Face of Consciousness expertly weaves its narrative on science, philosophy and mysticism in such a way as to leave you with a better understanding of the structure of life and how that integrates with the phenomenology of our perception of the world and the continuous birth of the self. By bringing together the similarities between living systems theory and psychological notions of self, the authors provide the great service of illustrating exactly how consciousness and matter converge. When the authors reveal that ‘the essential pattern of a living system is a network pattern of circularly interacting components capable of self-organization, self-regulation and continual creation,’ you cannot help but see the parallel between your own psychological organization and that of all life on the planet. Aha! So, we are linked with all of nature due to our human experience. The end of the cycle of continuous creation is transcendence. You may have intuited this, but after reading this book, you will know why such states of consciousness are probable, practical and vital.

The book’s conclusion leaves us where it began—with the primary choice we make as humans. Shall we face our mortality through a ‘death of entropy,’ an atrophied sense of self and other, or will we embrace ‘death by transformation,’ the courageous embrace of the chaotic through continuous self-creativity? If you follow the authors’ reasoning, the right choice becomes self-apparent. Death by transformation, as they define it, is ‘death into resurrection,’ the willingness to face the uncontrollable or chaotic elements of our lives with courage and faith. This hero’s journey is not taken alone, but represents the ultimate affirmation that ‘who you are and choose to be can change the world.’ Reading The Face of Consciousness will not automatically dispel your dilemmas, make you an instant hero or on the other hand, give you a messiah complex. However, grasping its essential concepts may affirm or reaffirm your place in existence as an individual who lives comfortably and responsibly with his or her own truth.”—Kathleen Rivenbark, Nexus Reviews

“I wish The Face of Consciousness had been available when I was a young clinician—I could have learned the art of healing much sooner and better helped so many more patients. This work is transformational, not just for practitioners, but to each of us on our unique, personal journey through life. Ultimately, isn't full manifestation of our ‘selfness’ or ‘consciousness’ all we really have? Exploring this wonderful book has been a powerful experience. It will be a powerful experience for you as well.

I can think of no better reward for a teacher than to be taught by his students. Thank you Dr. Patrick Donovan, thank you Dr. Herb Joiner-Bey for making all the hard work worthwhile.”—Joseph E. Pizzorno, Jr. N.D., President Emeritus, Bastyr University, Editor, Integrative Medicine: A Clinician's Journal Author, Total Wellness and co-author, Textbook of Natural Medicine

“This is a bold and imaginative work, brilliantly researched, penetrating to the core of the question that confronts us all: Who are we? What are we?

Knowing who we are and what we are is both the question and in some ways the ultimate answer. We are about the exploration of ourselves—we are that discovering. It is the brilliance of Donovan & Joiner Bey that turn this quest into a finely woven tapestry of ideas and visions. Framed amid this New Age adventure, free will finds its purpose and we find our meaning. It is the enabler, basic to the author's vision. Life evolves and unfolds to become self-aware and realize its full potential.

This is a New Age masterpiece—clear, thorough. In their study they weave the fabric of both religion and science, creating a new view of our reality. We are both place and role in the patterns that Donovan and Joiner Bey reveal. And in the end we are not left to wonder what the answer is to the questions with which they begin their journey. Their search is a journey that carries you to the end and in the end you find the answer. Who am I? Donovan and Joiner Bey answer.”—Evan Harris Walker, Ph.D., Physicist and author of The Physics of Consciousness and founder of the Walker Cancer Institute

“Most impressive. It has almost everything in it. The material is so rich! Such a probing and deep work it might ‘freak out’ some academic and professional colleagues as well as move some very profoundly as you back metaphysics with detailed observation”.—Z'ev ben Shimon Halevi, Director of the Kabbalah Society and author of The Way of Kabbalah, A Kabbalistic Universe, and numerous other books on Kabbalah and cosmology

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