Book snobs are an inevitable part of the literary community, but instead of scoffing at the choices of other readers, how about we celebrate all books that inspire people to read. Have you noticed that popular books have a habit of becoming critically unpopular once they garner too much attention? The hysteria of the Twilight series swept up even the most unlikely of bookworms? From literary beginnings came the mania of the film series, the exponential growth of teen vampire fiction, and then the backlash. Within a couple of years, Twilight went from undead to dead.
People are more likely to pick up a book that has reached cult status purely to avoid missing out. I love seeing books swapped around friendship circles, discussed and debated over a bottle of wine. The indulgent escapism of a beautiful story is something to be encouraged, surely anything in this world that makes us feel something is worthy of respect.
So, how do books go from being the toast of the town to gutter trash? It seems like everybody is reading the same books, staying safe and not straying away from recommendations and the top ten bestseller list. Then all of sudden those hot books go cold. People are inevitably fickle when it comes to new ideas, they embrace them when they are popular, and disown them when they are no longer popular.
This long winded, off-topic introduction leads me to a book that has enchanted me since I was a child. My connection with The Celestine Prophecy by James Redfield began over twenty years ago. My parents were utterly enamoured by this new-fangled spiritual book that was sitting atop the New York Times bestseller list in America, but it certainly hadn’t made any headlines in my little Australian country town.
As a curiously inquisitive child I was intrigued by an exotic book I heard my parents discussing, as if the earth and all living things had a secret life and this book told the reader all of those secrets. I have vivid recollections of my Dad teaching me to breathe in the energy of trees and I wholeheartedly inhaled, filling my lungs with some kind of magic fairy dust. I knew there was more to life than what I had seen in my little town.
My parents enthusiastically recommended The Celestine Prophecy to their friends, but being dwellers of a small town, some people found this a little too controversial.
I grew up without siblings, so I spent much of my time around adults, observing them. Whether it was the ideas expressed in this book that unsettled people, or just the change in perspective that my parents were talking about, who knows? Some rolled their eyes and others just diverted the subject. This book was either embraced or rejected. The small minded ones saw it as a bunch of hocus pocus, preferring to retreat safely back into the confines of their comfort zones.
I was confused and wondered if discussing ideas was a bad thing? As soon as my parents started talking about spiritual awakening, people got seriously uncomfortable and reacted as if they were trying to sell a dangerous religious cult on their doorstep. It was just a book, not the bible! My observations led me to conclude that a vast majority of people are intimidated by change. 1993 was the year I decided that I would never be one of those small town people. I was only ten years old and hadn’t even read this book, but I could see the profound spark it had ignited and I knew that books must be pretty powerful if they could do that.
When I was sixteen, I distinctly remember asking my Dad if I could borrow his copy of the book, I felt ready. Sadly, he had lent it to somebody months before and it was never returned. This book intentionally evades you, until you really need it. Many more years passed and the book still hadn’t crossed my path.
Fast forward another sixteen years. I had forgotten my lunch and while I waited for my lunch order, I wandered into the second-hand store next door. I had walked past this store twice a day for two years and never really noticed it, but was finally lured in by the Jane Austen display in the window.
There was a large trolley of books for $2 as I entered, so I sifted through and there was my copy of The Celestine Prophecy. I quickly paid for it and left the store feeling much richer, forgetting all about the Jane Austen display that had led me inside. That afternoon I finally began reading The Celestine Prophecy and didn’t stop reading for two days straight. It may sound a little melodramatic, but this book seemed to find me right when I needed it most.
The Celestine Prophecy predicts a collective spiritual shift away from the archaic traditions of structured religion towards a more enlightened existence aligned with nature and the universe.
The first chapter instructs you to pay attention to all of the coincidences in your life that lead you down a certain path. Even my relationship with this book is riddled with mystery, why did I come across it at this very moment in my life? As I flipped the pages, it became increasingly clear.
A renaissance of consciousness is where the first insight begins, and the first indicator is restlessness, a feeling I have long been acquainted with. The intrigue of the first chapter had me gripped. Rich language and exotic imagery – a recently discovered ancient artefact, a mysterious manuscript, a half mooned evening, a thunderstorm, a chance meeting with an old flame, an invigorating conversation.
The first insight is surreal, something you can easily believe because you’ve felt it before. The knowledge that there is another side of life that we are yet to discover. We sense it again, as we did in childhood.
We are restless because there is more to life than we know. The beauty of spring flowers in bloom, sunlit trees, autumn leaves, moody skies, and fairy floss sunsets. When you are a child, all the little details captivate your attention – collecting seashells by the sea, counting clouds, making shadow puppet silhouettes on your bedroom walls, finding caterpillars and ladybugs, jumping in puddles, chasing butterflies, and playing outside in the garden with snapdragons and marigolds. I spent my whole childhood outside making mud pies and magical potions from crushed rose petals and water, where I was truly happy. When we grow up, we forget the wonderment of the simple things in life and end up striving for material possessions that never truly satisfy us.
I loved the second insight, a gentle critique of religion. I do not disrespect any person with different views to my own. We all have the right to our own beliefs, and these are mine.
Religion is a problematic ideal for me. I was raised by an Atheist father and Catholic mother. Completing my sacraments was more of an obligation to my mother, but when you become an adult you are free to form your own views. I couldn’t quite overlook the powerful role of the church in fostering blind obedience and I began to view the Catholic Church as a wickedly wealthy institution. You only have to walk through the Vatican Museum to see that several commandments were broken in the acquisition of all their wealth and priceless art. The second insight predicts that the evolution of human culture will see religious bodies lose their credibility as the whole world is being thrown into question. Less and less people will follow religion as truth as people seek out a more spiritual existence.
The Celestine Prophecy is a personal journey that I certainly do not wish to interfere with. I genuinely hope you manifest this book into your own life and it inspires you to connect with your own divine spirituality.
James Redfield has written numerous related titles, which you can discover on The Celestine Vision.