Mon | Sep 25, 2017

Practical guidelines to unlock your potential

Published:Sunday | May 22, 2016 | 5:00 AM

Title: Anam Cara: Your Soul Friend and Bridge to Enlightenment and Creativity

Author: Dr Glenville Ashby

Reviewer: Tony Vendryes, MD

 

"Tap into your soul and unlock your creativity" is the basic message and call to action by Dr Glenville Ashby. His latest book, Anam Cara: Your Soul Friend and Bridge to Enlightenment and Creativity, comes to us at a time when it is most sorely needed. As modern technology and materialism continue to make deep inroads into the cultural and spiritual traditions of mankind, this material seeks to help us return to the source, our source, the ultimate solution the soul.

Anam Cara literally means 'soul friend'. The soul, he describes simply as our nature, our essence. With persuasive language and imagery, he invites us, as he puts it "to travel back to the source and experience its magic in order to live authentically". With your Anam Cara, he explains, "you share your innermost self, revealing the hidden intimacies of your life, your mind, and your heart. This friendship cuts across all convention to create an act of recognition and belonging that joins souls in an ancient and eternal way."

In reading this book, I appreciated how Dr Ashby willingly identifies with his readers when he states: "Like so many people of every conceivable stratum, be it intellectual, social, or economic, I have experienced emotional and psychological pain." There is indeed a universal appeal in this message.

The author, himself a spiritual seeker and teacher, noted academic, and journalist, speaks with authenticity from his own realisations, while drawing on the wisdom of a variety of authoritative historical figures ranging from Carl Jung to Albert Einstein and Helen Keller.

Finding your Anam Cara is not without its challenges, the author points out in these sobering words:

"The Anam Cara must be distinguished from any individual who uses therapy in a business sense. Money in exchange for service erases the spiritual component of the interaction. The priest, minister, or any other religious leader must set certain boundaries in his relationship with his flock. This eliminates the two building blocks of the Anam Cara spirit - intimacy and candour.

"These elements make the Anam Cara a unique individual. You and your Anam Cara are glued in psycho-spiritual terms. You enjoy a level of intimacy - not in a carnal sense, but in a spiritual sense. The elements that inhibit growth are removed. The closets are opened and sanitised without fear, distrust, shame, guilt, or doubt."

 

KEYS TO ENLIGHTENMENT

 

With those subtle warnings, he invites the reader to seek and find the keys to enlightenment and creativity. Directional signposts and guidelines are provided to assist us in our search.

Interestingly, other ancient spiritual traditions such as Buddhism and Hinduism extol the practice of the seeker finding a teacher or guru to guide the disciple on his journey, forming what is called the guru-disciple relationship. In its healthiest expression, however, the guru invariably directs the disciple to find the guru within - the Sat guru. This is the same principle that this book presents.

Without prejudice, Dr Ashby acknowledges the presence of many other popular self-help therapies. He explains: "The purpose of this handbook is not to malign or trump other therapies. That is a counterproductive approach. What is important to know is that caustic remarks and criticism engender seeds of separation and distrust and even disdain. These elements are antithetical to your well-being. This work encourages you to concentrate on your own development."

In this inspirational book, Dr Ashby undertakes the challenging task of reminding us of our true nature and our inner power and wisdom. It invites self-empowerment, self-discovery, and self-actualisation. It provides not just a theoretical framework, but also practical guidance in strengthening our relationship with our Anam Cara. He presents minor keys such as self-imaging, contemplative journeying, and service; and major keys, such as gratitude, atonement, and forgiveness for us to unlock our creative potential and experience the abundance of nature. He also leads us through 42 confessions to the soul, a profound and transformative exercise.

Wisdom, contentment, and good health are our birthright. In reading this text, I found myself pulled to deeper self-reflection and internal realignment.

This book, in my opinion, is not for the faint-hearted, the self-assured, or the nonchalant. Anyone interested in spiritual growth can benefit from it. But read it with the understanding that you run the risk of making a quantum leap in your quest to know your true self.

Thank you, Dr Ashby, for the guiding light this book offers.

Rating: Highly recommended

- Dr Vendryes is a medical doctor who strongly promotes prevention and healthy lifestyles through his popular weekly radio programme and newspaper column and through various health and wellness lectures, seminars and workshops.