Tuesday, December 8, 2015

The Gate of Tears: Sadness and the Spiritual Path

Jay Michaelson’s The Gate of Tears: Sadness and the Spiritual Path seeks to create a much need corrective path from New Age books, talks, and seminars devoted to finding and attaining happiness through spiritual and religious pursuits.  Rather than viewing sadness as an impediment to the spiritual path, Michaelson frames it, quite correctly, as integral; without dark times, we would lack the necessary cognitive and mental tools to refine our sense of being in the world.

Even when the sadness appears to serve no purpose, Michaelson explains techniques to hold the sadness, to allow it to dwell within us without comment or judgement. This Buddhist technique can reveal startling results.  By sitting still with the sadness, we can come to an understanding of it as a fleeting state.  It moves on, just like all our emotional states.  Sadness has no more hold on us than any other emotion.

Michaelson writes this book in the first person, giving the work an intimate feel, revealing much about himself and the ups and downs of his quest.  This book is excellent ballast for the scores dangerous Pollyanna spiritual guides we find today. It's OK to be sad. 

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