Too often the issues of our world tend toward polarization, and too often we view our experience in only one way, when, in actuality, nothing is absolute. A definition isn’t reality, but simply one way of seeing. According to Bartow, reality is a continuum, and in order to truly understand our world and our “beingness,” we’ve got to view things through different perspectives. “It would be very difficult to define all of life and the universe in terms of just one perspective,” says Bartow. “Unfortunately, that is what we tend to do.”
In this first volume, Bartow sets out seven perspectives used to synthesize a view of human existence. He further defines a clear system through which we can look at elements of our world, such as matter and spirit. Though not a textbook, the book is “written at a level for individuals who have some background of study, knowledge, or direct experience with one of the following areas: transpersonal psychology, metaphysics, philosophy, astrology, eastern mysticism, western theology, and theoretical physics/biology.” Yet it is not solely for the spiritual scholar, and Bartow intends his book ultimately as “a journey in developing a more comprehensive understanding of our universe, Man and life” that can be undertaken by anyone.
His integrated approach is both thorough and impressive, and allows for the transcendence of bias. But what really assists the success of this book is Bartow’s humble and approachable tone. He writes in first person, making available his own experience and learning, including an honest confession of his own missteps and difficulties. He too, the book makes clear, is on a lifelong journey, aiming not to preach, but to further our understanding through the benefit of his own exploration of self and life.
Bartow addresses objections to his way of seeing, and even offers advice and help to get through the book. He tells the reader plainly that one should not try to take in everything at once: “For those of you readers who are…having trouble with the abstractness or complexity of this…I suggest either skipping directly ahead…or at least relaxing your mental focus for the next couple of pages and rather try to get a feeling or intuition of what’s being presented.” Since he is a visual learner, Bartow also includes many diagrams and visuals to further assist understanding.
The result is an extensive exploration of our emotional, physical, mental and spiritual world that is both scholarly and relatable to everyday life. The foundation is well laid for volume two, which will take on “realms of consciousness.”