Spiritual Enlightenment: The Damnedest Thing
by Jed McKenna
Review by Heather Froeschl
Bookstore shelves are filled with how-to books and numerous volumes telling us what we should think, believe and feel. There are aisles of texts that claim to be the path to enlightenment. If you read them all you might come away with one passage, here and there, that makes an impact on your soul's journey. You may indeed discover fodder for thought and contemplation. You will certainly find a good deal of conflicting information and a whole lot of stuff that just fills the pages between the covers and makes a pretty penny for the publishers. Where do you turn when you want some straight answers, but your neighborhood simply does not have it's own guru upon the highest hill?
"Spiritual Enlightenment, The Damnedest Thing" by Jed McKenna. Why this book? Why this guy? It takes a true master to take a topic that has been studied since humans could communicate and describe it in simplicity. It takes a teacher who is fluent in the language of butterflies to convey the message to the awaiting caterpillars, that it is indeed possible to make the transition through chrysalis and emerge glorious. One simply must let go of being a caterpillar. It is the how of it that complicates things for people.
Jed McKenna introduces the reader to his current life and the atmosphere that surrounds it, in eastern Iowa, where he lives among the students who have sought him out. Here we see the interaction of teacher and student and the wisdom that is relayed. Having been through it all already, Jed knows how to help his students by challenging them to find the answers for themselves, and not simply quoting the masters as law.
The book is not full of fluff and fancy. Jed does not take you by the hand and lead you through your journey. But he does take the mystery out of mysticism. He does show us what enlightenment is, or rather, is not. I have only one other time found an enlightenment book to be so readable and engaging as this. Referring to Walt Whitman, Tao Te Ching and Bhagavad Gita and the teachings of Zen Buddhism, while using examples such as skydiving, Lara Croft, and watching a thunderstorm, Jed attempts to shed light on questions many of us have on our journeys. And he does. He explains why so many have failed to find enlightenment and how this can be avoided. Once you are on the journey though, once you have made the breakthrough, if it is right, you will become obsessed with uncovering the truth.
Each reader may find something just a bit different from the next to connect with and utilize in this book. You may uncover a truth within yourself or you may lose yourself. Which takes you further toward enlightenment? You'll have to read it and see what it does for you.