Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of Date, 2002
Tackle your stress by finding your own spiritual still point
Finding the Still Point: A Spiritual Response to Stress,by Tom Harpur, Northstone Publishing: Kelowna, B.C. 2002. 256 pages. Papercover.
Review by WAYNE HOLST
Special to the WCR
A quarter of the population, one in four Canadians, reported in a survey they are "always" or "often" stressed and overwhelmed since the attacks of Sept 11. Similar polls in the U.S. reveal the impact of these events is even more profound there.
Finding the Still Point describes how the spiritual heritage and faith resources of Christianity and other world religions can be used to help people cope with daily stress.
"The 'still point of the turning world,'" writes Tom Harpur, quoting T.S. Eliot, is another name for that place of awareness.
God's Spirit and the spirit/mind/body unity of every person come together and are consciously one. There, humans find peace with God in their lives.
Harpur believes that this awakening experience is where not just Jesus but other great universal teachers have discovered their true identity as "children of God". The discovery of divinity within us and our full status in the spiritual order is open and waiting for everyone.
This Canadian religion writer has previously written such popular titles as Life After Death (1991), The Uncommon Touch (1994) and Prayer: The Hidden Fire (1998). Now, his attention is directed to how ancient wisdoms, together with exciting new scientific findings, can combine to meet stress crises in our lives.
Too often, techniques like yoga have been divorced from their classic spiritual underpinnings and religious understandings to make them palatable. As they are, they lack the potency they were originally designed to have.
The spirituality aspect, Harpur says, makes all the difference. His core argument is that spirituality, plus practices of mind/body reduction techniques are a far more powerful antidote to stress than either medicines or regular stress-coping disciplines by themselves.
God's Spirit and the spirit/mind/body unity of every person come together and are consciously one.
Harpur enthuses: "Churches could begin almost immediately . . . to offer spiritually-oriented courses on stress management and . . . put their too-often empty buildings to immediate, practical use in every community. I prophesy a huge response."
One part of the book revisits both the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament to demonstrate how the Sacred Scriptures of the Judeo-Christian tradition serve as a basis for meditational practice.
Harpur demonstrates how spiritual mentors such as Mother Teresa and John Main understood and applied universal meditational principles as Christians.
Harpur continues to confirm that he is on the cutting edge of spiritual developments in modern Canadian culture.
This book needs to be read with discernment, however. Not all he describes or prescribes is on target, but there are jewels to be located, savoured, implemented.
(Wayne Holst is a writer who has taught religion and culture at the University of Calgary.)