The Mandala of Being: Discovering the Power of Awareness
by Richard Moss
Published by New World Library
328 pages, 2007
Reviewed by Mary Ward Menke
Just what the world needs: another book about self-actualization.
I have to admit that's what I was thinking when I started reading Richard Moss' The Mandala of Being: Discovering the Power of Awareness. Pardon my facetious cynicism; in truth, I'm fascinated by books about spirituality and self-empowerment. This book was not a disappointment.
According to his Web site, Moss is a physician who left his medical practice after a "life-changing realization" at the age of 30. He’s since dedicated his life to helping people realize their multidimensional nature and achieve fulfillment and well-being. Moss adheres to the pragmatic philosophy that work on consciousness must alleviate human suffering and address the root causes of why and how we create so much conflict in ourselves and our world.
Moss believes that self-inquiry is the key to self-empowerment. He entreats us to meditate, to "go back the way that we have come" to earliest childhood. "Our original state of consciousness in childhood is not one of being a separate entity with our own thoughts and sensations," writes Moss, "but rather is a relatively undifferentiated domain of sensation and perception." With practice, Moss tells us, we become aware of the sacredness that lies within. Our inner being, our I-Am, is all that we are; we are Now. We are the center of the mandala (circle of being). How can we be expected to understand the outermost parts of the circle -- the past, the future, judgments of ourselves and judgments of others -- when we don't see our soul-center?
From the center of the circle of being -- the I-AM -- we can move to the different sections to question our emotions and beliefs about our past, always returning to center to affirm who we are. Despite the negativity of many of these feelings, we find comfort in their familiarity. We tend to wrap ourselves in cloaks of anger and cynicism to protect ourselves from further hurt. Further, when we allow ourselves to be dominated by our feelings and emotions we fail to see ourselves and others as they are in the Now. Moss wants us to know that by reinventing our identities, we can rid ourselves of such cloaks, not by avoiding the feelings, but by acknowledging them without letting them control us:
We exercise the power of awareness and strengthen our spiritual muscle by bringing ourselves, over and over again, into the immediate present. To do so, we must become present with what we are feeling and thinking. We can turn our attention directly toward what we are experiencing instead of staying enmeshed in a feeling or blindly accepting our beliefs about ourselves.
Moss admits that self-realization isn't finite:
... I have had to accept the humiliating truth that my own survival personality continues to operate. If my attention isn't fully in the present, I can still lapse into distrust concerning the future, or communicate indirectly to protect myself or to avoid hurting or disappointing others And does one ever finally defeat the beasts of self-involvement and self-importance that so easily insinuate themselves into our behavior and thinking? I haven't.
A master teacher, Moss gives simple and practical steps for discovering our I-Am and incorporating this self-awareness into our daily lives. For many of us, as with any new learning, the problem becomes taking what we have learned and applying it. True cynics will have trouble handling the New Age psychobabble in his approach: "Learning the Inner Gaze of Nonreactive Attention" and "The Nature of Contraction and the Body as Teacher" not to mention "Right Remembering." And religious fundamentalists will no doubt be offended by such statements as "Absolute conviction, whether about ourselves, about others, or about any belief, is at the root of all human evil." However, all would be served to move past these self-imposed objections and allow Moss' teachings to be absorbed.
Inner peace and self-understanding may be the first steps towards universal peace and understanding. | April 2007
Mary Ward Menke is a contributing editor to January Magazine and the owner of WordAbilities, LLC, providing writing and editing services to businesses and individuals. Her work has been published in The Toastmaster, Dog Fancy and Science of Mind magazines, in the Suburban Journals (a weekly St. Louis community newspaper) and on STLtoday.com.