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Sacred Selfishness: A Guide to Living a Life of Substance    by Bud Harris order for
Sacred Selfishness
by Bud Harris
Order:  USA  Can
Inner Ocean, 2004 (2004)

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* * *   Reviewed by J. A. Kaszuba Locke

In Sacred Selfishness, Jungian analyst Bud Harris, Ph.D. evaluates conscious and unconscious levels of the mind, defining a platform for the function of 'sacred selfishness'. By giving ourselves permission to step outside the limits of conventional mind-sets (societal and family), we are able to look at all aspects of life. Listening to other voices within us, considering emotions, thoughts, dreams (even when unpleasant), we can journey towards our full potential. Bud Harris shares his own, painful journey from depression and self-criticism in an illuminating search for self-awareness.

Harris inspires from-the-heart, with powerful, literate writing that cannot be ignored. He includes an exemplary set of references and resources, including mythology, Shakespeare, Erich Fromm, Thomas Moore, Maria Rainer Rilke, C. G. Jung, Thomas More, Hans Christian Anderson's The Shadow, cartoonist Bill Waterson's Calvin and Hobbes, and Nikos Kazantzakis's great novel Zorba The Greek. The author blends lightheartedness into a deep subject, enhancing enjoyment and understanding for the reader. Harris defines Individuation, Transformation, Journaling, Dialoguing, Dreaming, and Analogies - for example, he tells us that small children imagine making themselves invisible by simply placing their hands over their eyes. In turn, adults imagine getting rid of unlikable aspects within themselves by not looking at them. Harris's case studies slide with ease into the content of each chapter without disturbing the reader's attention to the matter at mind's eye.

Harris voices disagreement with those colleagues who state that we need to embrace weaknesses, feelings or illnesses. In social patterns, we are taught that fears must be hidden, and there is shame in tears - which keeps us in the pattern of the norm. The result is an adult life based on self-gratification, referred to by the author as sickly selfishness. The author's viewpoint is that shadows and illnesses need full understanding before we begin to embrace them. We are served more outside the social structure, with sacred selfishness defined as making the commitment to valuing ourselves from all aspects - searching out our shadows or inner fears enough to pursue the decision to search our inner being. The author says this of several of his references, 'Einstein ... his imagination brought insight into the universe. For poet Blake it gave insight into the soul of human life.' And 'The Talmud tells us ... A dream that has not been interpreted is like a letter that has not yet been opened.'

Whether you are a dreamer, are searching for meaning in life, or seeking to expand your awareness, there is something of value in Harris's Sacred Selfishness. I recommend the book to anyone who has been in search of Self, or struggling with a desire to become who you really want to be. If you need reinforcement in doing the self-search and transformations, this book is also for you. It is inspiring, encouraging, and enlightening -- Sacred Selfishness will be comfortable on each and every bookshelf!

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