When it comes to spiritual self help books, the underlying message is usually similar, but the form is strongly affected by the person sharing the information. So the real challenge is finding which ones you can relate to the best. I’ve chosen three prominent authors in this genre—Dr. Wayne W. Dyer, Abraham-Hicks, and Deepak Chopra—to provide a general comparison. They are all essentially saying the same thing, but with their own slant and their own valuable insights.
I really wanted to like Dr. Wayne W. Dyer’s books. He’s very knowledgeable and seems genuinely sincere in his desire to share what he knows and to help others. But it’s a struggle for me to finish his books. I’ve now reached the point where I’m trying to figure out why I keep losing interest in them. It’s not the content, although it does feel like a bit of a rehash of other people’s thoughts. Certainly, his frequent quotes and references to others don’t create a feeling of originality. Still, he does share some ideas and thoughts that expand the topic in ways I hadn’t considered before. It’s also not the clarity or the writing. Everything is clearly presented, and his books are easy to read.
One problem I have is I don’t find Dr. Dyer’s books particularly thought-provoking. He presents a goal—a “sacred” one, in fact—and makes it sound impressively special and eminently desirable. Unfortunately, deep down, I don’t seem to desire it. Not only that, I feel a little guilty for not desiring such a praiseworthy, and even exalted, goal. He then gives you all the steps to take to reach this preordained goal. There seems to be no room for reflection or different perspectives.
A second problem is the way he describes the journey one has to take to reach “the promised land.” The focus is on all the problems one faces and how hard it will be to overcome them. His books are filled with phrases like “try to,” “make an effort,” and “attempt to.” The feeling created from these word choices is that it will be a long, arduous journey to reach a place that I’m not sure I want to go.
In contrast, the Abraham-Hicks series of books brushes aside “problems” as if there aren’t any real ones. Everything is easy, if you allow it to be. What a wonderfully appealing idea that is! If your life is going badly, all you have to do is stop doing those things that are blocking the good life and start heading in the direction you want to go. The explanations of what you’re doing currently and how to change everything are amazingly clear and simple to follow.
These books were a refreshing change from most of the others I’ve read in this genre. Not only that, I do happen to believe that when you’re on the “right” path for yourself, then life is easier. Things have a tendency to fall into place. And this type of easy reading, easy answers may be exactly what you’re looking for, especially if you’re not into all that mystical stuff (assuming you can overlook the one tiny flaw of these being “channeled” books).
So what’s the catch? Well, it’s all too facile, too superficial. The books lack a spiritually satisfying depth. Everything is outwardly focused. Even the source of the information is an external “group of beings” called Abraham. And all the information and techniques given are aimed at changing the life you are leading in this physical world. It’s all about creating abundance, health, great relationships, satisfying work, etc. Perhaps creating a wonderful life experience is the whole point of us being here. Yet, it’s hard to ignore that niggling feeling of “Is that all there is?”
If you want spiritual depth and thought-provoking ideas, there’s always Deepak Chopra. His books presents many different religious and spiritual perspectives, blending Eastern and Western philosophies, with a special emphasis on health. Like the other authors, he has read widely and distills the knowledge he has gained from his reading and from his personal experience for the benefit of the reader. But he does not portray himself as the grand teacher and knower of all things. Thinking and questioning are definitely encouraged. They are meant to be read slowly and reflected upon, which is my preference when it comes to these kinds of books.
But there’s no real “action plan” given. So for some people, they may be too philosophical to do any good. Understanding is valuable, and sometimes that alone will “solve” a problem. However, more often than not, people need a hint of what to do next. No matter how profound something may be, there needs to be some kind of practical application for it, if it’s going to affect our everyday lives.
All these books are based on the idea that we have “creative control” over our lives, which is accomplished through the amazing power and focus of our consciousness. And even if a person can’t embrace this concept in its entirety, our thoughts and beliefs do control the way we experience our lives. Therefore, any book that helps us to understand ourselves and our thinking processes and helps us use this information more effectively is of value.
Which author a person likes really depends on whether one prefers the problem-solving approach of Dr. Wayne W. Dyer (a result of his psychology background) or the simplicity and practicality of the techniques in the Abraham-Hicks books (shaped by their business background) or the intellectual style of blended philosophies provided by Deepak Chopra (influenced by his upbringing and life which combined Eastern and Western beliefs). Of course, if you are searching for answers and understanding like me, you’ll probably read books by more than one of them because each will help you expand your perspective and add to your self-knowledge.
There is one other important thing these books tell us. The authors were able to find their answers—ones they were confident enough in to share with other people. So even though their answers may not be exactly right for us, there’s no reason we can’t find our own answers, just as they did.
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(This post was previously published on a website that is no longer available.)