Radical Wholeness: The Embodied Present and the Ordinary Grace of Being
by Philip Shepherd
North Atlantic Books
reviewed by Michael Radon
“Activated by the felt Present, self-knowledge is discovered when the life in which you rest quickens you to the resonance of your being.” Unlike many books regarding psychological self-examination and improvement, this text follows the author’s discoveries from a remarkable journey and implores people to avoid using their head to grow. Choosing to forego university to study Noh theater in Japan, Shepherd rode a bicycle across Europe and Asia, encountering other cultures firsthand. In this experience, he discovered that not all cultures perceive the human experience the same way and began to understand that a wholeness of being encompasses interactions with all things, not just intellectually and not just on a human-to-human level. Using this as a basis, Shepherd introduces a series of ideas from people around the world and prominent authors that complete a path to finding peace and balance within one’s self and with the nature of existence. Picking up this book will ideally lead to a more peaceful and mindful lifestyle as readers are invited along to follow the author’s conclusions and methods.
Written in a compassionate, educational tone, the author is capable of taking a complex concept and making it accessible to anybody. The emphasis on feeling and establishing a resonance with the fluid Present and being rather than analyzing may be difficult to grasp at first, but the subject is approached both immediately and gradually. There is a deep examination of how Western culture divorces the feelings of the mind from the feelings of the body, and after decades of indoctrination, it will take the reader some adjustment to align with a new way of experiencing life. That being said, the author patiently knows that same struggle and provides a new angle or anecdote to help with every obstacle. As the title implies, the exercises and perspectives of this book may throw one’s worldview into upheaval, but the increased lightness and appreciation for all things are worth that experimental change.