The Midas Tree by Lesley Phillips

by Evan on 2012/10/22

 

Lesley was kind enough to send me a copy of her book, The Midas Tree, to review. I have also hosted a guest post by her – which lets you know that I value what she has to say.

 

What kind of book is it?
It is a kind of extended parable. It lays out the path of spiritual development by telling the story of a character. In this story the character is Joshua and he learns about self development through learning about a tree (the Midas Tree of the title) and the changes this brings to the tree and himself.

It tells the story of Joshua’s journey from the garden in the presence of Morfar, through the Midas Tree, until his eventual return to the garden in Morfar’s presence.  Most of the book is taken up with his journey in the Midas Tree and the lessons he learns there.

This style of writing is difficult to do. There are some masters – like C S Lewis. There are a great many more who are quite poor writers (not to mention any names – because then you would know what I think of the writing of James Redfield and Dan Brown.).

I am delighted to report that Lesley is much closer to the masters than most of those who attempt this kind of writing.

The biggest challenge with this kind of writing is for the characters to be more than just cardboard cut-outs for what the author wants to say. To gain emotional engagement rather than just presenting an intellectual system. All too often this kind of writing becomes a thinly veiled lecture – and not a particularly interesting one.

Lesley has thankfully avoided this. Mostly this is because her descriptions are vivid and emotionally engaging. And her central character, Joshua, does have moments of vulnerability and genuine feelings. The other characters are less fully developed, as you would expect, although Lesley does manage to differentiate some of them. She also manages a few surprises in the story – which is tricky to pull off in this kind of writing where the plot is laid out in advance.

This isn’t a novel – and doesn’t try to be. It is not the characters and their relationships that is the primary interest. The interest is from the lessons conveyed. Lesley has managed to write in such a way that the book is engaging and the message is conveyed clearly.

 

The Message
The message is about a true understanding of our selves and our world. It is about how we go about transforming ourselves.

The main way of transformation is through meditative practices. These are explained along with other traditions – the runes, and the assistance of devas.

This self development also leads to the development of special abilities – like remote seeing and hearing and speaking. I have no experience of these special abilities, so can’t comment. And they only occupy a small amount of the book. They are treated as a matter of fact development, rather than being seen as the goal of self development.

I don’t want to be a spoiler so I don’t want to give away too much of the message. I hope this gives enough of an indication to know if you would be interested in what the book has to say.

 

WIIFY?
(What’s in it for you?)

1. An enjoyable read about self development.
2. The explanation of how to do the practices are the clearest I have found in any book of this kind. You will know what to do if you wish to pursue this path of self development. There is no getting lost in clouds of abstraction.
3. The path is clearly laid out.  The stages are clearly separated, the issues described on the path are clearly distinguished.  Lesley manages to do this through incidents that are engaging and can be surprising.  This isn’t a dry manifesto.
4. The path described does include social transformation. Unfortunately with a lot of books of this kind you can end up thinking that we don’t have relationships and that we somehow exist in space – without living in any particular place; and that our place and relationships don’t really matter. (I think this is a major weakness.) Lesley specifically addresses social problems and the part that responding to them plays in our self development. This doesn’t occupy a large part of the book, but it is included, which is great to see.

 

Drawbacks?
None really. I have some philosophical disagreements with the approach in this book. But that isn’t a criticism of it.

There were only a couple of times throughout the whole book where I thought the characterisation slipped – the character spoke in a way that sounded much more like a 21st century adult than the speech of someone from the world of the book. Except for these couple of minor slips (early on in the text) the world of the book is convincingly created.  They didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the book.

 

My Assessment
If you are open to this approach to self development then this will be an enjoyable read and a valuable guide on your path.

The Midas Tree (approx. 330 pages) is available from the 11th of November. If you pre-order it here you will receive a signed copy of a limited edition printing.

I'm Evan Hadkins. I'm Evan Hadkins. To find out how to live a more satisfying life you can download my manifesto on living authentically. It is a book of exercises to guide you to finding, nourishing and living from the core of who you are.

If you would like me to write about some aspect of living an authentic life please don’t hesitate to get in touch. There is a box in the sidebar where you can leave a question anonymously if you wish, or you can email me, use the contact page, or comment on this post.

 

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