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The Gnostic Journal Review of My Book “Breathe Into Being”

January 18, 2010

This review, by Tony Cartledge, appears in the second issue of The Gnostic: A Journal of Gnosticism, Western Esotericism and Spirituality. The publisher of the journal asked me to wait a couple of months after publication before making this review available to the general public. It has now been two months. I am including the review here because it so beautifully captures the spirit of the book.

Breathe Into Being: Awakening to Who You Really Are

Breathe Into Being: Awakening to Who You Really Are

Breathe into Being
Awakening to Who You Really Are

Dennis Lewis, Quest Books

I believe it’s a sign of spiritual health and maturity that, as you get older, you start to see things much more simply. Many unnecessary things fall away, and the lens through which you see the world becomes far less cluttered than it was during the frantic search for meaning of your previous decades. Life becomes a kind of distillation of all you have learned, a distillation down to its essential ingredients.

At least, that is how I see it. So I tend to look for spiritual guidance and instruction that has a simple message and practice. For that reason alone, I knew I was going to find Dennis Lewis’ new book, ‘Breathe into Being,” a valuable addition to my spiritual library.

I’ve had a long interest in the use of following the breath for developing mindfulness, and Dennis Lewis’ work is one of the clearest and most practical expositions of this powerful tool for awakening.

Lewis’ CV, and authority, is impressive, to say the least. He is a graduate of three grand schools of consciousness: the Gurdjieff Work under Lord John Pentland, Advaita Vedanta under Jean Klein, and Taoism under Mantak Chia. Lewis’ approach is a skilful distillation of these three fruitful paths to awakening, with a powerful simplicity and great depth.

In Lewis’ own words, there are few, if any contemporary books that “explore the depths to which breathing itself, natural breathing, is a portal to presence, an ever-present gateway to awakening to and being what you really are.”

There are no lengthy and learned treatises here, but a rich tapestry of around 70 micro-chapters. It is more like a workbook, which Lewis says comes closer to how he actually teaches in a workshop setting.

Each chapter contains a specific practice, and there were many unique exercises that I had not seen before which I immediately incorporated into my daily practice.

Many of these exercises are effective methods for healing tension, undoing the physical and emotional knots and blocks that impede thee free flow of energy in what Lewis calls ‘this amazing temple of awareness’ called the human body.

However, the main focus of these practices is developing non-attachment, or non-identification, gently disengaging our identity away from the ego or personality, and releasing it into that wider ground of being that we are.

Lewis’ practices of simply following the breath are effective tools for generating mindfulness and presence, the space in which we can discover the truth about ourselves and the world.

They are wonderful exercises for developing that most valuable of spiritual commodities: attention.

“The key is simply to be present, to pay attention without any expectation or judgement, to what is happening as you read and practice and live. And it is to realise that being this presence, along with whatever appears within its field of illumination, is the very miracle and meaning for which you have been searching. (Breathe into Being p.8)

Leonardo Da Vinci once said that simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.

Breathe into Being is one of the most sophisticated guides to awakening I have read.

Tony Cartledge
Author of
Planetary Types: the Science of Celestial Influence

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