Book Review: The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know Is Possible by Charles Eisenstein

I have a terrible tendency to get entirely derailed into negative thinking. I panic easily about the state of the world and the future and then I have trouble functioning. I’m usually pretty cheerful and optimistic, but these days there are doom and gloom stories pressing in on me from EVERYWHERE.

I know I’m not alone in this problem!

Enter The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know Is Possible by Charles Eisenstein

It is a breath of fresh air in a world of panic. I just wish I could actually believe his beautiful vision of the future!

The premise of this book is that as a culture we have a “story” of the world and how it works. Our old story is breaking down because it was never really based on reality. A new story is emerging, but right now is a time of transition, which can be very scary.

I can tell that the author is just a little bit older than me. His nostalgia for his childhood in which he was taught that everything was safe and secure and if you followed a particular path you’d be all set is not familiar to me. While he remembers the triumph of walking on the moon, I was not yet born. My first memory is actually of the space shuttle Challenger blowing up. I was born into a world in chaos. The first Gulf war, the meteor that might destroy the planet in the 90s, Y2K panic, and then 9/11 happened my sophomore year of college.

The year before I graduated, the dot com bubble burst and all my friends graduating with the “safe” computer science major entered a glutted market and couldn’t get jobs. Shortly after that the housing market bubble burst and buying a house was no longer even close to the safe bet it had been for generations. Friends in “starter” homes were screwed when they needed more space.

Then there’s the war that’s lasted most of my adult life and the tanking of the economy into a depression as bad as the great depression.

There was never a safe world for me.

However, that doesn’t change his thesis one bit. He has a very positive way to spin the fear and chaos that the world feels like right now. And that’s why I requested this book for review. Because I’m terrified of the world. My parents like to watch the news and to be informed about what’s happening in the world (a noble goal and I applaud them for it). I can’t watch the news because it’s too scary. I can’t function for days afterwards.

I found this book extremely calming to read.

At first I wondered what more there was to say after his introduction, but he goes through a number of different feelings that might arise from his premise and addresses each one in its own chapter. I think he does a brilliant job of seeing his own thoughts and biases.

As I read through the beginning I began to be rather cynical, thinking “Yes, well, this sounds an awful lot like the Age of Aquarius stuff that people believed in the 60s and that better world didn’t come.”

Then the author acknowledges that exact thought! The chapter on Cynicism was amazing and I liked how he pointed out how we use cynicism to try to guard ourselves and feel less vulnerable.

I really do want to believe him. But his premise bumps right up against the Hindu view of the cycles of the world. We’re in the Kali Yuga now and it is a time of destruction and ignorance. Someday the world will be destroyed and then reborn into happiness.

And that is similar to his idea. He just doesn’t think the world is going to be destroyed before its rebirth!

In reality I know I have nothing to fear. Souls are immortal. We cannot be destroyed or truly harmed. Whatever mess the world is going through, it will not actually harm me.

This book really helps me to remember that and hold onto my optimism and hope.

 

About Ambaa

Ambaa is an American woman of European ancestry who is also a practicing Hindu. She is fascinated with questions of philosophy, culture, and the meaning of life. Join her in the journey to explore how a non-Indian convert to Hinduism experiences her religion.

  • JRiverMartin

    Hi Ambaa. I also enjoyed this book very much, as I did Eisenstein’s several other books.

    I wonder whether you are willing to consider the possibility that the notion of the Kali Yuga might possibly not be entirely true, or at least in terms of your understanding of it? One can retain a basically Hindu cosmology or world view and be agnostic about some of the particular beliefs…. Right?

    • Ambaa

      The principle of the world running down is pretty fundamental to my beliefs! It’s entropy. Seems very natural.

      But, I will say that my elders did sometimes say that an individual can always be living in the golden age. It’s all about one’s perception.

  • JRiverMartin

    I believe Hinduism embodies much wisdom and truth in places, but, like any religion, also embodies myths which have unfortunate consequences in the lives of individuals, communities … and the larger world.

    I’m not telling you that your belief about the Kali Yuga is wrong. But I would encourage you to explore the potential of this belief to serve as a self-fulfilling prophesy. (Google the phrase. The Wikipedia article on “self-fulfilling prophesy” is a good start.)

    For what it is worth, my spirituality is deeply influenced and inspired by modern buddhism. (Modern Buddhists are often skeptical of certain ancient Buddhist doctrines or ideas, but embrace the basic spirit of the Buddha Dharma.) In my own case, I prefer to emphasize experience over belief–and to base my beliefs on experience.

    • Ambaa

      I do know what a self-fulfilling prophesy is.

      Westerners are somehow convinced that the world is heading towards progress. I don’t know where they get this idea from. It does not match up with anything that I have seen of the world. As I said, right down to science. Entropy is a natural part of the world. It happens everywhere in nature. Of course it happens on a larger scale!

      As the world gets crazier and crazier, I am stunned that anyone could think that we aren’t in a decent.


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X