|Also reviewed this issue:
King Leopolds Ghost: a Story of Greed, Terror, and Heroism in Colonial Africa
Spiritwalker: Messages from the Future, by Hank Wesselman. Bantam Books, New York, 1995. $21.95 hardback, $13.95 paperback.
Reviewed by Maya del Mar
This is a remarkable book. Not only is the author, his life, and his works, a bridge between ordinary reality and non-ordinary realty, but Dr. Wesselman is a fine writer and storyteller. This stimulating book is difficult to set down.
Hank Wesselman is a professional anthropologist, known in his field as a man of science. He both taught anthropology, and did field work in the Great Rift Valley in Africa, searching for answers to the mystery of human origins.
In the 70s Dr. Wesselman had made efforts to open his intuitive mind by studying Zen, and the arts of painting and sculpture.
In the 80s he began to have spontaneous altered-body experiences. They increased when he, with his family, moved to the flank of Mauna Loa, an active volcano in Hawaii.
The experiences were very real and coherent. Hank Wesselman found himself in the body of Nainoa, a Hawaiian who lived 5000 years in the future. Nainoa had the same drive to understand the sweep of life, and its meaning, as did Hank. Hank eventually began to understand that Nainoa was a descendant of his. And Nainoa, too, eventually became able to enter Hank and his world.
After the experiences began, Dr. Wesselman studied shamanism and found that many traditional peoples believe that there is a doorway in the mind that exists between ordinary reality and the spirit world. Most of us are unaware of the existence of this portal, and we may live out our lives entirely unaware of it. Those who can open that door at will are called shamans.
In Nainoas time there were very few people, and they lived very simply. They had no technology. But they had legends of the miracles that the Americans produced, and occasionally they would find the treasure of a bit of metal.
Nainoa set out on a quest to find the legendary horses of North America, and through his eyes Hank could see that sea level was about 300 ft. higher than it was in Hanks time.
So Dr. Wesselman researched climate change and found that periodic global warming indeed occurred on earth, and that it was now progressing rapidly. He wrote here in the early 90s and predicted some of the results of the trendsresults which are now happening. His most recent research indicates that once it begins, the melting of the ice and the rising of the seas occur very rapidly.
But this is not a doom and gloom book. The windows into spirit are profound, and through his connection with Nainoa and his world Hank is able to comprehend the great mystery of the center of creation, with its constant flux and change of galaxies, solar systems, worlds, and life itself.
I found Spiritwalker deeply moving, and reassuring as well. Life does indeed go on, and we indeed are an intrinsic part of its fabric, no matter what our immediate experience of life and time.
King Leopolds Ghost: a Story of Greed, Terror, and Heroism in Colonial Africa by Adam Hochschild. Houghton Mifflin, Boston, 1999. $15.00 paperback.
Reviewed by Maya del Mar
I picked up this book because, since Ive been to Africa, my interest in its history has been aroused. I found it to be far far more than a book of history.
Mr. Hochschild tells the story of King Leopolds colonization of the Belgian Congo over the turn of the last century, and the story of those people who stood up for human rights, and who fought prevailing public opinion to tell the truth about the terrible things that the King was doing to the Congo people in the name of rubber wealth for the king, wealth used in high living and ostentatious display.
Mr. Hochschild is an incredibly fine writer, and an excellent historical researcher. He also has a passionate heart. He combines these talents to create a true history which reads like a novel, and at the same time arouses the reader to fight injustice everywhere.
King Leopold was a greedy, cruel, and crafty man. He was a master at managing public opinion, and balancing books to his advantage. He operated just like many of the modern transnational corporations, and provides a stark paradigm for the present corporate global government.
At the same time as he was pulling the wool over the eyes of Europeans and Americans, some brave people who were witnesses to the Congo rape, especially missionaries and journalists, began to speak out.
They originally were pilloried by the establishment, but they persisted, determined to speak the truth, and they were eventually heard. These protestors carry the light through the years to us. They demonstrate that independent pressure for human rights can make the powerful give way.
That example of courage a century ago serves as an example and an inspiration for human rights activists everywhere.
Humanizing and spiritualizing corporations is our major work now. Witnessing their abuses is an essential first step to arousing the public opinion that insists on change. The story of our times is very much like the story of King Leopold.
This is Mr. Hochschilds fifth book. I am eager to read the others.