A Further Shore by Yvonne Kason, M.D. and Teri Degler. HarperCollins, Toronto, Canada. 1994. Currently out of print; available used from Amazon.
Reviewed by Maya del Mar
Spiritual transformation is taking place on an individual basis at a startling pace. All of my friends, family, and clients, as well as myself, are moving through spiritual transformation. So are most of the people I know and run across on my daily meanderings. I would wager that most of you readers also realize that you are on a journey of spiritual evolution. Suddenly I am aware of the enormity of the spiritual transformation that is occurring around me.
It is inconspicuous because it occurs in individual lives in different ways, different places, and at different paces. Drop by drop, individual changes are creating rivulets which flow into streams which are flowing together to become a rushing torrent.
James Redfield felt this mass movement when he wrote The Celestine Prophecy, an exciting adventure story with instructions for tuning into this spiritual movement. At the same time he began publishing his monthly "Celestine Journala Journal of Synchronicity" to record this emphasis on spiritual consciousness. James published other adventure novels utilizing principles for spiritual growth. He always says that he is simply a reporter recording the current evolution of consciousness. His books have topped bestseller lists for months.
Most of the time our evolution takes place slowly and gradually. We only notice our transformation when we remember how we were compared to how we are. Sometimes it comes in huge leaps. That is when we may need help to understand the significance of what is happening to us, and how we can integrate those experiences into our lives.
This book addresses some of those huge leap experiences, and helps us to understand and work positively with them. Yvonne Kason and Teri Degler are also fine reporters. Their mission is to demonstrate and document STEs, or spiritually transformative experiences. Yvonne is a family physician and psychotherapist, and Teri is an author who is part of a team researching paranormal states of consciousness. Toronto, Canada is their home base.
Yvonne and Teri give words, definitions, descriptions, and helpful advice to people on a pathway of evolving consciousness. They provide a vocabulary and perceptual framework which serves both as validator and guide. Such a framework is lacking in much of the mental health and medical fields, and often people undergoing troubling experiences and symptoms are left confused and floundering.
In fact, as part of their research they found that the least helpful thing to experiencers was family members, advice from medical doctors, advice from traditional religions, and medical prescriptions.
Most helpful to integration of their experiences was meditation, reading spiritual books, talking to supportive friends, nature walks, and a decrease in workload.
Yvonne introduces the book with her dramatic near-death experience. However, most STEs are not nearly that dramatic. The authors list a few types of STEs, but this is a pitfall because any experience can be an STE if it is approached and evaluated with that intention. They do, in fact, completely leave out such very common and dramatic STEs as childbirth, death, major loss, and the millions of consciousness-changing drug experiences. And although they include mysticism, even emphasizing it in Yvonnes introductory experience, they do not continue to show the large part it often plays in the expansion of consciousness.
Notwithstanding, A Further Shore is a fine handbook for anyone undergoing changes in consciousness. Its simple prescriptions for living a balanced life are, in fact, good for all of us. Its descriptions of physical, psychological, and spiritual symptoms of STEs apply to most of us at one time or another, but without a common language we have not been able to understand them for what they are. For instance, someone in the midst of an STE may fear that they are psychotic, or be considered psychotic by others.
The authors use the yoga concept of kundalini as their base because the descriptions of spiritual transformative energy and its workings in yoga are more detailed and accessible than they are in some traditions. They define kundalini as a kind of biological-spiritual-psychical force that makes realization of union with the divine possible. This works very well as a framework for discussing specific manifestations and details of STEs.
It also works because the basic premise underlying the modern kundalini hypothesis is that during the next step of human evolution we will manifest an expanded range and higher states of consciousness. This expansion of consciousness will occur as a result of the activation of one or more presently dormant brain functions. The awakening of Kundalini accelerates this transformation.
It is posited that the awakening process is, in large part, a housecleaning experience which removes psychic blocks which prevent the life energy from functioning at optimal level. If these blocks, such as repressed memories and emotions, are suddenly released, they can produce disturbing symptoms, and be very difficult to integrate. One of this books most valuable sections lists and discusses these possible symptoms, and gives strategies for integrating them.
This can be a lifetime process. Sometimes a surge of awakening occurs way too quickly, and then the troublesome symptoms may last for years. Even excessive meditation, breath work, physical postures, or any spiritual or other discipline carried to excess can trigger a surge of kundalini which may be impossible or very difficult for the practitioner to handle.
Moderation is the key in all aspects of living, including spiritual practices.
A Further Shore has examples of STEs, as well as consideration of many different types of STEs, specific symptoms, and directions for working with them in a positive manner. An especially valuable section is the discussion of spiritual emergencies and psychic disorders, and how best to understand and cope with them.
The authors give four simple strategies for helping another to move through spiritual transformation:
(1) nonjudgmental support,
(2) validating the reality of the experiencers experiences,
(3) providing information about the nature of STEs, and
(4) promoting the psycho-spiritual housecleaning process through helpful techniques.
This book is a trailblazer. The authors put clear guideposts up all along the path of living a spiritually transformative life, so that we know where we are and we know where were going.
Reading A Further Shore is certain to enhance understanding of consciousness. I highly recommend it to all my readers, and particularly to workers in the mental health and medical fields.