The Book of Testaments
- Practical (everyday) ideas on how to enrich your life and wellbeing;
- An exercise on how to connect with your Life Purpose that is totally inspirational and motivational;
- Suggestions on how to improve your communication skills to enhance your personal relationships;
- How to challenge and improve the way you currently think about life and turn your 'mountains into mole hills';
- ...and much more.
By Stephen Chong, MEd
Reviewed by Graham Nicholson - Hidden Words Bookshop, July 2010
This month the review is of a book by a local Kuranda author, Stephen Chong. Stephen has a Masters degree in Education and is a professional development coach as well as being an author.
There is a mass of what may be loosely called ‘new age’ literature in circulation, some of it rather obscure or futuristic, some of it being what many people would think to be rather ‘quirky’ or even bizarre. But there is also a strong emphasis on personal or ‘inner’ development in this literature, or what can be called ‘self improvement’. The Book of Testaments is in this category. This type of literature has become very popular during my span of life., particularly with the decline in the role of traditional organised religion in many people’s lives, and with the stresses and strains of contemporary living. I think back to a time of my youth, when Norman Vincent Peale was very popular with books and his world speaking tours. Much of this literature provides a service to those who have a need or desire to change their lives.
I approached The Book of Testaments thinking that it would be just another one of these kind of books, saying much the same as many of its predecessors. I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised, on a number of scores. For one thing, the book makes a strong overall impression for the need for positivity in each person’s life. There is so much negativity in the modern world – we are surrounded by it, in conversation, in the media, in politics, etc. etc. Overtime it inculcates in us (unless we are determined to counteract it) a way of thinking that can be quite depressing and destructive. We tend to turn it on ourselves and create ways of thinking and acting that are not positive, harmonious and loving.
Beyond that, The Book of Testaments displays a great tolerance for the multifarious belief systems that exist in the world. We are encouraged to look to them in seeking that which is of value in our lives, free of any prejudice. The Book asks us to seek out our own purpose in life and to adopt our own values, with the teachings of the various great religions and their founders (‘masters’) in aid. We are not alone. It recommends that we should commit to that purpose and to those values. The Book rejects the view that our lives have no purpose, and are merely a collection of random accidents – again, a very positive approach that is often lacking in this generation.
Thirdly, the Book is deeply spiritual, it views us all as being primarily spiritual beings having a physical experience, but it does not deny the importance of the physical and mental sides of our lives. The approach of some modern new age literature to the concept of the ‘spiritual’ can be rather fuzzy, but in this Book it is clearer. The impression the Book leaves is of the great importance of using the spiritual side of our nature to compliment the physical and mental in order to achieve a harmonious and joyful life as a result.
The Book of Testaments places great importance on the value of unconditional love, both for ourselves and for others. Life for Stephen is love expressed. The gift of life is contained in the opportunity to feel and express pure love. Sometimes this means we have to get out of our comfort zone. We must be willing to change and to experience the pain of change as well as the joy. Love expressed through life is to Stephen the greatest divine gift.
Perhaps I would have liked Stephen to discuss the relationship between love and justice and how they are to be reconciled, both being necessary elements to life in society. Perhaps there are other topics as well. But there is a limit to what you can do in one volume. On balance, I found myself accepting as valid and refreshing most of what Stephen has written in the book. I recommend The Book of Testaments.
Graham Nicholson Hidden Words Bookshop
Attention, Here and Now
Have you noticed that when we really set our mind to something, really focus on the achievement of a particular outcome, then that is what we have achieved!
Our minds are powerful instruments aren’t they! In fact we have previously likened the mind to a heat-seeking missile, in that once it has been locked onto a target it is very likely to reach its objective.
Our attention is merely an extension of the mind focused on a particular target and our daily lives present us with a myriad of possibilities. Possibilities that require decisions as, for example, do I take this road or that, do I take this course of action or another?
Our personal ‘sense of purpose’ is the great driver of our life and is our soul’s principle purpose while we have life in this physical form. It is like a house with many rooms. Each of the rooms in this house, and some of what is contained in each room, can be encapsulated within the following descriptors:
Physical – our health and energy level
Mental – our memory and acumen
Emotional – mastery and awareness
Relationships – life partner, parents, children
Business – people, procedures and growth
Money – income, philanthropy and wealth
Cultural – ancestry, music and art
Spiritual – awareness, openness and awakening.
The five levels of communication
In any communication, at least some of the meaning of the message sent is lost or misinterpreted through the process of decoding and encoding.
This could be as simple as the interpretation of the non-verbal signals that accompany the message sent by the originator and decoded by the receiver. At more enhanced levels this could include our capacity to meet more challenging situations of conflict, negotiation or feedback, and many more.
According to (Poland, 2005, 206-207) there are five levels to communicating effectively, namely:
- Hearing – the physical capacity to hear;
- Listening – the need to demonstrate that we are listening by giving the other person our attention;
- Understanding – demonstrating that we understand the other person’s point of view;
- Empathising – the ability to identify how the other person is feeling; and
- Openness – being open to the exploration of a ‘way forward’ from a wider perspective other than our own.
'Being' rather than 'doing'
Many business or life coaches and professional trainers will give you time management techniques and skills...
...that improve the use of priority lists of tasks that are important and/or urgent and can be constructed into “to do” lists that we can then action and undertake.
However what we must know is that a “to do” list is a means by which we “fill up” the available time we have. No wonder we are all so stressed and tired at the end of a day, we fill each moment with ‘something to do’.
Rather than creating these “to do” lists, let us start each day with a “BE” list. For example, today I will BE:
- Happy / Peaceful / Loving / Compassionate / Contented
For example: Today I will be Peaceful, Articulate and Compassionate.
Repeat this mantra over and over during the course of the day and watch how our daily tasks become so much more pleasurable. Watch how our mind reacts to all the inputs that the day provides. What a difference it makes.
If you’re a retailer and you’d like to know more about distributing the book, contact Stephen direct.
The Book of Testraments is distributed by:
1/655 Toohey Road
Salisbury QLD 4107
phone: 61 7 3373 7855