How to and why live an authentic life are the basic tenets of this new book by Dr. James Hollis, practicing Jungian analyst in Houston, Texas. This book with its emphasis on the unfulfilled self brings to mind other writers like Alice Miller, Robert Johnson, Scott Peck and Frederick Buechner as well as writings in the Zen, Islamic, Jewish and Christian traditions. To be a bit more mundane, this book is most like learning to dance to the beat of a different drummer or taking that road less travelled. It’s about listening to that drum whose beat may have been drowned out by the demands of ego building that served us well the years in creating families, careers, community esteem and respect from others. After that is all done, the drummer keeps beating, especially if we have put him on mute.
Hollis refers to these soul stirrings as the gods within. Note, gods spelled with a little “g” not to be confused with the grand Creator who made us all, he says. Eros is the life force, the great connector. And demanding equal attention, is the god Logos, the divider, the individuator. Seemingly opposites that must be harmonized to have an integrated personality. Hollis tells how it is done and why it is imperative. He uses his vast knowledge from years of Jungian psychiatry and countless patients as well as literary references to many of our beloved authors and poets to point us toward that goal where we reconnect with what is vital and central to the authentic self mentioned above. He explains how that self is lost and hammererd down into near oblivion by the shoulds and oughts of family and community to get us ready to make our way and name in the world. We might have gotten the message from loving but clueless parents that if we don’t do these things, we’ll be drifters in a competitive world, or worse.
The allusions to the poets, heavy thinkers, dry wits, word craftsmen and myth makers over the centuries make this book highly readable. There are quotes from Rilke, Dylan Thomas, Samuel Beckett, Goethe, Pascal, Jesus, Mohammed. This is a fine book for 12 steppers, too, who already know the power of surrender to something greater than oneself, to that call that comes from deep within planted at the beginning of life if not before. That surrender means the dropping of ego defenses held tightly by the stout ego. The book is for all ages and particularly speaks to us that have slipped over or down the hill in the “second” part of life. He even tells us that those who have paid heed to that inner call are at greater peace at the end of our lives with fewer or no regrets because we have integrated all aspects of our being into a truly wondrous whole.
— Pat Hall
What Matters Most: Living a more Considered Life
by James Hollis