Advaita is a Sanskrit word which means undividedness. From an Advaitic perspective consciousness/matter; life/death; sickness/health are all unified as ‘not one, not two, and not many’. But Chuck invites readers to experience Advaita for ourselves, not as a concept, but as reality. He comes closest to presenting Advaita as a concept when he writes:
“The indivisible pretends to be divisible, assumes a point of view, and then struggles to, seemingly, regain what it had never really lost.”
My sole quibble with this definition is the idea that the invisible ‘pretends’ anything, because that suggests that it operates with something like agency.
What is remarkable about Hillig, which seems unlike many writers within the Advaitic tradition, is that he comes across as caring deeply about the world and the people he encounters. This is just as well because when not writing Chuck is a licensed marriage and family counsellor. For Chuck the key to effective therapy resides in providing safety for people to fully complete their relationships with life in its many forms, sometimes including an apparent sense of self as it encounters others.
Seeds for the Soul is double value: it may be read by students or seekers of creativity and awareness, as it points the way to your true nature. Read it as just a ‘regular’ person with problems and it provides practical insight and help to enable you to enjoy a richer experience of living. Hillig admits that there are inconsistencies in the text, but then there are inconsistencies in life and indeed in most religious or philosophical works. So who cares?
In Chapter One Hillig asks the big question:
Is life happening to you,
or as you?
Later he cautions us that life will mean to us whatever we say, or believe it to mean. It’s an elegant idea supported by our experiences of self-fulfilling prophecies and experiments in quantum mechanics. But thankfully Hillig does not refer to any of these! Instead he encourages us to be willing to swallow the entire universe and thus accept ‘what is’. Later in the book he extols us not to chew too much. I differ with him here. I enjoy savouring, chewing, and inwardly digesting. But nevertheless his message is still wise.
Just taking this one line and reflecting upon it for a week will reveal so much, and enable you to achieve even more. The beauty the book is that the way the message is written in simple language that we can all understand.
Some of Hillig’s insights are stark and obvious. For example:
Of all of the people that you’ll ever meet in your life, you are the only one that you will never leave…or lose.
If you want new results in your life, then you’ll have to change your old beliefs.
Our primordial fear is actually of being loved so completely that our experience of separation from others will dissolve entirely and we’ll disappear.
The book is a remarkable work, which gets better every time you give yourself the joy of dipping into it. Its simplicity adds to the profundity of its message. It concludes by quoting a campfire round that we all know, but in the context that old round is transformed and transported into a recipe for living.
Seeds For The Soul, by Chuck Hillig. Black Dot Publications, March 2003. (Paperback) 276pp ISBN 1-55395-844-6
Note: This review appeared in a slightly different form in Nurturing Potential Issue 6 Volume 2 – No. 3 – 2003