Seeing True: Ninety Contemplations in Ninety Days
Genre: Spiritual/Self Help
I know from personal experience how stubborn addictive behaviors can be, and how equally attached to illusory perceptions and beliefs I often am, so when I read in the introduction to Ronald Chapman’s book Seeing True: Ninety Contemplations in Ninety Days that spiritual blindness can be treated much like an addiction, I was curious. Could the formula, concentrated action=habit=change, that is the basis of successful recovery programs help me dispel illusion and find more clarity in my life? I wasn’t sure ninety days could loosen the grip of a lifetime of misperceptions and truly affect change, but I was willing to give it a go. By the end of the book I certainly hadn’t earned my illusion-sobriety pin, but I was beginning to understand Chapman’s statement in the preface “It’s another day in paradise…it just doesn’t look like I expected.” My idea of paradise suddenly had changed too, and that shift in perception was making life look and feel much saner and more satisfying.
I thought it might be difficult to write a review of a book that will undoubtedly elicit such deeply personal and consequently different experiences for each reader. My journey through Chapman’s daily contemplations was mine alone, colored by the sum total of what I brought to each reading and exercise in Seeing True. But from day one, where he tells of a man who finds peace waxing his car and invites the reader to examine what brings him/her peace and what triggers agitation, I began to relax into the process of simply being there with my reactions to Chapman’s stories and probing inquiries. I was instantly at ease that the examples he was giving were sincere and real, and the concepts he would impart would be accessible. This was a book I could sink my teeth into a little at a time. Ninety days? No sweat.
Each contemplation offers anecdotes and questions that cover the full gamut of human emotion and interaction. Abandonment, courage, death, ecstasy, failure, gratitude, and sacrifice are just a few of the places Chapman explores. He uses a multitude of observations obtained during everyday events and experiences like sitting in a coffee shop, shopping for groceries, sharing meals, casual conversations, and attending church services to invite the reader to stretch beyond automatic beliefs and understandings. He follows the stories with related questions and exercises for reflection. Some exercises were soothing and reassuring and made me feel I was getting to the truth. Whom and what do I love? Others were troublesome and vexing. Is there anyone or anything that I cannot or will not love? Sometimes I couldn’t answer the questions at all or even get to what I thought or felt. How do I try to contain myself?
At first I wasn’t sure where the process was taking me, but I knew the time spent in contemplation felt good. What began to surface throughout the days was a growing awareness that my perceptions of the world were restricting my experience of life. Chapman’s questions led to more of my own, and in the whirl of uncertainty about what was real and what was simply a creation of my mind, something amazing occurred. I began to have a taste of what the here and now really looks like. The veil of blindness parted ever so slightly, and the illusions I had allowed to limit my life began to unravel. Seeing True was becoming a habit.
Can ninety days make a marked difference in clarity of sight? Chapman acknowledges it’s just a beginning, and admits that the path to Seeing True is arduous. But he reassures us that “What we seek is worth the labor” and I now know what the common experience will be for all readers who commit to the ninety-day process. There will be a shift. The light will come on and the path to freedom will be illuminated. Chapman has created a clear guide for dispelling illusion from our lives and finding paradise. Funny, paradise doesn’t look anything like I expected either, but like Chapman, I highly recommend it.