Novel is excellent primer on current spirituality/metaphysics
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
It’s not often that you meet a Haitian dwarf who becomes your spiritual mentor. The author known as J.B. (Ray Clements) pulls it off with panache in “Zor.” This spiritual novel explores a wide range of scientific and metaphysical territory, creating a synthesis that’s interesting and eye opening. Although a bit didactic, the book’s subject matter is so wide ranging and well supported that the novel is an excellent primer on current spiritual/metaphysical philosophy.
Story: “Am I truly happy or merely content?” That is the question haunting Jonathan Brewster after a series of discussions with the Haitian dwarf named Zor. Forced to defend his way of life, Jonathan, a middle aged money manager from Boston, unexpectedly discovers the power of positive energy, quantum entanglement, the law of attraction, emotional addictions, neuron networks, placebos, vipassana meditation, Jung’s collective unconscious, Nietzsche, metta, and God. Drawn to a new reality, he restructures his world for the greater good, only to experience the ultimate betrayal. (From amazon.com)
Spiritual/metaphysical content: High. As mentor, Zor mixes neuroscience and psychology into his spiritual philosophy, making the point that our neuron networks–our brains–are the main obstacle to achieving true happiness. Clements says it is useless to fight our emotional addictions, but we can restructure our neuron networks. In other words, we can train our brains to establish behaviors that create a positive energy flow. Zor’s teachings range from quantum physics, MRI scans, and Noam Chomsky to the New Thought movement and a myriad of religious and metaphysical beliefs, and reference a number of books to substantiate his points.
Zor emphasizes personal ch’i (energy). He says that “Nothing is more insidious than negative energy. Once accepted, it festers and grows and contaminates your entire being.” He teaches Jonathan how to reject negative ch’i and get rid of the load that he (and everyone) carries.
My take: Told in first person, Clements’ voice reminds me of Richard Bach: slightly preachy but always interesting, full of personal observations and insights. However, Zor has a dark side that never appears in Bach’s books nor in most spiritual/metaphysical novels. The plot is a bit darker than I would have expected, but the wisdom of Zor’s words rings true. And the insinuation of violence certainly keeps the story’s pace marching briskly forward.
The plot leaves much to be desired, however. The bulk of the conflict is simply two strong personalities clashing, but there’s no compelling reason why Jonathan can’t just walk away from Zor. The relationship is mentor and student, reminiscent of Robin Sharma’s The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari. The difference is that mentor and student are not friends but often combatants in a battle of philosophical wills. A thin plot surfaces at the end of the book, an object lesson in how to apply positive energy, that works well enough to bring the story to a climax.
Despite the plot’s shortcomings, the book is well written, thoughtful, and full of wisdom, and Clements offers some original phrasing of well-established spiritual principles. For example, Zor notes that we are “mired in the purgatory of contentment” that keeps us from experiencing true happiness. He also points out that religion falls short because people worship the prophet instead of the prophet’s path. All in all, Zor is largely entertaining, insightful, and well worth the reader’s time.
ZOR: Philosophy, Spirituality, and Science, by Ray Clements
Paperback, 258 pages
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