SPIRITUALITY & RELIGION

Beyond Vision: Going Blind, Inner Seeing, and the Nature of the Self

McGill-Queen's Univ. Jun. 2018. 400p. notes. ISBN 9780773552852.$34.95. BIOG
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Jones, a former Canadian diplomat, is in the final stage of retinitis pigmentosa (RP), a progressive disease that causes blindness. Jones relates how he came to accept his deteriorating vision via the Advaitic Vedanta school of Hinduism, particularly the teachings of Shankara, an eighth-century philosopher. Shankara brought a fair amount of Buddhism into Hindu philosophy, and that same tension can be found throughout Jones's writing. Although RP is the primary part of the author's journey, it is only one factor. Other factors include chronic pain and loss of mobility, his sexuality, and his career. Once stepped back from these, Jones discovers a single pure transpersonal consciousness (Niguna Brahman) in a narrative that is not so much a resignation but an accepted embrace of what life can bring. Though Jones tries to employ nondualism, his identification with consciousness pulls him toward monism.
VERDICT A detailed phenomenological self-study that should interest those intrigued with Hinduism or Buddhism.

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