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Mindful : August 2019
Dr. Robert V. Levine has taught psychology courses for over 50 years at California State University, Fresno, and has written and edited several books on social psychology. Given all of this study and experience, he seems like an apt person to put forward a scientific theory on what a “self” really consists of—an endeavor that pro- duced this latest work. What, Levine asks, does science say about our search for the self, and how should it inform the ways we think about life purpose, self-improvement, mental health? Psycholog y, biolog y, neuroscience, and sociol- ogy are just a few of the fields Levine delves into, serving up cutting-edge research and case stud- ies from each (such as the first near-total face transplant done in the US, or a person whose dissociative identity disorder gave them over 20 distinct “selves”—with only certain of the alter egos being aware of the other ones). So what can we expect from Levine’s fascina- tion with this question? The self “is just a story we write—or, more precisely, are constantly rewriting,” he tells us. “ When the story works, it enables us to think of ourselves as one person. It creates a sense of unity and continuity. But good storytelling should not be confused with accu- rate reporting. The self is not a thing. We are, in fact, ultimately undescribable.” Not very satisfying, one might think. For eons already, wisdom traditions have been teaching the truth of impermanence of all things under the sun, the individual self being no exception. And any meditator will know the only constant about our sense of self is that it changes. Still, Levine manages to make the subject new, con- veying the thrill of potential that exists in our own intangibility. STRANGER IN THE MIRROR The Scientific Search For the Self Robert V. Levine • Robinson In this amusing novel, Sam Lipsyte throws you into an all-too-recognizable world of desperate inequality, unceas- ing conflict, and unshakeable dissatisfaction, where the only hope for the future is Mental Archery: a “new” spiritual path that’s par t New-Age lore, part yoga postures, part fake history. Failed stand-up comic Hark Morner rises to fame and wealth as its guru, but his motley bunch of apostles have bigger plans for Mental Archery than he can possi- bly deliver on. Each of these would-be heroes is consumed by ideology and nihilism alike. Yet along with his acerbic humor, Lipsyte conveys a buoying belief in belief itself: the unifying potential of ideas and of hope, not just as things to be bought and sold, but as what might actually save us. HARK Sam Lipsyte • Simon & Schuster The moniker venture capital- ist doesn’t usually gener- ate warm, fuzzy feelings. You might think “money- obsessed know-it-all.” But for Jerry Colonna, money is not the big motivator. His experi- ence tells him that anyone who aspires to great things will face challenges that test inner resolve. That’s why Reboot focuses on “radical self-inquiry”: looking in places we don’t want to look, where we get stuck in a quagmire of fears, doubts, and self- criticisms. When we can look in those places—using the stability gained through contemplative practice—it can cultivate inner strength to take on the inevitable obstacles on the path to real- izing our deepest aspirations. REBOOT Leadership and the Art of Growing Up Jerry Colonna • Harper Business August 2019 mindful 73 Bookmark This read...listen...stream