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Tillabooks: Will's Book Blog

Wednesday, September 17, 2003

The Daughters of Joy by Deepak Chopra. New York : G.P. Putnam's Sons, 2002. ISBN: 0399149481

This has got to be one of the stranger books that I’ve read lately. It reads, not surprisingly, given the author, more like a self-help book than a novel. The plot is minimal, the storyline practically non-existent. Subtitled “An Adventure of the Heart,” this book is really for Chopra fans, not the average reader.

A digression: living in Tillamook, Oregon is kind of like being on an island at the end of nowhere. To get anywhere useful takes at least an hour of driving--north to Seaside, south to Lincoln City, south and east to McMinnville or east to Beaverton. Arline (my wife) and I plan as often as possible to travel together whenever one or the other of us has to make a trip somewhere.

When driving together, we have developed the habit of reading aloud to one another. Mostly I read to her for the both of us, but sometimes she reads also. We have completed several books together in this fashion, and The Daughters of Joy is the most recent volume we’ve read in this manner. To be honest, there were times when I thought we’d never get to the end. And times when I wasn’t sure I wanted to make the effort required to get there. But we persisted, at least as much out of a sense of obligation to complete a task begun, as out of any attachment to the book, at least on my part. I can’t speak for Arline.

When it comes to the philosophy (I don’t know what other term to use) promulgated by this book, at its most basic level, it seems to be a kind of pantheism, or perhaps a combination of pantheism with a theism devoted to love. Instead of God, the book seems to promote a deification of love as a kind of universal panacea for all of one’s personal problems and interpersonal relationships.

Many of the precepts that are expounded by the book’s guiding characters, the so-called “daughters of joy,” could come straight out of any born again Christian’s lexicon, if you just replaced the word love with the words God or Jesus. But on the other side, there is the notion that this love comes both entirely from within, and from beyond oneself simultaneously. And that no one other than you yourself, can channel this power that is potentially capable of changing your entire life. The process that is described is much like the Christian experience of conversion, of being “born again.” Only without any involvement of a supreme being, just this universal concept of “love.”

Overall, I can’t particularly recommend this book, either to the person on a spiritual journey, since I found the philosophy of the book to be built on rather shallow foundations, nor to the person looking to be entertained, which is, after all, the primary function of reading in my life. Likewise a shallow function, perhaps, but mine own.

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