Garry Gilfoy,
The BIG Picture:
Insights from the Spiritual World

(iUniverse, 2012)

I came across an interesting quote by Rainer Maria Rilke on the first page of the preface to this book, which reads in part, "all those things that are so deeply akin to us, have by daily parrying been so crowded out of life that the senses by which we could have grasped them are atrophied. To say nothing of God." This quote goes far in setting the tone for this book.

In The BIG Picture: Insights from the Spiritual World, author Garry Gilfoy shares with us the stories of seven individuals, including himself, who have had profound brushes with the spiritual world, and covers subjects such as karma, reincarnation and the spirit within with a striking authority that comes only from years of experience and study. Although many books have been written on these concepts, Gilfoy maintains originality throughout the book in his treatment of the subject matter, and I was impressed by his keen insights.

Early on, Gilfoy introduces us to the practice of "psychosynthesis," a subject he teaches, which is a type of psychotherapy that aims to bring the individual together on both a personal and spiritual level. It was his own spiritual experiences that eventually brought him to this practice, and it was the sharing of these experiences with his classes that resulted in this book. As student after student sought him out after class to share his or her own spiritual story, Gilfoy came to realize these types of stories needed to be shared on a greater level.

The people we meet are diverse. As well as Gilfoy revealing his own spiritual evolution, we share the journeys of six other individuals who have had insightful brushes with the spiritual realm. Helen becomes aware of past lives, including a holocaust tragedy and a murder in ancient Egypt, through dreams she began having as a young girl. Joy is touched by the bliss of the spiritual realm through an accident in which she nearly dies. Keely experiences the protection of a spiritual "watcher," who intervenes during a near-fatal car crash. We also meet Caren, who fears her life has no purpose, but is then touched by an angel after a hiking accident, and finds profound gratitude for all the help she receives. Trish has a new healing technique dictated to her by the Archangel Michael, and from Lukas's experiences, we see how karma is formed, and how "every human being with their individual destiny has its [sic] importance and meaning for the development of humankind."

As a result of these stories, Gilfoy delves deeply into the concepts of reincarnation, karma and destiny, which he calls "cornerstones of a worldview that can make order and sense of the lives we live." However, he jumps right into the notion that we incarnate into a life of our choosing, and assumes at the very least a passing familiarity with reincarnation, karma and life as a spiritual journey without laying the groundwork for such ideas. I am well versed in the concepts of a higher will, higher self and the divine nature of the human spirit, but he was on the verge of losing me a few times. It was very intense, and I fear some of the deeper meanings may be lost on the casual reader. But laying the groundwork, of course, is not the point of this book; insight is the higher purpose.

As intriguing as these stories are, they do not make up the bulk of the book. Part of what makes this book so unique and insightful are the many other subjects that Gilfoy examines in depth, such as the philosophical nature we develop as we grow older; the birth of Christianity and the mysteries that pre-date it; spiritual evolution and the awakening of spiritual self-autonomy; and the evolution of consciousness, all of which eventually lead to a new spiritual stirring in the west "which allows us to take on our task in the ongoing story of creation," where he discusses at length humanity's role in furthering our collective spiritual growth. Gilfoy reminds us that we are evolutionary beings, and elaborates on how divine nature works from the inside out, rather than traditional religion, which works from the outside in.

In The BIG Picture, Gilfoy studies spirituality to the nth degree. As he admits early on, most who pick up this book will do so because they already hold a strong belief in the spiritual world. However, I believe there is much here for other readers as well, and it is my hope that some of these potential students will find their way to this book. Gilfoy states that his intention is not to convince, but rather to fill in some of the gaps that may exist in a person's perception of his or her life's purpose. Perhaps a reader's spiritual quest could either begin or be furthered through the words in this book. Gilfoy's clear insights provide for a unique and enlightening read. There is much to absorb here, and, as he illustrates, there is much to absorb in life as well, if we pay attention. Gilfoy reminds us, "It's the journey that counts."

"Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakens." - Carl Jung

book review by
Lee Lukaszewicz

9 March 2013

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