The Red Book came into my life quite by coincidence (or perhaps wave from the universe). One day as I was browing an online retailer's website for something to order along with Rob Breszny's Pronoia (I can't bear to pay for shipping when a $25 purchase will give me not only an excuse to buy yet another book, but also FREE shipping), I decided to peruse their offerings for something that would inspire creativity. Somehow this search lead me to this little red book that promised to "ignite my divine spark", which I somehow became confused in my inspiration seeking head with my creative spark (in my defense it is arguable that they are the same thing), subsequently inducing me to put the book on my library hold list.
As it turned out, although the book was not technically what I was looking for, it was just what I was looking for. Sera Beak's comparative, spiritual cowgirl approach to the divine melds very well with my own belief that most paths have something to offer and are, in essence, really just different routes to the same destination. After having just completed a year long course with the oogie feeling title "Companions in Christ" in an attempt to make up for all I never learned about The Bible as a younger person, it was (despite that the Companions class was great and boasted a really wonderful set of classmates with whom a real bond was forged) really energizing to take a break and dive into Beak's unorthodox, "interdeifical" exploration of spirituality.
I'm not going to lie, there were a few early moments when I wondered if Beak's style was going to be too Spirituality in the City (the book is aimed at hip, smart young women in their 20's and 30's) for me to not find it all "girl power" and fluff. The thing is that this woman (a Harvard educated scholar of mysticism and comparative religion) really knows her stuff, which pretty much removes the fluff factor. In fact, it didn't take too long for me to become swept away with her light hearted approach and actually learn stuff. I know! Crazy, isn't it?
One of the great things about this book is that it doesn't hold any one faith as higher than another. Seeing Kali as a conduit to Creation is not better than bowing toward Mecca or finding inspiration in the teachings of the Dalai Lama, which (even if he is extra awesome with a cherry on top) is no better than praying to the Virgin. It's all good, divine energy, and it all ultimately tells us to be that shimmering vibration of goodness that releases love and kindness into the world. How can that be bad, no matter who tells you to do it?
Some of my favorite sections of the book were the "peel your onion" parts. For someone who hates literal onions (stupid devil's condiment!), I have an untiring fascination with metaphorical ones. I love practices, rituals, ideas that force us to look beneath the surface layers. Like any good present, the good stuff is not in the wrapping paper, but beneath it, and the best things are the ones deep down inside the box. So, it is only natural that I love Love LOVE that this book encourages us to ask questions like "What am I really hungry for?", "What sort of people do I attract into my life?", "What sort of person am I?", and (my favorite) "Why does questioning myself make me want to run for the hills with some aspirin and a bottle of tequila?" After all, if you don't know yourself, you can't know what you believe.
Most of all, however, I love it because its essence is captured in a single, lovely, inspiring quote from Anais Nin:
"And there came a day when the risk to remain in a tight bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom."
More than anything, I think that has to be an integral part of why any of us are here - to find that thing that makes not only us, but our communities and even the world blossom.