Book Review - The Tenth Insight
This article is an electronic version of an article originally published in Cultic Studies Journal, 2000, Volume 17, pages 200-204. Please keep in mind that the pagination of this electronic reprint differs from that of the bound volume. This fact could affect how you enter bibliographic information in papers that you may write.
Book Review - The Tenth Insight: Holding the Vision.
James Redfield. Warner Books, Inc. (1271 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020), April, 1996, 236 pages, $19.95 US).
If you read this book you will discover that the author plans to write a sequel about angels. The Tenth Insight is itself a sequel to James Redfield's smash bestseller, The Celestine Prophecy, now on top ten lists for over a year. In this spiritual adventure Celestine fans are treated to a continuing revelation of their favorite New Age notions (reincarnation, paranormal powers, spiritual healing, the divine self) through some familiar characters who survived harrowing adventures in South America. The narrator remains nameless again, but clearly "he" represents an alter ego of the author who shares and promotes the same beliefs. The anonymous "I" teases the reader into identifying more closely with the adventurenot a bad device if your intent is to trigger sympathy for the Insights.
In these further adventures, we learn more about the meaning of the first nine Insights and how the Tenth works. The first nine were written on an ancient manuscript secreted by a "Gnostic" order called the Spirituals since the 1600s in a monastery in Peru. The Tenth, we discover, cannot be written down because it exists only in the "Afterlife," that heavenly realm in which spirits of saints and angels dwell. It seems that Wil, a character from the first story, has somehow achieved the Afterlife consciousness and helps the narrator to "raise his energy" enough to glimpse it as well. A new character, David Lone Eagle, appears as a stereotypical Native American in the first chapter. David is somehow aware of all ten Insights. He tells the narrator to note any animals that come his way because they will be telling him something on his journey to find his lost soul mate, Charlene.
The story begins in the southern Appalachian territory of , possibly, the Blue Ridge Mountains. Redfield dedicates his book to his "friends" from there. He discovers that Charlene has been missing from work for a month. All she left him is a cryptic note and a crudely sketched map. The remaining guidance to find her comes from the same synchronistic coincidences and applications of Insight energy introduced in Celestine. We soon discover that something mysterious and sinister is about to happen in the wilderness before us. It involves a secret energy experiment led by a power hungry scientist, a Mr. Feyman, who has used Charlene's higher consciousness and tricked her into revealing invisible "vortexes" of energy in the earth that he wants to exploit.
A strange but ominous "hum" appears to the sensitive ears of the Insight characters, a hum that comes from the supersensible energy field that Feyman manipulates. (Is this a take-off on the Taos hum heard by some New Mexicans since the late 1980s?)
We meet Joel, another hiker who wants to get out of the area. He does not like the feel of the mysterious experiment. He launches into a lecture about the shrinking middle class, the international misuse of religion, our corrupt lawyers, and the doomsday prophets of fundamentalism. We are introduced to the "Fear," an important theme in Insight doctrine. The Fear perception of reality is what Insight practitioners combat by "Holding the Vision," but we are getting ahead of ourselves. Celestine fans are treated to many more didactic digressions, like Joel's, with New Age spins on history, medicine, spirituality and science. To critics these inane lectures and visions can be amusing if not irritating.
After Joel moves on the narrator tumbles down a cliff and injures his ankle. Maya Ponder, a black doctor, happens to meet him during a hike. Maya, not surprisingly, is also hooked into the Insights of the Prophecy. As she treats the narrator she shares her "awareness," a combination of standard medical training and alternative, folk and shamanic beliefs. She teaches the narrator to go into the pain and into all memories and visions associated with it, even to past life recall. When our protagonist finally does so later in the story, his ankle miraculously heals. Next, Curtis comes into the story as another Insight person who represents the concerned scientist. He knows what the experiment is about and he wants to blow it up.
All Curtis manages to do is blow up a satellite dish that is soon repaired by the experimenters. He reluctantly agrees to the narrator's alternative plan to work with the fated Insight "group" to stop the experiment with psychic energy. Curtis explains that the experimental "device" (presumably a kind of magical psychotronic machine) "has the potential to disrupt [nine] dimensions. It could trigger massive earthquakes or even complete physical disintegration of certain areas." (p. 91) Curtis invokes the quack experiments of Nikola Tesla. Tesla (1856-1943), an eccentric genius who invented the same AC "polyphase" system we use today as well as the induction motor, was responsible for the "Tesla coil," a giant, high voltage generator. The coil was supposed to tap energy fields and transmit electricity without wires through the earth or sky. It never worked and never will (see Skeptical Inquirer, Summer 1994). Nevertheless, Curtis informs us that "basically it works this way. Imagine the electromagnetic field of the Earth as a giant battery that can provide plenty of electrical energy if you can tie into it in the correct way."(p. 91)
The pseudo-scientific Curtis goes on to claim that the infamous "Philadelphia Experiment," a fabulous rumor about a ship that "disappeared" in 1943 from a Philadelphia shipyard, actually happened: "Do you think they really made the ship disappear and show up again in a new location, in 1943?" And Curtis answers, "Of course they did! There's a lot of secret technology around, and they're smart." (p. 92) If you are interested in a better explanation of the Philadelphia Experiment, look up the real story behind the rumor in The Fringes of Reason edited by Ted Schultz (Harmony Books, 1989). This same "energy" that the Fear people are developing is what concerns Curtis. "They could totally ruin this place, make it into a twilight zone, another Bermuda triangle where the laws of physics are in unpredictable flux."(p. 90) He says, "I think they're trying to tie into the energy vortexes in this valley in an attempt to stabilize the process....What they're trying now is insane."(p. 93)
Apparently, Feyman, the sinister scientist, who knows that this technology can provide a cheap source of energy if it is allocated in small household units, wants to pre-empt the possibility. He takes advantage of the Tenth Insight powers of the naive Charlene. Feyman believes that the economy would change too quickly if the power is not first centralized. Those in power would lose control. The Insighters believe that no such thing would happen because the emergence of Insight awareness would create a benevolent passage, not without difficulties, toward a Utopian, planetary civilization.
In the chapter called "A History of Awakening" we learn the past life secret of the narrator and the Celestine Prophecy's origins. Our narrator "remembers" that he was a member of a secret order of Franciscan "Spirituals" in the 13th century. The Spirituals (they actually existed) were supported by Pope Celestine V (from 1294-1296) but later "were condemned as Gnostics and excommunicated." (p. 108) In reality, the Spirituals were a radical sect of Franciscans (they called for a literal observance of St. Francis' rules, especially poverty) who had political differences with the next Pope, Boniface VIII. They were not Gnostics in the strict sense.
The text suggests many techniques that enable an Insighter to access the Afterlife and knowledge of a personal destiny. The latter comes from Birth Visions, a kind of trance state that helps one to remember one's pure "intent" when entering life this time. The Life Review process is that time directly after death, or during a near death experience, when a soul has a chance to see his life and prepare for whatever he needs to atone for in the next. The technique for "Holding the Vision" includes sitting in a circle with your soul "group" and focusing on the entire faces of each member until one can "image," as a group, the higher vision. In the story, Maya, the narrator, Charlene, Curtis, Joel, and David Lone Eagle do this while captives of the sinister experimenters. At a crucial time they manage to "hold" a "hologram" of the vision long enough to disrupt the function of the psychotronic device.
The Insighters receive magical help from "white streaks" or "movements of white light" at significant times. A white light "interferes" to stop a bullet aimed at Maya in one scene. At the end, Wil explains, "They're the angels...They respond to our faith and vision and make miracles. They seem to be a mystery even to those in the Afterlife... I think we are to understand the angels next." (pp. 235-236)
In conclusion, The Tenth Insight is a well-organized complement to The Celestine Prophecy. It is slightly better written but the stilted, humorless character development remains. The book will sell well, if the five million sold copies of Celestine are any indication. Cyberspace is popping with Celestine pages and dialogs all over the world. I found the Inca Games, a "magical energy game" or four hour workshop ($44-$66, 66 maximum players) based on the "energy" of the Celestine Prophecy. One young man wrote, "I read the book today and feel it will affect my life in a profound and irreversible way... I have a definite direction in life that will eventually reveal itself to me." Perhaps. Most of the comments I read were from Insight enthusiasts who take the teachings seriously. They truly believe that the powers expressedthe powers of magical healing, soul projection, aura sex, and manipulating love and forgiveness as if they were quantities of divine lightare available to all non-doubters. When will they learn?
Cult Information Specialist and Consultant
Cultic Studies Journal, Vol. 17 2000