Book Review: “Ask and it is Given”

Today marked the beginning of the reading list for the 200-hour yoga certification.  I started with the first book to come in from the library, figuring that one had a deadline so better get it read first.

Ask and It Is Given: Learning to Manifest Your Desires, by Esther and Jerry Hicks, is a recounting of many workshops and meditation-channeling sessions that the Hicks have had with a Non-Physical Being, identifying himself as Abraham.  The book mostly covers topics relating to personal empowerment, positive thinking, goal-setting and taking accountability for your actions and decisions.

(Disclaimer: Generally, in a book review, I talk about the book, the characters and the characters interactions – this is the same with non-fiction and fiction.  Personal attacks on the author are right out, because while the author may have penned the novel, 99.9% of the time, they are not to blame for my disliking a book because of the way the characters related to me or to a theme/subject in the text.  Authors always get bonus points for even getting publishing, since I am keenly aware of how hard it is to even get published.  A book review should, ideally, be a thoughtful working over of the “thesis” of the book.  Does the thesis succeed or fail?  Are the arguments justified and substantiated?  All conclusions should be supported, not only in the book, but the book review as well.)

With that being said, I have never been more insulted by a book in my life (so far).  I knew it was going to be rough when, in the Foreward, the author mentioned that the soul is, in reality, “the vibrational connection to your Source” (pg xiii).  Um, what?  Is this person attemption to describe some plane of higher being or telling me that I’m from Good Vibrations? (Link is NSFW.)  The author of the Foreward follows this statement with a blithe overview of particle physics, attempting to describe why we’re all vibrating. (Seriously, the porn joke potential is limitless.)  The Foreward fails because of the heavy use of jargon specific to the Hicks’ teachings.  Perhaps if someone was already familiar with their workshops this would make sense, but for a newcomer like myself, it confused me as to the point and purpose of this book.

The Preface tells how Jerry and Esther went from settled, happy suburbanites in the Southwest to discovering their potential as channels (better known as mediums) to the Non-Physical Being known as Abraham.  It is unclear whether this is the Abraham of Old Testament/Torah/Koran fame, or whether this is a spirit who just happens to call himself Abraham.  The opening reads like the warning on a Starbucks latte: “Caution, the beverage you are about the enjoy is extrelemy hot.”  Instead, Jerry Hicks treats us to the more verbose version of “… the deep indigo tint of the Pacific Ocean at thsi time of the morning seems to match the depth of pleasure I’m feeling as I’m imagining the value you’re about to receive from the revelations in this book” (pg xvii).  Skepticism and wariness as the unfathomably narcissistic tone aside, I read on.  The rest of my reading can be summarized with a giant, WTF?!?!?!  The more detailed internal monologues went something like this:

— Ok, Jerry, so you’re telling me straight out that I’m going to receive some great revelations, great thoughts, have some life-changing moments from reading this book.  Ok, great!  Hit me with it!

**reads on**

Wait, what?  You expect me to belive that you and your wife, together, through meditation, channel the spirit of someone named Abraham, and he speaks directly with God?  Ok.  I’ve seen enough X-Files, I’ll go along with this.

**reads futher**

Hang on a second here!  You’re telling me that if I don’t believe you, it’s because “you only hear what you are ready to hear” (pg 5).  And that only if I read your book many times and belive completely in what you say will my “naturally joyful zest for life return” (pg 5).  Really?  I didn’t know my zest disappeared.

**reads with greater and greater skepticism**

Vibrational set-point” (pg ??).  What the *(&^&%$##$?!?!

**throws book down in disgust**

Ask and it is Given: Learning to Manifest Your Desires is a book written by and for people who have nothing better to do than whine about their insignificant problems.  If you have a shred of self-awareness and self-worth, there is nothing new for you here.  All this book provides is watered-down drivel about the importance of positive thinking and taking control and accountability for your life.  The problem is that these are very important, but by couching them in wacky spirituality and requiring the reader to BELIEVE in the surrounding mythology, it makes it even more inaccessible, and in turn, makes the person feel unworthy if they are unable to “get it”.

Final word: F. Not recommended.  There are much better “self-help” books out there that will empower and enlighten readers, without all the spiritual bunk.  (Note: Let’s hope that this isn’t indicative of the other books on the reading list.)

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3 responses to “Book Review: “Ask and it is Given”

  1. Almost like a Native American “Vision Quest”. Do they want you to hear the voices in your head too?

  2. So, in a comment completely unrelated to your post, I would like to make a request for your yoga classes, when you get to the point of teaching. Please, no incense. Not everyone likes it. I crammed myself in the back corner of the studio the other day to get as far away as possible from it because it makes me cough & get phlegmy.

    I will give this class the benefit of another week, but I’m skeptical.

  3. Pingback: Yoga School - Day 9 « Perusals & Peregrinations

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