The TAT Forum: a spiritual magazine of essays, poems and humor.

January 2010

Helix Nebula

Book Review:

Haunted Universe: The True Knowledge of Enlightenment
by Steven Norquist

Copyright 2009

For the serious seeker, Haunted Universe is a serious book. For the ripe individual, who the author says is ready at any moment to fall from the tree of delusion, this book is made to shake that tree violently, helping such a borderline person fall into the "feeling/knowing" state prerequisite to Final Discovery.

Can this book deliver? There is one way to find out. It is probably different from every other work you will find on the subject of spiritual enlightenment. Norquist believes that you can be talked into Ultimate Reality, that you can be led to a Final Awakening. He says also that this is impossible if someone has not already walked every single step up to that final door. He refers to the paradox often and states that no one ever existed or ever would, and that efforts made toward enlightenment are impossible, pointless and indispensable.

Everyone has a unique perspective. Norquist is no different. Except he says things like, "Reality is the sound of a pebble rolling down a hill on a planet in a star system that we will never know." And, "Not only that, there is no higher self, no ultimate being pulling the strings. A look behind the curtain proves: there is no one there! The smoke and mirrors are not hiding anything; there is just smoke and mirrors."

Enlightened people come back to an existence that doesn't exist, Norquist contends, adding, "Enlightenment reveals that the only thing going on in the universe is spontaneous manifestation. No chance and no design. Only perfect, automatic machine-like emergence."

This author designed his book to take you somewhere you have never been. He's offering you a rocket ride. You can't be told, he says; you have to go there. It's profound in its simplicity. Like the quietly-shared changed perspective that all astronauts embody when they return to Earth. "The Truth is the dream of a sleeping rock," Norquist says.

From images of a nebula in the constellation Aquarius referred to as the "Eye of God," to excessive use of white space—many pages in this book contain only a phrase or short sentence—to the progression of the chapters and the ideas contained therein, this work's form and function are singular. Haunted is also the quickest 415-plus-page read you'll ever encounter. I read it in forty minutes. But I might just as easily spend a lifetime on one page or one sentence.

I decided to mark each page where I found something profound or unusual and found that I'd bent over the corner of most pages. Norquist has a shockingly simple perspective on consciousness and the Universe—which he seriously describes as haunted. He says that consciousness IS the universe and that there are no beings in existence experiencing the universe; there is only Universe/Consciousness manifesting spontaneously and perfectly.

Norquist's vision of reality is not at first blush optimistic or self-affirming: "Emptiness is the natural state of reality," he says. "Reality is not intellectual, it is mindless… Once you feel/know it you will be finally free. Don't let anyone deceive you, "you" must disappear." He relentlessly pounds directly through the center of the self—this "delusion" that he says does not exist. Compared to the sun, a candle flame does not exist and in that light, Norquist is affirming an ultimate Self that someone may, against tremendous odds, find themselves to be.

Norquist suffers no fools. He discourages casual readers and talks straight to the few who can hear him. He tells you to play along and suspend disbelief for a while to get the full effect of his "ghost story." After all, he says, his ghost story is actually yours.

Haunted Universe is an attempt to pull or shove you into a perspective that you were incapable of experiencing before, as long as you still called yourself 'you.'

There's also a wall-staring exercise at the end of his book and a couple of bonus chapters that have appeared elsewhere as essays.

I recommend Haunted Universe to any serious seeker of ultimates. Read it often. There's something in this book between and inside the white spaces. Something huge. For the haunted seeker, many books are read but few are chosen. Choose this book.

~ David Weimer

Experience the audio/visual trailer to Haunted Universe: The True Knowledge of Enlightenment.



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