Book reviews: Urban Soul Warrior (Lalania Simone) and Creating Peace By Being Peace: The Essene Sevenfold Path (Rebbe Gabriel Cousens)

Via Todd Mayville
on Nov 30, 2008
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I love working for Elephant Journal.  I do.  One of the coolest parts of my job is getting to read some pretty great books.  However, not every book is created equal, and unfortunately, these two books aren’t exactly gems in the collection.

To be frank, Urban Soul Warrior didn’t start off well for me.  I’m getting a bit tired of the co-opting of images of the Buddha, whether it’s climbing holds or book covers.  Initially I was drawn by the cover and thought perhaps that the book would address living a more mindful life in the midst of urban chaos.  Aside from the meditations (which are apparently optional if you just don’t dig meditation), there really isn’t anything Buddhist about the book.  Instead, the book is filled with the stereotypical “affirmations” found in just about any and every other self-help book out there, including a love letter to write… to myself.  Umm… what?  No, I don’t think that’s going to happen anytime soon.  The intent is good, but this book just didn’t do anything for me.

Creating Peace By Being Peace: The Sevenfold Essene Path is the eighth book from Rebbe Gabriel Cousens and is another book of good intentions that just didn’t end up appealing to where I am.  The book portrays itself as part history, part spiritual guidance, but the author’s intentional choice to not cite documentation of his “facts,’ defending his choice by stating that “the ideas are more important than the supported ‘hard-fact’ evidence,” causes the whole book to become suspect, particularly since Cousens attempts to use God and the Essene culture to push vegetarianism on the reader.  His message of peace is most certainly valid, but his constant speaking in the third person and beginning each chapter with pictures of himself looking beatific smacks of vanity in the most irritating sense of the word.

In short, both books most definitely have the absolute best of intentions, and for that, the authors get my appreciation and respect. Unfortunately, along the way the execution interfered with the message, and I found myself disappointed in both books.  Urban Soul Warrior is from Soft Skull Press; Creating Peace By Being Peace is from North Atlantic Books.  Both can be picked up at your local, independent bookseller.


About Todd Mayville

Todd is a single dad of four diverse and lively kids, and is an English teacher and climbing team coach at a local public high school. A rock climber, cyclist and avid reader, Todd also practices yoga and meditation as often as he possibly can, which helps him stay at least a little centered and sane.


4 Responses to “Book reviews: Urban Soul Warrior (Lalania Simone) and Creating Peace By Being Peace: The Essene Sevenfold Path (Rebbe Gabriel Cousens)”

  1. Lalania Simone says:

    My name is Lalania, and I wrote Urban Soul Warrior. I am grateful that you took the time to read and mention my book. This book was written as kind of a “spirituality 101”. It has been written and packaged to appeal to a younger urban audience that may not know about meditating and affirmations. I am hoping to introduce different ways of communing with ones inner self to an audience that may not normally pick up a “spiritual” book. Yes, the information may be common to you and I,many of us who read such books have heard alot of this info before. Hopefully, I will reach a segment of the poulation in need of some direction or inspiration, and they will then venture off into the realm of the inner soul in their own way. Regarding the image of the Buddha, I sat for a long time wondering if I should use the image. The book is not about Buddhism. I decided to use it because for me, the Buddha is a symbol of consciousness. I don’t think he would mind, though I realize those who consider themselves Buddhists might. I love Elephant Journal!! Many blessings!!

  2. LaLania says:

    Hi Lalania,
    I was just googling MY name and see that this is something we have in common. COOL! Curious to know how your parents came up with the name.
    Anyhow, good luck with your book. I plan to check it out when I get a chance.
    Take care,

  3. Lalania says:

    Peace LaLania,
    My name came from a famous folk song in the 60’s by Donovan called Lalena. My mother changed the spelling.

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