With Eyes to See: A Journey from Religion to Spirituality

With Eyes to See is a marvelous autobiography by Aurthur Melville, the youth of a former Catholic priest: his experiences working with the indigenous people of Honduras. He shares intimately of the steps taken along his own spiritual journey during this time. He begins with the time he is learning Spanish: he takes the risk his native language teacher suggests, and goes to a funeral of one of the indigenous people, interacting with the grieving family as best he can, in his newly acquired tongue. What he finds is amazing to him: the native people's knowledge and acceptance of the spirits of the deceased - that they are even visible to some of these persons. (Note: see also the book review The Boy Who Saw True) One of the local chief priests advises him that this interacting with the local indigenous people is not acceptable, but Arthur follows his own inner wisdom, knowing that he is learning something with intrinsic value, and he ignores the caution from his superior. So begins this amazing odyssey.

Arthur continues to share, on a very human level, his ensuing adventure, with remarkable candor, humor, and deep insight. He encounters marked prejudice from the local people in authority, against the indigenous peoples: there is literally no justice available for a young woman who is repeatedly raped by a powerful local political figure.

This is an exciting true adventure story that moves on through Arthur's encounters with his own sexuality and relationships with women (addressed with remarkable candor for a former Catholic priest), and his futile attempts to help the local people to improve their economic lot (he illustrates the impregnable hold by the local wealthy politicians). Numerous brushes with death are depicted, especially as he becomes involved with the guerrilla underground.

This book especially touches me, because I grew up in a Latin American country (Mexico), and Arthur's frank descriptions of his personal growth in such an environment ring very true to me. Well-written autobiographies have always appealed to me: they've been inspirational on my own path. It seems to me that this true adventure, told retrospectively by a man who has a lot of psychological and spiritual insight into his younger past, is of a quality that ranks with the author's possible namesake, King Arthur.

From the author's preface, I quote his introduction and invitation to you, the reader (I feel as though he puts words to my own amazing experiences of my path):

When I began my search for myself I never expected life to take the twists and turns that it did. If at any point in my early years I could have looked into the future, I would have recognized little if anything about myself.

"This is my story of change, the story of my quest for meaning, of the search for myself, the process of my transformation into a different person. It is a spiritual and cultural odyssey that times shook me to the roots of my basic beliefs and values. On many occasions during this journey I trembled before the authoritative representatives of established institutions that demanded the subjugation of individuals and their inner voices, and at other times I saw with amazement that their power over me and my relationship to them disintegrated when confronted with the simple truth. I know that seeking one's spiritual center does not have to include such tribulations as mine; but those of us who choose the rewarding road of participating in the expansion of human consciousness frequently feel unsettled as we doubt the self we have known, question inherited beliefs, risk isolation, and fact the fear of change. Yet if we trust our inner voice, and if we recognize that spirituality and Godliness are in union with nature and the earth, we can enter the joyful path back to our Source.

I present the story of my awakening as an invitation to you, not to follow me or my path but to discover yourself on your own path, knowing that our paths are merging and that we are sharing at a deep spiritual level, each of us supporting the rest, each lending to the whole, each contributing from her or his wealth of experience to the growth of all. None of us is alone. What each of us does today is of great significance. When you awaken in the morning you can be confident of your participation in our joint venture, knowing that many others share the same mission, choosing each day to contribute to the expansions of consciousness through the willing experience of emotions, the loving acceptance of all life forms, the responsible communication of truth.

If you have sense of missing who your are, and for what purpose you are here, if you have simply accepted the values and beliefs handed down to you, if your behavior is frequently determined by pleasing others, if you have submitted to a structure without examining the motives of its leadership, then you will relate to my story, and you will also find that choosing to follow your own path will lead to the rewarding awareness of your spiritual connection to Life without which it is difficult to recognize your own goodness, beauty, and personal power."

Reviewed by Elizabeth Zook Coleman, MD


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