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Reviewed by Lesley Jones for Readers' Favorite
In To Be Enlightened by Alan J. Steinberg, since Professor Abe Levy was taken to another world as he slept when a teenager, he longs for such peace and lucidity once more. He yearns to return to the place he deems as heaven where all of his desires, hopes, and dreams seem possible. But that was many years ago, and now Abe finds himself working as a philosophy professor and married to Sarah, a woman whose constant panic attacks and fear of abandonment leave Abe feeling responsible and trapped. Even though Abe loves Sarah, he feels a constant desire to achieve his quest to reach enlightenment. Through his discovery of meditation, Abe longs to reach his idea of heaven once more, but his love of Sarah always draws him back from actualizing completely. As Abe struggles with choosing between his happiness and that of his wife's, he unexpectantly reaches enlightenment and realizes that reaching true Self is a mindset. Abe and Sarah are drawn closer together as he helps her battle her fear of neglect and, through mutual meditation, Abe hopes Sarah can find clarity and peace through reaching a higher level of consciousness too. Is a state of higher consciousness possible though in a world full of distractions and is it possible to maintain it once achieved?
To Be Enlightened by Alan J. Steinberg is one of the most compelling and in-depth introductions to meditation I have read. The interactions between Abe and his students were so interesting as they discussed subjects such as Vedic philosophy, the Big Bang theory, religion, Transcendental Meditation, and Yogic practices. Abe was such a tortured soul; he had a good heart, he wanted to care for his wife but knew this came at the cost of his own happiness. Sarah's journey to battle her past demons and find clarity was interesting but sometimes heartbreaking to see her suffer so much mental anguish. I loved the explanations regarding meditation, and although it was done through the narrative of the story, I really learned a great deal regarding reaching enlightenment and a higher state of consciousness. I also thought the references to the ego and self-righteousness getting in the way were fascinating and made perfect sense. It is not often that a great novel with interesting but flawed characters teaches you so much about reaching self-actualization but this superb story did just that.