All You Need Is Love: An Eyewitness Account of When Spirituality Spread from the East to the West by Nancy Cooke De Herrera
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
All You Need is Love by Nancy Cooke de Herrera is a detailed look at the meditation movement from its origins in the east to the western world. Through her direct work with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the author had the best viewpoint to watch as the world began to embrace this practice beyond a religious practice.
This book came to me at a bit of an unfortunate time. I had just watched the documentary Holy Hell in which a so-called guru was taking advantage of his followers. Throughout the beginning of this book, some of the same actions and devotion seemed to mirror the blind faith that the documentary had portrayed. With quotes from the book like “We always wanted the best for our Master” and the “honor of performing menial labor” it is scary how people can become so enthralled in another thinking they have some sort of magical key to life. However, the tides for Cooke de Herrera and the TM movement took a turn when famous actors and musicians came into the program. The main reason I picked up this book was to see another view of the time the Beatles spent in Rishikesh, and it seemed very interesting how the Maharishi thought the band and people like Mia Farrow would bring so much attention to the movement that actual devotees were being ignored. What he seemed to forget is that creative people are fickle people, and they'll drop you like a hot potato when they get bored.
The second half of the book chronicled the author's continued world travel and associated with the TM movement. However, what was most disappointing about the latter half of the book was that during trips to India, the mood went back and forth from being awed by the sights of these exotic places and in reverence to local religious traditions to whining about how inept the locals are in making sure everything is right for their American guests. It's also full of a massive amount of name dropping, from heads of state and politicians from all over the world to celebrities and heirs of all types. In some chapters, it seemed to take over the story that was being told.
But the actual takeaway from this book is simple, and comes in the last few pages: “self-improvement should be a reasonable goal for everyone.” That's the key to this story. You don't have to have money or be well connected to find the things in this life that make you happy and more compassionate towards others.
*Received a copy of this book from NetGalley
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