The Passionate Mind by Joel Kramer was first published in 1974 to a widely receptive audience who connected closely with its essential commentary on the process by which we can, as spiritually awakening individuals, become more aware of our internal psychological mechanisms and how they impact upon our thinking.
In many ways the fundamental premises that underpinned the book have emerged to become, for both better and worse, even more significant and prominent in our society.
In an update to the original book Joel Kramer, and now Diana Alstad, have reedited and restructured the original publication so as, in their own words
enlarges upon this method to go more deeply into personal awareness of who one is.
In order to reflect the world that has changed almost unrecognizably since 1974 they state that
The book’s other major focus is moving from the personal to the social and the global.
The emphasis of The Passionate Mind Revisited has
…moved outward, into the realm of social evolution, in order to meet current challenges, both global and inner.
In The Passionate Mind Revisted they denounce the current paradigm that places the twin worlds of matter and spirit into quite separate and distinctly polar opposites.
We (Joel and Diana) believe that to better use the faculty of thought, it’s essential to understand the nature and effects of one’s worldview—specifically, how morality and spirituality are embedded in it. To do this, spirituality needs to be “brought down to Earth” by collapsing the separation between the spiritual and the mundane created by predominant traditional spiritual worldviews.
As they say in the introduction to the book
We believe that this age-old false and destructive split that separates spirit from the world, and makes the world of lesser importance, is one reason why we are a species at risk.
So what does the book have to tell us about the way of the world and the path that society has, somewhat erroneously, strayed on to?
In the book Kramer investigates key aspects to society, culture and the human condition through a number of specific focal points.
In the first of these he challenges the role and disposition of authority and authoritative dominance in our lives.
In the second he explores the function and role that belief plays in our lives and how it establishes our core thinking processes.
The following chapter focuses upon the impact of pleasure and desire and evaluates how these twin emotions drive us as human beings to make the subconscious choices that we do in our life. Between them they form part of powerful instinctual responses to our world experiences.
Another, equally powerful, motivating principle that holds sway deep within the human psyche is that of fear. Kramer points out that over the period since the publishing of his book it is fear that, more than other destructive tendency, has taken a strong hold upon the world at large.
The essential principle of freedom follows. Here Kramer examines what we mean by freedom by referencing the concepts of desirelessness as espoused by Buddhist philosophy.
Kramer’s following chapter, titled, ‘Images’, explores the personal and cultural filters that we place upon people and the world around us. Here he suggests that tradition is no more than an image of sorts and one that quite possibly is in need of radical reexamination at this time in our evolution.
Love is the next philosophical principle to be examined. Kramer looks at the changing role that relationships, emotional attachments, family connections and sex have come to play in our lives.
Time is next up for examination – a principle that determines our life experience more strongly than perhaps we realise. Here the author engages in a questions and answers session regarding the influence and impact of not having enough, or maybe too little, of it at our immediate disposal.
As the strong flavor of the influence of Eastern mystical philosophy pervades throughout this book it is perhaps not too surprising to find that Kramer is a strong advocate for the practice of meditation.
However, in ‘Revisited’ he expresses the firm belief that it is practice that, unless done properly and with safeguards can create its own problems. Here he enters even more deeply into the Buddhist use, practices and exploration of meditative practice.
Finally, the book closes with an look at evolution. In what is possibly the most passionate and challenging parts of the book the author calls upon humanity to wake up to the childlike madness it is currently trapped in and to evolve in a more mature and adult phase of human evolution.
Whether this occurs anytime soon – before it is too late and before our civilization finally comes crashing down around our heads, is entirely apparent at this stage.
Maybe we will look to a further update to the book in another thirty-five years time to find an answer to that question.
Our Review of The Passionate Mind Revisited’ by Joel Kramer
In the main, ‘Revisited’ is much the same book as its predecessor. The introduction has been re-written and many of the chapters have been reordered. Some of the appendices’ material from the earlier book have been removed.
As far as book length is concerned the revised edition is roughly three times the length and for those readers who enjoyed the original this updated version will be highly welcomed and greatly appreciated for continuing to ride the wave of philosophical thought.
Those who are new to this publication may well find that both publications are equal in their merit – the first edition for its conciseness and the second for its more contemporary approach and expanded concepts.
This is an excellent and deeply thought-provoking book. Of all its rich philosophical content I found the chapter on Evolution one that really encapsulates the Kramer philosophy and which really shows the power of the material on offer here.
The Passionate Mind (Revisited) offers an expanded vista of a world that is teetering either on the edge of collapse or fundamental change. It proves that we need the sort of philosophical mindset espoused by Joel Kramer as a determining factor in which direction the dice ultimately falls.