THE BOOK OF THE SOUL – Ian Lawton

THE BOOK OF THE SOUL is available for purchase from Ian Lawton’s website for just £10, or alternatively from Amazon UK for £20 (due to the costs of distribution). More information about the book, including sample material, is available from Ian Lawton’s website.

Having just written and published a book myself, I was greatly interested when alternative author Ian Lawton asked me to review a copy of his own newly self-published book, titled The Book of the Soul. Lawton has already had two previous books published: the first was the controversial Giza: The Truth, on the history of research into the pyramids and Great Sphinx of Giza; the second a left turn into the spiritual origins of humanity titled Genesis Unveiled. However, with his third offering Lawton has taken it upon himself to bear the risks of financing the project.

Why you might ask? Lawton points out in the Preface that he encountered a particular resistance from publishers towards topics of a spiritual nature. However, he felt so strongly about the subject matter – not so much of its profitability, but of its importance – that he decided to put up the last of his financial resources to see the book in print. So what is so compelling about the subject matter of his book that he would risk everything on it?

Put bluntly, this book is about death. Not the act of dying, but instead what may occur beyond that point. Following on from chapters in Genesis Unveiled which examined evidence for reincarnation and ‘interlife’ experiences, in The Book of the Soul Lawton lays out the evidence, and gives detailed comparisons of the testimony of numerous researchers in these fields. In his eyes, this information has the capacity to change our society, which is on a downward spiral brought on by the spiritual emptiness of the physicalist worldview.

The book begins with a transcript of one of his own hypnotic regressions into a ‘past life’ at the time of the Inquisition. An interesting opening, although it perhaps goes on too long at a time when it is crucial to draw the reader in to the book. This first chapter establishes The Book of the Soul as a personal journey, one in which Lawton finds himself in a fight against the materialist paradigm:

I happen to believe…it is high time the materialist establishment was shaken out of this smug complacency and given a bloody nose. In fact, I would argue that a broad spiritual worldview provides a far more logical and philosophical framework for understanding the universe than a materialist one – indeed that it is the far more rational position to adopt, which is at least partly why I have coined the term ‘rational spirituality’ to describe it.

The following chapters then lay down the copious evidence against the materist view of humanity: Near Death Experiences such as the well-known case of Pam Reynolds, the impressive catalogue of reincarnation cases collected by Dr Ian Stevenson, and some of the more striking cases from hypnotic regression. From this point on, The Book of the Soul centres mainly on information from regression sources: on topics such as past-life reviews, interlife planning, karmic philosophies, the possibility of seeing into the future through ‘hypnotic progression’, and the real truth about spirit possession.

Each chapter is well written, and certainly provides a solid resource for those interested in these areas of research. Comparisons are made via tables on which elements recur throughout reported regressions, to help better establish possible ‘objective truths’ in the experience. Lawton is an exhaustive researcher, and goes to great lengths to present the detail behind an often-glossed over subject.

I did find some negatives to the book. Sometimes the intensity of his arguments almost borders on proselytising for the spiritual belief in reincarnation. But although this can feel a little uncomfortable, overall Lawton’s intentions are good and he provide the available evidence for any views that he espouses. Also of minor irritation is his habit of speaking in the first person – although he does so far less in this book than in Genesis Unveiled. However, this is an intensely personal book, and there is hardly any choice when recounting his own experiences with hypnotic regression.

Ian Lawton is a man of obvious sensitivity and compassion, who seems broken-hearted at the current state of the world. The Book of the Soul comes across as his way of trying to mend the damaged ‘souls’ out there, by offering evidence that there is more to life – and beyond – than what the physicalist paradigm tells us. This is a great summary of the evidence for a spiritual side to humanity, and offers insights into what we might learn from journeys into ‘the great beyond’ which we can apply to our own lives. A far better offering than the vast majority of so-called ‘spiritual’ books out there, and the cover itself is beautifully harmonious with the content inside – a great design choice. If you’re interested in the subject matter discussed, then I heartily recommend supporting Lawton’s self-publishing endeavour by purchasing a copy for your personal library.

Editor
  1. The Book of the Soul
    I do not think this book is about death. To me it was a ‘lesson in learning’. The book is about life. The book gives a positive framework for life and how to live it based on a major issue not featured in Greg’s review; the dynamics of Karma. Lawton takes on the established view (from ancient and reveiled wisdom) of karma as action and reaction and puts it in a far more rational context of right action and learning, based on modern regression evidence. His follow up analysis leads to practical advice about living life ‘now’.
    Don’t buy this book to ‘support the author’s self publishing endeavour’, buy it because it’s a great book. Life changing in my view.
    It is the first book to ever give rational people a reason to be spiritual.

    1. In reply
      Kunti wrote:

      > based on a major issue not featured in Greg’s review;
      > the dynamics of Karma.

      Hiya,

      To be fair, karma only becomes a major theme from Chapter 7 in the book, and I do mention in the review that karmic philosophies are discussed (though perhaps I could have provided more detail). Regarding ‘more detail’ which is worthy of discussion, I don’t think Ian Lawton mentions in the later chapters that highly respected reincarnation-case researcher Ian Stevenson (who is cited multiple times in The Book of the Soul) doesn’t appear to think much of the idea of karma:

      Omni: Your new book discusses some misconceptions about the idea of reincarnation. What is the most common?

      Stevenson: The idea that reincarnation must include what Hindus call Karma, especially retributive Karma.

      Omni: Retributive Karma being the idea that whatever bad you do in this life is paid for in the next by having the same amount of evil done to you?

      Stevenson: Something like that. It can be more specific, so that if you put out someone’s eyes, you will be blinded. There is no evidence for the idea of retributive Karma. The notion of a succession of lives with improvement in each, on the other hand, is precisely the view of the Druze, a Muslim sect of Lebanon, a people I’ve worked with a lot. They believe God sends us into different sorts of lives, perhaps as a fisherman, then a banker, then maybe a pirate. But in each life we should do the best we can, if a banker, one should be thoroughly honest—and rich! Whether pirate or peasant, it’s all summed up at the day of judgment. But one life has nothing to do with the next. Your conduct could be vicious in one life, and in the next, you might be reborn into elegant circumstances.

      I was saving the detailed discussion of karma for a follow-up interview with Ian, but it might be fun to discuss it a bit here as well.

      > Don’t buy this book to ‘support the author’s self
      > publishing endeavour’, buy it because it’s a great book.

      Certainly, it wasn’t my intention to make this the selling point of the book, and re-reading what I wrote I think you are misrepresenting what I said. My summing up promotes it as a good book and a worthy purchase, and I only insert the self-publishing line at the end as a follow-up to my opening.

      Peace and Respect
      Greg
      ——————————————-
      You monkeys only think you’re running things

      1. druze
        my parrot has taken my shift key so i cannot do capitals.

        i have read stevenson’s book on the druze…excellent book, beautifully and meticulously written.the part i found so interesting was that stevenson, a scientist, left lebanon believing in reincarnation, when he had gone there not too sure.
        now i never believed in reincaration but i have so much respect for that man that i have been re-thinking the issue.
        the evidence is over-whelming…small children unhappy where they live because they believe that they are someone else.
        i was interested in the fact that the druze believe implicitly in reincarnation and wonder why this has something to do with so many young people claiming to be reincarnated.
        if anyone can explain it to me i would be delighted.

        shadows

      2. Karma, Stevenson etc
        Hi Greg

        First off, many thanks for the review. Normally I would write to you privately to thank you as you know, but some issues have been raised here that are perhaps worth exploring in a more public way.

        I have just gone back and looked at the beginning of chapter 7, and find that I did not mention Ian Stevenson’s views on karma when summarising those of all the other pioneers. Can’t for the life of me remember why, cos I know it was in there at one point – if you look at the source refs for that chapter it is still in there as the first item! Perhaps the evil deleting demons got to my manuscript while I wasn’t looking 😉 In any case, the original sentence didn’t say much, because Stevenson does not necessarily hold that karma and reincarnation are connected.

        But let’s look at this a little more closely. For all his excellent work, which I explicitly praise most highly in the book as you know, Stevenson has a very specific area of research, and because of his professionalism does not tend to let himself think outside his own box – or at least any comments concerning what his research means are extremely guarded, as I emphasize in the book, which is exactly what we would expect from such a professional man.

        Now, you will also know that I repeatedly refer especially to Stevenson’s birthmark and defect cases in the chapter on karma, precisely because their karmic dynamics are one of the hardest to understand! Why on earth – even under a supposed system of retribution – should someone who is murdered through no obvious fault of their own carry the physical scars of such an attack into their next life?

        It turns out that the answer most favoured by Stevenson and our other pioneers is that the intense emotions accompanying the previous sudden, violent or unexpected death have imprinted themselves so strongly on the personality’s psyche that they are carried forward into the next life – in Stevenson’s cases actually in physical/psychosomatic form. What Stevenson doesn’t say explicitly, and I emphasize (am I allowed to keep saying “I” like this?!) is that this is one of the best examples of exactly why karma DOES NOT work on the retributive basis of “paying off debts” or “action and reaction”.

        Moreover, I emphasize that if you take the wider context of the regression research of all the pioneers I reference in the book, there is a clear contrast between souls still in the “repetitive” (as opposed to “retributive”, which is a word I never use) karmic stage and those who have moved onto a “progressive” one. The reason that the former are stuck in repetitive karmic cycles in which the same dramas are enacted again and again is because they fail to properly assimilate the intense emotions attached to the traumas they suffer. So they carry guilt, envy, sorrow, hatred etc etc forward with them. And the KEY reason they seem to do this when others do not is that they do not have a full interlife experience – in other words, they do not make proper use of the past-life review and next-life planning advice and guidance available to them. This underlying idea is specifically confirmed by a number of interlife pioneers, but without the explicit overall framework that helps us to make sense of it. What I hope I have done is to develop this simple and consistent framework in which the contrasting karmic dynamics underlying the different stages of soul evolution can be readily understood.

        That is why I think Kunti was right to stress the importance of this element of the book. I am using modern psychological research to reveal that karma does NOT work in the way most of us have been taught to believe from ancient “revealed wisdom” – and that, put simply, it is all about learning and “right action” irrespective of the karmic stage we are in. I suspect Ian Stevenson would be reasonably happy with this concept of karma – although I am still waiting for him to return to the University of Virginia to pick up the review copy of The Book of the Soul that I sent him 😉

        That having been said, I realise that readers who do not necessarily even believe in reincarnation in the first place might find my “proselytising” in the earlier chapters somewhat disturbing, as you suggest. I will only add, as you did, that the rational supporting evidence is there for every claim that I make, as well as my reasoning as to why alternative explanations do not stand up. In the face of such impeccable logic, it is not surprising that some people are made to feel uncomfortable in perhaps having to reappraise long-held views 😉

        Oh well, here I am banging on again! Maybe we should do that interview 😉

        All best wishes, Ian

  2. brilliant read
    after finishing this book today i have found a new author whose books i will continue to purchase in future. this book was both interesting and enlightening and a fantastic read. keep them coming.

  3. time
    A little thought i had about time, assuming it is 3d like space, was that it could be a spiral, like a screw thread, but we only experience it usually as a 2d profile, or its shadow. So although we see the screw is turning by observing the thread profile as a moving wave, there is also a cyclic depth to it.

    I’m sure ive read somewhere that photons of light may travel in a spiral allowing the interference patterns in the double slit experiment.

    The lines i am thinking along are –
    Time interference patterns.
    Or cyclic time (with the information content being the changing factor)
    or combinations of both.

    Or maybe consciousness stays the same and everything else changes as consciousness views the potential for things to do so.

    The sticking point for me with the idea of soul is the individualisation, or how it is possible for a consciousness to retain an identity, but even without the theories we are talking about here, the idea of ‘me’ is pretty boggeling in the first place.

    ian

    1. Re: Time
      Ian

      I’m not sure if you are concerned by the idea of the soul surviving death per se, or by the fact that it may retain some individual indentity after death. As much as I have a lot of time for Buddhist thought, their (IMHO) mistaken idea of ‘no-self/soul’ (ie our souls do not survive as individual entities) has a lot to answer for. As I show in The Book of the Soul, nothing in the modern research supports this view, and nor does the idea of the individual soul contradict the basic unity of all things in my opinion. As I said to Collette in another post, I’m afraid I don’t do forums very well but if you want to carry on the conversation via email you can reach me via my website (www.ianlawton.com). You may be interested to know that I am just about to publish a paper on the web site that discusses the whole idea of the nature of time and multiple realities.

      Ian Lawton

      1. bits and pieces
        Hi Ian, I will also Email, but I thought I would also like to clarify the point on here.The survival of the soul only becomes an issue when I take into account the nature of being an individual consciousness i.e.. Which ‘bit’ are we referring to ? Me, as an identity, is a construct of lots of bits of learned information as well as lots of cells. Before I can reasonably develop an idea of self to apply to reincarnation, I need to define that against the idea of the unity of all things i.e.. Is my hand conscious, or a guitar, or my hand and a guitar combined, or a group of people etc. Do these combinations of otherwise unconnected objects and people ‘create’ another individual consciousness separate from the individual parts. (Like the experience of self is separate from combinations of cells and information.) Does, for instance, a crowd consciousness survive its dispersal at the end of a football match and do the consciousness of individual cells survive their parting from other cells.How much of our surviving consciousness is dependent on the constituent parts and how much of it ‘exists’ as an individual ‘free floating’ awareness ?

        To me the basic competing ideas are :

        1) There is one consciousness that manifests as individuals through specific physical conditions.

        2) There are individual consciousness that exist in their own right.

        3) The experience of consciousness is as fleeting as physical conditions allow.

        I can see no reason why any of the above conditions would contradict a theory of reincarnation and the idea of cyclic time or simply a changing universe seems to fulfil the criteria for the experience of reincarnation to be applied to any one of them.

        A further questions that this raises to me is ‘does consciousness have a choice to manifest itself in any chosen form or is it similar conditions that give rise to a similar experience of self’ ?

      2. Memory loss between lives
        Ian Lawton wrote :
        > As much as I have a lot of time for Buddhist thought,
        > their (IMHO) mistaken idea of ‘no-self/soul’ (ie our
        > souls do not survive as individual entities) has a lot
        > to answer for. As I show in The Book of the Soul,
        > nothing in the modern research supports this view….

        On the contrary, there is a sizable body of modern research that does seem to support the Buddhist notion. As I showed in my 2003 book “The Lost Secret of Death”, numerous past-life regression researchers over the last 25 years have reported regressing subjects to a point in-between lives where they’d lost all traces of memory of their past life, as well as all emotion and subjectivity. Again and again in different reports, one can read where subjects in-between lives were asked who they were and where they had lived, and they could not recall their names or nationalities. All they could remember was doing what they seemed to be doing at that moment — just floating calmly alone in an empty black void. They were perfectly calm and peaceful, utterly emotionless … just as subjects seem to be in the first phase of near-death experiences, when they are alone in the black tunnel. Of all the different afterlife traditions the world has to offer, only the ancient Egyptian notion of binary souls that divide after death seems to explain this loss of memory, emotion, and subjectivity after death.

        I would not argue that the Buddhist notion is totally correct, but only that it CAN prove correct. If one’s soul does rupture into fragments at death, the self one knew in that lifetime would be effectively/functionally/experientially lost, just as the Buddhists teach. However, as the ancient Egyptians and Chinese once knew, that rupture is not inevitable, and can be avoided, thereby allowing for the continued survival of the known self.

        – Peter Novak

        How divided are you already?
        Find out at http://www.divisiontheory.com

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