Sunday, December 18, 2011

Kathy Reviews - Dancing With Duality: Confessions of a Free Spirit by Stella Vance

ISBN #: 978-1466326651
Page Count: 304
Copyright: 2011
Publisher: CreateSpace

Book Summary:
(Taken from back cover)

Who Am I, Behind the Human Mask?

Is this life real? Or is it only a game? These are the questions Stella Vance asked herself. And the answers are sure to astound you.

Betrayed at the age of 21 by the first love of her life, Stella embarks on a life of fearless adventure. She travels the world, adding notches to her lipstick case with lovers from all over the world and surviving harrowing experiences, including abuse, abortion, date rape, and cult involvement. Along the way, Stella undergoes a spiritual transformation. Once awakened to the reality of nonduality, she gradually realizes that life is just a game, that death is just another dimension, and that nothing "out there" can really hurt her.

This inspiring page-turning memoir begins in the 1970's, when Stella is a Christian zealot. Subsequently questioning all religious dogma, Stella's mystical quests lead her to delve deeply into the realms of dreams, psychic readings, astrology, tantric yoga, reincarnation and her own past lives, the entheogen ketamine, Indian holy men and women, revolving-door relationships, the seeker culture of southern California, and finally, the ultimate path of Adavita Vedanta.

Kathy's Review:

Part memoir, part philosophy, Stella Vance voices an easy-to-follow tour through her life, following both the events and the internal struggles and questions she faced along the way. The last paragraph of this book summary gives you some idea of the philosophy and ideology Vance studied.

This book will only be enjoyable if you are completely open-minded and non-judgemental. As the title suggests, Vance is a free spirit, which means she doesn't follow the mainstream views on basically anything. Raised Christian, she questions her religious beliefs in her teen years. The points she raises are quite compelling, and made me think about my own beliefs. She also puts out the good, the bad and the ugly of her life, including multiple abortions, relationships gone wrong, threesomes, drug use, and more. One of the life lessons she stresses in the book, and repeats throughout: "Be careful when you judge someone; you may end up doing a similar thing." I think that is the mindframe one must be in while reading this book.

Vance recaps her life beginning as a teen and through to her current age. She travels many places in the world, meets many people and finds enlightenment. She is well-read and well-educated. Although she presents some ideas of which I am personally skeptical, she made so many good points and I had so many "ah-ha" moments throughout this book, that I would be interested to read some of the source books she quotes.

I'm not sure where I stand on the topic of reincarnation. I think it's a cool concept - that we lived before as someone else. Throughout the book, Vance makes references to people in her present life that she also encountered in past lives. This made me think about some of the people in my life that I've felt super-connected to and not really known why. One person in particular - the first time I met him, I felt an incredible connection and knew that he was going to be someone special in my life. He was - but not in the way I thought or hoped he was going to be. One quote toward the end of the book really made me think of this particular situation: "Some people come into our lives for a reason, some for a season, and some for a lifetime ... Each person who crosses our path in an intimate way is someone from whom we have a lesson to learn. Value the lesson and when the time is right, allow that person to exit from your life." That really struck a chord with me in reference to this person, who is no longer in my life. And the whole idea of reincarnation makes me wonder who this person was to me in a past life.

Vance has some poignant ideas and a very optimistic outlook on humanity, and I couldn't help but feeling envious of her way of life. Because of her lifestyle and beliefs, she has freed herself from some of the everyday struggle that some of us face.

A very thought-provoking book that may spur me to do some further research. If you have an open heart and open mind, I urge you to read Ms. Vance's book.

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