Dance of Light: Christian, Sufi and Zen wisdom for today’s spiritual seeker

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In Dance of Light, scholar, teacher, and writer Alice McDowell discusses the process of spiritual journey as a dance, from the perspective of mystical traditions of Christianity, Sufism, and Zen Buddhism. In this offering, McDowell draws upon her training in theology and transpersonal psychology, as well as life-long experiences in developing her spiritual path and guiding others to forge their own journey. Noting similarities and contrasts between Eastern and Western approaches to spiritual awakening, McDowell merges lessons from divergent traditions to deliver a nuanced understanding of the universal human quest for deeper meaning. Teachings across time and cultures coalesce to reveal enlightened truths about the way of the seeker.

Certain people are predisposed to looking beyond material pursuits. The spiritual path could at times be discouraging, and one may feel stuck or lack inspiration to move forward. Readers at different stages of learning about and achieving spiritual consciousness will delight in the poignant lessons of Dance of Light, and be encouraged to continue the journey when it seems difficult to go on. By using the metaphor of the Zen ox-herding pictures and timeless stories from Sufi and Christian sojourners, McDowell explains the spiritual path in accessible language that is relatable and inviting. Her tone and approach are designed to reach a wide audience of spiritual seekers who may be on different paths and stages of the journey.

I read Dance of Light from my lived experiences that merged a Christian upbringing and being a student of Buddhism for more than a decade. I am least familiar with the tenets and practices of Sufism. McDowell’s cross-cultural, interfaith approach is affirming and welcoming for people of diverse and agnostic spiritual orientations. She discusses similarities between faiths and offers common grounding on both direct and indirect paths to journeying inward and attaining deep knowledge about the true nature of the quest. Seeing the common threads that bind distinct spiritual traditions is useful for readers who are intent in forging a path of understanding. Reflection questions at the end of each chapter allow the opportunity for journaling and introspection. McDowell reminds us that every spiritual journey is lifelong work, and each experience of advancing and stopping should be seen as instructive.

This is an excellent book for anyone who is curious about contemporary applications of mystical spiritual traditions. McDowell writes in an engaging way, creating space for curiosity to flourish. She describes her own journey of self-discovery as a spiritual seeker and guide, offering examples of her lived experiences and cognitive synthesis of the three traditions. Through the experiences of others she has guided along the way, she explains the process of unlearning and unraveling to define one’s true nature and purpose: who we are and why we are here.


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Author Alice McDowell Ph.D.
Star Count 4/5
Format Trade
Page Count 198 pages
Publisher Wisdom Editions, an inprint of Calumet Editions
Publish Date 19-Jan-2022
ISBN 9781950743735
Amazon Buy this Book
Issue July 2022
Category Spirituality & Inspiration
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