"Transcendental knowledge and the will to learn how to act correctly are sure ways to sustain happiness in this life."

Author Milien offers sound, wide-ranging guidance for self-improvement based on the legacy of some of the world’s greatest teachers. His vision for attaining and maintaining earthly happiness is arrayed here in eighteen essays examining the subject from a variety of fascinating angles. Initially, Milien says, one must be careful not to “put the plow in front of the oxen,” as an old adage humorously suggests. To make meaningful strides in life, one must develop a strategy for assuming one’s proper place and knowing the work involved in that place. To do so, self-control will be required, along with the development of well-chosen intentions and the ability to put principles into sound practice. One angle of examination comprises rising above a mere “life history” to create a vibrant “life story.” The latter demonstrates one’s triumphs over adversity and overcoming of weaknesses. Using this story, it is then possible to persuade and convince others of one’s worth, leading to advancement in many spheres.

Throughout Milien’s essays, he stresses that such determination can be bolstered by spiritual insight, leading to an infusion of divine power that God can impart, allowing for positive action and the avoidance of evil influences. He employs quotations from and explanations of biblical and Eastern religious sources and models from psychology and demonology, balancing the idea of Karma and one’s human will to change and grow. One exercise proffered is to lie quietly at night before sleep, allowing one’s mind to dissociate from the physical realm and become enveloped in God’s peace. Doing this regularly can stave off depression and give valuable perspectives about higher (supernatural or invisible) reality. Constructing a life path centered around transcendent understanding, Milien believes, is comparable to writing one’s life story and living it skillfully, gradually seeing positive consequences.

Milien, a Haitian by birth, has attained numerous academic credits and is a teacher and academic who has clearly made a diligent study of great world religions along with such diverse sources as Jung, Shakespeare, and Sartre. His essays are logical, and their subjects are often surprising as he attempts to offer readers an intellectually enriching grasp of concepts that appear simple on the surface. His deep delving shows their complexity. In support of his theses and as an encouragement to readers from varying backgrounds, Milien uses unusual examples such as that of Nicholas Saunderson, a noted professor of geometry who was both blind and lame and had to learn to read by tracing letters on tombstones.

Milien suggests strategies such as fearlessness, the slowing down of the rapid tempo of modern life to develop and experience physical detachment, and the intensive study of those who have gone before and left examples of excellence and contentment. His book contains quiet humor and a conversational tone. Yet overall, his ideas are best suited for serious study by readers who might not be attracted to standard self-help psychology but who will see in Milien’s work a higher, more thoughtful way of tackling many of the same issues set forth in an appealing, academically appropriate format.

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