Online Edition: Summer 2007

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Pushing Ultimates

Fundamentals of Authentic Self-knowledge

Lew Paz

Plum Bell Publishing ($21.50)

by Jaye Beldo

Most people who embark on the path of philosophy quite likely have very little foreknowledge of what they are really getting into: endless, exacting and unimaginably deep self inquiry; perpetual questioning; continual assessments of one's beliefs; and considered responses to metaphysical and mystical experiences. In our present world, the “answers” to life’s persistent questions are typically spoon fed to us by pseudo-gurus, New Age visionaries, and other assorted pundits of the nether realms; there is not much cogent support for such challenging self-analysis. The rare individuals who dare to embark on such an uncertain route usually take great pains to remain reclusive, leaving genuine inspiration for the rest of us in tragically short supply.

In the past, such literary notables as Henry David Thoreau provided ample encouragement for those wishing to achieve some degree of enlightenment. Yet such transcendental luminaries have become so incredibly rare now, it seems we are left with only mass-marketed me-ism and other pathologically hedonist approaches to self-realization. However, in this remarkable and innovative work, ontological renegade Lew Paz gives readers the seldom seen perspective of someone who risked the enormous and daunting task of inner inquiry. What emerges from this philosophical travelogue is more than inspirational—it demolishes the reader’s cherished and outdated belief systems and risks encountering what’s left behind, regardless of how archetypically terrifying or bewildering. Paz, unlike most ad hoc philosophers-at-large, sustains a relentless and intense quest to grasp something luminous and beautifully. His work emanates a vitality that has been extinguished in this age of fearful conservativism and political correctness, where even the so-called “enlightened” may seem guarded and paranoid.

Aside from an off-putting and dubious attachment to Heidegger, whose affiliation with the Nazis, the author reminds us, forever clouded his weltanschaung, Paz’s work is most certainly worth examining, pondering, and reflecting upon in moments of solitude. At times, Paz expends too much energy addressing all the usual negating elements that encroach upon enlightenment and achieving a trans-egoic state, as found in organized religion, materialist science, and the reductive behaviorism proliferating the psychotherapeutic industry. Yet, once he moves past these conflicts, he shares with us a unique and much needed event horizon, one that he has scrutinized unflinchingly and from a perspective of genuine and hard-won compassion. Pushing Ultimates is recommended for anyone who may be fearful of the philosophical inquiry, not just as a initiatory and inspirational means of getting to the Omega point of self realization, wherever that may be, but also as a reliable guidebook to take along all throughout the journey.

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