The Celestine Prophecy

Astrally projecting itself to the top of the bestsellers list in 1994, The Celestine Prophecy became the must-read of the management and business leadership world. A self-help book-cum-novel-cum-historical myth, The Prophecy encourages its reader to lead a more spiritual life through the discovery of nine ‘insights’, supposedly based on those discovered in an ancient Peruvian manuscript.

Read by the great and good across the Western world, from Hillary Clinton to Naomi Klein to Lynne Franks, this cult book has come a long way since its author, James Redfield, sold copies from the boot of his car along the Florida coast. Its impact is partly due to its emphasis on awareness, particularly of the effects of our actions on others, making it a useful management tool. The insights tell us we need to break away from our habitual powerplay, what it terms the ‘control dramas’ in which we have been stuck since childhood.

Unfortunately, while its concepts bear some merit, a lot of the book is eminently silly. Hatched in mystical notions of energy fields, we are told that evolution is simply a case of ‘vibrating’ ever faster; and the whole New Age shebang is couched in a highly implausible adventure story that would have Nancy Drew crying in her sleep. Romance, action, cultural historicism and spiritual fulfillment may seem like a heady cocktail, but this is the literary equivalent of an Archers and marmalade.

For better or worse, having sold over 8.5 million copies, this book is now part of the Western consciousness; testament to this is a huge internet offering on the subject (ranging from ‘this book has changed my life’ to ‘why I hate the Celestine Prophecy’ sites). As such, it’s something you should have read, if only so you can quote it in interviews and look clever. After all, Lennox Lewis loved it, and there aren’t many who’d argue with Lennox.

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