“Life is Binary: The Choice to Live Love or Limitation” – book review

On one of his websites Vivbala himself asks, “Why do we need one more spiritual book?”

The author’s self-published “Life is Binary: The Choice to Live Love or Limitation” is divided into eight chapters which are further divided into subchapters. A dedication, acknowledgements and preface precede the table of contents. There is a reference section at the end. Apart from the colorful images on the cover, there are no other illustrations.

Vivbala starts with his personal awakening story, which in itself is engaging reading. Then he follows it with the insights he received.

Unlike “The Celestine Prophecy” that seems contrived, and some other books by authors who’ve made a business out of selling spirituality, “Life is Binary” is one engineer’s true story. Every writer has a voice, and it is Vivbala’s voice that helps set his book apart from others. He comes across as rational, caring, endearing, earnest and genuine. He’s a regular guy holding down a job and going to performances to watch his daughter dance.

Vivbala skillfully uses analogies and examples to explain his experience, insights and various phenomena such as synchronicity. He writes, “The best analogy I can come up with for what happened to me is the reboot of a computer. In computer systems, when the system starts to behave abnormally or at very low efficiency and there seems to be weird problems happening, the best solution is to reboot the system. A reboot kills all the processes that are running including those that are hanging and clears out the memory. It also deletes all the temporary files used by these processes. When the computer is shut down and restarted, it has a clear processor and memory. Spiritual awakening or near death experiences are nothing but the reboot of your mind and body.”

While reading “Life is Binary” I found myself nodding constantly as I was agreeing with the author’s statements, recognizing myself in his examples, appreciating nuggets of wisdom and realizing that retraining the mind is a life-long process for most of us who yearn to move beyond a limited existence.

Some of the ideas put forth, such as avoiding watching the news because it adds negativity to our lives, are easy to understand and are generally accepted in circles where mental health and well-being are the main focus. That we are immortal will be harder to grasp and believe.

In the final chapter, Vivbala reminds us that spiritual awakening does not come about by reading a book, even so, I wished there would have been more pencil-and-paper exercises to help me identify my patterns, fears, dreams and so forth and to help me apply some of his insights to my life.

Readers who notice typos will find a few, and some of the paragraphs seem mighty long.

If you’ve been reading spiritual development books for very long, you might not find many strikingly new concepts in “Life is Binary,” but that’s not a criticism whatsoever.

What is new and refreshing about this book is the being who is delivering the message and the way he delivers it.

So, why do we need one more spiritual book?

Because there might be at least one person left out there who is still sleepwalking through life. Maybe two.

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Freelancing with Spirit: Part 2

When deciding if a magazine’s or website’s slant, tone and style mesh with your writing goals, read the “Editor’s Letter” for insights to their visions for their publications. Hunt for a mission statement, which can be encapsulated in a slogan on the magazine’s spine, on the cover or in a paragraph on or near the table of contents. Mission statements are usually outlined in writers’ submission guidelines and in resources such as Writer’s Market.
Check the table of contents to find out if the magazine allocates articles into regular departments. Familiarity with a magazine’s regular departments gives writers ideas for new articles and conveys the scope of the magazine’s content. Many magazine editors welcome readers’ stories while others, in submission guidelines, state the departments in which freelancer writers have the best chance of acceptance.

Take note of contributing authors’ bylines. If Gary Zukav (The Seat of the Soul) and authors of his caliber wrote the articles, move on. Writers lacking advanced degrees and invitations to appear on “Dr. Phil” should aim their articles at periodicals suitable for their level. Find your level. Work in it. Climb up.

And, yes, a few spiritual magazines (and editors) might seem too far-fetched. Before disregarding a magazine as a possible target, inquire about future themes. Just because last month’s issue was dedicated to alien visitations doesn’t mean an upcoming issue can’t be a down-to-earth round up of articles about coping with troubled teenagers.

A shuffle through the heap of spiritual magazines on my desk reveals that one refers to the Master, another refers to inner Reality, yet another to Source, whereas a magazine for women mentions goddess, divine self and higher self among other names for the power that is also known in some circles as the Godhead, Jesus Christ, Mother, Creator, Grandfather Spirit, Buddha…Whichever magazine a freelancer chooses to write for, it’s important to use the targeted magazine’s terminology. But don’t go against your own sacred beliefs just to sell an article.

Get a sense of reader demographics. Are readers predominantly single women, vegetarians, gay Christians, recovering substance abusers, agnostic vegetarians, middle-aged baby boomers seeking more meaningful lives?
These varied audiences pursue different lifestyles, even so, virtually all readers face similar challenges and joys in life and are, therefore, interested in reading articles about the similar, day-to-day challenges we all face.

Editors encourage hopeful contributors to relate to real people with real problems. The social merits of gossiping, meeting spiritual needs on the Internet, finding a good spa, and dealing with geriatric parents are examples of topics featured in those spiritual magazines heaped on my desk.
Successful writers of spiritual articles resist resorting to platitudes and clichés, unless they are used in a fresh, thought-provoking way. Published writers also avoid being preachy and pedantic. They strive to come across as empathetic and inspiring. They add original, heartfelt ideas to the body of thought already existing on a topic.

Researching material for a spiritual article and digging into one’s feelings sets the stage for the writer to experience a mini-epiphany – an added bonus. Furthermore, touching people’s lives positively through the written word is personally rewarding for freelance writers. Receiving checks in the mail ain’t bad either.

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(C) Beth Fowler 2014

(C) Beth Fowler 2014