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Meru Foundation eTORUS(tm) Newsletter
Number 17 – 10 October 2003
Copyright 2003 Meru Foundation
Edited by Cynthia Tenen

As promised in Issue #16, below is a review of Peter Novak's new book, "The Lost Secret of Death: Our Divided Souls and the Afterlife." Peter is "a former psychological counselor [who] walked away from patient care to devote himself to the full-time study of death and the afterlife. He has since spent more than fifteen years researching mankind's cultural legends and modern phenomenological reports of life after death." (Quoted from the back inner cover). "The Lost Secret of Death" is (c)2003 Peter Novak, and published by Hampton Roads, Charlotesville, VA, ISBN 1-57174-324-3. We hope to make it available soon on Meru's secure-server website, www.meetingtent.com.

Rob Nixon, who wrote the review below, is a man of many talents and interests, whose professional career over the last 22 years has been in the fields of Expert Systems, Distributed Processing, Machine Intelligence, and Virtual Reality. Rob describes himself as "a systems architect, writer, artist, composer, and martial artist who loves Sushi."

We want to thank Rob for this insightful and thought-provoking review. If you have comments for either Peter or Rob, please email them to me at <meru@meru.org>, and I will forward them as appropriate. --Cynthia Tenen, Editor, eTORUS

BOOK REVIEW: "The Lost Secret of Death" by Peter Novak
Review written by Rob Nixon

Peter Novak's new book, "The Lost Secret of Death: Our Divided Souls and the Afterlife" develops a strong case for the viability of the ancient Binary Soul Doctrine (BSD). This ancient view, which appears to be present at the foundations of a vast array of eastern and western traditions, suggests that each human being consists of two inter-operating / cohabiting parts; Spirit (which is what we associate with the Conscious part of ourselves), and the Soul (which is associated with the Subconscious).

In ancient Israel this was described as the 'ruah' and the 'nefesh'. The 'ruah' which is translated as 'spirit', "…was active, strong, conscious, intelligent, and communicated with words. It is this part that was viewed as being immortal, pre-existing a person's birth and surviving their death unharmed, always "returning to God who gave it." The 'nefesh', on the other hand, "…embodied the emotions, memories, and sense of self-identity, and was vulnerable and could be greatly harmed by death, becoming trapped in a weak and feebleminded state in She'ol, a dark, underground, dreamlike netherworld." It appears that there was a third term; 'neshamah' which appears to overlap both concepts, and is mentioned several times in the Hebrew Bible, this word is usually translated as "soul" and/or "spirit", suggesting that the ancient Hebrews may have seen this rarely mentioned soul element as the union of 'nefesh' and 'ruah'. This appears to mirror the ancient Egyptian concepts of the union of the 'ba' (spirit) and 'ka' (soul) into an integrated whole known as the 'ahk'.

It is interesting to note that ancient Islam called these two souls the 'ruh' and the 'nafs' (which is linguistically quite close to Israel's 'ruah' and 'nefesh'). It was the 'ruah' and the 'ruh' that carried the life force, the freewill, the rational intellect, and the ability to communicate.)

It appears that the 'neshamah' and the 'ahk' are the integrated "whole", analogous to the "trinity" in Christian thought. Similarly, the Yang and Yin, and the continuous cycling of the two (creating the integrated whole), appear to share the same fundamental attributes as that of the Hebrew and Egyptian counterparts. Additionally, a great deal of Carl Jung's work dovetails elegantly with the BSD paradigm.

Peter also details BSD's many connections to far eastern, scientific, neurophysiological, and paranormal thought and experiences in a very convincing way. Toward the end of the book, he illustrates how BSD integrates with Christian (and Gnostic) thought, and the role of Jesus.

The final goal from the author's perspective is for each of us to "discover" and "integrate" our two halves prior to death, so that we can continuing on our spiritual growth towards God, rather than getting stuck in a cycle of lives. This he feels is where the concept of "Integrity" originally came from, and what underpins the vast majority of religious traditions. If we don't accomplish this prior to death, then the two parts are likely to separate, the spirit continuing on to re-incarnate (without memories of the previous life), and the soul focusing in upon itself, reliving all of its previous memories and creating a dreamworld of its own making. Since the soul no longer has access to the "structuring and analysis" mechanism provided by the "spirit" or rational portion, it has no way to reevaluate its current condition, and usually becomes caught in its own dream worlds. Each of our previous "souls" remain embedded in us (running as if in a parallel process ­ using a computational analogy), but inaccessible to our current experience. He maintains that once we are successful at integrating our current two halves (creating the third ­ wholeness), we need to find and reintegrate with all of the experience and memories of our previous souls. It is only after accomplishing this that we will be ready to grow beyond this existence towards God. He believes that this process is extremely difficult to do, and rarely happens without assistance. Those that have been able to accomplish this are those that our history has come to recognize as great spiritual teachers, such as Abraham, Jesus, Mohammed, and Buddha. And it is the faith and trust in these teachers (active action) that can assist with our integration process.

Peter Novak's very positive coverage of Stan Tenen's work (approximately 4-5 pages) is quite welcome. I actually ran across the book independently from any reference to it by Stan. As I've mentioned to both Stan and Peter, from my perspective it appears that Stan's work details the "how" it works, and Peter's, the "why".

There are additional areas where BSD can be integrated into modern thinking, which the author has not touched on… but there's always volume II.

The author's efforts to create an elegant and simple framework within which to house all of the desperate experiences of humankind has, in my opinion, come quite close to the goal.

I can safely say that this is the most "dog-eared" and "margin noted" book out of the thousands that I own.

Excellent work.



I hope you enjoy this Meru Foundation eTORUS(tm) Newsletter.

We welcome your comments and suggestions, and would like the opportunity to speak with you personally.

If you have comments or questions, please send an email to Cynthia Tenen at meru@meru.org with your phone number and a good time to call -- or, please call us at 781-784-8902 (Boston area). I would like to brainstorm with you.

Thank you for your interest in the work of the Meru Foundation.

The Meru Foundation eTORUS(tm) Newsletter is copyright 2003 Meru Foundation. All rights reserved.
Past issues of eTORUS(tm) are archived online on the Meru Foundation website at

You may duplicate and pass along this newsletter, in its entirety, as long as you include this copyright notice and the contact information below. Please send comments and questions to <meru@meru.org>.

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