I have to admit, I have a love-hate relationship with this book: The Only Thing That Matters by Neale Donald Walsch.
I’ve had similar experiences listening to the author being interviewed. Sometimes I enjoy it immensely and other times I’m completely turned off.
Whereas often when I read a book, my final evaluation averages out to one spot on the scale, with this one I disliked/hated some things and liked/loved others.
I decided it can remain a both-and instead of an either-or (or even an average), and I’ll tell you all about it.
What I Didn’t Like
For about the first one third of the book, I was really turned off by the “voice” of the author.
I can understand that he is likely using his teaching tone, but to me it felt like he was talking down to me. Especially because most of the topics are quite elementary and he states them like they are the most profound ideas in the world and I’m in kindergarten or something. It just bothered me right off the bat.
Along with (or a part of) that is that he capitalized Important Phrases. Those that he wants to Call Out, or Wants You to Notice. And he did it A Lot. This got old really fast and in some ways even gets confusing. It reminds me of copy you read where the IMPORTANT THINGS are in ALL CAPS and you feel like you’re BEING SOLD A BILL OF GOODS. I really think he could do without that.
At some point I just accepted it and then it didn’t bother me so much. But essentially, I could have done with a different tone and writing style. It could easily overshadow his message.
As to the content, I think it is so-so. It really depends what you’ve been exposed to already, but his ideas range from elementary to quite enlightened (IMHO). I also disagree with some of the things he says. I think this is fine and even to be expected, but it happened quite a lot. So I personally enjoyed the reminders but don’t recommend this for learning new concepts.
I also think he sort of contradicts himself. As much as he emphasizes the importance of who we are in essence, most of the tools he shares are in many ways mental ideas. So, although he wants you to experience who you are, he gives you tools to apply at a mental level. That doesn’t quite cut it. I think he complicates what I’ve experienced as a very simple and natural process that’s quite the opposite of mentalizing.
And finally, even if you’re not familiar with the ideas he presents, I don’t feel he organized or presented most of them in a very clear, uncluttered manner. It all felt a bit like a hodge-podge when I’d finished.
What I Did Like
About half-way through (or so), he gets to one of his more unusual points. I won’t reiterate the point itself and how he explains it, but essentially it ends up that you are presenting yourself with this book and its ideas.
I do agree with that concept — I think it is fundamental — and was happy to see him emphasize it as much as he did. Of course, I have to wonder why I gave myself such a mixed bag here!
But what I loved about it was the way he then uses the contents to give you a real feel for that – it’s quite creative of him and was fun to experience.
I liked that there really are some great ideas presented here. It was rather nice to pick and choose and highlight them as reminders.
He also offers ways to implement them in your life.
He did present a few ideas I hadn’t heard, that I will enjoy experimenting with and have already seen some benefit from.
And I’m glad I read through the Addendum where he details 4 meditation techniques, all of them a bit different in specifics than those you commonly hear about, and although I’ve been a meditator for-like-ever , I will probably try these out at some point just for fun.
I also like that toward the end, he invites you to participate in ongoing conversations and community around this topic (and others) at his website. It’s one thing to read a book, put it away, and never apply the concepts. It’s completely another to keep it alive within you and to actually make it work in your life. I think he offers a perfect opportunity to do that easily and enjoyably.
So in the end? I guess I’d have to say I’m glad I read it. But I really did have to treat it as a lark and simply enjoy it rather than consider it an important passage into whatever’s next for me.
As to the writing style and the contents, I think it depends completely on the individual as to what kind of tone you prefer and what you’ve been exposed to already as to whether you’ll find this a worthwhile (or even enjoyable) read.
I won’t be recommending it to my own friends and readers, though I won’t discourage them if they feel called to it.
Disclaimer: I received this book for free from Hay House Publishing for review purposes.
Thanks for reading! Until next time,
Have you read this book? What did you think? Please add your two cents!