Riding the Dark Horse And the Fall of Man was a deeply engaging book to read and study! After taking more than two months to read, research, and fully absorb this intricately written book, here’s my review:
As a reader and author of non-fiction works, I’ve taken my time to dig into Lama Nicholas Packard’s exceptional writing.
From the “Contents” section to the “About the Author” pages, this intelligent and insightful book is well put together and nicely organized. In fact, I didn’t find one typo! That means a lot since typos nearly always jump off the page to me!
I took so long to read this enlightening book, because I felt it worthy of an in depth study. I would read one or two chapters at a time, ponder what I’d read, and then research some of the historical points of what had been presented.
As I read, I learned quite a lot about Western culture and how we’ve wound up in the mess that we’re in! I dug deep, underlining many passages–all while learning many reasons why people get caught up in consumerism.
Considering this book focuses a great deal on cultural history, as an aside let me explain that Lama Nicholas and I share a similar background. Lama Nicholas was born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and I was born and raised in the Mid-Ohio Valley area of West Virginia, often called the Chemical Valley–and in my youth, Pittsburgh was one of the closest metropolitan cities to my hometown.
In Lama Nicholas’ early career he moved to Washington, D.C., New York and Italy, but he eventually gave up everything to live a life of personal transformation and renunciation. He has lived, studied, and practiced as a healer in India , China, Tibet, Bhutan, and Thailand. Conversely, I only moved from West Virginia to Florida (primarily to escape the chemicals in that environment so I could breathe easier), and chose a simple life of living full-time in an RV (mainly to reduce expenses).
Similar to Lama Nicholas, I’ve studied and worked alongside those of different cultures, and languages. When I was in college, as well as at work (in the IT industry) I’ve sat beside and gotten to know many people from different backgrounds, religions, beliefs, and who spoke differing languages.
Something I noticed through the years was that even though I couldn’t always understand an international person’s dialect very well (typically because they learned English as a second language and continued to speak their mother tongue at home), I found that if I looked at them directly–in the eye–I could get a sense of the person. This knowing somehow helped me focus, and improve our communication!
I’ve met Lama Nicholas Packard in person and listened to many of his presentations when he’s visited the St. Petersburg, Florida area. I feel very fortunate to have been able to meet him and learn from him. Thus, I could hear his voice often as I read the pages of “Riding the Dark Horse.”
I’ve even had a healing session with Lama Nicholas, which you can read here
. But I digress. Let me return to my review of his book.
The book is organized into three parts.
The first part lays out how man separates from heaven. The second part presents how man separates from nature. The final part presents how man separates from self.
As I read, I grasped the importance of this work. This book could serve to answer many questions for myriad of seekers. Read it.
The first 9 chapters give a broad brush background, and details about Plato and Aristotle to help the reader understand the beginnings of, and the meaning of Duality. And how the obsession of worldly desires began to shake the very foundations of culture and religious beliefs.
I read about the Cathars, whom I had only first heard about a few years ago. Catharism focused on spirituality, which was unaccepted by the Roman Catholic Church. Thus spirituality and religion were split. The Cathars believed that the Church moved far from the true nature of God, instead becoming drawn into ritual, power, materialism, and sensual gratification.
Think about the rites and traditions of your church, if indeed you attend any of the large organized religious churches–most of which have somehow descended from Catholicism.
Have you wondered why sometimes you attend church out of habit, not because you feel an intense thirst to seek the face of God?
I was raised to seek the presence of God by going to church, and had been told that my particular faith was “the one true church.” Sensing that may not be all there was to it, as a teenager I attended other churches. And over the years, attending each church provided me varying degrees of “Connection”–or you might say, “a feeling of God’s presence.” But, as for “one true church” I don’t believe that anymore. Instead, I turn within. And perhaps that is why I am open to books such as this one.
Chapter 10 was one of my favorite, and most marked chapters. I won’t spoil it for you and describe it, but to convey my take-aways (what I got out of it). The following are the notes I wrote in the blank spaces:
- We have free will to consciously access God
- God is in every breath, every molecule of air
- Amazing and authentic history of the Cathars – yes!
- Many Cathars consciously chose to be burned at the stake
- The Cathars felt they had fully realized God
- Realize = Real Eyes
- Abandon Dogma – yes! There’s also a Dogma within Science
- Churches only feed milk
- Any spirit independent of the Holy Spirit was called wrong, bad, evil (Duality)
- What’s wrong with a person’s individual spirit?
- Giordano Bruno – heliocentric universe, without limitation, unfathomable, infinite – yes!
- Body can be destroyed by weapons and fire, but not the human spirit
- The Church adopted Aristotle’s view
Chapter 11 goes on to explain how Galileo used a mathematical model to challenge the Churches authority, by proving their “truths” wrong. He did not believe in the same ideas as Plato and Aristotle.
Chapter 12 presents Isaac Newton’s discoveries and world of reason and mechanic predictability. Newton killed Aristotle’s ideas. Newton wasn’t a religious person, but he was a spiritual person. He was always concerned about what links the immaterial to the material; believing in an immanent God, and a pure substance called, ether. Yes, Newton believed in an invisible force, spirit, or chi that could organize life and act over great distances. His peers and eventually, scientists, disagree with Newton’s esoteric leanings. But I question, what is hidden or occult, if God is Omniscience?
Ah, then again, I am a spiritual and mystical person with deep knowing of our Limitless
Creator Source God, and as an educated mathematical and analytical type, I think in terms of reducing the complex down to its smallest common denominator. Breathing into this, I must try to stick to the subject at hand.
Chapter 13 ends the first part of the book with us learning more about how Westerner’s have been conditioned to believe in Duality and Materialism.
In the second part of Lama Nicholas’ book we look at Descartes and how he’s a bit like Byron Katie, always asking what is real and true. Descartes gave humanity a new philosophy, to give humans the permission to rule nature.
We see that the new age in the West is really all about Science. Most people were educated in the public school system to turn away from anything to do with heart and soul, and definitely anything of a spiritual nature was left to the Church (and as stated earlier, that was defined in a narrow sense, being the Holy Spirit). Predominately, students were taught scientific theories, including evolution.
Sorry to diverge once more, but I must say that few things upset me more than to think about how the Native Americans had been forced to attend public school, in a blatant attempt to civilize them and strip away their natural beliefs. I am part Cherokee and I still remember the disempowering stories my grandmother shared with me about her childhood. It’s perhaps a strong reason why today, I embrace diversity.
It seems we only have free will insomuch as it suits the ruling class of the place and time.
Reading about natural considerations, artificiality, and the monster Descartes created (the ego), I understood how the West came to believe in the split of mind and body. Apparently, this mind-body split needed to occur in order for science, and eventually, chemical, mechanical, and pharmaceutical industries to take hold. And instead of living as the Native Americans had in harmony with nature, we wouldn’t flow with nature, we would control it.
The Reformation dramatically changed the Church. There had been a time when all of the Catholic churches were torn down and Protestant ones built in their place. And that the view, or interpretation, of Christianity changed too. Alters were stripped of idols and sermons were no longer preached in the Latin language.
In the third part of this informative book, we learn that the Western perception of reality was changing, and not for the better. Instead of embracing ourselves in a holistic way, we began to experience the world more abstractly, through words over the wire, words on paper, and eventually, screens–certainly less physically connected.
It is explained that in spiritual traditions, the essence of a person is honored, their words only explaining who they are, as much as the garments one wears show you who they are.
Continuing, we learn about the Renaissance and Newtonian physics and how these shaped the Western mechanical and non-spiritual mindset. And that we welcomed a rebirth of Greek culture for it’s art, heroes, and warriors–but of course!
Modernity is presented, with all of the why and wherefore of it with the rise of educational institutions to teach engineering, to build our infrastructure, train civil libertarians, and indoctrinate our politics with secularism. We needed modernity with its principles of progress, didn’t we? We all know Western medicine and good sanitation have been welcome advances–or have they? But where I feel it falls apart is that we’ve allowed modernity to shape our material reality.
The last chapter reveals much about our true nature and if we can be awake and aware, how we can live moment-to-moment in alignment with our true nature–and not be afraid of it. Talk about a light at the end of a tunnel! Namaste.
Things I loved learning about this book:
- The laying bare of how we got here
- The most important non-event in the history of the West
- Reading about the seed of life; the spirit behind everything
- The understanding of how America came to be such a competitive society
- The stories of individuality within each culture
- What the mind seeks to know and the heart’s instinct
- What conscience, essence, and potential are
- Why so many yearn to find their purpose
- Why so many don’t believe God speaks anymore
- Each is a product of his/her past conditioning
- Why some cannot/will not listen to anything about holistic health
- That the global community is an artificial construct
- How Science replaced a Divine Creator for many
Areas that I would love learning more about:
- How we can live more in tune with the natural ebb and flow of life
- Even a baby can be scared, will jump if you startle it–why?
- How or why we store trauma in the cells of our body
- How to live more peacefully and with more vitality from the Eastern traditions
- Name the virtues and provide practical ways to live virtuously each day
- Ways of practicing non-attachment
- Methods of meditation and healing
- What we are ascending to–what’s next?
- If peace can be found by renouncing our desires, why do we desire?
- Direct experience can be so painful–do not the most wise learn from others?
Thank you, Lama Nicholas! I’d love to read a second book!
If you haven’t purchased Lama Nicholas’ book yet, here’s a link to it on Amazon:
Take it upon yourself to be healthy, joyful, wholly vibrant, and beautiful.
Be the best version of who you want to be.
Information provided is for educational purposes only and is not intended to treat, diagnose or prescribe.
Follow on Twitter at: TakeOnYourself
P.S. If you find this blog informational, won’t you consider a small donation to keep it going? PayPal.Me/SheilaMurrey