I am going to place the blame for this book’s failings squarely on the translators, because I sincerely believe that there is something of value hidden within the repetitive, cumbersome, and awkwardly worded confines of this book.
The core message of this work is that the human mind is inherently self-centered, and that we judge all things through our own self-centeredness. Our unhappiness comes from being controlled by a mind that is insular and unconnected to the greater Truth of the universe. Through employing a variety of meditative techniques, one can free the mind from this self-centeredness and reconnect with the greater Truth.
It is clear despite the poor translation that there is knowledge of worth here. Woo Myung is a thoughtful, compassionate teacher who is probably rather eloquent in his native Korean. Unfortunately, the translators did a poor job of transferring Myung’s teachings to English. At times, bits of his eloquence shine through in short bursts of poetic flourishes teeming with meaning. But most of the text is hard to read because of poor sentence constructions no doubt caused by bad translation.
As anyone who has studied a foreign language knows, there is the “literal” translation of a word and the “practical” translation of a word. For example, if I say, “¿Cuántos años tienes?” the practical translation is “How old are you?” The literal translation is “How many years do you have?” The entire book reads as if it was done with the literal translation. The end result is an unwieldy work that takes all the joy out of reading what Myung has to say.
Reviewer Note: I was given a comp copy of this title for review.