Full title: Into the Magic Shop: A Neurosurgeon’s Quest to Discover the Mysteries of the Brain and the Secrets of the Heart is James Doty’s memoir. He had a tragic childhood with parents who, for various reasons, were not present for him. Then, after an encounter with a total stranger, James was taught meditation, creative visualization, and positive thought practices that changed his life. As he comes of age, he dismisses the compassion related portions of his childhood training and focuses instead upon the money and prestige that it brings as he pursues a career as a neurosurgeon. It’s a fascinating and educational account.

I was particularly taken with the near-death experience portion of the book. James approached that experience as an atheist so I felt that made his opinion on it rather different than other accounts I’ve read.

Some of the bits that I want to remember (advance reader’s copy cited so the final published book may contain slightly different wording):
“Some of the wisest patients and people I have ever met have been children. The heart of a child is wide-open. Children will tell you what scares them, what makes them happy, what they like about you and what they don’t. There is no hidden agenda and you never have to guess how they really feel.” pg 3

“Everyone has a story, and I have learned that, at the core of it, most of our stories are more similar than not.” pg 60  But not everyone tells their story.  Thank you, Dr. Doty, for telling yours.

“When our brain changes, we change. That is a truth proven by science. But an even greater truth is that when our heart changes, everything changes. And that change is not only in how we see the world but how the world sees us. And how the world responds to us.” pg 151  I think that this is one of the great mysteries of life.

About his near death experience: “At the time I felt the warmth of a light and a sense of oneness with the universe. I was enveloped in love, and while it didn’t transform my religious beliefs, it informed my absolute belief that who we are today doesn’t have to be who we are tomorrow and that we are connected to everything and everyone.” pg 203

“There’s a reason stock traders are using meditation techniques; these techniques help them become not only more focused but, sadly in some cases, more callous. This is what Ruth warned me about before she taught me to visualize. Yes, we can create anything we want, but it is only the intelligence of the heart that can tell us what’s worth creating.” pg 231 A powerful lesson, but one, I think, that can only be learned through personal experience.

If you enjoyed this book, try Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon’s Journey into the Afterlife by Eben Alexander or The Power of the Heart: Finding Your True Purpose in Life by Baptist de Pape.  Thank you to the Goodreads First Reads program for an advance reader copy of this book.  And, thank you for reading!

The full text of my review also appeared on my public library’s blog : ofplblog.info


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