To Heaven with Dante : A Transpersonal Journey, Paperback / softback Book

To Heaven with Dante : A Transpersonal Journey Paperback / softback

Paperback / softback

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Many English-speaking people who want to be educated try to read Dante, the 'best known, least read' of all the classical poets, and find him impossible.

In my thirties I did just that: 'Where do I begin?' The library yielded a translation of 'The Divine Comedy' - a great fat epic in three volumes.

Wading into the Inferno, I struggled through a couple of sections and decided this wasn't for me.

Too gloomy, too stilted, too difficult to grasp - and above all - too many words.

I gave up almost at once. I cannot be the only one who as a result of that kind of experience thinks the work of this great Master is exclusively about Hell. 'Dante? - oh, you mean Dante's Inferno!' they say. NO! That's not it. There's far, far more. Dante wrote in Italian in order to reach ordinary people who, like me, needed the story itself.

He wrote in the vernacular about the famous of the time - well-known entertainers and politicians, poets and artists, churchmen and musicians, the great and the awful.

He wanted to be understood by everyone, including those not too well-versed in Latin. 'What a story this is,' I thought, when finally I was properly introduced to it. 'Why don't we all know this story? Dante is so warm-hearted, so exciting, so full of hope and humour, justice and joy - but, like me, my friends hardly ever get into Hell, let alone out of it and on.' My aim is to tell Dante's story in the way I remember it - notprimarily for its history, or its theology, or even its most gracious poetry, but for the unfolding journey he made through those amazing landscapes.

It was all in his imagination, yet so vividly brought to life in his poem that irresistibly it invites us to accompany him on a life-changing, life-saving adventure of our own.

The tale begins when, depressed and lost in a Dark Wood, Dante meets Virgil, his hero among much earlier poets.

At the request of Beatrice - his great love, now in Heaven - Virgil has come from Limbo to guide him on a huge journey.

Sure enough, they start by going down through Hell; but they emerge, ascend the Mountain of Purgatory through many adventures, and rise to the threshold of Paradise.

There, human knowledge fails and Virgil leaves him. Meeting people all the way, he flies on into Heaven with Beatrice, and up through the stars to God.

I hope that by travelling with him, we too may come to find in the poetry something of the depth of the vision.

I hope we may come to love Dante as a person, with all his directness, his immense compassion for those he meets on the way, and his chuckling ability to laugh athimself.

I hope we shall rejoice that his passion for Beatrice, who leads him through Heaven, is at last so blissfully fulfilled in the divine.

May our own landscape of the mind be enhanced - even transformed - by the journey.