Walking with Elijah by Doobie Shemer is part memoir and part spirituality. Reading the book is a bit like sitting in an airplane on a short flight next to an unconventional, but still pleasant seat companion. The flight is short enough that you don’t mind giving the person your attention. When the flight is over you get up, say your goodbyes and then leave. Maybe on the drive home you smile thinking about your conversation. When you finally go through your front door, the time you spent with the companion is forgotten – or not.
Doobie Shemer is an Israeli Jew, who grew up on a paradise-like kibbutz. His family were Holocaust survivors. At some point he leaves Israel, travels a bit and ends up building a life and career in the Mid-West of the United States. Unlike some middle-aged men who do cliché things like buy expensive sports cars and motorcycles, the author explains how he stumbled upon the vocation of being a shaman. Most of the book centers on his shamanic guides: Dolphin, Bear, the gorgeously exotic Hilla and the white-bearded old man, Elijah – as in the Old Testament Prophet Elijah. As hokey as this might all sound, Doobie Shemer is a good writer, so you just nod and go along for the ride as he journeys to and from different realms gathering knowledge. For what is a shaman but one who knows things.
A lot of the knowledge Doobie Shemer acquires is focused on love and death. He offers theories on why people die. And no, it’s not because the body goes kaput, or they get killed or get sick. It’s a mind thing and a soul thing. Yes, this is all rather esoteric, but the author is so engaging the reader to passively accepts such truisms as : “In order for a soul to develop, the Creator has given it instruments to work with—the mind and the body, and a path on which to travel—the stages of a life cycle.” Or my favorite line is: “The mind is the controller, the body is the carrier, and the soul is the passenger.” Only when we learn to balance all three can we make the best progress in our lives.
The strongest parts of the book are when the author talks about growing up in Israel or the events leading up to shamanic journey. How well the revealed truths delivered by the Prophet Elijah standup to scrutiny depends on how receptive the reader is to the message. That said, the knowledge he gains from his journeys is consistent with his religious views. While some readers may embrace some ideas presented in the book, others may wholeheartedly reject them. Personally, I would have like the author to say more about the role of ego and the reality of pain and suffering.
As I reflect on the author’s writing style, I am reminded of successful prime time TV shows in the 1980’s and 1990’s like Highway to Heaven or Touched by Angel. If the author were so inclined, I could easily see the book being the basis of a series called Shamanic Journeys. Oh well, if the commercial networks don’t bite, maybe Ira Glass from This American Life might do something.
While I am tempted to recommend this book only to adherents of New Age lifestyles, I think just about any reader who is open-minded could find something to relate to in this book. You don’t have to believe in life cycles, Akashic Records, angels, colored higher realms and soul journeys. Asking the great questions of life should be open to all and not just the exclusive province of Ph.D. graduates.
I give this book 5 stars. It’s engaging. It’s easy to read. It is well-written and thoughtful.