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Reviewed by Donna Gielow McFarland for Readers' Favorite
Heaven is Within You: Reflections from a Beachcomber's Mind by Steve Kenyon is a fascinating little book. For two years author Steve Kenyon lived with his wife on Australia’s Bedarra Island, across the bay from artist and philosopher Noel Wood (the beachcomber). Heaven is Within You is a presentation of Noel’s philosophy as told by Steve. People say they wish they could live alone on a tropical island – Noel did it for 50 years (he lived by himself). In Heaven is Within You, Steve asks Noel questions about life and Noel answers his questions. The dialogue is interspersed with photographs of the island, the sea, tropical vegetation and dwelling places.
Noel’s philosophy includes a little Zen, Buddism, Aldus Huxley and Henry David Thoreau. The message is one of simplicity, contentment, focusing on others rather than oneself, and being present in the moment. At times it sounded to me a little like the wisdom in Ecclesiastes, although there are no biblical references quoted. On each page of Heaven is Within You, Steve Kenyon gives the reader something to think about or meditate on. I also found the photographs to be very restful. It’s hard to describe what Heaven is Within You is like without an example, and even this example doesn't quite do it justice. Steve asks, “You do without so many things here…” and Noel’s reply includes, “You do need fresh air, you need an adequate dwelling, a shelter, and some vegetable food… That’s my answer, live simply.”