Review: The Irreducible Primary by Rob Taylor
Rob Taylor’s perspective on existence and how to make it meaningful mixes prose and poetry with philosophy, style, and logic in The Irreducible Primary: A Dialogue on Nature, Spirituality, and the Human Condition.
In this varied collection, Taylor wishes to show how anyone can find a kind of peace that transcends politics, national boundaries, and even the boundaries we construct for our individual personalities. The titular “irreducible primary” is the human species. In this age of political division and malaise, “primary” then takes on dual meanings, with a focus on what is more essential than the policy debates in the immediate present.
Taylor’s emphasis is on creation, which requires a “creating force” that simply creates without being limited by love, hate, or any physical properties. Most people are not so spiritually motivated, making it difficult for those few who wish to attain higher awareness to find a realm of “peace and equality.” We must look at life in terms of spirituality – not proscribed by religions that generally engender separation leading to hatred and violence, and not seduced by governments or other systems that produce divisions, nor fooled into the notion that we ourselves can control circumstances.
To eliminate separatism and experience unconditional love for all natural beings requires the discipline of a warrior, Taylor astutely suggests, who can go within himself or herself to ferret out negativity and regain cosmic harmony. There will be many influences speaking against this effort, even apparently positive ones like the aspiration to acquire such lofty qualities as “significance” and “relevance.” Ultimately, the search for irreducible truth will cause egoism to weaken, and lead to acknowledgement of personal responsibility. One recommended method of attaining this acceptance and harmonious awareness is the practice of meditation and mindfulness, twin instruments that can reduce ego and facilitate the process of joining with the entirety of creation.
It’s a lot to cover in a book comprised partly by poetry, but these heady issues are covered well first with prose, then poetry that conveys the concepts in each chapter, and a space for notes, as Taylor means the book to act as a work of self-help, not just a work of prose and poetry. The well-ordered narrative is so acutely rational and comprehensive that it can be hard to reconcile the logic of his text with the gracefulness of the poems he spins through each chapter. But once the reader sees that poetry will be an integral piece of understanding the author’s message, this paradox will fade pleasantly away. At times the reader may begin to feel that the unconnected verses comprise a single poem, as when one chapter’s poetic segment ends with,
I have learned
Of undying gratitude and
The whispers of love.
And the next chapter’s poem begins,
The wisdoms engraved
Into the depths of our souls
Are timeless whispers.
These profound prose and poetic offerings provide a sound reason to take seriously what Taylor posits in his Introduction: “Numerous readings of this book will be beneficial to anyone seeking clarity about spiritual effort.” Reassuringly to many readers, Taylor does not espouse any extant religion or named creed (the word “god” is used only a handful of times) or even any particular method of meditation, since, as he points out, there are many choices available and accessible. While his profession in law enforcement would not generally point to a predilection for meditation and mindfulness, his compelling ideas and formulations are ample proof of his qualifications.
With an eclectic vision of universal truth, The Irreducible Primary is likely to appeal to those sincerely seeking an all-embracing, unfettered path to expanded, open-minded consciousness.