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Hugh MartinHUGH MARTIN is listed in Who's Who in America and Who's Who in the World. He has appeared on numerous talk shows, led seminars at many colleges and corporations, and spoken at numerous professional conferences and colloquia. Mr. Martin is president of the FINRA-registered securities brokerage firm, Hugh Martin Securities, and of the SEC-registered investment advisory firm, Hugh Martin & Co. Hugh is also president and co-founder of the life planning and counseling firm, Whole Life Counseling. AMALIA KAYE MARTIN ('Kaye') is an early-education specialist, a gifted natural medicine practitioner, and an instructor in nutrition and natural medicine at Baumann College.

Like the Companion Volume to a PBS Miniseries

A Book Review of The Human Odyssey


So there you have it: Six different ways to read the book. Six different approaches to human development. Six different threads you can follow to explore your own psyche.

When I first came upon The Human Odyssey by Hugh & Kaye Martin, I didn't quite know what to make of it. The book had come highly recommended by a friend, and yet it didn't fit into any convenient niche. Is it penetrating academic study, like Robert Kegan's The Evolving Self or Thomas Kuhn's The Structure of Scientific Revolutions? (The book features two of the foremost thinkers of our time, Ken Wilber and Joseph Campbell.) Is it a lavish art book or a picture book, like the Getty Foundation's Symbolism in Art? (About half the book is devoted to stunning works of art, engaging photos, and hilarious cartoons.) Is it a sensitive self-discovery book, like Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way? (Each section is accompanied by detailed exercises (called 'Personal Explorations') that enable the reader to apply a given concept in their own life.)

The Day the Universe Changed, Presented by James Burke

The answer is: All of the above. But the book also reminds me of another popular genre. It's like those companion volumes that come with any new PBS miniseries -- books like Kenneth Clark's Civilisation, Jacob Bronowski's The Ascent of Man, Carl Sagan's Cosmos, James Burke's The Day the Universe Changed, or Joseph Campbell's The Power of Myth. Like those books, The Human Odyssey covers a vast sweep of ideas and is full of thought-provoking insights, yet it's also replete with illustrations and asides that make it easy to get into.

Let me say at the outset: This is a Fantastic Book! I give it 10 Stars on a Scale of 5!!! I don't use superlatives often, but this book actually is 'fantastic' -- for two reasons: First, the book presents a terrific new model of human development. Second, it presents that model in a great new way.

The Human Odyssey: The New Model

The Human Odyssey, Our Journey of Life from Infancy to Eternity
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The new model presented in this book is called ADAPT short for All Dimensions, All Participants, All Processes, All

Pathfinders, Together. In a nutshell, this model is a blueprint for life. It tells me where my life has been, where I'm going, and how to navigate some of the major hazards I'll encounter along the way.

As a prescription for living a life that is rich and rewarding, this model truly is 'fantastic.' It's been a major help in my counseling practice and my relationships with colleagues. For my wife, it's shown her new ways to teach her elementary school class and to enlist the enthusiastic support of parents and administrators. For both of us, it's been a big help in our marriage and a big influence on how we raise our kids.

How could a 'model,' something that sounds so abstract and theoretical, have such a big impact? Well, take the 'model' of the human body we call 'anatomy.' If I am a heart surgeon, my chances for a successful operation are best when I have the most accurate and detailed 'model' of the human heart to work from. It's the same with counseling, or teaching, or parenting. The better the model, the better the chances for success.

So, how did the Martins come up with this model? After all, they are not developmental psychologists from some prestigious university. Nor are they experienced clinical psychologists, with a lifetime of treating patients for personality disorders. (So far as I can tell, they're just two people with strong backgrounds in all aspects of personal growth -- people who have lived their lives to the full, and who have reflected deeply on the lives they've lived.)

So again, how did the authors come up with this extraordinary new theory? Evidently, by combining the work of two great modern thinkers, Ken Wilber and Joseph Campbell. On the Wilber side, they began with all the features of human growth from Wilber's famous Theory of Everything (AQAL+) from Integral Psychology: Levels, Lines, States, Quadrants, Self, Types, and so forth. On the Campbell side, they began with the 17 steps from Campbell's classic Hero's Journey: The Call to Adventure, Belly of the Whale, Road of Trials, Meeting with the Goddess, Atonement with the Father, Ultimate Boon, and so forth. Then (and this to me is the brilliant part) they introduced these two great men to each other (figuratively speaking, of course) and brought them into dialog!

Beginning on the Wilber side, they asked: If human life is all about development, what is the symbolic or mythic equivalent? (answer: Life is a 'Journey'). If in our development we go through Stages ('Levels'), what is the equivalent in our symbolic 'Journey?' (answer: the 'Islands' or 'Ports of Call' we visit along the way) If between any two Stages we go through a Transition, what is the symbolic equivalent? (answer: the treacherous and turbulent 'Open Seas' between two Islands) If in our highest moments, we experience Transcendent States of consciousness, what is the mythic equivalent? (the 'Realm of the Gods') And so forth.

Then, beginning on the Campbell side, they asked the comparable questions in reverse: If the Hero begins his 'Journey' in his 'Ordinary World,' what is the psychological or conceptual equivalent? (answer: the 'External Realm' of 'Everyday Life') If the Hero then moves into his 'Enchanted World,' what is the conceptual equivalent? (answer: the 'Internal Realms' of 'Psyche, Body, and Spirit') What is the 'Belly of the Whale?' (the psychological 'Impasse') What is the 'Road of Trials?' (the series of life 'Challenges') And so forth.

In the course of their dialog, Wilber and Campbell recognize that they agree on most important points. However, in many cases they have to come up with a common vocabulary that is explicable to both. Thus, they often need to rename terms, and sometimes redefine them.

Beyond this, the dialog between Wilber and Campbell reveals some pretty big gaps in both their theories. Thus, for a given Wilber concept (example: the 'Shadow Self' or 'Inner Saboteur'), a new feature of the Hero's Journey may be necessary (answer: the 'Misfit' or 'Troublemaker' aboard ship, literally the 'Saboteur'). Likewise, for a given Campbell concept from the Hero's Journey (example: 'Atonement with the Father'), a new psychological feature may be necessary (answer: the Parent as 'Pathfinder,' or the reconciliation with 'Authority').

Ken Wilber and Joseph Campbell

As this dialog continues, the two men ultimately come to a meeting of minds. The two separate models of Wilber and Campbell are replaced by a single unified model on which they can both agree a combined model that is far more comprehensive and far more complete than either model would have been alone.

This unified model has two distinct parts. On Wilber's side, the model is called ADAPT. It describes in psychological and conceptual terms the soul's journey through the stages of life. On Campbell's side, the model is called the Life Journey Archetype. It describes in symbolic and mythic terms that very same journey.

I must say I'm blown away by this theory. It's a conception that satisfies both my head and my heart a fascinating new way of viewing human behavior that at the same time is relevant to the practical concerns of my daily life.

The Human Odyssey: The New Format

Family Guide France

As I say, the Martins have created this impressive new model. But they've also come up with a radical new way of presenting that model. A means of presentation that not only explains the model, but also brings the model to life.

Rather than the tedious, mind-numbing prose of many scholarly studies, rather than the cheery and vapid encouragement of many self-help books, rather than the simplistic generalizations of many popular bestsellers, the authors have devised a method of presentation that speaks to the reader simultaneously from several different perspectives and on several different levels of depth and significance.

The closest comparison I can think of is my travel guide to France from DK Publishing. In the section on Provence, for example, each pair of facing pages is laid out like a collage with different sections on the towns, the countryside, the history, the food, the country inns, the art, the walks, etc. all interlaced in a reader-friendly format, where I can browse easily from one topic to the other, just like I would do if I were wandering the streets and byways of Avignon or Saint Remy. Like my travel guide, a book like The Human Odyssey conveys the experience of actually 'being there.'

So how do the Martins do this, especially with a subject as complicated as human development? Well, to begin with, the book is printed in ravishing color on a huge 8x11 oversize format so each two facing pages present the reader with a vast and engaging visual expanse, where lots of diverse information can be presented without clutter. Where feasible, each concept of human development is shown on its own two-page spread, and each such concept is presented in six different ways.

Let's take the concept of 'Stages of Everyday Life' (section D1a), for example. In the middle-left, these Stages are described in psychological or conceptual terms (the 'Wilber approach'). In the upper-left, the same Stages are described in symbolic or mythic language (the 'Campbell approach'). Also on the mid-left, the Stages are shown in an old-time graphic of country life (the 'visual approach'). On the lower-left, a purple textbox connects the concept of Stages to other concepts in this book, while a tan textbox connects to the comparable concept in Wilber's writings (the 'structural approach'). On the upper-right of the two-page spread, a detailed table outlines all the Stages of life from infancy to old age (the 'analytical approach'). And (most important in my estimation), on the lower-right is a Personal Exploration, with questions that help me apply the concept in my own life (the 'experiential approach'). [The actual positioning on the page may vary, depending upon the edition you are reading.]

Just to sum up, every time you encounter a new concept in The Human Odyssey, you can immerse yourself in it from six different angles conceptual, symbolic, visual, structural, analytical, and experiential. By the time you do that, you not only understand the concept, you live it.

Here's another remarkable benefit of this format. These six approaches give you six quick and comfortable ways to scan through the book as a whole. That is, if you're short of time, you can just leaf through the cartoons and illustrations (as we will do later in this review). Later, if you so choose, you can browse through just the conceptual sections, or just the symbolic and mythic sections, or even just the charts and tables. In each case it will probably take you no more than an hour, and in each case you can grasp the whole span of the book in just one sitting.

The only exceptions are the Personal Explorations. To do those justice, you'll want to devote at least half an hour to each -- and maybe come back for a second half hour at some later date. Like any form of deep introspection, these Explorations will repay an almost infinite amount of attention.

So there you have it: Six different ways to read the book. Six different approaches to human development. Six different threads you can follow to explore your own psyche. And all this with a great New Model that's worth all that intensive exploration. That's why, in my opinion, this is a book that's worth every Star in its 10-Star Rating!

Ken Wilber, Joseph Campbell & the Meaning of Life
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Publication History

Publication History “The Human Odyssey”

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