Dr. Pip Lipkin has lived for 12,000 years, incarnated many times as man, woman, and even as species beyond our world and senses. But he's here for a reason: to pay restitution for an ancient crime by working to save humanity from certain destruction. Ascending Spiral is a book that will take the reader to many different places and times, showing, ultimately,
that our differences and divisions, even at their most devastating, are less important than our similarities.
"Bob Rich powerfully evokes the wounded healer archetype in Ascending Spiral, taking readers on Pip's painful and insightful journey through lifetimes that serve as a shining example of how to turn misery into virtue."
--Diane Wing, author, Coven: Scrolls of the Four Winds
"Dr. Bob Rich's Ascending Spiral is a true genre-buster, incorporating elements of historical fiction, literary fiction, science fiction, and even a hint of nonfiction to create an entertaining novel with an important message."
Magdalena Ball, CompulsiveReader.com
"The way of karma rings true for many people, and this book is a very well written and thoughtful explanation of its message. It is also an exciting, historically accurate series of linked stories that will hold the reader in his chair for a single sitting. Highly recommended."
Frances Burke, author of Endless Time
From Marvelous Spirit Press www.MarvelousSpirit.com
"Books that maximize empowerment of mind and spirit"
|Publisher:||Loving Healing Press|
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Read an Excerpt
Book 1: Dermot
Over the cliff
The second time I saw my love, she had golden hair, a square face and a terrible temper. She was two years of age, and me four, and when her parents and mine worked in the potato fields, it was my task to keep her from mischief. But as she lay in the dirt and screamed with her face going blue and her heels hammering the ground, that was when I knew I loved her, and always had and always would.
Granny came over. "Good boy, Dermot," she said to me, "You was right to stop her going into the creek." Then she scooped Maeve up and carried her to their cottage.
After this, I sometimes saw deep blue eyes looking through the sky-blue, and dark hair shadow the gold.
One winter's day, our fathers were both out to sea, fishing, and her Ma came over. She walked carefully in the mud, because her tummy was great, like my Ma's. I knew there was a baby in each. Maeve held her Ma's hand and carried a small basket of her own.
I rushed to open the door. Being a big boy, I could now reach the latch on tippy-toes.
In they came, and we shared some fine baking and a hot drink of milk, then were sent off to play in a corner. I had some bits of firewood I'd polished up into dolls. Some I called people, some horses or sheep or dogs. I got these out. "Hey," I said, "this is you and this is me."
"Nah. No it isn't."
"C'mon Sheilagh ..." Huh? Where had that name come from? I knew no one called Sheilagh.
"Me name's Maeve. MaevEEEE!"
Her Ma shouted, "And Maeve, keep it down you hear, or I'll paddle your bottom!"
She did grow out of being Tantrum Monster Mistress No. Then my fun was to play with the other boys, but all Maeve wanted was to tag along behind me, and I couldn't get rid of her.
The first time Da took me out fishing, she stood on the beach, great tears wetting her face for being left behind. So, on my return, I triumphantly made her a gift of the first fish I'd ever caught. "Oh Dermot," she said with a great grin, "doesn't it even look like you!" With that she whirled, fish clutched to her chest, and ran to her Ma, cooking at the fireplace. As I followed, she said, all sweetness, "Ma, look at the wonderful fish Dermot caught, just for me!" That was her, during all our childhood: the needle and the honey.
Sometimes, I needed to get away from her. Twelve I was when I made a fishing rod, and learned to tease the trout in the creeks above the fields. I cut a long willow branch and carefully seasoned it to stay supple, and saved the long strings that came on the occasional parcel from the city of Dublin, over on the other side. This string was the thickness of my finger and rough, but it made do. I fashioned a hook from a knot on a twig, and a sinker from a stone, and on the first day came back with three trout.
It was good I caught them, because Ma could not say I was wasting time, but for myself I cared not. It was a blessing to be away from all people, all noise, the smell of the pigs, the chatter and worry. I could be alone under God's sky, at peace, dreaming of nothing much.
I was now old enough to listen in on adult conversations. This was most interesting when traveling traders passed through. One had a name I thought funny: Mr. Connor O'Connor, but he was a wise man with gray in his beard, so I kept the laughing inside. On one of his visits he talked about a new kind of gun the English had, and used against the French. It had rifling in the barrel and so could shoot accurately for surprising distances. Only, and I found this funny too, Mr. O'Connor told us he had no idea what rifling in the barrel may be.
Trouble was brewing in the land. The accursed English took everything, and gave nothing but grief to anyone who complained. If you were a Catholic, or even a Presbyterian, whatever they were, you could not vote in Parliament, though I didn't know why that mattered. "There will be bloody rebellion, mark my words," Uncle Dan, the oldest in the village, said whenever anyone would listen, or even if nobody did. The words gave me a thrill. I dreamt of heroic deeds, of being part of a mighty army smashing the overlords, sending them back home.
On Sundays Father Liam arrived on his horse about midmorning, and held mass. We all ate together after this, then he left for the next village. Uncle Dan got out his tin whistle, my Da his drum, and all the young men and girls lined up to dance. One Sunday, Maeve grabbed my hand and dragged me into the line. We'd watched the dancers many a time, so were quick to pick up the steps of every dance, and I will admit it was fun, even when little cat Maeve dug her fingernails into my hand, with the sweetest of grins. And after this day, I could not get out of it if I'd wanted to: when the young men and maidens danced, so did the two of us.
But life was mostly work now: hilling the potatoes, braving storms in our boats to bring in the fish, slaughtering a pig in the snow, carrying stones to terrace a new field, helping father to make whiskey, repairing a leaking thatch roof, whatever was needed.
I had a special bond with my father's best horse, Harry, a large young gelding who was as happy pulling a cart or a plough as being ridden. He was the first horse I'd ever trained, under Da's supervision. One summer day I was up on his back, returning from a message for my father from the next village, when somehow I felt uneasy. I looked up at the scrub on the hillside above, and out to the right over the sea, then turned to look behind. A yellow dust cloud rose above the hill I'd just descended, and that was when I noticed a vibration in the ground. Before I could do anything a group of galloping riders burst over the rise, two abreast along the narrow road. The lead man's arm moved in a circle, then a terrible sting along my side, and Harry jumped, crashed into something, and I was falling off the edge, falling, down toward the sea.
Over the drumming of hooves, I heard laughter.
Agony beyond bearing. I opened my eyes, but made no sense of what I saw. Through a blur, I was looking at something brown. Salt water washed over my head, into my mouth, nose and eyes. I coughed, and must again have fainted for a moment from the pain.
Very, very carefully, I managed to raise myself on an elbow. Under me, wedged between two sharp rocks, was poor Harry, very clearly dead. I'd landed on top of him, missing those rocks.
My left arm was bent halfway between elbow and shoulder. Every breath was a sawtoothed knife there, but I had to move, or die. Bit by bit, I managed to kneel, holding my left arm with the right hand, but when I tried to stand, an even worse jolt of agony speared into my left leg. I looked down to see bloody bone poking through the skin. I knew I was as good as dead.
After an unknown time of despair, I heard, "Hey, down there!" I looked up to see Mr. O'Shea, the man I'd visited.
"Oh Dermot. Don't move, lad. We'll get you out by boat."
I don't know how long it took them, but the tide was well out by then. They beached the boat, gently put me on a scrap of fishing net and the four of them lifted me in. Then they rowed out, hauled up the sail and headed north, away from my home.
When the first wave pitched the boat, I screamed, to my shame. A man gave me a flask and I took a mouthful. The whiskey burned its way down, dulling the pain. They gave me a rope to bite on, and I closed my eyes and endured. Twice more I got a slug of whiskey, and at last we pulled in to a big wharf. It was the dark of night by then. Again they carried me on some netting, into a building. I heard Mr. O'Shea say through the fog in my head, "The blessing of God on you, Doctor. The accursed English threw this lad over a cliff." Someone held a cup to my lips. I swallowed, more burning liquid but tasting different, then darkness came.
When I awoke, my arm and leg hurt no more than from a bad cut, but my head pounded with a terrible pulsing rhythm. I'd often seen men with the hangover of course, and knew it was the price for the relief of the whiskey. I must have made a noise, for a door squeaked and a woman said, "Awake, are ye, lad?" She came into my view: an old woman with a haggard face but kind eyes. She helped me to sit, and I saw that my broken arm was nestled between two shaped bits of timber, with padding under. She'd brought a big cup with steam rising from it, and I drank, a tasty broth that filled my stomach and settled my headache. Then I slept.
Father arrived the next day. "Sorry you're laid up, son," he said, "and sorry to have lost Harry. Good horse he was."
"The best, Da." I sat up, and he put an extra pillow behind me.
"Bernie O'Shea came and told me about it. Bloody English. This can't go on."
"What were they doing here?"
"Surveying the land, they said."
"What's that mean?"
"Lookin' over to see which bits they'll steal next."
"Da, buy me a gun. By the time I'm grown, I want to be the best English-killer in the land."
"Dermot, we've got a gun."
"That little old thing? It's fine for shooting birds. I want a modern gun with rifling in the barrel, like Mr. O'Connor told us about. I'll make it pay, hunting."
He thought. "We can afford it, just sell more whiskey. Finding one to buy, and the ammunition for it, that's something else. Oh ... I nearly forgot." He reached into his bag and pulled out a parcel, wrapped in a clean white cloth. "For you from your sweetheart."
"My she-cat you mean?" We laughed together while I unwrapped it. And as I chewed the first sweet mouthful, I heard Maeve's giggling laugh.
I healed. We did buy a rifled gun, all the sweeter for having been stolen from the English. The man selling it said that you needed the same size bullet as for a redcoat's musket, but wrapped in a bit of paper, and that you had to keep the barrel clean. Ammunition proved easy: we bought powder and shot for our fowling gun, and re-melted the balls into bullets of the right size. Soon the rifle started paying for itself. I provided enough meat for several families, and also we made money from the skin and fur. Father and I built a tanning shed well away from the village, and several women sewed the skins I supplied into ladies' handbags, fur coats and wallets, I know not what else for that was not my concern.
Hunting gave me many days of blessed solitude, and although tanning was a smelly business, I didn't mind. Fishing is smelly too.
Of course, as I grew, so did Maeve. Every man's eye shone with lust upon seeing her. I noticed even old Uncle Dan looking at her with more than appreciation. And the two best memories of my life are from this time.
One was the pleasure of dancing. She was joy in motion: curly golden hair a flag behind her, white grin, that lissome figure a moving poem. Our favorite dance was the stomp. There were six beats of double notes, followed by a rapid triple. The dance was steps forward and back with my arms folded across my chest, then three rapid stomps of the foot when the drum did its triple beat, then grabbing Maeve's hands and swinging her around so we ended up in the place the other started from, then repeating over and over. It was a simple dance to simple music, but we both loved it. The memory of this dance has kept me alive, many a time.
Then there was the spring day she proposed to me — as always, she led and I followed.
I had to get a load of furs from the tanning shed, and harnessed our mare Blackie to the cart. As I headed up into the hills, Maeve came running after me. "I'm coming with you," she said, blue eyes glinting with mischief.
"What will your mother say?"
She laughed. "It's easier to say sorry after than to ask permission."
We soon arrived, and piled the cart full. I gave Blackie a drink while Maeve gazed up at the breathtaking beauty of the flower-covered hillside. "Dermot, come here," she ordered, and I came. We meandered all over with my arm around her shoulder, hers around my waist, till she stopped, near the edge of a sudden drop, with the sea below. I had the feeling that I'd been like this before, with her, in just such a place, but of course I knew this couldn't be true.
She turned to face me, eyes luminous, mouth slightly open.
I raised my hands, and stroked her face from temples to chin.
She stepped even closer. I felt both love and lust for her. I gently pulled her head toward me. She came willingly, and as we kissed, her arms went around me and she hugged me so I felt her breasts against my chest. My erection almost hurt, although this was anything but lewd: more like religious worship in feeling.
As my hands held her shoulders, she wriggled, like a cat relishing a stroke does. "Dermot," she murmured, "it's time you and me got married."
It was arranged with Father Liam, for three weeks ahead.
Word came the next week: rebellion had broken out. The village was abuzz. Maeve came to me. "You're going, aren't you?"
"I have to go."
"Yes, and you may not come back. I want your child, in case ..."
We didn't need to talk, just walked up above the tanning shed, into the field of flowers, and there gently undressed each other. Naked, she looked even more lovely. Often have I wished I were a sculptor, so I could make a statue of her.
With the soft green grass caressing our skin, our bodies and spirits became as one. Then it was my time to go to war.
War was disaster. Oh, I heard that we'd had great victories in Wicklow, but I never saw one battle where we got the better of them. Our leaders knew not what they were doing. Our men were brave enough, but without discipline, without skill. I've seen a hundred English soldiers devastate Irishmen five times their number. They acted as one man, and after each of their victories, their confidence grew, ours shattered.
I was usually safe enough, because of my rifle and my skill with it. Typically, I was sent to some high place alone, and from there picked off one Englishman after another. I started with the officers, and worked my way down. Indeed, my wish as a boy came true — I may have killed more English than any other man.
Still, it was all for naught. Battle after battle they won, and captured men by the hundreds. Hidden safely up some hill, often I saw the slaughter of the prisoners. These English were less than human. They tortured wounded men, killing them as slowly as they could.
Guilt ate me as I escaped, time and again. But what good could I do by dying or being captured also? My duty was to stay free, and kill as many of the monsters as I could.
I did so, even when alone, living off the land. I slit the throat of many a sentry. They were easy to find by their smell alone, for these English didn't seem to wash themselves. Several times I set fire to buildings they slept in, then picked them off with my rifle as they rushed out, clear to see with the flames behind them. Then I ran, dissolving into the dark countryside long before they could shoot back at me.
When I needed to, I stripped my victims of powder, shot, and also food and good Irish whiskey, which they liked as much as we did. Then I spent an hour or so, wrapping each bullet in paper, which I also borrowed when I could.
Often I thought, I may have been the last Irishman to carry on the fight.
Slowly I made my way over to the west coast, toward home.
Ever cautious, at last I reached country I knew, the steep, rugged hills where I'd hunted for three years. Something was wrong: I sighted the tracks of a pig, then of a couple of sheep. I knew what this meant: devastated villages. Domestic animals are too valuable to the living to be let loose.
I looked west from a tall peak. The forest, my forest, had a big bare patch in it, like the mange on an old dog. I already was a killer. If not, this would have turned me into one. That forest had been my church, my connection to God, but for the English it was merely timber with land under it.
For the first time since childhood, I cried. I knew they were dead. They had to be dead: my parents, sisters and brothers, all the people of the village I loved ... and above all Maeve. Horrid visions tortured my inner eye, of what the savage, barbaric English must have done to her, to my love, to my all. I'd seen them at it elsewhere, and many a time had I avenged poor girls and women, raped before being killed.
But here, no doubt I was too late. The soldiers were sure to have moved on years ago, leaving ruins and corpses behind.
I waited till dark, and made my way to the tanning shed. It still stood, but the lack of a stink showed that it had been unused for a long time. A few old, brittle skins remained, and with amusement I noticed my ancient fishing rod leaning against the back wall.
I ghosted down the well-known path though it was overgrown, the starlight enough for my experienced eyes. There was the ocean, a luminous darkness, and the dark shapes of the cottages.
All was silent. I detected no scent of smoke, no smell of pigs or horses or last evening's dinner. My heart was a black stone within me.
Excerpted from "Ascending Spiral"
Copyright © 2013 Bob Rich.
Excerpted by permission of Loving Healing Press, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Book 1: Dermot,
Book 2: Amelia,
Book 3: Other Worlds,
Book 4: Pip,
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
When was the last time a book actually made you think....? I began this book with some trepidation. I had never considered too deeply my views on re-incarnation. However, from the moment I started to read, I was instantly drawn to the characters and engaged by the style of writing. Despite being a complex topic, the story flowed beautifully and was incredibly easy to read. So much so that I finished it in two days! Not only is the emotion clearly conveyed but the whole book is so very thought provoking. Once I'd finished it, I sat for a moment, pondering the message that had been written. It really does make you consider the 'bigger picture' and want to aim to be a better person. A wonderful read!
Dr. Bob Rich's remarkable and exceptionally well written, thoughughtful and emotionally evocative novel weaves together horrific and beautiful tales. Each tale is set within a different historical period and illustrates the humanistic value of good overcoming evil. Dr. Rich posits that throughout the ages, humankind has survived despite horrific conditions into which leaders were born. The situations they confronted brought out their strengths. Through unfortunate and grave circumstances, they recognized their two choices: To prevail, they could muster their inner resources-- the virtues of compassion, courage, strength, native intelligence, imagination, and the instinctive ability to draw out these qualities in others to overthrow oppression and move forward. Or, inevitably they would suffer the consequences: alienation, humiliation, slavery, starvation and premature death. While many events depicted in this unusual novel are painful to imagine, the reader is left with a sense of optimism. Our species has demonstrated the ability not only to survive, but also to advance and improve our condition. Sandra Levy Ceren, Ph.D. Clinical Psychology
An eon of experiences and learning that can span many physical bodies? Is that possible? Well after reading “Ascending Spiral – Humanity’s Last Chance”, you will rethink the meaning of life, death and what may follow, especially the future of humanity. This thought provoking book by Dr Bob Rich is a page turner from first to last. It is meticulously researched through many historical periods, and during the story you follow the journey of a single entity, Pip Lipkin, who is traversing many timeframes. The genre of this book is difficult to categorise, spanning historical drama, science fiction, and the metaphysical. That is not to say that the book is difficult to read. Far from it. It flows effortlessly from life to life, who are all connected in a particular way, which leaves the reader to ponder deeply. The environmental theme is subtly disguised throughout the story until it becomes crystal clear in the final sequences. This story had me hooked from the very start, and I could emotionally identify with all of the characters that I was introduced to during his progression. In fact, I cried with tears of joy as I flipped through to the end as the story reached its climax. Its powerful message was loud and clear. We are the owners of our own future! This is a must-read book! 5 stars. - Gavin Webber
A Metaphysical Novel for Our Times Buddhism is an ancient philosophy studying the human mind. As you read Bob Rich’s new novel, Ascending Spiral: Humanity’s Last Chance, you can’t help but notice the Buddhist Four Noble Truths written between the lines of this exquisite page- turner. The First Noble Truth states that life includes pain, disease, aging, and death. Through the eyes of Pip, the main protagonist, we learn of his early experience with the Nazis and how that encounter tormented his soul. Through Pip’s determination, he digs within himself to uncover four past lives to bare the suffering his soul has experienced over the centuries. During this literal soul searching, Pip learns the Second Noble Truth—craving, an emotion most of us know too well, and causes suffering. But as an extraterrestrial? Overcoming this suffering and finding happiness is a difficult assignment explained in the Third Noble Truth, and a goal of each of Pip’s five lives, two of which take place beyond our solar system. In a fluid writing style that will captivate readers from the first page to the last, Rich brings us a novel that is thought provoking as well as humbling. He brilliantly unfolds a story that entertains as well as educates as Pip develops wisdom and empathy—the Fourth Noble Truth. Ascending Spiral is a novel based on an ancient philosophy, but perfect for our times.
Bob Rich has crafted a very unusual novel and in the process he delved into both the virtues and vices of the human race. Despite bringing into focus the myriad ways humans can be so cruel and vicious toward each other and toward groups with different attitudes or beliefs than their own, he contrasts this bloody-mindedness of our species with the way we are also capable of deep love and sacrifice in response to the suffering of others. Rich uses a central character in different guises to tie epochs together that span continents and millennia, ranging from Viking times to the modern era and beyond. What he does in the process is make us think about what we’re reading despite the tendency to become absorbed in a truly memorable novel. Bob Rich’s concern for and appreciation of the environment of Earth stands out clearly, connecting man and Earth in a bond, one that is too easily broken and certainly not taken seriously enough. When you pick up this book and turn the first age prepare yourself for a journey through history that is accurate and deeply moving despite scenes that sometimes depict all too well how often and how badly we treat those different from us. A book to remember and re-read. Darrell Bain
Ascending Spiral is a wonderfully curious book and one that defies instant categorisation. At first, I thought it a series of historical stories – expertly crafted and meticulously researched – that put you right into the times so you can actually feel what the characters are experiencing. You live as Padraig, his short life terminated by a Viking raider; as Irishman Dermot fighting against British tyranny; as Amelia, the wife of a brutal landowner in Outback Australia; and as Pip Lipkin, a young man in 20th century Australia, fighting prejudice and his own failings. But it was so much more than just historical stories. The central character in each account turns out to be the same soul, experiencing different lives, learning some lessons, failing others, falling and rising, though the overall journey is one of ascent – one soul’s journey on an ascending spiral. This, in itself, would be a fascinating tale of men and women buffeted by circumstance, but the story is twelve thousand years in the making. Furthermore, it encompasses the lives of aliens as well as humans, told in a way that seems both realistic and meaningful. A Space Flower and a Walking Plant add their lives to the mix, and if it seems odd that these beings should be included in a story of an ascending soul; think again. Every action leaves its mark, both on ourselves and those around us, and if we do harm, we must atone for our actions before we can move forward. With every death comes an accounting and a chance for the soul to pick a future life that will help it right the wrongs of a previous existence, help it on its spiral of ascent. If all that wasn’t enough, one is left with a strong feeling that the latter part of the book is at least partly autobiographical, as the character Pip Lipkin finally realises his long history and what it all means. He has learned lessons from his past lives and can now put them into practice. This would be enough for most books, but Bob Rich goes further, pointing out the future of the planet and the fate of every species on it unless we too learn the lessons that Pip has learned over twelve thousand years of existence. Ascending Spiral is a book that held me fascinated while I was reading it, and made me sit and think when I finished it. I know I’ll be reading it again, especially the latter part where the future of the planet – my future, your future – is laid out, and how we can yet save it from destruction. Thank you, Bob, for this wonderful and thought-provoking experience.
This book is unlike any I've read before. I made the mistake of skimming the beginning one night, even though I was in the middle of reading another book and was committed to reading several others before it. By the time I got to the end of the first chapter, I was hopelessly and happily hooked. I couldn't seem to get my eyes to read fast enough. I don't usually like any type of historical fiction or metaphysical books, but maybe I'd be a fan of the genres if they were all as well written and engaging as this book. My heart was completely invested in the main character's story from the beginning, even though I had to find out about him first when he was several other people. The main character, Dr. Pip Lipkin, has lived for twelve centuries as many people -- both men and women -- and even some other species. That may sound strange, but the account of his other lives and how they are all interwoven is an epic saga filled with adventure, fully developed characters, rich historical details, exotic settings and events that run the emotional gamut. I'm a hopeless romantic, but it wasn't only the parts about all his loves that had me in their grips. The tactical strategies and details of his adventures are gripping as well, even when they involve horrific deaths, torture and rape. And although this book makes social, philosophical and ethical statements, the reader is allowed to glean them from the unfolding story rather than having them thrust in their face. ASCENDING SPIRAL is the first book I've read by Dr. Bob Rich, but it definitely won't be the last.
Ascending Spiral Reviewed by Alfredo Ascending Spiral is not only a book but a work of art. Like all works of art, it is not what is immediately apparent that captures the reader’s attention but what is hidden, yet still obvious to those who are closer to the Light. It is less fiction than it seems, particularly for those of us who have a good hunch that the human spirit relives many lives, and we have some proof if we look at children’s past lives stories. There is no doubt that the author is an old soul who looks at humanity from the eyes of someone who does not belong here and yet is here to help others. It is an uncomfortable, yet rewarding, journey that will reap rewards in the end. It is the story of a soul that has been through much trauma through the many lives and comes to embody a young man, a teenager who is bullied by other children simply because of being Jewish. That must have been extremely traumatic for a young man who was kind and gentle and sensitive. A young man who today is a rare psychologist and who would probably look back at the bullies with some compassion and sadness, knowing very well how much help they need and how that experience has served him well. It was not negative but all positive today. But above all, it is the story of a quest for the meaning of life. Why are we here? What is the meaning of our life? And what is this Universe all about? Perhaps the questions we are asking have been replied in our dreams, dreams that we cannot recall. The mystery of men and women. Through all of this chaos there is suffering, the negative energy that propels humanity into greatness, for it is out of suffering that we get closer to the light. Those of us who can suffer with dignity and with acceptance are the ones who transform themselves into real artists that shape our life. It is a constant battle but if we look closely there is so much good that comes out of the struggle, perhaps enough to save us all. Ascending Spiral is a quest more inner than outer, for there is a Universe out there but also one in each of us, for we are a universe in our own right.
Dr Pip Lipkin has lived for 12,000 years, in many lives, different sexes, and even different species and he’s here for a reason. Dr Bob Rich’s Ascending Spiral is a true genre-buster, incorporating elements of historical fiction, literary fiction, science fiction, and even a hint of nonfiction to create an entertaining novel with an important message. Beautifully researched, the book opens in present day, but quickly moves back to 805-806 AD, where the first person protagonist is named Padraig, and he is fighting a Viking attack. The book then moves into the life of Dermot, an Irishman dealing with the campaign of repression conducted by the English against the Irish during this period. Dermot’s section is the longest, taking the reader through full scale war, vigilantism, transportation to Australia as a convict, slavery, life on a squat as a free man, and the committing of a terrible crime. Dermot’s act has repercussions that take him into the next chapter of his existence, as Amelia, a woman who has to experience the consequences of Dermot’s crime again and again. When Amelia dies, our protagonist experiences something completely different – a life that is free of gender and hate – focused solely on survival and the support of the species. The next life jumps to 10,000 BCE, where, as a giant space flower, the protagonist commits a thoughtless but devastating crime, the likes of which forms the basis for the atonement and multiple births throughout the novel. The final section belongs to Pip, bringing us back to the start. Pip is the most evolved being and the development from Padraig to Pip is the ascending spiral that the title refers to. Along the way he learns (and teaches us) about the meaninglessness and pain of war, about greed and violence, about the folly of our desperation for happiness over wisdom, about the beauty and delicacy of our planet, and about the power of love and forgiveness to change these cycles. The themes of the book are Buddhist, showing us the Samsara or "the cycle of birth and death” and the lessons we all need to learn in order to evolve ourselves and to save our rapidly dying world. Though the ultimate purpose of the book does appear to be didactic - global warming and impending environmental catastrophe are generally accepted within the mainstream scientific community as proven fact - and the parallels between Dr Lipkin and the author’s own studies are probably the subject of at least a few fascinating interviews, the story reads well as fiction, creating each world entirely so that the reader becomes engrossed in the historical time and place along with the protagonist. The overall message is delivered with subtlety and sophistication, and the descriptions are particularly powerful, especially in Dermot’s section where we move from war-torn Ireland to NSW. The long, painful journey by boat is evocative, as are the space flower descriptions which add a fun sci-fi twist to the story and showing Rich’s scientific bent. Through each section there are a number of important threads that link the novel together, including the recurring cycle of racism and prejudice in all of its forms, of uncontrolled hunger and its ability to damage, and of the healing power of sympathy, connection and perception. All of these threads come together through a series of stories that are historically engaging and powerful, at times whimsical, and above all, meticulously presented. Ascending Spiral is a book that will take the reader to many different places and times, showing, ultimately, that our differences and divisions, even at their most devastating, are less important than our similarities. This is an important and timely novel full of wisdom and insight.
Ascending Spiral by Robert Rich is not your typical read. A novel told in stories joined together by a common thread or two, the novel defies genre distinction, provokes thought, causes the reader to recall the past, and hope for the future. The cycle of life is woven through history, the psyche, and spirituality. Rich invites you to follow his character, Pip Lipkin, on his spiritual journey through space and time. Padraig, a shepherd boy in Ireland falls in love. The Vikings land. There is aggression, resistance, war, death, conquering and enlightenment. The religious conflict in Ireland brews around the life of Dermot nearly a thousand years later. “The bloody English” bring aggression which births resistance, that boils into war, death, conquering and enlightenment. Dermot and others are found guilty of treason against the Crown when England wants to expand its borders to include the Green Isle. The traitors are shipped to New South Wales...Australia...for life. Dermot, after a valient effort as a soldier for his people, becomes a criminal, at last falling dead as he rapes the wife of another man. Dermot thinks, “I should become her, the squatter's wife who suffers rape....I should have the power, the ability to ease hurt, to lead people from hate and despair to strength and love.” Amelia is born in the 19th Century. She marries into bondage to a man who regards her only as his property. He isolates her, regularly rapes her and the Aborigine women employed on his plantation. She is the mistress, the peacemaker. And her good deeds, she hopes, will win her freedom one day. The Great Chain of Being continues from humans through plant life. Everything in the Universe is believed to contain some amount of life force. Through reincarnation the narrator experiences the cycle of plant life. “A Walking Plant will die for the love of others of her kind...In my next life I need to continue to defend the weak, the victim, but then progress to doing so without hurting the aggressor.” The next incarnation is Space Flower living in 10,000 BCE. “Before my drift to the periphery, life had been vital, interesting and meaningful. Now it became a bore. I used to be famous for the beauty of my forms. Now my best was nothing compared to the ordinary of others. I used to be involved in many endeavors. Now I could only observe. So I stopped trying...” And died. Death and life are illusions, writes Rich. All people as individual entities are illusions. “There is just the One, and we all are parts of it...” In contemporary times Pip grew up a hated Jew although he claims to be a Buddhist Jew. He fixes spiritually and emotionally broken people for a living because one life is brief and there is the belief that we get to repeat until we get it right. But who knows what the future holds? Rich wants to share his thoughts about that with you through Ascending Spiral due out March 2013. This atypical tale is thought-provoking. The reader can take the major points of the book to craft a measuring stick for the Self to determine, “If you aren't part of the solution, you are part of the problem.”
I wasn’t sure this book would be in my comfort zone of mystery/suspense and contemporary fiction, but I decided to give it a try based on a recommendation and on the fascinating premise: The protagonist, Dr. Pip Lipkin is 12,000 years old. He has incarnated numerous times as a man and as a woman, also as other-worldly species. Now he's here on Earth to pay restitution for an ancient crime to save humanity from certain destruction. This book also piqued my interest in its concept of Buddhist reincarnation, on what Buddhists call the wheel of life. As another reviewer said, This book is really a collection of stories tied together by the Buddhist idea of rebirth. I am a lay Buddhist, and that statement fascinates me. For his part, Pip only discovers in one of his own incarnations that he is a Buddhist. This occurs about 3/4 of the way through the book, as he says to himself: “That evening, I camped at the Uni. Library and read up on Buddhism. Mr.MacAndrew was right. Here was my philosophy in beautiful words.” But that’s getting ahead of things. From the beginning of the story I was hooked. It starts in modern times with Pip, a doctor and a psychologist in this incarnation, relating a story of a female patient who’d been a victim of a crime. She is suicidal and can’t talk to him for more than a few minutes before breaking down in tears. He calms her down by having her focus on ordinary things: sights and sounds and smells, of experiencing each moment for itself. From there he relates, through emails from other patients, how he has the ability to heal, to help people from the depths of their despair. He reveals that he is a visitor from another galaxy and that he is 12,000 years old. He is here because Earth is his favorite place in the universe. As he says at this point, “where else do you see the entire economy of a species designed to destroy the life support system of their planet? For an Historian of Horror, that’s delicious.” After that he launches into his many-faceted story of past lives, starting with his earliest recollection of living on Earth, on an island near Ireland. His name then is Padraig and the time is 805 AD, and he begins by telling of the first time he saw his dark-haired, blue-eyed love with an elfin face and the name of Sheilagh. Long accounts of more past lives follow: Dermot in 1784, where he meets his life’s love for the second time, this one with golden hair and a terrible temper. Next he is Amelia, a woman now, starting with her first memory of being a suckling baby in 1830. Then he is in another world, in 1910, and he is an eight-footed walking, talking plant. And finally he is back to being Pip, in Australia in 1966, seeing his love for the third time. Her name is Jacinta and they finally marry. The book ends – well, I won’t give that away. Suffice it to say there is a message there of hope and love, of creating a better society that lives in beauty, as the Navahos would say. I give this book five stars for its originality, its message of hope and it just plain, good writing.
This is a complex book spanning a period of 12,000years to the present through Pip’s eyes. Pip travels through time as various souls, first descending downward into violence and cruelty and then climbing back up as he learns how to become a better man, one who can work to save humanity. He needs to “...learn the lesson of forgiveness; heal hurt, and lead people from despair and helplessness to strength and Love...what it’s like to be without the pain of loving.” It’s a plea to look at the world as it is and what we’re doing to it and to create a sustainable society. It’s not your typical read or a specific genre as it touches on history, reincarnation, the paranormal, contemporary, and love. The story is well written and it will grip you and keep you reading from one century and one chapter to the next. I highly recommend it and particularly liked the message at the end. Beverley Bateman
What on earth's it all about? On the brink of human extinction, as we might well be, many of us are wondering 'what's it all about?' Why do we try so hard when it seems there is little to try for except money, success and things if -IF you are very lucky. What else is there? Good Question, and if you are one of those seriously asking the question, then maybe Ascending Spiral will contain answers that will ring bells for you. We need, in this time, to begin to face the fact that there has to be more to life than just a mere 70 or 80 years in which we can be saints or sinners and end up in either heaven or hell when we die. Do you really believe that? This does not make any real sense for the efforts we put into our lives and to see it all come to nothing much at the end, as we can't take it with us, is perplexing to say the least. Dr. Rich was not a believer in reincarnation until events in his life took over and demanded that, as a psychologist, he had to come to the realisation that were was more to life if any sense was to be made of any of it. Now he has written a definitive account of one man and his journey through many lives and the reasons for why this should be so for all of us. It is a clear account without any mumbo-jumbo and makes sense to the most logical among us. It's a good read and and worthy of thought for a long time after you put it down.
Bob Rich’s remarkable novel is a valiant, vivid, at times brilliant attempt to solve the puzzle of the human animal. Consisting of gripping, interconnected narratives of the many lives of Pip Lipkin, the novel retells, in a most original way, the myth of Original Sin and the possibility of redemption. We humans have a broad streak of greed, malice, and willful destruction within us. “Humanity is a toddler” we are told, and our two dominant words are NO! and Mine! Nietzsche recognized this and called it the Will to Power, present in all life forms, all of us striving to grow by devouring the Other—only in the case of human beings, the Other is planet Earth. The lesson of the novel/primer/metaphor/parable is that we alone, among the interconnected species that make up the living surface of this ball of energy that is Earth, are capable of recognizing the final and horrific result of No! and Mine! We alone can curb our primitive impulses and learn to love unselfishly. Unlike Nietzsche, Bob is an optimist. He shouts a warning: We must and can act to halt the destruction of our Earth. Pip/Bob is a very old soul who has learned to heal with love, to build rather than devour. But what to do about the exploitative and destructive youngsters, “toddler souls” like Bob’s Vikings, his English in Ireland and Australia, his Mr. McQuade, our own entrepreneurs? Teach love. Give, not Gimme. Bravo, Bob! May you draw many readers, and may they join the healing effort!
Life is an adventure; some say a never-ending one. Ascending Spiral by Bob Rich takes us on that rollercoaster of life. As they say, “Keep your arms and legs inside the car at all times.” It’s a wild ride. As the book opens, we join therapist Pip Lipkin assisting patients in recent times then swiftly travel backward, ultimately some 12,000 years. As each chapter introduces a new character and their personal drama unfolds, it soon becomes obvious we are witnessing the same being again and again struggling with new life challenges as they gradually resolve, evolve, and reawaken. There’s never a dull moment. Friends and adversaries resurface in each life playing different roles—some nurturing, some violent—as “Pip” continues his spiraling metaphysical journey from one calamity or triumph to the next. I had little idea what to expect when I began reading, but was soon wrapped up in the fascinating adventure. As I devoured the book within two sittings, (one has to sleep), I was reminded how all events, even minor, can be interconnected. There are no coincidences and personal choices constantly create or resolve our karma. This simple reminder can help reassure and heal us through the darkest of times. Ascending Spiral is an engaging adventure, blurring the lines of genre while appealing to a wide audience who enjoy adventure, sci-fi, philosophy, metaphysics, and historical fiction. I heartily recommend it. Brandon Wilson, Lowell Thomas Award-winning author of Along the Templar Trail and others
Have you ever wondered why you are inexplicably drawn to a particular person as if you know them well, though have never met them? Have always had a strong particular personal trait that you can’t explain where it originated from? Ascending Spiral may just answer these questions for you. This is a brilliantly written and extremely thought provoking journey of the soul. The central character could be anyone of us as we journey through our particular life/s in search for the meaning of our existence. The stories are told in such a realistic way that placed me in the bodies and minds of many of the characters. My perception of the central theme (and there are a few thread throughout), is that we reap what we sow. That violence and aggression beget the same and we will be confronted with many hard life-lessons until we embrace the fact that we are the masters of our own fate; only our own love and genuine kindness brings peace. I found Bob Rich’s novel Ascending Spiral to be emotionally confronting in a positive way that triggered private reflection and it questions our own level of personal and spiritual growth. David Norman, author of Alcohemy – The Solution to Ending Your Alcohol Habit for Good.
This is an inclusive metaphysical book. Christian, New Age, Buddhist, and Psychological views are employed to give an important message which eventually leads to a strong emphasis on Conservationism. All are aimed at producing greater individual understanding and a better, safer, cleaner world for everyone. I applaud the author for his engaging story of Pip’s lives, beginning in the present day where Pip is a counselor. The prologue was so engaging that it made me want to read more. Pip in one past life is an Irishman called Dermot fighting the tyranny of English oppressors. I got a real sense of Ireland and I liked Dermot even though his vengeance against the cruel invaders knew no end. I felt so sad at the abuse the “convicts” (including Dermot), transported to Australia suffered. Pip in another life is born again as an innocent woman, Amelia, who lives with an abusive husband. She is a very strong person in a winning story about Outback life which explores the struggles of powerlessness including the plight and wisdom of Aborigines. There are some other lives lived by Pip too, gems of creativity that explore other aspects of being both human and non-human. Pip, in each of his many lives that span the ages learns many lessons--from survival of the fittest to the need for speaking truth to power--on his journey to spiritual maturity. Reincarnation, it seems to me, is one way to understand suffering. I particularly liked the karmic idea that we reap what we sow but we get chances to experientially learn from our past and change ugly behaviors. The book is rich (forgive the pun) with wisdom and words of advice that resonate as true and are genuinely helpful. We really need to heed Bob Rich’s words and emphasis on living simply, giving up lust for vengeance and power, learning to forgive, trusting the process of our, in this case, many lives, to become better developed people who contribute to the betterment of the All, which includes animals, insects, plants, people, the earth and other worlds. In the ending story we learn about Pip’s journey in his current life. It is interesting, moving and as engaging as the beginning.
“Ascending Spiral”, written by Bob Rich, is a medley of intertwining lives that result in lessons learned for mistakes of past lives. Dr. Pip is the connecting factor between all of these life forms, and brings wisdom and meaning to each existence as he searches for their reason for being. The stories within this book are filled with adventure, terror, love, hate, loneliness, despair, antisemitism, war, slavery, insanity, prejudice, sexism, and above all how mankind of today may be destroying itself on a rapid road filled with misconception and greed. Life connects and disconnects as one presumably is reincarnated and finds the meaning for what life is truly about. In the beginning of the book, and also at the end, Dr. Pip realizes that his existence in the here and now is directed toward healing others. His messages to the reader are profound, and without a doubt, will leave you in a soul searching state of mind. His true to life view will grip your emotions and awaken you to what could happen in the world of excessive consuming and industry. I believe the author’s all intent goal for this book is for his reader to enjoy these pages filled with controversy and adventure, and to join his efforts in thwarting greed, promoting love, and to secure the preservation of the Earth, as well as the human race. I give this book five stars plus, for content that grips, stories of true emotion that entertain, and intent that serves others. Great book! This book has been reviewed by Susan Hornbach
Reincarnations and A Wake-Up Call for our Planet Reincarnation across time and space, including outer space, is a major theme in Ascending Spiral: Humanity’s Last Chance. So, too, is the belief that we should strive “to lead people from despair and helplessness to strength and love,” to make ourselves ever better. After all, as Bob Rich states, “hate only begets hate,” and we need “to learn the major lesson of forgiveness.” This soul-searching book is many things. It is part science fiction, part philosophy, part multi-life autobiography . . . well, you name it. To some readers it might appear to be a hodgepodge. To me it is richly unique, and some standard rules of reviewing simply don’t apply to it. Most of the narrative is a preparation for the latest incarnation of the author, herein identified as Pip. Pip grows up to become a Ph.D. in Psychology, a psychotherapist, and other things. Above all, he is a fighter for our planet, which may be doomed. Dr. Rich believes that our species is destroying the Earth’s environment and we must join together to save it before it is too late. Before this life, though, Pip was other people, as well as a member of at least two different alien species. Eons ago, he was a star-hopping Space Flower who lived for beauty but destroyed an entire planet. More recently, he was an Irish rebel named Dermot and Amelia, an Australian girl who married the wrong man. For me, these two characters are the most memorable besides Pip himself. And I followed them with particular interest, knowing they would eventually be reborn as the author. I have just two complaints concerning them. The author’s account of how Dermot knifed and killed each and every single Red Coat he faced seemed tedious and gratuitous after a while. I wish he had summarized a bit and captured the essence. As for Amelia, though she hated her depraved and despicable rapist-husband, I don’t see how she could have possibly taught him to be better. Such a monster simply couldn’t have been reached. That being said, I’ve never read a book quite like this one. It’s an adventure and a journey of self-discovery, both for the author and the reader.
"Ascending Spiral” by Bob Rich is the book “Cloud Atlas” aspired to be but, unfortunately, never was. “Ascending Spiral” takes you on a journey through the past and present of Dr. Pip Lipkin, a psychologist and counselor. In so doing, it gives you a view of the experiences and ways in which each of us develop and grow through our different lifetimes on Earth. In each life we interact with many of the same souls repeatedly as we learn what the expression “an eye for an eye” really means. Throughout the book, Pip experiences love, hate, war, depression, incarceration, and slavery, all while searching for that one moment when enlightenment sparks an awareness in his soul. Each moment of awareness brings his soul more light and a greater ability in making love-filled choices instead of fear-based ones. Once I stepped beyond the prologue and into the actual story, I was hooked. The characters were vibrant and as alive as you and me. With every choice made, and every battle fought, I was on the edge of my seat wanting to know what would happen next. Even if you don’t believe in reincarnation or past lives, you can enjoy this book by simply looking at it as an historical adventure novel. I found that the historical accuracy combined with the great pacing made for an entertaining read. The only time the pacing bogged down (for me) was toward the end when the story popped back into (almost) current time. What I mean by that is, we joined with Pip as young adult in university. However, soon after we jumped back to Pip as a child. I became a little confused with the story here, because of the age hopping, but once we got back to Pip as a young man, the story smoothed out again. Overall, this is an excellent adventure for those who just want a good story; an extremely thought-provoking book for those contemplating the bigger question of “why are we here;” or a wonderful book for those wishing to explore the idea of past lives and reincarnation.
Ascending Spiral is an absorbing, heart-filling journey of a soul in search of redemption through a series of life-times. I don't read much historical fiction, but the story of Pip Lipkin held me spellbound to the end--maybe because Ascending Spiral isn't really an historical novel. It's much more than that. It's the finding of The Light. Dr. Bob Rich ends the tale with a warning, a ray of hope, and an invitation. For the sake of us all, please, accept the invitation. --Yvonne Rowan
As far as I can remember I have believed in Karma and for years I thought that the lesson I needed to learn in this life time was patience. After reading Bob Rich's Ascending Spiral, a strange message from somewhere became clear to me. Yes, patience is good, but what I really needed to learn is to forgive myself as well as my aggressors. Ascending Spiral was a hypnotic book. It was a good and entertaining bible carrying the message of human salvation without threats or condemnations. It was impossible for me to read this book at one sitting. Ascending Spiral made me think, stop, think and meditate about what I had just read. It was a great reading and emotional experience. Yes Bob Rich, I will join your team, and I hope many will read your book and join us.
Through Ascending Spiral, Dr. Bob Rich takes on a refreshingly unique angle on novel writing. The book follows the emotional journeys of different characters (at least that’s what I thought initially) as they get confronted with situations in their life. I initially struggled to comprehend the need for seemingly standalone stories and characters in the same book, but the final chapters wove everything together and left me both amazed and delighted at how the author got everything to fall in place; a truly admirable talent. I have never read a book that made me experience so many emotions. In Ascending Spiral, Dr. Bob Rich struck the perfect balance between pace and portrayal; the story moves along swiftly, but not at the expense of describing the scenes and situations in sufficient detail so the reader could become immersed in it. In fact, some of the scenes the non-human characters found themselves in were described so well, that one can only conclude that Dr. Bob Rich is an exceptionally imaginative writer, and/or that he was actually there when these stories played out. You’ll have to decide for yourself.
Ascending Spiral is a book that meshes together many different genres. Bob Rich uses a very colourful imagination to weave a true work of fiction, filled with historical events, alien existences, and outer space, that follows one soul through many life times. It is adventurous at times and you get caught up in the love story flowing through the lives. Some parts of the story are very controversial by using rape as a topic of karma. Other parts of the story like the walking, talking alien plant or the guy in space destroying planets completely lose my interest. Overall, Bob Rich’s message tries to make you question your motives and actions in life, while promoting good karma. All in all, I give it a four out of five rating.
Delightful Metaphysical Page-Turner Ascending Spiral swept me up in the action of men fighting for their lives and freedom right from the start, transporting me between modern-day times in 2011, to 800 AD in the time of Vikings, and 18th century Ireland. This is a tale of the human spirit, and how it can feel to move from a state of discarnate consciousness from human life to human life. Rather than adopting a preachy tone, Ascending Spiral draws readers in to feel the rise and fall of emotions, as the lead characters encounter all manner of challenges. Throughout each story line, protagonist Pip Lipkin’s indomitable spirit shines through, facing life-and-death struggles as a free Irishman, and when taken as an Irish slave, transported from his homeland to Wales. While readers might hope that despite having suffered the worst horrors of mental and physical abuse of war, the Pip’s earlier incarnation would make completely heroic choices, he sometimes opts to torment others instead, which leads to reminders to him to choose more wisely next time at each life transition point. Ascending Spiral reads like a historical adventure novel for more than half the book, especially covering life in 18th century Ireland and England, and mid 19th century Australia. The different life threads are easy to follow, as they are neatly divided into their own separate books-within-a-book, with explanation provided as to how each subsequent life unfolds. At the beginning of Book 3, Ascending Spiral takes on a science fiction vibe, venturing into truly otherworldly vistas as it covers the life lessons of a newly hatched walking plant, and continuing the ongoing saga of drama between victims and heroes. Book 3 is also the beginning of some truly large leaps through time and space, with the experience of life as a space flower, some 10,000 years BC. Ascending Spiral’s journey through space and time returns us to present day in Book 4, where some of the seemingly loose ends woven throughout Ascending Spiral weave back together into a rewarding conclusion—though this is clearly a book that shows the weaving of story lines never truly ends. Ascending Spiral is a real page-turner for any reader, and will be especially rewarding for those intrigued with questions about why things happen the way they do, and how we are connected to one another.