Book Review: River of Awareness

“River of Awareness: Seeking the Wisdom of Love” by Stephen Sims, Published by Novalis, ISBN 978-2-89646-122-6

Stephen Sims has used the metaphor of the river to explore the path of self-discovery that leads, through consciousness and compassion, to wisdom and authenticity. He’s also, literally, a river traveller and includes some references to that journey in his book. Even if we haven’t stepped into a canoe to make our way down the river, we can all relate our life gifts and challenges to the beckoning, and often treacherous, water. The river water appears smooth, sudden hazards appear, and we learn to maneuver and negotiate with full awareness. The journey is never without surprise. “As every river has its own singular mystery, so every human life holds a hidden destiny”, Sims writes.

  Sims has hit his own rocks along the way and shares those experiences as a spiritual and intellectual river guide. He’s done very well in combining spirit and mind with heart and it’s those real life recollections that are my favourite parts of the book. 

  The book is divided into four parts, like the four directions and their elements: Live Water: Journey; Inspired Quest: Integrity; Mud Path: Darkness and Sacred Fire: Compassion. The question that guides these passages is, how is the heart taught to love?

  We can realize many riches as we unravel that question; riches that include forgiveness, community and a love of one’s self.

  For some, this book could almost be a summary of your own quest especially as it relates to the authors who have inspired you. Sims quotes the Bible and refers to the works of Hermann Hesse, Joseph Campbell, Thomas Merton, Thich Nhat Hanh, and the Dalai Lama, among others.

  For others, take it slowly. There’s much to think about in this first-time author’s book. His words are a rather amazing and gentle flowing river. I am very inspired by Sims’s community service related to drug rehabilitation, care for the elderly, prison visitation, and outreach to homeless people.

  Sims lives in Montreal and is the founder of IASIS Foundation – the awareness project – facilitating interactive learning circles, vision quests, as well as addiction and spiritual support groups. IASIS endeavours to awaken positive potential through nurturing physical wellness, emotional literacy, and spiritual balance. He also directs Peace Trek, an East-West school of compassion for young adults.

  The author will be reading from his book and offering a discussion and book signing at the Vancouver Island Regional Library, Harbourfront Branch, on Monday, May 25 from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Stephen Sims will be offering other possibilities to meet while he’s in Nanaimo. Feel free to contact me to learn more at:


Mary Ann Moore is a writer, poet and circle facilitator living in Nanaimo.