Reviews of the book "The Whole Elephant Revealed "

Book Review in the Amerikan Hook-magazine: "easy to praise..."
September 10, 2019: "Coming across a good self-help book truly emits a feel-good feeling within the reader. By flipping through the pages, you realize things about yourself and those around you, about environments you find yourself in, and how to approach the self and environment with a new, positive outlook.
There are self-help books, and there is “The Whole Elephant” that focuses on seven universal laws that describe the inner workings of the universe; de Vries uses these laws as points of reference to understanding how we can aim to exist at a greater harmony within ourselves and the universe.
Before diving into these laws and understanding them, she shares a Sufi story about a city whose inhabitants were blind and tried to piece together the parts of a mighty elephant. When the other villagers asked about the form, shape or nature of the elephant, different answers were given based on who touched what part of the animal. De Vries writes, “This is why it is easy for us to understand that if the blind people were to combine their observations, like different parts of a puzzle making up the greater whole, they would be more likely to gain a picture of ‘the whole elephant.’” Through her descriptions of the universal laws, de Vries makes several connections to understanding the workings of the greater picture of life.
For example, when she touches upon masculine and feminine energies and principles, she is explaining the Law of Dynamic Balance…" read the whole review

= Ethan Gresko, Hook Magazine, culture, art and community in the Lower Hudson Valley, USA, sept-okt. 2019

An excellent, well written and researched book
November 11, 2013: "This is a 'must' read for anyone wanting to develop into a fully rounded spiritual being. It is extremely well researched and written in clear, concise format. It draws pointers from all aspects of world religions and spiritual and scientific texts and is unbiased and non judgemental. A brilliant overview. I applaud Marja de Vries."
= Nicola J. Bradbury, on with 5 stars

Mind blowing
October 1, 2013: "A friend of mine strongly recommended me the book and it wasn't until a few months later that got it - I am really glad I did.
Due to my involvement with Paganism and the esoteric, I am familiar with the Hermetic Principles. What I wasn't expecting was a book that, without speaking about Paganism, or Esoterism, or Witchcraft, would "talk" about them - would really put on the table the most essential parts of those paths or disciplines.
The author starts with the allegory of the blind men and the elephant, thus setting up a humble context for the reading: "We can't just but grasp a small part of the whole, and every grasp is subjective". From that moment on, she pics the threads of the key principles behind most of the religious, spiritual and western mysteric schools, and starts weaving them into a comprehensible pattern. Furthermore she places that pattern side by side with the latest researches on western science and, of course, quantum physics. The result is just mind-blowing.
Don't get me wrong, many of the theories are just...theories, and we are way behind of their full comprehension. But the author doesn't seem to intent to "give a scientific proof to spiritual principles". No, she's just weaving a pattern. In it makes sense, it definitely does.
It cannot be said that the book is a self-help book (it's way way beyond that) but, in some sense, it does motion and encourage you to keep the thread and keep weaving the pattern. If there are any pagans, specially witches reading this review... go get it!
You will immerse yourself in a travel through the laws of harmony, cause and effect, polarity, rhythm... yes! Doesn't it ring a bell? :)
For those who are into physics, it's an amazing book to understand the principles that underlie some philosophies or spiritual paths from a more researched and analytics point of view."
= Daniel Exposito, on with 5 stars

An excellent book with much ‘food for thought’!
July 31, 2013: "It is a long time since I was handed a book that from the first page I just kept thinking “Wow!!”… Eureka! This book did and continues to do so.
Marja begins her book with the twelfth century Sufi story about ‘the Blind and the Elephant’. A group of blind people feel a part of the elephant and describe what they can ‘see’. Each person tells a part of the story but no one had fully understood the whole of the elephant.
As visually able people we can see the whole of the elephant and we understand that if the blind people connect all the bits of the puzzle they too will see the whole elephant.
This story is a wonderful way of reminding us that we can only truly understand the world when we connect all the pieces of the puzzle. We will also realise that there are many perspectives and many truths to assembling an idea of a ‘Universal Truth’.
Using ‘The Kybalion’ as a key to universal laws Marja explores the essence of Universal Truth. She explores the 7 laws from many different perspectives, from the ‘pure’ scientific to the more mystical, intuitive approach of shamans, witches and folk magicians.
The 7 laws are:
1. The Law of Oneness
2. The Law of Correspondence
3. The Law of Vibration
4. The Law of Polarity
5. The Law of Rhythm
6. The Law of Cause and Effect
7. The Law of Dynamic Balanc
Using cutting-edge scientific discoveries and the Golden Ratio as an underlying universal principle, Marja finds similar discoveries in the non-scientific world. Many things too which we as pagans and witches will say: “yes! We have known that for centuries!” It is however Marja’s eyes and vision which have been able to create a synthesis based on these insights. She presents a bigger picture but in sizeable chunks.
It is certainly a book to be read slowly… I am still reading a year after I got it. (Which is why I have been slow on writing the review… :-) )
Filled with interesting quotes from all kinds of people such Sogyal Rinpoche (Tibetan Buddhist), Fritjof Capra (physicist), Alexander Lauterwasser (Cyematics Researcher) and many more. An excellent book with much ‘food for thought’! I highly recommend it to anyone who is looking for those missing bits of the puzzle."
= by Morgana at wiccanrede

Ground-breaking synthesis

October 19, 2012: "When I was at school studying A-level mathematics, I did a project on the Fibonacci Series and the Golden Ratio, which fascinated me. How could a simple mathematical progression be the basis for so many natural shapes and aesthetically pleasing ratios in art works and the human form? That puzzle has stayed with me until now, in this remarkable book, Marja de Vries brings together a vast body of knowledge into an accessible volume. Her analysis highlights Universal Laws that influence the whole of creation and brings out the way in which the Golden Ratio and sacred geometry complement those laws as the masculine and feminine aspects of creation. It draws particularly on a little-known anonymous work, "The Kybalion: A Study of the Hermetic Philosophy of Ancient Egypt and Greek," in which seven fundamental laws of the universe are outlined. These laws are seen to tie in with both mystical understandings of the nature of reality and cutting-edge scientific views.
The first law she identifies as the Law of Oneness, that everything that exists emanates from one and the same Oneness or Source. This she goes on to identify as the One Consciousness in which everything is held in material reality, bringing together concepts from quantum mechanics, the Zero Point Field and the Akasha. Second is the Law of Correspondence, tieing together the multidimensional nature of reality with theories of consciousness, fractals and the holographic universe. Thirdly, the Law of Vibration draws together harmonic resonance with energetic vibration, the human aura, health and the heart, and the role of consciousness in healing.
She goes on to explain the Laws of Polarity, Rhythm, Cause and Effect, and Dynamic Balance. For each law, she has a synthesis of spiritual and mystical insights from many traditions, and experimental evidence from Western science, which she weaves together into a fascinating tapestry. If you are interested in science and spirituality, this is a profound attempt to bring the two together into a coherent whole. It is also referenced, giving plenty of other writings to follow up.
Having said that, there are a couple of points that let it down a little. Firstly, it is translated from the original Dutch, and whilst the writing is well-expressed for most of it, there are numerous typos throughout the book, which, as an ex-teacher, I couldn't help but notice! Secondly, the last two chapters needed more careful editing and rephrasing in places, with some form of conclusion to the whole project, maybe a short final chapter rather that the very brief epilogue. However, for the sheer volume of ideas, perennial wisdom and a ground-breaking synthesis of science and spirituality, it is well-worth reading and has given me much food for thought and further exploration.
= Donald Macgregor, review with five stars at

A clear understanding of how we can make a valuable contribution to our relationships, our society and our world and achieve personal and societal wellbeing
May 17, 2012: "The title 'The Whole Elephant Revealed' is taken from a twelfth century Sufi story of a village where all the inhabitants were blind. When the king brought one to the village one day, each person was allowed to feel a part of the creature. One felt the trunk and thought it was a hollow pipe, another the ear and thought it was a large rug, another the tail and his extraordinary impressions of this and so on. Each part created confusion and no-one could agree to its purpose because the entire animal could not be envisaged.
Many readers who are beginning a spiritual journey might be overwhelmed by the complexity of the vast subjects covered by this book. However, Marja de Vries has simplified it and provided a clear understanding so that we can make a valuable contribution to our relationships, our society and our world. The path of self-discovery, the development of an inner knowing and the ability to make conscious choices are explained and she provides an insightful connection between the nature of consciousness, ancient wisdom and modern sciences. For life and environments to improve, the author shows us we must work in harmony with nature, that it is our responsibility to become more aware.
Marja de Vries is a teacher, writer and artist and a specialist in Universal Laws which she presents as seven interconnected principles upon which the universe is dependent; these are oneness; correspondence; vibration; polarity; rhythm; cause and effect; and dynamic balance, each laid out in chapters. She also is a specialist on the Golden Ratio, a universal mechanism for shaping form, creation and spatial patterns of growth which also include the development of consciousness. Both provide the harmony and balance of the cosmos. With the wisdom of ancient traditions and recent scientific study, we are guided to an understanding of how we can achieve personal and societal wellbeing.
The book has pieced together many components, using the words of sages and scientists to enable a worldview to be presented in a concise and compact style. We are informed of spirit energies and of the way in which we can work with these energies. The author has turned the key to the door of knowledge which leads to multidimensional understanding. From philosophy to astrophysics, from psychology to anthropology, from mythology to spirituality, from physiology to epigenics, the entire world of knowledge is woven into a fascinating tapestry.
Marja de Vries is from the Netherlands and this book is an English translation from the original Dutch. The first three chapters of this book are available on the author's website along with several prestigious reviews and excellent endorsements. Marja studied biology and ecology at University. For many years she was a fabric artist where, amongst her many skills, she intuitively linked to individuals who commissioned her art-work. She designed unique individual wall hangings for her buyers. Marja exudes a love of the natural world and has spent many years living closely with nature and with indigenous people in Southern Sudan, Montana and the Andes, and these travels created a deep level of attunement and awareness. She is seeking new forms of education for children which enable the development of skills and potentials. Marja de Vries has a second book already in the pipe-line titled 'Societies in Balance."
= Review by Book reviewers: Doreen Renphrey: and Wendy Stokes: , at the Lightworkers Circle Guide website and at the Mind Body Spirit (MBS) magazine website

A must for every spiritually interested reader
(National Library Service)
“This greatly informative book by the Dutch author (biologist/ecologist) Marja de Vries is a respectable attempt to formulate seven universal laws or principles (Hermes Trismegistus). These interconnected laws are respectively: the law of oneness, correspondence, vibration (and laws derived from thereof), polarity, rhythm, cause and effect, accumulating in the law of dynamic balance. Via an impressive broad spectrum of essential insights from ancient wisdom traditions and modern (alternative) science - from (cel)biology via consciousness research and quantum physics - she illustrates and deepens the fundamental propositions she formulates for every law. Furthermore she gives extensive attention to the Golden Ratio as a universal mechanism for shaping form, creation and spatial patterns of growth (inclusing development of consciousness). A gift to present difficult subjects educationally sound and pleasant to read complete this well-organized signpost to the new world. A must fo every spiritually interested reader. With index, bibliography and lots of endnotes.”
= NBD|Biblion (National Library Service) review, editorial office, Leidschendam, J. Hodenius  (review at and at )

My favourite book:  Looking beyond the edges of your own realty
June 24, 2009: Willy Sandelowsky-van Maarseveen (Breukelen, 1950) works as a family doctor in Eemnes, Laren and Blaricum. Her favourite book: The Whole Elephant Revealed by Marja de Vries. “That books can have such a great influence on your life and your philosophy of life is something of great beauty,” says Willy Sandelowsky-van Maarseveen. “First this column drew my attention to the beautiful book De herontdekking van het ware zelf (The rediscovering of the true self) by Ingeborg Bosch, next my old and wise uncle of 86 shared with me his enthusiasm for the book The Whole Elephant Revealed by Marja de Vries. Those two books have had great influence on how I as a human being and as a medical practitioner live my life at the moment.”
According to Sandelowsky-van Maarseveen The Whole Elephant Revealedmakes clear why the modern human in spite of all the developments in science keeps getting stuck in the search for the truth: because we only see a small part of the truth. “The title of the book refers to a parable from the Sufi tradition: an elephant arrives in a town, were all of its inhabitants are blind. One of them feels the tail, another feels the trunk and again another feels a leg. They all felt something different and created their own reality based on that. We do the same with our understanding of the world and the universe. We only know a small part of the whole and from that perspective we will never understand the interconnectedness. De Vries shows in a way that is certainly worth reading how everything is connected with everything else: all religions, belief systems and scientific disciplines.”
This insight has initiated a process of awakening by Sandelowsky-van Maarseveen. “I now realize that I as a human being and as doctor should not look at the separate parts, but at that which goes beyond all parts. But that's not how we doctors are educated. Medical science is focused on analysis and measurable results. This way we create more and more specialisms, but instead of looking with a magnifying glass we also can look with a wide-angle lens. Like the internet, which at the moment also offers the possibility to look beyond the edges of your own reality. But too often we are caught in our own piece of the large puzzle. When you choose for a holistic approach you deal with patients in a different way. Earlier, when a smoker entered the consulting room by definition I had already judged that patient. Now I understand that there has to be something else that pushes him toward his addiction. My patients are aware of the difference too. They say doctor, you have become so open and peaceful. It is a feeling of relief to not approach the world in a judging and condemning way anymore.”
= Text written by Oswin Schneeweisz, at

You will find your own answers in this valuable book
Spring 2009: "Universal questions are covered in this accessible, clear book. It starts with a Sufi story about a king who travels with his elephant through the country. Blind people who feel the elephant and based on that they all develop a different 'image' of it. All true in their own right. With this metaphor the auteur gives the reader an insight into the working of the universe and also offers a frame of reference in which to place the different aspects of yourself and of the world around you, while keeping your own discernment. How can we restore the balance in ourselves, find more harmony in the world around us? And how can we at this moment in time transform education so that it will be more in line with who in essence the present children are? You will find your own answers in this valuable book."
= in Seizoenen, magazine for Waldorf Schools, spring 2009.

The Whole Elephant as a metaphor for the universe
February 10, 2009: The Whole Elephant is a metaphor for the universe. The author explains that everything we know about the universe are only pieces, without seeing the whole picture. In this book all kind of different knowledge is put together (syntesis) to discover how that elephant looks like. The author realizes, amongst other things because of an old book called The Kybalion, that everything boils down to 7 universal laws. The laws are: The law of Oneness, The law of Correspondence, The law of Vibration, The law of Polarity, The law of Rhythm, The law of Cause and Effect, The law of Dynamic Balance. For each law first the main properties are mentioned. Next these properties are explained. After that the practical application is covered and finally the scientific connection. For me the structure was very clarifying and how further I got reading the book, the more the interconnectedness between the laws became clear. According the Law of Oneness everything is one and so that is also true for the 7 laws.
In the description of the laws I recognized very well things I already knew existed. Suddenly now their place in the whole became clear. Like for example the law of attraction, on which the film The Secret is based. This is a derived law of the law of vibration. The book is a clarification for me and it gives me the possibility to recognize the pieces which make up the puzzle of the Highest Truth and to make a start to get a clearer view of the picture of the whole Elephant.
= Roland  Guijt at

A sound and solid book that certainly deserves studying and attention
Fall 2008: "The book The Whole Elephant Revealed starts with the Sufi story about the blind people who feel an elephant and all come to a different conclusion. A beautiful metaphor like the one about the cave of Plato. Marja de Vries is an artist, studied biology and ecology and felt the need to undertake this huge project. It is a voluminous book with more than 300 pages. I found the first chapters a little tedious and it seems she changes her writingstyle in the other chapters. It becomes interesting beginning at chapter 3. She doesn't use examples of how to apply the laws, which makes the book a handbook, a reference book. She describes seven laws and also makes the connection with the most recent and cutting-edge scientific discoveries, which are in correspondence with these ancient insights. The sixth law is the law of cause and effect. Above this chapter is the quote of Sogyal Rinpoche the Tibetan Buddhist: 'And it is important never to forget that the effect of our actions depends entirely upon the intention or motivation behind them, and not upon their scale.'
A shortened part of this chapter so you can taste the writing style and intent: 'The Law of Cause and Effect is also known by the name 'action and reaction'. Chance doesn't exist, because all effects have a cause. Because according to this law all effects have a cause and in the universe nothing happens outside of this context, nothing happens 'by chance'. There doesn't exist something like pure chance or a coincidental combination of circumstances. Chance is just a word that we use because we don't recognize the Law of Cause and Effect directly or miss the greater overview. When chance doesn't exist, there don't exist accidents in the universe either, and from this point of view victims don't exist either.'
It is a solid and sound book that certainly deserves studying and attention.
= AvG, in PANTA, Transpersonal Magazine, ITANT (International Transpersonal Association Dutch Regions ) nr. 49, fall 2008.

A lot of recognition... while reading I got a paramount positive feeling
April 26, 2008: “Are there natural laws and values (truths) which are for all individuals and cultures the same? And if so, what are they about? Is it possible to describe those universal principles and connect them with each other, so we can better understand ourselves and the world - enabling us to restore the balance in ourselves and in the world? Marja de Vries, biologist and ecologist, took up the challenge and presents her findings in the voluminous book 'The Whole Elephant'. The title refers to an old Sufi story in which blind people each feel a part of an elephant and [try to] describe the animal in its entirety. After studying the 'whole elephant' Marja de Vries concludes that universal laws really do exist. When something operates in line with the universal laws it goes easier, takes less effort, is more in tune with who we really are and is more in harmony with the greater whole. With her book she wants to offer insight into the common 'universal truth', which is at the foundation of all the mystical and religious traditions and the scientific understandings that seem to confirm this truth. She describes seven universal laws: the law of oneness, correspondence, vibration and laws derived from the law of vibration; the law of polarity, rhythm, cause and effect, and the law of dynamic balance. And she covers the phenomenon of the Golden Ratio. It is a 'complete' book with a mix of physics, holism, mysticism, philosophy, culture, psychology and a lot more. Maybe it is because of that, that the book gives a lot of recognition; it is about so many aspects of our own life and about the world around us. I have to confess, that I have not at all finished reading the book yet; I found I need some time to be able to read the book quietly and concentrated - and that time most often is not there. While reading I got a paramount positive feeling. Maybe because I assume that people are basically not so different and that there are more similarities than differences between religions. Only, I don't belief in 'truths'. This book is an attempt to get to the bottom of the mystery of life and our socially (dis) functioning; for this it offers foundations and perspectives in abundance.”
= Marta Resink, in ZOZ, magazine for doers-thinkers, may/june 2008, p. 28-29

This great book blew my mind
January 20, 2008. “A few months ago I got a new book from a friend. It is a Dutch book with the title: "The Whole Elephant Revealed ". This great book written by Marja de Vries took me on a journey along several world religions, views, scientific revelations all working towards a comprehensive and universal set of laws. The book blew my mind because in earlier philosophical discussions I made several sketches that are coming very close to the view of the writer of the book. She just connected some more dots to a view that made complete sense to me.”
= Martin Kuipers, Docent/Teacher in Interaction Design at Noordelijke Hogeschool Leeuwarden, (at )

I hope that many people will read this book (Karin Bosveld, journalist)
Oct. 29, 2007: “Last summer I read this book and I hope many people will read this book too. It shows us how we as human beings can restore balance, getting in harmony with ourselves and with the greater whole. If we live in line with the seven universal laws. The author of The Whole Elephant Revealed , Marja de Vries, focuses on new ways of education that are more in line with who we are and that will give children the opportunity to develop their full potential. In other words: not only to develop their physical and rational capacities, but also their spiritual ones. For we are born into this world as a spiritual being, but when there is no appreciation for this aspect, it disappears to the background. Marja de Vries understood that for such a transformation of public education she needed universal principles without being coloured by a specific culture, belief system or period to be acceptable for everyone. She decided to look for the common perceptions of the different wisdom traditions from all over the world and so came across the hermetic philosophy of ancient Egypt. The seven hermetic principles - the law of oneness, correspondence, vibration, polarity, rhythm, cause and effect, and dynamic balance - can also be found in each of the different wisdom traditions. There are differences in emphasis in describing the same universal laws in Buddhism and Taoism, and again there is a difference in emphasis in the teachings of the Kabbalah or Christianity, but the underlying principles are traceable in all traditions.
To make her book accessible for a public as broad as possible, Marja de Vries completes the esoteric wisdom with understandings from the modern science, like quantum physics, that seem to confirm the universal principles. For readers who are already familiar with spirituality, the book is a profound aha-erlebnis. For just as the title of the book (derived from an old Sufi story about blind people 'seeing' for the first time an elephant) suggests, all the separate pieces of the puzzle, we already came across once here and there, are falling into place, resulting in a complete worldview. This is a very different worldview than the rational, linear, static, mechanistic worldview, that we carry with us since the Age of Reason, in which the balance has tipped toward overvaluing the rational mind. Marja de Vries sketches a picture of a dynamic cosmos in which everything is connected with everything else. She pleads for the restoration of balance between the rational mind and intuition, for when we embody this balance we are capable of much more than we thought possible. Besides she has written all of this in a very accessible and clarifying way. A very inspiring book, that can be used as a frame of reference for all our individual and social transformations which aim at a greater harmony within ourselves and with the greater whole.
= Karin Bosveld, journalist, oct. 29, 2007, review at her blog

That the most complete description of how life works fits in one book!
Oct. 7, 2007 “We can't help but have to recommend a very special book to all of you. It has just been published by Ankh-Hermes and is written by the still unknown Marja de Vries. 'The Whole Elephant Revealed' gives a complete, deep and very clear written explanation of the universal laws of existence. She has done a very good research job through ages, disciplines and wisdom traditions and all of this confirmed with scientific information too. That the most complete description of how life works fits in one book! So read it! A must for everyone who focuses on positive thinking, healing, meditation, rising their vibration or broadening their consciousness and for everyone who is looking for answers to their questions about how life works and how you can let life operate against you and for you.”
= Nirvan & Christine at Hyves

A book to put upfront in your bookcase and consult often (in magazine Onkruid)
sept/oct. 2007:“At the foundation of all religions, spiritual traditions and belief systems exists a common mystical insight about the true nature of reality. And so, also about who you are in essence. This universal truth expresses itself in seven ancient laws, which make up the foundation of all life. That sounds vague or farfetched, but this book is not at all vague or farfetched. It is also not meant to read from cover to cover in one go, but to put upfront in your bookcase. You will consult it often. For example when there is again a story in the newspaper about 'new' scientific understandings.”
= review in magazine Onkruid, nr. 179, sept/oct. 2007, p. 108

A beautiful synthesis, good written, well-founded, good to read (in magazine Symbolon)
2007: “Fascinating correspondences between ancient traditions and modern scientific understanding and a beautiful synthesis between wisdom traditions and science. Good written, well-founded, good to read.”
= review in magazine Symbolon, nr.?, 2007, p. 44

One of the few books, which makes clear the Greater Whole (Ajapajapam Bookstore, Zutphen)
summer 2007:“Insights into the existence and operation of Universal Laws and the Golden Ratio. A very interesting book, but if we may give you an advice (based on our own experience): only read this book from begin to end. When you just leaf through the book, the chance is great, that you will get lost. But make no mistake, this book is written in a very thoroughly and not at all unclear way. In contrary, from many wisdom traditions common insights are brought together, leading to the conclusion that in a miraculous way the Universal Laws and the Golden Ratio correspond with recent and cutting-edge scientific discoveries (or rather the other way round). One of the few books, which makes clear the Greater Whole by using good and thorough details. Yes, this is a very nice book about and for insights.”
= Ajapajapam - Bookstore in Zutphen (review at

A strongly recommended book (teacher on the permanent staff of the College for Psycho-Social Welfare, Utrecht)
Summer 2007: “This book gives a clear overview of the universal laws as they are known in the esoteric traditions enriched with understandings from modern science. The author connects in a clear way this knowledge from ancient traditions with the results of modern scientific research, so a understandable worldview emerges for us, modern human beings. The book is written in such a way that it is accessible for everyone with a reasonable general knowledge. It starts with the story of the blind people and the elephant, in which the blind people try to create a complete image of the elephant by each studying a part of it. A very appropriate parable for everyday use as becomes clear by reading the remainder of the book. The universal laws are explained in understandable language and provided with applications for living. So one can learn to determine his or her course oneself and become aware of capacities which are usually not known. By thoroughly studying this book and applying the concepts and principles mentioned therein, one can make one's life definitely much more valuable, healthier and happier. The scientific approach is refreshing and verifiable. The reader is not put on a wrong track, by dogma's or unclear propositions. So, in short, a strongly recommended book, and because of the plain language a clear guide with an abundance of valuable and useful information. The reader is not distracted by vague descriptions or 'woolly' language but brought directly to the essence of Being.”
= Drs. C.J.Th. Gunsing, teacher on the permanent staff of the College for Psycho-Social Welfare, Utrecht, (review at