Book Reviews

In this page you will find book reviews published in Quest Magazine from 1988 to 2018.

Summer 2018
The Collected Letters of Alan Watts   Edited by Joan Watts and Anne Watts
Dark Star Rising: Magick and Power in the Age of Trump  by Gary Lachman
Science and Philosophy in the Indian Buddhist Classics, Volume 1: The Physical World  Edited by Thupten Jinpa
Annie Besant (1847–1933): Struggles and Quest  by Muriel Pécastaing-Boissière

Spring 2018
From Death to Rebirth: Teachings of the Finnish Sage Pekka Ervast  by Jouni Marjanen, Antti Savinainen, and Jouku Sorvali, eds. Foreword by Richard  Smoley
Aging with Wisdom: Reflections, Stories, and Teachings  by Olivia Ames Hoblitzelle
Holy Rascals: Advice for Spiritual Revolutionaries  by Rami Shapiro

Winter 2018
Real Love: The Art of Mindful Connection Sharon Salzberg
Into the Mystic: The Visionary and Ecstatic Roots of 1960s Rock and Roll Christopher Hill
Your Inner Islands:The Keys to Intuitive Living Will Tuttle, Ph.D

Fall 2017
Out of Darkness: From Chaos to Clarity via Meditation Cecil Messer
The Bhagavad Gita: A Guide to Navigating the Battle of Life; A New Translation and Commentary Ravi Ravindra
A Guided Tour of Hell: A Graphic Memoir Samuel Bercholz

Spring 2017
Taormina’s Historic Past and Continuing Story: A Unique Spiritual Community in Ojai, by Helene Vachet
The Doctrine and Ritual of High Magic, by Éliphas  Lévi, translated by John Michael Greer and Mark Anthony Mikituk
Beyond the Robot: The Life and Work of Colin Wilson, by Gary Lachman


Winter 2017
How Soon Is Now? From Personal Initiation to Global Transformation by Daniel Pinchbeck
Letters to the Sage: Selected Correspondence of Thomas Moore Johnson, Volume One: The Esotericists, PATRICK D. BOWEN and K. PAUL JOHNSON, editors
Tarot Triumphs: Using the Marseilles Tarot Trumps for Divination and Inspiration by CHERRY GILCHRIST

Fall 2016
Faith beyond Belief: Spirituality for Our Times; A Conversation. by David Stenidl-Rast and Ansel Grrun
Awake at the Bedside: Contemplative Teachings on Palliative and End-of-Life Care by Koshin Paley Ellison and Matt Weingast, Editors 
Insights from the Masters: A Compilation by Fions C. Odgren

Summer 2016
Inside Knowledge: How to Activate the Radical New Vision of Reality of Tibetan Lama Tarthang Tulku, Jack Petranker, Editor
Upstate Cauldron: Eccentric Spiritual Movements in Early New York State, by Joscelyn Godwin
Super Mind: How to Boost Performance and Live a Richer and Happier Life through Transcendental Meditation, by Norman E. Rosenthal, M.D.
Under a Sacred Sky: Essays on the Practice and Philosophy of Astrology, by Ray Grasse
How God Became God: What Scholars Are Really Saying about God and the Bible, by Richard Smoley

Spring 2016
The Metaphysics of Ping-Pong, by Guido Mina Di Sospiro
The Study Quran: A New Translation and Commentary, by Edited by Seyyed Hossein Nasr Et Al.
Esoteric Instructions, H.P. Blavatsky, Edited by Michael Gomes
The Presence of the Infinite: The Spiritual Experience of Beauty, Truth, and Goodness, by Steve McIntosh

Winter 2016
A Jewel on a Silver Platter: Remembering Jiddu Krishnamurti by Padmanabhan Krishna
The Process of Self-Transformation by Vicente Hao Chin, Jr.
Art, Science, Religion, Spiritualiy: Seeking Wisdom and Harmony for a Fulfilling Life by David White
Prophet for Our Times: The Life and Teachings of Peter Deunov by David Lorimer

Fall 2015
A Most Unusual Life: Dora Van Gelder Kunz: Clairvoyant, Theosophist, Healer by Kirsten Van Gelder and Frank Chesley
Sweet Synchronicity: Finding Annie Besant, Discovering Krishnamurti by Elizabeth Spring
Empress of Swindle: The Life of Ann Odelia Diss Debarr by John Benedict Buescher
Jerusalem! The Real Life of William Blake by Tobias Churton

Summer 2015
Sharing the Light: Further Writings of Geoffrey Hodson, Volume Three Edited by John and Elizabeth Sell and Roselmo Z. Doval Santos
Masters of Wisdom: The Mahatmas, Their Letters, and the Path by Edward Abdill
Season of the Witch: How the Occult Saved Rock and Roll by Peter Bebergal
Restoring the Soul of the World: Our Living Bond with Nature's Intelligence by David Fideler

Spring 2015
Revolutionaries of the Soul: Reflections on Magicians, Philosophers, and Occultists by Gary Lachman
Taking the Adventure:Faith and Our Kinship with Animalsaking the Adventure:Faith and Our Kinship with Animals by Gracia Fay Ellwood
Beyond Mindfulness: The Direct Approach to Lasting Peace, Happiness, and Love by Stephan Bodian

Winter 2015
The Deal: A Guide to Radical and Complete Forgiveness by Richard Smoley
Healing without Medicine: From Pioneers to Modern Practice; How Millions Have Been Healed by the Power of the Mind Alone by Albert Amao, PH.D.
How Jesus Became God: The Exaltation of a Jewish Preacher from Galilee by Bart D. Ehrman

Fall 2014
Embattled Saints: My Year with the Sufis of Afghanistan by Kenneth P. Lizzio
Sitting Still Like a Frog: Mindfulness Exercises for Kids (and Their Parents) (and Their Parents) by Elone Snel
Doyle after Death by John Shirley
Isis in America:The Classic Eyewitness Account of Mme. Blavatsky’s Journey to America and the Occult Revolution She Ignited
Henry Steel Olcott

Summer 2014
The Forbidden Book:A Novel by Joscelyn Godwin and Guido Mina di Sospiro
God, Science and “The Secret Doctrine”: The Zero Point Metaphysics and Holographic Space of H.P. Blavatsky by
Christopher P. Holmes
Living the Season: Zen Practice for Transformative Times by Ji Hyang Padma
The Essenes, the Scrolls, and the Dead Sea by Joan E. Taylor

Spring 2014
The Esoteric Tarot: Ancient Sources Rediscovered in Hermeticism and Cabala by Ronald Decker
One Simple Idea: How Positive Thinking Reshaped Modern Life by Mitch Horowitz
Adi Parva: Churning of the Ocean by Amruta Patil

Winter 2014
Supernormal: Science, Yoga, and the Evidence for Extraordinary Psychic Abilities by Dean Radin
Finding the On-Ramp to Your Spiritual Path: A Road Map to Joy and Rejuvenation by Jan Phillips 
Dancing with Fire: A Mindful Way to Loving Relationships by John Amodeo
The Faraway Nearby by Rebecca Solnit

Fall 2013
Radiance from Halcyon: A Utopian Experiment in Religion and Science by Paul Eli Ivey
Handbook of the Theosophical Current  Edited by Olav Hammer and Mikael Rothstein
The Origins of the World’s Mythologies by E.J. Michael Witzel 

Summer 2013
The Power of the New Spirituality: How to Live a Life of Compassion and Personal Fulfillment  by William Bloom
The Hidden Geometry of Flowers: Living Rhythms, Form, and Number Keith Crichlow

Spring 2013
Supernatural: Writings on an Unknown History by Richard Smoley
Did Jesus Exist? The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth by Bart D. Ehrman
Transformational Lessons from Oz by Jean Houston

Winter 2013
Madame Blavatsky: The Mother of Modern Spirituality by Gary Lachman
Faith Beyond Belief: Stories of Good People Who Left Their Church Behind by Margaret Placentra Johnston
Return to Redemption Ridge by George Eugene Belcher
Medieval Literacy: A Compendium of Medieval Knowledge with the Guidance of C.S. Lewis by James Grote

Fall 2012
The Modern Book of the Dead: A Revolutionary Perspective on Death, the Soul, and What Really Happens in the Life to Come by Ptolemy Tompkins
Initiating Women in Freemasonry: The Adoption Rite by Jan A.M. Snoek
Ancient Wisdom for a New Age: A Practical Guide for Spiritual Growth by Terry Hunt & Pal Benedict

Summer 2012
The Secret Tradition of the Soul by Patrick Harpur
Swedenborg: An Introduction to His Life and Ideas by Gary Lachman
Revelations: Vision, Prophecy, and Politics in the Book of Revelation by Elaine Pagels

Spring 2012
Just Trust Me: Finding the Truth in a World of Spinust Trust Me: Finding the Truth in a World of Spin by G. Randy Kasten
Art Magic by Emma Hardinge Britten, Edited and annotated by Marc Demarest
Beyond Religion: Ethics for a Whole World by The Fourteenth Dalai Lama 

Winter 2012
Christian Gnosis by C. W. Leadbeater. Edited with a  foreward by Sten Von Krusensterna. intorduction and notes by Richard Smoley.
Knocking on Heaven’s Door: How Physics and Scientific Thinking Illuminate the Universe and the Modern World by Lisa Randall

Fall 2011
Sufism and the Way of Blame: Hidden Sources of a Sacred Psychology by  Yannis Toussulis
Sharing the Light: The Collected Articles of Geoffrey Hodson edited by John and Elizabeth Sell and Roselmo Z. Doval Santos
The Audible Life Stream: Ancient Secret of Dying While Living by Alistair Conwell
Barbarian Rites: The Spiritual World of the Vikings and Germanic Tribes by Hans-Peter Hasenfratz Translated by Michael Moynihan

Summer 2011
Atlantis and the Cycles of Time: Prophecies, Traditions, and Occult Revelations by Joscelyn Godwin
Red Shambhala: Magic, Prophecy, and Geopolitics in the Heart of Asia by Andrei Znamenski

Spring 2011
Toward a True Kinship of Faiths: How the World’s Religions Can Come Together by The Dalai Lama
The Masters Speak: An American Businessman Encounters Ashish and Gurdjieff by Seymour B. Ginsburg
The Secret Doctrine Commentaries: The Unpublished 1889 Instructions [of Helena Petrovna Blavatsky]
Transcribed and annotated by Michael Gomes
Pavel Florensky, A Quiet Genius: The Tragic and Extraordinary Life of Russia’s Unknown da Vinci by Avril Pyman

Winter 2011
“Freemasonry” and Ritual Work: Collected Works of Rudolf Steiner, vol. 265 by Rudol f Steiner, introduction by Christopher Bamford, translated by John Wood.
Jung the Mystic: The Esoteric Dimensions of Carl Jung’s Life and Teachings by Gary Lachman
Thriving in the Crosscurrent: Clarity and Hope in a Time of Cultural Sea Change by Jim Kenney

Fall 2010
Consciousness from Zombies to Angels: The Shadow and the Light of Knowing Who You Are by Christian de Quincey
Echoes of the Orient: The Writings of William Quan Judge compiled by Dara Eklund
The Masters Speak: An American Businessman Encounters Ashish and Gurdjieff by Seymour B. Ginsburg

Summer 2010
The Dice Game of Shiva: How Consciousness Creates the Universe by Richard Smoley
Crystal and Arabesque: Claude Bragdon, Ornament, and Modern Architecture by Jonathan Massey
The Secret Doctrine by H. P. Blavatsky by abridged and annotated by Michael Gomes
On Monsters: An Unnatural History of Our Worst Fears by  Stephen T. Asma

Spring 2010
D. M. Bennett: The Truth Seeker produced by Roderick Bradford
The Lost Teachings of Lama Govinda: Living Wisdom from a Modern Tibetan Master
edited by Richard Power, foreword by Lama Surya Das

Winter 2010
A New Science of the Paranormal: The Promise of Psychical Research by Lawrence LeShan
The 2012 Story: The Myth, Fallacies, and Truth behind the Most Intriguing Date in History by John Major Jenkins

Fall 2009
The Light of the Russian Soul: A Personal Memoir of Early Russian Theosophy by Elena Fedorovna Pisareva
What is Hinduism? Modern Adventures into a Profound Global Faith by the editors of Hinduism Today
The Death of Religion and the Rebirth of the Spirit: A Return to the Intelligence of the Heart by Joseph Chilton Pearce
My Journey in Mystic China: Old Pu's Travel Diary by John Blofeld

Summer 2009
A Republic of Mind and Spirit: A Cultural History of American Metaphysical Religion by Catherine L. Albanese
The Promise of Paradox: A Celebration of Contradictions in the Christian Life by Parker J. Palmer
The Voice, The Word, The Books: The Sacred Scripture of the Jews, Christians, and Muslims by F. E. Peters
On the Wings of Shekhinah: Rediscovering Judaism's Divine Feminine by Rabbi Léah Novick

Spring 2009
The Majesty of Your Loving: A Couple's Journey through Alzheimer's by Olivia Ames Hoblitzelle
Rapture for the Geeks: When AI Outsmarts IQ by  Richard Dooling
The Kingdom of Agarttha: A Journey into the Hollow Earth by the Marquis Alexandre Saint-Yves d'Alveydre

Winter 2009
Into Great Silence DVD. Zeitgeist Films
Politics and the Occult: The Left, the Right, and the Radically Unseen by Gary Lachman
Letters from a Sufi Teacher by Shaikh Sharfuddin Maneri
A Republic of Mind and Spirit: A Cultural History of American Metaphysical Religion by Catherine L. Albanese

November/December 2008
Grammar for the Soul: Using Language for Personal Change by Lawrence A. Weinstein
Buddhist Goddesses of India by Miranda Shaw
Het Web der Schepping: Theosofie en Kunst in Nederland van Lauweriks tot Mondrian [The Web of Creation: Theosophy and Art in the Netherlands from Lauweriks to Mondrian] by Marty Bax
Transforming Fate into Destiny: A New Dialogue with Your Soul by Robert Ohotto

September/October 2008
The World Peace Diet: Eating for Spiritual and Social Harmony by Will Tuttle
Conscious Love: Insights from Mystical Christianity by Richard Smoley

July/August 2008
American Shamans: Journeys with Traditional Healers by Jack Montgomery
Day of Empire: How Hyperpowers Rise to Global Dominance—and Why They Fall by Amy Chua
Saving Angel by Charlotte Fielden

May/June 2008
Modern Physics and Ancient Faith by Stephen M. Barr
Reflections Along the Path by Robert Bonnell
Into the Interior: Discovering Swedenborg by Gary Lachman

March/April 2008
The Taliesin Fellowship: The Untold Story of Frank Lloyd Wright & the Taliesin Fellowship by Roger Friedland and Harold Zellman
Nicholas and Helena Roerich: The Spiritual Journey of Two Great Artists and Peacemakers by Ruth A. Drayer

January/February 2008
Chartres: Sacred Geometry, Sacred Space by Gordon Strachan
Kindness, Clarity and Insight, the 25th Anniversary Edition By the Dalai Lama
Esoteric Christianity by Annie Besant
Life Before Life: A Scientific Investigation of Children's Memories of Previous Lives by Dr. Jim B. Tucker

January/February 2007
Blink: The Power of Thinking without Thinking by Malcolm Gladwell
Invoking Mary Magdalene: Accessing the Wisdom of the Divine Feminine by Siobhan Houston
The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion

May/June 2007
The Heavens Declare: Astrological Ages and the Evolution of Consciousness by Alice O. Howell
Integral Spirituality: A Startling New Role for Religion in the Modern and Post-Modern World by Ken Wilber
Darkness Visible: Awakening Spiritual Light through Darkness Meditation by Ross Heaven and Simon Buxton

July/August 2007
Yoga Tantra, Paths to Magical Feats by His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, Dzong-ka-ba, and Jeffrey Hopkins translated by Jeffrey Hopkins

November/December 2007
The Secret Gateway: Modern Theosophy and the Ancient Wisdom Tradition by Edward Abdill
Nagarjuna's Letter to A Friend translated by the Padamakara Translation Group with commentary by Kyabje Kangyur Rinpoche
Sophia Sutras: Introducing Mother Wisdom by Carol E. Parrish-Harra

January/February 2006
Ken Wilber: Thought as Passion by Frank Visser
What Is Self? A Study of the Spiritual Journey in Terms of Consciousness by Bernadette Roberts
The Yoga of Time Travel: How the Mind Can Defeat Time by Fred Alan Wolf
Dictionary of Gnosis & Western Esotericism edited by Wouter J. Hanegraaff
The Way of Story: The Craft and Soul of Writing by Cathrine Ann Jones

March/April 2006
Signs of the Times: Unlocking the Symbolic Language of World Events by Ray Grasse
The End of Karma: 40 Days to Perfect Peace, Tranquility, and Joy by Dharma Singh Khalsa
A Rebirth of Christianity by Alvin Boyd Kuhn
Symmetry and the Beautiful Universe by Leon M. Lederman and Christopher T. Hill
Meditation: A Complete Audio Guide by Eknath Easwaran

May/June 2006
The Oxford Companion to World Mythology by David Leeming
Incompleteness: The Proof and Paradox of Kurt Gödel by Rebecca Goldstein

July/August 2006
A Place at the Table by William J. Elliott
Strength in the Storm: Creating Calm in Difficult Times by Eknath Easwaran

November/December 2006
D. M. Bennett: The Truth Seeker by Roderick Bradford
War and the Soul by Edward Tick

January/February 2005
The Spirit of Early Christian Thought: Seeking the Face of God by Robert Louis Wilken
Dancing with Chaos by Patricia Monaghan
The Wonderful World of Zen: The Golden Age of Zen: Zen Masters of The Tang Dynasty by John C. H. Wu

March/April 2005
Limitless Mind by Russell Targ
The Song of Songs: A Spiritual Commentary by M. Basil Pennington
Cycles of Faith: The Development of the World's Religions by Robert Ellwood

May/June 2005
Prayers to an Evolutionary God by William Cleary
The Process of Self-Transformation: Mastery of the Self and Awakening Our Higher Potentials by Vincente Hao Chin, Jr
In Search of P. D. Ouspensky: The Genius In The Shadow of Gurdjieff by Gary Lachman
Gurdjieff: An Introduction to His Life and Ideas by John Shirley

July/August 2005
What The Bleep Do We Know!? DVD Fox Home Entertainment
Helena Blavatsky edited by Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke
The Essential Edgar Cayce edited and introduced by Mark Thurston

September/October 2005
Keeping the Link Unbroken: Theosophical Studies Presented to Ted, G, Davy on His Seventy-fifth Birthday edited by Michael Gomes
The Gospel of Thomas: A Guidebook for Spiritual Practice by Ron Miller
Buddhism Is Not What You Think: Finding Freedom Beyond Beliefs by Steve Hagen
The Inner West: An Introduction to the Hidden Wisdom of the West edited and introduced by Jay Kinney
Encyclopedia of Ancient Asian Civilizations by Charles F. W. Higham

November/December 2005
The Gnostic Gospel of St. Thomas: Meditations on the Mystical Teachings by Tau Malachi
Pauli and Jung: The Meeting of Two Great Minds by David Lindorff
The Many Paths of The Independent Sacramental Movement by John A. Plummer

January/February 2004
Pagan Theology: Paganism as a World Religion by Michael York
Samadhi: The Highest State of Wisdom, Vol. I. by Swami Rama
A Concise Encyclopedia of The Philosophy of Religion by Anthony C. Thiselton
Reading the Pentateuch by John J. McDermott

March/April 2004
A Secret History of Consciousness by Gary Lachman
Rumi: Gazing at the Beloved by Will Johnson
Sake & Satori: Asian Journals-Japan by Joseph Campbell
The Dawn of the New Cycle: Point Lama Theosophists and American Culture by W. Michael Ashcraft

May/June 2004
Holidays and Holy Nights: Celebrating Twelve Seasonal Festivals of the Christian Year by Christopher Hill
Selections From The Gospel Of Sri Ramakrishna by Swami Nikhilananda
Hildegard of Bingen's Spiritual Remedies by Dr. Wighard Strehlow
Friends on The Path: Living Spiritual Communities by Thich Nhat Hanh compiled by Jack Lawlor
Yoga Hotel: Stories by Maura Moynihan
I Ching: An Annotated Bibliography by Edward Hacker, Steve Moore and Lorraine Petsco

July/August 2004
A Walk with Four Spiritual Guides: Krishna, Buddha, Jesus, and Ramakrishna by Andrew Harvey
Ehyeh: A Kabbalah for Tomorrow by Arthur Green
Jonathan Edwards's Philosophy of History: The Reenchantment of The World In The Age of Enlightenment by Avihu Zakai

September/October 2004
A Sense of The Cosmos: Scientific Knowledge and Spiritual Truth by Jacob Needleman
Women of Sufism: A Hidden Treasure edited by Camille Adams Helminski
Secret Doctrine Questions and Answers by Geoffrey A. Barborka
The Extravagant Universe by Robert P. Kirshner
The Secret Teachings of All Ages: Reader's Edition by Manly P. Hall

November/December 2004
The Oxford Dictionary of Classical Myth and Religion edited by Simon Price and Emily Kearns
Universal Kabbalah: Dawn of a New Consciousness by Sheldon, Jesse, and Lorraine Stoff
The Wayfarers: The Spiritual Journeys of Nicholas and Helena Roerich by Ruth Drayer
Beyond Belief: The Secret Gospel of Thomas by Elaine Pagels
Wilhelm Reich: Psychoanalyst and Radical Naturalist by Robert S. Corrington
Meditations for the Humanist: Ethics for a Secular Age by A. G. Grayling
Meditation and Its Practices: A Definitive Guide to Techniques and Traditions of Meditation In Yoga and Vedanta by Swami Adiswarananda

January/February 2003
Jung: A Journey of Transformation by Vivianne Crowley
The Esoteric Origins of the American Renaissance by Arthur Versluis
Nature Loves To Hide: Quantum Physics and the Nature of Reality, a Western Perspective by Shimon Malin
Confucianism: A Short Introduction by John H. and Evelyn Nagai Berthrong
The Way of Virtue: An Ancient Remedy to Heal the Modern Soul by James Vollbracht
The Wisdom of Confucius translated by William Jennings
The Wisdom of the Confucians by Compo Zhou Xun with T. H. Barrett
The Pk Man: A True Story of Mind over Matter by Jeffrey Mishlove
Fighting the Waves: The Wandering Peacemaker by Roger Plunk

March/April 2003
Within Time and Beyond Time: A Festschrift for Pearl King by Ed. Riccardo Steiner and Jennifer Johns
The Hidden Gospel: Decoding the Spiritual Message of the Aramaic Jesus by Neil Douglas-Klotz
The Spirituality of Success: Getting Rich with Integrity by Vincent M. Roazzi
Alchemical Psychology: Old Recipes for Living in a New World by Thom F. Cavalii
Heart without Measure: Work with Madame de Salzmann by Ravi Ravindra
Gnosticism: New Light on the Ancient Tradition of Inner Knowing by Stephan A. Hoeller
The Fall Of Sophia: A Gnostic Text on the Redemption of Universal Consciousness translated with commentary by Violet MacDermot
Spirit and Art: Pictures of the Transformation of Consciousness by Van James

May/June 2003
The Mandaeans, the Last Gnostics by Edmonda Lupieri
The Fall of Sophia: A Gnostic Text on the Redemption of Universal Consciousness by Violet MacDermot
The Gospel of Mary Magdalene by Jean-Yves Leloup
In Search Of The Unitive Vision: Letters of Sri Madhava Ashish to an American Businessman 1978-1997 compiled by Seymour B. Ginsburg
The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Buddhist Wisdom by Gill Farrer-Halls
Luminous Emptiness: Understanding the Tibetan Book of the Dead by Francesca Fremantle
The Mind of the Universe: Understanding Science and Religion by Mariano Artigas
Alive in God's World: Human Life on Earth and in Heaven as Described in the Visions of Joa Bolendas by Joa Bolendas
The Rivers of Paradise: Moses, Buddha, Confucius, Jesus, and Muhammad as Religious Founders edited by David Noel Freedman and Michael J.McClymond
The New Buddhism: The Western Transformation of an Ancient Tradition by James William Coleman
Pilgrimage: Twenty Journeys to Inspire the Soul by David Souden
Spiritual Innovators: Seventy-five Extraordinary People Who Changed the World in The Past Century edited by Ira Rifkin

July/August 2003
The Summer Solstice: Celebrating the Journey of the Sun from May Day to Harvest by John Matthews
Bhagavad Gita: Annotated and Explained translated by Shri Purohit Swami
Healing Beyond the Body: Medicine and the Infinite Reach of the Mind by Larry Dossey
The Power of Partnership: Seven Relationships That Will Change Your Life by Riane Eisler
Sacred Trees: Spirituality, Wisdom, and Well-Being by Nathaniel Altman
The Buddha by Karen Armstrong
Buddhism and the Emerging World Civilization edited by Ramakrishna Puligandla and David Lee Miller
The Oneness/Otherness Mystery: The Synthesis of Science and Mysticism by Sutapas Bhattacharya
From The Ashes of Angels: The Forbidden Legacy of a Fallen Race by Andrew Collins
The Last Barrier: A Journey through the World of Sufi Teaching by Reshad Field
Art Treasures of the Mahabharata by Bhaktisiddhanta
Meeting God: Elements of Hindu Devotion by Stephen P. Huyler
Born In Lhasa: The Autobiography of Namgyal Lhamo Taklha by Namgyal Lhamo Taklha

September/October 2003
The Psychology of War by Lawrence LeShan
War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning by Chris Hedges
From Science to God: A Physicist's Journey in the Mystery of Consciousness by Peter Russell
Sophia: Goddess of Wisdom, Bride of God by Cait1in Matthews
To Light a Thousand Lamps by Grace Knoche
Psychosynthesis: A Psychology of the Spirit by John Firman and Ann Gila

November/December 2003
The Hebrew God: Portrait of an Ancient Deity by Bernhard Lang
Radical Optimism: Practical Spirituality in an Uncertain World by Beatrice Bruteau
Lighting the Lamp of Wisdom: A Week Inside a Yoga Ashram by John Ittner
Intellectual Traditions in Islam edited by Farhad Daftary
Spiritual Perspectives on Globalization by Ira Rifkin
Spiritual Perspectives on America's Role As Superpower edited by Skylight Paths

January/February 2002
The Foundations of Tibetan Buddhism: The Gem Ornament of Manifold Oral Instructions Which Benefits Each and Everyone Accordingly by H. E. Kalu Rinpoche
Freud, Jung, and Spiritual Psychology by Rudolf Steiner
Merriam-Webster's Encyclopedia of World Religions edited by Wendy Doniger
When Oracles Speak: Understanding the Signs and Symbols All around Us by Dianne Skafte
Visitations from the Afterlife: True Stories of Love and Healing by Lee Lawson
Budo Secrets: Teachings of the Martial Arts Masters edited by John Stevens
A New Religious America: How a "Christian Country" Has Now Become the World's Most Religiously Diverse Nation by Diana L. Eck
The Odyssey of A New Religion: The Holy Order of MANS from New Age to Orthodoxy by Phillip Charles Lucas
Circling the Sacred Mountain: A Spiritual Adventure through the Himalayas by Robert Thurman and Tad Wise
Riding Windhorses: A Journey into the Heart of Mongolian Shamanism by Sarangerel

March/April 2002
Emerson in His Sermons: A Man-Made Self by Susan L. Roberson
Emersonian Circles: Essays in Honor of Joel Myerson edited by Wesley T. Moll and Robert E. Burkholder
The Spiritual Teachings of Ralph Waldo Emerson by Richard G. Geldard
The Zen of Listening: Mindful Communication in the Age of Distraction by Rebecca Z. Shafir
Ethics for the New Millennium by the Dalai Lama
Spiritual Marketplace: Baby Boomers and the Remaking of American Religion by Wade Clark Roof
Blake, Jung, and The Collective Unconscious: The Conflict between Reason and Imagination by June Singer
The Crystal and The Way of Light: Sutra, Tantra, and Dzogchen by Chogyal Namkhai Norbuv
The Atlantis Blueprint: Unlocking the Ancient Mysteries of a Long-Lost Civilization by Colin Wilson and Rand Flem-Ath
Wandering Joy: Meister Eckhart's Mystical Philosophy translated by Reiner Schurmann

May/June 2002
Nature's Open Secret: Introductions to Goethe's Scientific Writings by Rudolph Steiner
The Nature of Music: Beauty, Sound, And Healing by Maureen McCarthy Draper
Verses from the Center: A Buddhist Vision of the Sublime by Stephen Batchelor
The Veneration of Life: Through the Disease to the Soul by John Diamond
Ancient Egyptian Mysticism and Its Relevance Today by John Van Auken
On the Meaning of the Mahabharatra by V. S. Sukthankar
The Visionary Window: A Quantum Physicist's Guide to Enlightenment by Amit Goswami
The Traveler's Key to Ancient Greece: A Guide to Sacred Places by Richard G. Geldard
Have You Been To Delphi? Tales of The Ancient Oracle For Modern Minds by Roger Lipsey
Remembering Heraclitus by Richard G. Geldard

July/August 2002
The Buddhist and Theosophical Movements, 1873-2001 by C. V. Agarwal
Buddhism with an Attitude: The Tibetan Seven-Point Mind-Training by B. Alan Wallace
Mystics, Masters, Saints, and Sages: Stories of Enlightenment by Robert Ullman and Judyth Reichenberg-Ullman
Touching My Father's Soul: A Sherpa's Journey to the Top of Everest by Jamling Tenzing Norgay with Broughton Coburn
Still the Mind: An Introduction to Meditation by Alan Watts
Unconditional Bliss: Finding Happiness in the Face of Hardship by Howard Raphael Cushnir
Jesus Through Jewish Eyes: Rabbis and Scholars Engage an Ancient Brother in a New Conversation edited by Beatrice Bruteau

September/October 2002
Healing Lazarus: A Buddhist's Journey from Near Death to New Life by Lewis Richmond
The Muslim Jesus: Sayings and Stories in Islamic Literature edited and translated by Tarif Khalidi
The Ways and Power of Love: Types, Factors, and Techniques of Moral Transformation by Pitirim A. Sorokin
Life Lessons: Two Experts on Death and Dying Teach Us about the Mysteries of Life and Living by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross and David Kessler
The Annotated Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum
Heart, Self, & Soul: The Sufi Psychology of Growth, Balance, and Harmony by Robert Frager
The Essential Aurobindo: Writings of Sri Aurobindo by Ed. Robert A. McDermott
In the Beginning: The Story of the King James Bible and How It Changed a Nation, a Language, and a Culture by Alister E. McGrath
Zen Master Class: A Course in Zen Wisdom from Traditional Masters by Stephen Hodge

November/December 2002
The Beejum Book by Alice O. Howell
Ésotérisme, Gnoses & Imaginaire Symbolique: Mélanges offerts a Antoine Faivre edited by Richard Caron, Joscelyn Godwin, Wouter J. Hanegraaff, and Jean-Louis Vieillared-Baron
Coming Back to Life: The After-Effects of the Near-Death Experience revised and updated by P. M. H. Atwater

January/February 2001
The Mystery Schools by Grace F. Knoche
The Golden Dawn Scrapbook: The Rise and Fall of a Magical Order by R. A. Gilbert
Food for Thought by Adam Moledina
The Mythic Journey: The Meaning of Myth as a Guide for Life by Liz Greene and Juliet Sharman-Burke
Hidden Wisdom: A Guide to the Western Inner Traditions by Richard Smoley and Jay Kinne
Western Esotericism and The Science Of Religion: Selected Papers Presented at the 17th Congress of the International Association for the History of Religions, Mexico City 1995 edited by Antoine Faivre and Wouter J. Hanegraaff
The Flowering of Mysticism: Men and Women in the New Mysticism, 1200-1350 by Bernard McGinn
Lightposts for Living: The Art of Choosing a Joyful Life by Thomas Kinkade
Vehicles of Consciousness: The Concept of Hylic Pluralism (Ochêma) by J. J. Poortman
Outposts of the Spirit by William M. Justice
Son of Man by Andrew Harvey Boulder
Rumi: Voice of Longing by Coleman Barks
Poems of Rumi by Robert Bly and Coleman Barks
Love Is Fire and I Am Wood: The Sufi's Mystical Journey Home by Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee
Divine Bliss: Sacred Songs of Devotion from the Heart of India by Shri Anandi Ma
B'ismillah: Highlights from the Fes Festival of World Sacred Music
Shaman, Jhankri, and Nele: Music Healers of Indigenous Cultures by Pat Moffitt Cook

March/April 2001
Cassadaga: The South's Oldest Spiritualist Community edited by John J. Guthrie, Jr. Philip Charles Lucas and Gary Monroe
The Incredible Births of Jesus by Edward Reaugh Smith
Physician: Medicine and the Unsuspected Battle for Human Freedom by Richard Leviton
Other Worlds, Other Beings: A Personal Essay on Habitual Thought by Lathel F. Duffield, with Camilla Lynn Duffield

May/June 2001
Afterwards, You're A Genius: Faith, Medicine, and the Metaphysics of Healing by Chip Brown
The Journal of Spiritual Astrology edited by Alexander Markin
Theosophy as the Masters See It: As Outlined in the Letters from the Masters of the Wisdom by Clara M. Codd
Teller of Tales: The Life of Arthur Conan Doyle by Daniel Stashower
Miracles of Mind: Exploring Nonlocal Consciousness and Spiritual Healing by Russell Targ and Jane Katra
Mind Science: An East-West Dialogue, The Dalai Lama et al edited by Daniel Goleman and Robert A. F. Thurman
Letter to a Man in the Fire: Does God Exist and Does He Care? by Reynolds Price
Relax, It's Only a Ghost: My Adventures with Spirits, Hauntings, and Things That Go Bump in the Night by Echo L. Bodine
The Lives and Liberation of Princess Mandarava: The Indian Consort of Padmasambhava translated by Lama Chonam and Sangye Khandro

July/August 2001
American Dreamer: The Life and Times of Henry A. Wallace by John C. Culver and John Hyde
Future Memory by P. M. H. Atwater
Kalachakra Tantra: Rite of Initiation: For the Stage of Generation. A commentary on the text of Kay-drup-ge-lek-bel-sang-bo by Tenzin Gyatso, the fourteenth Dalai Lama, and the text itself edited and translated by Jeffrey Hopkins
Realizing the Self Within by Sue Prescott
Historical Dictionary of Hinduism by Bruce M. Sullivan
Historical Dictionary of Judaism by Norman Solomon
Historical Dictionary of Taoism by Julian F. Pas, in cooperation with Man Kam Leung
Historical Dictionary of The Baha'i Fa by Hugh C. Adamson and Philip Hainsworth
To Bathe In the Golden River of Love: Lessons of Death by a Registered Nurse by E. V. Elam
The Monk and The Philosopher: A Father and Son Discuss the Meaning of Life by Jean-Francois Revel and Matthieu Ricard

September/October 2001
John Dee's Conversations with Angels: Cabala, Alchemy, and the End of Nature by Deborah E. Harkness
Science and The Sacred by Ravi Ravindra
The Practice of Mahamudra: The Teachings of His Holiness, The Drikung Kyabgon, Chetsang Rinpoche by Ed. Ani K. Trinlay
The Sacred Art of Shakespeare: To Take upon Us the Mystery of Things by Martin Lings
Yoga for Wellness: Healing with the Timeless Teachings of Viniyoga by Gary Kraftsow
Martial Arts Teaching Tales of Power and Paradox: Freeing the Mind, Focusing Chi, and Mastering the Self by Pascal Fauliot
Rogue Messiahs: Tales of Self-Proclaimed Saviors by Colin Wilson
Sources of the Grail: An Anthology, Selected and introduced by John Matthews
All is One Life: Golden Moments of Insight, Inspiration, and Awareness by Bert Gerlitz
Religions of the World by Huston Smith

November/December 2001
The Esoteric World of Madame Blavatsky collected by Daniel H. Caldwell
The Mystic Heart: Discovering a Universal Spirituality in the World's Religions by Wayne Teasdale
An Introduction to Comparative Philosophy: A Travel Guide to Philosophical Space by Waiter Benesch
A Greater Psychology: An Introduction to Sri Aurobindo's Psychological Thought by Aurobindo Ghose
Essentials of Significant Living by Elmore Giles, Jr
The Art of Spiritual Warfare: A Guide to Lasting Inner Peace Based on Sun Tzu's "The Art of War" by Grant Schnarr
History of Energy Transference: Exploring the Foundations of Modern Healing by Willy Schrodter
Altars: Bringing Sacred Shrines into Your Everyday Life by Denise Linn
The Way of the Saints: Prayers, Practices, and Meditations by Tom Cowan
The Awakening of Freddy Tadpole: A Story for Seekers of All Ages by Victor B. Eichler

January/February 2000
Forest of Visions: Ayahuasca, Amazonian Spirituality, and the Santo Daime Tradition by Alex Polari de Alverga
Reading the Bible: An Introduction by Richard G. Walsh
Atlantis: The Andes Solution: The Discovery of South America as The Legendary Continent of Atlantis by J. M. Allen

March/April 2000
Voices of the Rocks: A Scientist Looks at Catastrophes and Ancient Civilizations by Robert M. Schoch with Robert A. McNally
Innocence and Decadence: Flowers in Northern European Art 1880-1914 by Chichester
The Politics of Myth: A Study of C. G. Jung, Mircea Eliade, and Joseph Campbell by Robert Ellwood

May/June 2000
H.P.B.: The Extraordinary Life and Influence of Helena Blavatsky, Founder of the Modern Theosophical Movement by Sylvia Cranston and Carey Williams
The Seekers: The Story of Man's Continuing Quest to Understand His World by Daniel J. Boorstin
Mysticism, Mind, Consciousness by Robert K. C. Forman
Celebrate!: A Look at Calendars and the Ways We Celebrate by Margo Westrheim
The Rosicrucians: The History, Mythology, and Rituals of an Esoteric Order by Christopher Mcintosh

July/August 2000
Adyar: The International Headquarters of the Theosophical Society. Introduction by Radha Burnier
Adyar: Historical Notes and Features up to 1934 by Mary K. Neff, Henry S. Olcott, Annie Besant, Ernest Wood, J. Krishnamurti, George S. Arundale
Mary Moody Emerson and the Origins of Transcendentalism by Phyllis Cole
God in Concord: Ralph Waldo Emerson's Awakening to the Infinite by Richard Geldard
Asian Religions in America: A Documentary History by Ed. Thomas A. Tweed and Stephen Prothero
The Secret Doctrine of the Kabbalah: Recovering the Key to Hebraic Sacred Science by Leonora Leet
The Clouds Should Know Me by Now: Buddhist Poet Monks of China edited by Red Pine and Mike O'Connor
Realizing Emptiness: The Madhyamaka Cultivation of Insight by Gen Lamrimpa
Subtle Wisdom: Understanding Suffering, Cultivating Compassion through Ch'an Buddhism by Master Sheng-yen
The Last Laugh: A New Philosophy of Near-Death Experiences, Apparitions, and the Paranormal by Raymond A. Moody Jr.
The Eastern Christian Churches: A Brief Survey by Ronald Roberson
Vedanta and Shelley by S. R. Swaminathan
The Mission of Art by Alex Grey
Inner Revolution: Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Real Happiness by Robert Thurman
The Knight in Rusty Armor by Robert Fisher
Teachings of Yoga edited by Georg Feuerstein
Waking Up in Time: Finding Inner Peace in Times of Accelerating Change by Peter Russell
Mahabharata: The Greatest Spiritual Epic of All Time by Krishna Dharma (Kenneth Anderson)
The Gift: A Magical Story about Caring for the Earth by Isia Osuchowska
Her Father's Garden by James Vollbracht
Prince Siddhartha: The Story of Buddha by Jonathan Landaw and Janet Brooke
Two Views of Mind: Abhidharma and Brain Science by Christopher deCharms
Encyclopedia of Transcendentalism edited by Wesley T Mott
Biographical Dictionary of Transcendentalism edited by Wesley T Mott
American Transcendentalism and Asian Religions by Arthur Versluis
Transcendental Hermeneutics: Institutional Authority and the Higher Criticism of the Bible by Richard A. Grusin
Jung's Circle of Women: The Valkyries by Maggy Anthony York Beach

September/October 2000
The Shambhala Encyclopedia of Yoga by Georg Feuerstein
How Large is God? Voices of Scientists and Theologians by John Marks Templeton
The Elusive Messiah: A Philosophical Overview of the Quest for the Historical Jesus by Raymond Martin
The Concept of Universal Religion in Modern Hindu Thought by Arvind Sharma
One Taste: The Journals of Ken Wilber
The Whispering Pond: A Personal Guide to the Emerging Vision of Science by Ervin Laszlo
Monastic Journey to India by M. Basil Pennington
Confucius Lives Next Door: What Living in the East Teaches Us about Living in the West by T. R. Reid

November/December 2000
The Temples of Karnak by R. A. Schwaller de Lubicz
Ai-Kemi: Hermetic, Occult, Political, and Private Aspects of R. A. Schwaller de Lubicz by Andre VandenBroeck
At The Corner of East and Now: A Modern Life in Ancient Christian Orthodoxy by Frederica Mathewes-Green
Parent as Mystic, Mystic as Parent by David Spangler

January/February 1999
Why Christianity Must Change or Die: A Bishop Speaks to Believers in Exile by John Shelby Spong
Yoga and the Teaching of Krishna: Essays on the Indian Spiritual Traditions by Ravi Ravindra
Christ the Yogi: A Hindu Reflection on the Gospel of John by Ravi Ravindra
Unfinished Animal: The Aquarian Frontier and the Evolution of Consciousness by Theodore Roszak

March/April 1999
The Best Guide to Meditation by Victor N. Davich
Twenty-Five Doors to Meditation: A Handbook for Entering Samadhi by William Bodri and Lee Shu•Mei
The Alphabet Versus the Goddess: The Conflict between Word and Image by Leonard Shlain
Emerson Among the Eccentrics: A Group Portrait by Carlos Baker
Emerson: The Mind on Fire by Robert D. Richardson, Jr
Walt Whitman's America: A Cultural Biography by David S. Reynolds

May/June 1999
Victorian Fairy Painting by Ed. Jane Martineau
The Yoga Tradition: Its History, Literature, Philosophy and Practice by Georg Feuerstein
Other Creations: Rediscovering the Spirituality of Animals by Christopher Manes
Becoming Osiris: The Ancient Egyptian Death Experience by Ruth Schumann-Antelme and Stephane Rossini

July/August 1999
O Lanoo! The Secret Doctrine Unveiled by Harvey Tordoff
The Common Vision: Parenting and Educating for Wholeness by David Marshak
Holistic Science and Human Values, transactions 3 by Theosophy Science Centre

September/October 1999
Apparitions of The Self: The Secret Autobiographies of a Tibetan Visionary: A Translation and Study of Jigme Lingpa's Dancing Moon in the Water and Dakki’s Grand Secret-Talk by Janet Gyatso
Labrang: A Tibetan Buddhist Monastery at the Crossroads of Four Civilizations by Paul Kocol Nietupski
Healing From The Heart: A Leading Heart Surgeon Explores the Power of Complementary Medicine by Mehmet Oz, with Ron Arias and Lisa Oz
The Couch and the Tree: Dialogues in Psychoanalysis and Buddhism edited by Anthony Molino
The Books in My Life by Colin Wilson

November/December 1999
For the Time Being by Annie Dillard
Essential Sufism edited by James Fadiman and Robert Frager
Tantra: The Path of Ecstasy, an Introduction to Hindu Tantrism by Georg Feuerstein

January 1998
Cumulative Index to Lucifer, Volumes I-XX compiled by Ted G. Davy

Spring 1998
African Exodus: The Origins of Modern Humanity by Christopher Stringer and Robin McKie
Eco Homo: How the Human Being Emerged from the Cataclysmic History of the Earth by Noel T. Boaz
The Symbolic Species: The Co-Evolution of Language and the Brain by Terrence W. Deacon
Thinking about the Earth: A History of Ideas in Geology by David R. Oldroyd

Summer 1998
Spiritualism in Antebellum America by Bret E. Carroll
Tarot and the Tree of Life: Finding Everyday Wisdom in the Minor Arcana by Isabel Radow Kliegman
Choice Centered Tarot by Gail Fairfield
Graceful Exits: How Great Beings Die edited by Sushila Blackman

June 1998
The Psychic Revolution of The 20th Century and our Psychic Senses by Claire G. Walker
The Secret Doctrine: Index by John P. Van Mater
The Secret Doctrine: Electronic Book Edition edited by Vincente Hao Chin, Jr.

July 1998
H. P. Blavatsky and The Spr: An Examination of the Hodgson Report of 1885 by Vernon Harrison

October 1998
Sod: The Son of the Man by S. F Dunlap

Autumn 1998
The Oxford Dictionary of World Religions edited by John Bowker
The Analects of Confucius: A Literal Translation with an Introduction and Notes by Chichung Huang
Lucid Waking: Mindfulness and the Spiritual Potential of Humanity by Georg Feuerstein
Angels in A Harsh World by Don Bradley

Winter 1998
Love & Survival: The Scientific Basis for the Healing Power of Intimacy by Dean Ornish
The Mozart Effect: Tapping the Power of Music to Heal the Body, Strengthen the Mind, and Unlock the Creative Spirit by Don Campbell
Poetic Medicine: The Healing Art of Poem-Making by John Fox
Facing Death and Finding Hope: A Guide to the Emotional and Spiritual Care of the Dying by Christine Longaker
Perfect Endings: A Conscious Approach to Dying and Death by Robert Sachs
After Death: How People around the World Map the Journey after Life by Sukie Miller
The Book of Enlightened Masters: Western Teachers in Eastern Traditions by Andrew Rawlinson
The Nine Stages of Spiritual Apprenticeship: Understanding the Student-Teacher Relationship by Greg Bogart
On Common Ground: World Religions in America by Diana L. Eck

January 1997
The Theosophical Enlightenment by Joscelyn Godwin
Realization, Enlightenment and the Life of Rapture by A. E. I. Falconar

January 1997 and June 1997
The New Age Movement: The Celebration of the Self and the Sacralization of Modernity by Paul Heelas

February 1997
K. Paul Johnson's House of Cards? A Critical Examination of Johnson's Thesis on the Theosophical Masters Morya and Koot Hoomi by Daniel H. Caldwell
Technical Terms in Stanza II by David Reigle

March 1997
Spiritual Literacy: Reading the Sacred in Everyday Life by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat
Mary's Vineyard: Meditations, Readings, and Revelations by Andrew Harvey and Eryk Hanut
Handbook for the Soul edited by Richard Carlson and Benjamin Shield
Handbook for the Heart edited by Richard Carlson and Benjamin Shield

April 1997
A Doctor's Guide to Therapeutic Touch by Susan Wager

June 1997
Coming into Being: Artifacts and Texts in the Evolution of Consciousness by William Irwin Thompson
The Hiram Key: Pharaohs, Freemasons and the Discovery of the Secret Scrolls of Jesus by Christopher Knight and Robert Lomas
The Philosophy of Classical Yoga by Georg Feuerstein
Henry A. Wallace: His Search for a New World Order by Graham White and John Maze

July 1997
How to Use Your Nous by A. E. I. Falconar
A Treatise on The Pâramîs, from the Commentary to the Cariyâpitaka by Acariya Dhammapala, translated by Bhikkhu Bodi
Medical Intuition: How to Combine Inner Resources With Modern Medicine by Ruth Berger
Les Histoires de Gopal by Louis Moliné, translated by Edith Deri

August 1997
The Origins of Freemasonry: Scotland's Century, 1590-1710 by David Stevenson

Autumn 1997
Anger, Madness, And the Daimonic: The Psychological Genesis of Violence, Evil, and Creativity by Stephan A. Diamond
Obscenity, Anarchy, Reality by Crispin Sartwell

Winter 1997
God Is A Verb: Kabbalah and the Practice of Mystical Buddhism by Rabbi David Cooper
The Metaphysics of Star Trek by Richard Hanley

Spring 1996
Living Buddha Zen by Lex Hixon
New Metaphysical Foundations of Modern Science edited by Willis Harman with Jane Clark
Chaos, Gaia, Eros: A Chaos Pioneer Uncovers the Great Streams of History by Ralph Abraham
The Balance of Nature's Polarities In New-Paradigm Theory by Dirk Dunbar
Structures of Consciousness by Georg Feuerstein

Summer 1996
The Tale of the Incomparable Prince Mdoc Mkhar Tshe Ring Dbang Rgyal translated by Beth Newman
A Brief History of Everything by Ken Wilber
A Beginner's Guide to Constructing the Universe: The Mathematical Archetypes of Nature, Art, and Science by Michael S. Schneider
God Talks with Arjuna: The Bhagavad Gita. Royal Science of God-Realization by Parahmahansa Yogananda
The Ultimate Maze Book by David Anson Russo

Autumn 1996
A Mythic Life by Jean Houston
Peripheral Visions by Mary Catherine Bateson
The Way of the Explorer: Art Apollo Astronaut's Journey through the Material and Mystical Worlds by Edgar Mitchell, with Dwight Williams
A Parliament Of Souls: In Search of Global Spirituality edited by Michael Tobias, Jane Morrison and Bettina Gray

Winter 1996
The Shambhala Guide to Yoga by Georg Feuerstein
Science, Paradox, and The Moebius Principle: The Evolution of a 'Transcultural' Approach to Wholeness by Steven M. Rosen

Spring 1995
The Masters Revealed: Madame Blavatsky and the Myth of the Great White Lodge by K. Paul Johnson
Mysticism: Its History and Challenge by Bruno Borchert
Spiritual Politics by Corinne McLaughlin and Gordon Davidson
The Imagination of Pentecost Rudolf Steiner and Contemporary Spirituality by Richard Leviton
Wise Women of The Dreamtime: Aboriginal Tales of the Ancestral Powers collected by K. Langloh Parker, edited by Johanna Lambert

Summer 1995
Sex, Ecology, Spirituality: The Spirit of Evolution by Ken Wilber
The River by Ma Jaya Sali Bhagavali
Homage to Pythagoras: Rediscovering Sacred Science edited by Christopher Bamford

Autumn 1995
Krishnamurti-Love and Freedom: Approaching a Mystery by Peter Michel
Hymns to an Unknown God: Awakening the Spirit in Everyday Life by Sam Keen
The World's Wisdom: Sacred Texts of the World's Religions by Philip Nova
Navajo and Tibetan Sacred Wisdom: The Circle of the Spirit by Peter Gold

Winter 1995
The Self-Aware Universe: How Consciousness Creates the Material World by Amit Goswami
Love and the Soul: Creating a Future for Earth by Robert Sardella
The Power of Place: How Our Surroundings Shape Our Thoughts, Emotions, and Actions by Winifred Gallagher
Prometheus the Awakener: An Essay on the Archetypal Meaning of the Planet Uranus by Richard Tarnas
Suggestions for Thought by Florence Nightingale edited by Michael D. Calabria and Janet A. Macrae
Tirumandiram: A Classic of Yoga and Tantra by Siddhar Tirumular with notes by B. Natarajan

Spring 1994
Cosmic Consciousness Revisited: The Modern Origins and Development of a Western Spiritual Psychology by Robert M. May
The Making of a Mystic: Seasons in the Life of Teresa of Avila by Francis L. Gross, Jr., with Toni Perior Gross
The Spiritual Athlete compiled and edited by Ray Berry

Summer 1994
The Transcendental Universe: Six Lectures on Occult Science, Theosophy, and the Catholic Faith by C. G. Harrison, edited by Christopher Bamford
The Healing Path: A Soul Approach to Illness by Marc Ian Barasch
Evolution's End: Claiming the Potential of Our Intelligence by Joseph Chilton Pearce

Autumn 1994
Three Books of Occult Philosophy By Henry Comelius Agrippa of Nettesheim edited and annotated by Donald Tyson
Understanding the Present: Science and the Soul of Modern Man by Bryan Appleyard

Winter 1994
Postmodern Ethics by Zygmunt Bauman
The Morality of Pluralism by John Kekes
Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda
Music and the Mind by Anthony Storr
The Parabola Book of Healing, introduction by Lawrence E. Sullivan
Rituals of Healing: Using Imagery for Health and Wellness by Jeanne Achterberg, Barbara Dossey and Leslie Kolkmeir
Healing Words: The Power of Prayer and The Practice of Medicine by Larry Dossey

Spring 1993
H.P.B.: The Extraordinary Life and Influence of Madame Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, the Founder of the Modem Theosophical Movement by Sylvia Cranston
Care of the Soul: A Guide for Cultivating Depth and Sacredness in Everyday Life by Thomas Moore
Facing the World With Soul: A Re-imagination of Modern Life by Robert Sardello
Burma: The Next Killing Fields? by Alan Clements

Summer 1993
The Case for Astrology by John Anthony West
Carmina Gadelica: Hymns& Incantations Collected in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland in the Last Century by Alexander Carmichael
Arktos: The Polar Myth in Science, Symbolism, and Nazi Survival by Joscelyn Godwin
A Rosicrucian Notebook: The Secret Sciences Used by Members of the Order by Willy Schrodter
Meister Eckhart: The Mystic as Theologian by Robert K. C. Forman
Magical And Mystical Sites: Europe and the British Isles by Elizabeth Pepper and John Wilcock

Autumn 1993
The Fruitful Darkness: Reconnecting with the Body of the Earth by Joan Halifax
The Eight Gates of Zen: Spiritual Training in an American Zen Monastery by John Daido Loori
Islands of the Dawn: The Story of Alternative Spirituality in New Zealand by Robert S. Ellwood

Winter 1993
Great Song: The Life and Teachings of Joe Miller by edited with an introduction by Richard Power
The Strange Life of P. D. Ouspensky by Colin Wilson
Wholeness or Transcendence: Ancient Lessons for the Emerging Global Civilization by Georg Feuerstein

Spring 1992
Holy Madness: The Shock Tactics & Radical Teachings of Crazy-Wise Adepts, Holy Fools, & Rascal Gurus by Georg Feuerstein
Biosphere Politics: A New Consciousness for a New Century by Jeremy Rifkin
On a Spaceship with Beelzebub: By a Grandson of Gurdjieff by David Kherdian

Summer 1992
Sacred Paths: Essays on Wisdom, Love and Mystical Realization by Georg Feuerstein
Food for Solitude: Menus and Meditations to Heal Body, Mind and Soul by Francine Schill
The Passion of the Western Mind: Understanding the Ideas that have Shaped Our World View by Richard Tarnas

Autumn 1992
Being-In-Dreaming: An Initiation into the Sorcerer's World by Florinda Donner
Lila: An Inquiry into Morals by Robert M. Pirsig
How Like an Angel Came I Down: Conversations with Children on the Gospels by Bronson Alcott edited by Alice O. Howell
The Spiritual Life of Children by Robert Coles
The First Buddhist Women: Translations and Commentary on the Therigatha by Susan Murcott

Winter 1992
Unconditional Life: Mastering the Forces that Shape Personal Reality by Deepak Chopra
Profiles in Wisdom: Native Elders Speak About the Earth by Steven McFadden
A Fire in the Mind: The Life of Joseph Campbell by Stephen and Robin Larsen
Matter and Mind: Imaginative Participation in Science by Stephen Edelglass, Georg Maier, Hans Gebert and John Davy

Spring 1991
Imaginary Landscape: Making Worlds of Myth and Science by William Irwin Thompson
Circular Evidence by Pat Delgado and Colin Andrews
The Eye of the Heart: Portraits of Passionate Spirituality by Harry W. Paige

Summer 1991
The Language of the Goddess by Marija Gimbutas
The Once and Future Goddess: A Symbol for Our Time by Elinor W. Gadon
The Heart of the Goddess by Hallie Iglehart Austen
For the Love of God: New Writings by Spiritual and Psychological Leaders edited by Benjamin Shield and Richard Carlson
In The Footsteps of Gandhi: Conversations with Spiritual Social Activists by Catherine Ingram
The Fireside Treasury of Light: An Anthology of the Best in New Age Literature edited by Mary Olsen Kelly
A New Creation: America’s Contemporary Spiritual Voices edited by Roger S. Gottlieb
At the Leading Edge: New Visions of Science, Spirituality and Society by Michael Toms
Iron John: A Book About Men by Robert Bly
King, Warrior, Magician, Lover: Rediscovering the Archetypes of the Mature Masculine by Robert Moore and Douglas Gillette
Freedom in Exile: The Autobiography of the Dalai Lama by the Dalai Lama
Ocean of Wisdom: Guidelines for Living by the Dalai Lama
To the Lion Throne: The Story of the Fourteenth Dalai Lama by Whitney Stewart
White Lotus: An Introduction to Tibetan Culture edited by Carole Eichert
Cutting Through Appearances: Practice and Theory of Tibetan Buddhism by Geshe Lhundup Sopa and Jeffrey Hopkins
Taming the Monkey Mind by Thubden Chodron
Reaching for the Moon by Kenneth W. Morgan
Healing, Health, and Transformation by Elaine R. Ferguson
Prayers of the Cosmos: Meditations on the Aramaic Words of Jesus by Neil Douglas-Klotz

Autumn 1991
The Yoga of the Christ by Ravi Ravindra
Science and Spirit edited by Ravi Ravindra
Full Catastrophe Living by Jon Kabat-Zinn
Reimagination of the World: A Critique of the New Age, Science, and Popular Culture by David Spangler and William Irwin Thompson

Winter 1991
Grace and Grit: Spirituality and Healing in the Life and Death of Treya Killam Wilber by Ken Wilber
The Earth Mother: Legends, Ritual Arts, and Goddesses of India by Pupul Jayakar
Serpent in the Sky: The High Wisdom of Ancient Egypt by John Anthony West
The Traveler's Key to Ancient Egypt by John Anthony West

Spring 1990
The Trial of Socrates by I. F. Stone

Summer 1990
The Goddess Within: A Guide to the Eternal Myths that Shape Women's Lives by Jennifer Barker Woolger and Roger J. Woolger
Immortal Sisters: Secrets of Taoist Women translated and edited by Thomas Cleary
New Religions and the Theological Imagination in America by Mary Farrell Bednarowski

Autumn 1990
Philosophy Gone Wild by Holmes Rolston
The Way Of The Lover: The Awakening & Embodiment of the Full Human by Robert Augustus Masters
The Jefferson Bible by Thomas Jefferson

Winter 1990
Spiritual Ecology: A Guide to Reconnection with Nature by Jim Nollman
Mother Earth Spirituality: Native American Paths to Healing Ourselves and Our World by Ed McGaa, Eagle Man
Dharma Gaia: A Harvest of Essays in Buddhism and Ecology edited by Allan Hunt Badiner
Sacred Places: How the Living Earth Seeks Our Friendship by James A. Swan
Waiting for the Martian Express: Cosmic Visitors, Earth Warriors, Luminous Dreams by Richard Grossinger
Words to Live By: Inspirations for Every Day by Eknath Easwaran

Spring 1989
Adam, Eve, and the Serpent by Elaine Pagels
Other Peoples' Myths: The Cave of Echoes by Wendy Doniger O'Flaherty
Many Mansions: A Christian's Encounter with Other Faiths by Harvey Cox
Unitive Thinking by Tom McArthur

Summer 1989
New World, New Mind: Moving Toward Conscious Evolution by Robert Ornstein and Paul Ehrlich

Autum 1989
The Nag Hammadi Library in English edited by James M. Robinson
The Chakras and the Human Energy Fields by Shafica Karagulla and Dora van Gelder Kunz

Winter 1989
The Upside Down Circle: Zen Laughter by Zen Master Don Gilbert
Jung: A biography by Gerhard Wehr

Winter 1988
Old Age by Helen M. Luke
The Aquarian Conspiracy: Personal and Social Transformation in Our Time by Marilyn Ferguson and Jeremy P. Tarcher
The New Age: Notes of a Fringe Watcher by Martin Gardner
Otherworld Journeys: Accounts of Near-Death Experience in Medieval and Modern Times by Carol Zaleski
Channeling: Investigations on Receiving Information from Paranormal Sources by Jon Klimo and Jeremy P. Tarcher

Autumn 1988
Living the Therapeutic Touch: Healing as a Lifestyle by Dolores Krieger
Therapeutic Touch: A Practical Guide by Janet Macrae
Diet for a New America by John Robbins
The Search for the Beloved: Journeys in Sacred Psychology by Jean Houston
Godseed: The Journey of Christ by Jean Houston

 



Book Reviews 2004




Pagan Theology: Paganism as a World Religion. By Michael York. New York: New York University Press, 2003. Hardback, x + 239 pages.

"Paganism views humankind, nature, and whatever the supernatural mayor may not be as essentially divine." So writes Michael York in this groundbreaking book, one much needed to shed light on today's evolving spirituality, York, Director and Principal Lecturer of the Sophia Centre for the Study of Cultural Astronomy and Astrology, as well as Director of the Bath Archive for Contemporary Religious Affairs, Bath Spa University College, UK, not only is an accomplished scholar but an active researcher.

At the outset, he reminds us of the correct definition of the word "pagan" which comes from the Latin word for "peasant." Christianity began in cities and country folk clung to the old-time religion, (I can vouch for this personally because 40 years ago I was studying Russian and needed to look up the word for "peasant" in my atheistic Soviet dictionary. To my amazement, one of the definitions was Kristian!) So paganism in the broadest sense is any religion that views the natural world as sacred. Further, York traces the word "cult" to its association with culture, agriculture, and cultivate. Thus he is not just writing about Wicca, Witchcraft, and magick but about the distinction between the Abrahamic religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, which are monotheistic revelations given by God through a historic individual and those religions that celebrate the holiness of the seasons, the multiple personifications of archetypal processes punctuated by the movements of the solar system, the natural elements, and the divine interplay of masculine and feminine (creative and receptive) of gods and goddesses as aspects of a hidden source of Spirit. Buddhism seems a borderline case. Though Gautama Buddha was an historical figure, he never claimed to be a messenger of God, but offered the world a wise and compassionate way out of suffering.

Michael York centers his study on his rich personal and joyous experiences in India, Nepal, China, and Japan while living and participating, as well as documenting, the fervent earthy celebrations of the ordinary population in contrast to the transcendent views and teachings of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Taoism. His accounts were riveting and brought a new perspective to many memories for me. I realized afresh that since many of us also believe in a "spirituous earth," that being a Nee-pagan is not necessarily a heretical posture but one leading us, with the help of theoretical physics, to a new appreciation of the spiritual glory and wonder of the cosmos (a Greek word meaning "beauty"). The book itself concerns paganism as religion, behavior, and theology. As one reads, one discovers the really valid aspects of the pagan approach despite the fact that the term itself is so encrusted for many by semantic prejudice and negative associations. By York's definition any dedicated environmentalist would classify as having pagan tendencies. Perhaps what many people celebrate unconsciously, more and more of us are approaching more consciously. There is a hilarious section on what the unconscious secular symptoms of paganism can produce.

Perhaps, York could have given some credit to the author of some of the Psalms, who praises the earth and its creatures, or mentioned some of the truly poetic passages in the Koran of the same nature, or even mentioned St. Francis and especially Celtic Christianity which never ever has excluded nature. Granted that these attribute creation to one God, but even in polytheistic religiosities there seems to be an underlying inference of an invisible Unity, the diversity of which is acknowledged as manifesting in aspects and relationships to be personified and worshiped. Hopefully there will be a sequel to this truly important work that will further address paganism in the West with more about the Celtic tradition which is corning to the fore.

As Jesus says in the Gospel According to Thomas, "Heaven is spread upon the earth, but men do not see it." Therein lies the wisdom of many pagans.

Michael York has laid the intellectual groundwork for a new approach to theology, one which hopefully might reconcile the appalling feuding ones of our time. We need to celebrate the earth, because though Spirit may give us Life, it is Mother Nature that gives life form, and perhaps that is a symbolic message of Incarnation.

-ALICE O. HOWELL

January/February 2004


Samadhi: The Highest State of Wisdom, Vol. I. By Swami Rama. Twin Lakes, WI: Lotus Press, 2002. Paperback, 242 pages.

Just how hard is it to attain samadhi or "enlightenment?" In Samadhi: The Highest State of Wisdom, volume one in a series of three, Swami Rama has encouraging news: You can learn to live peacefully in this world, attaining your goal of life in this lifetime, in a few years' time, in a few months' time, in a few days' time, even in a second's time if you understand the philosophy of vairagya, or nonattachment (192).

So what is standing in the way? Swami Rama's answer is vrittis, or "negative mental modifications." In current American parlance, these "negative mental modifications" could be called "pessimistic tape loops" that constantly dog our consciousness. Some examples of such tape loops are "I'll never make it," and "Who cares?"

Sharing the credit with vrittis as an impediment to enlightenment is moha, or attachment. Attachment exists when we think of ourselves in terms of what we own or want to own, rather than who we are or want to be. One can become attached to physical possessions but also to other people and to the persona that we project to the world.

Samadhi is a collection of 18 lectures given by Swami Rama in 1977 at the headquarters of the Himalayan Institute of Yogic Science and Philosophy in Glenview, Illinois. The book is designed for the "advanced beginner," i.e., for one who aspires to enlightenment but is unfamiliar with some of the Sanskrit terms and techniques in Hindu, Buddhist, and Jain thought.

The reader may be pleased to learn that this is a secularly oriented book. Unlike some other yogis, Swami Rama stresses that it is not necessary to quit one's job, desert one's family, and go live in the jungle in order to reach the higher stages of consciousness. In fact, he hints that becoming an indigent beggar can become just as habitual as working a steady job.

One pearl of wisdom I found particularly useful is the author's Zen-like question, "In which language will you think when you have nothing to think?" (25) I am not sure of the answer, but contemplating this question has gotten me through a lot of long red lights without becoming impatient. Also worthy of contemplation is this passage:

So many thoughts come, and you call it the thinking process. There is a space between two thoughts. But if there is no space between two thoughts, then what will happen to time? Time will not exist. If there is only one thought, what will be the condition of space? There will be no space at all (14).

Swami Rama emphasizes that total mental and physical equilibrium—also called serenity--is the sine qua non of enlightenment.

Only at the very end of the book does Swami Rama allude to the magnificent fate that awaits those who make samadhi their life's goal: "Blessed are those who want to attain samadhi ... Such persons live like kings of the world ... All others live like fools" (226).

-JACK MACKAY

January/February 2004


A Concise Encyclopedia of the Philosophy of Religion. By Anthony C. Thiselton. Oxford: Oneworld Publications, 2002. Softcover, viii + 344 pages.

Have you ever wondered who the main academic philosophers of religion are and what they say? This book is a good sampling. Different thinker's views about God and the human mind are laid out in short, clear, and authoritative encyclopedia-type articles. If you want to know just what Thomas Aquinas's famous five proofs of the existence of God were, or how modern existentialism interfaces with faith, this is the book to read. It is also a good source to look up basic terms like Belief, Metaphysics, Realism, Logic, and of course God, among others, to see what thinkers are thinking about them now.

This book is from the world of western university philosophy departments. It presents the intellectual stream central to that world, from the Greeks to the latest schools of analytic philosophy, together with name-theologians like Barth and Tillich. Eastern philosophies are presented fairly but less fully, while alternative strands of western thought, including Theosophy, are passed over. Contemporary British philosophies of religion are especially prominent, which is understandable since the author is canon theologian at two English cathedrals.

Personally, I found the discussion of Alvin Platinga, an American philosopher of religion who has taught at Calvin College and Notre Dame University, particularly intriguing. He has argued, in books like God and Other Minds, that while we cannot prove that anyone other than oneself is conscious-that person in the room with you, or with whom you live, could be a robot just programmed to act like a conscious being-it seems warranted to extrapolate from one's own consciousness to postulate consciousness in another similar being. In the same way, though we cannot prove there is a divine mind behind the universe, there are enough clues, from the mystery and orderliness of it all to our own consciousness, to warrant reasonable belief. This is similar to examples and arguments I have used in respect to theosophical ideas that matter and consciousness interact throughout the universe, from quantum phenomena through human beings to planets and galaxies and the Root of it all.

One could not expect everything in one handy, moderately-priced book, and there are other resources to fill in the lacunae. But like any good bit of philosophy it can get thought started, as it did mine. As a reference work in philosophy, or just as a good read if you enjoy exposure to stimulating philosophical ideas and the thinkers behind them, A Concise Encyclopedia of the Philosophy of Religion is highly recommended.

-ROBERT ELLWOOD

January/February 2004


Reading The Pentateuch. By John J. McDermott. Mahwah, N. J.; Paulist Press, 2002. Paperback, 250 pages.

Recently, I have been reading the works of the French philosopher and mystic Simone Weil. By some she is considered to be a Catholic, but she was never properly baptized into its church. Today, scholars consider her and her work closer to the Middle Age Christian Gnostics, known as the Cathars, in part because of her rejection of much of the Old Testament. (Catharism rejected all of the Old Testament.) However, she accepted the first five books commonly known as the Pentateuch. I thought that if I could find an up to date, easy to read, scholarly book on the Pentateuch without a large number of footnotes, perhaps I might figure out why Simone Weil accepted these five books and the Cathars did not. McDermott's book satisfied all of my requirements, and may even have personally answered some of my posed questions.

Professor McDermott teaches the Old Testament at Loras College. He received his biblical licentiate at the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome. I felt comfortable as I read the book, knowing he had years of experience in the classroom. The organization of the material in the book reflects the seasoning of classroom teaching.

The first two chapters begin with how the Pentateuch was written and its overall history. The remaining chapters are the details of the first five books in the Old Testament. One thing that makes each chapter easy to follow is the consistency of McDermott's presentation, He always begins with an overview of what material he will discuss, and the generalities of that material. Thus, I always knew where the following Bible chapters and verses were headed. Because there are a number of inconsistencies in the biblical material, this turns out to be important and very helpful.

For the true Bible scholar, McDermott provides all the references to other books of the Old Testament when needed, but this is done skillfully so the story line is not scattered. Fortunately, he spends very little time trying to explain how certain miracles occurred, but instead suggests that myths would provide better explanations in some cases.

Be prepared for some shocking revelations. In Numbers 5:11-30, he discusses The Test for an Unfaithful Wife. The test implies an induced miscarriage, or as we would say today: an abortion. In today's social climate, this can be a very difficult topic, but McDermott handles it very well. Another topic that is difficult to understand is the Biblical acceptance of the existence of slavery (Exodus, 21:1-11). Once again, McDermott. treats this in a very professional manner. I even found reading about the religious laws in Leviticus to be of interest.

For Theosophists who have labored mightily to get through Geoffrey Hodson's three volumes of The Hidden Wisdom in the Holy Bible, Dr. McDermott's book is here to ease the way. Keep in mind that Hodson, after three volumes, only gets up to Exodus, Chapter 17. Reading about Simone Weil’s life will give you an outlook from a Christian Gnostic view while McDermott's book will give you the depth to better understand her writings.

-RALPH HANNON

January/February 2004


A Secret History of Consciousness. By Gary Lachman. Great Barrington, MA: Lindisfarne Books. Paperback, xxxv + 314 pages.

Gary Lachman, whom many readers of The Quest will recognize as a contributor to this magazine, is at once a highly successful popular musician, a much published writer, and a serious student of psychology and philosophy. It is in the last capacity that he has produced this ambitious and wide-ranging work. A Secret History of Consciousness is both a history of consciousness and a history of ideas about the history of consciousness.

The history of consciousness takes us back to the Paleolithic emergence of a distinctive human mode of awareness. The history of the history of consciousness presented here offers an admirable mix of philosophers usually considered mainstream, including Kant, Hegel, James, and Bergson, together with others, such as Steiner, Gurdjieff, Ouspensky, and Blavatsky, often put into a special "esoteric'' category. Lachman's way of enabling representative's of the two sets to dialogue with each other is one of the great strengths of this work; we do not understand consciousness so well that we can afford to neglect any significant perspective on it.

Theosophists will be particularly happy to see that this study is highly appreciative of Helena Blavatsky's importance in that conversation, presenting her work as the first major post-Darwinian response to nineteenth-century scientific materialism. Her picture, often mythopoeic, of convergent physical and spiritual or "consciousness" evolution, showed how the sterile impasse of religious and scientific dogmatism could be transcended through reference to an ancient wisdom in which mind and matter coexist and evolve together.

It is jean Gebser (1905-1973), however, who is the culminating figure in this book and clearly the scholar with whom Lachman feels the deepest affinity. In Gebser's view of the history of consciousness, archaic magical and mythical ways of thinking "mutated" into a "mental-rational" structure and finally are reaching an "integral" stage. We are now transiting into integralism, in which all previous modes of consciousness will be brought together more perfectly than before. Amid the tension of change, however, there is always the danger of “atavistic" relapse into modes of consciousness whose time is past, which is what Gebser saw happen around him as perverted forms of magic and myth returned in Europe in the form of fascism and other antirational ideologies. In passing, it may be noted that Gebser was highly regarded by Theosophical intellectuals such as Fritz Kunz well before he became the widely recognized thinker he now is.

A Secret History of Consciousness is highly recommended to all serious readers of philosophy and intellectual history.

-ROBERT ELLWOOD

March/April 2004


Rumi: Gazing at the Beloved. By Will Johnson. Rochester, VT: Inner Traditions, 2003. Hardcover, 216 pages.


Inspired by the spiritual practice of the Sufi poet and mystic Jallaludin Rumi and his teacher Shams-i-Tabriz, this little book considers the art of seeing.

All spiritual traditions teach that to encounter God we must "come face to face with the energies of the divine" and surrender to whatever emerges in us as a result of the at meeting. Creating eye contact is essential, and Johnson suggests that this practice of looking deeply can be done by holding one's attention and gaze on the eyes of an icon or image of a god or goddess, a spiritual teacher, or beloved friend.

Like Coleman Barks who says that the depths of the heart can only be experienced “in the mysterious osmosis of presence with presence,” Johnson observes that real love is the ground of communication between two people. To hold and soften one's gaze into their partner's eyes until each begins to feel that they are an embodiment of the divine is natural. This experience enables us to feel truly seen for who we truly are.

As children we did this, and the prolonged eye contact generated energies that triggered a burst of laughter and two smiling faces. According to Johnson, in our fear-based culture only new lovers and parents of newborns are allowed to gaze deeply. For others, such behavior is considered taboo.

Many contemporary teachers are beginning to incorporate the practice of gazing in their work with their students Johnson cites specific instructions and descriptions of the practice found in the poetry and discourses of Rumi who was inspired after being transformed by the spiritual mysteries he encountered with Shams and the innate consciousness of the divine they shared.

This book presents insights gleaned from personal practice and professional instruction, bringing previously esoteric understanding to a wider audience. The poetic beauty of Johnson's prose embraces and dances with the abundant selection of Rumi's work.

"The practice of gazing at the beloved is like a float trip that takes you down the river of your soul and ends at the ocean of union." Accordingly, Johnson guides readers through the trips four stages. He provides a reassuring and unintrusive "map" to prepare us for the "territory" of our own experiences of transformation.

Of course, spiritual practice is not an end but a means to living with presence and connection in the world. The gazing practice can enable us to take the feeling of union with us into our daily lives so we can experience what the Koran asserts, "Wherever you turn, there is the face of God." As we see with new eyes, we can merge with everything in nature and have a felt understanding of being one with the universe.

In light of Andre Malraux's observation that the twenty-first century would be mystical or not at all, Johnson's perspective on the mystery of mysticism has an encouraging timely relevance.

-DAVID BISHOP

March/April 2004


Sake & Satori: Asian Journals-Japan. By Joseph Campbell. Novato, CA: New World Library, 2002. Hardback, xvi + 350 pages.

During the mid-fifties, the great American mythologist Joseph Campbell took an extended trip to Asia-his first--while on leave from Sarah Lawrence College. An assiduous journal keeper, Campbell kept detailed notes of his experiences and impressions. Sake and Satori, the second of two volumes and recently released by the Joseph Campbell Foundation, is primarily concerned with his time in Japan. (The first, Baksheesh & Brahman: Asian Journals-India, chronicles his sojourn on the subcontinent.) This book conveys about as well as a book can a sense of being there, and it can be read, on one level, as a guide on how to travel well.

Campbell is an enthusiastic and highly energetic travel companion: observant, insightful, and sometimes a bit petulant. He doesn't just sightsee, he absorbs the culture he experiences. Spending five months in Japan, mainly in Tokyo and Kyoto, Campbell immerses himself in the study of Japanese, conversations with people from all walks of life, and as much of the culture as possible. He visits shrines, temples, colleges, and museums; attends a multitude of theater productions and folk and religious ceremonies; and also finds time for a few randy adventures in some Tokyo strip clubs and geisha houses. Ever the able synthesizer, he makes good use of these experiences, and it's his ideas, seen in various stages of development, that provide the meat of this work. His ruminations focus mainly on Japanese religion and mythology but include healthy doses of philosophy, sociology, geopolitics, East/West cross-cultural comparisons, and the boorish ways of some Americans abroad.

There are surprising, paradoxical revelations as well. At one point, Campbell observes, despite his obvious love for Japan and the rich spiritual traditions of the East, that "Asia has not contributed and cannot contribute a single helpful technological or political thought to the contemporary world." And, his relentless diatribes against the poverty, squalor, anti-Western sentiment, and what he considered to be spiritual arrogance that he found in India border on the obsessive.

Indeed, in a moment of self-awareness, Campbell remarks "as a contemporary Occidental faced with Occidental and contemporary psychological problems, I am to admit and even celebrate (in Spengler's manner) the relativity of my historical view to my own neurosis (Rorschach formula)."

His neuroses notwithstanding, any Joseph Campbell book is an intellectual feast. This book, though rough around. the edges as any journal would be, does not disappoint.

-PAUL WINE

March/April 2004


The Dawn of the New Cycle: Point Lama Theosophists and American Culture. By W. Michael Ashcraft. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 2002. Hardback, xviii + 258 pages.

For approximately the first three decades of the twentieth century, a community of Theosophists flourished on a promontory of land in southern California, overlooking the Pacific Ocean and adjacent to the city of San Diego, known as Point Loma. Lomaland, its legal name and officially the international headquarters of the Universal Brotherhood and Theosophical Society, was established and directed under the charismatic leadership of Katherine Tingley from 1897 until her death in 1929. In this tightly packed narrative, Michael Ashcraft tells the story of the Point Lama community within the context of three confluent streams of cultural and religious influence: Western esotericism, late American Victorian culture, and the culture of communitarian experiments within late nineteenth-century American society. By and large, Ashcraft succeeds in his aim, bringing to life a unique community that included an educational program for children that, as Ashcraft points out, "combined the child-rearing philosophies current in the United States during the nineteenth century with Theosophical assumptions about children."

Ashcraft begins, appropriately enough, with a brief history of the Theosophical Society, outlining in general terms some of the key concepts of the theosophical worldview as expounded by H. P. Blavatsky. As to the organization of the Society itself Ashcraft seems content to pass over the fact that H. S. Olcott was its president, mentioning only that the Society received considerable leadership from him and later identifying Olcott simply as one of the original members. As Ashcraft's concern is the story of the Point Loma community, he focuses on the work of W. Q. Judge, who, as the book states, led the American lodges to declare their independence (from Adyar, the world headquarters in India established by Olcott and Blavatsky) in 1895 forming the Theosophical Society in America. It was as successor to Judge that Tingley wore the mantle of leadership, changing the name of the organization to Universal Brotherhood and Theosophical Society. And it was Tingley who, building on the theosophical concept of cycles and “Judge's... transmission of ... progressive millennial expectation enunciated in Blavatsky's writings, saw in the founding of the Point Loma community the realization of cyclical expectations." Thus, as Ashcraft points out, "the seedbed, conceptually and organizationally, for what later became an extensive educational enterprise at Point Loma was the School for the Revival of the Lost Mysteries of Antiquity."

The question of why California should be chosen is an interesting one, and Ashcraft in discussing the selection of Point Lama as the site for Tingley's community asks, "Was the success of the [Theosophical] movement a result of esoteric forces at work on the West Coast, or was the success of the movement itself the reason for Tingley's interest in that area?" He adds, “Whatever the esoteric importance of California, from a more mundane perspective, its demographic and historical setting favored Theosophical expansion. Not surprisingly, Spiritualists and other peripheral religious groups of the nineteenth century thrived in California. So, too, did the Theosophists." Having thus chosen the site, Tingley next faced the question, as Ashcraft puts it, Who should come? The peopling of Point Loma makes a most interesting story, both in terms of the lives of many of the original residents-teachers, workers, leaders in Tingley's enterprise-and in terms of population numbers. Ashcraft records that in 1900 there were 95 people at Lomaland, 37 of the initial inhabitants being children. "The first decade ... was a time of optimism, hope, and construction of both buildings and organization, with the population in 1910 numbering 357.” The community peaked during the 1910s. After World War I, the community gradually declined, until in 1929, at the time of Tingley’s death, there were only 171 adults and 78 pupils, while two years later the population was 131 adults. As Ashcraft notes in his concluding chapter, opinions vary among former residents concerning Point Loma's decline. The Depression of 1929, financial problems, the change of direction instituted by Tingley's successor, Dr. G. de Purucker-all are cited as possible causes.

As Ashcraft proceeds with the story of Lomaland, he places each aspect of the community's activities within the context of the social and cultural milieu of the late nineteenth century, noting both the similarities and the contrasts between theosophical assumptions and the prevailing attitudes and philosophies current in late Victorian America. First, he examines in some detail the idealist consensus among child-rearing theorists that existed when Tingley was establishing her Raja Yoga school for children at Point Loma. Noting the aspects of the educational philosophies becoming dominant during the 1890s and into the early years of the new century, Ashcraft points to those that influenced Tingley's approach, while at the same time acknowledging that "the Point Loma Theosophists were unique ... [they had] a cyclical view of the coming age and were preparing their children to enter the next cycle," so that consequently a Theosophical philosophy of child rearing complemented an age-graded network of schools. While the Raja Yoga curriculum did not include Theosophical doctrine as such, Ashcraft emphasizes that Point Loma educators "modeled the moral life for their pupils and in so doing pointed to the deeper truths of Theosophy."

Following the pattern he uses for examining the educational work at Point Lorna, Ashcraft next looks at the role of women and assumptions about gender, again contrasting and comparing ideas espoused at Lomaland with Victorian concepts that endured well into the twentieth century. "Assumptions about gender were crucial in understanding late Victorian culture. They were also important in understanding Theosophical definitions of gender. The Theosophists who moved to Point Loma incorporated Theosophical doctrine with prevailing notions of women's roles." In considering national patriotism, he again contrasts prevailing views about America's role in the international community with those held by Point Loma Theosophists, which also often reflected both national and international distinctions among the residents. Stating that Point Loma Theosophists practiced "higher patriotism," a phrase that is synonymous with the brotherhood of humanity, Ashcraft cites Blavatsky's exposition of Root-Races as the basis for Tingley's emphasis on patriotic symbols from American history at the same time as she advocated the universalism implied by the ideal of brotherhood. Tingley's leadership of the Universal Brotherhood and Theosophical Society encompassed the period of two wars: the Spanish-American War, which Point Loma residents fully supported, interpreting it, as did many middleclass Americans, as a moral struggle, and the First World War, which the Lomalanders joined other Americans in condemning, calling for peaceful solutions to international problems.

Having examined the social, cultural, and moral values of early twentieth century America both as similar to and contrasting with those derived from theosophical ideals and concepts, Ashcraft concludes that Point Loma Theosophists "lived comfortably with the new and the old, the innovative [theosophical views] and the conventional [the environment of the period], which could be seen in any number of activities and accomplishments throughout the history of the Point Loma community." He adds further, "Point Lorna suggests that people of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries could conceive of a world where such binary opposites were not really opposites, but complementaries." In summary, Ashcraft proposes that Point Loma Theosophists teach us that "people who march to the beat of a different drummer still hear some of the same cadences as the rest of us.” As to Point Loma's legacy, the author is quite correct in stating that as part of the larger stream of esoteric thought and practice called Theosophy, it contributed to the blossoming of the New Age that emerged in the 1950s and 1960s.

Meticulously researched, drawing on extensive archival materials, including interviews with many who lived at Point Loma during some part of the community's existence or with relatives of those who were resident at various periods of Lomaland's heyday, as well as the usual books and other sources (including some unpublished documents) necessary for understanding both American social and cultural history and the theosophical context of the community, Ashcraft has produced an absorbing commentary. One could wish that his care in research had prevented his making such an egregious error as alleging that Dr. Annie Besant's Theosophical organization spawned a semi-Masonic movement called Co-Masonry, The International Co-Freemasonic Order, Le Droit Humain was founded in Paris in 1893 by individuals involved in social reform, none of whom were Theosophists. Although Besant joined the Order in 1902 and came to hold high offices in it-both in England and in India-the Order was and still is totally dissociated from the Adyar-based Theosophical Society.

The book betrays its origins as a doctoral dissertation, suffering from an almost overreferencing of paragraph after paragraph to notes that all too frequently consist of only a repetitious and lengthy listing of works-a-books, interviews, magazine articles, archival sources-on which the author has based his statements. Would it not have sufficed to reference only quotations, while leaving all other references to a comprehensive bibliography? On the whole, however, there is little to fault in Ashcraft's survey of what he terms a remarkable experiment in esoteric community life, the Point Loma Theosophists. It is indeed a fascinating story, and Ashcraft has done a worthy service in providing the cultural underpinnings for the experiment that was meant to herald the dawn of the new cycle.

-JOY MILLS

March/April 2004


Holidays and Holy Nights: Celebrating Twelve Seasonal Festivals of the Christian Year. By Christopher Hill. Wheaton, IL: Quest Books, 2003.Paperback, 201 pages.

While there are many books available on the Christian year, few display the imaginative power and spiritual beauty of Christopher Hill's Holidays and Holy Nights, not to mention its lovely design, and care, fully chosen art. The book is a worthy successor to classics in the field, such as Gertrud Mueller Nelson's To Dance With God: Family Ritual and Community Celebration.

Hill has made a discerning selection of one festival per month, ranging from the familiar (Christmas) to the obscure yet fascinating (St. Brigid's Day). He begins with the assumption that, as dwellers within the cycles of the earth, we already know the meanings of the festivals at a deep, intuitive level. He then points toward the experiences that reveal these dynamics in our lives, drawing on both the seasonal traditions of pre-Christian European paganism and specifically Christian customs.

Hill's range of source material is considerable. His poetic prose carries us gracefully from Hippolytus to Bob Dylan, from John Henry Newman to the Beatles, all the while lifting the veil to display the astonishing radiance hidden within holiday traditions. At times his insights are startlingly original and penetrating, such as his treatment of the night visitors, human or otherwise, associated with many of the festivals-of whom trick-or-treaters and Christmas carolers are dim survivors. I, for one, will be watching my doorstep more closely on upcoming festival nights!

Hill writes:

There is much in life that makes us feel small, that takes our stature and dignity from us. The World (in the theological sense, the socially and economically constricted world) is an extremely powerful device for narrowing and distracting our awareness of life. The World wields powerful, subtle, time-tested ploys for fragmenting our attention toward a million objects, through desire, fear, anxiety, social pressure, the whole vast sophisticated bag of tricks that the media and the economy layout in front of us.

In the face of such a grim reality, one can hardly imagine a better cure than this lovely book. Like a patient teacher, Hill takes us by the hand and gently shows us how much we already know, if only we will remember. He gives us a wealth of practices and suggestions that show us how we can return to harmony with the inner rhythms of the year and the spiritual processes hidden therein.

Holidays and Holy Nights will prove an invaluable resource for parents, clergy, and teachers. It will appeal equally to mainstream Christians and to persons interested in the festivals from an esoteric point of view. As the wheel of the year turns, I will return frequently to the treasures of this truly magical book.

-JOHN PLUMMER

May/June 2004


Selections from the Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna. By Swami Nikhilananda. Woodstock, VT: SkyLight Paths Publishing, 2002. Paperback, 201 pages.

Sri Ramakrishna (1836-1886) was surely one of India's most famous-and eccentric-spiritual teachers of the nineteenth century. Particularly through his pupil Vivekananda, who helped to introduce Vedantic philosophy to America, Ramakrishna became and remains widely recognized as a great spiritual guru. He is one of the "patron saints" of the Vedanta Society.

One of the best-known works about him is Mahendra Gupta's The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna, published first in Bengali in five volumes (1897-1932) under the pseudonym "M." Swami Nikhilananda first translated The Gospel into English in 1942.

With this work, he offers, excerpts from that much longer original, along with copious notes on each facing page, for those who are put off by the immensity of The Gospel or its sometimes unfamiliar terminology.

This brief work contains a series of fascinating conversations that Sri Ramakrishna had with his disciples, although it is unclear when these dialogues took place or whether they are arranged in chronological order. Ramakrishna's unusual behavior is hinted in the introduction but not in the texts themselves, in which he appears spiritually wise and full of good humor. For those already knowledgeable about Ramakrishna's teachings there will be few surprises. For the uninitiated, however, this volume provides a clear and readable introduction to his way of spirituality.

-JAY G. WILLIAMS

May/June 2004


Hildegard of Bingen's Spiritual Remedies. By Dr. Wighard Strehlow. Rochester, VT: Healing Arts Press, 2002. Paperback, xiii + 257 pages.

Civilization is currently experiencing an epidemic growth in the number of auto aggressive diseases. These are a result of our culture. We are literally killing ourselves. These illnesses were seen and cures provided 850 years ago by abbess, prophet, healer and writer, Hildegard of Bingen. In her five books on healing, she foresaw the time when the earth would need to be healed due to damage and pollution. She also saw humanity as being out of balance and gave specific steps individuals could take to restore the unity of body, mind and soul.

Dr. Wighard Strehlow has spent the last twenty years studying the works of Hildegard. He applies her remedies through his healing practice at the Hildegard Center in southern Germany. In his book he takes the writings and illuminations from five of Hildegard's books and arranges them according to the four dimensions in which she saw holistic health occurring.

These are: “Physical healing with natural remedies and nutrition,”; "Healing with thirty-five spiritual healing forces of the soul"; "Healing with the power of the four cosmic elements"; "Restoration through ‘oneness’ with God."

Hildegard knew that physical symptoms were the result of negative emotions and attitudes. Therefore the book includes some of the 35 healing forces or virtues of the soul with their opposite negative forces or vices. Each vice affects various organs and corresponds to specific spinal vertebrae. Healing steps are provided to correct each specific vice and thereby strengthen the virtues and heal the body. These therapies include crystal therapy, herbal remedies, meditations, and Bible passages for contemplation.

This book is particularly fascinating when one considers that so many answers were provided long ago. It is an inspiring source for self analysis. It is hard not to find vices with which the reader's soul is struggling. The analysis of each vice is illuminating as are the suggested remedies. This book provides a wonderful reference and guide for anyone trying to maintain or restore balance in life for themselves or others.

-SUSAN AURIN HABER

May/June 2004


Friends on the Path: Living Spiritual Communities. By Thich Nhat Hanh. Compiled by Jack Lawlor. Berkeley, CA: Parallax Press, 2002. Paperback, x + 306 pages.

We can set foot on the spiritual path, but can we abide others who are on the same path? We can profess love for all sentient beings, but how much do we really love those with whom we must live and work at dose quarters day after day? On the other hand, is there not something incomplete in a solitary spiritual life, in which nothing is shared and never is known the encouragement of a helping hand or a friendly smile from a wise companion on the way?

These problems and paradoxes have beset pilgrims in all spiritual traditions. We want and need spiritual communities, yet life in them is not always easy. They require sacrifice, both of substance and self-will, and we may be forced to contend with difficult conditions and difficult people. But without them, we have nothing but ourselves-and that may be even more difficult. Indeed, in Buddhism spiritual community is considered so essential that the Sangha, the fellowship of monks and their followers, is one of the three refuges taken by all who profess Buddhism, along with the Buddha and the Dharma, or teachings.

Friends on the Path is a new book about life in the sangha. It is a collection of wise and gentle instructions by the beloved contemporary Buddhist teacher Thich Nhat Hanh, and others associated with him, on sangha forming and living. Some contributors, both Westerners and Vietnamese, reside and work at Plum Village, Thich Nhat Hanh's center in France. Others are at smaller centers throughout the world, including many in the United States and Canada. Some are monastic, others lay groups meeting regularly for meditation. The book also discusses the practicing family as a sangha.

All the writers in this collection have come to realize, as Thich Nhat Hanh emphasizes, that community is practice-not a setting for practice or a product of practice, but practice itself, along with meditation and mindfulness. Living with others directly teaches samadhi (concentration), prajna (insight), and sila (morality). Without others, these teachers admonish us, one will not get far.

Furthermore, being together on the path can bring the happiness it's all about. A great richness of Friends on the Path are the earthy, firsthand accounts of many sanghas across the globe, all with their good times and bad times, their problems and their pleasures, but all in the end vibrant with the sheer joy of life with companions who share one's own deepest values and yearnings. When Buddhists say, "May all beings be happy," they mean, "May we all be part of the great Sangha of life."

This book is highly recommended to all on the Buddha's path and to all who want to learn more about community. Many Theosophical groups and communities as well could glean much of value for their own life together from this volume.

-ROBERT ELLWOOD

May/June 2004


Yoga Hotel: Stories. By Maura Moynihan, New York, NY: Regan Books, 2003, Paperback, 304 pages.

Although The Quest generally reviews only scholarly non-fiction books, every so often a remarkable work of fiction comes along, that not only conveys various spiritual messages by the characters in the stories, but does so with meaning and feeling that goes far beyond the fiction genre. These books can convey a message that has more depth than any academic study could ever hope for. Maura Moynihan's Yoga Hotel is such a book. It is a "must read" for Theosophists who desire a more balanced view of the "mystical" East and the "materialistic" West.

When Moynihan was fifteen, she moved to New Delhi, India, where her father, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, rook up his U.S. ambassador duties. After numerous years in India and Nepal, she has become a spokeswoman for developing an improved East-West cultural relationship. Her many experiences are reflected in this book.

Hotel Yoga is composed of six stories; most are short except one which is a novella. As she explains in a blurb for the book, "I wanted to write about the India I know ... a place where worlds and people collide, with unpredictable and complex results." As we shall see, when the Indian household tradition meets the lure of Western novelty, it can lead to some interesting stories. Sometimes it is spiritually healthy to be reminded of what happens when the ancient religions are found amid urban chaos.

No matter which story you read, we find an underlying theme: Visitors from the West are most of the time “high maintenance” travelers. More often than not, they can be self-centered, and we, as readers, see this long before the people in the stories can. It's not surprising to sometimes find a Westerner's spiritual ways shallow. While, on the other hand, their Indian host often takes advantage of the Western's traits and exploits them as best they can.

In one of the stories an Indian manservant helps his British boss escape a prearranged wedding. The real intrigue of the story is the motives and scheming of the people involved; all done with a touch of the mysterious Indian culture. A good contrast of East and West is found in another story involving an American embassy worker who becomes disillusioned when her married lover uses her to get a visa. Yet another story brings to light the ultimate test, when a group of wealthy Westerners at a Himalayan retreat are asked to buy dowries for a poor Indian family.

My favorite story was about a dying guru called Masterji, whose disciples, followers, and hangers-on start vying to be his replacement. Among them was a young woman named Sam, who was my choice for his replacement, Her strengths and weaknesses, reminded me of the French philosopher and mystic Simone Weil, who was always looking out for the disenfranchised. Imagine my surprise when I found out that Sam was based not on Simone Weil but on the author at that particular time of her life!

There is a Yoga Hotel CD that can be ordered as an accompaniment to the book, on which the multi-talented Moynihan, who is also a musician, sings songs in English, Hindustani, and Tibetan exploring the East-West theme. All of this information can be found on her web site: www.maurarnovnihan.com .

-RALPH HANNON

May/June 2004


I Ching: An Annotated Bibliography. By Edward Hacker, Steve Moore, and Lorraine Petsco. New York: Routledge, 2002, Hardcover, 336 pages.

The I Ching (The Classic of Change) is an ancient Confucian classic that has shaped Chinese thinking for millennia. One of the oldest books in the world, it dates back to pre-historical times. Although frequently used for divination, the I Ching is also a book of metaphysics and early mathematical theory. Based upon a binomial system of broken and unbroken (yin and yang) lines, it foreshadowed the whole cybernetic world in which we now live. The great philosopher and mathematician G. W. Leibniz perceived the significance of the I Ching in the seventeenth century. Unfortunately, no apparent reference to his work is included in this compilation.

In recent years, particularly since the 1960s, the I Ching has become very popular in the West as a tool for self-reflection and divination. As I Ching:  An Annotated Bibliography attests, such interest has led to innumerable books and articles about this ancient classic. The authors group these materials, which range from voluminous books to one-page broadsides, into three basic categories: (1) books and unpublished dissertations, (2) journal and magazine articles and reviews, and (3) I Ching devices and equipment. The latter category includes audio and video tapes, computer programs, I Ching cards and kits, and so on.

All items are annotated. There will, of course, be disagreement about whether each annotation does justice to the item at hand. Some of the comments are extensive, others very brief; most of them were helpful and to the point. Although there may be omissions (for example, any mention of Leibniz, surprisingly) the listings seem quite exhaustive. For anyone wishing to do research on the I Ching, this volume will be highly useful.

Nevertheless, some limitations should be noted. First, although the title does not reveal it, this bibliography refers only to works written in English. The user should be aware that there is a vast array of works in Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and several Western languages that should be consulted if one is to do full justice to the subject.

Second, the title should also have indicated the time span covered. Like any other bibliography, this one is already out of date. Only a few moments of internet research uncovered a significant number of books about the I Ching published since 2001 that are not included. This, of course, is not the fault of the compilers, for every bibliography will be dated even before it is published. Nevertheless, a clearer indication of the bibliography's cut-off point would have been helpful.

Given these limitations, however, this is a very useful tool for anyone with an interest in this ancient classic. The compilers should be congratulated for their monumental achievement.

-JAY G. WILLIAMS

May/June 2004


A Walk with Four Spiritual Guides: Krishna, Buddha, Jesus, and Ramakrishna. By Andrew Harvey. Woodstock, VT: Sky Light Paths, 2003, Hardcover, 240 pages.

If you are not familiar with the work of Andrew Harvey, this book offers a wonderful way to meet him. He begins by recounting his 1992 conversation with the mystic monk Bede Griffiths. "You know of course, Andrew, that we are now in the hour of God ... Very few people are prepared to look without illusion at our time and see it for what it is-a crucifixion on a worldwide scale of everything humanity has expected or trusted or believed in every level and in every arena. To look like this requires a kind of final faith and courage, which few have as yet. You and others like you will have to live and write in such a way as to help people to such a faith and trust."

"Do you think humanity can get through?"

"Of course, ... but it will cost everything, just as Jesus had to go through death into the new world of the Resurrection, so millions of us will have to go through a death to the past and to all old ways of being and doing if we are going to be brought by the grace of God into the truth of a real new age. The next twenty years will unfold a series of terrible disasters, wars, and ordeals of every kind that will reveal if the human race is ready to die into new life or not."

Always, Harvey's words, spoken or written, echo the conviction of Griffiths's words, while filled with his own broad and deep wisdom and passionate urgency. Here his reflections illuminate selected texts about Krishna, Buddha, Jesus, and Ramakrishna, assuring that "we will learn priceless and practical lessons, inspiring us to become warriors of love and knowledge and servants of that one transformed future that could enable us to survive."

A helpful page-facing commentary accompanies each text's English translation. In addition, insightful essays from others invoke a zone of consciousness to help us connect more deeply with each guide and selection.

For example, "one moment in the company of an enlightened master is more valuable than a hundred years of sincere worship .. , even a written account ... can impart to us the fragrance of their divine companionship." And, "always read a (mystical writing) as if it had just been written ... referring to what is going on in the world right now. If you do, you will find that its power to initiate and inspire is constantly astounding ... each different cycle of world civilization will find in it new truth, expressed with permanently fresh urgency."

Harvey begins his discussion of probably the most revolutionary mystic of the past 150 years with this assertion: "If I had to choose one book to take with me to a desert island to contemplate for the rest of my life, or pick one book to give a seeker today to help guide him or her into the joys and mysteries of the mystical life, it would be The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna."

For Harvey, nevertheless, "the world's supreme mystical revolutionary" is the teacher known as Jesus, and the Gospel of Thomas is the clearest guide to his vision of each person finding the truth and power of human divinity within themselves.

This volume is a very satisfying “sampler” of the other books in Skylight Paths' spirituality classics collection, which present the work of one guide in more detail.

-DAVID BISHOP

July/August 2004


Ehyeh: A Kabbalah for Tomorrow. By Arthur Green, Woodstock, VT: Jewish Lights, 2003. Hardcover, 192 pages.

Despite its subject-the ancient and mystical tradition of Kabbalah-this book is not about the past but about the future. Ehyeh, a Hebrew word that may be translated "I will be," is one of the biblical names of God and by its very tense it points toward what is to come. Arthur Green, a professor of Jewish Thought at Brandeis University, emphasizes this name in order to introduce his view about how the Jewish mystical tradition, so long deemphasized among "modern" Jews, should become more mainstream and develop in the future. What he emphasizes above all is the oneness of the universe and the image of God as the divine in the human.

Ehyeh: A Kabbalah for Tomorrow was written by a Reconstructionist Jew for Jews. Nevertheless, because Green seeks to develop a postmodern, mystical attitude, much of what he says will appeal to a wider audience. Indeed, his comments on many issues, including the environment, prayer, and the community could be easily accepted by liberally minded members of many other traditions. Although he speaks about the Jewish tradition and urges his readers to learn Hebrew, the values of the book seem to arise as much from postmodernism as from Judaism itself. Some Jews, I suspect, will find that a major problem.

I myself approached the book hoping for a more detailed account of the Kabbalah. For instance, I would have liked a fuller examination of the sephiroth and how they may be used in meditational practice. What is offered is evocative, but does not go far beyond some basic thoughts, particularly about sephiroth six through nine. Nevertheless, this is a beautifully written and informative work that surely breaks down stereotypes of what is Jewish. Forelocks have been replaced by foresight. The work concludes with an epilogue containing, among other things, a helpful discussion of recommended works about the Kabbalah. Green offers here a good beginning in Kabbalah for those who know little about it. He has shown that this Jewish esoteric tradition, in some ways so foreign in thought and expression, can be adapted to the postmodern world. Whether old-time Kabbalists would agree is, of course, another question.

-JAY G. WILLIAMS

July/August 2004


Jonathan Edwards's Philosophy of History: The Reenchantment of the World in the Age of Enlightenment. By Avihu Zakai. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2003. Hardcover, 348 pages.

Most people who attended high school in the United States remember Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758) for his stunning, frightening sermon "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God," which is standard fare in American literature classes. It is regrettable that many dismiss Edwards on this basis and thus miss the depth and wonder of much of his other writing.

Avihu Zakai's book has a narrow focus on Edwards's philosophy of history. Even though he provides some introduction to Edwards's life and work, it is not the easiest place for a neophyte to begin. Those who are unfamiliar with Edwards would best turn to George Marsden's excellent new, biography Jonathan Edwards: A Life (Yale University Press, 2003).

For the Theosophical reader, Zakai's book will probably be most interesting for the parallel between Edwards's time and our own. Edwards lived in the era of the rationalist Enlightenment philosophers, who mechanized the universe and secularized history, squeezing out the presence of the Divine. While he was intimately familiar with the new philosophy, Edwards had experiential reasons why he could not accept it. As a seventeen year-old college student, he had a religious conversion, in which "the appearance of every thing was altered; there seemed to be, as it were, a calm, sweet cast, or the appearance of divine glory, in almost every thing." Once one's eyes have been opened, it is hard to shut them again.

Zakai demonstrates how Edwards labored against the intellectual trends of his day in an effort to reenchant the world with the presence of God. In his works on nature, he claimed "every atom in the universe is managed by Christ." If one sees Christ as the universal Logos, how many of us might agree? When considering history, Edwards gave preeminence not to human activity but to the movement of the Spirit, especially as displayed in periodic revivals. Do we not also try to discern spiritual cycles in outer history? Zakai points to the influence of Edwards's writings on American Protestant culture, where the revival continues to occupy a prominent place, although often in the hands of those less sophisticated than Edwards.

As women and men living in an age of scientific reductionism and philosophical nihilism, we are also striving to reenchant the world, to open our eyes and those of others to Spirit moving in nature and history. We would do well to attend to those who shared this struggle in other times.

-JOHN PLUMMER

July/August 2004


A Sense of the Cosmos: Scientific Knowledge and Spiritual Truth. By Jacob Needleman. Rhinebeck, NY: Monkfish Books Publishing, 2003. Paperback, 178 pages.

Explorations of the relationship between science and religion/spirituality generally focus on the pressing need to reconcile these two great domains. The aim of Jacob Needleman's A Sense of the Cosmos, originally published in 1975 and now reissued, is very different though equally important: It probes our attitudes toward both science and ourselves.

Few can be better qualified for such probing than Jacob Needleman, distinguished philosopher, teacher, widely published author and editor (and the general editor of two outstanding metaphysical/philosophical series), and sought-after consultant in many fields including psychology, education, medical ethics, philanthropy, and business.

In the preface to the present edition, Needleman states: "We cannot know, so the great spiritual traditions teach, with only one part of the human intelligence." The greatness of modern science is rooted in its courageous effort of reliance on what it considered the pure intellect as it was joined to and supported by a rediscovered respect for the bodily senses, .. as the source of knowledge. But in this revolutionary development ... what was forgotten is that the heart, the power of profound feeling, is absolutely necessary in order both to be good and to see the good." The ultimate question we must deeply ponder is the "Being of beings." If this sounds too abstract, simply "step outside one starry night


Book Reviews 2002




The Foundations of Tibetan Buddhism: The Gem Ornament of Manifold Oral Instructions Which Benefits Each and Everyone Accordingly. By H. E. Kalu Rinpoche. Ithaca. NY; Snow Lion, 1987, c1999. Paperback. xlv + 193 pages.

Kalu Rinpoche, born in 1905, after many years teaching in Tibet became senior lama of the Karma Kagyu lineage. In 1955 he was sent to India and Bhutan to prepare for the anticipated exodus of Tibetan refugees. In 1971, he began visiting the West to teach. The teachings in this book were delivered at a meditation retreat in Marcola, Oregon, in 1982, and present an overview of Tibetan Buddhism.

The author explains the three ways of Buddhism--Hinayana, Mahayana, and Vajrayana--and the ordinary preliminary practices of contemplating the "four thoughts that turn the mind." These are appreciation of the precious opportunity human birth provides; the fact of impermanence and change; the karmic causality between actions and experience; and an awareness of suffering. He gives an explanation of taking refuge in the Dharma (teachings), Sangha (Buddhist community, especially enlightened bodhisattvas), and Buddha, and of the difference between lay vows, the Bodhisattva vow, and the Vajrayana commitment.

The book provides a "big picture" view of Tibetan Buddhism accessible to those with only passing familiarity with the subject. A helpful glossary ends the book.

-MIKE WILSON

January/February 2002


Freud, Jung, and Spiritual Psychology By Rudolf Steiner. Intro. Robert Sardello. Great Barrington, MA: Anthroposophical Press, 2001. Paperback. 141 pages.

In five lectures, delivered between 1912 and 1921, Steiner takes on the founding fathers of psychoanalysis, first through a reworking of some of their famous case studies and second through a remodeling of this material in terms d his own spiritual psychology. He critiques Freud for his focus on the sexual etiology of psychic illness and critiques both Freud and Jung for stressing the hothouse experience of "transference" as the touchstone of the analytic process. The problem with transference, with its intense activation of childhood Oedipal material that gets projected onto the analyst, is that it allows the analyst to enter psychically into and thus alter the karma of the analysand. Transference is thus an alien power.

Steiner proposes instead a procedure that allows us to distinguish between unconscious (pathological) projections and genuine clairvoyant visions by using the individual will to see if the particular vision or symptom can be dissolved by a concerted mental action. If it cannot be expunged, then it is not a symptom or projection, but objective and a product of higher dimensions of reality than those admitted by psychoanalysis.

Steiner's anthroposophic framework reverses the psychoanalytic understanding of the causal relation of external wound to internal symptom by arguing that we are self-causal before an external symptom is manifest. Only clairvoyant consciousness, not free association combined with libidinal cathexis, can open out the driving forces of the unconscious and liberate them for growth. To accomplish this opening and liberation, we are asked to envision an internal "artificial human being" who stands for the deeper causality behind our triumphs and failures. Once we see that this higher being has actually directed our lives, we can grasp the roles of karma and self-causality, which this artificial human being represents, in making us well and ill. That is, things do not just happen to us; we have directed (caused) them.

Steiner gives a fairly good account of the post-life realms of kamaloka and devachan. The former realm is the first that the soul encounters after the loss of the physical shell and is actually an externalization of our unprocessed internal projections, which are seen in kamaloka (the desire realm) as having objective reality. The subsequent realm of heaven (devachan) allows us to shed our projections and become immersed in the deeper reality beyond projection. In our clairvoyant consciousness, we can allow aspects of these realms into our psyche in the physical realm and thereby gain a more objective understanding of our current, past, and even future lives.

In a deeper and more genuine dialogue between spiritual psychology and psychoanalysis, we must go far beyond Steiner's caricatures of the founders and find room for phenomena he seems to he afraid of, namely, denial, negative transference (like his toward Leadbeater and Krishnamurti}, sexual stasis, and even esoteric projection. His lectures represent a one-sided approach that refuses to engage in the often distasteful work of probing into the shadow and the other non-self-caused aspects of the almost infinite unconscious. In this book, Steiner is as much a polemicist as a genuine explorer. I wish he had been fairer to his honored interlocutors, yet this is a beginning, and one that should be acknowledged for what it has accomplished.

-ROBERT S. CORRINGTON

January/February 2002


Merriam-Webster's Encyclopedia of World Religions. Ed. Wendy Doniger. Springfield. MA: Merriam-Webster, 1999. Hardback, xviii + 1181 pages.

One-volume encyclopedias of religion appear to be a new growth industry. This addition to the field is of a quality associated with the distinguished Merriam-Webster imprint. It has a list of 37 scholarly advisors and authors. It is extensively illustrated with black-and-white pictures, two-color maps, and inserts of full-color plates. It consists of two kinds of articles. Approximately 3500 basic articles vary in length from a few lines to a few pages each; 30 major articles on principal religious traditions and themes run from four to thirty pages. Variant names, spellings, and pronunciations are given, including both those favored by scholars and popular Anglicized ones when they exist.

The entries are readable, informative, clear, engaging, and impartial, although inevitably not always thorough. An instance is the article on "Theosophy." It surveys Western theosophical traditions from Pythagoras to the Romantic philosopher Friedrich Schelling and Eastern ones from the Vedas to Sufism, giving an accurate overview of some of the characteristics those traditions have in common.

The article's description of the early days of the modern Theosophical Society is fair but has a major lacuna at the time of the .Judge split. Its account of the Society in America thereafter deals solely with the Judge branch, overlooking the reestablishment of Adyar lodges throughout the United States and thus failing to give an adequate picture of American Theosophy after 1895.

The article gives, however, an accurate assessment of the influence of Theosophy on religious thought, which has been far greater than is often recognized, although it overlooks Theosophy's effect on literature, art, and music. It begins by saying that the Theosophical philosophy "has been of catalytic significance in religious thought in the 19th and 20th centuries" and concludes:

The influence of the Theosophical Society has been significant, despite its small following. The movement has been a catalytic force in the 20th-century Asian revival of Buddhism and Hinduism and a pioneering agency in the promotion of greater Western acquaintance with Eastern thought. In the United States it has influenced a whole series of religious movements.

This encyclopedia is a good one-volume source for information about general religious topics and compares favorably with its chief competitors: The HarperCollins Dictionary of Religion (1995), The Oxford Dictionary of World Religions (1997), and The Perennial Dictionary of World Religions (originally Abingdon Dictionary of Living Religions, 1981).

-EDITOR

January/February 2002


When Oracles Speak: Understanding the Signs and Symbols All around Us. By Dianne Skafte. Wheaton. IL: Theosophical Publishing House, Quest Books, 2000. Paperback, viii + 279 pages.

We tend to believe what we believe. But when we suspend belief and disbelief and become open-minded, then we may hear when oracles speak. Dianne Skafte invites us, in her beautifully written book When Oracles Speak, to rediscover some of the myriad gifts of open-mindedness, some ancient and archetypal, others intimate, affirming, guiding, and inspiring. Being open-minded, we are openhearted. Being openhearted we become more vulnerable, yet also more empathic, caring, and therefore wise.

When our hearts and minds are open to the world, we become present in our being to all beings. This is when we can hear the oracles. As Skafte writes, "Oracles are more awesome than everyday events but far less awesome than mystical raptures. Perhaps they form a contact point between heaven and earth."

She goes on to show how we can make this connection between heaven and earth through the oracles, for our own good and for the good of all. But if the good of others does not eventually become foremost in our lives, we will mistake the voice of the oracles for our own.

This is a providential book in these chaotic and troubling times, giving comfort and security to many and guidance toward spiritual affirmation and rediscovery of the gifts of life that are transformative of us as individuals and as a species.

For over 90 percent of human existence, we were gatherer-hunters, intimately connected with the powers of the phenomenal, natural world. This included the kingdoms of mineral, plant, and animal, as well as other kingdoms that shaped our psyches as we evolved. We are all disoriented in an increasingly dysfunctional society that severing our sacred connections with these Powers, and destroying the natural world-our ground of being and becoming.

This book is an antidote to the extinction of much of what has made us human and what it means to be human. To Western rational materialists, this book will be incomprehensible nonsense rather than a well-researched psycho-historical cross-cultural treatise on the subject of oracular communication, divination, and communion.

A book like this, that advances our development and evolution by facilitating our "understanding the signs and symbols all around us," is one antidote that I would prescribe for all.

-MICHAEL W. FOX

January/February 2002


Visitations from the Afterlife: True Stories of Love and Healing. By Lee Lawson. New York: HarperCollins, 2000. Hardback, xviii + 233 pages.

Lee Lawson is a West Coast artist, some of whose paintings are used on the dust jacket and to preface the book's 82 anecdotes. Those anecdotes are from the hundreds friends have shared with her, as well as five of her own experiences, about visits from deceased loved ones. She says, "People from all over the world, of every age and of every walk of life, have contributed to the following stories of visitations from the afterlife" (17). The stories are classified under 14 different headings such as "Stories of Love and Healing," "Saying Good-bye for Now," and "Making Peace: Forgiveness and Reconciliation."

The final chapter has stories of symbolic, but highly unusual and personally significant, visitations. Some might be explained in terms of the Jungian concept of synchronicity, but some seem to suggest that a dead animal somehow managed to influence another animal of a very different species to convey a feeling of continuity and love to its owner.

Although many of the stories do not accord with Theosophical theories about survival, found for example in The Mahatma Letters or the writings of H. B Blavatsky, C. W. Leadbeater, and Annie Besant, there is a tone of sincerity about them that calls upon the reader to think more deeply about the adequacy of theories. It is obvious that the author has reworded some of the stories that people have told her, since her style is evident in their retelling, but many of the stories have quite different styles and undoubtedly were written by the people to whom they are credited. In any event, they are all worth reading.

The author summarizes the point of the stories as follows: "The greater message of every visitation is that life continues after the death of the body and that we will be together again. You can trust that separation is temporary.... A visitation from the afterlife tells us all that, for those who live, good-bye means good-bye for now, until we meet again" (46). Curiously, however, she repeatedly talks about "inconsolable feelings of loss" (xv) and "a tear in the very fabric of your being [when a friend or loved animal dies], a wound that, I believe, never fully heals" (23). This is certainly at odds with the experiences of most of the narrators of her stories, as well as those of Phoebe Bendit (in This World and That), myself, and others who have experienced such visitations. It is also at odds with her advice about letting go of departed loved one. (46).

The introduction to the book is by Clarissa Pinkola Estes, a Jungian psychologist and author of Women Who Run with the Wolves, who mentions J. B. Rhine, John Lilly, Raymond Moody, and "the Theosophists," bur doesn't seem personally familiar with the literature of those sources herself. Despite these few flaws, I found the book very interesting and reassuring. As the author writes, "A visitation gives me the knowledge that even though I understand little about why and how life goes on, it does go on for all of us. Existence is a safe place for me and the people I love. I cannot lose my life, and I cannot lose other souls who are dear to me. Our survival is assured" (221).

-RICHARD W. BROOKS

January/February 2002


Budo Secrets: Teachings of the Martial Arts Masters. Ed. John Stevens. Boston, MA: Shambhala, 2001. Hardback, xii + 109 pages.

Budo Secrets is not a picture gallery of bearded septuagenarians gracefully launching their opponents airborne from one side of the dojo to the other, nor is it a recipe book of 101 ways to slice and dice your opponent before he can say "ginsu knife." John Stevens, who lives and teaches in Japan, has compiled an eclectic assortment of texts on the martial arts- including philosophies, principles, and instructive stories meant not only for the practitioner of the arts but for the layman with an interest in the Martial Way, called Budo.

Stevens has culled this admirable collection from a diversity of training manuals, transmission scrolls, and modern texts, many of which are available only in the original Japanese. Stevens keeps his own commentary sparse and economical, preferring to let the precepts and teachings speak for themselves. His Spartan use of commentary, however, is enhanced by the inclusion of elegant brush calligraphy attributed to the hands of various martial arts masters.

Just as learning the technique of playing the piano or the violin does not in itself elevate a musician to the level of the artist, so too, the mastery of wrist locks, arm throws, and flying side kicks does not make a warrior. One can be a technician without understanding the meaning of the Martial Way. There is an ethos that must be learned and lived. Being a warrior has nothing to do with belligerence, intimidation, and vulgar displays of self-promotion. It has everything to do with self-control, respect, and intelligent use of force. This is made clear by the number of injunctions and precepts listed here, which form a universal warrior ethos, regardless of whether one's discipline is judo, karate, aikido, or jujitsu.

Legendary figures quoted include Kyuzo Mifune, a modern-era judo master who could easily defeat opponents twice his size, although he was only 5 feet-4-inches tall and weighed less than 140 pounds. One of Mifune's tenets “the soft controls the hard") has a distinct Taoist flavor. His favorite teaching principle was that of the sphere: a sphere never loses its center and moves swiftly without strain. Another luminary is the famed sixteenth-century swordsman, Miyamoto Mushashi, whose austere code of conduct shows striking similarities with Buddhist thought. Mushashi's life was brilliantly depicted by the incomparable Toshiro Mifune in Hiroshi Inagaki's 1955 cinematic classic, Samurai Trilogy.

In an age of culture wars that has seen the erosion of traditional male role models to the point where even feminists such as Pulizer-Prize-winner Susan Faludi (Stiffed: The Betrayal of the American Man) become alarmed, there is much to be said for the study of the mental and moral disciplines of the martial arts tradition. Both men and women can, of course, excel in any of these disciplines, but the tradition is based on qualities generally considered masculine in nature, such as strength, courage, restraint, and perseverance. According to Budo, the warrior is not one who is ready to throw a knockout punch at" the drop of an insult, nor is he the weepy-eyed effusive type who sobs at the slightest hint of pain or suffering. Those who faithfully follow the ways of Budo will find that, at the highest level, martial arts and spirituality converge. But that culmination is based on years of hard physical work, tolerance of or indifference to pain, and practice, practice, practice.

So what is the secret of Budo? In the words of twentieth-century karate master Kanken Toyama, "Secret techniques begin with basic techniques; basic techniques end as secret techniques. There are no secrets at the beginning, but there are secrets at the end."

-DAVID BRUCE

January/February 2002


A New Religious America: How a "Christian Country" Has Now Become the World's Most Religiously Diverse Nation. By Diana L. Eck. New York: HarperCollins, HarperSanFrancisco, 2001. Hardback, xli + 404 pages.

As Professor of Comparative Religion and Indian Studies and Director of the well-known Pluralism Project at Harvard University, Diana Eck dispensed students into countless communities scattered across the United States, where they studied our proliferating religious pluralism. These youthful researchers and their professor discovered that the United States harbors more American Muslims than American Episcopalians, Jews, or Presbyterians and that at present Los Angeles has more than three hundred Buddhist temples and the world's most varied Buddhist communities.

Eck presents this extensive diversity as a present-day Main Street phenomenon, although many Americans are unaware of this profound change. Eck depicts this submerged or concealed culture by describing Muslims worshipping in a former mattress showroom in Northridge, California, and Hindus gathering in a warehouse in Queens, New York. She identifies the growing religious diversity in America as a great challenge in the twenty-first century. Eck's study probes religious diversity in the United Stares by showing both the tragedies that develop through ignorance and misunderstanding and the hope for cultivating new spiritual communities.

-DANIEL ROSS CHANDLER

January/February 2002


The Odyssey of a New Religion: The Holy Order of MANS from New Age to Orthodoxy. By Phillip Charles Lucas. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1995. Hardback, viii + 312 pages.

Every now and then a worthwhile book comes out but never gets the recognition it deserves. The Odyssey of a New Religion is one such book. This is a book that many Theosophists should read because of its Theosophical overtones.

Why did the Holy Order of MANS (HOOM) exist for only about 22 years, whereas the Theosophical Society is still in existence more than 125 years after its founding? Both the Theosophical Society and HOOM had similar beginnings. Yet the small esoteric Christian community continued only by changing its mission and joining the larger Orthodox Christian community. Lucas's book tells the story of HOOM with skill, scholarship, and such grace that his sociological insights never get in the way of the unfolding story.

The Holy Order of MANS was founded by Earl Blighton (known as Father Paul) in 1968 in the San Francisco Bay area. The core group actually started two years earlier when Blighton taught a type of "esoteric Christianity." His message borrowed heavily from many alternative religions, but, as Lucas continually reminds us, it was primarily Rosicrucian and Theosophical in nature. Any Theosophist reading this book will recognize much of the Order's structure and teaching.

The group had a monastic image and its members wore clerical garb. Much of their early mission was service, charity, and missionary work, "for example, for homeless families and single mothers in shelters called 'Raphael House.'" The members, dressed in their clerical garb, would walk around crime-filled neighborhoods and visualize a ray of healing light. Blighton, judging from antidotal evidence, was a gifted psychic, like H. P. Blavatsky in the formative years of the Theosophical Society. Blighton wrote a "Tree of Life" series around which the "ancient Christian mysteries" were studied. About half of Lucas’s book explains the details of this early history.

Following Earl Blighton's death in 1974, the group's history became turbulent. After the usual power struggles that occur with the death of a charismatic leader, Andrew Rossi rook over and about 1978 began to lead the group from its Rosicrucian-Theosophical roots toward a more mainstream Christian identity. From a peak of about 3000 members in 1977, the membership began dropping. In 1988 Rossi led a mass conversion of 750 HOOM members into the Eastern Orthodox Church and changed the group's name to Christ the Savior Brotherhood.

In response to the question of why the Theosophical Society has lasted more than 125 years whereas HOOM had a 22-year existence, one of the relevant factors may be that the Society elects its officers on a regular schedule. The believers in the Holy Order of MANS did not have that option. One recalls Winston Churchill's observation that "democracy is the worst form of government' except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time."

-RALPH H. HANNON

January/February 2002


Circling the Sacred Mountain: A Spiritual Adventure through the Himalayas. By Robert Thurman and Tad Wise. New York: Bantam, 2000. Paperback, 353 pages.

This is a book of a genre that happens to be a favorite of mine, as I suspect it is for many readers of the Quest as well: a chronicle of travel combining the exploration of exotic realms on both physical and spiritual planes. In this case, the two authors, together with a handful of other companions, journey to remote western Tibet to perform the traditional Vajrayana (Tibetan) Buddhist pilgrimage-circumambulation of the sacred Mount Kailas, and in the process learn much about Buddhism and themselves. Robert Thurman, a practicing Vajrayana Buddhist and former monk, now a professor at Columbia University, is perhaps the best-known Western scholar of Tibetan Buddhism today. Tad Wise, a much younger former student of his, has practiced several trades including stonemasonry and writing: he has published one novel.

The two writers alternate in presenting the narrative; Wise provides the day-by-day account of the journey, and Thurman (under his Buddhist name Tenzin) offers virtually daily sermons on their exercises and experiences. In the process, the two are uninhibited in displaying themselves as they are. Wise comes across as a voluble, witty, irreverent, and sensual, but very likable, young man; only half-convinced of the Dharma, he nonetheless felt a strange compulsion to leave his life behind for a month to join his old pedagogue on this expedition. Thurman is a learned, sagacious, but occasionally overbearing guide to the mysteries. But the real star of the story is Mount Kailas- -the silent, towering, oddly-shaped, yet unimaginably numinous presence always kept to their right as the foreign party, together with countless devout Tibetans, circles the slow trail round her widespread base, stopping for traditional devotions at ancient shrines and temples. The journey is not entirely out of time, however; there arealso unpleasant encounters with Tibet's heavy-handed Chinese overlords.

Circling the Sacred Mountain is sometimes a bit verbose; introspective surveys of other persons' (the two writers') inward sins and salvations can eventually become tiresome. At those moments I would have preferred more cultural description of Tibet's temples, Buddhas, rites, priests, and pilgrims instead, or else a few cuts. But overall the book moves and is a good read, highly recommended to all who enjoy the more adventurous kind of spirituality.

--ROBERT ELLWOOD

January/February 2002


Riding Windhorses: A Journey into the Heart of Mongolian Shamanism. By Sarangerel. Rochester, VT: Destiny Books, 2000. Paperback, xiv + 210 pages.

Shamanism is among the oldest and most universal forms of religious expression. It is a tradition that was, and to a certain extent still is, found in both the Old and New Worlds. Its influence upon the so-called higher religions is also quite obvious when one knows what to look for. Sarangerel is a practicing shaman of Siberian descent who has studied with several Central Asian shamans and who presents to us in readable and interesting form a fine description of Mongolian belief and practice.

Unlike works by such scholars as Mircea Eliade and Michael Harner, she writes from a practitioner's perspective, often attesting to her own experiences. She also seeks to present, not shamanism in general, but the special forms of Mongolian shamanism. For her, this shamanism is not just an exotic tradition to be studied at arm's length, but a viable spiritual option today. While she is thoroughly conversant with modern scholarship about shamanism, she can also attest, for instance, to her own experiences of out-of-body travel. At the conclusion of each chapter, therefore, she provides rituals of visualization techniques for the reader to use. Moreover, she provides useful information about where to go in Mongolia to see shamanistic holy places. Useful web site addresses, a bibliography, and glossary of terms are also provided.

In a word, this is a very valuable and useful work that brings the reader much closer to the realities of shamanism than most other scholarly works. Whether a belief in the spirit world, which shamanism presupposes, is possible in today's post-modern world is a question only individual readers can answer for themselves. Clearly, however, the development of "windhorse," that is, psychic power, is something that will be attractive for many to contemplate. This work merits study by anyone interested in either the history of religions or the exploration of the possibilities of human spirituality.

-JAY G. WILLIAMS

January/February 2002


Emerson in His Sermons: A Man-Made Self. By Susan L. Roberson. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1995. Hardcover, xii + 223 pages.


Emersonian Circles: Essays in Honor of Joel Myerson. Ed. Wesley T. Moll and Robert E. Burkholder. Rochester, NY: University of Rochester Press, 1997. Hardcover, xi + 284 pages.


The Spiritual Teachings of Ralph Waldo Emerson. By Richard G. Geldard. Great Barrington, MA: Lindisfarne, 2001. Paperback, x + 196 pages.

Susan Roberson examines Emerson's career and intellectual development as a Unitarian preacher between 1826 and 1832, including Emerson's concept, of self-reliance, his introduction of a new hero suited for a new age, and his merging of his identity with this ideal.

Wesley Mort and Robert Burkholder present fourteen new essays on Emerson, his philosophy, and his colleagues, connecting Transcendentalism to persistent currents in American thought. Among the contributors, Robert D. Richardson, Jr., describes Emerson as an editor; Ronald A. Bosco probes Emerson's teaching of the "Somewhat Spheral and Infinite" existing in every person; and Albert J. von Frank analyzes Emerson's construction of the" Intimate Sphere." This academic anthology enriches our understanding of Emerson and his closest colleagues.

Published in 1993 as The Esoteric Emerson, the new edition of Richard Geldard's book describes the Concord sage as a poet and essayist who inspired a spiritual literature and inaugurated an enduring philosophical movement outside Unitarianism. Geldard describes Emerson as a New England Socrates. Previous generations, Emerson emphasized, "beheld God and nature face to face." His contemporaries seemed content to comprehend spirituality through historic writing bequeathed from earlier generations. However Emerson observed that poetry and philosophy issue from "an original relation to the universe" rather than from history, tradition, or "religion of revelation."

-DANIEL ROSS CHANDLER

March/April 2002


The Zen of Listening: Mindful Communication in the Age of Distraction. By Rebecca Z. Shafir. Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, Quest Books, 2000. Hardback, viii + 255 pages.

Drawing on its author's experience as a speech and language pathologist and a student of the martial arts and Zen meditation, The Zen of Listening is an illuminating workshop on the art of listening well. Rebecca Shafir writes that the foundation of good listening goes deeper than techniques such as maintaining eye contact and nodding often. To listen truly well, she says, we must" dismantle the barriers to communication rooted in our prejudices and self-absorption.

Shafir says we often judge who is worth listening to (and who isn't) by their status, age, physical appearance, sex, race, our past experiences with them, and how well what they say fits with our own beliefs. Furthermore, communication with those who get by our elaborate screening process is impeded by our personal agendas, the jangle of our often negative self-talk and poor concentration skills.

Shafir offers a number of ways to counter these barriers, such as meditation, pointedly opening our minds to people and ideas that don't fit into our belief systems, and attempting to "set aside your evaluative self" and simply" be a witness" to the ideas of others.

Creating a memorable analogy, Shafir invites readers to listen to others "with the same self-abandonment as we do at the movies." "You go to the movies," she tells us, "to satisfy your curiosity, to be informed, to be entertained, to get another point of view, to experience something outside yourself." To listen in this way is to receive "the gift of another's vision of life."

Shafir offers many helpful suggestions for shaping our listening styles: being silent to encourage communication (whereas advice-giving usually shuts it down), listening under stress, and improving memory. She also gives readers a short but lucid introduction to Zen philosophy.

This is a practical book with tools for handling everyday transactions in work, school, and relationships. It is also a spiritual book, promising that: "any verbal encounter could contain a golden nugget of experience, information, or insight," and thus a portal to spiritual growth.

-PAUL WINE

March/April 2002


Ethics for the New Millennium. By the Dalai Lama. New York: Riverhead Books, 2001. Paperback, xiv + 237 pages.

On July 21,1981, the fourteenth Dalai Lama came to Olcott, headquarters of the Theosophical Society in America, in Wheaton, Illinois. This was a very large and significant event for the Society. The audience was approximately four hundred people, and we began with the mayor of Wheaton presenting to the Dalai Lama an honorary Citizenship to the city. Considering the very large fundamentalist Christian community in Wheaton at the time, this was indeed a momentous event. I was in the crowd that day, and I still remember this humble man walking through the many trees of Olcott to the small outdoor stage, with the people standing and paying silent respect.

At: that time, the Dalai Lama was not as well known in the United States as he is now, and his travels were not nearly as extensive. He is still a humble and simple man, but in 1989 he won the Nobel Peace Prize. Since that time the whole world has heard his profound message that the cultivation of compassion is the path to world peace.

In 1981, few books by the Dalai Lama were readily available, and those that were seemed written for a college-level introductory course on Tibetan Buddhism. Most of what I had read were scripts from his talks. Before I went to Olcott for his talk, I had read as many of his articles as I could find. His title that day was "The Buddha Nature," but I quickly noticed that what he said sounded very much like what I had read in the articles. In other words, the message was simple: compassion, happiness (inner peace), and world peace are what we should be thinking about.

In this book, Ethics for the New Millennium, the Dalai Lama continues that: same theme. He gives us a moral system based, not on religious principles, but on universal principles irrespective of religious belief. It is written more as if he and I were having a serious talk over lunch, and he is giving me all of these important points. If I were taking notes, they might look like the following:

"Unfortunately, many have unrealistic expectations, supposing that I have healing powers or that I can give some sort of blessing. But I am only an ordinary human being. The best I can do is try to help them by sharing in their suffering."

"Despite the fact that millions live in close proximity to one another, it seems that many people, especially among the old, have no one to talk to but their pets."

"In replacing religion as the final source of knowledge in popular estimation, science begins to look a bit like another religion itself."

And then we have some real eye-openers: "My own experience of life as a refugee has helped me realize that the endless protocol, which was such an important part of my life in Tibet, was quite unnecessary."

Toward the end of the book, the Dalai Lama concludes, "I cannot, therefore, say that Buddhism is best for everyone," because from the perspective of human society at large, we must accept the concept of "many truths, many religions." Then he says, "In my own case, for example, my meetings with the late Thomas Merton, a Catholic monk of the Cistercian order, were deeply inspiring."

The Dalai Lama now has a large number of books in print. He says very little in this book that is new or original. But what he says still sounds fresh and worth rereading.

-RALPH H. HANNON

March/April 2002


Spiritual Marketplace: Baby Boomers and the Remaking of American Religion. By Wade Clark Roof. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1999. Paperback. x + 367 pages.

What is really going on in American religion? Indicators today seem to be pointing in all directions at once as one tries to assess the spiritual environment with which Theosophy, and each of us as an individual, must live and work. Look at it one way, and (as certain alarmists insist) rampant secularism is taking over. Look at it another way, and religion- -conservative religion at that--appears to be gaining almost unprecedented political and social power. All that is sure is that American religion is getting more pluralistic all the time, and styles of religious life are changing nearly everywhere.

Now here comes an authoritative guidebook to this incredibly complex picture by one of the nation's most eminent sociologists of religion. Wade Clark Roof first divides the current religious world into four segments: Born-again Christians, Mainstream Believers, Metaphysical Believers and Seekers (a sector Theosophy is given due credit for helping construct), and Dogmatists and Secularists. The last, dogmatism and secularism, are interestingly put together as representing a comparable kind of mentality, though at opposites ends of the continuum. But most religionists today, deep down, do not have whatever it takes either to believe completely or doubt fully, and that's why the scene is so fluid and at the same time so vigorous.

For what is overall most- characteristic of American religion today, according to Roof is not the variety it has long possessed so much as the flexible spirit, the sense of being on a never-ending quest, that seems to shape all but its most extreme ends. Whatever faith one has landed in is likely to be viewed only as the vessel within which one is continuing the journey for now, and its charter always open to revision. Even traditionally rigid churches may be held in a light, searching, and open kind of way that is comfortable with doubt or unconventionality in some areas. In such a situation, boundaries are inevitably fluid; more and more people are not in the religion in which they were raised, and may hold unexpected beliefs. Remarkably, in Roof's poll-data no less that 27 percent of those who said they were Born-again Christians also believed in reincarnation.

Indeed, combining faith with doubt and ongoing search was a common response in place of the old hard attitude toward religion, "Take it [belief] or leave it: [religion]," there was a third option, put memorably by Jack Miles in a passage quoted by Roof: "If I may doubt the practice of medicine from the operating table, if I may doubt the political system from the voting booth, if I may doubt the institution of marriage from the conjugal bed, why may I not doubt religion from the pew?"

Is this just the yuppie "I want to have it all" mentality, or something radically new and different" emerging from the spiritual marketplace? Only time will tell. But Theosophists, who also like to see their worldview as a third option alongside dogmatic science and religion, should pay close attention to what is going on over there behind the scenes as well as in the foreground, so they can speak effectively to those born-again believers, seekers, and doubters. Spiritual Marketplace is a serious work of sociology and not light reading, but it is very well written and unfailingly interesting and illuminating. In a scene so fluid, it can hardly be called the last word, bur readers will not: lay it down without a much richer sense of the religious world in which we live, a world that, as Roof makes clear, is seldom what it seems.

--ROBERT ELLWOOD

March/April 2002


Blake, Jung, and the Collective Unconscious: The Conflict between Reason and Imagination. By June Singer. York Beach, MN: Nicholas-Hays, 2000. Paperback, xx + 272 pages.

William Blake, poet, printer, and mystic, prophet, experienced his first vision about the age of eight. Thereafter, he balanced his connection to the practical outer world with the inner world of his visions. Like many of our contemporaries, he believed and experienced-that the boundless infinite is accessed by intuition and imagination, rather than by intellect or senses.

In this new and retitled edition of her earlier work, The Unholy Bible, June Singer studies Blake from the perspective of depth psychology. With clarity and detail, she leads us through Blake's later prophetic works, especially The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, which consists of twenty-four plates of text and illustrations engraved by Blake. In this study of good and evil, he asserts that the codes of convention and morality taught by the law and the churches are repressively deadening. Only the exercise of the psyche's unique desires and perceptions provides experiences that are enlivening and spiritually transforming.

Singer compares Blake's understanding of individual freedom and creativity with similar Jungian theories. For example, both affirm the union of opposites. All dualities, such as heaven and hell, male and female, reason and imagination, soul and body, must be conjoined. According to Blake, without the contraries there is no progression. Both speak of this process of reconciliation in symbolic language. For Blake it is the marriage, and for Jung the conjunction, which joins the conscious and the unconscious. Combining the characteristics of the opposing dualities begets wholeness and integrity.

Blake was willing to look honestly at the beauties and the terrors of the unconscious. As Singer tells us, "Heaven only becomes available to the man who has dared to venture into hell." Blake's visions were not spontaneous, but' the result of intense concentration on a single object or idea, until the unconscious stimulated his ego and "something would appear out of the nothingness." The device Blake used to communicate the realties of the unconscious was the copper plate on which he engraved them, "the symbol of the threshold between his consciousness and the mystery." Moreover, his ego involvement in this creative process, Singer believes, kept him from going mad. For "by writing down what he heard and drawing pictures of what he saw ... the visions then became manageable creations of his own mind."

June Singer's insightful meditation on the symbolic words and images contained on those plates is an invaluable guide to all Blake readers.

-DAVID R. BISHOP

March/April 2002


The Crystal and the Way of Light: Sutra, Tantra, and Dzogchen. By Chogyal Namkhai Norbu. Ed. John Shane. Ithaca, NY: Snow Lion, 2000. Paperback, 215 pages.

The author, born in Tibet in 1938, was recognized at the age of two as the reincarnation of a spiritual leader of the Nyingmapa school. Forced to leave Tibet because of the Chinese invasion, he became a professor at the Oriental Institute in Naples, Italy.

The Crystal and the Way of Light contains autobiography, theory, and practice- -all centered on Dzogchen, which can be translated as "Great Perfection," which is our natural state prior to all conditioning. The author writes: "To enter this state is to experience oneself as one is, as the center of the universe though not in the ordinary ego sense. The ordinary ego-centered consciousness is precisely the limited cage of dualistic vision that closes off the experience of one's own true nature."

Requiring commitment, discipline, understanding, and practice, Dzogchen is said to lead to enlightenment in a single lifetime. The author notes that "nothing need be renounced, purified, or transformed" and quotes a Tibetan master, "It's not the circumstances which arise as one's karmic vision that conditions a person into the dualistic state; it's a person's own attachment that enables what arises to condition him." Whatever arises in a practitioner's experience is simply allowed to arise just as it is, without any judgment concerning good or bad, beautiful or ugly, desirable or undesirable. The aim is to be comfortably harmonious with whatever is, as it is. This practice is based on the realization that our ordinary and deeply conditioned likes and dislikes are precisely what keep us imprisoned within the boundaries of our egos.

Dzogchen is a structured program of personal transformation. Practice centers on working with three categories: Base, Path, and Fruit. "Base" is the fundamental ground of existence at both the cosmic and individual levels, the nondual primordial nature. "Path" consists of views and practices designed to lead out of dualistic entrapment and suffering. And "Fruit" is the fully realized state as it is in itself (Dharmakaya), as it operates energetically (Sambhogakaya), and as it manifests in form (Nirmanakaya).

The author distinguishes between Dzogchen exposition and instruction; the former is what books do; the latter requires the direct teaching of a master. Instruction entails actual transmission of the primordial state from the master to the student. The student's task is then to engage in practices that enable direct access to that state---and eventually to abide uninterruptedly in the primordial state, even while living an ordinary life.

-JAMES E. ROYSTER

March/April 2002


The Atlantis Blueprint: Unlocking the Ancient Mysteries of a Long-Lost Civilization. By Colin Wilson and Rand Flem-Ath. New York: Random House, Delacorte Press, 2001. Hardback, xxvi + 415 pages.

How well does the content of this book reflect its title and subtitle?

Not well. Imagine a book advertised as describing restaurants within your city. The book actually dwells heavily on the restaurants of one ethnic group, ignores most others, describes only one meal out of each menu, includes a small number of restaurants long since dosed down, and sneaks in a restaurant from another city. Not a useful book for most diners. Something similar can be said about this book, which is generally a retelling of mysteries already examined at greater length in other books.

A thread running throughout this book is spelled out in the preface (xxiv) by Flem-Ath:

Today we assume that sacred sites such as the Egyptian, Chinese and South American pyramids were built by local people (or local reasons, but The Atlantis Blueprint will reveal that there is a single global pattern that ties these monuments together. This in turn implies the existence of an advanced civilization that existed before the flood and managed to communicate important geodesic, geological and geometric information to people who became ancient mariners and recharted the globe.

The two authors have each independently written several books. The collaboration of these two experienced and skilled authors does not save this book from flaws, however. It is a work that satisfies one of the definitions of fiction: that it contains just enough facts to be believable.

One of the book's flaws is that it presents the stone spheres of Central America as a mystery, indicative of a previous civilization that worshiped the form of a sphere, making hundreds of them, some quite large, scattering them at random over the landscape, and then most inconveniently disappearing, leaving no trace of their tools, their intents, or their culture. This "mystery," however, was solved long ago by the National Geographic Society, when it commissioned a forensic geologist" to explore the situation. After his visit, he described quite clearly the geologic processes that created the stone spheres totally without the help of human hands or civilization: "Solving the Mystery of Mexico's Great Stone Spheres," National Geographic (August 1969), pp. 295-300.

Another flaw is the concept that the megalithic monuments of western Europe were all made more than 20,000 years ago and are due to the precocious abilities of the Atlanteans. The fact is that some of the megalithic monuments have been dated, using the carbon-14 method on bits of plant matter found beneath or within the constructions. The evidence so far indicates that the megalithic walls, tombs, temples, and pyramids were all constructed during the time period of 4000 to 2000 years ago and, furthermore, that the earliest ones are found in Great Britain and Brittany, on the coast of France facing Great Britain. If the megalithic construction is to be attributed to Atlantis, then it would appear that Atlantis was in the English Channel, 4000 years ago.

The treatment of the magnetic poles and their frequent shifts in recent ages fails to make a clear distinction between the magnetic poles and the physical poles of the earth. A movement of the physical poles would prove a disaster to much of earth's life, whereas a similar movement of the magnetic poles is invisible to all but a few animals, and is never harmful to any. The discussion for the evidence of pole shift shifts back and forth between the magnetic and the physical poles without dearly differentiating between them.

Charles Hapgood's discussion of ancient maps and his contention that they indicate an early and advanced culture are well represented in this book. But no attention is given to several telling criticisms of Hapgood's thesis. A clear discussion of those criticisms would do much to establish the credibility of this book and possibly to support Hapgood's arguments.

Much space is given to a contrived geography by which the ancients are said to have determined where they would place their holy sites. With no clear reason given for why the ancients should find it desirable to place their holy sites at these locations and not others, the reasoning is less than compelling. A remarkably long list has been compiled of the ancient holy places that meet the criteria. However, there is an equally large number of holy places that are not on the list. A reader may wonder why the authors cite the ones that fit and ignore the ones that don't. Of some interest to Theosophists, however, is that one of the holy places is Ojai, California (342): “Although there are no megalithic structures here, Ojai joins a select number of sites around the world that are linked by Golden Section divisions of the earth's dimensions."

An entire chapter is a retelling of the story of the Templars. This interesting story, fairly well though too briefly told here, has its own unsolved mystery. The authors provide a novel solution, which will he appreciated by fans of the Templar story. But this chapter has nothing to do with the rest of the book. Furthermore, the story of the Templars is told better and more completely elsewhere.

Readers who have read widely in the field of crypto-archaeology will appreciate the stories of introductions, chance meetings, and serendipitous discoveries. In this sense the book is an entertaining travelogue and autobiography. This book by two experienced and skilled authors is entertaining but not up to the authors' normally high standard of work.

-MORRY SECREST

March/April 2002


Wandering Joy: Meister Eckhart's Mystical Philosophy. Trans. Reiner Schurmann. Great Barrington, MA: Lindisfarne Books, 2001. Paperback, xxi + 264 pages.

No history of mysticism or compilation of the writings of the great mystics through the ages would be complete without reference to that brilliant and original teacher, the Dominican friar and mystical theologian, Meister Eckhart. Born Johannes Eckhart in 1260, he acquired the title "Meister" after receiving his master's degree in theology from the University of Paris in 1302. As Richard Tarnas points out in The Passion of the Western Mind, the late thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries in Europe witnessed an extraordinary wave of mystical fervor. Eckhart was not only part of that wave but was central to it-often called the "founder" of the Rhineland mystics. It was Eckhart who gave to the mysticism of the period an intellectual subtlety based on the Platonic and Neoplatonic traditions, as well as the philosophical views of Thomas Aquinas and Aquinas's teacher Albertus Magnus, who may well have also been Eckhart's teacher when he studied at Cologne on his entrance into the Dominican order.

Beyond the numerous philosophical views current during the tare Middle Ages, which inevitably had their influence on the thought of Eckhart, his formulations were original. And it is to this originality in formulating the mystical experience by translating "an ineffable experience ... into daily language so as to become communicable," that- the present book directs our attention. Reiner Schurmann, who was Professor of Philosophy at the New School for Social Research in New York City prior to his death in 1993, uses Eckhart's German sermons to illustrate both his originality of thought and "the creative genius of his language." Schurmann, who was also convinced of the contemporaneity of Eckhart's speculative mysticism, points up the ways in which Eckhart adapted or interpreted Augustinian, Thomistic, Albertian, and Neoplatonic doctrines, and in fact the entire doctrinal lineage to which he was heir (including the views of the Church Fathers such as Clement of Alexandria, Hippolytus, and Origen), stretching back to pre-Christian Stoicism.

This is not an easy book to read, but for anyone who would understand Eckhart's thought, his mystical philosophy, his unique formulation of the mystic via negative, there could be no better text than Schurmann's. As David Appelbaum stares in the foreword to the book, Schurmann introduces us “to Eckhart's single-pointed concern with the mystery of birth," that is, "theogenesis, the birth of God ... in a human being." Appelbaum then adds, "There is much perception in the scheme Schurmann provides as a first course in Eckhart's teaching. The birthing process ... is not described as an ascent by degrees ... But it has three distinct phases: detachment, releasement, and (to use Shurmann’s slightly archaic term) dehiscence…the bursting forth…of the fruit” Because the process is a rigorous one as well as one without end, he adds:

Releasement only approaches, but does not enter, that virginal terrain of the Godhead. It wanders outside the wilderness, growing in relation with each step. We in our winding itinerary experience an aimless joy, a joy that uplifts us in our worldly ways. At this high pitch of Eckhart's leaching, the searing intensity of wakefulness carries its own feeling. Schurmann entitled the original French edition of 1972 Maitre Eckhart ou la joie errante. The joy of divine birth is a wandering joy. [xiv]

To achieve his purpose of opening up Eckhart's mystical philosophy for contemporary readers, Schurmann has concentrated on Eckhart's German sermons, which he addressed to the nuns and laity of the Rhineland in his native tongue and in which, as Schurmann says, "he was more original and more personal ... without the confining apparatus of late scholasticism," which we find in his Latin works "written for academic purposes." As Schurmann point's out, however, "Meister Eckhart teaches basically the same thing in both languages. The Latin work constitutes the doctrinal basis for the understanding of his thought. ... The Latin works mark the road, but the German works invite us on the journey." Wandering Joy consists, then, of Schurmann's own translations (from Middle High German) of eight of Eckhart's German sermons, three of the eight being followed by a careful analysis of the argument and then by a useful but solidly packed commentary on the main themes in the sermons.

Schurmann also points up how perilously close Eckhart came to heresy in many of his affirmative statements concerning God, the Godhead (or the God beyond God), the birth of God within the "soul" or "mind," and so on. It was, of course, because of many of these arguments that finally, in 1326, Eckhart was accused by the Archbishop of Cologne of spreading dangerous doctrines among the common people. Hailed before three inquisitors, two of whom were Franciscans (as was the archbishop), Eckhart declared he was not a heretic though he conceded that many of his teachings had been distorted or misunderstood. Censured at the Cologne trial, Eckhart appealed to the Pope, and a second trial was convened at Avignon. Schurmann deals in comprehensive endnotes with several of the "propositions" that had been declared "heretical." He also points out that a papal bull issued by Pope John XXII a year after Eckhart's death declared seventeen of the twenty-eight articles heretical and the remainder "dangerous and suspect of heresy."

Two of Schurmann's translations of the Middle High German words are particularly felicitous, as coming closer to Eckhart's thought than the customary renderings. First is the term sele, interpreted by many writers as "soul," but by Schurmann as "mind." Schurmann defends this by pointing out that "Eckhart's vocabulary in this case is Augustinian. Sele mostly stands for Augustine's mens or animus, both of which are usually translated as 'mind'." Later, in commenting on one of the sermons, Schurmann refers to the Greek term, nous, probably as also meaning sele. The other term is even more revealing of Eckhart's essential thought. Schurmann suggests that the Middle High German word gelazenheit (modern German Gelassenheit) is the "authentic core of Meister Eckhart's thinking." As he says early in the text, this "key term" has been translated as "serenity," "letting go," or "abandonment," but he believes the translation "releasement" is more appropriate. In one of the best of Schurmann's exegeses of Eckhart's sermons, he emphasizes the relevance of releasement and what he calls the four "intensities of releasement" (dissimilarity, similarity, identity, and "dehiscence") as road markers on the way to that place "where absolute stillness, utter silence and unity reign," to union with "the unknown one." Schurmann says:

Eckhart announces a simple message; his doctrine has nothing esoteric or extraordinary about it. It concerns what is most ordinary in an existence. It deals with experiences that the majority of men have. It responds to elementary questions in the apprenticeship of life: What about my original liberty, and how can it be regained? How can I come back to myself? Where can 1find joy that does not tarnish? [81] The single thought around which [Eckhart's] message is articulated is expressed in verbs that speak of deliverance: "to rid oneself of something," "to become free," "to be a virgin," "to let be." These words indicate a road. [81]

And that road, says Schurmann, is "detachment" or "renunciation":

Detachment not only reveals man's condition and the condition of the ground, but also God's own condition. God is not; God is nothing as long as man lacks the breakthrough to the Godhead. If you do not consent to detachment, God will miss his Godhead, and man will miss himself. [80]

Nevertheless, the crux of the matter according to Schurmann is that "detachment turns progressively into releasement. The lower intensities of releasement require an effort of the will; the higher intensities...exclude every voluntary determination… The intensities of releasement result from the actualization of the center, or ground, in man" (82). Schurmann has prepared us for this development by his statement in the introduction (xx): &quo


Book Reviews 2003




Jung: A Journey of Transformation. By Vivianne Crowley Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, Quest, 1999. Hardcover, 160 pages

Carl Gustav Jung emphasized a crucial psychotherapeutic process he called transformation. "One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light," Jung insisted, "but by making the darkness conscious." His career penetrated the shadows of the unconscious mind and illuminated everyday experience. His work encourages genuine spirituality, increases an appreciation of the world's mythologies, and explains how metaphors and dreams provide healing. Crowley's book assists readers in comprehending Jung's principal concepts and techniques. The author, a licensed psychologist trained and practicing in the Jungian tradition, organizes Jung's theories systematically and employs colorful charts that simplify without distorting his central concepts. This book is especially suited as an introduction to Jung and his philosophy.

-DANIEL ROSS CHANDLER

January/February 2003


THE ESOTERIC ORIGINS OF THE AMERICAN RENAISSANCE. By Arthur Versluis. New York; Oxford University Press, 2001. Hardback, vi + 234 pages.

Arthur Versluis considers Western esotericism the most important new field of religious and interdisciplinary scholarship. In this groundbreaking work, he is the first to study the presence of Western esotericism in North America and its influences on the major writers of the nineteenth-century American Renaissance.

The term "Western esotericism'' includes herbalism, astrology, folk magic, and the several forms of divination that seventeenth-and eighteenth-century European colonists brought with them to help discern their uncertain future in a new world. English and German settlers, especially, integrated practical esotericism into their daily lives. By the time of the nineteenth century, these esoteric currents were disappearing. The rise of the sciences, technology, and industrialization in the early nineteenth century presented a cosmology that separated and objectified, whereas the esoteric traditions worked with the deeper connections between "humanity, nature, and the divine."

The elimination of esotericism from American daily life, however, was not complete. Our of sight did not" mean our of mind. Indeed, the writers of the American Renaissance were responsible for "the transference of esoteric traditions from daily life into literary consciousness." In this volume, Versluis analyzes esoteric themes in the work of writers like Poe, Hawthorne, Melville, Alcott, Emerson, Fuller, Whitman, and Dickinson-writers who limited their contact with esoterica to the available literature, but did not practice.

Versluis suggests several reasons why previous studies have almost completely ignored the influence of esotericism on these writers. First, academia assesses esotericism as superstition. Second, the study of esoteric traditions is transdisciplinary, cutting across many disciplines, with ramifications beyond any single one, making it difficult to find a home in academia. Third, critics claimed that nineteenth-century American literature belonged on a level with Shakespeare, though discounting the bard's own references to magic and esoterica. In the wilderness of unexamined primary sources, Versluis searches for specific esoteric connections between a given writer and the writer’s works. His analysis and scholarship are as fascinating as a treasure hunt.

Versluis closes with two interesting suggestions. First, that the work of these writers with esoterica influenced them to adopt an open tolerance for truth in every tradition. This led to the Transcendentalist thesis that a universal human religion is inherent in all the world religions. Second, their work probably prepared the way for the later emergence of semisecret lodges in American cities and the practice of astrology and alchemy from the last century until today.

-DAVID R. BISHOP

January/February 2003


NATURE LOVES TO HIDE: Quantum Physics and the Nature of Reality, a Western Perspective. By Shimon Malin. New York: Oxford University Press, 2001. Hardback, xvi + 288 pages.

Science has always been an integral part of the Theosophical Society. It is part of the Second Object and finds support in the Mahatmas Letters: "Modern science is our best ally." A quick perusal of our past literature and lectures shows that, as a Society, we have always shown an interest in modern science.

In 1975 Fritjof Capra changed the public face of panicle physics by publishing a perennial best seller entitled The Tao of Physics. On November 5, 1977, the Society brought Capra to its national center, "Olcott," for a weekend seminar. That was also the beginning of the Theosophical Research. Institute (TRI), which continued for a time.

What made Capra's book so compelling was his pointing out the parallels between Eastern mystical thought and some of the new concepts in quantum and relativity theory. Eventually, he concludes that particle physics and Eastern mysticism converged. After Capra's book, a number of others extended the subject, one of the better ones being Gary Zukav's work, The Dancing Wu Li Masters.

Once the initial excitement of Capra's book had passed, the scientific community, with a collective yawn, seemed to revert to business as usual and moved on to other interesting subjects like black holes and string theory. As coeditor of the TRI Journal, I found this somewhat frustrating since we were unable to convince orthodox scientist to continue this line of study.

The only other book that generated some excitement was Amit Goswani’s work, The Self-Aware Universe: How Consciousness Creates the Material World. It had a provocative tide but was unconvincing to most of my scientific friends who read it. The Theosophical Society has published another of Goswani's books, The Visionary Window: A Quantum Physicist’s Guide to Enlightenment. Here the tide presents an even bigger challenge, and I'm afraid the scientific community has still avoided this whole area.

Now comes Shimon Malin's new book, which just may have a chance of being read and taken seriously in the orthodox scientific community. Why is this? The book is more difficult- to read than those mentioned above. It makes you think, even in its lighter passages. It covers a wide range of authors, including Plato, Plotinus, Bohr, Schrodinger, Whitehead, and Heisenberg. And yet there is something about this book that most scientists will accept. After some thought, I have decided I know what that is.

While editor of the TRI Journal, I found that many orthodox scientists did not like to involve themselves with the vocabulary of the East". As soon as words like "karma," "Oneness," "Vishnu," and so on entered the discourse, interest waned. What did Malin do to avoid this? Look at his subtitle- his book is a "Western Perspective." He has used Western vocabulary, and his explanations are clear and simple, even though the topics are quite difficult. The few places he felt the need to include mathematical arguments, he has relegated them to appendices. Even there, they are presented with humor and clarity.

I noticed on the book's jacket that Ravi Ravindra had given a positive review of its content and message. Since Ravindra was the Professor and Chair of Comparative Religion, Professor of International Development Studies, and Adjunct Professor of Physics at Dalhousie University, he has the credentials to evaluate the hook. However, Ravindra is also a long-time and influential member of the Theosophical Society. He has given many talks and conducted many workshops for the Society. I was not surprised when I got to page 227 to find Malin mentioning his "good friend from Nova Scotia, the physicist and philosopher, Ravi Ravindra."

Malin's book repeats much of the same material that Capra and Zukav covered, but does so without Eastern vocabulary and hence the need for a reader unfamiliar with Eastern religions to learn a new background. Instead, Malin relies solely on philosophers and scientists of the West to convey his arguments. Whenever he needs to slip into the subjective, he uses two fictional characters, Peter and Julie, to convey his message. In some ways they are the right brain and left brain of text.

An important part of Malin's effort is to introduce what he calls the Subject of Cognizance. Without this, we have a dead image of a living universe. Simply put, "all scientific evidence is based on human experiences; the human mind is the ultimate measuring apparatus. Yet the nature of the Subject of Cognizance is never raised as a scientific issue."

-RALPH H. HANNON

January/February 2003


Confucianism: A Short Introduction. By John H. and Evelyn Nagai Berthrong. Oxford: One World, 2000. Paperback, x + 209 pages.


The Way of Virtue: An Ancient Remedy to Heal the Modern Soul.
By James Vollbracht. Atlanta, GA: Humanics, 1998. Paperback, [Xiv] + 129 pages.


The Wisdom of Confucius. Trans. William Jennings. Secaucus, NJ: Carol; Citadel Press, 1996. Paperback, xiv + 197 pages.


The Wisdom of the Confucians. Compo Zhou Xun with T. H. Barrett. Oxford: One World, 2001. Hardback, 200 pages.

An article in Newsweek magazine (May 27, 2002, p. 51) reports the revival of Confucian studies in China-among children. The West likewise has had a renewal of interest in the Master Teacher of the Orient, who is more than of only historical interest because his view of human beings and their role in community has some lessons that can benefit twenty-first-century Westerners. These four books published over the past six years are straws in the wind indicating new interest in an old wisdom.

The Wisdom of Confucius is a reprint of an older work, a compilation of Confucian sayings, apparently all from the Analects (but unfortunately without source identification), organized according to the subjects they treat.

The Way of Virtue is also basically a compilation of sayings, apparently from the Analects butt likewise without attribution. They are set in a narrative biographical account with some imaginative embellishments.

The Wisdom of the Confucians  is another but more recent compilation, handsomely produced and illustrated, drawn primarily from the Confucian Four Books, but also from some of the older Classics and from, later Confucian works as well, including some Japanese sources. Its short selections are organized under the broad heads of family, society, individuals, and education. Because of the wider scope of its sources, it gives a fuller account of Confucian thought.

Confucianism: A Short Introduction is, as its title promises, a concise overview of Confucian teachings, values, practices, history, and significance. In part, the book accomplishes its mission by describing the life of a fictional seventeenth-century Confucian couple, Dr. and Mrs. Li. The value of this approach is that it shows Confucianism, not merely as a body of ideas, but as a way of life during one of the high points in its history. The book thus aims at showing the human face of Confucianism.

These four books are all popular presentations of Confucianism and thus accessible introductions to their subject. The two One World publications are especially useful for their breadth and innovative presentations.

-MORTON DILKES


The PK Man: A True Story of Mind over Matter. By Jeffrey Mishlove. Charlottesvllle, VA: Hampton Roads, 2000. Paperback, xx + 283 pages.

Jeffrey Mishlove is a parapsychologist, author of the classic work, Roots of Consciousness (1975) and of Psi Development Systems (1983) and, among other things, the gifted host of Thinking Allowed, the acclaimed public television interview series on new thought and consciousness (in production since 1986). In this book he chronicles and meticulously documents an engrossing story of a powerfully talented psychic, Ted Owens, who called himself "The PK Man" (PK standing for psychokinesis), whose life and career Mishlove personally studied for some years until Owens's death in 1987. Owens's activities were also carefully followed at different times by other scientific researchers (a urologist, a clinical psychologist, an astronomer, and several noted physicists) and by several journalists. Mishlove cites their independent testimony.

Owens predicted or caused the occurrence of a variety of spectacular events, including thunder and lightning, snowstorms, earthquakes, droughts and hot spells, drought-relieving or freezing rains, floods, tornados, power failures, volcanic eruptions, the technical failure of human machinery, strange turns in sporting events, and the summoning on command of UFOs into the field of vision of spectators. The question whether the human mind can exert a direct influence on distant physical systems with no known mediation has long been debated. But if this power does exist, its implications are, as Mishlove says, "staggering in every way-philosophically, scientifically, sociologically, spiritually, and most importantly, in terms of how we know and understand ourselves." Owens claimed that none of his demonstrations were the result alone of his own psychic abilities but always involved assistance from or commands of Space Beings or Space Intelligences-his SIs, as he called them. Mishlove asks, "Was Owens really in touch with extra dimensional beings existing in some hyperspace dimension ... or were they a delusion that Owens had built up in his mind in a desperate attempt at self-understanding?"

This story in fact raises many questions psychological, scientific, parapsychological, ethical, social, philosophical, and metaphysical. Mishlove's approach is interdisciplinary. To give just one example: the idea of hyperspace beings is, of course, totally unacceptable from the viewpoint of scientific materialism. But it is not inconsistent with insights of physics concerning hyperspace, as in superstring theory, nor with many biblical accounts, nor with metaphysical ideas of mystics of today and of the past, nor with some commonly held ideas of shamans.

Owens used his powers inappropriately, even very destructively, in some instances. Mishlove points out, however, that Owens lived and operated within a world that offered him little in the way of support or understanding, and that his efforts to use psychokinesis for human benefit were met with sarcasm and ridicule. "This is a situation faced today by thousands of talented intuitives, psychics, shamans, healers, and seers," he writes.

As here told, this story is a page-turner. Above all, it heightens one's perception that to be a human being is to "wield the dual powers of awareness and intention, every waking and dreaming moment." And it arouses a resolve to "practice mental hygiene" with regard to one's own "stream of consciousness."

-ANNA F. LEMKOW

January/February 2003


FIGHTING THE WAVES The Wandering Peacemaker. By Roger Plunk. Charlottesville, VA: Hampton Roads, 2000. Paperback, xiv+ 191 pages.

Readers who believe that spirituality should be expressed in the world as well as in the heart will find a kindred spirit in Roger Plunk. In The Wandering Peacemaker, Plunk opens a window to his spiritual life as it has shaped his work as a freelance international mediator. Visionary since childhood, Plunk feels guided by a steadfast inner light. However, rather than becoming a cave-dwelling mystic, he has enthusiastically embraced life, studying philosophy and law and embarking on a career in which he has tried to bring peace to several troubled regions including Tibet and Afghanistan.

Plunk affirms "that solutions arc invariably spiritual," engendered by love, compassion, and flexible thinking, but the political impasses he has attempted to mediate are so bitter and deeply entrenched that Plunk is unsure of what influence he may have had. He uses an image of a boy fighting the waves of the ocean to illustrate the value of his work. Although the waves always win, at least he "jumped in and made an effort.

-PAUL WINE

January/February 2003


Within Time and beyond Time: A Festschrift for Pearl King. Ed. Riccardo Steiner and Jennifer Johns. London: Kamac, 2001. Paperback, xxvi + 277 pages.

This anthology of eighteen papers on psychoanalytic theory and practice in the United Kingdom was assembled to honor the British psychoanalytic historian (and British. Theosophist) Pearl King on her eightieth birthday. Among a number of other accomplishments-for example, her important coeditorship of the Freud-Klein Controversies, 1941-45, and her work with developmental issues in the mature psychoanalytic patient-the contributors make special mention of her work as the most important internal historian of the British Psychoanalytic Society.

The papers range over a capacious array of live topics within psychoanalytic theory and history. Among the topics dealt with are the split within French psychoanalysis in the wake of Jacque Lacan's short-term "wild analysis," recollections of the early life of R. D. Lang, the complex intertwining of the ego ideal and the super ego in first- and second-generation children of Holocaust survivors, the question as to whether or not classical Freudian drive theory is really incompatible with more recent object-relations theory, genetic versus developmental analyses in psychoanalytic practice, and the elusive problem of unconscious ego choice. While very few Festschrift's are actually about their intended honoree, this one does acknowledge the centrality of Pearl King as a champion of both the London Society and the less secure fledgling Societies in the hinterlands to the north of London.

For Theosophists there are several issues here that are of great import. I will mention three of them. The essay by Leo Rangell, "Unconscious Choice and Responsibility: An Elusive Point of Psychoanalytic Theory," moves beyond the dyad between the weak consciousness and an all-powerful but deterministic unconscious. Rangell argues, and I think persuasively, that the unconscious piece of the ego makes choices about object cathexis or intrapsychic integrity and has a small, but important, amount of free will. If this is so, then it follows that the Theosophical quest to work through and past the so-called lower self must first wrestle with this strange phenomenon of a conscious yet unconscious decision-making process within the hidden depths of the ego. There seems to be a special kind of consciousness within the unconscious that could be correlated further down into the etheric and astral bodies, insofar as they may have been part of the pre-formation of the personal and collective unconscious below even the genetic level. Put in the form of a question: just how does karma get expressed in unconscious ego choices, themselves based on both traumatic and inherited patterns, which can only be decoded by a rigorous psychoanalytic process?

Another question raised is that of knowing how to tell if an experience is a hallucination or has a true object reference. In the essay "The Unconscious: Past, Present, and Future," Clifford York carefully lays out Freud's evolving views on the unconscious system and the distinctions among the descriptive, dynamic, and systematic modes of the unconscious and the way these modes of the total unconscious relate to the preconscious. In "solving" the hallucination problem, he argues that occasionally an unconscious fantasy can emerge that does not pass through the preconscious. Therefore, as it" is not even filtered through our partly controllable preconscious, we assume that the fantasy object comes to us from the external world. In reference to H. P. Blavatsky's many experiences, this distinction can become quite vexatious. Are her trance states simply fantasies that fail to slow down and get moderated by her preconscious? Are occult experiences over-determined by projection, transference, and Oedipal or castration anxieties? Or are they, as Rudolf Steiner argued, validated insofar as they are seen by the "spiritual eye" rather than by the perceptual channels of "normal" consciousness?

Finally, the moving essay by Bernard Barnett, "The Holocaust, Its Aftermath, and the Problem of the Superego," gives case studies of survivors' children as they struggle with depression, rage, self-loathing, and paranoia. Barnett makes some brilliant moves when he correlates the sometimes unbearable, unconscious tension between the ego ideal of the child (who fantasizes rescuing his or her parents from the Nazis), and the damning superego (that tries to push the son or daughter into the false recognition that they are just like the Nazis in the camp). This raging psychic split can produce life-long psychosomatic disorders and make it extremely difficult to rebuild a whole psyche. For the Nazi party member or sympathizer, there is a pathological pseudo-blending of the ego ideal and the superego that deadens the conscience by linking it to a tribal identity that projects all forms of negativity outward into the Other.

The superego of the Nazi became focused on Jews and others who seemingly acted out the hidden drives and desires within the unconscious of the Nazi. One could make a strong case that this psychic dynamic is operating in the current Israeli Palestinian conflict. For Theosophists, usually working out of far less charged internal dynamics, the conflict between the ego ideal and the superego may play itself out in the tensions between the higher Manas and the seemingly endless repetition of the drives. The ego ideal may indeed become too inflated, thus putting backpressure on the superego to deflate and weaken the psyche.

It is clear that these essays not only honor Pearl King, but also give both psychoanalysts and Theosophists much to think about. While it should be clear that their issues are our issues, it may be less clear to them that our issues are theirs as well. It is my hope that this will change in our lifetimes.

-ROBERT S. CORRINGTON

March/April 2003


The Hidden Gospel: Decoding the Spiritual Message of the Aramaic Jesus. By Neil Douglas-Klotz. Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, Quest, 1999. Paperback, [viii] + 222 pages.

While scholars and theologians struggle to disentangle "the historical Jesus" from the "Christ of the Christian faith," Douglas Klotz proposes filtering Jesus' words through the Aramaic language that Jesus actually spoke. Thus "Blessed are the meek" becomes "Healthy are those who have softened what is rigid within." Perhaps such translations simply reflect the information in a good psychology text-book. Using this rhetorical-psychological method, the author attempts to decode the spiritual and prophetic statements expressed in Christian scripture as hidden messages. This book evokes a statement by Jesus indicating that he taught an exoteric message to a general audience and an esoteric message for a select few. But until Jesus' actual expressions are confirmed with certainty, reinterpreting the words in scripture remains a creative exercise. Saying the "same" thought in a different context or a different language is not saying the same thing. All of our translations are really interpretations.

-DANIEL ROSS CHANDLER

March/April 2003


The Spirituality of Success: Getting Rich with Integrity. By Vincent M. Roazzi. Dallas: Brown Books, 2002. Paperback, xvi + 244 pages.

A tradition found in the West and elsewhere around the world values holy poverty. And that is a good tradition, but it is not the only approach to spirituality and economics. Saint Paul is often misquoted as having said, "Money is the root of all evil." What he actually wrote (I Timothy 6.10) is "The love of money is the root of all evil." And that's an important distinction. Things have no moral value in themselves-but only in how we relate to them.

Contemporary world culture is capitalist in orientation, and capitalism values capital, income, and business success. But those things need to be related to in ways that make them spirituality-friendly, and that means treating them as means to a morally good end, not as ends in themselves. One of the steps on the Buddha's Noble Eightfold Path is "right means of livelihood," a step that all of us need to be mindful of, whatever economic activities we engage in.

This book by a member of the Theosophical Society focuses on spiritually appropriate means to achieve economic success, but the purpose of that success is not neglected. And that purpose must always arise from the recognition, in the words of one of the great teachers, that "it is 'Humanity' which is the great Orphan, ... and it" is the duty of every man [and woman] who is capable of an unselfish impulse to do something, however little, for its welfare." Or as Roazzi writes in his preface, "After all, your success will not be for you alone to enjoy, nor does anybody become successful by themselves." The true key to personal success is impersonal altruism.

-JOHN CROWE

March/April 2003


Alchemical Psychology: Old Recipes for Living in a New World. By Thom F. Cavalii. New York: Jeremy R. Tarcher/Putnam, 2002. Paperback, 365 pages.

Thom Cavalli's new book provides a very readable introduction for the nonspecialist to the Jungian approach to alchemy- sometimes called the Great Work. Here, alchemy is the quest for the transformation of the "lead" of our unconscious lives into the "gold" of greater consciousness and psychological integration. The book is written in an entertaining style and includes helpful chart's and pictures; with plenty of space, for notes. The attractive presentation is unfortunately marred by a number of small errors - for example, Albertus Magnus has become Albertus Magus, and Wittgenstein might be surprised to find himself listed as a physicist.

In a welcome move, Cavalli acknowledges that alchemy also has legitimate physical laboratory applications and higher spiritual aspects, but that explicitly psychological readings of the Work only made their appearance in the last hundred years. However, I was disappointed that he did not give more than a passing nod to nonpsychological approaches to alchemy, leaving his psychotherapeutic approach to stand alone, at least as far as this book is concerned.

As Cavalli himself states, the psyche is only one level of our being. One of the strengths of the alchemical tradition is its ability to describe and catalyze transformation on all levels-elemental, physical, psychological, and spiritual. Cavalli's readers might want to broaden their search by investigating laboratory alchemy (e.g., the courses written by Jean Dubois for the Philosophers of Nature), alchemical magic (e.g., David Goddard, The Tower of Alchemy; Gareth Knight, Experience of the Inner Worlds and The Secret Tradition in Arthurian Legend), and spiritual alchemy (e.g., the sacramental alchemy of Paul Blighton, The Philosophy of Sacramental Initiation and The Book of Alchemy).

Cavalli's practical exercises and clear language will insure that his book is a valuable help to seekers. Nonetheless, we know our soul only in living experience and in union with our body and our spirit, and the wise operator will not neglect these aspects of being in the alchemical Work. After all, "what is below is like that which is above, and what is above is like that which is below, to accomplish the miracle of the one thing."

--JOHN PLUMMER

March/April 2003


Heart without Measure: Work with Madame de Salzmann. By Ravi Ravindra, Halifax, Nova Scotia: Shaila Press, 1999. Hardback, 218 pages.

Ravi Ravindra had the privilege to work with Madame Jean de Salzmann for more than a decade. Madame de Salzmann worked with Gurdjieff for many years and was entrusted with continuing the Work (Gurdjieff's teachings) after his death in 1949. This book is a collection of journal entries from1971 to 1990 by Ravindra that document conversations, communications, and encounters between Ravindra and Madame de Salzmann and provide a glimpse, of her extraordinary compassion and love.

Each chapter consists of the state of mind of the author when encountering problems, his observations, and his insights, followed by discussions with Madame de Salzmann regarding the difficulty experienced during meditation or other exercises performed to assist in the integration of the body and mind. At the end of each section, a summary of the remarks of Madame de Salzmann is given so that the reader can review them in their pristine form.

The doubts, questions, play of the mind, and frustrations experienced by the author are not unlike the issues many would face when embarking on a serious journey. What is admirable is the honesty with which the author records his feelings and mentions them in the subsequent conversations with Madame de Salzmann. Ravindra remarks that if you go to a doctor but hide your symptoms, you cannot expect to get the right treatment. It is easy for us to relate with the author when he is counting the days until he can leave after coming to an intense session at the Foundation in Paris.

The observations and in some cases insights, such as "I realize that violence, both internal and external, arises from a feeling of not being needed, not being useful" and "Thinking without words, that is attention," seem to stay with us long after the book is put down.

The central theme of the Work is the harmonization of the three forces of the body, mind, and feeling. "Unless these are together, equally developed and harmonized, a steady connection cannot be made with a higher force. Everything in the Work is a preparation for that connection. That is the aim of the Work.

The experiences and the efforts made by the author in developing this connection and the untiring help and guidance provided by Madame Salzmann are the focus of the book. Oh, what a doctor she was! She was able to see the inner feelings and sensations and to provide guidance to move in the right direction during a movement or meditation, and she gave tremendous courage to the students to lay bare all their warts.

For those who are familiar with Gurdjieff's Work, this book will be beneficial, as it provides invaluable insights from the voice of Madame de Salzmann. Even for those who have no prior knowledge of the Work, some of the remarks of Madame de Salzmann are crystal clear. One such statement is "Man has a special function, which other creatures cannot fulfill. He can serve the earth by becoming a bridge for certain higher energies. But man, as he is by nature, is not complete. In order to fulfill his proper function he needs to develop. There is a part of him which is unsatisfied by his life. Through religious or spiritual traditions he may become aware what this part needs." However there are statements that require a deeper attention on the part of the reader: "What is important is the connection with the higher energy. And when one is not related, one must stay in front of the lack of connection. Stay in front of whatever is taking place: stay in front of your connection or the lack of it. Stay in front."

The title of the book is appropriately named Heart without Measure, and one can see in each page the love and untiring assistance given to the author by Madame de Salzmann. The author rightly acknowledges and appreciates the assistance. However, the real "guru dakshina" or expressed gratitude would be to continue the Work. To some extent this is achieved by writing the book. For those who want to learn who a true teacher is and what honesty in effort means, this book will be inspiring.

-GURU PRASAD

March/April 2003


Gnosticism: New Light on the Ancient Tradition of Inner Knowing. By Stephan A. Hoeller, Wheaton, IL: Quest Books, 2002, Paperback,  257 pages.


The Fall of Sophia: A Gnostic Text on the Redemption of Universal Consciousness. Translated with commentary by Violet MacDermot, and foreword by Stephan A. Hoeller, Great Barrington, MA: Lindisfarne Books, 2001. Paperback, 224 pages.

Stephan Hoeller is considered by many as today's foremost advocate of a renewed Gnostic tradition. Many in the Theosophical Society know him as an informative lecturer whose humor and in-depth knowledge always provide a reason for listening to his message. Not as many people know that Hoeller, age 70, is also known as Bishop Hoeller and has presided since 1977 at Ecclesia Gnostica, the chapel of the Gnostic Society. Its web site is: http://www.gnosis.org/eghome.htm .It Is my understanding that his parish extends to Portland and Salt Lake City.

Hoeller has written a book on Gnosticism that has been greatly needed since the popular classic The Gnostic Gospels was written and published in the late 1970s by Elaine Pagels. If anecdotal evidence shows a trend, Gnosticism is quietly making inroads as more people are thinking for themselves rather than letting organized religion do it for them. For Theosophists, this book will be a very welcome addition to their library. Prior to the Nag Hammadi discovery, Theosophists essentially had the writings of Madame Blavatsky and G. R. S. Mead for Gnostic studies and insights. Now we have a plethora of books in print and numerous sites on the Internet dealing with Gnosticism. However, to sort it all out and take the time to make sense of "Gnostic information overload" is asking too much for many of us. Hoeller's book solves that problem-it presents the essence of Gnosticism. Hoeller indicates, "This book is a concise and sympathetic presentation of the teachings and spiritual ambience of the Gnostic tradition."

Hoeller tell us that "the Gnostics always emphasized understanding and the insights derived from understanding." The book begins to help us with those insights by examining the Gnostic worldview. Next, God and Cosmos, the human being, and individual salvation are considered before we revisit Genesis in the Old Testament. We next look at Sophia as a Gnostic archetype of feminine wisdom. This is a germane discussion for the second book in this review. Finally, we examine the Gnostic Christ, the Gnostic view of Evil, and its initiatory Sacraments. This material forms almost one-half of the book.

The chapter on the Gnostic Christ could have been longer. Actually, I would hope that Hoeller develops this chapter into a book because it is needed. In many ways I consider myself to be a Christian Gnostic. However, I quite often find it difficult to define what that means when I try to articulate it. The material in the chapter on the Gnostic Christ helped in formulating my thoughts and beliefs, but I'm still searching for more help in this area. Some of the best material that I have found has come from the old lessons from the Holy Order of MANS (now Science of Man). These lessons are still in print and information on them can be found on the web site under their Discipleship Study program : .

The second half of the book is a standard history beginning with some early Gnostic teachers (Simon Magus, Carpocrates, Alexandra, and Valentinus), and later teachers (H. P. Blavatsky, G. R. S. Mead, and Jung) and concluding with a chapter on Gnosticism and postmodern thought. As with the Gnostic Christ, many of these chapters could each be a separate book. Let us remember, however, that Hoeller warned, "This book is a concise and sympathetic presentation." Therefore, we find a very nice, short, and selected history that fits together well. A Gnostic reading list and glossary are included and are quite useful. I did find the material on postmodern Thought to be somewhat ambiguous. I wished he had developed the environmentalism material (p. 219) a little more. Also, his brief but accurate comments on theoretical physics (p. 220) are quite timely. But since Capra's The Tao of Physics is so well recognized today, we could have had a longer discussion on how physics enhances the Gnostic perspective.

About forty years ago, I remember reading a book on the Essenes and Gnosticism that touched my inner self. Later, I became interested in the French Christian-Jewish mystic Simone Weil. When I discovered her spiritual interest in Catharism and its connection to Gnosticism, I had that same feeling again. Hoeller's book put my insight and feeling into a historical perspective. His discussion of the Gnostic religions of the Mandaeans, Manichaeans, and Cathars is very well done. Any book that helps clarify thinking in this area is useful. You probably will find similar reasons for wanting to add this text to your bookshelf.

The second book in this review is Egyptologist Violet MacDermot's translation of the Pistis Sophia. Part one of this book is a stand-alone discussion of the Gnostic myth of Sophia. The impact of science is considered, and as a bonus Swedenborg and the human body as microcosm are covered. Part two is the first and second books of Pistis Sophia. Sophia's fall is our Story of separation and a slow evolution to a new level of consciousness. Hoeller writes the foreword in this book and provides all the necessary background. This would be a' perfect follow-up, to Hoeller’s Gnosticism book;

-RALPH H. HANNON

March/April 2003


Spirit and Art: Pictures of the Transformation of Consciousness. By Van James, Great Barrington, MA: Anthroposophic Press, 2001, Paperback, xii + 267 pages.

According to Van James, art is something like a midwife, helping, to bring into the world of sense perception "our experience of the invisible," Spirit and Art is a detailed, richly illustrated examination of art's power to symbolize unseen spiritual processes and to reveal the evolution of human consciousness.

Ranging from the cave art and megalithic structures of prehistory to the postmodern world of Joseph Beuys's shamanic conceptual art, James explores the art and architecture of Europe, ancient Greece and Rome, Egypt, the Near and Far East, Africa, Australia, and the Americas. He includes chapters on sacred buildings, art and the initiatory practices of ancient mystery cults, and spiritual designs and symbols. Writing that artistic symbolism is an "initiatory revelation that opens a doorway into the secret realm of creation," James offers numerous crosscultural examples of images and structures designed to draw human beings deeper into the mystery of life: catacombs, mandalas, labyrinths, Native American sand paintings, Gothic cathedrals, pyramids, and Buddhist temples.

- James also discusses "Cosmic Script," simple linear and geometric images, such as dots, circles, crosses, zigzags, and triangles, occurring as spiritual forms across numerous cultures, especially in the petroglyphs of early humans. James tells us that these forms, attempts to represent supersensory forces, are related to phosphenes, "fleeting physiological images produced upon the mind's eye independently of external vision" that appear during the "first stages of a shamanic trance state."

-PAUL WINE

March/April 2003


The Mandaeans, the Last Gnostics.By Edmonda Lupieri. Trans. Charles Hindley. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2002. Hardback, xix + 273 pages.


The Fall of Sophia: A Gnostic Text on the Redemption of Universal Consciousness. By Violet MacDermot. Great Barrington, MA: Lindisfarne Books, 2001. Paperback, 224 pages.


The Gospel of Mary Magdalene.By Jean-Yves Leloup. Trans. Joseph Rowe.Rochester, VT: Inner Traditions International, 2002. Paperback, 178 pages.

At the turn of the twentieth to the twenty-first century, we are experiencing a Gnostic renaissance that might represent a parallel to the Hermetic-Humanistic Renaissance of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Every year we find that the literature on this subject has grown by way of the publication of new books often containing exciting new translations of important Gnostic texts.

Only fifty years ago it was generally believed that Gnosticism was extinct and thus could be approached only historically. Today we know that this is not the case. In Iraq and Iran there lives a substantial religious minority known as the Mandaeans (from the word manda denoting Gnosis), ancient Semitic Gnostics who have survived since the early centuries of the Christian era. Until quite recently, the only available literature describing these fascinating folk were the scholarly and hard-to-obtain tomes of the pioneer researcher, Lady Ethel Stefana Drower, who in the first half of the twentieth century befriended members of the Mandaean community and described their beliefs, customs, and scriptures.

Edmondo Lupieri, an Italian university professor of the history of Christianity, has presented us with a singularly informative introduction to Mandaeanism. In addition to the kind of material that was familiar to some of us by way of the books of Lady Drower, Lupieri discloses many valuable accounts of the prolonged interaction of the Mandaeans with Western Christianity, primarily Italian missionaries, who documented their experiences with the Mandaeans. Many of these documents (beginning with chronicles written by Rocoldo da Montecroce, a thirteenth century monk) are in the archives of the Vatican. In addition to these unique historical sources, Lupieri presents much contemporary information, including the visit of a Mandaean delegation to the Vatican in 1990 and the presence of Mandaean priests at a noted conference dealing with their religion in Boston in June, 1999.

Lupieri's book is arguably the best work ever published on this remarkable remnant of ancient Gnosticism. The book is enriched by an extensive anthology of translated Mandaean texts in addition to the detailed historical study that constitutes its first part. Esoteric students need to keep in mind that the Mandaeans are the most likely source of the Gnostic connections of the medieval Knights Templar, and thus they may very well be the mysterious "Christians of Saint John" referred to in Templar and Masonic lore. Students of the Gnostic tradition ought" to feel grateful for this readable and insightful introduction to an important branch of the ancient, but still extant, Gnostic movement.

The most renowned of all Gnostic scriptures is the treatise known as Pistis Sophia, contained in the Askew Codex, which turned up mysteriously in London toward the end of the eighteenth century. Several scholars have prepared translations of this remarkable text, not the least of whom was the Theosophist, G. R. S. Mead, whose fine translation, published in the last years of the nineteenth century remains the most accessible of all translations.

The myth of Sophia, "Our Lady Wisdom," is one of the most important myths of the Gnostic tradition. It tells the story of a feminine emanation of the Deity, who at a certain point in her career falls from her high throne and becomes subject to numerous afflictions and indignities until she is rescued and restored to her original place of glory. Contemporary writers on the feminine principle, including students of C. G. Jung, have often referred to Sophia as a mythic representative of the fate and predicament of the human soul in general and of the feminine psyche in particular.

Like so many scriptures of Gnostic provenance, the Pistis Sophia is a complex work, filled with repetitious passages, difficult sentence structure, and imagery that may appear incomprehensible to one not familiar with Gnostic scriptures. Now, for the first time, a highly skilled translator has given us a version of this treatise that is simplified and freed from some of its obscurities, while retaining its essential content and poetic form. Violet MacDermot is one of the most insightful and sympathetic contemporary scholars of Gnostic literature. Her earlier monumental translations of several codices are well known. Trained as a medical doctor, she became an Egyptologist and scholar of Coptic texts. In many ways this latest work is her finest gift to her readers.

One of the historically significant discoveries in Gnostic studies was the Akhmim Codex, which in the latter part of the nineteenth century came to repose in the Berlin Museum. This work has received less attention than the Pistis Sophia, perhaps because it is less voluminous, although it contains three separate treatises. Two of these, The Gospel of Mary and The Act of Peter have appeared in a fine new translation appended to the now classic work, The Nag Hammadi Library in English, edited by James Robinson (4th ed. 1996). Now a new and somewhat peculiar translation and treatment of the first of these treatises has appeared, under the title The Gospel of Mary Magdalene. The translation of the text is written in a style rather more cumbersome than the one in The Nag Hammadi Library. As to the commentaries, they are likely to bewilder anyone who has some familiarity with the content and especially the context of this scripture.

Beginning with Carl Schmidt's first treatment of this scripture in 1896, every authority has acknowledged that this is a Gnostic scripture. It would therefore appear to be obvious that any interpretation of the text ought to take into account the Gnostic context of the material. Such, however, is not the case when it comes to this work by Jean-Yves Leloup. The commentaries attached to the translated passages reflect much modern theological and philosophical speculative thought, which appears to be projected onto an ancient Gnostic text, where it obviously is out of place. Nowhere do the commentaries even intimate the Gnostic spiritual ambience of the scripture in question. In fact this treatment comes very close to falsifying its intent. This circumstance is particularly tragic in view of the increasing popularity in literature of the figure of Mary Magdalene and of her relationship to Jesus. A number of years ago, the sensational book Holy Blood, Holy Grail convinced many naïve readers of the unsubstantiated story of Mary Magdalene's children sired by Jesus. Now we find ourselves confronted with a Jesus and a Mary Magdalene harnessed to modern and post-modern agendas.

The book is further rendered suspect by the content and more particularly by the bibliography in the lengthy preface by David Tresemer and Laura-Lee Canon. This bibliography lists, along with a few reputable works, several revisionist fantasies masquerading as history, mainly inspired by the "Holy Blood, Holy Grail" theories, which are characterized as "extremely well researched." No more needs to be said.

-STEPHAN A. HOELLER

May/June 2003


In Search of the Unitive Vision: Letters of Sri Madhava Ashish to an American Businessman 1978-1997. Comp. Seymour B. Ginsburg. Boca Raton, FL: New Paradigm Books, 2001. Paperback, x + 292 pages.

This book should engage anyone interested in the spirituality of Advaita or the Gurdjieff Work or Theosophy; and if one is interested in more than one of these, then the book is required reading.

Seymour Ginsburg is a successful businessman who in 1978 went on a private visit to India, a visit that became a spiritual journey for him. There he met Sri Madhava Ashish (born as Alexander Phipps in Scotland), who had taken over the direction of the Mirtola ashram near Almora in 1965, after the death of Sri Krishna Prem (born as Ronald Nixon in England), whom he had adopted as his guru in 1946. Madhava Ashish was a very wise man, often speaking from the level of consciousness established in a unitive vision:

In the unitive vision the identity of the individual with the universal is experienced, and it is perceived that this identity encompasses all beings as an eternally valid fact. It has not come into being with the seer's attainment to the vision, but simply is. What comes into being, or, more truly, is developed in the seer, is the seer's capacity to perceive the identity. In this context it seems meaningless to say that any individual man ever attains anything. (165)

Madhava Ashish told Ginsburg, "If you want to pursue in a Western way the path that we follow here at Mirtola, you need to study and work with the Gurdjieffian teaching" (13-14). Ginsburg did exactly that and cofounded the Gurdjicff Institute of Florida. Ginsburg visited Madhava Ashish regularly until the latter's death in 1997. It was the persistence and tenacity of Ginsburg that elicited a lot of letters from Madhava Ashish in response to his questions. Those are the letters presented in this volume, along with a few splendid and wonderful articles written by Madhava Ashish, two of them originally published in the American Theosophist.

Since both the authors—Madhava Ashish in particular and Seymour Ginsburg to some extent--are culturally and psychologically attuned to an integration of both the Eastern and the Western sensibilities in spiritual matters, it is good to recall a relevant aphorism of Gurdjieff "Take the understanding of the East and the knowledge of the West- and then seek." This advice seems simple on the surface, but I wonder how the pupils of the Gurdjieff Work, who are almost exclusively Westerners, would "take" the understanding of the East? From books? By apprenticeship with Eastern gurus? By imbibing the Eastern attitude by living in the East? Madhava Ashish certainly represents a striking example of a person who combined the understanding of the East and knowledge of the West. We need to be grateful to Ginsburg for persisting in his questioning, for gathering and sorting through the responses of Madhava Ashish, and for publishing them. These responses, always full of insight and sometimes wry humor, throw an impartial light on Theosophy, the Gurdjieff Work, and Indian spirituality.

-RAVI RAVINDRA

May/June 2003


The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Buddhist Wisdom. By Gill Farrer-Halls. Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, Quest Books, 2000. Hardback, 192 pages.

This splendid volume is surely not an encyclopedia in the modern sense of the word, for there are no alphabetized entries or technical terms of Buddhist thought. Rather, it is a beautifully illustrated introduction to the essential features of Buddhism in its Theravadin, Tibetan, and Zen forms and to the practice of that spiritual tradition today.

As an introduction, it is not meant for students of Buddhist- philosophy—technical vocabulary is kept at a minimum. So, too, is the discussion of the bewildering variety of Buddhist seers that have arisen over the course of the tradition's long history. Essentially, the work is for lay people wishing to grasp the fundamental teachings, values, and methods of Buddhism without undue emphasis upon Sanskrit vocabulary or historical narrative. In this respect, the volume achieves its purpose admirably. It is a very good place to begin one's acquaintance with South and East Asia's most dominant spiritual tradition.

More advanced students will, of course, find many gaps in the account. Little is said, for instance, about Pure Land (qing tu) Buddhism, a form that has always been far more popular in China and Japan than Ch'an (Zen). Tantricism is mentioned in connection with Tibet but is hardly explained adequately. Madhyamika philosophy, which lies at the root of Mahayana, does not even appear in the index. The reader who has studied Buddhism already will sense a tendency on the part of the author to homogenize the various schools and traditions until Theravada, Zen, and Tibetan forms seem to be almost the same.

Nevertheless, for the beginner this is a more than adequate place to start, for it is written with a quiet serenity and faith that are quite compelling. The emphasis upon techniques of meditation rather than doctrine is quite helpful. The illustrations are both beautiful and informative.

It is, in a word, an upaya, an excellent expedient device to start one on the path. After the reader has absorbed all that has been said here, it will be time to amplify and more carefully nuance the understanding. Buddhism knows and teaches that not everything can be said at the beginning. The Buddhist path entails constant revision and reinterpretation. This work is an excellent starting point for a life's journey.

-JAY G. WILLIAMS

May/June 2003


Luminous Emptiness: Understanding the Tibetan Book of the Dead. By Francesca Fremantle. Boston; MA: Shambhala, 2001. Hardback, 407 pages.

Francesca Fremantle transforms the Book of the Dead into a "Book of the Living." A more accurate translation of the Tibetan classic would be the "Great Liberation through Hearing during the Intermediate States," which Fremantle shortens to "Liberation through Hearing." She states that W. Y. Evans-Wentz chose the more popular title for the first English translation due to its apparent similarity to the Egyptian Book of the Dead.

Fremantle sets the foundation of the after-death (or bardo) states very carefully, with emphasis on the Deity Yoga tradition of her Kagyu teacher Chogyam Trungpa. The bardos are the states between earthly existences. Pervading her discourse on dying is the Buddhist theme that nothing is permanent. Dying is a journey into another life, which is prepared for during life by awareness of this key principle. The author relates the world of symbolic imagery, such as the rainbow of elements, to our everyday mental and emotional states. A Theosophist can correlate her report that each element includes an aspect of the five other elements with our teaching about the tattvas. All the elements and everything composed of them exist on three levels: "the coarse, the subtle, and the secret”-a principle discussed in chapter 9 on "The Threefold Pattern of the Path."

According to Fremantle (367), the three kayas are more than subtle bodies; they are three conditions of our minds:

Everything that is not the awakened state is bardo; we are always in a bardo state, just as the three kayas are always present in our lives. As the past dissolves, the mind merges with the nonexistence of everything that exists, the omnipresent openness of space, the totality from which all phenomena arise and to which they return- the dharmakaya. In the gap between the disappearance of one thought and the arising of the next, the mind rests in n state of clarity, luminous awareness vibrant with the magical display of energy; the sambhogakaya. As each new moment of consciousness arises, it gives form to the mind's natural awakened qualities and brings them to life in this world as the continual manifestation of body, speech, and mind: the nirmanakaya.

Her description of the bardos through the six realms of Hell Beings, Hungry Ghosts, Animals, Human Beings, Jealous Gods, and the Gods themselves can be pretty formidable. The attractive or fearful nature of the realms can sidetrack the pilgrim. Fremantle reminds us that by confronting these energies in daily life and with constant awareness of their impermanence, we are preparing for a safe passage through the after-death states. Is this disciple of the Kagyu tradition rushing the Western student through a. Buddhist practice for quick liberation from earthly rebirth, as if that is to be most dreaded? Perhaps not. She does focus on achieving the luminous mind at death, stating (237): "All the essential teachings of the Buddhist path, whatever one has practiced during one's life, become the means of transforming the mind at death." There are Buddhists of many traditions who believe that, when one is dying, a simple faith in Amitabha Buddha's presence will take them into his Pure Land.

In the Bhagavad Gita (ch. 6), Krishna states that "assimilation with the Supreme Spirit is on both sides of death." Chapter 8 has a similar focus: "Whoso in consequence of constant meditation on any particular form thinketh upon it when quitting his mortal shape, even to that doth he go." For some, this type of assimilation with the Supreme is a wiser path than cultivating the complex imagery presented by Fremantle in this hefty commentary. However, for those imbued with the Bodhisattva ideal of serving humanity, Fremantle (253) provides an optional practice:

Those who were not practicing Deity Yoga at all are instructed to meditate on Avalokiteshvara, the Lord of Great Compassion. .. Because of his vows to liberate all sentient beings, he is the natural, universal chosen deity available to everyone; no special empowerment" or teachings are needed to meditate upon him and aspire to enter his pure realm.

-DARA EKLUND

May/June 2003


The Mind of the Universe: Understanding Science and Religion. By Mariano Artigas. Philadelphia, PA: Templeton Foundation Press, 2000. Paperback, xx + 364 pages.

Initially, author Artigas's book reminds one of the story about a cowboy who saddled a horse and rode off in all directions simultaneously. A single important observation eventually emerges from this writer's reflections on the scientific method, the theory of evolution, human rationality and creativity, essential values, and the meaning ascribed to human progress. Artigas recognizes that nature, as comprehended by the natural sciences, points to a larger reality from which "the natural" emerges, a reality that is not immediately discoverable from the methods of the natural sciences. This conclusion, however important, is not new.

May/June 2003


Alive in God's World: Human Life on Earth and in Heaven As Described in the Visions of Joa Bolendas. By Joa Bolendas. Trans. John Hill. Hudson, NY: Lindisfarne, 2001. Paperback, 224 pages.

Eightysome-year-old Swiss mystic Joa Bolendas began seeing spiritual beings during the 1950s. In Alive in God's World she explains how her visionary experience presents human life on earth and in heaven, describing her impressions of the soul's development. In his introduction, John Hill, a Jungian therapist


Book Reviews 1989





Adam, Eve, and the Serpent, by Elaine Pagels; Random House, New York, 1988; hardcover, 189 pages.

At a conference on "Images of the Feminine in Gnosticism" held a few years ago in Claremont, California, Professor Elaine Pagels told an informative tale out of personal experience. While traveling in the Sudan, she had a conversation with the foreign minister of that country, who was a member of the local tribe of the Dinka. He impressed on Pagels' mind that the culture of the Dinka in all its contemporary manifestations was still profoundly influenced by the creation myth of their ancient lore. Upon returning to her hotel, the professor found there two recent issues of Time magazine, the first of which featured the topic of bisexuality in the United States, and the second contained letters to the editor on the same subject. Four of the six letters mentioned the story of Adam and Eve and supported their views by referring to the story of Genesis. The Dinka, a tribe in a third-world country, evaluate their modern concerns in the light of their ancient creation myth, and modern, secularized, sophisticated Americans do exactly the same. In either case, the creation myth appears to have enormous influence.

This moment of truth in Khartoum led Pagels to the research that resulted in her book, Adam, Eve, and the Serpent. As a church historian, she discovered that the first three chapters of Genesis have exerted a great influence on the attitudes of Christians in our culture and that the nature and tone of this influence was determined primarily by the kind of interpretation attached to these scriptural passages by the leaders of early Christian thought.

It is necessary to remember that the first three or four centuries of Christian history were characterized by a pluralism which was a far cry from the orthodoxies of later times. Christian communities and individual teachers taught widely differing doctrines and interpreted scripture in different ways. Thus the literalist party (which after the third century was elevated to the status of normative orthodoxy), represented by Tertullian, Justin Martyr, and others, saw in Genesis a historical event which justified their low opinion of the female gender and of sexuality. Tertullian called women the “Devil's gateway” and asserted that because of Eve's sin the sentence of God rests on the feminine sex forever, and women should properly feel guilty in consequence. In spite of the absence of explicit scriptural evidence to support the notion, these church fathers also held that the original sin of Adam and Eve was in some way of a sexual nature, and thus human sexuality was as tainted as the character of women, if indeed not more.

The Gnostic Christians, on the other hand, did not look upon the story of Genesis as history with a moral, as did the literalists, but rather they treated it as a myth with a meaning. Gnostic exegetes generally regarded the first three chapters of Genesis as containing a myth that revealed in symbol the interaction of soul and spirit within the human person, an interpretation which would have delighted such modern scholars of myths as C. G. Jung and Joseph Campbell. Needless to say, such a mode of interpretation totally negates the gross and unjust reductionism whereby women and human sexuality are made to bear the guilt and shame of Adam and Eve. One may also reflect with some profit on the course Western culture may have followed had the Gnostic mythical mode of interpretation become the dominant one in lieu of the literal historical one which still continues to cast an oppressive shadow on attitudes and mores in our times.

Another conclusion drawn by the orthodox from the first three chapters of Genesis has been the belief in the corruption of human nature. Human beings, this belief holds, are so corrupt that they cannot be trusted to arrive at valid choices in their private and public conduct. Morally corrupt sinners that we are, we cannot be considered fit to govern ourselves, and thus it becomes necessary that individuals submit to the power of governments, no matter how tyrannical. Humanity forfeited its freedom when it yielded to the advice of the Serpent of Paradise.

One person who propounded such teachings concerning the corrupt human condition was Saint Augustine of Hippo, whom Pagels makes out to be the chief villain in the drama under consideration. “Augustine's pessimistic views of sexuality, politics, and human nature would become the dominant influence on Western Christianity” she writes, “and color all Western culture, Christian or not, ever since.” It is here that her thesis begins to show a certain ambiguity, which one might consider the weakness of the entire work.

Before Augustine, Pagels claims, Genesis was read much more as a promise of freedom, and had it not been for the guilt-ridden sainted genius, Christendom might have become some sort of libertarian happy hunting ground of the spirit. Yet in chapters two, three and four of her book, she show abundant evidence indicating that anti-feminine, anti-sexual and ant-libertarian views were widely held by the orthodox and that the only people who were truly free of such attitudes without any reservations were the Gnostics. The trouble, it would seem, goes farther back than Augustine, and has much to do with the suppression of the Gnostics and their intra-psychic, mythological mode of interpreting scripture. Moreover, the Eastern Orthodox churches never accepted the teachings of Augustine, but followed instead their own authority, St. John Chrysostom, yet there is little if any evidence indicating that they were or are any less subservient to tyrannical worldly governments than their Western counterparts. (Nor does one observe a higher reared for women or for sexuality in Eastern Orthodox theology.)

In 1979 Elaine Pagels gave the world one of the most lucid and fair pioneering works on the Gnostics, The Gnostic Gospels. Those who expect to find in her present work a companion volume to the first may be disappointed. Readers possessing Gnostic and esoteric sympathies will be gratified however, by the third chapter of this work, “Gnostic Improvisations on Genesis” (pp. 57-77). Here we read statements such as the following:

Gnostic Christians . . .castigated the orthodox for making the mistake of reading the Scriptures-and especially Genesis-literally, and thereby missing its "deeper meaning". Read literally, they said, the story of creation made no sense. [Here follows a recounting of absurd statements in Genesis. S.A.H.] Certain gnostic Christians suggested that such absurdities show that the story was never meant to be taken literally. . . .These, gnostics took each line of the Scriptures as an enigma, a riddle pointing to a deeper meaning. Read this way, the text became a shimmering surface of symbols, inviting the spiritually adventurous to explore its hidden depths, to draw upon their own inner experience-what artists call the creative imagination-to interpret the story (pp. 63-64).

The repression of the creative imagination, recognized by the late C. G. Jung as one of the great shortcomings of orthodox Christianity, did not begin with Augustine in the fourth century, but much earlier with Irenaeus, Tertullian and other anti-Gnostic fathers. In the hands of the orthodox, the myth of Genesis logically leads to the unfortunate conclusions which Pagels deplores, while in the hands of the Gnostic, the myth is turned into a revelatory instrument of self-knowledge.

One cannot escape the impression that Pagels neglected to draw the kind of conclusions from the above recognitions which naturally would suggest themselves. Would it not be more reasonable to say that the literal interpretation of Genesis, beginning in the earliest Christian times, and not the relatively late pessimistic theology of Augustine, was responsible for the loss of freedom-whether political, moral or imaginative-and thus for so many unfortunate conditions evident in our culture? It may be that the praise lavished on Prof. Pagels by the heterodox, and the criticisms directed against her by the orthodox in the wake of the publication of her The Gnostic Gospels have made her doubly uncomfortable and made her shy away from a more forthright thesis. While this may be regretted, her work in general is to be recommended.

-Stephan A. Hoeller






Other Peoples' Myths: The Cave of Echoes, by Wendy Doniger O'Flaherty; Macmillan Publishing Company, New York, N. Y., 1988; hardcover, 194 pages.

Wendy Doniger O'Flaherty's new book Other Peoples’ Myths: The Cave of Echoes is a study of myths from both the West and the East that deal with the mysterious other. According to O'Flaherty, in myths of this type the other is usually represented by strangers, animals, gods, and children. In addition to what these stories tell us about the function of myth in general and about the beliefs of other peoples, O'Flaherty says: "But we also learn things about ourselves by studying these stories. For, as we progress, we may find that we are among the others in other peoples' myths."

O'Flaherty wants to use these myths to shake us, her readers, out of any complacent views we might bold regarding our so-called classical texts of Western civilization. And she goes further, suggesting that these much touted but rarely read classics are actually the texts of a small elite, not the general population.

O'Flaherty is Mircea Eliade Professor of History of Religions at the University of Chicago and this book is, in part, a response to her colleague at the University of Chicago, Allan loom and his book The Closing of the American Mind. In that book, Bloom states his claim that we still have access to our classics, a point which O'Flaherty denies. She says: "We in the West tend to indulge in two different but related misconceptions about our own classics: we think that our classics are in a sense eternal-forever fixed, frozen in the amber of carefully preserved written documents-and that they provide a shared communal base for all educated members of our culture. But neither of these assumptions is true; our classics are not fixed and eternal, and all of us do not have access to them."

As a noted scholar of classical Indian texts (among her earlier books are The Origins of Evil in Hindu Mythology and Hindu Myths) Professor O'Flaherty is in a unique position to bring some new light to bear on the discussion of what exactly are the texts of Western civilization.

Along the way she offers challenging insights and tells some truly wonderful stories. For instance, she takes the reader into the intricate world of Indian myths about sacrifice (both animal and human) and uses these myths to bring out the incongruity of the practice of animal sacrifice in Hinduism, a religion which advocates vegetarianism. She uses an old Hassidic tale about the circuitous fulfillment of a rabbi's dream to make one of her main points which is that reading other peoples' classics and myths will help us ‘re-vision’ our own classics and myths precisely because of their differences. In an earlier book, Women, Androgynes, and Other Mythical Beasts, O'Flaherty showed herself to be an adept interpreter of the mythologies of many people by exploring some commonalities in the myths of the ancient Indians, Greeks, and Celts. In this book, she not only attempts to integrate an equally diverse group of myths but to put them into a meaningful context for thoughtful readers.

-Serenity Young






Many Mansions: A Christian's Encounter with Other Faiths, by Harvey Cox; Beacon Press, Boston, 1988; hardcover, 216 pages.

There is a crisis in relations between the religious traditions of the world, Harvey Cox argues in his new book. The nature of this crisis is that "the universal and the particular poles have come unhinged."

Faced with a world in which some form of encounter with other faiths can no longer be avoided, the ancient religious traditions are breaking into increasingly bitter wings. Those who glimpse the universal dimension advocate dialogue and mutuality. They search out what is common and that which unites. Those who emphasize the particular often shun dialogue and excoriate their fellow believers who engage in it more fiercely than they condemn outsiders.

"This ugly chasm", Cox says, "runs through all religions, and is a source of considerable pain." Though Cox counts himself as a universalist, he insists that both poles are needed.

This book is his personal account of his own developing encounter with those of other faith traditions than his own Christian Baptist experience. Early in this account he is forced to confront his own ignorance about other traditions, and his own limited perspective on how dialogue ought to take place. For Cox, a theologian at the Harvard Divinity School, this was an often uncomfortable, even painful experience of self-discovery.

Cox will be remembered by many readers familiar with his work as the author of The Secular City and a revised version of that early work produced many years later. More recent works include Feast of Fools and Turning East.

In Many Mansions Cox offers a series of linked essays on dialogue among world faiths, "the Gospel and the Koran", "Christ and Krishna", "Buddhists and Christians", and "Rabbi Yeshua ben Joseph". From these interfaith dialogues he moves on to the question of dialogue between Christians and Marxists-including "the Search for a Soviet Christ". He examines his own exploration of recent years into liberation theology.

In a revelatory chapter on his own delving into Marx's ideas about religion, he finds that the often quoted line about religion as "the opium of the people" assumes a very different perspective when taken in the context of the whole passage in which it occurs. The complete paragraph in Marx is this:

Religious distress is at the same time the expression of real distress and the protest against real distress. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, just as it is the spirit of a spiritless situation. It is the opium of the people.

The sigh, Cox says, can be viewed as an expression of our deepest fear and pain. Furthermore, be writes, "Dorothy Soelle says in her book Suffering that a movement from ‘muteness’ to ‘lament’ is essential if suffering and oppressed people are to rise in protest and dignity."

Cox does not believe, as Marx did, that religion will die out; indeed he notes that there has been a resurgence in religion everywhere. What is demanded is that we take charge of that resurgence, that we shape it and reconceive it so that religions will "unite and enlarge us" rather than divide us and lead to self-annihilation.

-William Metzger






Unitive Thinking, by Tom McArthur; Aquarian, Wellingborough, Northants, 1988.

We think in grooves. We think in little grooves we call habit and conditioning and inclination. We think in bigger grooves we call education and folkways and mores. We think in even bigger grooves we call environment and heredity and human nature. Whatever we call it, much of our thinking is preprogrammed by earlier thoughts that we have had, or that others have had before us.

Such thinking is not really ours. We are its. The metaphor of the groove suggests that we are following a path, perhaps a furrow plowed before by ourselves or by many others. However, as the groove of past experience becomes deeper and wider-as it changes from a furrow to a ditch, then a trench, a channel, a ravine, and finally a great canyon-something remarkable happens.

We get so deep into the groove we and others have worn in the surface of the land that we can no longer see anything but the groove. The vast surface of the land, with all its glorious variety, stretching to the uttermost horizon, is beyond our ken. We see only the sides of the groove we have worn into the earth. And then, instead of its belonging to us, we belong to the groove. The comfortable, familiar path has become a prison, shutting us in.

Much of our grooved thinking is in dualities. I and the other. Mine and not mine. Happy and sad. Helpful and hurtful. Male and female. Patriot and traitor. And so on through an infinite number of such oppositions by which we structure our everyday thinking-by which we wear our grooves ever deeper into the earth.

Dualistic thinking is helpful sometimes. Indeed, it seems nigh inescapable. True, every pair of oppositions implies a third term that synthesizes the opposing thesis/antithesis and so resolves them. Thus "I" and "the other" are synthesized by "we"; "male" and "female" by "human"; and so on. But as soon as we have synthesized one pair of opposites, the synthesis calls forth its own opposition: "we" versus "they" and "human" versus "nonhuman". And so duality reasserts itself. This continuous pattern of the reconciliation of opposites only to be followed by the re-establishment of a new dualistic opposition is called, in the philosophy of Hegel, the dialectic process.

Grooved thinking is dualistic thinking. It is useful sometimes, but if we abandon ourselves to it we fail to see the landscape all around us. The sides of our groove become our only view. The great problem, however, is to get out of our groove without tumbling into another, and perhaps deeper, one. The problem is to reconcile the dualistic struggle of thesis and antithesis without generating a synthesis that will only provoke its own antithesis, and thus continue the process.

We think in grooves. But we need not. Sages and saints throughout the ages have pointed the way to another kind of thinking -a grooveless, nondualistic thought process. That kind of thinking is the subject of Tom McArthur’s book, Unitive Thinking. It is an old subject, but in this book it is approached in a new and fresh way.

Tom McArthur is an authority on communication and a lexicographer. He edits a magazine called English Today published by Cambridge University Press; he has written dictionaries and books about dictionaries; he is currently engaged in editing a new work, The Oxford Companion to the English Language; but he has also done books on yoga and the Bhagavad Gita. His integrated knowledge of linguistics, communication theory, and Eastern lore allows him to bring a new view to the old subject of nondualistic or, as he calls it, unitive thinking.

McArthur begins with the ancient symbol of the yin and the yang as typifying all oppositions, all dualities. We may, he says, view them as exclusive choices: either yin or yang. Or we may rise above exclusivity and say we can, indeed must, have both yin and yang. But then we have a new duality: either-or versus both-and. How do we rise above, not just a particular pair of oppositions, but all duality? How do we come to unitive thinking about the world? McArthur answers:

You get this effect by rising above or distancing yourself from the first two options. Call it "transcending" them if you wish, or think of it as more elbow room, and a refusal to be limited by one vision of how things are. At this level of understanding one has, as it were, two visions. One can (at the very least) choose to go the way of division and either/or, or go the way of cohesion with both/and.

That is the secret -allowing oneself more elbow room. Accepting alternative views, as valid, recognizing that one can go in diverse ways, and doing what is most effective in any circumstance, without preconception about what is "best" in an absolute sense.

What McArthur calls "more elbow room" others have called by other names. The modern sage Krishnamurti called it "choiceless awareness", and in a statement known as "The Golden Stairs" it is called "an open mind". It is refusing to be bound by the limitations of any one theory or view of life. It is realizing the truth of the culminating statement in The Messiah's Handbook from Richard Bach's Illusions: "Everything in this book may be wrong". It is waking up from the sleep of ordinary perception, as the Buddha became awake to the infinite possibility of reality. It is leaving the groove to look at the landscape around.

Unitive thinking involves respecting the differences we encounter in the world. Unitive thinking involves realizing the unity within ourselves and of ourselves with all others and ultimately with the All. The sense of separateness that divides us from others and that infernally fragments us is the illusory result of the limits we place on our thinking. In a sense, of course, we are separated; were it not so, the world would not be. But in another sense we are unified. Unitive thinking accepts both the separateness and the unity.

McArthur refers to Unitive Thinking as a "how-to" book. And so, in a sense, it is. But it is no ordinary, no run-of-the-mill "how-to" book. Its central idea is that unitive thinking is possible for everyone who knows how to develop it. Its purpose is to show how to go about doing just that.

Intellectually, the book ranges over Taoism, Kipling, Shiva-Shakti, yantras, maya, science fiction, time, Patanjali, the Bhagavad Gita, Plato, St, Thomas Aquinas, brain structure, metaphor, Darwin, Piaget, Maslow, Zen, Toynbee, cosmology, Pythagoras, Colin Wilson, Robert Pirsig, and a lot more besides. It distinguishes vertical from lateral thinking, and illustrates what the latter is by its own presentation. Its sweep embraces the wisdom of the ancients and the insights of the moderns -and it aims at making all that relevant to the here-and-now life of the reader.

Each of the ten chapters of the book ends with a few pages of "follow-up", which are puzzles, exercises, and applications of the concepts of the chapters. In one way, these follow-ups are the heart of the book. For they challenge the reader to come to grips with the ideas -not just as intellectual constructs, but as motivating impulses. Those who do these exercises will have their view of reality stretched and enhance their ability to climb out of the groove and see the landscape.

Tom McArthur writes perceptively, and also clearly and entertainingly. The book is a lively presentation of vital ideas. This is no dry-as-dust academic tome. It has no jargon. It is simple, direct, and lively. But it deals with matters that are as important and weighty as any the human mind can wrestle with. The last chapter of the book concludes with a quotation from Robert Pirsig’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance that ends as follows:

If you're going to repair a motorcycle, an adequate supply of gumption is the first and most important tool.

A wise teacher in the last century wrote to a would-be student that to succeed, he was asked only to TRY. That's what Unitive Thinking is about -gumption and trying.

-John Algeo


NEW WORLD, NEW MIND: Moving Toward Conscious Evolution, by Robert Ornstein and Paul Ehrlich; Doubleday, New York, 1989.

Have you ever wondered why it is that we humans spend more than a million dollars on an international effort to save three gray whales trapped in the ice, while we pay little or no attention to the fact that thousands of people die annually on our highways? Or that we spend millions trying to apprehend a small group of terrorists who highjack a cruise ship and kill a single passenger while paying little attention to the fact that more people die each day with handguns in this country than have ever been killed by terrorists?

If these and similar anomalies puzzle you, you will find some possible explanations in New World, New Mind by Robert Ornstein and Paul Ehrlich. In exploring the origins of such cultural contradictions, these two eminent scientists have concluded that “The human mental system is failing to comprehend the modern world . . . because our nervous system evolved to select only a small extract of reality and to ignore the rest.”

Because of the “evolutionary mismatch” between our “mental machinery” and the modern world, “many of the predicaments of our society come about from the way people respond to, simplify, and ultimately 'caricature' reality in their minds.” Pointing out that the human brain has evolved to respond to the immediate, the sudden, the different, and the obvious, the authors argue that it is not prepared to deal with the long-range, the subtle, and the similar. They claim “our brain is wired to respond to the bear in the entrance to the cave but not to the more subtle, long-range changes that could lead to nuclear war.” They compare our situation to the “boiled frog” syndrome-where a frog placed in a pan of cold water that is slowly heated will be unable to detect ,me increasing heat so that it will sit still until it dies.

This mismatch is not limited to biological evolution. In their view, “Cultural evolution has not compensated for the baggage of an outdated human perceptual system.” Indeed, they argue that “Most of us fail to realize how the human outlook, designed by our heritage, actually obstructs understanding of humanity's increasingly precarious situation . . . there is no longer sufficient time to rely on the normal pace of cultural evolution to deal with today's dilemmas” (their emphasis).

One of the authors' purposes is to help us understand the origins of our present limitations because only by recognizing “the fundamental roots of our many problems” can we resolve the “paradox that our minds are both bur curse and our potential salvation.” Almost three quarters of the book focuses on these limitations, with particular emphasis given to the limitations of what they refer to as the “old mind”-our brain, our nervous system and our senses. Highlighting the similarities between our brains and those of other primates, between human perceptions and those of the bee, butterfly, frog, and chimp, and between our nervous system and those of tasiers, frogs, chimps, an' cats, the authors conclude that our brain, like the brain of other animals, is primarily responsive to those things that we see or hear first hand rather than to evidence reported by others.

A second purpose of the book is to propose a solution to the dilemmas which have resulted from these limitations. Pointing out that the rate of change has outpaced the ability of even cultural evolution to respond appropriately, they suggest that “The time has come to take our own evolution into our hands and create a new evolutionary process, a process of conscious evolution” (their emphasis). In spite of their belief “that the world is changing faster than people can adapt to it,” they conclude that “if we learn how we think, how our mind is structured, and how to overcome the innate limitations and biases of mind, we can to a significant degree, learn how to act on that knowledge.” They propose that we “reprogram” our mental routines to “create a new mind suited to the demands of the new world.” They call this new process “newmindedness.”

Recognizing the influence that education has on the way people think, they propose a “curriculum about humanity.” Four themes seem to run throughout their proposed curriculum: “Adaptation to change must be the center of any new kind of teaching” (their emphasis); a need for the integration of all the knowledge that is being produced,” training in a “long-view, long-term understanding,” and finally, a need to “learn to depend on our instruments more than our gut feelings.”

I must confess my ambivalence about this book. On the one hand, I was fascinated by the research studies on the brain and human perception which they describe. I also found their brief overview of biological and cultural evolution useful. Their perspective gives a sharp focus to our human tendency to caricature reality by responding to the immediate, the obvious and the personal, rather than recognizing the more subtle, long-range trends which, in the end could destroy us. As an educator, I appreciated their curriculum recommendations, finding them to be both provocative and appropriate.

On the other hand, I have a fundamental problem with the narrow frame of reference from which the authors view the dilemmas which they address. Although they acknowledge that “Scientists’ penchant for simplicity. . .can lead the unwary old mind to inappropriate caricatures.. .” they have created highly selective and simplistic caricatures of both biological and cultural evolution. In short, they have reduced the vast, complex, multidimensional panorama of evolutionary history to the single dimensional caricature defined by a materialistic, empirical science.

Although they call for a new way of thinking which incorporates the “integration of all knowledge that is being produced,” they have ignored substantial bodies of knowledge which would broaden their context, strengthen their argument and enrich their conclusions. For example, there is no evidence that they are even acquainted with the literature of the so-called “paradigm shift” which seems to be occurring in our culture. The work of thinkers and writers such as Alvin Toffler, Marilyn Ferguson, Fritjof Capra, and Willis Harman are not even mentioned in their rather extensive bibliography. There is no reference to the body of knowledge which has grown out of the human potential movement which focuses on the rediscovery of intuition, peak performance, creativity, higher consciousness, and the evolution of consciousness. I don't think the word “intuition” appears in their book. It certainly is not important enough to be listed in the index.

The obviously relevant work of scientists like Karl Pribram, Rupert Sheldrake, Ilya Prigogine, John Eccles, and David Bohm is totally ignored. Finally, there seems to be no awareness of what Joseph Campbell called “the literature of the spirit,” those spiritual traditions whose perspectives reflect precisely the kind of newminded thinking which Ornstein and Ehrlich call for. While they recognize the potential of “the rational and the spiritual to support each other,” they are critical of those who use spiritual disciplines to “come to grips with the nature of their minds.”

Unfortunately, their limited perspective precludes any comprehension of the multidimensional nature of the human mind or the potential depths of the human spirit. When they call for a “new” kind of conscious evolution, they seem to be unaware of the possibility that there may be deep and fundamental intuitive processes at work in the evolution of the human mind and spirit which, having brought us to this point in time, also have prepared us with precisely those cognitive, psychic, intuitive, and spiritual capacities required to address the global dilemmas which confront us.

One consequence of the authors' limited perspective is that the reader is presented with many “half-truths” in the guise of THE truth. For example, in typical reductionist fashion, they often use the two terms “brain” and “mind” interchangeably. While they cite evidence which points to the limitations of the physical brain, they ignore equally substantive evidence which suggests that the potential of the conscious mind may be virtually unlimited. In short, they ignore the possibility that what the brain may not be “hard wired” to know, we nevertheless know intuitively. Preferring to rely on what they call “instrument flying” the authors apparently find it impossible to accept anything as scientifically unsound as “gut feelings.” Although they acknowledge that “the scientific method produces. . .an even more extreme caricature of the world than our normal one,” they seem unaware that by reducing reality to that which can be empirically measured, the extreme caricature of logical positivism may have done more to create our cultural dilemmas than the inherent limitations of the brain. There is ample evidence to support the view that both the wholistic, integrated, long-range, intuitive way of thinking and the short-range, fragmented, pragmatic way of thinking are equally intrinsic to our human mental equipment.

In spite of what I perceive to be its shortcomings, I think New World, New Mind is important reading -especially for the skeptic who prefers “hard” evidence. Writing in the empirical tradition, these two scientists open up new vistas of possibility and thinking which are both necessary and useful. I think their case would be strengthened immeasurably if they were able to recognize that “newmindedness” may well be an evolutionary way of thinking whose time has come and that what Willis Harman calls a “global mind change” may already be well advanced. What they and we need to remember is that things are seldom “either/or,” but are usually if not always “both/and.”

-EDWARD T. CLARK JR.

Summer 1989


THE NAG HAMMADI LIBRARY IN ENGLISH, Third, Completely Revised Edition, James M. Robinson, general editor; Harper & Row, New York, 1988; hardcover, 549 pages.

The story of the study of the Gnostic tradition is the story of important archaeological discoveries. The Gnostic texts from Nag Hammadi in Egypt take their place alongside the Bruce Codex, Berlin Codex, Askew Codex, and for that matter the Dead Sea Scrolls, as among the finds that have altered accepted views of Jewish and Christian heterodox traditions of the early centuries A.D. Until the discovery and translation of such original writings of the representatives of Gnostic heterodoxy, scholars and lay persons were forced to rely on the fragmentary and biased accounts concerning Gnostics contained in the writings of the Church fathers Irenaeus (c.a. 185), Clement (c.a. 199-200), Hippolytus (c.a. 200-2251, and others of like ilk. It was rather like trying to form an accurate picture of Jewish customs and character on the basis of the pronouncements of Goebbels and Hitler!

The publication in 1977 of the entire Nag Hammadi find, in an affordable and readable English translation, was an event that will be remembered and appreciated by countless interested persons for decades to come. The updated and to some minor extent retranslated and newly annotated edition of The Nag Hammadi Library in English ten years later is living proof of the continuing, and indeed mounting interest of the public in the writings of the Gnostics, whose teachings G. R. S. Mead early in this century called “a faith forgotten.” Largely due to the persistence and enthusiasm of Dr. James M. Robinson, director of the Institute for Antiquity and Christianity at Claremont Graduate School in California, this precious collection of original Gnostic documents (the most extensive to have appeared in all of history) has been available to the public without ever being out of print for any length of time since its first publication. The opportunities afforded contemporary students by this are considerable. For the first time Gnostic works of varying orientation can be read side by side; works of the thoroughly Christian school of Valentinus alternate with writings of the Sethian Gnostics and with initiation discourses of a Hermetic character. No wonder that the Gnostic Gospels have arrested the interest of people including scholars, science fiction writers, journalists, and feminist leaders like Gloria Steinem!

The new edition of this seminal work is in most respects a worthy successor to the earlier ones. For the most part the translations of the best known scriptures remain without major changes, though speculative readings of missing and damaged portions have diminished somewhat. Some of the lesser-known scriptures have been translated anew, and the introductions to the various tractates have been amended in many instances.

The most radical, and potentially the most controversial change from the earlier editions is the omission of the highly useful index of names and its replacement by an eighteen-page essay by one Richard Smith, whose credentials seem to be confined to his title of “managing editor” of the new edition, and whose contribution is a poor substitute for the missing index of Gnostic names. The essay, named an afterword and entitled “The Modern Relevance of Gnosticism,” suggests an appreciation of this value for today's persons of the Gnostic approach to spirituality, but in fact is nothing of the sort. Mr. Smith appears to have the attitude that anyone anywhere at anytime who has shown a positive interest in Gnosticism was either misinformed or mendacious. Edward Gibbon is judged guilty of a “mischievous lie” because he praised the Gnostics. Voltaire was dishonest when nourishing similar sentiments, and William Blake’s great sin was that he “worshipped his own creative imagination” and this personal aberration led him to Gnosticism (p. 534). The considerable attention devoted by Smith to H. P. Blavatsky (pp. 537-538) is also predominantly negative. This great esotericist is egregiously belittled because she advanced the notion of an ongoing secret tradition in history that in part goes back to the Gnostics. That noted contemporary scholars such as Mircea Eliade and Robert Ellwood agree with Blavatsky on this point seems to have escapes Mr. Smith.

One of the more peculiar comments made by Richard Smith concerns C. G. Jung, who, we are informed, “wrote so much about the Gnostics simply because he liked them” (p. 538). One wonders whether and why it might have been preferable for him to write about people whom he did not like? The essay offers no positive conclusions, and the reader is left wondering whether the impressive list of creative figures of Western culture who possessed leanings toward Gnosticism, and who are all damned with faint praise, ought to be viewed as a sort of passenger list of a ship of illustrious fools sailing along under a flag which they consistently misunderstand.

Be that as it may, the new edition of The Nag Hammadi Library, even with its peculiar afterword, testifies eloquently in favor of the proposition that Gnosticism can no longer be relegated to the realm of antiquarian curiosities. A vital tradition, vibrant with contemporary relevance and imminent possibilities, has surfaced in our view. Whatever the critics may say, the spirit of the Gnostics has returned, and it appears more than likely that this time it is here to stay.

-STEPHAN A. HOELLER

Autumn 1989


THE CHAKRAS AND THE HUMAN ENERGY FIELDS, by Shafica Karagulla, M. D., and Dora van Gelder Kunz: Theosophical Publishing House, Wheaton, IL, 1989; paperback, 243 pages.

This is a peculiar book, in the sense that it speaks to a concept of transformation and transmission of human energy systems that reaches back into the far history of understandings of human livingness, an understanding that arose in Eastern cultures, but the authors use one of the most sophisticated of scientific rationales of modem Western culture, neuropsychiatry, to describe the functions and activities of these superphysical centers. The descriptions of these energy vortices, called chakras in Sanskrit, are not merely theoretical; their authoritative bases are in the validity of clinical observations by one of the most percipient seers of our time, Dora van Gelder Kunz. Ms. Kunz, who was born with clairvoyant abilities. has made the study of the functional and therapeutic uses of human energies her life work. Her co-author, Dr. Shafica Karagulla, was a specialist in neuropsychiatry. After Dr. Karagulla's untimely death, Kunz completed the, manuscript for publication with the editorial assistance of Emily Sellon, editor for many years of Main Currents in Modern Thought.

Karagulla and Kunz worked together for over two decades as researcher and observer (respectively) of superphysical human energies, and sought to clarify the complex networks of interconnected energetic processes that appear to vitalize and define a human being. For the studies that form the core of their book, they systematically analyzed patients at a large and well-known medical center in New York City.

Primarily they studied the relationship between the physical energy field, called the etheric field, which transmits and thereby vitalizes the anatomical organs and structures, and the vortices within that energy field, the chakras, that are operative in transforming universal energy systems so that they are usable by the human being. These assessments were done in reference to the corresponding endocrine glands of the patient under consideration. Where relevant to the case studies, they also observed effects in the emotional and mental energy fields. The specific characteristics that they examined were in detailed reference to color, brightness, or luminosity of the energy patterns, movement and angle of energy flow, and form, elasticity, and texture of the substance of the energy field. To provide baselines for this unique study, they studied healthy persons first to determine patterns of natural human energy flow. After two years they turned their attention to examining persons who were ill.

Among the major findings of their study was the recognition that specific energetic patternings of the chakras are indicative of predispositions to particular disease processes that would appear later on in time. They also found circumstances under which some illnesses may be but the physical manifestations of pathologies that have their origins in the deeper reaches of the emotional and/or mental energy fields.

Throughout, they give ample background so that the interested layperson can clearly understand both the bases for their discussions of the data on the dynamics of the human energy fields and their relation to consciousness, and the nature of clairvoyant investigation. The net result is to give the reader a challenging insight into human potential and a discerning grasp of the decisive role that consciousness plays in health and disease and in growth and change.

To the reader with a professional interest in the human energy field, this book offers the astute inquirer several provocative questions for future research: Are there significant relationships between the human energy patterns and the genetic code? What are the inferences for genetic bioengineering? . . . hereditary illnesses?. . . therapeutic interventions?

There seem to be at least three major energy fields concerned with the physical, emotional, and mental human functions'; how are these three energy fields related in the individual? Several levels of organization are apparent in each of these three energy fields. In the emotional energy field, the coarser feelings are perceived to settle in the lower portions of this field in the individual, while the more aspiring or selfless emotions are perceived to be higher in the field, around the area of the heart. Therefore, one wonders: Are the universal laws of gravity effective in this domain?

Kunz theorizes that “. . . the astral solar plexus acts as a shock absorber between the intake of astral (emotional) energy and its dispersal through the body.” Can relevant biochemistries be tagged to test this theory? According to clairvoyant observation, severe abnormalities in the rhythmic flow and structural qualities of the chakras can presage disease; are there ways of modifying the energy patterns of individuals with such impairments to intercept progress of the disease?

Along with ideas for future research, readers with a special interest in therapeutics will find in Kunz and Karagulla's book a wealth of suggestions overflowing from these authors' careful studies of the effects on humans of environmental stimuli, such as sound and light, of the ingestion of drugs, and of surgical excision of various organs of the body.

The unusual perspective from which the context of this book derives, and the rigorous discipline that the authors forced upon themselves to present such rare information in a coherent manner that is readily understandable and yet rigorously substantiated, is exemplary for future books on these topics. It lays an excellent foundation of information about the human condition that will challenge the reader to further study of his/her personal self, as well as more formal and objective research into these phenomena. For either or both, this book is most highly recommended.

-DOLORES KRIEGER

Autumn 1989


THE UPSIDE DOWN CIRCLE: Zen Laughter, by Zen Master Don Gilbert; Blue Dolphin, Nevada City, CA; paperback, 164 pages.

The Upside Down Circle helps to successfully bridge the yawning gulf between Eastern source-works in Zen and Western interpretations of it. Gilbert's book is an unusual and charming bridge to cross, due to his creative combination of original cartoon panels paired with penetrating and seasoned Zen commentary.

The Zen messages emerge from an illustrated story line in which all the characters are endearing animals who reflect human proclivities in ways that provide humor and promote appreciation and understanding. Journeying with them, the reader is treated to a remarkable variety of vistas, all potentially offering insights into the essential paradoxes of the human condition. These paradoxes are presented in a way that would seem to be immediately engaging to readers of many different backgrounds. Gilbert has thus succeeded in creating a fresh teaching approach that is both entertaining and lighthearted on one hand, and imbued with the enormous profundity of Zen on the other.

The disarming simplicity of his approach is made more effective by both the plot and characterization that he uses. The major animal characters are not just types but develop through the course of the book. The principal ones are Unk, a bloodhound who is a bumbling and yet determined seeker after the truth; his loving friend Pepito, a little mutt; Foxy, a con artist and opportunist who continually takes advantage of Unk's earnest-seeking nature for his own personal gain, and Master Woof, a bulldog who is the Zen master guiding Unk on his quest for enlightenment. In creating these characters, Gilbert has tapped into powerful archetypal forces, and through these four figures the reader can enter the mythic and eternal time beyond relative time and space.

Gilbert's story, mythically, is a classic quest narrative, the most universal and penetrating type of literary form that has for millennia moved and empowered people of virtually all cultures in the world. Unk is the questing hero, Pepito his faithful supporter, Foxy the tempter and distracter, and Master Woof the wise old man who provides guidance and inspiration to the hero on his search. The reader has the opportunity to be both vicariously involved on this story level, and also to be a more detached observer on what may be called the teaching level.

On the teaching level, the book goes through six major sections: the quest, meditation, mind, time, reality, and enlightenment. The specific Zen teachings of each section are illustrated by the episodes of Unk's path which Gilbert illuminates with a sparing and incisive commentary. What emerges is a rich artistic verbal tapestry of several layers and dimensions that points gently and yet unremittingly to the mind that is awakened to the natural state of enlightened awareness, beyond the interference of the deluded and self-centered ego. This teaching comes from a thoroughly American perspective that has drunk deeply from the universality of the Zen experience. It is a refreshingly earthy approach that places spirituality squarely in our world of relationships, and yet does not limit it in any way. Humor provides the underlying connective strands that hold it all together.

In this second book (his first being entitled Jellyfish Bones), the eighty-year-old Zen Master has brought together the best of his artwork and his teaching and created a work that is one of the first approaches to Zen that is true to the spirit of Zen and that is also an authentic American voice, unleashed from the constraints of Eastern patterns of thinking. Thus, one lasting significance of The Upside Down Circle may be that it helps mark the beginning of a new era of Zen in the West that is urgently needed today. This new era will be one in which Americans forge new ways of articulating the Dharma that are congruent with Western culture and enrich it from within, not as a foreign importation. Master Gilbert's sixty-five years of intimate involvement with Eastern teachings make him eminently qualified for this bridge-building task, and his effort, in the form of this remarkable new book, shows his capacity to bring it forth-with a hearty laugh!

-WILL TUTTLE

Winter 1989


JUNG: A biography, by Gerhard Wehr; translated from the German by David M. Weeks: Shambhala Publications. 1988; paperback, 548 pages.

The biographer of Jung must proceed with caution. After all, Jung's autobiography (Memories, Dreams and Reflections) details many of the inner concerns which Jung claimed composed most of what was significant in his life: times when the “imperishable world” erupted into the mundane. Jung more than hinted that the mundane events of his lie were, if not superfluous, at least subservient and easily forgotten.

Among other accomplishments, Gerhard Wehr's biography clearly demonstrates that the “mundane events” in Jung's life were both rich and varied. Wehr presents Jung as brimming with a steady vitality which perfectly complemented his more studious, introverted side. In complete accord with Jung's own principles, the “complete Jung” emerges when polarities are united: mundane and imperishable, introvert and extrovert, irascible and gentle, earthy Swiss peasant and psychological sage. As Jung himself would have expected, by bridging polarity, Wehr uncovers a mandala (and vice-versa).

A simple event-narrative could never give an accurate picture of Jung's lie. That lie was a lifework, developed via themes, projects and concerns not confined to a single period and often experienced most profoundly in solitude. A strict chronology of events might give all the facts, but it would miss the thread of meaning through which those facts become resonant.

Wehr therefore interweaves event-narrative with chapters devoted to a number of Jung's ongoing concerns or investigations (e.g., alchemy, religious questions, his confrontation with the unconscious, etc.). These chapters are presented in the order in which each theme cohered as a separate field of activity or study. In effect, Wehr interweaves time and meaning (another pair that occupied Jung for many years) and thus mirrors Jung's own concerns while presenting Jung as a man of enormous energy and integrity, great warmth and courage, and above all an inexhaustible yet circumspect generosity.

In bringing together these apparent opposites, Wehr presents the coniunctio of Jung's own lie, the alchemical union of opposites which so closely parallels the process of individuation. The reader is led (in the words Wehr uses to describe the “mysterium coniunctionis,” or “sacred marriage itself),” beyond mere intellectual knowledge to the existential nature of transformation and maturation. Nothing could be more appropriate than to present Jung on his own terms: not only does Jung himself appear more clearly, but the reader comes to a more visceral understanding of what Jung meant by the individuation process and the union of opposites.

Wehr makes it clear that the coniunctio was for Jung not only an area of study, but an inescapable aspect of human lie, manifest in his near-fatal coronary just as he began work on Mysterium Coniunctionis. This confrontation with the most mysterious pair of opposites, life and death, enabled (or forced) Jung “to know from his own ‘intuition,’ when near death, what the sacred marriage, the leitmotif of the entire work, ultimately meant!” (p. 406) The ideas in Mysterium Coniunctionis, then, were themselves a coniunctio of intimate personal experience with intellectual study. (At the same time, from a practical level, Mysterium developed from practical, therapeutic problems arising from psychological transference, prompting Jung to remark that he was guided by practical necessity, another example of the same union.)

The concern with opposites-or the need to unite them-made Jung a builder of bridges, spanning gulfs between unconscious and conscious, past and present, theory and practice, intellect and emotion, and finally, East and West. Whatever his empathy with Eastern thought, however, he remained firmly rooted in the European tradition, insisting as he did that man's spiritual growth grow from his home soil and not be imported or purchased from other cultures. Even a bridge builder lives on solid earth, not the bridge itself.

Wehr's book also remains firmly rooted in the European-Christian tradition, and this rootedness enriches even as it sets limits. The enrichment comes from Wehr's own rootedness: he writes like a man for whom the individuation process is not just someone else's theory, but an ongoing personal encounter; for whom the lode of European mysticism enriches heart and intellect alike.

His very success, however, becomes a problem. (Jung, and the sages of ancient China, would no doubt be pleased!) By demonstrating the universality of Jung's vision, Wehr casts light into shadowy rooms he does not enter; and writing from a European perspective (which, I suppose, he must), he sees the East as “other” and misses an opportunity to place Jung against a more encompassing backdrop.

The problem is unavoidable. Paradoxically it shows the great scope of Wehr's book. He not only presents the mandala of Jung's life, he points to the space on the fringes of that mandala, to the ripples caused when the peasant-mage of Bollingen dropped into the world. A writer often succeeds most when he illuminates his own limitations. Success and failure become irrelevant: this is a remarkable book.

-TIM LYONS

Winter 1989




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