Reflections Along the Path

Reflections Along the Path

Robert Bonnell
New York: Vantage Press, 2006. Paperback, $10.95, 89 pages.

Spiritual reading is a centuries old component of a seeker's daily practice. Such reading materials are derived from many sources, including sacred scripture, the lives of the saints, commentaries on scripture and the life of Jesus, the journals, essays, the lives of holy men and women, and books devoted to specific spiritual topics.

For many who cannot attend a daily liturgy or prayer group, this is a significant source of spiritual sustenance. For all, it is a highly valued way of supplementing one's personal prayer to help maintain an open heart and expanded consciousness in the face of the difficulties and pains of any given day.

Theosophist Robert Bonnell's, Reflections Along the Path, provides, as its subtitle states: Brief Commentaries on Various Aspects of the Wisdom Tradition. These reflections offer a form of spiritual companionship enabling an experience not unlike that of the disciples, who, while on the road to Emmaus in the presence of Jesus, were in dialog with him and were so touched that their hearts burned within. Indeed, making an inner connection with spiritual truth and wisdom can affect us physically, rationally, emotionally, and spiritually.

Each chapter of this little book begins with a quotation. And what a wonderful selection of quotations Bonnell has made. Some are classic, familiar gold pieces from the treasury of the wisdom tradition, for example, "Study the past if you would divine the future" from Confucius; or "Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary?" by Babcock. Others are gems from the Theosophical tradition, including H. P. Blavatsky's "One cannot travel the path until one becomes the path itself." Many quotations, however, are less well, or even unknown, and introduce a fresh idea or perspective "The goal of philosophy is to find that secret and to lose the seeker in the secret found" from Carlyle; or Zoroaster's "The number three reigns everywhere in the universe."

Bonnell writes with a simple clarity that leads the reader to a deeper level of trust and meditation. Consider his reflection on Leigh Hunt's idea that "There are two worlds: one we measure with line and rule; the other we feel with our hearts and imagination." Bonnell comments: "Spiritual aspirants are able to enjoy the best of both worlds. They can participate in the varied accommodations of the material world with a minimal degree of trepidation, for they have the realization that this world is, at best, a fleeting image of eternity. They may not conquer it, but they participate in its purpose."

Will and Ariel Durant's quote "The only real revolution is the enlightenment of the mind and improvement of the character; the only real emancipation is individual," echoes the theme of this book. Namely, emancipation comes from the personal encounter with the light within. For anyone on the journey to authentic self-awareness, Bonnell offers a sage's simple guidance about connecting with the light that illuminates life's most profound truths.

David Bishop

This reviewer teaches Philosophy and Religion at Pima College and the University of Phoenix, both in Tucson, Arizona.