Notable Books

Notable Books 22


A good book: anytime, anyplace

Lachman, Gary. Revolutionaries of the Soul: Reflections on Magicians, Philosophers, and Occultists. Theosophical Publishing House, Quest Books, 2014. Pages x + 222.

 

This book is an overview of more or less recent esotericists, such as Swedenborg, Éliphas Lévi, Rudolf Steiner, Manly Palmer Hall, Dion Fortune, Aleister Crowley, C. G. Jung, P. D. Ouspensky, and — especially for us — H. P. Blavatsky, who is treated in chapter 6 on “The Inimitable Madame B.” (pp. 63-74). That chapter begins: “New York’s East Side isn’t somewhere that we’d usually associate with the start of a new spiritual movement, but on September 13, 1875, that’s exactly what it was.” And the chapter ends: “Blavatsky . . . died on May 8, 1891, a day celebrated in Theosophical communities as White Lotus Day. She was sixty and had taken the world by storm, and her last words are characteristically blunt:, ‘Don’t let my last incarnation be a failure.’ Chances are we will not see her like again, but with her help, anyone today can remove the veil from Isis and discover where the secret wisdom can be found.

 Ravindra, Ravi. The Pilgrim Soul: A Path to the Sacred Transcending World Religions. Theosophical Publishing House, Quest Books, 2014.

Ravi Ravindra has led a life spanning the East and the West, and his writings treat both, sometimes complementarily. This book is an example of such complementarity. The book is not Theosophical, in the sense of dealing with subjects derived from the writings of traditional Theosophical authors. It is theosophical, in the sense of “teaching about God and the world based on mystical insight” (the primary sense of theosophy in Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 11th edition).

The central theme of the book is stated in the following passage (p. 98): “The insistence that the Ultimate cannot be captured in any image or form cannot be sustained by a mind unprepared to live without crutches of form, color, name, beliefs, and dogmas of faith. Every religion has idols; it is only other peoples’ idols that monotheists find troublesome, not their own. All scriptures, theologies, and liturgies, no less than images and idols, are particular expressions of religious understandings. Mental idols are more pernicious than idols made of wood or stone, because they cannot be so easily seen or seen through.”

FourEagles, Russell. The Making of a Healer: Teachings of My Oneida Grandmother. Theosophical Publishing House, Quest Books, © 2014. Pages xiii + 245. $18.95.

In the modern West, health care has been bifurcated into corporal and spiritual. Corporal care is the concern primarily of medical doctors and nurses; spiritual care is the concern primarily of psychiatrists and priests or other such ministers. It has not inevitably been so.

Therapeutic touch (TT) is an energy therapy that practitioners claim promotes healing and reduces pain and anxiety. Practitioners of therapeutic touch claim that by placing their hands on, or near, a patient, they are able to detect and manipulate the patient’s energy field. The claim has not, however, been supported by medical studies. Dora Kunz, a former president (1975-1987) of the Theosophical Society in America, and Dolores Krieger, Professor Emerita of Nursing Science, New York University, developed therapeutic touch in the 1970s. According to Krieger, therapeutic touch has roots in ancient healing practices, such as the laying on of hands, although it has no connection with religion or with faith-healing. Krieger stated that, “in the final analysis, it is the healee (client) who heals himself. The healer or therapist, in this view, acts as a human energy support system until the healee’s own immunological system is robust enough to take over.” As a young man, I experienced TT both as a “healee” and a healer; in both roles, I found it effective. As Shakespeare put it in Hamlet (1.5.166-167): “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, / Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”

This book presents Native American healing practices as a form of healing therapy. One must remember, however, that not all healing practices are equally effective and reliable. Some are just placebos. Whether what this book presents is a useful therapy or just an idealized primitive technique is a distinction readers must draw themselves

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