Notable Books

Notable Books 24


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Review of The Process of Self-Transformation, by Vicente Hao Chin, Jr.

Chin, Vicente Hao, Jr. The Process of Self-Transformation: Exploring Our Higher Potential for Effective Living. Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, Quest Books, © 2015. Pages xvi + 343. Revised edition of The Process of Self-Transformation: Mastery of the Self and awakening of Our Higher Potentials, 2003.

This book is Theosophical in the generic sense of “teaching about God and the world based on mystical insight” but only remotely Theosophical in the specific sense of “the teachings of a modern movement originating in the United States in 1875 and following chiefly Buddhist and Brahmanic theories especially of pantheistic evolution and reincarnation.”

Review: John Algeo

Something Old & Something New

Stephan A. Hoeller, Gnosticism:  New Light on the Ancient Tradition of Inner Knowing. Wheaton, IL:  Quest Books, 2002.  Paperback, $16.95, 257 pages.

For Theosophists, this book was a very welcome addition when it was published in 2002. Prior to the Nag Hammadi discovery, Theosophists essentially had the writings of Madame Blavatsky and G. R. S. Mead for Gnostic studies and insights. Along came the now popular classis by Elaine Pagels, The Gnostic Gospels, in the late 1970’s and suddenly the market was flooded with books on the Gnostic’s and Gnosticism.  

Dr. Hoeller, who needs no introduction to the students of Theosophy, saw the need for a book that would tell us the essence of Gnosticism. In fact, Dr. Hoeller states that: “This book is a concise and sympathetic presentation of the teachings and spiritual ambience of the Gnostic tradition.” The book begins with Hoeller telling us that “the Gnostics always emphasized understanding and the insights derived from understanding.” This essentially gave us a Gnostic worldview.  

I found his book could be divided essentially into two parts. First, we read about God and the Cosmos, humans, individual salvation, and then we visit the book of Genesis. This is followed by a look at Sophia as a Gnostic archetype of feminine wisdom. Finally, we examine the Gnostic Christ, the Gnostic view of Evil and its initiatory Sacraments.  

The second part is a standard history beginning with some early Gnostic teachers (Simon Magus, Carpocrates, Alexandra, and Valentinus). This is followed with later teachers (H. P. Blavatsky, G. R. S. mead, and Jung). He concludes with a chapter on Gnosticism and Postmodern Thought.  

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: Mandaeans, Manichaeans, and Cathars is very well done. Any book that helps clarify my thinking in this area is useful. You probably will find similar reasons for wanting to make sure this book is part of your Theosophical collection.  

Review: Ralph Hannon

Holly McClure, The Vessel Of Scion. Ecanus Publishing, Ramsgate, Kent, United Kingdom.  2014.  Paperback, $15.99 (Amazon, USA) 422 pages.

For Theosophists, Holly McClure is another author worth adding to your reading list. She is an ordained priest in the Celtic Christian Church and is influenced from her maternal Cherokee family and her paternal Scottish ancestors. Her above book will add an additional depth of understanding to Hoeller’s book; especially the Cathars. Here is a link to the talk Holly gave to the Theosophical Society in America at Olcott in 2011. Simply click the link below and then click to ‘start’. It is a 90 minute talk. It can also be purchased if you wish.

Cathars, the Good Christians, click HERE for the link

(Partial review by RP Dahlke – back cover)

“Part history, part fantasy, this skillfully crafted novel of suspense, immediately plunges the reader deep within the ancient religion of the Cathar. Persecuted as heretical, these guardians of the sacred family have been in a centuries old struggle to protect the direct descendants until the promise of His return becomes reality. And now, the Cathar’s ancient hidden scriptures reveal that the time has come, and memories of past lives with the savior erupt into disturbing dreams of the reincarnated souls who were, and are once again, inextricably linked together in his life.”

Review:  Ralph Hannon

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