Masters of Wisdom: The Mahatmas, Their Letters, and the Path, Edward Abdill, Tarcher/Penguin (May 19, 2015), 288 pages. This book was previously reviewed on Theosophy Forward in March 2015; however, the review was short and offered few details.
Because Ed, along with his wife Mary, will be speaking during The European School of Theosophy later this year in Austria and the School’s theme will be similar to his book title, we decided to have another and more in-depth look at this excellent book.
Details of the upcoming event can be found here: http://www.europeanschooloftheosophy.com/
This is my second review of a book by Ed Abdill. The first was in Quest, Jan-Feb, 2007, and it was on The Secret Gateway: Modern Theosophy and the Ancient Wisdom Tradition. His new book is a modern look at the Mahatmas Letters and is a natural follow-up to his previous book.
The initial value of Ed’s book is that it’s perfect for someone relative new to the TS and need an accurate introduction to the Mahatmas Letters (ML). Ed has that unique ability to explain Theosophy in a way that avoids the metaphysical jargon and yet loses nothing in the presentation. Even if a long time member has a well-thumbed version of the Mahatmas Letters on his or her bookshelf, this book is a quick ‘go-to’ for high lightening many of the important points that we refer to as our Theosophical principles.
Ed has elected to divide the book into two parts: (I) The Mahatmas and Their Letters, and (II) The Path. Part I is a quick coverage of the Mahatmas Letters as we have them today. By arranging the ML material into 12 reasonably short chapters, it is easy to be selective if you’re looking for a specific theme. I’m sure Karma is always being discussed and this is conveniently found in Chapter 5. Because I am a retired scientist, I went to his chapter on Science. I found ‘Alleged Encounters with Masters’ (Ch.11) introduced some new material that I was unaware of. Actually, all of the chapters offered enough information, that you could do a literature search and expand the topic as you saw fit. Perhaps this could become a paper for presentation at your Lodge, or you could generate a list of study questions for your next general meeting. Each chapter offers these opportunities and is constrained only by your creativity.
Part II is a little more general with the ML playing less of a role, but noted when relevant. Chapter 13 begins with a comment on some of HPBs papers found in a folder after her death. It begins with: “There is a road, steep and thorny…” The Golden Stairs (Ch.15) also has a wonderful discussion which can serve as an introduction to new members, or a way of launching a discussion group with longer term members.
For me, Chapter 21 and Appendix I are of immense value. It is about ‘Working as Colleagues with the Masters’ and a talk that Dora Kunz gave titled: The Masters and the Path. Having worked closely with Dora for around 12 years, I think the insights she provides in this talk is priceless. I am VERY glad that Ed included it in this book.
Thank you Ed for providing us with a clear and excellent Theosophical road map.
The Divine Plan by Geoffrey A. Barborka, Edition under review, 3rd, TPH, 1972
I have chosen the edition that I own (illustrated below). There are enough copies on the market, that you probably have one, or something close to the below photograph.
First, it must be clearly stated that I am not going to be writing a traditional book review for The Divine Plan. If that is what you need, I can do no better than to restate what the book jacket says:
[This book] is in effect, a reorganization of the material in H. P. Blavatsky’s THE SECRET DOCTRINE.
What I would like to do is give you a reason for pulling this book off of your bookshelf and study it again.
One of the easiest ways is to use the material from Recorded Webinars on:
A Study of The Divine Plan
In this webinar, the late Rev. John H. Drais of Madre Grande Theosophical monastery will be teaching an online class concerning the first six chapters of The Divine Plan by Geoffrey Barborka. The Divine Plan presents an exposition of the esoteric doctrines of Cosmogenesis from Volume I of The Secret Doctrine, analyzing and explaining all the terms used. It is a commentary especially helpful for those who are considering reading The Secret Doctrine by Madame Blavatsky, or those who simply wish to read and gain a deeper understanding of its study.
The recommended donation is $25. You can give more if you wish, but none will be turned away. Proceeds will benefit the Madre Grande Monastery and its mission and the Theosophical Society in America.
Rev. John H. Drais, in writing this review, I learned that John had died last year, has been a Theosophist since 1970 and has lectured on Theosophical topics at San Diego City College, San Diego University of Humanistic Studies, University of California San Diego, Fullerton State University and San Diego State University, as well as at churches and other organizations. Several Theosophical publications bear his name as author, contributor or editor.
Madre Grande is a Theosophical monastery for men and women of all faiths and cultural traditions. It is part of a religious corporation expressly established to make religion more Theosophical. Monks are not required to believe anything in particular. It is only necessary that they follow a positive path to spiritual fulfillment. More at www.madregrande.org .
NOTE: It might be best to use this link if you do the study: https://www.theosophical.org/programs/webinars/recorded-webinars/2986-a-study-of-the-divine-plan
Divine Plan Archives for Registered Users:
- Divine Plan Class 1 Recording 7/10/2013
- Divine Plan Class 2 Recording 7/17/2013
- Divine Plan Class 3 Recording 7/24/2013
- Divine Plan Class 4 Recording 7/31/2013
- Divine Plan Class 5 Recording 8/7/2013
- Divine Plan Class 6 Recording 8/14/2013
- Divine Plan Class 7 Recording 10/28/2013
- Divine Plan Class 8 Recording 11/5/2013
- Divine Plan Class 9 Recording 11/12/2013
- Divine Plan Class 10 Recording 11/19/2013
- Divine Plan Class 11 Recording 11/26/2013
- Divine Plan Class 12 Recording 12/2/2013
There is another alternative that I used way back in the 80s. It’s not for everybody, but academically, it is a good way to learn. I simply read the book slowly (took about a year). Then I went back and reread; marking it up heavily. Finally I started the 3rd time by taking notes. When I was done, I had 48 pages of notes. Many were handwritten, some typed, and a few sketches. I only use one side of the paper. Lastly, I read the book one more time, filling in the missed points on the back of the clean side of the previous notes.
Today, these notes are in a binder and provide a quick review of the book. It must be remembered that in the approximately four years it took me to do all of this,
I was reading and working on other TS material. Of course, the learning was reinforced and by the forth years I felt I had grasp the essence.
In looking over this material today, I realize how much I have forgotten, but one can always review the notes. This method is not for everybody, but it is something to try if you feel inclined. I simply call it ‘The Old Fashion Way of Learning’.
Note from the editor:
The category Notable Books on Theosophy Forward is compiled by Ralph Hannon