A Woman's Work (with Gurdjieff, Ramana Maharshi, J. Krishnamurti, Anandamayi Ma, and Paksubuh): The Spiritual Life Journey of Ethel Merston, Mary Ellen Korman, Arete Communications, Publishers, Fairfax, CA, 2009, 309 pages, $24.95.
I love books that quite often work on the fringe of Theosophy. This is how I see a new angle to an idea, a concept, or simply a topic that I didn't understand. This book has a heavy slant toward G. I. Gurdjieff, but just looking at the ‘complete’ title you can see that it covers the 'whole waterfront' to use a cliché.
Obviously, Krishnamurti was the draw for me; however, many Theosophists are also quite familiar with Gurdjieff. I first ran across Anandamay Ma in Paramahansa Yogananda's Autobiography of a Yogi
Here is an interesting (historical) YouTube clip where both of them meet: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q046Etdc9Ak
On the other hand, I was not familiar with Pak Subuh, and everyone knows of Ramana Maharishi. Ethel was also acquainted with HPB, Edgar Cayce, and other intrepid seekers like J. G. Bennett.
Ethel Merston spent essentially her adult life traveling among teachers. She returned to Gurdjieff for grounding, but you could see that she was searching her whole life.
The writing oscillates between information on each teacher, but become extremely important to me when we read comments that border on her strong opinions and sometimes very close to gossip. Ethel and I share a common trait – we both keep a journal. Ethel referred to hers as a diary. In fact, it is reported that Ethel kept copious notes. This is a trait that I started as an undergraduate and discovered that it was a terrific learning technique. I now know many people like me that have done this – famous and not so famous. Most importantly, I have found that going back to recall an event, sometimes a word or sentence in an old journal is enough to recall almost all of the event quite clearly. Hence, this gave me a strong belief that what I was reading was quite true, or at least very close to what Ethel was discussing.
The Wider View: Studies in The Secret Doctrine, E. L. Gardner, TPH, Adyar, Madras 20 India, 1962, Various new and used copies available, 144 pages.
This TPH book by Edward L. Gardner is actually a reprinted and revised from “Students' Corner Notes” in Theosophy in Action, (1944-59).
Long time Theosophist, V. Wallace Slater, perhaps gave the best, and shortest, review of this book when he said: "...will prove of value to study groups and to individuals who are seeking the 'wider view' of man and the universe through the study of The Secret Doctrine."
As I quickly found out, this little book did not replace reading the SD, but it is a nice introduction.
Notable books is a series compiled by Dr. Ralph Hannon. Special thanks to Janet Kerschner at Olcott in Wheaton for assisting in tracing the book covers.