Notable Books

Notable Books 25

A book and a rose …quite a combination

Something New…

Ravi Ravindra, The Pilgrim Soul, Wheaton, IL:  Quest Books, 2014.  Paperback, $15.95, 140 pages.

Dr. Ravi Ravindra is Professor Emeritus at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia.  Back in the late 1970s and most of the 80s, Ravi serves on several Theosophical committees that I also was on. These were very exciting years when Dora Kunz was the president of the TSA and science was becoming very important in lending support to many of the claims that Theosophy had been making for years.

Ravi was in the perfect position to help us connect the various areas since he held positions at Dalhousie in physics, comparative religion, and philosophy departments. I was amazed at Ravi’s breadth of knowledge not only in religion and physics, but he was widely diverse in other spiritual traditions.  Since those early days, I have always stayed up with the latest books he has been producing since I know that I always will learn something new. This book is no exception.   

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Notable Books 24

Let us help you with your choice

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

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Notable Books 23

Brennan, J. H(erbie). Whisperers: The Secret History of the Spirit World. New York: Overlook Duckworth, © 2013. Pp. 414.

The book’s dust jacket has a blurb on its front flap that describes the work’s theme as follows: “In Whisperers, bestselling novelist and expert on the occult J. H. Brennan explores how the ‘spirit world’ — whether we believe in it or not — has influenced our own since the dawn of civilization.”

The book’s subject is spiritualism, in the sense of “a belief that spirits of the dead communicate with the living usually through a medium” and when capitalized “a movement comprising religious organizations emphasizing spiritualism” (Merriam-Webster’s 11th Collegiate Dictionary). Although neither of those definitions are appropriate for Theosophy, it and H. P. Blavatsky are favored with several references, as on pages 199, 203-204, 238-244, and 255. None of those references are sufficiently insightful to warrant quotation here. The book is readable, but the author might be well-advised to stick to his calling as a novelist.

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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.

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Notable Books 21

Always on the lookout for a good book….

Barber, Phyllis. To the Mountain: One Mormon Woman’s Search for Spirit. Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, Quest Books, 2014. Pages x + 258. $18.95.

Mormonism has some historical links with Freemasonry (“Masonry in Mormonism,” by Joseph Lloyd), but Co-Masonry is not one of them, nor is sexual equality in spiritual matters. I am probably one of the few non-Mormons who can claim to have read the Book of Mormon from cover to cover. It is a fantastic (in the sense “based on fantasy, conceived by unrestrained fancy”) account of ancient prophets who lived in America from approximately 2200 BC to 421 AD. It was first published in March 1830 by Joseph Smith as The Book of Mormon: An Account Written by the Hand of Mormon. According to Smith’s account and the book’s narrative, the Book of Mormon was originally written in otherwise unknown characters referred to as “reformed Egyptian” engraved on golden plates. Smith said that the last prophet to contribute to the book, a man named Moroni, buried it in a hill in present-day New York, then returned to earth in 1827 as an angel, revealing the location of the book to Smith, and instructing him to translate it into English for use in the restoration of Christ’s true church in the latter days.

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Notable Books 20

Poos-Benson, Stephen. Sent to Soar: Fulfill Your Divine Potential for Yourself and for the World. Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, Quest Books, 2014. Pages xiv + 261.

This is a spiritual self-improvement book. Each of its ten chapters is followed by a list of “Questions to Help You Discover and Explore Your Divine Purpose.” The chapters skim over a wide variety of approaches to self-discovery beginning with traditional religions and going on to a potpourri of others. The approach seems to try for humor, with the self-referred to as “the Goo that is you” and free will called “the Holy Hairball.” A problem with the book’s diversity of approaches is that a reader may find in it a confused tangle of ways rather than a clear path. Its bibliography lists forty-odd volumes, none of which are Theosophical.

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