Saturday, October 19, 2019

A Very Different Kind of Book

     Last week I was extolling Sophy Burnham's account of her mystical experiences in The Ecstatic Journey: Walking the Mystical Path in Everyday Life.  This week's book is almost a polar opposite approach to meditation and spiritual growth.

    Written by Daniel Goleman, he of the Emotional Intelligence books, it is The Meditative Mind: The Varieties of Meditative Experience.  If Burnham's book is personal and flowery and open and filled with tender vulnerability, Goleman's book is precise, categorical, analytical, and scientific.  I believe it is an offshoot of his research for scientific journals, and it reads like it.

     This is a good book for those who want to analyze meditative states and how various religions teach their followers how to achieve them.  For me, that was among the more interesting parts of the book.  I hadn't seen a hierarchy of meditative states so precisely described as in this account, and some may find this valuable.  Goleman also discusses the benefits, as show in scientific studies, of meditation on physical, emotional, and mental health.

     Overall, it's a good book, if written from a completely different side of the brain than Burnham's.


Saturday, October 12, 2019

An Interesting Book, Part 2

     Last week I was introducing Sophy Burnham's The Ecstatic Journey: Walking the Mystical Path in Everyday Life, about her mystical experience while on a trip to Peru, and how it transformed her life.

     One of the side-effects of her experience was a closer relationship with her angels or guides.  She felt at times that she could communicate with them and receive answers telepathically.  Of course, this is not new, as many mystics over the ages have also experienced this ability.

     However, one of the questions that she asked her guides was about the purpose of prayer.  Here is their answer:
  1. "So we will know what you want, in order that we may give you what you need."
  2. "Because when you pray, for a few moments you surrender -- it may only be fifteen seconds out of fifteen minutes of attempted prayer.  But in that moment of surrender, you open a window through which we can enter to execute the desires of your heart."
  3. "Because your prayers give us the energy to do our work."
     Because these answers were so unexpected, Burnham counted them as genuine.  They certainly spoke to me.  

     So, keep praying.  Our world needs it.

Saturday, October 5, 2019

An Interesting Book

     I recently finished an interesting book by Sophy Burnham entitled The Ecstatic Journey: Walking the Mystical Path in Everyday Life.  She is the author of A Book of Angels, which I have not read, but was well-received and sounds significant.  Perhaps sometime in the future.

     In The Ecstatic Journey, Burnham recounts her trip to Machu Picchu in Peru where she had a profound mystical experience.  It shook her to her core, and the ripples of the event caused her to question nearly everything in her life.  Over the course of time, she felt compelled to study the experiences of other mystics, and these stories are interspersed with her own story throughout the book.  For both the personal and historical view of mystical experiences, this is a good book to read.

     What I really liked about her writing is that she made these experiences -- so often nearly impossible to capture into words -- accessible.  If you have ever tried to read William James' The Varieties of Religious Experience, you will know how valuable an ability that is.

     If you are mystically bent, or have questions about what others have experienced, this is a great resource.  If you find all this talk too "woo-woo" for your taste, then it's best to skip it.