One of the Theosophical classics which is very often overlooked in the wealth of other literature is W. Q. Judge's booklet "An Epitome of Theosophy." Perhaps it is mistaken for a mere primer, but it is only this in the sense that for a certain type of thoughtful mind it might well serve as a first approach to Theosophy.
Mr. Judge always writes with the simplicity of clear thinking and an obvious desire to meet the mind of the seeker for truth half way. But with all his simplicity he is profound, and what one has found to be lucid and interesting at the first reading, with deeper study is found to suggest at every turn lines of deep thought to be unfolded.
The "Epitome" might almost be said to contain in its thirty-five pages the whole Theosophical philosophy either expressed or implied. Many an older student may have overlooked in its pages certain statements about the astral light, elementals, thoughts, cycles, karman, the "moment of choice," etc., that give a rare slant on these teachings not to be found in the larger books.
Mr. Judge never loses the broad general picture, so necessary to prevent one from running off into side issues; but he has a way of linking up a generality with some detail of teaching that touches the flame to the inert candle of the mind. And then the student finds himself afire with the beauty and reality of some cosmic truth that previously had been to him just remote metaphysics.
His summing up of the process by which man's spiritual advancement is attained is masterly and is introduced in such a way as to show that, as far as man is concerned, it is the whole reason for a study of the philosophy. He writes:
As to the process of spiritual development, Theosophy teaches: —
1. That the essence of the process lies in the securing of supremacy, to the highest, the spiritual, element of man's nature.
2. That this is attained along four lines, among others, —
(a) The entire eradication of selfishness in all forms, and the cultivation of broad, generous sympathy in, and effort for the good of others.
(b) The absolute cultivation of the inner, spiritual man by meditation, by reaching to and communion with the Divine, and by exercise of the kind described by Patanjali, i. e., incessant striving to an ideal end.
(c) The control of fleshly appetites and desires, all lower, material interests being deliberately subordinated to the behests of the spirit.
(d) The careful performance of every duty belonging to one's station in life, without desire for reward, leaving results for Divine law.
3. That while the above is incumbent on and practicable by all religiously disposed men, a yet higher plane of spiritual attainment is conditioned upon a specific course of training, physical, intellectual, and spiritual, by which the internal faculties are first aroused and then developed.
4. That an extension of this process is reached in Adeptship, Mahatmaship, or the states of Rishis, Sages, and Dhyan-Chohans, which are all exalted stages, attained by laborious self-discipline and hardship, protracted through possibly many incarnations, and with many degrees of initiation and preferment, beyond which are yet other stages ever approaching the Divine."
The leaflet abridgment of the "Epitome" made by Mr. Judge himself is excellent to have on hand to show to an interested friend.
Among reviews of The Hill of Discernment we notice with particular pleasure one written by A. E. S. Smythe in The Canadian Theosophist for January. Mr. Smythe's own evident appreciation is a guarantee that The Hill of Discernment will be recognised as a "treasure-book" all will delight to read, and "which will be placed on the special shelf by those who are accumulating a Theosophical library."
Mr. Smythe writes: "Mr. Barker is saturated with the doctrines of the Mahatmas and he has simplified much of this teaching by his own assimilation and by the experiences in which he has been able to apply their principles. He writes with courage and independence and looks to no authority. . . One can give this book to any open-minded enquirer and be sure that Trevor Barker will become one of his prophets. He does not minimize the difficulties so that the reader after pursuing the path for a little meets unexpected dangers and difficulties. No, the danger signals are all in place. But the way to meet them is made plain." — The Editors
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