50 Spiritual Classics – A Book Review


Why would anyone want anybody to read 50 spiritual classics?

1. If you’re ever plagued like questions like, Where have we come from? Why are we here? Where are we going? This book would not answer your questions for, but instead would hold your hand and guide you to the direction where you can get a response.

2. Furthermore if you always mystified, by what great saints have been saying and wanted a simpler insights to their words, 50 Spiritual Classics, beautifully summarises books by Gandhi-ji, Carl Jung, Krishnamurthy and many others.

3. Or you have been intrigued by the genre of new-age spirituality books, that have become best sellers, but never got round to reading them, titles such as The Power of Now, The Celestine Prophecy and Conversations with God. This masterpiece summarises the deepest of books in the fewest of pages in the simplist of manners. And I’m not exaggerating.

Tom has taken these timeless classics, and very artfully summarised each into a few pages, explaining the contents of the book and what is the take-back for the reader. The layout of the book is also highly appealing as each chapter begins with an impactful quote from the book, a one-line summary what the book is about, followed by a summary of the book condensed to a few pages.

50 Spiritual Classics is definitely one of the best books I’ve read and probably will be reading in 2008. It’s through this masterpiece of Tom Butler Bowden, I was further intoduced to Imam Ghazzali’s Alchmy of Happiness, Autobiography of Malcolm X, Khalil Gibran’s the Prophet.

Allow me to leave a sprinkling of quotes from the book:

From the Summary of Road to Mecca by Muhammad Asad:

Asad adored Islam’s pared-down love of the Absolute, and the simplicity and beauty of the Koran, which did not require official interpretrs of its wisdom.

God the Absolute. He dwell in infinity and radiates into infinity – but because you are within His working, He is closer to you than the vein in your neck..”

From the Summary of Places that Scare you by Pema Chodron:

“The central question of a warrior’s training is not how we avoid uncertainty and fear, but how we relate to discomfort.” We shape our lives around mental escape. We have a drink or a large meal or go shopping to get away from some uncomfortable thought or feeling in the present. This feeling may be as simple as boredom or mild anxiety, but in our willingness to experience it fully we lose an opportunity to really get to know ourselves. We may never become aware that we can get more relief from fully experiencing a feeling of discomfort than immediately trying to eliminate it.

“If only we could do everything right, we’d be able to find a safe, comfortable, and secure place to spend the rest of our lives.

From the Summary of Think on These Things by J Krishnamurthy:

“We all want to be famous people – and the moment we want to be something, we are no longer free”

“Happiness cannot be found, it is a by-product of meaning and occurs in the absence of fear. It does not result from achievement and ambition;

From the Summary of Autobiography of Malcolm X by Malcolm X:

I’m for truth, no matter who tells it. I’m for justice, no matter who it is for or against. I’m a human being first and foremost, and as such I’m for whoever and whatever benefits humanity as a whole.

He realised that his life’s real purpose had been to appreciate the onness of humankind before God, and his battles were againt the thinking that created false distinctions between one person and another.

Conclusion:
From Tom’s introduction of 50 Spiritual Classics:
There is a Persian proverb: “Seek truth in meditation, not in moldy books. Look in the sky to find the moon, not in the pond.” The commentaries that follow (ie the summaries in the book) are more of a look in the pond than a direct experience of the moon, but I hope they can provide some more motivation for you to gaze on the real thing.

Here’s the link to Tom’s website of 50 Spiritual classics. On this page you’ll have a list of all the 50 books that he’s summarised together with an excerpt of each summary.

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