Author: Abbott George Burke

Publisher: Light of the Spirit Press

ISBN: 9780998599854

A Statement of Faith

"I may be pardoned if I have written in ignorance, but I felt like telling you what I have, so I out-ed with it."- Swami Nirmalananda

This book is not just a question and answer book meant for the sincere seeker. It is a colossal statement of faith by the author on the nature of Reality and how one might navigate its precarious waters. It also documents the author's deep conviction that Jesus was schooled in India where he learnt the tenets of Sanatana Dharma as laid out in the ancient Indian scriptures, personalized them through diligent practice and then disseminated them to the Western world. After his crucifixion, he arose from the dead and came to India where he lived out the rest of his life

One obvious way to read this book  is to use it as an oracle. One thinks up a question and opens a page at random, reads the message and then chooses whether to follow it or not. This is the advantage of not having the questions arranged chapter-wise as is done in this book. For if one reads the book from start to finish, one encounters often, essentially the same questions again and again. This is probably quite by design, for this way, the message going out is reinforced, leaving less room for misinterpretation.

Another advantage of reading the book from start to finish is that one gets to know of several  lesser known incidents from the lives of some spiritual luminaries. Some of those named in this book are Sri Ramakrishna, Sarada Devi, Anandamoyee Ma, Mahavtara Babaji, Sri Yukteshwar, Yogananda, Swami Sivananda among many others. Within the haystack of questions, hides the needle where the author mentions some of his own experiences.

As mentioned earlier, the most important message the author wishes to convey is that what goes for Christianity today, was precisely Jesus’. interpretation of Sanatana Dharma, which translated means Eternal Way of Life. The author does this by relating verses from the Bible to corresponding statements from Indian scriptures. The author displays his considerable erudition in understanding the more subtle aspects of Indian heritage and traditions.

Another important message that this book conveys is  that God is the only reality.To realize this truth, and by implication, the unreality of the world around us, the author suggests a daily schedule  of six hours of meditation daily (three in the morning and three in the evening) followed by ten hours activity and eight hours of sleep for the householder disciple. Celibacy is also preferred in order to conserve energy.. Other themes that  are taken up and discussed several times are a vegetarian diet, preferably vegan, relationships, whether animals have souls, astral worlds, chakra systems, and also UFOs among others.

For me, personally, the meditation schedule suggested is too gruelling to adhere to in practice.  There are many Westerners who write on India’s spiritual heritage, but I have not read anything on the Indian condition that treats the subject with the kind of respect that Abbott Burke shows in this book..And he also shows awareness of “false prophets” and the kind of havoc they can wreak on unsuspecting spiritual aspirants. Besides, the strong emphasis on God alone being Real, falls just short of bigotry. There is the telling quip “God is no simplistic bore”.

I am truly glad that the author has put forward this collection of the nuts and bolts of his personalized version of Indian spirituality. This book will answer many questions of the sincere seeker, he will feel counselled  by an elder brother on the vagaries of Life.

Warmly recommended.