Readers of New Dawn are certainly not strangers to the writing of Richard Smoley. He has been a steady contributor of articles to this magazine for a number of years. His latest book offers a collection of some of those articles as well as a few from other periodicals between the years 1997 and 2012. Altogether, this relatively short volume is composed of 16 separate chapters, each of which is a small gem of its own designed to be fast and enjoyable reading.
While I’m guessing the book’s title is a play on words of P.D. Ouspensky’s In Search of the Miraculous: Fragments of an Unknown Teaching, the chapters themselves offer us brief glimpses of a variety of subjects suitable for the novice of metaphysical studies as well as those who have specialised in that area for a long time. Considering myself to be a member of the latter category, I found many delightful and interesting titbits of information of which I had not been aware.
Perhaps what is most engaging about this book is that Smoley gives us insight into some of his own personal experiences in the realm of the supernatural, whether they be direct encounters or accounts related to him by others. With his usual skilful writing ability, he tempts us to go further into our own investigations of subjects like archaic wisdom, Nostradamus, prophecy, The Da Vinci Code, the 2012 phenomenon, Atlantis, Freemasonry, The Course in Miracles, the nature of prayer, and many other areas of study.
Smoley’s knowledge of Greek and Latin enlightens us with definitions with which we may not have been familiar, and add to our understanding of sometimes difficult subject matter. As early as in his Preface, for instance, he gives us the root of the word “esotericism” as coming from the Greek esoterikos, meaning “further in.” This resonated and added to my mundane definition of that word as merely “hidden.”
Whether he’s talking about such diverse ideas as the Kabbalah; Tarot; the Western magical tradition; widening our observing faculties and qualities of attention in the manner taught by G.I. Gurdjieff; C.G. Jung’s world of archetype and synchronicity; the predictions of Edgar Cayce; the astral realm; sacred literature; Priory of Sion; Mayan Calendar; Theosophy; the Rosicrucians; the Kahunas of Hawaii; Gnosticism; Hermeticism; psychic protection; and a host of other fascinating topics, Smoley presents them all in a thoroughly delightful and down-to-earth way.
The author’s thematic stream prods us to develop our own way of finding our true Self, our real “I,” if you will. While there are innumerable methods for this in the “esoteric tradition – the body of knowledge that underlies all the great spiritual traditions of humanity,” Smoley cautions that we cannot necessarily find this in ordinary religion which “involves a relationship with a personal deity.” Perhaps we can only find the useful and correct method for enlightenment in the sacred and secret technology of “real” magic prompted by meditation and directed imagination.
Of course, Smoley admits we are left with many more questions than answers as to the nature of other realms beyond our own that may, indeed, be generating and controlling factors in our day to day lives here on Earth. He reminds us, “We do not know. The evidence would seem to suggest as much. At any rate, I am convinced that we will not understand the rise and fall of civilisations, or history itself, until we do know.”
And, he reiterates, a small step in beginning to crack the barrier to that knowledge is to get in touch with what it is, both within us and outside of us, that “experiencing.” But, he cautions that, “…this is not ordinary ego, with its thoughts and desires and judgements. Why? Because we can step back and look at all these things within ourselves. If we can look even at internal events, what is doing the looking?”
In the final chapter of the book, entitled “The Dual Nature of Reality,” Smoley gives us the goal from the Samkhya, thought to be the oldest of all Indian philosophical systems. It can be, and perhaps should be, the ultimate goal for those of us who are involved in metaphysical pursuits.
He summarises that ancient teaching’s objective and intended result in this way: “The spiritual path, which is for a long time the process of detachment, is a means of gradually separating the ‘I’ from the world, that is, separating consciousness from the contents of its experience. At this point, supreme illumination takes place. The old world falls away, and a new one arises. Such is enlightenment.”
– Reviewed by Alan Glassman in New Dawn 137