Review of HTH's "The Way of the Practical Mystic"
by Jim Pym

The Way of the Practical Mystic

Most of us only know Henry Thomas Hamblin (HTH) through his books, yet these have been enough to change thousands of lives. While he was on earth, some had the opportunity of a closer link with this remarkable teacher through the course that he ran from Bosham House. Now, the course is available in book form, and we can experience something of the way in which HTH worked with his students.

The essence of his teaching was that we can transform our lives by changing our way of thinking from habitual reaction and selfish striving to one of love and surrender, thus coming ever closer to God. HTH was a mystic in the tradition of such as Meister Eckhart and Julian of Norwich, yet he was a man of the twentieth century. The principles of the Christ mysticism shown in the lives of such mystics is universally and eternally sound, yet the world has changed, and so must the ways in which these principles are taught and applied. Everything HTH taught had been proved in his own life, and it was this above all which made him a practical mystic.

Many of HTH's books are small, but each has a simple yet profound application to our own lives. When I read The Message of a Flower, for example, I can imagine HTH speaking to me. "The Way of the Practical Mystic" has some 380 pages, but because it is in the form of lessons which students can take at their own pace, it still has the same clarity. Reading it, I have the feeling of each lesson being advice from a wise and loving friend, whose authority does not seek to bind me to him, but rather to set me free.

The twenty-seven lessons contain both teaching and practical exercises, and each also has a letter to the students. HTH is one of the great letter writers. It must have been wonderfully rewarding to be able to correspond with him. As I read them, I had the extraordinary feeling that they might have been addressed to me personally. It was said of Jesus that his preaching reached the soul of each one who really heard him. These letters have something of the same quality, and just reading them is in itself a spiritual experience.

Though the lessons stress 'changing our minds', positive thinking is not enough by itself. As HTH says: "I am more than ever convinced that thought control by itself cannot save us from falling. It is only the influence of the secret place that can keep us." Thought control is a vital necessity, but without meditation daily in a quiet place, it is well-nigh useless. So the first lesson is on 'The Silence', and this is the key to all the rest. In the Silence, we find the true meaning of all the other lessons. These take us through the whole of the spiritual life, adding practical understanding and exercises though which we can deepen our experience. We learn about the nature of God, the 'Divine Adjustment' which transmutes our negative thought-patterns, and which arises from the spiritual experience of surrender to Divine Love. HTH is clear that we must not allow our spiritual experiences to give us feelings of superiority, and from this flows the vital importance of service, of applying the principles for the benefit of all beings and not just for ourselves. Each step is shared with tenderness and compassion, yet there is a rock-like firmness where the principles are concerned.

It was once said of a famous Zen master that his teaching was so simple, that the profundity of its depths could never be fully penetrated. Such a saying would be true of these lessons. Yet this is only the beginning. At the end of the course, HTH says: "Before you lie infinite expansion and unfoldment It doth not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that . . . we shall be like Him."

Now these lessons are once again available, the process of unfolding their depth will be a tremendous blessing to all who read and study them.

Jim Pym

(See the book's own page at way-of-the-mystic.htm )