In the manner of Shankara, who codified the Upanishads, and in more recent times, David Godman, who has anthologised the teachings of Ramana Maharshi, Alan Jacobs has produced an essential guide to the principal teachings of Ramesh Balsekar, one of the world's leading exponents of Advaita.
In recent decades, the spread of nondualist philosophy - the belief that all of the manifest world stems from an underlying unified reality - has prevailed in the West. But this concept is not new. Since the Vedas, the earliest recorded scripture known to man, the pundits and sages have been pointing to this absolute truth. Nevertheless, the rise of the New Age has interpreted Advaita as a form of `be here now' hedonism; Jacobs' book rightfully reasserts its philosophical and sacred heritage.
`The Wisdom of Balsekar' is arranged alphabetically, divided into sections ranging between `Effort' and `Surrender', `Ignorance' and `Understanding', `Bondage' and `Enlightenment'. With extracts taken from Balsekar's vast corpus of work, Jacobs has managed to distil the essence of his profound wisdom and teachings. This makes not only for an excellent compendium but a text which can be dipped into as and when the need arises, such as the following quotation on `Acceptance':
At any moment, whatever is manifest is perfect. If it is deeply understood, every moment is welcomed and whatever that moment brings - `good' or `not good' - is accepted without any judgement, without expectation or anxiety. It is this attitude of acceptance which is the real freedom, freedom from expectation and desire, freedom from fear and anxiety. When this is deeply understood, you do not bother about what happens, what thoughts occur or what actions take place, or what emotions arise - they are all witnessed.
`The Wisdom of Balsekar' is one of many books published by Alan Jacobs on the themes of mysticism and nondualist teachings, including the recently published, `The Spiritual Wisdom of Marcus Aurelius', O Books, 2004.