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Reviewed by Leonard Smuts for Readers' Favorite
Mothers play a pivotal role in our upbringing. Finding Mother: Practical Spirituality - East and West is an extraordinary guide to understanding spirituality in which Dr. Glenville Ashby (Sri Gyananda) successfully combines the best of Eastern and Western traditions. To achieve this, he quotes a variety of sources from the Christian Bible to the Bhagavad Gita and other sacred texts. He has chosen to explore spirituality through the powerful symbolism of The Mother – the Wisdom Goddess – predominantly exemplified in this case by Kali and Mother Mary. The author points out that the Goddess has many forms, in many traditions, but they all exhibit qualities such as wisdom, nurturing, compassion, and forgiveness that are universal and transcend religious and cultural boundaries. Topics covered are diverse and include meditation techniques, mantras, contemplation, reincarnation, gurus, diet, death, karma, sex, and psychology. There are astute warnings concerning some New Age practices such as channeling, spiritual healing, kundalini awakening, and false gurus. He points out that there are no quick fixes and that while these popular trends are not inherently evil, they are just tools that should only be used by qualified persons acting in good faith. The overriding message is that the Divine is within and can be accessed through the Mother in our quest to be God-like.
Dr. Glenville Ashby was raised in Trinidad as a Catholic and is a trained psychologist who has embraced and studied other philosophies including Hinduism. He is in a unique position to share the wisdom of a multitude of teachings, which he does with insight and understanding in Finding Mother. Western readers should not be deterred by the references to Eastern deities, as they too are symbolic of the points that the author illustrates with such clarity. The role of women in society and their contribution to spirituality has been significantly downplayed historically and Ashby has gone a long way to addressing this imbalance. The return of the Feminine Divine is central to the long-awaited shift of human consciousness and this book could not have come at a more appropriate time. It concludes with advice for embarking on a 21-day Sadhana, a spiritual practice that will lead to deeper understanding and personal growth. The book is rounded off with a question and answer session and a useful glossary. This book needs to be read at a measured pace and used as an ongoing source of reference and inspiration. While it will have wide appeal and can be studied by beginners on the spiritual path, it is perhaps better suited to those who have made a commitment to higher learning and can better appreciate its wisdom. This book is a treasure and is highly recommended.