Review of HTH's "The Way of the Practical Mystic"
by Jim Pym
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
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.
(See the book's own page at way-of-the-mystic.htm