The Chaldean Oracles are a product of Hellenistic (and more precisely Alexandrian) syncretism. The Alexandrian religio-philosophy proper was a blend of Orphic, Pythagorean, Platonic, and Stoic elements, and constituted the theology of the learned in the great city which had gradually, from the third century B.C., made herself the centre of Hellenic culture. In her intimate contact with the Orient, the mind of Greece freely united with the mysterious and enthusiastic cults and wisdom-traditions of the other nations, and became very industrious in "philosophizing" their mythology, theosophy and gnosis, their oracular utterances, symbolic apocalypses and initiatory lore.

The De mysteriis was composed some time between 280 and 305, yet less than a century later the emperor Julian was unsuccessful in his attempt to halt the growing influence of the "Galileans" (Christians) and hail a return to the ancestral gods; just twenty years after his brief rule, sacrifices were proscribed by Theodosius I and Christianity declared the official state religion. It was the teachings of Iamblichus that Julian hailed and used as doctrines that could guide him and other non-Christians to a greater understanding of their ancestral gods. Iamblichus, writing under the assumed guise of the Egyptian prophet "Abamon," is now widely accepted as being the author of the De mysteriis. Proclus' familiarity with the work is confirmed by his Commentary on the Timaeus which thus supports his attribution of it to the divine Iamblichus." In addition, the De mysteriis reveals numerous parallels with Iamblichean doctrine already known from other sources, and it seems more than likely that Iamblichus' well-documented belief that the soul changed and was damaged during its descent into the material world was what led to his stipulation that theurgy was the only means of re-ascent to god. Iamblichus also makes constant reference to Platonic and other philosophic and religious principles that make the identity of the author definitively Hellenic in his philosophical outlook or experience.

When it is considered that Pythagoras was the father of philosophy, authentic memoirs of his life cannot fail to be uncommonly interesting to every lover of wisdom, and particularly in those who reverece the doctrines of Plato, the most genuine and the best of all his disciples. And that the following memoirs of Pythagoras by Iamblichus are authentic, is acknowledged by all the critics, as they are for the most part obviously derived from sources of very high antiquity; and where the sources are unknown, there is every reason to believe, from the great worth and respectability of the biographer, that the information is perfectly accurate and true.

The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna contains the conversations of Sri Ramakrishna with his disciples, devotees, and visitors, recorded by Mahendranath Gupta, who wrote the book under the pseudonym of "M." The conversations in Bengali fill five volumes, the first of which was published in 1897 and the last shortly after M.'s death in 1932. The reader will find mentioned in this work many visions and experiences that fall outside the ken of physical science and even psychology. With the development of modern knowledge the border line between the natural and the supernatural is ever shifting its position. Genuine mystical experiences are not as suspect now as they were half a century ago. The words of Sri Ramakrishna have already exerted a tremendous influence in the land of his birth. Savants of Europe have found in his words the ring of universal truth. But these words were not the product of intellectual cogitation; they were rooted in direct experience. Hence, to students of religion, psychology, and physical science, these experiences of the Master are of immense value for the understanding of religious 4 phenomena in general. No doubt Sri Ramakrishna was a Hindu of the Hindus; yet his experiences transcended the limits of the dogmas and creeds of Hinduism. Mystics of religions other than Hinduism will find in Sri Ramakrishna's experiences a corroboration of the experiences of their own prophets and seers. And this is very important today for the resuscitation of religious values. The sceptical reader may pass by the supernatural experiences; he will yet find in the book enoug

In his eagerness to do good to people, Adi Shankara, while writing the book, has spared no pains in making clear the idea of the distinction between oneself and one's body, mind, etc., which, when rightly comprehended under the benevolent guidance of a Teacher, a man of Knowledge, will perfectly convince one that one is not other than the Unlimited Bliss untouched by hunger and thirst, grief and delusion, old age and death, the only real Existence, the Goal of all human beings to be realized in their life.

Scarcely any introduction is needed for a book that professes to be, as its title 'Crest-jewel of Discrimination' shows, a masterpiece on Advaita Vedanta, the cardinal tenet of which is: 'Brahman alone is real, the universe is unreal and the individual soul is no other than the Universal Soul.' Being an original production of Shankara's genius, the book combines with a searching analysis of our experience an authoritativencss and a depth of sincerity that at once carry conviction into the heart of its readers. The whole book is instinct with the prophetic vision of a Seer, a man of Realisation, and the expression, too, is so lucid and poetical that quite a new life has been breathed into the dry bones of philosophical discussion, and that, too, on the most abstruse subject ever known.

The Dao De Jing was written in China roughly 2,500 years ago at about the same time when Gotama Buddha expounded the Dharma in India and Pythagoras taught in Greece. Due to its freuqent translation, the book has been made subject to some heinous translations, that anyone regardless of their knowledge of the Chinese language could recognize, on the basis of its quality, the translation's inadequacy. The Tolbert McCarroll translation is the best I've read. The Dao De Jing states clearly what most philosophical documents state obscurely.

This book provides episodes from Zhuangzi's life. Zhuangzi's best friend was Hui Shi (Huizi), who understood Zhuangzi best and was best understood by Zhuangzi. They often exchanged views while they wandered over hills and rills. For instance, travelling with Huizi over a bridge in the Hao River, Zhuangzi said, "The fish is swimming at ease. This is how the fish enjoy themselves." Huizi said, "You are not a fish. How do you know the fish are enjoying themselves?" Zhuangzi said, "You are not me. How do you know I don't know about the fish?" Huizi said, "I am not you and I certainly don't know about you; you are certainly not a fish and you will not know the fish. That's for sure." Zhuangzi said, "Let's trace back to your original question. You said, 'How do you know the fish are enjoying themselves?' This question shows that you know about the fish. Since you know about me, why can't I know about the fish? I got to know it over a bridge on the Hao River." ("Autumn Floods") In this way, they fonned a firm friendship in their discussion over scholastic issues. It was only natural for Zhuangzi to say in front of Huizi's grave, "Since Huizi died, I have no one to talk with! I have no one to argue with!" ("Xu Wugui")

The Secret of the Golden Flower is a lay manual of Buddhist and Taoist methods for clarifying the mind. A distillation of the inner psychoactive elements in ancient spiritual classics, it describes a natural way to mental freedom practiced in China ror many centuries. The golden flower symbolizes the quintessence of the paths of Buddhism and Taoism. Gold stands ror light, the light of the mind itself; the flower represents the blossoming, or opening up, of the light of the mind. Thus the expression is emblematic of the basic awakening of the real self and its hidden potential. In Taoist terms, the first goal of the Way is to restore the original God-given spirit and become a self-realized human being. In Buddhist terms, a realized human being is someone conscious of the original mind, or the real self, as it is in its spontaneous natural state, independent of environmental conditioning.