Dimensions of accumulated experience and wisdom on every aspect of life and being that have been stored in the written word lie beyond the compass of even the most constant and lifelong reader. No one can know the amount of excellent material that has been lost in one way or another, or has not been published or printed up sufficiently to be discoverable.

Like people, books come and go. They are often remaindered before their time, but can also outlive their authors indefinitely. The Internet as yet spans only a tiny fraction of what has been written, and it is doubtful indeed to what extent it will ever make much of what has already gone by available or findable. The world wide web opens for a flood tide of written material, but it is also one bearing all manner of flotsam and jetsam, popular trash galore, misguided information, wild theories, unverifiable allegations, image-laden texts, interactive books... and the lost world of books is likely to remain so. Every decade of progress has also driven ahead and mislaid great tracts of literature...

The empty shells of books read and discarded strew our trail through life, and along with them the forgotten pearl or two - accidentally found but lost. Every now and then some aged library, a trunk in some loft, or a jumbled second-hand bookshop throws up as if from oblivion an unknown piece of surprising writing, say a mind-inspiring essay, or other written copy which contains gems within otherwise bland and quotidian text. Reaching across a time and space, they can lighten our mental skies, 're-minding' us, perhaps, of some part of the self we once were. If a good book makes the reader want even more of the same, then it is an even better one that returns us to life, eager to realise ourselves further.

Books talk much more directly to our minds and emotions than to the senses... to be genuine classics they must enliven the sphere of meaning and understanding. Their essence invariably escapes their being 'dramatised' in other media, for this is not of the eye or ear but for discriminating intelligence and reflection.

To be able to write so as to move the soul deeply may require that one has lived for literature as well as for living... but this will depend on the condition of the soul of the reader too. An immature mind can be enraptured by the banale... a person without much life experience is enthralled by novelties that are old hat to others. The book that contains seeds deep within it have a way of falling into one's life just when the plot is ready.

One summer, when I had come to an impasse in my life and was hoping for some opening towards fresh illumination or energising of my faith to appear, I was invited by some people renting a ramshackle house near us to look over some books there and borrow anything I fancied. It was a rather sturdy old summer house, set back about 100 yards from the fjord, which had neither been lived in nor changed since two elderly sisters had lived there between the 1920s and 1940s.

It was a small goldmine to me at that time... mostly esoteric books and limited editions from the early part of the century. I found some good old novels, such as the colourful and historically compendious 'The Cloister and the Hearth' by Charles Reade, based on a Latin account of an artist's wanderings through Europe of the Middle Ages, and some by Walter Scott, including his perceptive 'Kenilworth' and 'The Bride of Lammermoor'. There was a work on Indian philosophy by a swami who had visited Norway and started a movement for a peace university on the top of a mountain, Tronfjell, dying (or simply leaving the body) on the day the 1st World War ended. That was Sri Ananda Acharya's 'Brahmadarsanam. Intuition of the Absolute'. A stranger volume was an anonymous volume 'The Teachings of the Temple'; a kind of tour de force of spiritist and occult ideas. Which temple was involved it did not say.

There were theosophical tracts by Madame Blavatsky, Annie Besant and C.W. Leadbeater. Among these was Blavatsky's peculiar but fascinating 'The Lives of Alcyon', being an illustrated account obtained through alleged astral projection and reading of the akasic records. It recounted 80 lifetimes of a reincarnating spirit of a high level of advancement with his various companions, claiming to describe their lives in societies from 80,000 years ago onwards. There was C. W. Leadbeater's 'Invisible Helpers', about disincarnate spirits who assist mortals from other dimensions and his 'Masters and the Path', with its amazing claims about the supposed hidden sages of Tibet behind the theosophical movement.

Though much of it was beyond my credibility, each of these books provided some nurture to my mind and soul, somewhat dessicated as they were at that juncture from overdoses of science, logic and philosophy. Their messages about worldly futilities and what counts in life's long run were like a catalyst to a change of mind I was ready tio undergo at that time, one which reoriented me... and one might add, 'deoccidented' me.

The truly inner book is the one that the moving finger inscribes with our lives. Many writers have tried to capture their unique 'inner book' in literature. Whether autobiography or novel, its entire structure and every detail should embody it's essence. Yet even if the author has lifetime recall and the requisite overview in understanding, the message will always be more than the medium of style and content. Either that, or some vital part of the message wll have somewhere fallen into oblivion.

copyright of Robert C. Priddy