Verdict: While WHEN THOUGHT TURNS TO LIGHT by Patrick Paul Garlinger is not a complete manual to transformation, the book does help whet the appetite for more.

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WHEN THOUGHT TURNS TO LIGHT: A PRACTICAL GUIDE TO SPIRITUAL TRANSFORMATION is an overview of spiritual philosophy and practices according to the new paradigm spiritual teaching of Mirabai Devi.

The first half of the book covers the philosophical underpinnings of author Patrick Paul Garlinger’s spiritual practices. The teachings of WHEN THOUGHT TURNS TO LIGHT borrow heavily from Buddhism as well as echoing many popular books, listed in the references, such as the works of Eckhart Tolle. Some of the thinking can be attributed to psychology. As a result, except for his brief treatment of avatars, the first half of the book probably won’t cover much new ground for any but the newest readers of spiritual works.

Unfortunately, Garlinger only superficially covers the details of his own spiritual experiences, although there are hints of deeper transformative instances that could have been inspiring. For example, in the section on meditation, Garlinger relates that he discovered that anger was a recurring problem for him, but does not give details of how he discovered or dealt with it. He simply names the emotion, not helping the reader feel how the experience unfolded. This tends to be the pattern even when more details are supplied about his spiritual experiences; WHEN THOUGHT TURNS TO LIGHT only engages the intellect.

The second part of WHEN THOUGHT TURNS TO LIGHT is very useful in bringing together in one place various spiritual practices that are generally covered individually in separate books. These introductory passages can be enough to begin practicing the specific disciplines; however, the section on mantras needs a pronunciation guide for the Sanskrit phrases included.

The summary at the end of the book, advising the beginning practitioner how to dedicate time to each of the practices, is very useful, and the reflections on how modern life takes from the spiritual life are updated from many of the standard texts. The reference sections are quite good and may lead both the interested novice and the more experienced seeker to new resources.

One issue in WHEN THOUGHT TURNS TO LIGHT is that it rarely addresses the fact that people may have very severe, even dangerous, problems they are dealing with. The section on forgiveness, for example, discusses forgiving someone who said “something mean or nasty” along with realizing the possibility of misunderstanding, or even contributing to, the problem. This is a simple enough scenario, but it does not address the more difficult situations in which the spiritual seeker may need to forgive something and not be made to feel as though they consented to the wrong done to them—such as rape. There is no balancing discussion, even a short one, of the need for boundaries or self-protection, which the reader would find discussed at length in one of the books Garlinger recommends, Lorne Ladner’s The Lost Art of Compassion.

A clear, albeit brief, overview or review of spiritual principles and practices, WHEN THOUGHT TURNS TO LIGHT is a quick read that can lead to a deeper exploration.

~Jodi McMaster for IndieReader