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PRAYERS AND MEDITATIONS
A Monthly Cycle Arranged for Daily Use
Selections by Gerald Heard, Aldous Huxley
with a new Foreword by Marvin Barrett
Wipf & Stock Publishers reissue now available.
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Marvin Barrett's Foreword to the 2008 edition of Prayers and Meditations
In May 1942, just six months after the U.S. entry into World War II and a few days past my 22nd birthday, a mimeographed sheaf of seven of the meditations included in this small volume was pressed into my hand by Gerald Heard, its editor. I was a provisional ensign in the United States Naval Reserve, headed God knows where in a world where the bad guys seemed to be in charge and pressing their advantage.
It could have been considered strange under such circumstances to be given page-long considerations of Being, Beauty (I), Love, Grace (I), Holiness, Peace, and Joy;* less strange when one considered that I was embarking on a regimen of prayer and meditation that would carry me through the next rocky four years. And even less strange when one realized that these short elegant statements were written by Aldous Huxley, the man whose conversion from one of the era’s prime cynics to a true believer in the spiritual meaning of life had triggered my own, from cocky Harvard senior to goggle-eyed seeker after truth, the truth expounded with such informed conviction by Gerald Heard, the author of the majority of the selections that follow.
Even more remarkable was the fact that upon my rediscovery of this lode of spiritual aspirations forty years later they seemed as potent and apt as they had when I first made their acquaintance. A further explanation of these statements’ effectiveness may lie in the fact that, as pointed out in the Introduction, the bulk of those not by Huxley, "can be read as a kind of impersonal autobiography" of their author, Gerald Heard, who wanted to remain anonymous. "They are the imprints left by an attempt at a group religious life." This refers to Trabuco College, an interfaith-religious commune that Heard founded in 1942 in the foothills of Southern California.
Involved in this experiment, which, alas, was dissolved shortly before Prayers and Meditations was published, were a distinguished group of writers and editors, laypersons and spiritual pilgrims. The list, headed by Heard and Huxley, included Christopher Isherwood, John Van Druten, Betsey Barton, Felix Greene, Franklin Kelley, Denver Lindley, Lucille Nixon, Allan and Elizabeth Hunter, Eugene Exman, Margaret Gage, William Forthman, and Michael Barrie. In my opinion, their talents and counsel were never better employed. And this present collection, which Heard refers to as, "a section of chart readings from the record of a voyage," ably and aptly epitomizes not only Gerald's lofty aspirations but also those of all of us who were for a time a part of the noble experiment that was Trabuco College.
* * * * * * *
Marvin Barrett (1920-2006) led an esteemed career as author of 14 books and editor of several noted magazines. For 16 years he served as senior lecturer at the Columbia University School of Journalism, and he was founding director of its prestigious Alfred I. DuPont Survey and Awards in Broadcast Journalism. After his retirement he was for many years a senior editor at Parabola magazine.
Copyright © 2004 by The Estate of Marvin Barrett. All Rights Reserved. Reprinted by kind permission of The Estate of Marvin Barrett.
*Editor's note – Under each of these chapters, Aldous Huxley's contributions consist of the Meditation section only.
PRAYERS AND MEDITATIONS is now available for purchase at the sites below:
PRAYERS AND MEDITATIONS
Marvin Barrett from his Foreword to the 2008 edition of Prayers and Meditations
"Upon my rediscovery of this lode of spiritual aspirations forty years later they seemed as potent and apt as they had when I first made their acquaintance."
"This quiet book is an event in publishing—prayers for intelligent laymen written by intelligent laymen. The spiritual person will find it as useful as a third hand. Some of the meditations are magnificent."
"Here is a book of almost white-hot spiritual intensity. The meditations are splendid—always suggestive and often breath-taking in their spiritual insight."
"Prayers and Meditations belongs to the perfect classics of the spirit, along with Practicing the Presence of God, Testament of Devotion, and The Greatest Thing in the World. It will carry the sincere seeker right into the Secret Place of the Most High."
John Oliver Nelson
"The exquisite line, the luminous theological thinking behind it all, the evident intensity of spirit—all place us again in the editor’s debt. It can freshen prayer life for almost anyone."
Dr. (Hon.) Rhea A. White
"This slim but highly meaningful book consists of a number of prayers and meditations by Gerald Heard and others on key topics involving the human spirit. By immersing oneself in the readings contained in Prayers and Meditations, one will be tangibly moved in the deepest recesses of their being."
Endorsements for the 2008 Wipf and Stock series of reissues
Professor Huston Smith, noted authority on the world’s religions
"There was a period in my early thirties when these four small books by Gerald Heard served almost as my bible. I read and reread them, and invariably found them to be uplifting and inspiring."
William H. Forthman, Ph.D., retired professor of philosophy
"Gerald Heard was an inspiring voice for the life of the spirit. Wipf & Stock is to be commended that Heard's remarkable work is being made available to a new generation of spiritual seekers."
Dr. (Hon.) Rhea A. White, founder/director of The Exceptional Human Experience Network
"Gerald Heard has been a continuous inspiration in my life since the 1950s. His books are modern spiritual classics that will encourage many aspirants on the spiritual path."