We have been reviewing Hugh Prather’s books for decades. Notes to Myself (1970) sold well over five million copies, and was followed up by Spiritual Notes to Myself (1998), among others. Hugh died in 2010; he’s an important member of our “Remembering Spiritual Masters Project.”
This book was his last manuscript, left unpublished when he died. His widow and co-author, Gayle, tells in a note to the reader how she sent it to one publisher who “very politely rejected it,” and then she didn’t pursue the matter further. Then, during the pandemic, an agent contacted her to say how much he loved Hugh’s work and asked if Hugh had written anything that never saw print.
This book is like his others in that it is episodic, inspirational, loving, and deeply personal. Prather has a knack for getting your attention by starting a teaching with a sentence that seems incorrect — for instance: “We are always practicing the Golden Rule.” It goes on, and we quickly learn something new: “Or at least the principle behind the rule: What we do to others, we do to ourselves. If we treat another destructively, we cannot escape being destructive to ourselves.”
Here's another one: “No one lacks faith.” It's followed immediately by: “We would be immobilized without it. Every action we take, every sentence we think, is based on faith in something. We have faith in the images we hold of ourselves. We have faith in how we have characterized certain people and events. We have faith in what the rest of the day will be like. We have faith that we have made mistakes and that we know what they are. Faith is based on the past, yet it has meaning only because we have faith the future will bear us out.”
And here is one more of these great teachings that begins with a sentence that seems wrong. It’s titled “Greed”: “Extend grace to those who are greedy. They are not jeopardizing their afterlife but rather their knowledge of the kingdom of heaven within them now.”
The book is divided into these spiritual vignettes. The longest is five pages long. The shortest is a single sentence.
Occasionally, the vignettes or anecdotes reveal the authors' humility and show the reader the ordinariness of spiritual encounters. One of these that we particularly loved is called “Mother’s Day and the Golden Rule.” It is too long to quote here. You need to read it. Hugh Prather is, thank God, still with us.