Huston Smith called Swami Ashokananda (1893-1969), head of the Vedanta Society of Northern California, "a brilliant and accomplished spiritual teacher in the West." Sister Gargi, one of the editors of this illuminating collection of over 800 spiritual directives to his disciples over three decades, wrote a biography of him titled A Heart Poured Out. Here is a rich deposit of Hindu wisdom on all dimensions of a life lived in service of God: "This is a book about inner light — enlightenment — the light that floods the center of one's being in deepest meditation to bring peace and joy; the moment when all the knots of the heart unravel and one knows, truly, who one is." It is an excellent resource for anyone on the spiritual path with sections on spiritual perspectives, spiritual practice, and the experience of God. As an adherent of Advaita (nondual) Vedanta, Swami Ashokandana was a believer in the divinity of all life and he constantly tried to alert his disciples to the presence of the Supreme One within. He taught meditation and always emphasized the importance of attention and patience.

"Spiritual growth is very, very slow," said Swami Ashokandana. "What is needed is continuity of effort." There are many teachers in the people, places, and things around us. It is good to stay alert less we miss the divine speaking to us. "Suffering and misery are part of existence; let them do their job. Rise above them; then comes exultation." Most of us squirm and try to evade the troubles that come our way. Here the advice is move through them and let them teach us what we must learn.

We are glad to see that Swami Ashokananda emphasized enthusiasm as a virtue: "Our troubles in spiritual life are symptoms of our lack of enthusiasm. One sure way to overcome spiritual difficulties is to come in contact with people who are eagerly seeking God and learn from them." Equanimity is another virtue: "Attachment to God — that is what is called detachment."

These wise teachings by Swami Asokananda can be used as a light by all those on a path of spiritual maturity.