3 out of 4 stars
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The Life of a London Yogi is a memoir of two parts. In the first part, Tony Butcher details his early life experiences growing up in London in 1938. Starting with his early influences, the author introduces us to a few family members and teachers, including his father, Cyril, and mother, Gladys, and he touches on how their relationships influenced him. We follow the author's story further through World War II and his journey to finding his purpose in life, which leads to his joining the army. However, his hopes of meeting and working with heroic, brave, high-minded individuals who would be willing to sacrifice themselves for their country were far from fulfilled. After he left the army, his experience and love for cricket helped him get a job as a physical education and games master at a private school. This led to his discovery of his love for teaching.
The second part of the book has to do with the author's spirituality after an encounter with a book detailing the Mystery Religions of the old world helped open his eyes to the misconceptions of the Ancient world. This was followed by experiences that led to his decision to serve the Goddess, Durga, in 2001. Employing numerous stories, the author takes us on a spiritually enlightening journey, introducing us to different states of consciousness (Cosmic Consciousness, God Consciousness, and Unity Consciousness), transcendental meditation, yoga, and yogic flying among other things.
Picking up this book, I decided to read it with an open mind, as books that discuss spirituality can be controversial at times. However, I liked that the author's lessons weren't controversial and apply to everyone irrespective of religion. The first thing I liked about the book was how easy it was to get attached to the author's personal stories. Even though the author wasn't as descriptive as I would have liked, especially with conveying his feelings on certain occasions, it was easy to connect to his stories as his they were relatable and eventful. The author's humor was also another highlight for me. Pictures of different events talked about were also included in the book, and this helped bring the author's stories to life.
Furthermore, there was a lot that I learned from The Life of a London Yogi. Besides learning about the importance of finding one's true purpose in life, the lessons on positivity, harmony, and conquering the hexagon of ambition, anger, greed, false attachment, vanity, and jealousy living inside us were very enlightening. The author further discusses the role of this hexagon in peace and war, the application of Jyotish (the Indian equivalent of Astrology) in achieving world peace, and transcendental meditation in attaining pure consciousness.
However, there were a few things about the book that I did not like. The first dislike I noticed from the first few chapters, which continued throughout the book, was grammatical errors. As interesting as the book's content was, poor editing continuously interrupted the flow of my reading and this translated to dropping the book several times before I could complete it. There were also a few terms included without sufficient explanations, like Brahman, devatas, puja, and aarati. This ensured that time was wasted on carrying out research to follow the author's lessons. I would have also appreciated additional reference books for further reading, but I didn't get that.
All in all, The Life of a London Yogi was an interesting, enlightening, and helpful book. It helped me with clarity on some important things in life. Interesting conversations on reincarnation and how it can be applied in teaching also piqued my interest. I feel like this is a book that everyone can learn a thing or two from. However, work has to be put into the book's execution, especially with regards to editing. After careful consideration, I rate this book 3 out of 4 stars. Poor editing definitely takes out a star, but I was conflicted about taking out another star for other issues I listed earlier. However, the book's overall content deserves better than 2 stars. I would recommend this book to fans of memoirs and spiritual books.
The Life of a London Yogi
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