LIFE & TEACHING OF THE MASTERS OF THE FAR EAST (TM)
As so often happens in the fortunes of successful publishers, there was the eventual crossing of paths of "the" author and "the" publisher. DeVorss was the publisher; the author was Baird T. Spalding, who a few years before DeVorss' arrival in LA had arranged for a small, paperback printing of his two volumes entitled Life and Teaching of the Masters of the Far East - "a breakthrough in Western spirituality," according to a recent New Age newspaper account; "a landmark work in spiritual literature."
These words typify the praise that has been heaped upon the Life and Teaching books for three-quarters of a century. Doug DeVorss was quick to see in the slender volumes these same merits and the New Age in all its fullness: spiritual values and healing techniques transcending time, space, theology, and medicine - set against the exotic backdrop of an expedition to India in 1894 by Spalding, one of the most brilliant yet enigmatic seers of recent times.
Here was also a New Age publishing phenomenon of the kind we have become familiar with: starting from a private printing and word-of-mouth publicity, and ending up in worldwide translation, with millions of copies sold. DeVorss liked to tell the story:
I have been told by people who knew Mr. Spalding in Calcutta, India, in the early nineties that he decided to write out in longhand some of the accounts of his experiences in India. Some friends asked him to type it and let them have copies, and for many years he carried these typewritten accounts (of what later became Volume 1 of the now 6-volume set) with him. People would read them and pass them among themselves until, finally, a very prominent woman in Oakland, California, whose husband was the builder of the Oakland Municipal Railway, asked Mr. Spalding if he would have any objection to her having her printer, the California Press in San Francisco, print a thousand copies of this work in an inexpensive paper binding; she wanted to give every one of her friends a copy of that book. Mr. Spalding gave his consent and soon after this he left for England.
The books were printed and passed among her friends, as a gift. Within about 60 days, phenomenally as it seemed, more than 20,000 orders were received for copies of that book! When Mr. Spalding returned from England, of course he was astonished at the interest in his discoveries and experiences, so he permitted her to have the balance of the work published, which became know as Volume 2.
As for Baird Spalding, already 70 years old when his second volume came out in 1927, not very much is known. Shy, highly reclusive, and often away exploring mining properties in the desert Southwest, he would return every few years to the task of telling the story of his 1894 sojourn with the Masters. These had been encounters with spiritual guides who broke the molds of orthodoxy and tradition in Western spiritual philosophy, revealing an empowerment available to the individual for living life on nothing less than the Masters' own level.
Spalding and Doug DeVorss gradually embarked on a kind of partnership in which DeVorss bought up Volumes 1 and 2 and then urged Spalding to complete his story in a third volume. This was published in 1935 on the eve of Spalding's return trip to India in the company of 18 fellow-travelers and seekers.
Over the years to come Spalding continued writing material to help the readers understand his findings on a deeper level. There emerged Volumes 4,5, and eventually, 6 in 1997 compiled from previously unpublished material Doug DeVorss had stored away since the early 50's
Interestingly, DeVorss' top seller these many years later continues to be the six-volume boxed set, Life & Teaching of the Masters of the Far East. As described by The Bodhi Tree, a Los Angeles metaphysical bookstore:
"For generations, readers have been searching for more information about Baird T. Spalding and his masterwork. Now, something uncanny has happened. While arranging stock in the warehouse, a DeVorss employee came upon ten dusty cartons that were never suspected to contain anything more than old proofs, invoices, and correspondence relating to Baird Spalding's books.
"A DeVorss editor began sorting through the cartons. He found, to his surprise and amazement, unpublished Spalding manuscripts and papers, magazine articles, personal letters, photographs, and other biographical materials relating to the legendary figure . . . This extraordinary discovery of unsuspected writings, rare articles, letters and photographs is now available in Volume 6."
DeVorss & Company took a very dramatic turn in 1953 when word came of Spalding's death while prospecting in Arizona. Coping with the loss of his best-selling author, Doug DeVorss died suddenly in a dreadful accident.
In all those years, as we have seen, the company remained faithful to what DeVorss and Spalding had initiated. As early as the fateful year of 1953, Spalding's eulogist observed that "a New Age of spiritual understanding had been born" and credited Spalding with having "ushered in the New Age spiritual concept" with the first appearance of his books in the 1920's.
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Last modified: September 19, 2007
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This is reading from book one of a series of five books written by Baird Spalding. He along with a team of researchers traveled to India and surrounding countries back in the late 1800's. They went there to prove or disprove the rumors they had heard about these masters who supposedly could walk on water or through fire and who could manifest any needed thing. They lived among these masters for several years and found ancient cities, deciphered ancient tablets, but greatest of all they met and conversed with these masters and observed how they lived. Jesus was one of the masters and his words are presented in this series of books. Such insights they present to us who would surely want to follow in their footsteps in order to realize the way of life they make so clearly doable in these books. What the masters could do is something that all can do according to them. But you have to do it for yourself and not think it to be impossible.
|Baird T Spalding|
|Born||3 October 1872|
Cohocton, New York,United States
|Died||18 March 1953 (aged 80)|
Tempe, Arizona, U.S.
In 1924 Spalding published the first volume of Life and Teaching of the Masters of the Far East. It describes the travels to India and Tibet of a research party of eleven scientists in 1894. During their trip they claim to have made contact with "the Great Masters of the Himalayas", immortal beings with whom they lived and studied, gaining a fascinating insight into their lives and spiritual message. This close contact enabled them to witness many of the spiritual principles evinced by these Great Masters translated into their everyday lives, which could be described as 'miracles'. Such examples are walking on water, or manifesting bread to feed the hungry party.
These books have remained consistently popular with spiritual seekers, those interested in the philosophy of the East and those who enjoy a good story because of their accessible nature and easy-to-follow format. However, despite most of the action taking place in India, the Great Masters make it clear that the greatest embodiment of the Enlightened state is that of the Christ (as personified by Jesus): “The Masters accept that Buddha represents the Way to Enlightenment, but they clearly set forth that Christ IS Enlightenment, or a state of consciousness for which we are all seeking - the Christ light of every individual; therefore, the light of every child born into the world.” (From the foreword, Volume I, Life and Teaching of the Master of the Far East, DeVorss & Co.)
Spalding published three additional volumes before his death in 1953. Volumes 5 and 6 were published by DeVorss & Co posthumously from various articles that Spalding had written.
Although popular, Baird Spalding was an enigmatic figure and the authenticity of the events described in the Life and Teachings have never been confirmed. Spalding never produced any evidence of the claimed trip, and none of the other scientists were ever identified. Followers have argued that the high quality of the spiritual teachings contained therein are themselves evidence of contact with a higher power. Skeptics argue that Spalding did not visit India as claimed, and his works belong to the magical autobiography genre.
Despite questions about Spalding's authenticity, his books have remained in print since his death and his stories have helped to popularize the concept of Ascended Masters which became a common meme in New Age and alternative religious movements during the twentieth century. During the 1920s, Spalding was a personal acquaintance of Guy Ballard, founder of the I AM activity, and similar themes to Spalding can be seen in Ascended Master groups such as the Church Universal and Triumphant and the writings of Elizabeth Clare Prophet. Spalding is named as an influence in the writings of New Age figures such as JZ Knight, Paul Baumann of the Methernitha sect and Father Divine.
Growth of the New Age movement during the 1970s resulted in a renewal of interest in Spalding, and several New Age figures have claimed tenuous connections to him after his death. American mystic Thane of Hawaii, founder of the Prosperos group, claimed in 1974 to have ghost-written several of Spalding's later books and accompanied him on his 1935 India tour. Pseudonymous author Nguyen Phong released the novel Journey to the East in 1987 which he claimed to be a Vietnamese translation of a previously unknown 1924 prequel to Life and Teachings, in which Spalding is joined in India by a group of prestigious mystics and academics, including Paul Brunton and Stanford Professor Walter Evans-Wentz.