A Modern Mystic of the West
Essay by Gilbert Gedge (a spiritual healer, and a friend of HT Hamblin and Clare Cameron)
The Gift of Vision
Few of us are privileged to come into close personal contact with a great spiritual leader, but all who knew Henry Thomas Hamblin intimately were so blessed. I first met him after a meeting in London in 1948. I had been writing regularly for his magazine, the Science of Thought Review, eleven years, but had never met him before in the flesh, though I had twice tried to do so. In regular correspondence with him over the years, I had grown to love this man who I knew from his writings had faced up to all the problems I was familiar with and had found the spiritual way of dealing with them. As he turned to greet me, when I touched his elbow and I looked into his eyes for the first time, there was rapport between us immediately. We had little or not opportunity for conversation, however, until an hour or more later when we sat side by side in a taxi - and then words seemed unnecessary. After two or three minutes silence he suddenly turned to me and said: "Isn't it wonderful how everything looks so much brighter when we are spiritually uplifted! Even the drab, dirty bricks seem to take on a living colour"! That was literally true for each of us at that moment. But H T Hamblin by no means viewed the world through rose-tinted spectacles. As he tells us in his books and writings, he came through the hard school of business with its emphasis on the practical, and he was very much aware of the evil and suffering in the world. His vision was able to pierce beyond that, however, to the spiritual Reality behind the world of appearance. To him the Presence of God was the only Reality, and after he left the business world his one aim in life was to help as many people as possible to find that Reality and make It the very basis of their lives.
HT Hamblin had a very difficult time before he was ready to do such work, however. Born of poor parents and, according to his account, by no means well-endowed with perseverance or talent, he had great difficulty in his early years. At the age of sixteen he had a remarkable spiritual experience the impact of which, though partly erased by the stresses associated with the process of growing up, never completely left him. It was on that occasion that he realised for the first time his one-ness with Reality - the I AM.
Despite his vision HT Hamblin had his period in the wilderness, until the time came when, some seven or eight years after his first spiritual experience, he had a second. One night, feeling a compulsion to pray, he knelt by his bed and at once became aware of the Divine Presence. It was as though he were cradled and poised in the Divine Love, filled with the deep peace of the Eternal and "floating out on to the bosom of an Infinite Ocean of Infinite Bliss; yet, at the same time, His Peace and His Bliss flowed through me like a great river, and I was one with it."(1)
Disillusion: a catalyst for change
Yet again, however, H T Hamblin became enmeshed in the enticements of the world and spent quite a number of years "making money". He worked very hard and indeed was very successful, and was able to leave behind the poverty stricken existence which had been his previously. But he has not satisfied. He was by nature a pioneer, and could not rest content to enjoy the fruits of his efforts. As soon as an enterprise (and he actually started at least three) began to show signs of becoming established and the work involved began to appear easy and a matter of routine, he lost interest. His restless temperament impelled him to seek a new outlet for his energies.
Ultimately the time came when his very success became to him a form of slavery, and he began to loathe his business. Eventually, after sundry struggles, he severed all connection with it, and thus relinquished the assured income of a wealthy man. Having done so he found himself urged to write, and from then on he poured out a succession of lessons and books which have helped many thousands of people to change their thinking and thus their lives. His first book was "The Message of a Flower" which was followed by "Within You is the Power", a book which has sold in excess of 110,000 copies.
Hamblin's last, and in my opinion his greatest, book was "My Search for Truth. The early part of this book inevitably repeats some of what he wrote in his earlier "The Story of My Life", but it then goes on to give a clear picture of the philosophy and beliefs that he gradually grew into. His ideas slowly developed over a long period from the time he published "Within You is the Power", but the basis remains fundamentally the same: the omnipresence of the all-goodness of God. But, whereas in "Within you is the Power" his object was to show people how, by the proper direction of their thought and faith, they could change and control their lives and circumstances, his later works were more specifically concerned with teaching people how to find a living consciousness of the Presence of God for Himself alone. At the time of his great success in business, Hamblin had lost all sense of that Presence. As he wrote in "My Search for Truth", "I was shut off from nature and from God". God had work for him to do, however, and eventually guided him back to the Divine pattern for his life. The change over was not without suffering and severe struggles. He hung on to his business life as if his whole being depended on it - as indeed he thought it did! However, a succession of night experiences literally drove him out of it. In the middle of the night he would wake up feeling he was actually in hell, with all the sorrow, suffering and despair of the damned concentrated in his soul. For some time he tried to ignore these warnings, but eventually decided to give up business - and then these terrible experiences ceased. Ambition had driven him on a career which was not what God intended for him, but now Infinite Love and Wisdom could use him.
In the meantime Hamblin had come into contact with some of the so called "Mental Science" teaching, but soon found that all his use of denials and affirmations only ended in failure. Eventually, of course, he realised that what he was really seeking was "to know God and experience his Peace". That, with the concomitant idea of one-ness with God, came the basis of all his future teaching, in which he continually emphasised that our seeking must ultimately be not through mental effort, but through acceptance and surrender, "turning the heart to the Christos". For him the omnipresence of God meant inevitably the presence of the Divine Order here and now. In his book "My Search for Truth", Hamblin says "The Kingdom or realm of God is with us now and always". He goes on to say "I find now that it is no longer necessary to follow any set system of meditation - but only to know God and to feel immersed in His Peace, and to feel His Peace flowing through me like a river".
In October 1921 Hamblin published the first number of a new monthly magazine, "The Science of Thought Review", which was an immediate success and is still helping many people. Soon, however, he was to go through experiences which were to test him thoroughly. After having "reduced prayer to an exact science that could be used successfully to clear up any situation", he suddenly found that his prayers were useless and God seemed far away. He was brought to what the saints call the place of "noughting". He felt himself threatened by a tremendous evil which he was powerless to combat and yet felt he must resist. His peace of mind was restored when God suddenly spoke to him in a verse from an old hymn:
"Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take,
The clouds ye so much dread,
Are big with mercy, and will break
In blessing on your head".
Then he realised that instead of dreading and resisting the experience, he had to accept it and trust God, knowing that only good could come out of it. This implied complete surrender to God, and from then on that was the very core of his teaching.
The decision to change, and teach the necessity to "give all to life" instead of a method of "getting on in life" cost Hamblin a great deal, for it meant the withdrawal and destruction of all his old books and courses of instruction and the issue of new ones. Above all, of course, was the enormous amount of energy and time required to set forth his new teaching. Throughout it all, however, he was remarkably upheld by that Infinite Love Whose behest he was obeying. Many of his old students and followers left him because they could not accept his new teaching. They had grown accustomed to using spiritual powers in order to overcome difficult experiences and "get on in life", whereas Hamblin was now teaching the necessity to accept the "disciplines and chastenings" of life, work through them and learn as much as possible from them, leaving the outcome entirely in God's hands. As hi himself wrote: "My one desire now is to help aspirants to find God and enter into Divine Union".
Hamblin's own spiritual development was obviously going on apace at this time, but soon he was to enter a period of darkness such as he had never known. With the outbreak of war in 1939 he found himself violently assailed by those dark forces whose object is to destroy the Children of Light. Instead of the consciousness of communion with God to which he had been accustomed it seemed impossible to find God or realise His Presence. "I could no longer retire into the Inner Chamber of my soul and find God there as Infinite Joy, Peace and Bliss indescribable. There was nothing but darkness and the seeming despair and lamentations of countless millions of lost souls… I seemed to be in the grip of all the powers of darkness from which there seemed no escape".
This was the beginning of a long series of psychic attacks, during the course of which he was visited by evil presences that made every hair of his head literally stand on end. Eventually, however, he found that to make use of the name of Jesus was an infallible way of dealing with them. Jesus proved to be literally a saviour to him, and lifted him up to a new consciousness of the Divine Presence and of freedom. In his later years his teaching on prayer frequently stressed the power in the Name of Jesus and advocated using it constantly in our prayers. He himself became a Jesus-dedicated man, following Him even to the extent of not trying in any way to side-step, or wipe out by affirmation and realisation any of the tests and trials with which life confronted him. He came to regard some form of Gethsemane experience as inevitable if we wish to attain the highest spiritual development, and himself did not escape or seek to escape it. "The object of these experiences is to bring us into God's peace… everything is designed for our good and in order to bring us into His perfect peace… God's inward peace is Heaven's most precious gift, for if we possess it we possess all things. The Divine Will is good; hence we eventually learn that all we need pray for is for the Divine Will to be done, whether we are concerned with our welfare or that of others. The Perfect Order continues; that is, it is always in a state of 'presentness'; it is always in the Eternal Now and it does not wax or wane. What is needed is that we should conform to it… We belong to the Eternal and interiorly we are one with That which changeth not; the interior Order flows ceaselessly, in perfect harmony".
When I met HT Hamblin I was always aware of the deep peace and love which pervaded his entire being and emanated from him. I eventually learned, too, that he had a pronounced sense of humour. I was highly amused when he told me the story of how some man had approached him to enlist his support for a film project intended to portray the life of Jesus. "But", said H.T.H. "I sent him away with a flea in his ear"! The gleam in H.T.H.'s eye and the chuckle and glee in his voice as he recounted it to me is still a joy to remember. "I was not going to have anything to do with putting Jesus on a film", he concluded.
His regard for Jesus did not prevent him from appreciating the writings and teachings of Eastern writers, particularly Lao Tse, whom he quoted occasionally in his writings. Indeed, he sometimes remarked that what he had discovered for himself had long ago been taught by others. He was no narrow sectarian and had friends in various shades of religious thought. A few years before he died he had a visit from Swami Ramdas which was eminently satisfying to both men. Truth is truth no matter by whom spoken, and each recognised the spiritual stature and sincerity of the other. Men such as these are the "little leaven that leaveneth the whole lump" in the crass materialism of this world.
Yet Hamblin was nothing if not human. He knew all about the trials of everyday life and the mistakes we are all liable to make. One day we were talking about past mistakes when he quietly said to me: "I don't take much notice of my past mistakes now. You see, I know now I had to come that way". The man who said that had in earlier years know heart-searching remorse and regret, but in the meantime he had acquired that wisdom that can come only from the realisation of the Divine Omnipresence and all that that implies.
In HT Hamblin I salute one who had attained the capacity to abide in the realisation of the Divine Omnipresence, and who was to me a much loved teacher and friend.