One Light Many Lamps
Written and Illustrated by Victoria Jones
Publisher: Radha Soami Satsang Beas, Punjab, India, 2009.
Sometimes the truth can best be shown in a language that even a child can understand. In a world where many religions claim that they hold the exclusive franchise on salvation, where ethnic conflicts lead to persecution and bloodshed, it is refreshing to discover a new children’s book, published by Radha Soami Satsang Beas, entitled One Light Many Lamps. The text does not try to indoctrinate its readers into religious beliefs or advance any divisions or distinctions between human beings. Instead, author and illustrator Victoria Jones offers a spiritual vision of humanity, portraying every human being as a child of God, loved by God and full of the light and music of the divine.
The lively illustrations offer a colourful and sparkling imagining of a creation whose dimensions are vast and mysterious. The Lord is depicted as a luminous being taking a small baby in His arms, and showing the child both the majesty of the inner realms and the splendour shining in this world. God is concerned to show even this tiny child the love that creates all life, and the power and light that reside in all souls. One can hardly look at the illustrations and not acknowledge the universal presence of God in the world. This message is powerfully and beautifully made evident in the bright eyes of children, children of every culture and land.
The author weaves the story around one baby who is soon to be born. Before its birth, the Lord wants to give this “Little Soul” certain “gifts” so that one day the soul will share them with the people of the world. These “gifts” are great spiritual truths about the oneness that underlies all multiplicity. So, as the story relates,
The Lord scooped the Little Soul up into His arms and said, ‘Come with me, Little Soul, and learn how the One becomes the many.’ Then the Lord splashed into the shimmering stream sending musical waves of light high into the air! He swung onto a great glowing note and off they sailed.
Using the repeating theme of how the “One becomes the many”, the story shows the wondering child how the One Light, the One Sound, the One Creator, the One Power, and the One Love can be seen in every particle of the world, in every soul, and in every faith tradition. In the story the soul repeats each lesson “so it could remember what it had learned and one day share it with the people of the world”.
This would be a lovely book to consider giving to a child. However, any seeker after spirituality might enjoy it, adults included. None of us is too old to be reminded that our presence here on this earth is a gift, that we share this creation with others who are also God’s beloveds, and that God surrounds us all as “a sea of light, made of endless love and peace and nothing more.”
The Journey of the Soul
Written and Illustrated by Victoria Jones
Publisher: Radha Soami Satsang Beas, Punjab, India, 2003. Third edition.
It is impossible to explain in human language the origin of the soul, the nature of God, or the manner in which the creation came about. So saints the world over have always resorted to metaphor and parable, using imagery to hint at truths which can only be known through experience.
The Journey of the Soul presents a parable of the love between the soul and God. In simple language and beautiful illustrations, it tells of the soul’s long “journey” from separation from God to joyful reunion. To depict the Lord and the soul, the book adopts a metaphor used by many saints and mystics and presents the Lord as an ocean – a brilliant, shiningocean of love – and the soul as a drop of that ocean. Using language that is universal, this book invites “children everywhere who wonder about God and His creation” to understand life as a journey:
May every child, of every race and faith, find inspiration in these pages – an insight into our origins, the long journey of life, and the wonderful possibility of finding our way back to our common Home.
In this picture book, the creation is explained as a play in which the Lord wants all the souls to participate. “God has made His play seem very real, so His souls completely forget that they are just actors playing parts.” The narrator counsels: “And whenever a scene is sad or hard, remember you are only playing a part. The real you is your soul, a perfect luminous drop of God Himself, so His love, power and greatness are all within you!” On the stage of the creation each body is a costume which a soul wears. Whether the costume is of a reptile, an insect, a plant or a human, the costume is not the reality.
With their body costumes on, all the soul-drops look different. But underneath their bodies they are still the same little drops of Light and Love. We all belong to the same family because we all have the same One Father, God, the Great Lord. We should always be kind, gentle and loving to every living being because a soul lives inside each one.
When the book discusses death, a subject that can be disturbing to a young child, the text is reassuring and the illustrations upbeat, showing a smiling soul-drop rising up out of a dead lady bug, radiant in its joyful release. For the child reader who feels abandoned by God or confused by the things going on in his life, the narrator offers encouragement in a warm and sympathetic voice:
Talk to God. Feel Him shining inside you, loving you and giving you all the strength you need to play the part He gave you, courageously and well. This is called faith in God. If you will always remember Him and have faith in Him, you will be happy inside yourself, no matter what happens in his play of “Life”.
The narrator also explains the feeling of loneliness or emptiness a child may have, perhaps without being able to identify it.
When the Lord wants one of His souls to come back Home, He makes that person feel lonely deep inside, like something is missing. This is the Great Lord’s special way of reminding the soul that its Real Home is not in this world, but back in the Ocean of Light.
The final section of the book describes how the Lord sends His “Great Power” to guide yearning souls on the journey Home. Dazzling illustrations invite the child reader to stretch the imagination to realities beyond the scope of the physical world. Initiation is shown as the touch of the Master’s soul to the disciple’s; the tisra til is shown as a door in the forehead which opens to reveal a hidden path leading into “an amazing new world” where the Master’s Radiant Form “is made of nothing … but the Stream of Sound and Light!” The Master leads the soul through “many marvellous and magical lands” and finally, “lifts the soul-drop back up into the Ocean of Light.”
The Journey of the Soul offers children of all ages a story that may seem as fantastic as any fairy tale, and yet addresses the deepest questions that can trouble a child’s mind: Who am I? What is death? Why do I feel lonely? What is the purpose of life? As the opening page of the book says, “May this story take you on a journey of exploration; a discovery of truth in all its simple wonder and delight.”
Book reviews express the opinions of the reviewers and not of the publisher.