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The Secret Teachings of All Ages (Reader's Edition) Paperback – Illustrated, October 27, 2003

4.3 out of 5 stars 320 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In 1928, a 20-something Renaissance man named Manly Hall self-published a vast encyclopedia of the occult, believing that "modern" ideas of progress and materialism were displacing more important and ancient modes of knowledge. Hall's text has become a classic reference, dizzying in its breadth: various chapters explore Rosicrucianism, Kabbalah, alchemy, cryptology, Tarot, pyramids, the Zodiac, Pythagorean philosophy, Masonry and gemology, among other topics. This affordably priced edition would be vastly improved by a new foreword, placing the work in some kind of historical and critical context and introducing readers to the basic contours of Hall's sweeping corpus. Instead, we have a disciple's adulatory 1975 foreword, which merely parrots the same themes of mystery and esoterica that are espoused in the book. Readers who are unfamiliar with Hall's work will be at a loss in ferreting out which chapters have stood the test of time and which have been vigorously debunked (like the one on Islam, which actually uses novelist Washington Irving as a primary source on the prophet Muhammad). However, they will also marvel at the sheer scope of Hall's research and imagination, and at J. Augustus Knapp's famous illustrations, including a 16-page color insert.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review

"A masterful summation of the esoteric teachings of the ages."
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 768 pages
  • Publisher: TarcherPerigee; Reprint edition (October 27, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1585422509
  • ISBN-13: 978-1585422500
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (320 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #24,869 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Philip Rice on January 25, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you're reading this review, then you already know about Manly P. Hall, so I won't get into that.

The best edition to get is the hardcover University Edition printed in 2008. BUT if you want a cheaper paperback, make sure you get the authorized 2000 reduced facsimile of the 1988 Diamond Jubilee edition from the Philosophical Research Society (PRS). It's the only edition in print that is a true reprint of the original typography and illustrations in their correct places. All other editions are re-typeset, and some cluster all the color illustrations together rather than at the beginning of each chapter where they belong. The Reduced Facsimile is also the only edition that was authorized by Hall when he was still alive, and the only edition that contains ALL the original illustrations.

The 2000 edition from PRS is very good quality with a sewn signature binding printed on heavy photo paper. DON'T get the Dover edition or the "Readers" edition!! Much of the value in this text is the beautiful typography and illustrations. It's not worth owning it otherwise. A cheap used copy of the facsimile edition can be easily found for under $10. I got mine for $2.99 and it's beautiful.
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Format: Hardcover
Manly P Hall was a great scholar. I had the wonderful experience of hearing him lecture at his Philosophical Research Society in Los Angeles shortly before his passing in 1990. Having read classical and comparative philosophy and religion for many years, my impression - shared by my betters and many scholars - is you really cannot do better than this book. There are many editions available, even a paperback edition currently in many bookstores.

If you appreciate Joseph Campbell but wish to pursue the more mystical side of religion, Manly P Hall is an excellent resource. Whereas Campbell was a self-proclaimed "maverick" with no particular allegiance to any one form of religion, Manly P Hall was a thirty-third degree Freemason, and clearly sympathetic to the theory that in our ancient past there existed a system of mystery religions in which invocation of deities and angels was practiced and actually achieved. (Classic example, if memory serves, being Plutarch's tale of the invocation of the Neoplatonist Plotinus' guardian angel in the Temple of Isis in Rome by an Egyptian priest.) Hall breaks ranks with Christianity's declaring such entities to have been demons, and views them instead as our good buddies in the spiritual neighborhood. That said, to Hall's credit, he never minimizes the great perils of seeking gratuitous spiritual experiences.

If you are sympathetic to "the old religions" and want a sympathetic scholarly accounting, it is hard to imagine how you could do better than purchasing and studying this book. If you are someone who believes in the Bible as the inspired word of God, you will have to come to your own conclusion whether Hall is worth your time, as he inevitably delivers a philosophical interpretation of the Bible.
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Format: Paperback
The over-riding theme of Manly P. Hall's book is that the most basic secret teaching is that one should overcome your animal, lower, inferior nature of lust, hatred, and greed and become more spiritual, realizing that this world is an illusion, which isn't your true home, and your body is not your true self. By following the golden rule instead of the rule of gold, one can become enlightened enough to avoid ever having to come back to this awful world again. Wisdom is to be valued more than gold. If you do not attain such spiritual wisdom, you are doomed to repeat your experiences by reincarnating or you may experience hell or purgatory, according to some faith traditions.

Hall criticizes modern times as being too materialistic. The more you focus on earthly desires, the more you become bound to it, the more misery you shall suffer here and after death. You should follow the urges of your higher self, the spirit and soul, which operate above you in the heavenly realms as your body stays upon on this earth while you learn your lessons.

But as far as lust goes, Hall does not recommend that everyone become celibate, since if you are not particularly enlightened it would not be appropriate for you and may lead to neurosis.

Hall goes over the symbolism of many esoteric traditions in this mostly interesting, but sometimes boring book. This is a big, long, thick book that is crammed with so much information it's hard to remember it all. A lot of the explanations of symbols gets tedious after awhile and I asked the question occasionally, "Why should this be important to me?" Especially dense was the sections on the Kabala symbolism. Hall also goes over Biblical symbolism as allegorical true, not literally true, and it is based on earlier pagan traditions.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I perused an older hardcover copy of this book at a lodge brother's house and was so impressed, I ordered it on the spot.

It was full of full page color plates and numerous illustrations. I immediately deemed it a necessary component of my library.

I received my copy today, and there isn't a single illustration or plate that the version I looked at had.

Since it is a book on symbolism, symbols would be a nice addition.

My advice would be to try and find an older edition.

David George
Palo Alto Chapter #93
Los Altos Lodge #712
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