On Walter Lanyon

walter layton

Walter Lanyon (1887-1967) wrote over 40 books and gave innumerable lectures. He gave the eternal truths from the Christian Perspective. Of the Christian mystics, I rank him among the greatest. He talked and wrote in the language of the Christian but he conveyed far more – he pointed to the truths that lay beyond all religions. He points to the universal.

I’ve read all his books that are in print. Many are not. But if they become available I’ll get them, for sure. I’ve read his books 7 to 10 times. It took a while to get the hang of his writing. Part of the problem was cultural. I was brought up in an orthodox Jewish home. Bible study was an intellectual exercise. We sought to understand it rationally. Talmud study (which is merely the rabbinical commentary on the bible) was also highly intellectual. You studied with your head, not with your heart. So Lanyon completely baffled me at first. If you approach him intellectually you won’t get it.

Oh the words were easy enough. Not complicated. But the meaning! That was another story. There was nothing to “grab onto” with the mind. And this is precisely what makes him great. The reader is called on to read his work prayerfully, with the heart and the feelings – not with the mind. The reader must tune into the state of consciousness from which the words are written. Then it’s a whole different story.

His writing is like music. Every chapter is a movement in a symphony. There is rhythm and pacing. Certain statements are repeated again and again – like a chant. When you read him properly the gates of heaven open up and you hear the choirs of the angels. You can open any of his books to any chapter and still get meaning and inspiration. In fact it is a good idea to say a little prayer for guidance and then open his book (whichever one you’re reading) at random. You will get the exact message you need to hear at the moment.

He is writing to and for Christians. But it seems to me that whatever you’re religion, once you get passed the terminology (which is symbolic) there is great benefit.