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American Veda: From Emerson and the Beatles to Yoga and Meditation How Indian Spirituality Has Shaped the Westby Philip Goldberg
Synopses & Reviews
In February 1968 the Beatles went to India for an extended stay with their new guru, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. It may have been the most momentous spiritual retreat since Jesus spent those forty days in the wilderness.
With these words, Philip Goldberg begins his monumental work, American Veda, a fascinating look at India’s remarkable impact on Western culture. This eye-opening popular history shows how the ancient philosophy of Vedanta and the mind-body methods of Yoga have profoundly affected the worldview of millions of Americans and radically altered the religious landscape.
What exploded in the 1960s actually began more than two hundred years earlier, when the United States started importing knowledge as well as tangy spices and colorful fabrics from Asia. The first translations of Hindu texts found their way into the libraries of John Adams and Ralph Waldo Emerson. From there the ideas spread to Henry David Thoreau, Walt Whitman, and succeeding generations of receptive Americans, who absorbed India’s “science of consciousness” and wove it into the fabric of their lives. Charismatic teachers like Swami Vivekananda and Paramahansa Yogananda came west in waves, prompting leading intellectuals, artists, and scientists such as Aldous Huxley, Joseph Campbell, Allen Ginsberg, J. D. Salinger, John Coltrane, Dean Ornish, and Richard Alpert, aka Ram Dass, to adapt and disseminate what they learned from them. The impact has been enormous, enlarging our current understanding of the mind and body and dramatically changing how we view ourselves and our place in the cosmos.
Goldberg paints a compelling picture of this remarkable East-to-West transmission, showing how it accelerated through the decades and eventually moved from the counterculture into our laboratories, libraries, and living rooms. Now physicians and therapists routinely recommend meditation, words like karma and mantra are part of our everyday vocabulary, and Yoga studios are as ubiquitous as Starbuckses. The insights of India’s sages permeate so much of what we think, believe, and do that they have redefined the meaning of life for millions of Americans—and continue to do so every day.
Rich in detail and expansive in scope, American Veda shows how we have come to accept and live by the central teaching of Vedic wisdom: “Truth is one, the wise call it by many names.”
Traces the history and influence of Indian spirituality in the United States while profiling such figures as Yogananda, Vivekananda and Marharisi to explain how Hinduism and Vedic tradition have shaped American practices ranging from prayer and pop culture to relationships and meditation.
PHILIP GOLDBERG is the author or coauthor of nineteen books, including Roadsigns: On the Spiritual Path and The Intuitive Edge. Based in Los Angeles, he is an ordained interfaith minister, a public speaker and seminar leader, and the founder of Spiritual Wellness and Healing Associates. He is director of outreach for SpiritualCitizens.net and blogs regularly on religion for the Huffington Post.
Table of Contents
Namaste, America! : intro and overview — The voice of an old intelligence : Emerson, Thoreau, Whitman — New thought in old wineskins : the New Thought Movement — The handsome monk in the orange robe : Swami Vivekananda and Vedanta Society — The public intellectuals : Huxley, Isherwood, Heard, Smith, Campbell — The yogi of the autobiography : Yogananda and SRF — Blowin' in the wind : the 50s and 60s — Maha mass media : Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and TM movement — The Baby Boomers' babas : gurus of the 70s (Muktananda, et al) — Yoga bearers : the gurus who kicked started the yoga boom — Sex, lies and idiosyncrasies : the shadow side of the guru wave — Made in the USA : American gnostic intermediaries - the Acharyas — Not just academic : American practitioner-pandits — Guru Americana : American gurus — Artomatic transmissions : dissemination through music, literature, and other art forms — Spirit of science, science of spirit : physics, medicine, consciousness research, etc — Into the mystic : academia and western mysticism — The once and future religion : how Vedic teachings are changing — American spirituality.
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