I’m about to go off on a meditation retreat, but I want to share what I’ve written for my studentnotices list on a great book, that put my and our culture’s recent history into perspective for me.
As a red-blooded American boy growing up in New Jersey in the 1940s, I had never heard of yoga.
By the time I reached my early teens and had heard the word, I thought it must have something to do with yogurt, health and health foods and all that – not that I’d ever eaten anything as exotic as yogurt back then.
By my mid-teens when I read Swami Vivekananda’s Autobiography of a Yogi, I had become aware of the enormous but quiet influence Indian ideas had exerted on the West for some time and which were increasing then. Now, as Phil Goldberg points out in American Veda, in some cities it’s easier now to find a yoga studio than a Starbucks….
NOTE AN ALERT READER HAS ALREADY TOLD ME I’VE MIXED UP MY VIVEKANANDAS AND YOGANANDAS AS TO THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY. WELL A GOOD EXAMPLE OF WHY WE NEED TO GET OUR HISTORY STRAIGHT. I READ THEM BOTH WAY BACK THEN, BOTH GREAT BOOKS.
By my early 20s I probably knew much more about the theory of yoga, Vedic/Indian ideas than most people. Today I am probably outclassed by hundreds of thousands of Americans in both theoretical and practical knowledge of yoga and Vedic ideas…..It’s been an interesting life!
If you are one of the millions of Westerners who are what sociologists call SBNRs, Spiritual But Not Religious, you’re probably already living from many Vedic ideas, and here’s your chance to see the history and sociology that’s affected you come together clearly. As Goldberg begins the book,
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. The media frenzy over the Fab Four made known to the sleek, sophisticated West that meek, mysterious India had something of value. Our understanding and practice of spirituality would never be the same.
By Philip Goldberg
Foreword by Huston Smith
Published by Harmony Books, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group