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American Veda: From Emerson and the Beatles to Yoga and Meditation How Indian Spirituality Changed the West [Hardcover] Paperback – 2010

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Product Details

  • Paperback
  • ASIN: B004AXJ8EW
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (58 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #12,938,642 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Philip Goldberg grew up in Brooklyn and moved to Los Angeles like the Dodgers before him. A professional writer for 35 years, he is author or coauthor of 19 books, all but one nonfiction. He is also a skilled public speaker, a spiritual counselor, and an ordained Interfaith Minister. His latest book is American Veda, which chronicles the impact of India's spiritual teachings on the West. Huffington Post named it one of the top 10 Religion books of 2010.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

45 of 46 people found the following review helpful By dana sawyer on November 9, 2010
Format: Hardcover
In 1963 the United States opened the door to immigrants from Asia,and when they did, lots of gurus, swamis, lamas and roshis poured through to share their cultures' various wisdoms. Some of them had integrity and some of them didn't, but they all changed the way we look at the world and helped shape our present worldview. After nearly fifty years of experimenting with the mystic East, Americans are wiser in many ways; unfortunately, they sometimes fell prey to charlatans, but that was all part of the growth curve. Phil Goldberg's book is an exceptional introduction to the journey into Hindu traditions that many have taken, through meditation, yoga, and other techniques of consciousness expansion. The book is filled with extraordinary stories and entertaining analysis. It is a book for everyone who has studied with an Indian teacher, or thought about it. It is simultaneously a warning and an enticement. His humor and insight make this a wonderful ride, and an accurate telling of what went down. It is certainly the best book today on the subject.
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47 of 49 people found the following review helpful By Jack Forem on November 15, 2010
Format: Hardcover
All of Philip Goldberg's 19 books, from his earliest (The Intuitive Edge, Natural Sleep) through his collaborations with prominent psychotherapists (Making Peace With Your Past, Get Out Of Your Own Way) up to his latest (Roadsigns on the Spiritual Path) have contributed something useful to the community. But American Veda is his crowning achievement. It is the fascinating story of how Indian philosophy and Indian teachers have literally transformed American life, starting with the New England Transcendentalist writers (Emerson, Thoreau, Whitman) who discovered Vedanta in a handful of books, through the arrival on our shores of Swami Vivekenanda, Paramahansa Yogananda, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and other prominent gurus, to the present-day crop of teachers - both Indian and American-born - who have been influenced by these visionary pioneers.

We are living at a time of a profound awakening of consciousness that is changing the world. Much of that awakening is due to the influence of Indian spirituality and its practical applications. If you are one of the estimated 20 million Americans who practice Yoga, if you meditate or enjoy kirtan chanting, if you have been turned on to the spiritual path by Autobiography of a Yogi or Be Here Now, read books by Eckhart Tolle, Deepak Chopra, J. D. Salinger or Joseph Campbell, or followed the healthcare advice of Dr. Dean Ornish, Indian teachers and teachings are a part of your life. As Huston Smith, the highly-esteemed scholar of world religions, said in his Foreword to Goldberg's book, "Vedanta quietly surfaces in the daily lives of Americans. Yoga, karma, meditation, enlightenment are now household words. How that came about needed to be documented, and Philip Goldberg has done just that.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Thomas Egenes on January 6, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Phil Goldberg's American Veda is a survey of India's profound influence on America over the last century. Goldberg has done a substantial amount of research, interviewing the people who have brought India to America in the form of music, film, literature, art, science, and especially philosophy (namely Vedanta) and practice (namely Yoga). He offers lots of stimulating quotes, like this one from Peter Russell, "When science sees consciousness to be a fundamental quality of reality, and religion takes God to be the light of consciousness shining within us all, the two worldviews start to converge." I appreciate that insight, and there's plenty more in American Veda.

Goldberg is balanced in presenting people and ideas, and doesn't rush to conclusions, allowing the reader to consider. Still, Goldberg demonstrates that these programs are very different from one another. For me, the central question he leaves the reader with is this: "Which of the diverse Yoga and meditation programs brought to American shores from India is the most effective for living an engaged life?" Perhaps the best answer to that question comes from science, which is objective, like a level playing field.

As Goldberg points out, there has been research suggesting programs are effective against hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes, and ADHD. Other research by Fred Travis and Jonathan Shear, published in Consciousness and Cognition, reviewed the various EEG patterns of different meditation techniques, showing that different meditation techniques produce very different brain activity. This type of research seems to me to offer a conclusion to Goldberg's book, which is that some programs are more effective. Perhaps, as Goldberg suggests, those will be the programs that remain closest to their own source, the Veda.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Neale Lundgren, Ph.D. on December 27, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
American Veda is a thorough, comprehensive,balanced and informative report of the tremendous influence of Vedic thought in the United States; from the most obvious literary filters that came through in the 19th century and early 20th centuries (fine treatment of Emerson, Thoreau, and Whitman) to the more subtle reformation of key Vedic concepts into "Americanese" by the late 20th and early 21st centuries.

The author provides a good taste of the deeper esoteric models of mystical experience, without overwhelming the beginner reader who may be still lingering at lower stages of integration. Yet, for the more advanced learner the author gives plenty of historical material that is fascinating and helps thread the missing pieces of fabric.

There is no doubt in my mind that any serious student of American spirituality should have this book on their shelf. As well, aspirants who are beginning their journey beyond the spiritual kindergarten of religion should read this book before venturing too far out beyond the shore.

The author's comments on "fallen gurus" never come across as judgmental or biased. Now this is exceptional reporting at its best.

Goldberg's chronicles of more recent integrations of science (i.e. quantum theory) and eastern structures of consciousness/reality are superb. I have been impressed by some of the more recent dialogue which is learning more about the limits of the brain; i.e. that this organ is not a creator but a transmitter/processer of thought. The author's use of the metaphor of the "tv. set" to describe the primary function of the brain is useful and accessible to the layperson.
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