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Essential Spirituality: The 7 Central Practices to Awaken Heart and Mind Paperback – August 21, 2000


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (August 21, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0471392162
  • ISBN-13: 978-0471392163
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.1 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (49 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #70,178 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Psychiatrist and philosopher Roger Walsh looks at seven common practices of the world's major religions to tease out a guidebook for contemporary spirituality. With gleanings from Judaism, Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism, Walsh offers seven chapters devoted to enlightenment. For example, "Practice 1" discusses how readers can reduce cravings and find the soul's desire (very relevant in an increasingly materialistic world). Once Walsh has laid out the goals and reasoning behind each practice, he offers an array of exercises, such as how to "Examine the Experience of Craving" or "Reflect on the Cost of Craving." Although this format is overtly self-help, Walsh has brought forth a wise and highly respectable book that integrates some of the best practices that the world's religions can offer. The introduction by the Dalai Lama gives Walsh great praise for helping readers become purer in motivation so that they can lead a more fulfilling life in service to love and compassion. --Gail Hudson --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Inside Flap

Essential Spirituality "The field of spiritual books has been looking for its own Lewis Thomas or Carl Sagan, and I believe Roger Walsh may be that one." —Ken Wilber, author of One Taste Based on over twenty years of research and spiritual practice, written by a man who is both a spiritual practitioner and award-winning scientist, this is a groundbreaking and life-changing book For the first time, Essential Spirituality shows how you can apply the seven practices central to all the world’s major religions in your daily life. In his decades of study, Dr. Roger Walsh has discovered that each of the great spiritual traditions has both a common goal and seven common practices to reach that goal: recognizing the sacred and divine that exist both within and around us. Going beyond Care of the Soul, Essential Spirituality integrates the spiritual principles of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, and Taoism into one truly rewarding way of life in which kindness, love, joy, peace, vision, wisdom, and generosity become an ever-growing part of everything you do. Filled with stories, exercises, meditations, myths, case histories, prayers, and practical advice, this extraordinary book has the power to change your life now. "An engaging, inspiring synthesis of the core insights of humanity’s spiritual traditions. This is a rare gem of a book—a unique treasure distilled from a quarter century of deep spiritual practice and intellectual inquiry. Essential Spirituality is a book to live with and work with, filled with simple though powerful exercises that invite people to discover for themselves the truths about which Roger Walsh writes so beautifully and lovingly." —Duane Elgin, author of Voluntary Simplicity --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

In this book, he provides practical advice on what to do to lead a more spiritual life.
Sarah M
His deep knowledge of the various religions and his own spiritual wisdom motivates the reader to embark upon this fascinating journey to realize one's true nature.
Sambhu V. Panikar
Like the Rosetta Stone of ancient languages, "Essential Spirituality" is a translation key to our ancient wisdom traditions, including the world's religions.
Earon Davis

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

118 of 120 people found the following review helpful By Nicq MacDonald on August 5, 2002
Format: Paperback
Go into any bookstore and you'll find piles of books on spirituality, featuring spiritual paths ranging from Evangelical Christianity and pseudo-Vedantist guru worship to Americanized Zen and reconstructionist Neo-Pagan goddess worship. With people turning away from the churches they were raised in and world-weary atheists searching for spirituality, the spiritual marketplace is going through a boom period with no end in sight. But in the midst of such selection, how can one tell who's faking it, and who's the real deal? Is the teacher or author a committed seeker or a devious charlatan? Modern, sceptical Americans often avoid spirituality all together due to horror stories of silly cults and gurus perpetrating spiritual scams on the unsuspecting public. Who can we trust?
How about an Australian philosopher-psychiatrist with years of experience dealing with spirituality, transpersonal psychology, and mental illness? Roger Walsh makes no claims to have attained a spurious level of "enlightenment" beyond a measure of basic sanity in this world gone slightly mad. In "Essential Spirituality", Walsh provides the perfect companion to Huxley's classic "The Perennial Philosophy"- a book of practical spiritual exercises, advice, and wisdom from sages the world over. Divided into seven sections on what Walsh believes to be the seven essential practices of the world's "Wisdom Traditions", Walsh provides advice on reducing craving, cultivating emotional wisdom, living ethically, meditating, awakening the senses, growing intuition, and pursuing spiritual action. This isn't New Age mysticism- "Essential Spirituality" is grounded in the teachings of saints throughout the world and history, extensively documented by Dr. Walsh. Even the most sceptical mind can see the gentle wisdom in his approach to spirituality.
I give this book my highest recommendation to seekers of all faiths and none- may it help you on your way.
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64 of 65 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 23, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This small book contains gems from Buddhism, Taoism, Catholicism, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, and Confucianism. Not merely a compilation of sound bites, the author explores core practices revered by these major world religions. Most importantly, he provides concrete examples of how to incorporate these practices, little by little, into everyday life, until a new, throughly unique fabric is created by the reader's personal choices.
The individual chapters address craving, difficult emotions, ethics, calming the mind, vision, wisdom, and serving others. Each section contains a number of exercises that you can try, modify, or adopt completely as best suits your own life and outlook. As time goes on, the practices can serve as springboards to discovering new sources of inner guidance.
The discussion of various intersections of the religions is valuable for several reasons. The background provides specific reasons for engaging in spiritual practice. Rote repetition of formulas does not have the value of mindful attention to our actions, and these explanations help to put the practices in perspective. In addition, the discussion often reflects the gut-level experience of the seeker, and will likely resonate strongly with those on a spiritual journey. Also, the practices do not conflict with observance of any of these religions, and would instead enrich one's spiritual experience, irrespective of its formal context. Finally, the discussion of common ground is a beautiful example of how we can rejoice in our similarities, respect our differences, and share common goals for peace, rather than allow religion to divide us and breed hatred.
As the introduction by His Holiness the Dalai Lama states, a few minutes a day devoted to engaging in the practices and contemplating their significance will go a long way towards bringing compassion, and ultimately a sense of inner peace, into your everyday life.
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75 of 78 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 30, 1999
Format: Hardcover
This is a terrific book-perfect for beginners as well as psychologists and psychotherapists who wish to introduce meditation to their clients. Walsh has been at this for nearly 30 years, and it shows in his elegantly simple rendering of cross-cultural spiritual practices. A wonderful companion to Huxley's "Perennial Philosophy" and Harvey's "Essential Mystics." Those books leave out the "how" of practice. Walsh fills in the details.
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48 of 49 people found the following review helpful By James K. Mcneely II on July 28, 2000
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book, more than any other I have ever read, integrates the spiritual practices of the world's religions into a workable framework for the secular person. Walsh's methods not only bring the various religions together in a theologically interesting way, he shows us that living life to the full is a spiritual issue that all faiths seek. Their timeless wisdom and practical living are desperately needed in a world that moves away from wisdom and embraces an ethical vaccuum.
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37 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Charles T. T a r t on January 12, 2003
Format: Paperback
We moderns have a difficult life. We are aware of suffering on a global scale as well as struggling with our personal suffering. We have been able to alleviate some of it with our science and technology and in other ways we have made it worse. The materialistic philosophy of modern times undercuts our spiritual hopes, but we are spiritual beings and we must find a way to live that gives us deeper meaning than nihilism or consumerism. So many of us have turned to ancient traditions, like Buddhism, and found various degrees of satisfaction, but the ancient traditions often seem too simple for the complexity of modern times - and we can't really turn our backs on the fact that we are moderns, steeped in a scientific view of the world, which has much truth in it.
Wouldn't it be helpful to have some guidance from someone who is both a scientist and a spiritual practitioner, who has managed to integrate both approaches to reality? Roger Walsh's Essential Spirituality is such help.
I was fortunate to see this book in manuscript form when the publisher asked me for a promotional quote. I was very rushed at the time and could only read through the manuscript lightly, but knowing the quality and depth of Walsh's work, I was able to enthusiastically say "I could not imagine a better person to write this book." I knew he was not only a first class scholar and writer in these areas, but indeed someone with a serious personal practice informing his writing. Rereading the book more thoroughly for this review has been a pleasure and a privilege, for the clarity, depth, and importance of it is very great indeed.
I should also take this as a lesson about the hurry in my life and what it costs me.
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