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The Seeker's Guide (previously published as The New American Spirituality) Paperback – October 3, 2000

4.4 out of 5 stars 80 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Elizabeth Lesser, cofounder of the Omega Institute, speaks to America's cross-pollination of religious, psychological, metaphysical, and ancient traditions that have flowered into contemporary spirituality. Like many seekers, Lesser has discovered a deeply personal religious path--one that wandered through Zen Buddhist monasteries, meandered through Christian churches, dabbled in African and Native American traditions, and expanded into the teachings of the Great Mother. Using her own journey as the road map, Lesser discusses why so many Americans are coming to a deeply personal form of religion--one that does not prescribe to a specific doctrine or definition of God.

Although she expertly performs the role of memoirist and observer, Lesser has stretched this book into a useful tool for all seekers. She offers numerous suggestions, such as how to listen to your body, increase your spiritual bank account, "live the questions" rather than "seek the answers," and create a supportive community. This is a moving workbook for anyone who's hoping to find, claim, or simply maintain their spiritual truths. --Gail Hudson --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

"If spirituality is not religion or cynicism or sentimentality or narcissism, then what is it?... we can confidently say... that spirituality is fearlessness. It is a way of looking boldly at this life we have been given, here, now, on earth, as this human being." Lesser, cofounder of the Omega Institute, a pioneering holistic learning community in upstate New York, blends autobiography with broader observation to offer readers a compelling, commonsense guide to a new American style of spiritual search that she has watched coalesce over the past decades. Tracing her own path from idealistic Barnard student to young wife, mother and ardent communard follower of Sufi teacher Pir Vilayat, Lesser describes how she (and a generation of seekers) have gradually expanded the Puritan ideal of personal spiritual transformation to include deep psychological, physical and creative work. Only as we learn to accept and cherish ourselves as we really are, Lesser shows, can we tap our innate wisdom. Drawing inspiration from teachers and teachings from many traditions, infusing each chapter with her own stories and experience, Lesser reveals how illuminating it can be to turn the light of awareness and acceptance on ourselves. Several times, she offers this quote by the great Sufi poet Rumi: "When you do things from your soul, you feel a river moving in you, a joy."With honesty, warmth and seasoned judgment, Lesser leads readers to the water. Even the publisher's unfortunate decision to include blurbs praising the book from teachers and authors mentioned in its pages does not undermine a modest integrity and intelligence that is the best advertisement for the new American spirituality. (June)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Villard (October 3, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679783598
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679783596
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (80 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #30,471 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Elizabeth Lesser is the cofounder and senior adviser of Omega Institute (Rhinebeck, New York), recognized internationally for its workshops and professional training in holistic health, psychology, and cross-cultural arts and religion. Since 1977, when Omega was founded, she has helped direct the institute's organization, research and develop its programs, and train its staff. She has also been privileged to study and teach with leading thinkers and practitioners in the fields of human development and spiritual growth. Prior to her work at Omega, she was a midwife and childbirth educator. She attended Barnard College and San Francisco State University. She lives in the Hudson River Valley with her family.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I have been to many "new age" workshops and have read tons of the books available on self-help and spirtuality. Some of it was great, but often I felt as if something was missing. I wondered what relevance the spirtual journey had to my psycholigical growth and I worried that my concerns with psychology were too self-absorbing. Lesser captures the essence of this tension in her book. She looks at how the spiritual and psychological path can intersect in a way that anyone can understand - and she does it so well that I found myself actually saying "ah ha!" as I read along. She also speaks in a frank, candid way about the "new age" movement, and that is really refreshing. It sounds like she has met absolutely everybody in the field and talks about them all as human beings instead of big stars. What a relief!
I also really liked her own story, because it made me see how much we are all seekers on a path. The way she talks about her ups and downs makes the rest of what she says seem even more real. You can tell that she has a great feeling for anyone who is out there trying to figure things out in their own way. It was encouraging. She wrote one part about a poem she and her husband return to whenever they have to make a dificult decision because it has a message that they learn from again and again. I was really struck by the simplicity of doing that and I thought, "wow, I could do that!" There were a bunch of those stories -she talked about things she did to keep herself on track that were simple, but took some thought, and reading them inspired me.
I guess that is really the bottom line.
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Format: Hardcover
Eliabeth Lesser's book, The New American Spirituality, is a highly readable, thoroughly informative, and deeply felt dispatch from the frontier of America's ever-evolving spiritual journey. As a cofounder of Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, New York, Lesser has been in the thick of it for almost 30 years, organizing workshops and conferences nationwide, meeting and nurturing extended relationships with the leaders in the field--from Maya Angelou to Ram Dass--and helping put together the nation's largest and most successful learning center that seeks to explore and weave together many of the emerging threads of a country in the throes of perhaps the most extraordinary spiritual rebirth since the nineteenth-century Great Awakening. So much more than an academic treatment of the subject, this book is also part memoir and part guidebook. It is perhaps no accident that Omega Institute began in a small, white clapboard settlement that had belonged to the Shakers, who even in their heyday were considered a fringe movement. But much of what was once marginal about Omega is now moving into the mainstream. After defining spirituality and its context in American life, a good part of the book is then devoted to grounding the often ethereal world of spirituality in four different "landscapes"--the landscape of the mind, the landscape of the heart, the landscape of the body, and the landscape of the soul--which provide a kind of map to guide us through this exciting, rich, though often strange new world. Although she's a member of the cast and applauds a world she helped create, she does not suffer fools or pander to the excesses that this so-called "new age" movement throws up and expects us to admire. She makes us laugh, and laughs with us.Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover
Institutions of religion and learning take note: Elizabeth Lesser's "Seeker's Guide" is proof positive that personal experience is equal to tradition and scholarship as a pathway to truth. Elizabeth's life of seeking, organizing, promoting and teaching spirituality is disclosed beautifully in this multifaceted work. She shows by her own story, by her inspiring writing, and by her practical guidelines for meditation how ordinary mortals can create the sacred space for spiritual fulfillment in their own lives. Readers will find scripts for specific spiritual objectives, pearls of wisdom for the refrigerator, models for parenting, friendship, and marriage, holistic prescriptions for mental and physical health, deep prayers, profound wisdom, and the best bumper-sticker slogans in the universe. Her use of resources is erudite without pedantry or scholasticism. The book is at once a spiritual autobiography, a systematic theology of spiritual formation, and a useful handbook for spiritual practice. Personalities of some of our greatest spiritual leaders come to life as real people in the mix. If Elizabeth had only shared with us what she has learned from her years at Omega Institute, that would have been plenty, but she has also added her own powerful voice to the rising chorus of teachers and leaders of the New American Spirituality. Seekers who pick up her book will turn every page to the end and say, give us more, Elizabeth!
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Format: Hardcover
If you are looking for a book that explores spirituality in an objective and healthy fashion, you will be hard-pressed to find a better book. This book is not about Religion or any specific doctrine, it is about spirituality - current Religions are briefly mentioned within a proper context.
If you are a seeker, you will find this book particularly valueable. If you are looking for a book that will tell you the 'Best' religion and why that's so, this is not the book for you.
This is a healthy and heartfelt book written by an author with lots of personal experience to share. To an open mind, this book is a breath of fresh air. Enjoy.
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The Seeker's Guide (previously published as The New American Spirituality)
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