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The Art of Serenity: The Path to a Joyful Life in the Best and Worst of Times 1st Edition

10 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0743228312
ISBN-10: 0743228316
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Editorial Reviews Review

No matter how many self-help books we read, workshops we attend, spiritual endeavors we pursue; no matter how often we cuddle our inner child or redesign our outer adult, many people keep returning to a gnawing angst and vague unhappiness, according to T. Byram Karasu, author of The Art of Serenity. One of the problems is that many of us define happiness in paradisiacal, childish terms, causing us to feel like we're missing out. "Happiness in adulthood, however, requires realism, reciprocity, and coming to terms with one's mortality," he writes. And, of course, it requires us to cultivate the art of serenity.

Like M. Scott Peck, author of The Road Less Traveled, Karasu brings a psychological background to the area of spiritual growth. (Karasu is the chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, as well as the editor in chief of the American Journal of Psychotherapy.) Sometimes blending spirituality and psychology muddies the waters, but Karasu has a solid understanding of how the two worlds intersect and has created an outstanding and completely accessible guide to lasting inner happiness. The door of joyful serenity can only be opened by a "combination key involving both soul and spirit," he explains. And it all culminates in the love of God. Using real-life cases from his psychotherapy practice, Karasu illustrates how the principles of soul work and spirit work are applied to daily lives. From lovers' jealousy to workplace angst, from friendships to solitude, Karasu offers original, lasting advice and insights. Read this one and put it on your shelf by your other spiritual classics--it's sure to be a lifetime companion. --Gail Hudson

From Publishers Weekly

Drawing on, among many other traditions and influences, folktales, mythology, Eastern philosophy, Sufi poetry and Judeo-Christian theology, Karasu, a scholar, lecturer and the editor in chief of American Journal of Psychotherapy, fashions a spiritual guide to help suffering people find genuine happiness and "an extraordinary and permanent joyful serenity." His message is a simple one: such serenity comes from loving others, loving one's work and belonging to a community, and from being able to believe in unity, the sacred, and the possibility of transformation. These feelings find their ultimate meaning and inspiration, he says, in "believing in and loving God." Moving through these themes in compassionate chapters full of anecdotes, literary references and stories from his own patients, Karasu shows how they resolved their issues and learned to live with joy. More philosophical than practical, Karasu's moving book will appeal to those seeking a profound journey, rather than those who seek concrete steps for better living.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; 1 edition (January 2, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743228316
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743228312
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,209,986 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

T. Byram Karasu, M.D., a graduate of the Yale School of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry, is presently the Silverman Professor and University Chairman of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Albert Einstein College of Medicine/Montefiore Medical Center, and the editor-in-chief of the American Journal of Psychotherapy. He is the author or editor of 20 books, including two novels, Of God and Madness and The Gotham Chronicles--The Culture of Sociopathy; a book of poetry, Rags of My Soul; the seminal work, Treatments of Psychiatric Disorders; and two best sellers, The Art of Serenity and The Spirit of Happiness. Dr. Karasu is a scholar, renowned clinician, teacher and lecturer, and the recipient of numerous awards. He lives in New York City.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

26 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Louis N. Gruber VINE VOICE on February 16, 2003
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
T. Byram Karasu, a respected teacher and author in the field of psychiatry, has ventured far beyond his field in this masterpiece of spiritual wisdom. Clearly he has been doing more than seeing patients all these years, he has been reading assiduously, absorbing the wisdom of the ages. Now, in The Art of Serenity, he distills this wisdom and his own expereinces, for all of us who are willing to taste.
It is not light reading. Karasu deals with the deep questions of life. He begins with love, work, belonging, moves on to the spiritual journey, the nature of self, the acceptance of aging, and the understanding of death. His concluding chapters, dealing with God, and bringing spirituality back home to its ground in religion, are like soaring towers, straining toward the light. The final section left me stunned, wanting to go back and read the book again.
The author uses clinical vignettes, folk-tales, bits of poetry, the Bible, the Quran, and many other works. His writing is fluid and graceful, with a kindly sense of humor. He says little about himself, putting himself into the background, and so his presence is powerfully felt--a man of learning, integrity, wisdom and care for others.
This book, I'm afraid, is not for everyone. It does not promote (or denounce) any single religion. It is not for the narrow-minded. And, I think, it is not for the young. It is a book for those who have some maturity and life experience. For those who are ready it will be a life-changing masterpiece. Thank you, Dr. Karasu. Reviewed by Louis N. Gruber
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By B. Moser on September 17, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I was very much looking forward to reading this book. It even started off very well. There were wonderful quotes from other authors, references to mythological tales, a couple named Joe and Lisa that suffered many problems but were a perfect example of people like us.

Then I began to realize that the book was disjointed. These little tidbits were everywhere, and often popped up out of nowhere, breaking the flow. There would be a heading in a chapter, but Karasu wouldn't elaborate on it. Paragraphs didn't flow. The ideas jumped around. There was no cohesive wholeness. The reason this is so disappointing is because he picked out many wonderful quotes and does seem to have very insightful, important messages for his readers. But they aren't well presented.

Karasu is too absolute at times. For instance, he says that the only way to forgive is to forget. Period. No arguments, not too much discussion. But isn't an individual irresponsible and setting him/herself up for failure by simply forgetting. I don't want to harp on this, because this example isn't my point. My point is that he states his ideas too absolutely.

I am a Christian who is soul searching, and I thought this book would help. It did not. But that doesn't mean it won't help others. If you are looking to read a little at a time, and feel good about some stories and about some tidbits and quotes you pick up each time, this may be perfect for you. But if you want a solid flow, and to dive deep into these topics, you may want to look elsewhere.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
How do we live life with all its "twists and turns" to find meaning and happiness? T. Byram Karasu in his extraordinary book, "The Art of Serenity", takes us on a journey to find the answer. Karasu, presently Silverman Professor and the University Chairman of the Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Psychiatrist-in-Chief at Montefiore Medical Center, serves as an excellent guide in finding the answer.

Karasu begins with the premise that we are born with the knowledge of God and are innately spiritual beings, making the cultivation of our spiritual side critical to achieving serenity. "Be a grown-up, soulful, and spiritual person...The first-step is growing up. If you have not, you cannot cultivate your soul and spirit, and will be chronically susceptible to unhappiness."

Breakthroughs in spirituality can only be made possible by a backward leap, returning to faith, that is believing and loving God. This return to faith leads us to the love of self, the love of others, the love of work, and the love of belonging - all critical to finding meaning, fulfillment, and happiness in all aspects of life.

"The Art of Serenity" is told in three parts - "The Way of the Soul" (why love makes a difference); "The Way of the Spirit" (why belief is critical to our transformation); and "The Way of God" (why religion is the natural ground of spirituality). This content-filled book can be digested by everyone, but will be most appreciated by those who have taken the first step, growing up. "Art" will not be a quick read as you will want take your time, absorbing and reflecting on its richness.

We are spiritual beings on a human path on a pilgrimage for meaning, fulfillment and wholeness. Karasu's "The Art of Serenity is a great guidebook, with all the landmarks and detours well marked.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Marion Caudill on February 5, 2003
Format: Hardcover
The first time I read it it made me cry. That we can sit through life without enjoying it in the least is the worst waste of any and all time. We cannont go through life with a static consciousness; we must be willing to change for the better at any moment. We must be willing to accept new things, cultures, traditions, etc. We as a people of the new millenia must be more receptive to change than anyone before us. Rapid technological advances are shrinking our world to the size of a pea. More than ever we must enjoy our lives and at the same time embrace the differences among ourselves. This book is but one that has shown me this. Another book called Dreams: Gateway to the True Self also enlightened my way to newfound freedom of expression. In this book you will find a road to a less traveled path, namely yourself. It has sold thousands of copies nationwide. Dreams is a book about the discovery of the self, a book of self knowledge, and a guide to the wisdom that is already present inside yourself.
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