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Comment: Softcover, ex-library copy, some wear on edges, corners and cover, except library markings pages are clean
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Yoga and the Quest for the True Self Paperback – September 5, 2000

4.6 out of 5 stars 38 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"What a delight to find a book on spiritual practice that's as compelling to read as a good novel. This honest, intelligent, and beautifully written book is required reading for anyone interested in spiritual practice today."
— Lilias Folan, host of the PBS series Lilias!

"A tour de force...a book grounded in yoga psychology that will be meaningful and useful to spiritual practitioners in many traditions."
—Sylvia Boorstein, author of It's Easier Than You Think and That's Funny, You Don't Look Buddhist

"A down-to-earth, wise, spiritually mature and compassionate teaching that integrates the best of yoga and our own Western humanity. Destined to be a classic."
—Jack Kornfield, author of A Path with Heart

From the Inside Flap

Millions of Americans know yoga as a superb form of exercise and as a potent source of calm in our stress-filled lives. Far fewer are aware of the full promise of yoga as a 4,000-year-old practical path of liberation--a path that fits the needs of modern Western seekers with startling precision. Now Stephen Cope, a Western-trained psychotherapist who has lived and taught for more than ten years at the largest yoga center in America, offers this marvelously lively and irreverent "pilgrim's progress" for today's world. He demystifies the philosophy, psychology, and practice of yoga, and shows how it applies to our most human dilemmas: from loss, disappointment, and addiction, to the eternal conflicts around sex and relationship. And he shows us that in yoga, "liberation" does not require us to leave our everyday lives for some transcendent spiritual plane--life itself is the path. Above all, Cope shows how yoga can heal the suffering of self-estrangement that pervades our society, leading us to a new sense of purpose and to a deeper, more satisfying life in the world.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam; Later Printing Used edition (September 5, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 055337835X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553378351
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #32,829 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Yoga and the Quest for the True Self is definitely one of the best (if not the best) and most useful books I've ever read. It truly speaks to developing a mature, real life approach to spirituality.
Stephen Cope writes from a perspective that I feel really speaks to the Western spiritual seeker. He combines his experience and knowledge as a psychotherapist with his knowledge of Yoga and other spiritual paths.
While Yoga is a path of union, it appears only too clear that without removing the layers of psychological baggage, union with the divine cannot truly mainfest in ones life. All of the spiritual insights and epiphanies will never be more than a transparent veil placed thinly over the unresolved baggage. Insights without fertile ground to take root will soon fade or be used as another vehicle for ego building.
The author makes clear that the mature path of Yoga is not one of renunciation, or a solitary journey, but explains that "as spiritual practice matured in India there arose a radical new understanding of the paradox of action and inaction. This was the doctrine of inaction in action, and goes further to explain that Krishna teaches in the "Gita" to "Act in the world in alignment with your true vocation, your true self etc....." Clearly not a path of renunciation or a solitary path but one that involves action IN the world.
I found this book really spoke to me as a person on the spiritual path in a way that is truly transformative and not just a bunch of religious dogma. Using his own personal experiences and the experiences of other seekers throughout the book, he has woven a beautifully written guide that is really eye opening and practical. It clearly put into perspective many things that I have either personally struggled with or wondered about.
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I so enjoyed reading this book. I very much felt that this book is written for real people who are skeptical/curious about yoga philosophy. Cope takes you through step by step how and why yoga works using real language not hippie/bliss out language seen in other yoga books. Also, for someone who is familiar with psychotherapy and wanting to add a spiritual dimension to their self-care this book is invaluable in merging the two lines of thinking. This book was very influential to me - I plan to refer to it much as I continue to develop my yoga practice.
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It is not often I use the "M word" to describe a book. No, I'm not talking about "munchkin books" or "maleficient books." I'm talking about masterpieces. I am not certain if Stephen Cope's bestseller is a masterpiece. Maybe it is, maybe not. Either way, it is pretty damn good.

This is one of those books that entertains and educates you in a visceral way right from the start. Large chunks are written in immediate narrative format--as in "he said," "I said," etc. It is Stephen Cope's personal yoga story--a sort of "pilgrim's progress," if you will--as well as the yoga story of his many friends and acquaintances before and during his long and continuing stay at the Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health in Stockbridge, Massachusetts.

We meet a man, a practicing Boston psychotherapist, who for a variety of reasons was feeling unsettled and dissatisfied with his life and then, somehwat to his dismay, found himself joining a religious community to do...what? Much of the book is an answer to that and related questions: What did he want? Why? What was he trying to do at Kripalu? What was--is--the meaning of yoga? What is enlightenment? Is such a thing possible? Are there enlightened people in this world? And what happens when all the things we try to keep hidden are revealed for the world to see?

Stephen Cope furrows through all these questions and more. His sincerity, his intensity, his intelligence, make the book a gripping read. Its pages educate the reader even as Cope the protagonist is educated by his experiences in the ashram. Yoga philosophy is pondered over, its depths turned up, and its many connections to Western psychotherapy reflected upon, all in gratifyingly sober, lucid prose.
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Verified Purchase
Stephen Cope has written an exquisite, moving, and totally accurate ethnography of the way it was at Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health in the late 1980s and into the 1990s.
Both a memoir and an intelligent, compelling discourse about the transformation of self to Self via yoga. Answers the question: Why would any lively, sentient being hie off to an ashram, monastery, or convent. Cope explores the complex psychodynamics of the spiritual journey without talking over or down to readers. His writing is positively lyrical in places.
Superb Appendix provides a detailed, well-written guide to yogic practices and disciplines.
You don't have to be smitten w/the Eastern-based spiritual traditions to appreciate this book. It's an essential read for anyone interested in why, when, and how people choose "a path."
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I rank Cope's work right up there with Prisoners of Childhood by Alice Miller. This book shed light on some of my own experience and gave voice to spiritual yearnings of my own. This is a yoga of transformation. Excellent.
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