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The Great Work of Your Life: A Guide for the Journey to Your True Calling Paperback – December 15, 2015
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Praise for The Great Work of Your Life
“Cope layers biographical teaching stories between the lessons offered by what might be the greatest teaching story of all: the Bhagavad Gita, in which Krishna teaches Arjuna about finding and manifesting your life's divine purpose, or dharma. Cope, while examining the life struggles faced by such visionaries as Jane Goodall, Harriet Tubman, and Mohandas Gandhi, encourages readers to reject the modern idea that 'we can be anyone we want to be' and instead to discover and fully pursue their inner self's calling….The historical portraits make interesting reading in their own right—Cope is a skilled storyteller—but in the service of illustrating a well-organized thesis about achieving true fulfillment, they offer a rich source of contemplation and inspiration.” —Publisher’s Weekly
"The director of the Institute for Extraordinary Living at the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health inquires into the dharma--vocation or calling--of a selection of both illustrious and ordinary individuals. 'Yogis insist that every single human being has a unique vocation,' writes Cope. Turning to the Bhagavad Gita for guidance, the author realized the difficulty in penetrating even the first piece of advice: 'Discern, name, and then embrace your own dharma.' For some, their dharma is a ready and apparent gift, but others struggle long and hard to hear that piece of inner music, that passion. So Cope illustrates this fact of life through example, drawing smooth portraits of important historical characters and twining them with glimpses into the lives of everyday people he knows. For example, he weds Henry David Thoreau’s courage to follow his muse in front of an entire town’s disapprobation with the story of a psychiatric nurse with a magical caregiving hand who needed help in recognizing and using her talent. Cope also tells the stories of Robert Frost finding a voice word by word, Walt Whitman’s wartime nursing, 'a calling for which he didn’t even know he was searching,' and Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot breaking the rules to understand the connection between seeing and painting. With ringing clarity, Cope gets his main point across: that seeking is all and that dharma will allow you to bear life’s suffering. 'You only get yourself when you lose yourself to some great work,' he writes. An engaging exploration into living fully."—Kirkus
“You’ll find inspiration in these pages. You’ll gain a better appreciation of divine guidance and perhaps even understand how you might better hear it in your own life. With this masterwork of a book, Stephen Cope shows us once again that great yoga writing need not be esoteric, complicated, or full of Sanskrit to point the way to liberation.”—Yoga Journal
“Stephen Cope is a national treasure. He is an incredibly rare combination of brilliant spiritual thinker, elegant prose stylist, and empathic, grounded teacher. The dharma stories threaded throughout The Great Work of Your Life are moving and instructive. Keep a pen and paper handy as you read this remarkable book: It’s like an owner’s manual for the soul.”—Dani Shapiro, author of Devotion
“I am moved and inspired by The Great Work of Your Life, the clarity and beauty of the lives lived in it, and the timeless dharma it teaches.”—Jack Kornfield, author of A Path with Heart
“I was spellbound and inspired by this book from beginning to end. I thought, How is he going to bring together the message of the Gita, the enduringly compelling lives of so many amazing people, the quest for passionate expression in the lives of his friends—how will he keep so many balls juggling at the same time without dropping any—and end by making it all relevant to me right now in my life? And he has! One rarely thinks of a dharma book as a page-turner, but this one is indeed that. This is a great read and a great revitalizing breath of fresh air.”—Sylvia Boorstein, author of Happiness Is an Inside Job
“Stephen Cope has taken great Western figures—poets, painters, freedom fighters, a composer—and shows how the dharma of fierce determination played through their lives and how it can inspire all of us today. Tears came to my eyes as I read how Walt Whitman found himself. This is an important book—West and East informing each other. It was a joy to read.”—Natalie Goldberg, author of Old Friend from Far Away
“Consistently well-written and get-up-and-go inspirational, this book should go right to the top of your reading list… this valuable book should help you bring 'the great work of your own life' into sharper focus.” –Yoga International
From the Hardcover edition.
About the Author
Stephen Cope has been for many years the Senior Scholar in Residence at Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health in the Berkshire Hills of Western Massachusetts. He is the author of a number of bestselling books, including Yoga and the Quest for the True Self and The Wisdom of Yoga.
From the Hardcover edition.
Top customer reviews
However, I was disappointed that none of Mr. Cope's examples of people who found their dharma included people with real family or financial obligations. Most of us cannot walk in the woods or near a pond for a couple years (while our mother brings us cookies) and just write poetry and reflect on nature. We must also support and care for our families. I would very much like to find inspiration from people who were able to meet their obligations and still find a way to find their dharma tat does not make anyone else suffer.
I became an engineer solely for the reason that it was a secure way to provide for my family. For a long time my dharma was simply just that, to support and care for my family. Being able to do so made me very happy. Now that my children are grown or gone (one died in a car accident) I understand that life is very short and I want to grow as a person before it's my time to go as well. Yet I still have an obligation to my husband and don't want him to feel like he has to bear the complete burden of maintaining our life just so I can "find myself". It wouldn't be fair to him.
I would have also liked more examples of people who didn't know what their calling was. Most of Mr. Cope's examples were people that always knew they wanted to be a poet or a writer or had a very strong drive to do something very specific. I, on the other hand, am not so clear. I have lots of interests, many of which I obsess over,,,,, for a very brief period of time. Then another interest catches my eye. Perhaps the journey is part of the process and the mere act of looking is teaching me what I need to know. Still, it would be nice to find something that makes me feel like I'm not just treading water waiting out the second half of my life.
This book is simply amazing. I've bought copies as gifts for friends and recommend it highly every chance I get.
I hope you buy this book. It is one of those experiences that will truly change your life for the better.
It is a helpful book if you have a desire to find your true calling and a comforting one if you have no such desire. My favorite quote:"Our understanding of dharma is obscured by the narcissism of our time." Worth reading, this book is thoroughly researched and well written.
I couldn't put this book down and immediately began re-reading it upon completion. Reading this book was a celebration of the Universal struggle for a meaningful life. If you're seeking your true calling or feeling a sense of dissatisfaction in your work or want more meaning or need courage to do what your heart is longing to do, READ THIS SOON.
Most recent customer reviews
Andro Donovan's "Motivate yourself" is probably one of the best books on finding your purpose. If not the best, it is definitely the most practical.Read more