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Yoga and the Quest for the True Self Paperback – September 5, 2000

4.5 out of 5 stars 65 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Despite skeptical jibes from his well-meaning friends, Stephen Cope set off for a four-month yoga retreat in rural Massachusetts. Ten years later, he is still there. A psychotherapist left in the lurch after a long-term relationship, Cope was experiencing the same deep questioning of life that he had witnessed so often in his practice. His self-prescribed antidote was to pursue a life of contemplation and inner discovery that he had felt drawn to for some time. Yoga and the Quest for the True Self is Cope's chronicle of self-discovery. Cope is at turns frank in describing his own obstacles and epiphanies, brotherly in relating anecdotes of friends and patients on similar quests, and clinical in his trenchant psychological summations of why we find ourselves estranged and how yoga and meditation bring us back to clear awareness. Like Mark Epstein's Going to Pieces Without Falling Apart, Yoga and the Quest for the True Self is a milestone in the melding of Eastern and Western methods of personal transformation. --Brian Bruya --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Yoga, according to first-time author and longtime yoga teacher Cope, can cure the sense of separation that dogs many people in our culture: "a separation from the life of the body; a separation from the hidden depths of life, its mystery and interiority." Here, Cope, a psychotherapist who left a practice in Boston to live, study and ultimately teach at the Kripalu Yoga ashram in Lenox, Mass., navigates yoga for Western seekers. Drawing on his own experiences and the stories of many friends and yoga students, Cope holds up ancient yogic concepts of the self against evolving theories of modern psychotherapy. Rather than attempting a reductive comparison, Cope suggests that various ideas experienced during yoga practice can enhance the goals of Western psychotherapy. Readers familiar with Jack Korn- field's A Path with Heart or Mark Epstein's Thoughts Without a Thinker may find Cope's approach noncommittal. He tells stories of liberation and release without ever quite conceding that yoga and psychotherapy are two profoundly different worldviews. Although ineluctably drawn to yoga practice and the ashram, Cope's point of view is resolutely Western and psychotherapeutic. Still, Cope's psychotherapeutic orientation and genial win-win approach lights up a notoriously arcane subject for Western readers. (Oct.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam; 1 edition (September 5, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 055337835X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553378351
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (65 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #79,438 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This book is a thoroughly engaging and refreshingly accessible treatment of yoga philosophy and practice. Perhaps most touching is Stephen Cope's willingness to be so honest with his readers, providing an unflinching self-portrait of a modern seeker. Delving into the deepest teachings of the ancient scriptures on which yoga is based, including Vedanta, the Bhagavad Gita, Patanjali, Tantrism, and even Buddhist thought, Cope's book is at the same time completely free of pretense or idealism. He intersperses yogic and Western psychology with real life stories from his own, his students and his psychotherapy clients' life experience. Despite his profound learning and accomplishment, Cope never allows us to place him on a pedestal, but rather shares his disillusionment, grief, and exhaustion as well as his clarity, wisdom, and enthusiasm, providing a story which is all the more empowering and inspiring. As a yoga student and teacher of several years, I found that Cope explored many troublesome and important questions I had been asking myself. For example, how do we reconcile seemingly contradictory philosophies within the yogic tradition? Perhaps even more importantly, what are we to make of the apparent contradiction between Western psychotherapy, which tells us to honor our feelings and move into them, and yogic teachings, which tell us to recognize the fleetingness of those feelings and access the Self which is beyond these fluctuations? Cope's vision is exciting also because he finds meaning in the divine feminine-feelings and emotions, heart, devotion, and the beautiful imperfection of our embodiment-as well as the divine masculine-clear seeing and thinking, mind, wisdom, and the ecstasy of transcendence-a balance so often lacking in spiritual circles. I have been long looking for a synthesis such as Cope provides. I was profoundly moved by this book and know it will continue to influence my understanding of the spiritual path for many years.
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Format: Paperback
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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Format: Hardcover
This beautifully written book is several books in one: an engaging memoir, a map to personal transformation and an explanation of the deeper side of yoga. As a devotee of yoga and one who has practiced it for over 30 years (beginning with a whiplash injury which doctors were helpless to cure in l968), I found this book to be unlike anything else on the market. Stephen Cope takes us far, far beyond the postures which are only the outer manifestations of yogic practice and carries us with him to the mysterious heart of yoga. No one else that I've read can do this with such directness and (apparent!) simplicity. This book is a MUST "read" not only for those who practice yoga, but also people who want a guide through life's difficult changes. Stephen Cope is an erudite, compassionate teacher.
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By A Customer on April 21, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I've studied yoga for years (albeit only as a physical discipline), so I was attracted by the title of this book. It started off sounding like yet another "How [name a spiritual practice] transformed my life" biography, and I almost put the book down at that point -- but I'm glad I didn't. Cope seamlessly interweaves the story of his personal development, and that of his fellow seekers, with clear and easy-to-understand explanations of the philosophical and spiritual underpinnings of yoga. His analysis of why modern-day Americans feel alienated from their true selves is, I feel, right on the mark, and he effectively uses his own experience to illustrate how we all can get back on track again. I was also impressed with his candor and sense of balance about the Kripalu community. When their guru turns out to have feet (and other body parts) of clay, it would have been easy for the community to throw out his message as well as him. But Cope gives him credit for having been an excellent teacher, and it's a tribute to the soundness of his teachings that Kripalu has continued to grow in a new direction after the guru's departure. This book is not only a fascinating story of one man's spiritual growth, but also painlessly educational about the belief system he espouses, and I found it enthralling on both counts.
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