American Veda

This book is by Philip Goldberg, an ordained interfaith minister, and founder of Spiritual Wellness and Healing Associates who has thoroughly researched Hinduism’s impact on North America from the 50s until now.

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American Veda: From Emerson and the Beatles to Yoga and Meditation
How Indian Spirituality Changed the West
Philip Goldberg
Publisher: Harmony Books, Random House
ISBN: 978 0 385 52134 5

This book fills a unique niche as a commentary on the rise of Vedic teachings, and the Gurus who transmitted them in America. Philip Goldberg is a wonderful writer and spiritual analyst who examined the Vedic exodus from the East to the West, and its considerable influence on American culture.

He writes:

Vedanta-Yoga is a kind of empirical science of the inner life; its postulates can be tested in the laboratory of one’s own consciousness, using the test tubes and Bunsen burners of yogic disciplines. And the goal does not have to be union with God, or Self-realisation; it can be something instrumental, like reduced stress or a clearer mind. In other words, what some saw as theology, others saw as testable hypotheses. What some viewed as spiritual practices, others viewed as therapies.

Even though Goldberg focuses on America, he addresses a dilemma a lot of Westerners face. Buddhists call themselves Buddhists, Christians call themselves Christians, and Jews call themselves Jews. But what do Westerners who have a Guru and have embraced Hindu teachings like yoga and meditation, call themselves? Goldberg made a choice to move away from calling the teachings ‘Hindu’ or ‘Hinduism’ and instead calls the movement by the book’s title ‘American Veda’.

Goldberg eloquently discusses the evolutionary relationship between East and West as a kind of cultural ‘transmission,’ which is seeping into every aspect of American thought and life. He relates stories and anecdotes of the most influential Gurus, practitioners and students of Eastern thought. He traces the spiritual history of Vedic teachings in America, from the first hatha yoga teacher, to the present teachers.

This book is readable, entertaining and immensely interesting. Goldberg is not just a scholar, he is also a practitioner who brings his years of experience and understanding of yoga to the pages.

 

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