Posts Tagged ‘Philip Goldberg’

Time for some humor and love ‚ÄĒ WELCOME BACK

February 19, 2015

Saw this on a friend’s Twitter feed. Too funny to not share. Made my day!

WELCOME BACK

Words are not needed here; it says it all, but I couldn’t resist. Welcome back to the school of life. Seem familiar? Did we learn our lessons well? No? Having to repeat a class? Time for a fresher course, and then some! Maybe we’ll get it right this time around. You think? If not, there’s always the next class, the next life, with more lessons to be learned. ūüôā

COMING BACK FOR LOVE IN FIVE ROMANTIC FILMS

Made in Heaven posterWhen it comes to getting it right for love, I recommend my all-time favorite romantic movie: Made in Heaven (1987), about two souls, played by Timothy Hutton and¬†Kelly McGillis, who meet and fall in love in Heaven. Annie (McGillis) is sent to Earth and Mike (Hutton) makes a deal to be reborn (Elmo) to find her (Ally). But he’s given a time-frame of 30 years in which to do it, otherwise he’ll lose her forever. It’s a magical movie filled with surprises. Rent it. Read¬†more about it on Wikipedia. Found it on¬†Vimeo with Spanish subtitles.

That year, Wim Wenders came out with his amazing film, Wings of Desire, about an angel who tires of overseeing human beings and wishes to become one himself when he falls in love with a mortal.

City of Angels posterTen years later it was adapted for English audiences as City of Angels (1998). Wenders co-wrote the screenplay. Nicholas Cage plays the angel who falls in love with a doctor, Meg Ryan, because of her beauty and concern for her patients. She doesn’t believe in angels, but when he reveals himself to her she falls in love with him, and has to decide between him or her fiance. One patient, a former angel, tells him how he became human for a woman. He does the same and experiences the joys and sorrows of love and loss.

sit-bdAnother great movie is Somewhere in Time (1980) adapted from the 1975 novel Bid Time Return by Richard Matheson who also wrote the screenplay. Richard Collier (Christopher Reeve), a playwright, falls in love with a picture of Elise McKenna (Jane Seymour), an actress who had performed at the Grand Hotel. He discovers he was there and finds a way to travel back in time to win her heart. It works, but something unexpected happens that changes everything.

The SAG strike and lack of funds prevented the film from being effectively launched that year. When it was finally shown in New York, critics panned it, squashing plans for a national release. But, with the advent of cable television and late night movies, it soon became a cult classic and went on to win numerous awards.

John Barry composed the beautiful soundtrack including the haunting 18th variation of Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini. Barry had been mourning the death of his parents and was not making himself available for work, but Seymour, a close friend, and the script, persuaded him to get involved. He channeled his emotions into the music, which contributed to the film’s success. Visit the official fan website to find out more:¬†http://www.somewhereintime.tv.

Another beautiful time-travel love story is The Two Worlds of Jennie Logan, a 1979 made-for-television movie based on the much-loved classic novel Second Sight by David Williams.

The Two Worlds of Jennie LoganAfter trying on a dress found in the attic of an old Victorian house her husband purchased to try to save their marriage, Jennie Logan accidentally travels into the past. After several visits there she discovers true love. Returning to the present she investigates who he was and how he may have been killed. She travels between both worlds in an attempt to save her lover‚Äôs life and alter history. Find out more at¬†IMDb¬†and the¬†Amazon book description and comments. Watch it on YouTube, if it’s still there.

Defending Your LifeOn a lighter note, Albert Brooks wrote, directed and starred, with Meryl Streep, in Defending Your Life (1991), “the first true story of what happens after you die.” The dead are sent to Judgement City, a vacation-style place for the afterlife where representatives using large amounts of their brain potential help you defend your life in front of a court. The opposition also reviews aspects of your life where you showed fear instead of courage, the intent being to learn from past experiences.

Shirley MacLaine has a cameo role inviting people to the Pavilion of Past Lives, which is quite funny. There is also a love interest between the main characters who meet while their lives are undergoing review before they will be sent onto their different destinations. The question is, will he overcome his fears and sacrifice everything to be with this wonderful woman? You’ll have to see the movie to find out. ūüôā

Blending heaven and earth, the divine and the mortal, the idyllic past with the unfulfilled present, or unresolved issues exposed in the afterlife, each film provides a different perspective on the sacrifice the main character makes for love, giving up one to gain the other. The ways of karma are unfathomable, but true love is eternal, and transformational!

LEAVING ROMANCE BEHIND TO FIND ONESELF

There was one movie that made a big impression on me when I saw it on television as a teenager. It’s about love, but more the story of one man’s quest for self-realization in a confused and materialistic world.

Razors_Edge (1946)The Razor’s Edge¬†tells Larry Darrell’s story and his search for meaning after a comrade dies saving his life on the last day of World War One. Larry leaves love behind to find himself. He rejects the conventional life in search of a more transcendent experience, which takes him to India where he meets a guru. His search for enlightenment fulfilled, he may not have to reincarnate if he can walk the razor’s edge, live in the world and not be overtaken by it, anchored to his Self.

Larry returns to find his friends who are suffering due to a reversal of fortune brought about by the Great Depression. He shares what he’s learned to help them. Read more of the story on Wikipedia. I saw the original 1946 version starring Tyrone Power, based on the book by W. Somerset Maugham, which I later read.

Razors_Edge (1984)It was remade in 1984 with Bill Murray in his first dramatic role. Murray also co-wrote the screenplay with director John Byrum. Visit Wikipedia for a full summary. Byrum couldn’t find a studio to finance it. Dan Aykroyd suggested Murray could appear in Ghostbusters for Columbia Pictures in exchange for the studio funding The Razor’s Edge. Murray agreed and a deal was made. Though the film lost money, Ghostbusters went on to make millions.

Both versions of The Razor’s Edge are worth watching for their own values, but I prefer the earlier one. You can see the essence of the original film in Darrell’s search and achievement of his peak experience high in the Himalayas.

This poem by William Stafford‚ÄĒThe Way It¬†Is‚ÄĒperfectly describes the kind of perspective Larry Darrell developed and how he lived his life.

PERSONAL NOTE

Larry Darrell’s quest spoke to me as a young person and unknowingly foreshadowed the direction my life would take during my college years and beyond when I would discover¬†Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and his¬†Transcendental Meditation technique. Our generation was so fortunate to have received the many gifts Maharishi brought out from the Himalayas. He inspired us to develop our full potential as human beings with TM and its advanced techniques, and to work with him to help make this world a better place to live in by applying his life-transforming Vedic knowledge and technologies in health, education, rehabilitation, virtually all areas of life. We are forever grateful. JGD

To find out more about Maharishi, see this HuffPost article by Philip Goldberg on Maharishi. Also watch the 1968 film of Maharishi at Lake Louise and the 2007 A&E biopic on the History Channel.

UPDATE

I just discovered The Love Letter (1998), a Hallmark ¬†Hall of Fame movie, starring Campbell Scott and Jennifer Jason Leigh. Based on a short story of the same name by Jack Finney, it was first published in “The Saturday Evening Post” on August 1, 1959, and reprinted in the same magazine on January/February 1988.

imageThis love story touches two lives that live a century apart. A letter from the past will change their future forever as these souls cross lifetimes for love! Scott, a 20th century computer games designer, exchanges love letters with Elizabeth Whitcomb, a 19th century poet, through an antique desk that can make letters travel through time. We witness parallel lives interact as they fall deeply in love with each other, weaving past, present, and future in a moving, magical way.

You could read more about it on Wikipedia, but first watch this excellent made-for-television movie (1:39:28) on YouTube, if it’s still there.

Of course, when it comes to love being tested by time, The Time Traveler’s Wife (2009) is one worth watching. Rachel McAdams stars as the wife, whose husband keeps disappearing on her at different stages of her life. About Time (2013), is another film about time travel, and how a father teaches his son, who has the same ability, how to improve situations with time travel when he messes up trying to win the heart of a pretty woman, also played by Rachel McAdams. She also stars in The Vow (2012), as a woman who wakes up after a car accident with severe memory loss and forgets that she’s married to her husband. He has to work hard to woo and marry her all over again.

It reminds me of the 1993 blockbuster Ground Hog Day starring Bill Murray. Here’s a sort of related cartoon in The New Yorker by Roz Chast.

Inside-Of-Body-Experience by Roz Chast TNYcartoons

The film Arrival asks: If you could see your whole life from start to finish, would you change things?

When it comes to a war between words and pictures here’s a poem in a movie inviting you to be who you are.

Newer Update

The spring rains renew life and the promise of love in this film, A Good Rain Knows, inspired by the poetry of Du Fu.

Writing, literature, life and love intersect in The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.

Author Philip Goldberg Remembers January 12 as A Double Guru Birthday Fest on HUFFPOST TASTE

February 3, 2015

, HUFFPOST Blogger, Interfaith Minister, and author of ‘American Veda: How Indian Spirituality Changed the West’ remembers January 12: A Double Guru Birthday Fest

MMY-HUFFPOST

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi

January 12 is celebrated throughout India, and in countries with large Hindu populations, as the birthday of Swami Vivekananda. A national hero, Vivekananda is revered for updating the wisdom of India’s ancient sages and bringing those teachings to the West, in 1893. By coincidence – or astrological design, take your pick – another vital figure in that East-West transmission was also born on that date, and he too deserves to be celebrated.

The man who became known as Maharishi Mahesh Yogi was born Mahesh Prasad Varma, on January 12, 1917, or perhaps 1918, in Central India. While attending Allahabad University, he heard that a famous saint named Swami Brahmananda Saraswati was in the area, and he went to him “as a thirsty man at a well.” Mahesh asked to become the swami’s disciple. The reply was the same one many future gurus received when they were eager young seekers: first finish school. After graduating with a degree in physics, he was formally accepted as a disciple. By then, the swami had been persuaded to accept the much-esteemed, and long-vacant, seat of Shankaracharya of Jyotir Math–one of four monastic lineages established centuries earlier by the great reformer Shankara. The Shankaracharya would become a legend, and so would the humble disciple who served him primarily as a clerk for thirteen years.

After his guru died, in 1953, Mahesh spent a few years in the Himalayas before traveling to the sacred sites of South India. In Trivandrum, a stranger asked him to give a public talk. He was evidently good at it. Before long, he found himself on what we now call a speaking tour. At a festival in Kerala in 1955, people were impressed enough to call him a “Maharishi”–maha meaning great, rishi meaning sage–and the appellation stuck. When he became world famous a dozen years later, the na√Įve press treated “Maharishi” as his name, and that’s what he’s been called ever since.

That global fame, as most people know, resulted from his historic encounter with the biggest celebrities of the postwar era. In August, 1967, at the suggestion of George Harrison’s then-wife Patti, the Beatles went to hear Maharishi speak about his Transcendental Meditation at the London Hilton. They became instant enthusiasts and, six months later, went to India for an extended stay at Maharishi’s ashram. In the opening paragraph of American Veda, I refer to that as “the most momentous spiritual retreat since Jesus spent those forty days in the wilderness.” It was as if the earth itself had tilted, allowing the insights of India’s yogis to pour into the West at an accelerated pace.

It was easy at the time for reporters to write off “the Beatles’ guru” as a lucky guy who got rich and famous off the lads’ monumental celebrity. It was easy to label him “the giggling guru” because he had an infectious, high-pitched laugh and he found much of modern life rather amusing. It was easy to mock him as the face of guruhood at a time when yoga and meditation were seen as accessories of flower-power counterculture. All of which belies the fact that Maharishi was a very practical man who took his mission–to spiritually regenerate the world by expanding individual consciousness–very seriously, and he worked longer hours in its service than most CEOs could endure.

He had been planting seeds non-stop for a dozen years when the Beatles sought him out, repeatedly circling the globe and teaching his simple, powerful form of meditation to all comers, and he kept at it for another forty years after the Fab Four made Rishikesh a pilgrimage site for Western yogis. If history is fair, he will be recognized as one of the key figures in the transmission, adaptation and assimilation of Yogic teachings into the mainstream of American life.

Nowadays, everyone from ordinary physicians to giant HMOs recommends meditation to reduce stress and prevent illness. This, to put it mildly, was not the case in 1968. It was Maharishi who convinced scientists to study the practice, and he made sure his systematic TM procedures were compatible with research protocols. He understood that ours is an evidence-driven age, and that Americans would embrace something as exotic as meditation only if science demonstrated its value. The first paper on the physiology of meditation was published in 1970, by one of Maharishi’s students, a UCLA doctoral candidate named Robert Keith Wallace. The collective research juggernaut that followed ushered meditation from the fringes of society to the center, and directly into your armchair, cushion or yoga mat.

So, for whatever stars and planets were aligned on those two January 12s, we can be doubly thankful.

Published 01/09/2015 02:30 pm ET | Updated Mar 11, 2015

Varanasi by Mary Oliver in A Thousand Mornings

March 16, 2013

I previously posted Mary Oliver‚Äôs poem, Praying, and Philip Goldberg emailed me to say that someone recently showed him the last poem in her new collection (A Thousand Mornings). He said, “It‚Äôs called ‘Varanasi,’ and it‚Äôs exquisite.” I started looking for it and found the poem posted by another poet, Bob Arnold, on his website. After reading it I agreed – it’s stunning! That’s why I’m posting it here for you to enjoy. I also came across a musical video of the poem with images from the Ganges. After you’ve read the poem, see Diane Walker’s poetic reaction to it below. But take a break from this busy introduction, and then enjoy the enlightened peaceful simplicity of Mary Oliver’s visit to Varanasi.

VARANASI

Early in the morning we crossed the ghat,

where fires were still smoldering,

and gazed, with our Western minds, into the Ganges.

A woman was standing in the river up to her waist;

she was lifting handfuls of water and spilling it

over her body, slowly and many times,

as if until there came some moment

of inner satisfaction between her own life and the river’s.

Then she dipped a vessel she had brought with her

and carried it filled with water back across the ghat,

no doubt to refresh some shrine near where she lives,

for this is the holy city of Shiva, maker

of the world, and this is his river.

I can’t say much more, except that it all happened

in silence and peaceful simplicity, and something that felt

like that bliss of a certainty and a life lived

in accordance with that certainty.

I must remember this, I thought, as we fly back

to America.

Pray God I remember this.

_______________________

Mary Oliver
A Thousand Mornings
(Penguin, 2012)

Now read this beautiful poetic reaction to the poem,¬†Mary Oliver’s Varanasi, that Diane Walker, a contemplative photographer, posted on her website.

Among the NPR Poetry series is this interview ‘A Thousand Mornings’ With Poet Mary Oliver. You can also read the transcript here. I especially love this remark she makes about poetry:

“One thing I do know is that poetry, to be understood, must be clear. It mustn’t be fancy. I have the feeling that a lot of poets writing now are – they sort of tap dance through it. I always feel that whatever isn’t necessary shouldn’t be in a poem.”

Enjoy this wonderful Maria Shriver Interview With Mary Oliver.

See this remembrance of Mary Oliver with links to more of her poems.

Speaking of another famous American visiting the Ganges, see Prudence Farrow ‚ÄĒ subject of the Beatles song Dear Prudence ‚ÄĒ visits India‚Äôs Kumbh¬†Mela.

 

“Sanctifying Morning” is a poem by Ken Chawkin on one way to be “spiritual but not religious”

February 17, 2013

Sanctifying Morning is a poem I wrote four years and one month ago today. It may remind you of the phrase, “spiritual but not religious,” how millions of Americans now identify themselves, a trend I was not aware of until I learned about it from Philip Goldberg, author of American Veda. TM* is my way of being spiritual but not religious.

Sanctifying Morning

Charcoal in a church,
Incense-filled smoke,
Knees on the ground,
Wafer on a tongue ‚ÄĒ
Prayers ascend the sky.

It’s Sunday morning,
And I have my own rituals.
The smell of burnt toast sanctifies the morning air.
Orange rinds round out the debris of breakfast.
Fumes float upwards from a hot coffee cup.

Having pacified the body’s urges,
With no work to be done today,
Though the senses focus outward,
It’s time to bring them within,
And prepare for this peaceful morning.

I retire to my meditation room,
Sit comfortably, and close the eyes.
Thinking my mantra, effortlessly,
I descend to the depths of my mind,
And transcend.

My body follows ‚ÄĒ
Breath slows, and suspends,
Heart beats quieter,
Brain cells speak softly, in unison ‚ÄĒ
I’m at peace with myself.

This is the true communion of the spirit
Within the church of the Self.
No pews are required here
As one prepares to meet the maker
Of one’s life.

© Ken Chawkin
January 17, 2009
Fairfield, Iowa, USA

*TM stands for Transcendental Meditation. It’s not a religion. To me, it’s a spiritual practice that is compatible with any or no religion. Today millions of Americans admit to practicing some form of meditation. Members of different faiths practice Transcendental Meditation, including monks, nuns, priests and rabbis. Even atheists and agnostics meditate. You may too, some day, if you haven’t, already.

Publication and Update

Carrying the Branch-Poets in Search of Peace

Thanks to Iowa poet and editor Rustin Larson for selecting “Sanctifying Morning,” which was later included in Carrying the Branch: Poets in Search of Peace. The book was published by Glass Lyre Press October 1, 2017 and edited by Ami Kaye. My poem is found on page 132. These other poets also submitted their poems and participated as editors soliciting poems and curating their sections for this anthology: Diane Frank, Lois P. Jones, Gloria Mindock, and Melissa Studdard. All profits after printing go to the Red Cross and Doctors Without Borders.

It is also an honor to be included among so many distinguished authors and poet laureates, like Robert Pinsky, W. E. Butts, Joy Harjo, Rita Dove, and Jane Hirshfield, to name a few collected here.

Blogger Chris Rice Cooper was the first to review our anthology, (January 17, 2018): Receiving & Giving Peace in the anthology CARRYING THE BRANCH POETS IN SEARCH OF PEACE . . . She put a lot of work into it with photos, excerpts, and links to an alphabetical listing of the poets and their websites. Next to my photo she provided the link to an article:¬†PR to poetry ‚Äď how things sometimes happen to Ken Chawkin.

After describing the different problem areas the poems deal with, Cooper says, “In this specific piece I‚Äôd like to focus on the poems that offer suggestions of acts and thoughts that we as individual human beings can do or think to bring peace into our own lives, the lives of our communities, and the lives of the entire world.”

Surprisingly, she includes my poem in her review: “In Ken Chawkin‚Äôs poem¬†‚ÄúSanctifying Morning‚ÄĚ the speaker of the poem experiences his own peace by having ‚Äúchurch‚ÄĚ in his own body, in his own home where he retreats to his meditation room and meditates mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.”

She concludes by saying, “There are numerous¬†lessons to be learned from this anthology but the top two are:¬† we must love the enemy within and without ourselves; and we must transcribe our experiences down, rather on paper or canvas ‚Äď only then will the next generation receive their rightful inheritance ‚Äď their own branch of peace.”

Cheryl Fusco Johnson interviews Philip Goldberg, author of American Veda: How Indian Spirituality Changed the West

November 8, 2012

Writers’ Voices host Cheryl Fusco Johnson interviewed author Philip Goldberg on American Veda: How Indian Spirituality Changed the West, at KRUU FM studios, October 12, 2012. The show is now available online: http://www.kruufm.com/node/14325.

Philip Goldberg, American Veda: How Indian Spirituality Changed the West by Cheryl Fusco Johnson

Philip Goldberg with Cheryl Fusco Johnson in KRUU FM studio  Photo: Ken Chawkin

Los Angeles-based author Philip Goldberg is a screenwriter, Huffington Post religious-issues blogger, novelist, and nonfiction writer. His book American Veda: From Emerson and the Beatles to Yoga and Meditation, How Indian Spirituality Changed the West was named one of the top ten books on religion in 2010 by the Huffington Post.

The American Library Association’s Booklist Online awarded it the same honor in 2011. Philip has authored or co-authored nineteen books and has much to say about spirituality, publishing, and how both have changed during his lifetime.

From Cheryl’s Blog: Philip Goldberg: How He Became a HuffPost Blogger

Many people ask Philip Goldberg, author of American Veda: How Indian Spirituality Changed the West, how he became a religious-issues blogger for The Huffington Post. During our Writers Voices radio interview today, Philip explained what happened. Waiting at a bookstore to begin giving a book talk, he was thinking about how few people were there to hear him speak. A woman came into the store looking for something she thought she‚Äôd left behind. She noticed Philip standing by a sign advertising the topic of his talk and said, ‚ÄúYou should be a blogger for The Huffington Post. My daughter‚Äôs an editor there.‚ÄĚ Was this a lucky break? Or was it a just reward for the many years Philip spent researching spirituality and honing his writing and speaking skills through repeated practice?

Listen to an earlier show on KRUU FM where Dennis Raimondi interviews Philip Goldberg on Speaking Freely about his latest book American Veda, Nov 22, 2010.

Here is an article about Philip Goldberg and his book American Veda: ‚ÄėVedanta and yoga perfect match for certain American¬†values‚Äô.

And here are two related articles by Philip Goldberg: George Harrison: The not-so-quiet Beatle, article by Philip Goldberg in LA YOGA Magazine and Huffington Post: Transcendental Meditation: Topping The Bestseller List Since 1975

Red Dirt Report reviews both “American Veda” by Philip Goldberg and “Transcendence” by Norman Rosenthal.

Dana Sawyer, professor of religion and philosophy at the Maine College of Art, reviewed American Veda for tricyle: How Hinduism Seeped into American Soil.

My Empowered World also posted the tricyle book review adding photos:¬†From Emerson to the Beatles. Watch a video of MEW’s Luzzette McDonald’s Interview with Author – Philip Goldberg about his books American Veda and The Intuitive Edge. Answering Luzzette’s final question about the one empowering tool he would recommend Phil mentions meditation. He says all the other practices are improved by having a good deep meditation practice. Phil mentions his TM practice, which he has been doing since 1968, and concludes saying he thinks of it as the empowering tool for all the other empowering tools.

See this related article by Phil on THEWORLDPOST: Beatles in India: The Retreat That Reverberates Across the Universe.

 

‘Vedanta and yoga perfect match for certain American values’

January 31, 2011

‘Vedanta and yoga perfect match for certain American values’
2011-01-09 10:10:00

Chicago, Jan 9 (IANS) There has always been a pervasive but undocumented feeling that Indian philosophy, as manifest in Vedanta on the intellectual plain and yoga on the physical plain, has very significantly influenced the West in general and America in particular. That feeling now finds a meticulously constructed scholastic endorsement in the form of an important new book.

Author Philip Goldberg’s ‘American Veda – From Emerson to the Beatles to Yoga and Meditation, How Indian Spirituality Changed the West‘ (Harmony Books, 398 pages, $26) offers a comprehensive account of the inroads made by Indian philosophy since the early 19th century.

‘The combination of Vedanta and Yoga was a perfect match for certain American values: freedom of choice and religion, individuality, scientific rationality, and pragmatism. ¬†They appealed especially to well-educated Americans who were discontent with ordinary religion and unsatisfied by secularism, giving them a way to be authentically spiritual without compromising their sense of reason, their consciences or their personal inclinations,’ Goldberg told IANS in an interview.

He said Indian teachers who came to the US were conscious of the openness of American society and they adapted the teachings accordingly.

Explaining the mainstreaming of Indian philosophy in the US, Goldberg said, ‘I think the remarkable growth of the ‘spiritual but not religious’ cohort of Americans would have been unthinkable without access to the practices derived from Hinduism and Buddhism. ¬†In addition, the philosophy was presented so rationally that its premises could be regarded as hypotheses, and the practices were so uniform and so widely applicable that they lent themselves to scientific experimentation.’

The book begins with a claim that is deliberately designed to be an attention grabber. ‘In February 1968 the Beatles went to India for an extended stay with their new guru, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. It may have been the most momentous spiritual retreat since Jesus spent those 40 days in the wilderness. The media frenzy over the Fab Four made known to the sleek, sophisticated West that meek, mysterious India had something of value. Our understanding and practice of spirituality would never be the same,’ Goldberg writes.

He points out that translated Hindu texts were very much a part of the libraries of John Adams, the second president of the United States and one of its most respected statesmen and political theorists, and Ralph Waldo Emerson, an eminent poet and essayist who led the transcendentalist movement in the mid-19th century. From there those ideas permeated to author and philosopher Henry David Thoreau and poet Walt Whitman among others.

In recounting Thoreau’s perspective about the Bhagavad Gita, Goldberg refers to a much quoted passage from the book Walden. Thoreau writes, ‘In the morning I bathe my intellect in the stupendous and cosmogonal philosophy of the Bhagavad Gita, since whose composition years of the gods have elapsed, and in comparison with which our modern world and its literature seems puny and trivial.’

The book has two distinct trends in support of the author’s primary contention about how Indian spirituality changed the West. One trend is at the operational level where words such as mantra, guru, karma and pundits have so seamlessly become part of the mainstream lexicon. The other trend is much deeper in terms of internalising the core values of Indian philosophy. ¬†Asked if the people in the US are conscious of this, Goldberg said, ‘Some are conscious of it, and therefore grateful to the Indian legacy. ¬†Others are not: it’s seeped into the American consciousness in subtle but profound ways.’

Goldberg also talks about the ‘Vedization of America’. On whether it can be attributed to the general secularisation/pluralisation significantly caused by the rise of agnostic information technologies, he said, ‘If you mean, could the trends I describe be attributed to the growth of pluralism and other social forces, independent of the Indian influence, it is very hard to say. Certainly, the combination of factors made for a perfect storm. I tend to think that the experiential practices of meditation and yoga, and the intellectual framework of Vedanta, accelerated, deepened and broadened what might have been an inevitable but amorphous evolution.’

On whether he apprehends any organized backlash or pushback against Indian philosophy, he said ‘Not a big one, but some of it is inevitable. There has always been a backlash from both mainstream religion – conservative Christians in particular – and the anti-religious left. Vivekananda faced up to it in 1893, and all the important gurus were confronted by it. Right now, there’s an anti-yoga campaign by some Christian preachers. ¬†I’d be very pleased if my book becomes a lightning rod for such a controversy. Bring ’em on!’

On a movement in support of a ‘Christian yoga’ that may be gaining some ground Goldberg said, ‘That’s a more complicated issue than is often realised. The question, ‘Is yoga a form of Hinduism’ depends entirely on how one defines both yoga and Hinduism. ¬†That there are people teaching Christian Yoga and Jewish Yoga strikes me as a backhanded compliment to one of the great glories of the Vedic tradition: its universality and adaptability. That having been said, the idea that yoga is ‘a Hindu tool,’ i.e., a form of stealth conversion, strikes me as a projection by Christians of their own messianic drive to convert the ‘heathen’. That conversion is not in the Hindu repertoire – and that the gurus and swamis and yoga masters are content to have their students become better Christians – is hard for many to comprehend.’

(Mayank Chhaya is a US-based writer and commentator. He can be contacted at m@mayankchhaya.net)

Huffington Post named American Veda one of the top ten religion books of 2010.

Listen to this KRUU FM interview with Cheryl Fusco Johnson on Writers’ Voices, Oct 12, 2012 http://www.kruufm.com/node/14325/node/14325.


%d bloggers like this: