I bought this book in order to have a basic yet comprehensive guide to mediation. I had dabbled a little in the practice over the years and knew the basic breath-counting/mantra technique. But I was looking for additional guidance, having already picked up (and discarded) the "Idiot's Guide to Meditation." For me, that book and others like it spend too much time on details of chakras, postures, and energies. I wanted something broader, something that concentrated on the internal, spiritual aspects of meditation rather than on the specifics of different traditions. All religions have their own schools of meditation, and I wanted commonalities, not New Age cliches. I found what I wanted it in this book.
Leshan, a trained psychotherapist, and researcher presents a concise, comforting, and comprehensive guide to the subject. He's very eclectic in his approach--his sources include Christian mystics, Zen Buddhists, and Hindu yogis. He points out what they all have in common, takes what's useful from each traditiona, and distills them into something that's workable for a beginner. He dispels many of the myths that surround meditation-as-fad in our society and stresses the role of individual discipline. He suggests the general outlines of programs, but leaves the actual choices up to you.
The only problem that I had with this book is probably related to its original date of publication--1973. Back then, meditation was still a "way-out" hippie practice that most people looked upon with suspicion. As a result, Leshan goes to considerable lengths to justify the practice for skeptical Westerners. He does a good job with this, but nowadays those parts of his book are less necessary. Nonetheless, this book retains its value as a classic guide to meditation. For me, at least, it's a keeper.