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Yoga and the Quest for the True Self Paperback – Sep 5 2000

4.5 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews

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  • Yoga and the Quest for the True Self
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam (Sept. 5 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 055337835X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553378351
  • Product Dimensions: 15.5 x 2.8 x 23.4 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 431 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #41,371 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From Amazon

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 the Hardcover edition.

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 the Hardcover edition.

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Top Customer Reviews

I just finished reading this book and I enjoyed every minute of it. I have carried it with me and read it over the past two or three months in little bits and pieces and I have found the information to be laser like in hitting it's mark. If I were only allowed one word in describing this book I would say "profound". If allowed more than one :) -- truly profound, insightful, compassionate, relevant, complete, comprehensive and useful to me - the budding yogi. I have been doing yoga for a few years and little by little more questions than less have been piling up in my "to investigate" list. This book has pretty much cleared that list --- for now. If you choose to read this book, when you are done, you will want to thank the Author for having sent it into the world.
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"We are not who we think we are," Stephen Cope writes in the introductory pages of his book, "our true self remains deeply hidden, incognito, submerged beneath a web of mistaken identities" (p. xix). I have never tried yoga, but read as an insider's memoir of spiritual growth in a yoga community, I nonetheless found Cope's book fascinating. While many of us define "the real world" through college degrees, marriage, children, careers, and our homes, Cope's sabbatical in a yoga ashram taught him that "we have become exclusively identified with our physical bodies, with our possessions, with our thoughts, with our personalities. We think we're our ideas, our careers, our families, our countries. We live our lives in utter ignorance of the vastness of our real nature, estranged from our true selves. This is the source of our suffering" (p. 63). Cope's writing is honest, and his unique book will appeal to readers interested in living life from the heart, whether they have spent time on a yoga mat or not. It may also be approached as a trusted resource for those who are serious about the practice of yoga, or for anyone considering a yoga retreat. And at times, Cope's book even inspired me to give yoga a try.
G. Merritt
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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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Stephen Cope has written an exquisite, moving, and totally accurate ethnography of the way it was at Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health in the late 1980s and into the 1990s.
Both a memoir and an intelligent, compelling discourse about the transformation of self to Self via yoga. Answers the question: Why would any lively, sentient being hie off to an ashram, monastery, or convent. Cope explores the complex psychodynamics of the spiritual journey without talking over or down to readers. His writing is positively lyrical in places.
Superb Appendix provides a detailed, well-written guide to yogic practices and disciplines.
You don't have to be smitten w/the Eastern-based spiritual traditions to appreciate this book. It's an essential read for anyone interested in why, when, and how people choose "a path."
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If you've ever had the chance to be blissed out doing yoga you'll love this book. Steven Cope illustrates the basics of yogic philosophy with intriguing personal stories that definitely keep you interested. It isn't so much about the postures themselves but how the meditative and self-reflective aspects of yoga illuminate our true nature. I've been going to the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health for years and have always looked for a book to remind me of what I learned there. This is the best by far. Breathe, Feel, Relax, Watch and Allow...
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