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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Honest, Deep and Practical. A Life Changing Book !
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...
Published on Dec 6 2003 by CPTScott

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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A misdirection
The practice of yoga IS the quest for the true self. It is a way of finding out who we are. It is a profound and private journey away from the distractions of our social, political and economic world toward a union with Brahman. It is a Spartan path that countenances no humbug and admits of no compromise. It is eons removed from the psychoanalytical claptrap of modern...
Published on Sept. 12 2002 by Jay Alan Akin


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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Honest, Deep and Practical. A Life Changing Book !, Dec 6 2003
This review is from: Yoga and the Quest for the True Self (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.
Stephen Cope makes no claims to be an enlightened master with "wisdom from on high"nor is he trying to "convert" anyone to a particular spiritual path. He explains how the various tools of yoga can help us become more in touch with our true selves. How the process and practice of Hatha Yoga for example, isn't just physical exercise but a spiritual and yet practical process that can help people grow by becoming grounded in their own bodies. At the same time one can work at developing their witness consciousness thru the process of Hatha Yoga.
Of the many things I took away from the book, one particularly valuable was the "mantra" Breathe, Relax, Feel, Watch, Allow" which can be used in Hatha Yoga practice, meditation, or even in one's ordinary life when they are scattered and want to become grounded, focused and internally centered.
Some have mistakenly concluded that the author's final assessment is that all of his spiritual practice was for nothing. While there is a "moment" in the book where Cope leaves in the middle of a retreat, a retreat that he had preconceived notions of it's outcome , that is not by any means the conclusion of the book. Actually the crux of what Stephen Cope comes to realize after refelecting on his10 years or so of practice is that "In the entire path of yoga, there is really only one lesson...... Whenever we relinquish our craving, clinging and grasping, whenever we stop the war with reality and are totally present and undivided, we are immediately in union with our true nature".
The book also talks about the Kripalu Center and it's own growth, through the early years with founder Amrit Desai, to his (Desai's) fall from grace, and how this community matured rather than fell apart in the midst of this controversy.
It also explains much about the "false" Guru phenomena. In particular what happens when disciples own needs for an "all knowing father" can in their own way create a monster of their own making.
If you are a Yoga practitioner who wants to go "beyond the postures" as strictly physical exercise, or a spiritual seeker of any faith who wants to read a book that speaks with honesty and depth, intelligence and insight (and to "real people") then I highly recommend this book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful, informative, intelligent, Feb. 1 2014
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This review is from: Yoga and the Quest for the True Self (Paperback)
This book was so much more than I hoped - and I had very high expectations. Being a yoga therapist, some processes that clients experienced where a mystery to me, this book explains so many of those mysteries. So wonderful and highly readable and entertaining while remaining educational.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A highly recommended book!, Oct. 20 2013
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This review is from: Yoga and the Quest for the True Self (Paperback)
Stephen Cope has (once again) successfully translated the often-confusing and overwhelming ancient wisdom of Yoga and brought it into applications of the 21st century. This book can be heavy, deep, and cause for much work on the self so be prepared! That being said, this is definitely a journey worth taking. :)
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A misdirection, Sept. 12 2002
This review is from: Yoga and the Quest for the True Self (Paperback)
The practice of yoga IS the quest for the true self. It is a way of finding out who we are. It is a profound and private journey away from the distractions of our social, political and economic world toward a union with Brahman. It is a Spartan path that countenances no humbug and admits of no compromise. It is eons removed from the psychoanalytical claptrap of modern Western civilization, and it predates, and properly understood, is distinct from the great world religions of Hinduism and Buddhism, whose true adherents know it well.
The yoga of Patanjali and the yoga of B.K.S. Iyengar, the yoga of the Gheranda-Samhita and the Hathayogapradipika, the yoga of the Bhagavad Gita and the Katha Upanishad, the yoga of countless unnamed and unknown practitioners past and present, I am sorry to report, is not the yoga of this book. Here we have a highly social, Western psychotherapeutic, feel good, New Age sort of yoga spun out in New Age psychobabblese by someone who has only a limited and largely academic understanding of yoga. The best parts of this book are the poetic quotes at the beginning of each chapter; the worse parts the irrelevant and distracting notions about "the hated child" and other faddish trends in shrink psychology.
Yoga is the path of renunciation, a path away from the delusions of this world through non-attachment. This book is very much of this world.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great book about Yoga and Daily life, July 18 2002
By 
Timothy John Stevens (San Francisco, CA United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Yoga and the Quest for the True Self (Paperback)
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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An incredibly rich and well written testimony. Loved it., Nov. 17 2001
I bought this book just after a stay at Kripalu and knew it would be entertaining to read about the physical and spiritual history of the place. Stephen Cope is both very open and informative, and also healthily restrained about this aspect. The book enabled me to understand and accept some sides of the Kripalu teachings that had annoyed me at the time : namely the emphasis put on the body, and the psychological acceptance of oneself. After reading it, I was totally able to understand why and relate to that teaching.
Even if you have read 100 books on yoga, I promise that you will find something new and interesting in this account. it is beautifully written (I cannot believe this is a first book ! what an achievement !) and the psychological anecdotes on people that I usually found boring are actually quite interesting in S. Cope`s book. I warmly recommend it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mind-bending memoir., July 28 2001
By 
G. Merritt - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Yoga and the Quest for the True Self (Paperback)
"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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5.0 out of 5 stars Yoga for the Western Student, Oct. 20 2003
By 
Holly A. Schick "Holly Schick, B.S.N., R.Y.T." (bethlehem, pa United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
In the world of yoga practice here in the United States, one often wonders how to incorporate all of the spiritual knowledge of the ancient texts with what we know about ourselves from a contemporary, psychological perspective. The synthesis of these two very valid traditions has found it's pinnacle in Stephen Cope's "Yoga and the Quest for the True Self". Written by a man who has has LIVED the practices under the tutelage of a guru in spiritual community, we find that our struggles of ego vs. nonattachment, compassion vs. reaction, etc. are universal. Here we learn that we are not alone in our self-study and find a guidebook for our journey. This book is a must-have for the modern, western yogi or yogini.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome without a doubt!, Feb. 26 2002
By 
"yogilynne" (Boston, MA United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Yoga and the Quest for the True Self (Paperback)
Stephen is not only a skilled yogi, teacher and therapist, but a great writer. This book is a must for anyone on a spiritual path or even just as someone who enjoys yoga. I can not recommend it enough! Bravo and Encore!
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5.0 out of 5 stars It's true! Every word of it!!, Feb. 1 2002
This review is from: Yoga and the Quest for the True Self (Paperback)
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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Yoga and the Quest for the True Self
Yoga and the Quest for the True Self by Stephen Cope (Paperback - Sept. 5 2000)
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