THE VARIETIES OF THE MEDITATIVE EXPERIENCE by Daniel Goleman

THE VARIETIES OF THE MEDITATIVE EXPERIENCE

KIRKUS REVIEW

Goleman, onetime Harvard psychology professor and currently associate editor at Psychology Today, has drawn on both personal experience and scholarly expertise (particularly in the Buddhist tradition) to provide a skillful overview of spiritual paths and the states of consciousness they lead to. He first summarizes the teaching of the Visuddhimagga, a fifth-century A.D. Buddhist guide to the process of spiritual purification, and thereby spells out with some complexity the basic conditions, techniques, stages, levels, and goals of meditation. Then, using this ""traditional recipe book"" as an interpretive standard, he surveys eleven distinct types of meditation--e.g. Sufism, the Kabbalah, various yogas (bhakti, ashtanga, tantra, and kundalini), Gurdjieff's Fourth Way--focusing in each case on one illustrative technique in order to give outsiders an idea of what the practice involves. He concludes by indicating how, at the most universal level, ""all meditation systems are variations on a single process of transforming consciousness,"" especially the heightening of concentration and the achievement of a fully awakened state. Necessarily, devotees of individual traditions will find the sketchy accounts of their own ways inadequate, but as an introductory mapping of the varieties and essential unity of religious meditative experience it makes a good complement to Patricia Carrington's Freedom in Meditation (1976), which treats the more mundane, less ambitious styles of non-religious meditation.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1977
Publisher: Dutton