Saturday, October 19, 2019

A Very Different Kind of Book

     Last week I was extolling Sophy Burnham's account of her mystical experiences in The Ecstatic Journey: Walking the Mystical Path in Everyday Life.  This week's book is almost a polar opposite approach to meditation and spiritual growth.

    Written by Daniel Goleman, he of the Emotional Intelligence books, it is The Meditative Mind: The Varieties of Meditative Experience.  If Burnham's book is personal and flowery and open and filled with tender vulnerability, Goleman's book is precise, categorical, analytical, and scientific.  I believe it is an offshoot of his research for scientific journals, and it reads like it.

     This is a good book for those who want to analyze meditative states and how various religions teach their followers how to achieve them.  For me, that was among the more interesting parts of the book.  I hadn't seen a hierarchy of meditative states so precisely described as in this account, and some may find this valuable.  Goleman also discusses the benefits, as show in scientific studies, of meditation on physical, emotional, and mental health.

     Overall, it's a good book, if written from a completely different side of the brain than Burnham's.

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