Soaring with Practical Spirituality: Philip Goldberg

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Philip Goldberg talks about his journey from the uncertainty of the 1960s when he was an idealistic college student, how he became passionate about practical spirituality, and his writings: American Veda; The Life of Yogananda: The Story of the Yogi Who Became the First Modern Guru; and his brand new book,Spiritual Practice for Crazy Times: Practical Tools to Cultivate Calm, Clarity, and Courage.

Philip Goldberg is the author or co-author of numerous books; a public speaker and workshop leader; a spiritual counselor, meditation teacher and ordained Interfaith Minister. A Los Angeles resident, he cohosts the Spirit Matters podcast, leads American Veda Tours and blogs regularly on Elephant Journal and Spirituality & Health.

Philip was born and raised in Brooklyn and moved to Los Angeles. In between, Philip made stops in Manhattan, New England, Pennsylvania, San Francisco and Iowa. As a college student in the 1960’s, he shuttled uncertainly from one major to another while carrying out more important work outside the classroom: expanding his mind in various ways, deciphering love, trying to end racism and war, and relentlessly searching for higher truths. That pattern continued through three graduate schools in two years. In retrospect, what seemed like confusion was an idealistic young man scratching his way to passions that would mark his adult life: spirituality and writing.

Philip pursued answers to the Big Questions that conventional religion, psychology, politics and philosophy had failed to provide. He was drawn to the pragmatic mysticism of the East, at first through public thinkers like Alan Watts and Aldous Huxley, and then directly from the texts of Buddhism, Taoism and Hinduism — especially Vedanta and Yoga. This led inexorably to Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s Transcendental Meditation. Philip spent much of the 1970’s teaching TM and working for that organization in other capacities.

That affiliation led to an independent spiritual path as a pragmatic mystic and also catalyzed his career as a professional writer. In his books, he was able to indulge his interests in psychology, human potential and holistic health. Philip continued earnestly pursuing his lifelong quest for illumination. All along, the primary task has been how to develop spiritually while also carving out a productive, responsible, enjoyable, fulfilling life in the so-called real world. What he learned about that mysterious undertaking he wrote about in Roadsigns on the Spiritual Path: Living at the Heart of Paradox.

Sometime in the mid-80s, Phil realized that his path — integrating yogic ideas and practices into modern life in the USA — was rather typical of 60s-era seekers. He started researching the phenomenon and soon realized that its impact was bigger than he thought. It was transforming society, not just individuals. Then, in 2005, the karmic currents brought Philip and Random House together, and in 2010 American Veda was published. The book earned good reviews, won awards and spawned related ventures like American Veda Tours, the Spirit Matters podcast, and a documentary film project.

Phil’s first book after American Veda is a comprehensive biography of the master teacher Paramahansa Yogananda. The Life of Yogananda: The Story of the Yogi Who Became the First Modern Guru. His new book, “Spiritual Practice for Crazy Times: Practical Tools to Cultivate Calm, Clarity, and Courage”, is available as an eBook. It will begin shipping in print this week. Indeed, the timing of this book is unexpectedly impeccable amid the pandemic and global turmoil.

Shankar Hemmady is founder and CEO of Green Horizons, a San Francisco based consulting company that has supported startup companies, universities and social causes since 2012. Shankar facilitates workshops on Transformative Leadership and Creative Careers at various organizations worldwide. He has been an entrepreneur in the electronics industry and in the biotech industry in San Francisco, California, USA, since 1994. Shankar holds a B.Tech in Electronics from IIT, Bombay, and an M.S. in Computer Engineering from the University of Iowa, USA. He completed the Advanced Management College program at Stanford University GSB. He studied the Neuroscience of Compassion and Happiness at Stanford University and University of California, Berkeley, USA. Shankar Hemmady lives in San Francisco, California, USA.

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