Feuerstein, Georg 1947-

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Feuerstein, Georg 1947-

PERSONAL:

Surname is pronounced "FOY-er-stine"; born May 27, 1947, in Wuerzburg, West Germany (now Germany); immigrated to England, 1966; immigrated to United States, 1981; son of Erwin (a jurist) and Dorothea Feuerstein; married Patricia Lamb (a former book indexer and cetacean researcher), February 14, 1985; children: (previous marriage) David, Daniel. Education: University of Durham, M.Litt., 1976; Greenwich University, Ph.D., 1993.

ADDRESSES:

Office—Yoga Research and Education Center, P.O. Box 1386, Lower Lake, CA 95457. Agent—Carol Susan Roth, 1824 Oak Park Dr., Palo Alto, CA 94304. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER:

Writer, educator, and publisher. University of Durham, Durham, England, director of Yoga Research Centre, 1975-80; Dawn Horse Press, Clearlake, CA, editorial director, 1981-86; Integral Publishing, Lower Lake, CA, director, 1986—; codirector of California Center for Jean Gebser Studies, 1986—, and of Healing Buddha Foundation, Sebastopol, CA, 1994-99; founder and president, Yoga Research and Education Center, Lower Lake, CA, 1996—. Fellow of Indian Academy of Yoga.

AWARDS, HONORS:

Awards from Leverhulme Trust Fund, British Academy, and Rockefeller foundation.

WRITINGS:

Yoga: Sein Wesen und Werden (title means "Yoga: Its Essence and Development"), Schwab Verlag (Schopfheim, Germany), 1969.

(With Jeanine Miller) A Reappraisal of Yoga: Essays in Indian Philosophy, Rider (London, England), 1969, published as Yoga and Beyond: Essays in Indian Philosophy, Schocken (New York, NY), 1972, published as The Essence of Yoga: Essays on the Development of Yogic Philosophy from the Vedas to Modern Times (includes bibliographical references and index), Inner Traditions International (Rochester, VT), 1998.

The Essence of Yoga: A Contribution to the Psychohistory of Indian Civilisation, Rider (London, England), 1973, Grove (New York, NY), 1976, revised edition published as Wholeness or Transcendence? Ancient Lessons for the Emerging Global Civilization, Larson Publications (Burdett, NY), 1992.

Introduction to the Bhagavad-Gita: Its Philosophy and Cultural Setting, Rider (London, England), 1973, published as The Bhagavad Gita: Its Philosophy and Cultural Setting, Quest/Theosophical Publishing House (Wheaton, IL), 1983.

Textbook of Yoga: A Comprehensive Survey for the Western Student of the Schools, Literature, History, Philosophy and Practice of Yoga, Rider (London, England), 1975.

Yoga-Sutra of Patanjali: An Exercise in the Methodology of Textual Analysis, Arnold-Heinemann (New Delhi, India), 1975, published as Yoga-Sutra of Patanjali: A New Translation and Commentary, Dawson (Folkestone, England), 1979, Inner Traditions International (Rochester, VT), 1989.

The Bhagavad-Gita: Yoga of Contemplation and Action, Arnold-Heinemann (New Delhi, India), 1975.

The Philosophy of Classical Yoga, St. Martin's (New York, NY), 1980, Manchester University Press (Manchester, England), 1980.

(With wife, Patricia Lamb Feuerstein) Remembrance of the Divine Names of Da, Dawn Horse (San Rafael, CA), 1982.

Yoga: The Technology of Ecstasy, Jeremy P. Tarcher (Los Angeles, CA), 1986, revised and expanded edition published as The Yoga Tradition: Its History, Literature, Philosophy, and Practice, foreword by Ken Wilber, Hohm Press (Prescott, AZ), 1998.

Structures of Consciousness: The Genius of Jean Gebser; An Introduction and Critique, Integral Publishing (Lower Lake, CA), 1987.

Jean Gebser: What Color Is Your Consciousness?, Robert Briggs Associates, 1989.

Encyclopedic Dictionary of Yoga, Paragon House (New York, NY), 1990, expanded edition published as The Shambhala Encyclopedia of Yoga, Shambhala (Boston, MA), 1997.

Holy Madness: The Shock Tactics and Radical Teachings of Crazy-Wise Adepts, Rascal Gurus, Religious Clowns, Holy Fools, and Divine Tricksters, Paragon House (New York, NY), 1991, revised edition published as Holy Madness: Spirituality, Crazy-Wise Teachers, and Enlightenment, Hohm Press (Prescott, AZ), 2006.

Sacred Paths: Essays on Wisdom, Love, and Mystical Realization, Larson Publications (Burdett, NY), 1991.

Sacred Sexuality: The Real Sexual Revolution, Jeremy P. Tarcher (Los Angeles, CA), 1992, published as Sacred Sexuality: The Erotic Spirit in the World's Great Religions, Inner Traditions (Rochester, VT), 2003.

The Mystery of Light: The Life and Teaching of Omraam Mikhael Aivanhov, Passage Press (Salt Lake City, UT), 1994, revised edition, Integral Publishing (Lower Lake, CA), 1998.

Spirituality by the Numbers, Putnam (New York, NY), 1994.

(With Subhash Kak and David Frawley) In Search of the Cradle of Civilization, Quest (Wheaton, IL), 1995, 2nd edition, 2001.

The Shambhala Guide to Yoga, Shambhala (Boston, MA), 1996.

Lucid Waking: Mindfulness and the Spiritual Potential of Humanity, Inner Traditions International (Rochester, VT), 1997.

(Editor and translator) Teachings of Yoga, Shambhala (Boston, MA), 1997.

Tantra: The Path of Ecstasy, Shambhala (Boston, MA), 1998.

(With Larry Payne) Yoga for Dummies, foreword by Lilias Polan, IDG Books Worldwide (Foster City, CA), 1999.

(Compiler) Yoga Gems, Bantam (New York, NY), 2001.

The Deeper Dimension of Yoga: Theory and Practice, Shambhala (Boston, MA), 2003.

A Little Book for Lovers, Sounds True (Boulder, CO), 2006.

Yoga Morality: Ancient Teachings at a Time of Global Crisis, Hohm Press (Prescott, AZ), 2007.

BOOKLETS; TRANSLATOR; AUTHOR OF COMMENTARY

Epitome of Shantideva's "Entering the Path to Enlightenment" (Bodhicaryavatara-Samgraha), Yoga Research and Education Center (Lower Lake, CA), 1996.

Eight Verses on Mind Training, Yoga Research and Education Center (Lower Lake, CA), 1997.

The Heart Sutra of the Perfection of Wisdom (Prjna-Paramita-Hridaya-Sutra), Yoga Research and Education Center (Lower Lake, CA), 1997.

Narada's Bhakyi-Sutra: The Essence of the Yoga of Devotion, Yoga Research and Education Center (Lower Lake, CA), 1997.

The Sacred Syllable Om, Yoga Research and Education Center (Lower Lake, CA), 1997.

EDITOR; AUTHOR OF INTRODUCTION

Da Free John, Nirvanasara: Radical Transcendentalism and the Introduction of Advaitayana Buddhism, Dawn Horse (Clearlake, CA), 1982.

Da Free John, Look at the Sunlight on the Water, Dawn Horse (Clearlake, CA), 1983.

Da Free John, The Adept, Dawn Horse (Clearlake, CA), 1983.

Da Free John, What Is the Conscious Process?, Dawn Horse (Clearlake, CA), 1983.

Da Free John, Enlightenment and the Transformation of Man, Dawn Horse (Clearlake, CA), 1983.

(With Saniel Bonder) Da Free John, The God in Every Body Book, Dawn Horse (Clearlake, CA), 1983.

John G. Bennett, The Long Pilgrimage, Dawn Horse (Clearlake, CA), 1983.

Dwight Goddard, Self-Realization of Noble Wisdom, Dawn Horse (Clearlake, CA), 1983.

Keith Dowman, The Divine Madman, Dawn Horse (Clearlake, CA), 1983.

Da Free John, The Transmission of Doubt, Dawn Horse (Clearlake, CA), 1984.

Da Free John, Easy Death: Talks and Essays on the Inherent and Ultimate Transcendence of Death and Everything Else, Dawn Horse (Clearlake, CA), 1984.

Humor Suddenly Returns: Essays on the Spiritual Teaching of Master Da Free John, Dawn Horse (Clearlake, CA), 1984.

T.S. Anantha Murthy, Maharaj, Dawn Horse (Clearlake, CA), 1986.

Lee Sannella, The Kundalini Experience: Psychosis or Transcendence?, Integral Publishing (Lower Lake, CA), 1987.

Enlightened Sexuality: Essays on Body-Positive Spirituality, Crossing Press (Freedom, CA), 1989.

(With Stephan Bodian) Living Yoga: A Comprehensive Guide for Daily Life, Putnam (New York, NY), 1993.

(With wife, Patricia Lamb Feuerstein) Voices on the Threshold of Tomorrow: 145 Views of the New Millennium, Quest/Theosophical Publishing House (Wheaton, IL), 1993.

Contributor to The Encyclopedia of Religion, and to various anthologies. Also contributor to Yoga and philosophy journals. Editor of International Journal of Yoga Therapy and Yoga World newsletter; contributing editor to Inner Directions, Intuition, and Yoga Journal.

SIDELIGHTS:

"All of my work is concerned with the higher possibilities, and the ultimate transcendence, of human consciousness," Georg Feuerstein told CA. "Disenchanted with the Lutheran heritage of my childhood, I turned at an early age to the wisdom teachings of the East, notably the gnostic schools of Yoga and Vedanta, hoping that they would supply me with more convincing answers to the ‘Big Questions’ and a more viable outlook on life.

"Although I discovered many kindred spirits in the Sanskrit scriptures, which I learned to read in the original, my naturally critical bent of mind quickly sensitized me to the limitations of the traditional Eastern approaches. While allowing myself to be enriched by the vastly different life experience that I found crystallized in the ancient writings, I did not narrow my personal quest and scholarly research to Hindu and Buddhist wisdom but always consciously endeavored to integrate, on the levels of understanding and feeling, the two great halves of the human family—East and West.

"From the beginning of my career as an Indologist, I liberally crossed the boundaries between academia and the public. Many of my published writings are attempts to communicate with a wider audience while fully respecting the exacting standards of sound scholarship. My maverick orientation proved useful, not only in fertilizing my chosen discipline—that of Yoga research—but also in guiding many nonspecialists to a more judicious appreciation of the enormous complexities of Eastern religiophilosophical traditions and their vital significance for the spiritual renewal of contemporary humanity.

"I have arrived at the conclusion that the study of consciousness holds the key to understanding our confusing epoch and to creating a new global anthropology that takes the whole human being into account and without which we cannot master the contemporary civilization crisis. In particular my work is concerned with highlighting the uniquely human act of self-transcendence in its various forms—from living a harmonious life, practicing such timeless values as love, compassion, and generosity, to realizing higher states of awareness that reveal the underlying unity of all things.

"In recent years, I have been especially interested in exploring—in theory and practice—psychospiritual healing as part of a self-transcending life. Specifically, I have been working closely with Lama Shakya Zangpo of the Healing Buddha Foundation, Sebastopol, California. According to the Medicine Buddha tradition of Tibetan Buddhism, suffering is a fundamental datum of ordinary human existence, and while we can be cured of certain physical diseases or psychological maladjustments, we are ultimately healed only in the moment of our enlightenment. I have several books in progress that will address this profound insight into the human condition.

"I continue to learn and benefit from the wisdom of the East, and I also continue to appreciate the many efforts made by Western scientists and researchers to comprehend the dazzlingly complex and beautiful world in which we live. Together both streams of knowledge can provide us with a compass for navigating safely through our perplexing times.

"Throughout my scholarly work I have maintained, and attempted to demonstrate, that theory and praxis form a necessary unity. This conviction also informs my personal life and aspiration. The true power of knowledge lies in its capacity to transform us, to put us in touch with our higher possibilities, and give us the necessary means for living a meaningful, harmonious, and joyous life that includes others into its radiance and thus contributes to peace and happiness in the world."

In The Yoga Tradition: Its History, Literature, Philosophy, and Practice (originally published as Yoga: The Technology of Ecstasy), Feuerstein sheds illumination upon every angle and facet of Yoga, from its earliest roots in shamanism through its connections to the dynamic and complex spirituality of India. In particular, he shows its relationship with Buddhism and Hinduism, as well as detailing the various Yogic schools and their key spiritual teachers. Booklist contributor Donna Seaman wrote that Feuerstein "performs a truly Yogic feat by combining commentary with translated Sanskrit teachings, history with theory, the spiritual with the practical, and the classical with the contemporary." Seaman went on to comment in the same review: "No more adept or comprehensive study of yoga aimed at a Western audience is to be found."

The Shambhala Guide to Yoga (originally published as Encyclopedic Dictionary of Yoga) provides an overview of Yogic ideas and practice, establishes the five-thousand-year-old historical context of Yoga, provides concise explanations of its main schools, strives to clear up common misconceptions, and defines terminologies. Feuerstein stresses that the underlying aim of every Yoga discipline is for the practitioner to achieve harmony with the world through transcending the ego-personality—whether the person is simply following its moral precepts and dietary regimens, meditating, or perfecting its techniques of breath control. Seaman wrote in another Booklist review, "Feuerstein … is adept at presenting accurate and accessible interpretations of these traditions to Western readers." A Publishers Weekly contributor asserted: "Employing a very accessible vocabulary, Feuerstein's work offers real utility in its overview." The reviewer went on to write: "As a starting point for the seeker, Feuerstein's book is excellent."

Feuerstein serves the role of editor and translator in Teachings of Yoga, which offers beginning students of Yoga a primer collection of traditional Yogic teachings from a wide range of periods, many of which have been translated by Feuerstein himself, and presents a compendium of Yoga's classic images, allusions, and metaphors. Subjects include meditation, liberation, bliss of the self, the human body, and service to others. Seaman noted in Booklist: "Feuerstein, a prolific and cogent scholar and popularizer, has … created a gracefully organized and beautifully translated anthology."

Tantra: The Path of Ecstasy explains that Tantra is far more than the path to heightened sex play described in popular books and articles. Countering such misconceptions, Feuerstein illuminates a far richer world—as garnered from Hindu, Tantric, and Shaivite texts—of philosophy, cosmology, and theology in which Tantra is a form of devotionalism, making prominent use of ritual gestures, sounds, and actions. He also details the six enemies the Yogic discipline is designed to conquer: desire, delusion, pride, greed, envy, and anger. Feuerstein describes the Tantric path in great detail, drawing upon the wisdom of ancient texts to show readers how they may attain and benefit from the many facets of this spiritual path, including realization of the subtle body, directing energy through chakras, and a heightening of sexual experience. A Publishers Weekly contributor commented: "Like a sophisticated travelogue, it brings into sharp focus the rich tapestry of Indian ecstatic life and the exotic practices of Tantric Yoga."

Yoga for Dummies was written by Feuerstein and Larry Payne, Ph.D., who also has reportedly studied Hatha Yoga in great depth. The book explains, first, how to prepare one's mind and body to practice Hatha Yoga. From there, the authors launch into a discussion of the asanas (postures), with detailed instructions for sequencing, compensation, movement, sitting, relaxation, and breathing—although cautioning beginners that it is best to supplement the book with actual classes until they have successfully mastered the basics. Also covered are subjects such as Yogic philosophy, ethics, and resources, incorporating Yoga into meditation, sex, pregnancy, and menopause, and using Yoga to treat back problems and PMS.

Feuerstein also told CA: "Since the age of fourteen, I have been fascinated with India's wisdom traditions, and most of my books deal with one aspect or another of the five-thousand-year-old tradition of Yoga. From the beginning, my focus has been on making Yogic wisdom accessible to Westerners, and this has not changed in over thirty years. In fact, I see writing as my particular form of Yoga, or spiritual discipline. At this point, writing has become second nature, and even though I write for only about three hours a day, I still manage to publish one or two books every year. The rest of my time I divide between directing the Yoga Research and Education Center, editing the Center's newsletter and annual journal, teaching, and responding to an ever-swelling flood of correspondence. Writing remains my favorite activity, and I particularly enjoy poring over ancient Sanskrit texts on Yoga and preparing English renderings of them. I find they nourish my soul and always manage to kindle the creative spirit in me."

Feuerstein has continued to write a wide range of books about Yoga and its teachings concerning various aspects of life. His book Yoga Gems features teachings from numerous Yoga spiritual practitioners from the past, concerning topics such as the human mind and ego, emotions, destiny, and happiness. Among the sages quoted are Meher Baba, Swami Akhandananda, and Sri Aurobindo. Writing on the Spirituality & Practice Web site, Frederic Brussat and Mary Ann Brussat noted that the author provides a "consistently illuminating collection of quotations."

In The Deeper Dimension of Yoga: Theory and Practice, the author presents seventy-eight of his essays on Yoga and organizes them into chapters focusing on areas such as yoga practice, yoga's moral foundations, and the higher stages of yoga practice. Once again writing on the Spirituality & Practice Web site, Frederic Brussat and Mary Ann Brussat noted that in his essays the author "ably demonstrates the depth and profundity of Yoga as a spiritual discipline."

In his 2006 book, A Little Book for Lovers, Feuerstein "provides some poetic mystical contemplation on the subject of divine union and true love," according to Janet Boyer writing on the JanetBoyer.com Web site. Spirituality & Practice Web site contributors Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat commented: "We were glad to read the author's views on the close connection between true love and Mystery."

Although the author has been pleased to see the growing popularity of Yoga throughout the Western world, he believes that many modern teachers and practitioners neglect the fundamental teachings of Yoga. In Yoga Morality: Ancient Teachings at a Time of Global Crisis, Feuerstein emphasizes the moral and spiritual teachings of Yoga, noting that the physical fitness aspects of Yoga training are beneficial but that Yoga's five moral disciplines are essential to a well-rounded life. A Reference & Research Book News contributor commented that the author "seeks to show its [Yoga's] relevance to a time of global crisis." A Publishers Weekly reviewer commented: "Feuerstein's approach is intellectual but not inaccessible."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Booklist, March 1, 1996, Donna Seaman, review of The Shambhala Guide to Yoga, p. 1106; October 1, 1997, Donna Seaman, review of Teachings of Yoga, p. 289; November 1, 1998, Donna Seaman, review of The Yoga Tradition: Its History, Literature, Philosophy, and Practice, p. 453.

Natural Health, April, 2002, Adina Davis, review of Yoga Gems, p. 89.

Publishers Weekly, February 26, 1996, review of The Shambhala Guide to Yoga, p. 97; June 29, 1998, review of Tantra: The Path of Ecstasy, p. 51; March 26, 2007, review of Yoga Morality: Ancient Teachings at a Time of Global Crisis, p. S8.

Reference & Research Book News, August, 2006, review of Holy Madness: Spirituality, Crazy-Wise Teachers, and Enlightenment; May, 2007, review of Yoga Morality.

ONLINE

Dallas Morning News,http://www.dallasnews.com/ (August 11, 2007), Douglas Todd, "Has Yoga Strayed from Its Core?"

Janetboyer.com,http://janetboyer.com/ (January 29, 2008), Janet Boyer, review of A Little Book for Lovers.

Poetry Chaikhana,http://www.poetry-chaikhana.com/ (January 29, 2008), profile of author.

Spirituality & Practice,http://www.spiritualityandpractice.com/ (January 29, 2008), Frederic Brussat and Mary Ann Brussat, reviews of A Little Book for Lovers, Yoga Gems, and The Deeper Dimension of Yoga.

Traditional Yoga Studies,http://www.traditionalyogastudies.com/ (January 29, 2008), "About George Feuerstein."

About this article

Feuerstein, Georg 1947-

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