The Tao of Elvis

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Overview

"The Tao is great, the king is also great."—Lao Tzu

"I'm a soul, a spirit, a force. I have no interest in anything of this world. I want to live in another dimension entirely."—Elvis Presley

"Elvis thought the Tao was just another name for God."—Larry Geller,
Elvis's spiritual adviser and friend

Elvis Presley was an intensely spiritual man. Gospel was his music of choice, and his life—from innocence to addiction, from obscurity to fame, from "Hound Dog" to "Love Me Tender"—was ...

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Overview

"The Tao is great, the king is also great."—Lao Tzu

"I'm a soul, a spirit, a force. I have no interest in anything of this world. I want to live in another dimension entirely."—Elvis Presley

"Elvis thought the Tao was just another name for God."—Larry Geller,
Elvis's spiritual adviser and friend

Elvis Presley was an intensely spiritual man. Gospel was his music of choice, and his life—from innocence to addiction, from obscurity to fame, from "Hound Dog" to "Love Me Tender"—was one long quest to balance opposites. The Tao of Elvis is the first attempt to illustrate Elvis's Taoist nature and interpret his never-ending search for purpose and meaning. Highlighting Elvis's journey from light into dark, Jungian expert and Elvis scholar David Rosen explores and examines his life through the structure of the Tao Te Ching. In reflections on forty-two Taoist concepts—one for each year of Elvis's life—Rosen reveals how the Tao, a mysterious force, was and is operating through America's king. Like the Tao, Elvis is everywhere.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
David Rosen thinks that the King of Rock is dead, but he believes that Elvis's life can teach us basic lessons about eternal verities; in this case, the timeless concepts of Taoism. Offering reflections on 42 Taoist concepts (one for each year of Presley's life), Rosen shows how Elvis embodied the paradoxical qualities of the Tao.
From the Publisher
PRAISE FOR THE TAO OF JUNG

"Rosen's brief analysis of Jung's life in terms of Taoist principles is more an inspirational work than a biography."—Publishers Weekly

"Rosen writes clearly and meticulously documents all of his references to Jung and the Tao. His work serves as a good introduction to both Taoism and Jungian psychology."—Booklist

"The secret to entering Jung's remarkable work is to see it as a mystery. . . . [The Tao of Jung] counters the usual modern tendency to simplify and systematize what should remain eccentric and unique."—Thomas Moore, author of Care of the Soul

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780156007375
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 6/6/2002
  • Edition description: 1ST
  • Pages: 224
  • Product dimensions: 5.48 (w) x 7.50 (h) x 0.66 (d)

Meet the Author

David Rosen, M.D., is the author of six other books, including The Tao of Jung and Transforming Depression. A psychiatrist and Jungian analyst who holds the only American full professorship in Jungian psychology, Rosen teaches at Texas A&M, where he is also professor of psychiatry and behavioral science and of humanities in medicine. He lives in College Station, Texas.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 2 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 6, 2007

    A reviewer

    For people who want to learn more of the way of Tao this is an outstanding book! For other people- It's just funny. Comparing Elvis' words with Lao Tzu and other monks this book makes you realize Dao more with Elvis' translations. Each chapter contains a few (6 most of the times) sayings, then a nice little paragraph. Each chapter has a focus on something love, determination, etc.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 30, 2002

    Elvis Lives!!

    David Rosen's book reads like a meditation. He begins with two questions: 'Why does Elvis' popularity persist?' and 'What does that say about our culture?' He then addresses these questions through a series of devotions centered around Taoist concepts. There are 42 devotions, one for each year of Elvis' life. <p> Dr. Rosen is clear that his objective is not to diagnose Elvis - as trying to define such a mythic figure would be like (in Lao Tzu's words) trying to 'pin a butterfly: the husk is captured, but the flying is lost' (p. 145). Like the Tao, Elvis is a mystery full of contradiction. He is elusive. And Rosen suggests that the contradictory images of Elvis are not only what keep him alive for us - they have the potential to be the source of our own healing. The book is a compassionate work that seeks to restore this cultural icon - not through revision (e.g., trying to show that Elvis was on some path of enlightenment and made it) but rather through understanding that in the archetypal Elvis lies our own struggle with duality. (Rosen focuses mainly on the double-edged quality of the King archetype - how it can function either as a channel to the divine or a destructive mechanism for the one who tries to live it out.) What I like about this approach is that it emanates from a belief in the possibility of redemption - for Elvis and for us. For while 'wholeness' (a Jungian ideal) may not have been achieved by Elvis in his lifetime, we can, in a sense, make him whole by finding meaning in his suffering (something he was not able to do himself) and by living according to what we learn. <p> Rosen uses technical terms derived from depth psychology (particularly Jung and Winnicott), e.g., archetypes, true self, false self, creative soul, shadow, and persona, but doesn't provide much explanation (although the uninitiated reader should be able to understand the concepts generally on the basis of context). As this is not a scholarly work but a meditation I think his approach makes sense. However, as a psychotherapist, I would like to have seen more text devoted to the process of individuation which Elvis, according to Rosen, was not able to complete. (Personally, I think Elvis' individuation is a failure only if we think of individuation as a completely linear process. As Rosen writes, Elvis vacillated between positions of insight and self-destruction - and this is likely what accounts for our ambivalence toward him: he is both the talented hero/rebel deserving of admiration and an obnoxious caricature who evokes disdain or pity. Perhaps there is wholeness in that.) For example, toward the end of the book, he writes '... Elvis felt there was little he could do to change. Of course, he could have done something, if he'd only been willing. He could have channeled his rage into killing his false self, then undergone a symbolic death of his self-destructive self and rebirth of his creative true self ...' (p. 145). But this is the first mention of Elvis' rage and it isn't altogether clear how this process could have transformed Elvis. Such a quick treatment may give the reader the mistaken impression that Dr. Rosen thinks this is an easy achievement (perhaps owing to his modesty, he does not mention that he has written extensively on this process in another book, Transforming Depression: Healing the Soul through Creativity, although it is in his bibliography). And if we focus too much on Elvis' failed transformation, it is easy for us to miss one of Rosen's main points: that an awareness of our own weakness and vulnerability is the fountainhead of empathy. Elvis had this awareness (at least some of the time) along with a great capacity to care for others. <p> The quotes are interesting and fun, from myriad cultural sources - including Elvis himself - ranging from the popular (John Lennon, Bono, Bruce Springsteen) to the religious (Lao Tzu, Thomas Merton, and Martin Buber); however, my favorite passages were those in which Dr.

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