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This is the definitive and complete book about a phenomenon which did not exist a hundred years ago, but is now growing rapidly and dramatically changing Western culture the rise of Western (mostly American) teachers, who fill the role of guru or master.
A few books have appeared on some narrow aspects of this astounding phenomenon; this is the first book to survey the entire field. Encyclopedic in its scope, The Book of Enlightened Masters includes biographical essays on 140 spiritual teachers, giving their life stories and an account of their teachings. Yet it is also a user-friendly introduction, with a survey of the teachers and their teachings, a historical narrative of how and when the movement developed, and an evaluation of the issues raised by it.
A century ago, there were no Western masters-no Westerners who were, for instance, Hindu swamis, Zen roshis, or Sufi sheikhs. Now there are many such teachers, with millions of followers. Starting from scratch, the West has produced its own spiritual teachers in traditions that until recently were utterly alien. And in the last quarter-century, a number of independent teachers have appeared, who belong to no single identifiable tradition.
The Western masters have not merely transplanted the Eastern spiritual traditions to the West, they have transformed these traditions by their distinctively Western approach: innovative, entrepreneurial, and combining elements from previously unconnected Eastern traditions.
The new teachers are changing Western culture by making available a view of the human condition which is new in the West but very attractive to large and growing numbers of Westerners, an approach Dr. Rawlinson calls"spiritual psychology". Spiritual psychology holds that human beings are best understood in terms of consciousness and its modifications, that consciousness can be changed by spiritual practice, and that there are enlightened masters who have done this and can teach others.