Elizabeth Lesser is the cofounder and senior advisor of the Omega Institute, a holistic learning community in upstate New York. She is uniquely qualified to have written this ambitious survey of America's spiritual scene (titled in hardcover The New American Spirituality). While others have commented on it from the ivory tower or a critical distance, Lesser has experienced it firsthand in the trenches as a child of the 1960s, a feminist and antiwar activist, a student of Zen, a disciple of a Sufi teacher, a resident of a rural commune, a home-birth midwife, a participant in several forms of psychotherapy, and a founder of a nationally known and respected retreat center that has given a variety of writers, therapists, healers, spiritual teachers, and social activists a forum for their values and visions.

As a seasoned seeker, the author defines spirituality as "a fearless investigation of reality" where one's deepest longings become a compass for the journey. She wisely lists the ten dangers of spiritual pride, including narcissism, superficiality, instant transformation, grandiosity, ripping off religious traditions, the inner child tantrum, and the guru trip.

Lesser's tour of the spirituality of wholeness provides a frame for the book with sections on mind, heart, body, and soul. Included are tips and practices for meditation, heartfulness, healing, death, unity consciousness, prayer, and working with a teacher. Lesser proves to be a thoughtful, hospitable, and open-minded guide through the labyrinth of contemporary American spirituality.

Try a Spiritual Practice on Yearning