304 pages, 8.2 × 5.4 × 0.6 in
December 15, 2015
Random House Publishing Group
The following ISBNs are associated with this title:
ISBN - 10: 0553386077
ISBN - 13: 9780553386073
Read from the Book
OneThe Four Pillars of DharmaFrom the very beginning of the Bhagavad Gita we can see that it is going to be a teaching about dharma—about sacred duty. Anybody can see that the first chapter is a device used by the author to set up the problem of vocation. How do we know, finally, to what actions we are called in this life? The author knows that we’ll identify with Arjuna’s dilemma: How do we choose between two difficult courses of action? What are the consequences of an inability to choose, or of choosing poorly? Who can effectively guide us in making these choices? Finally, in any ultimate sense, does it really matter what choices we make with our life?At the outset of this tale, the narrator describes Arjuna as paralyzed by doubt. He has come to a crossroads in his life, and is forced to choose between two difficult paths. And for the time being Arjuna has demurred. He is stuck on the floor of the chariot, unable to act at all. From the beginning, then, it is clear that the narrator sees Arjuna’s central affliction as the problem of doubt.For those of us who study the contemplative traditions, this is exciting. Something new! Until the writing of the Bhagavad Gita, the Eastern contemplative traditions—both yoga and Buddhism—had almost universally seen grasping as the central affliction or “torment” in the lives of human beings. These traditions had come to really understand the afflictive nature of desire, craving, grasping, greed, lust.Grasping will come into Krishna’s
From the Publisher
From the Senior Scholar-in-residence and Ambassador for the famed Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health comes an incisive and inspiring meditation on living the life you were born to live.
In this fast-paced age, the often overwhelming realities of daily life may leave you feeling uncertain about how to realize your life’s true purpose—what spiritual teachers call dharma. But yoga master Stephen Cope says that in order to have a fulfilling life you must, in fact, discover the deep purpose hidden at the very core of your self. In The Great Work of Your Life, Cope describes the process of unlocking the unique possibility harbored within every human soul. The secret, he asserts, can be found in the pages of a two-thousand-year-old spiritual classic called the Bhagavad Gita—an ancient allegory about the path to dharma, told through a timeless dialogue between the fabled archer, Arjuna, and his divine mentor, Krishna.
Cope takes readers on a step-by-step tour of this revered tale, and in order to make it relevant to contemporary readers, he highlights well-known Western lives that embody its central principles—including such luminaries as Jane Goodall, whose life trajectory shows us the power of honoring The Gift; Walt Whitman, who listened for the call of the times; Susan B. Anthony, whose example demonstrates the power of focused energy; John Keats, who was able to let his desire give birth to aspiration; and Harriet Tubman, whose life was nothing if not a lesson in learning to walk by faith. This essential guide also includes everyday stories about following the path to dharma, which illustrate the astonishingly contemporary relevance and practicality of this classic yogic story.
If you’re feeling lost in your own life’s journey, The Great Work of Your Life may provide you with answers to the questions you most urgently need addressed—and may help you to find and to embrace your true calling.
Praise for The Great Work of Your Life
“Keep a pen and paper handy as you read this remarkable book: It’s like an owner’s manual for the soul.”—Dani Shapiro, author of Devotion
“A masterwork . . . You’ll find inspiration in these pages. You’ll gain a better appreciation of divine guidance and perhaps even understand how you might better hear it in your own life.”—Yoga Journal
“I am moved and inspired by this book, the clarity and beauty of the lives lived in it, and the timeless dharma it teaches.”—Jack Kornfield, author of A Path with Heart
“A rich source of contemplation and inspiration [that] encourages readers . . . to discover and fully pursue their inner self’s calling.”—Publishers Weekly
“Fabulous . . . If you have ever wondered what your purpose is, this book is a great guide to help you on your path.”—YogaHara
From the Hardcover edition.
About the Author
Stephen Cope is the director of the Kripalu Institute for Extraordinary Living—the largest yoga research institute in the Western world. He has been for many years the Senior Scholar in Residence at Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health in Lenox, Massachusetts, where he writes and teaches about the relationship between the Eastern contemplative traditions and Western philosophy and psychology. He is the author of three previous books, including the bestselling Yoga and the Quest for the True Self.
Praise for The Great Work of Your Life“Cope layers biographical teaching stories between the lessons offered by what might be the greatest teaching story of all: the Bhagavad Gita, in which Krishna teaches Arjuna about finding and manifesting your life's divine purpose, or dharma. Cope, while examining the life struggles faced by such visionaries as Jane Goodall, Harriet Tubman, and Mohandas Gandhi, encourages readers to reject the modern idea that 'we can be anyone we want to be' and instead to discover and fully pursue their inner self's calling….The historical portraits make interesting reading in their own right—Cope is a skilled storyteller—but in the service of illustrating a well-organized thesis about achieving true fulfillment, they offer a rich source of contemplation and inspiration.” —Publisher’s Weekly"The director of the Institute for Extraordinary Living at the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health inquires into the dharma--vocation or calling--of a selection of both illustrious and ordinary individuals. 'Yogis insist that every single human being has a unique vocation,' writes Cope. Turning to the Bhagavad Gita for guidance, the author realized the difficulty in penetrating even the first piece of advice: 'Discern, name, and then embrace your own dharma.' For some, their dharma is a ready and apparent gift, but others struggle long and hard to hear that piece of inner music, that passion. So Cope illustrates this fact of life through example, drawing smooth portr