Cover image for Halfway up the mountain : the error of premature claims to enlightenment
Halfway up the mountain : the error of premature claims to enlightenment
Caplan, Mariana, 1969-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Prescott, Ariz. : Hohm Press, [1999]

Physical Description:
xxvi, 568 pages : illustrations ; 23 cm
Format :


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BL624 .C346 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Author and anthropologist Caplan plunges into the complex domain of contemporary spirituality where she boldly faces the grave distortions and fraudulent claims to power that characterise the spiritual path in our times. Dozens of first-hand interviews with students, respected teachers and masters, together with broad research are synthesised into a treatment of the modern spiritual scene to assist readers in avoiding the pitfalls of this precarious pass.

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

Caplan (Untouched) asserts that "the reality of the present condition of contemporary spirituality in the West is one of grave distortion, confusion, fraud, and a fundamental lack of education." She claims that, as positive as the tremendous rise in spirituality is, there is not any context for determining whether any particular teaching, or teacher, is truly enlightening. Caplan compiles interviews with such noted spiritual masters as Joan Halifax, Andrew Cohen, Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee and Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi on the nature of enlightenment. In the first section, Caplan examines the motivations people have for seeking enlightenment and contends that very often they seek this state as a means of gratifying the ego. This "presumption of enlightenment," she says, often afflicts teachers masquerading as spiritual leaders. These teachers sometimes look down on their students and gloat over how far they have come and how far the students have to go. A second section focuses on "The Dangers of Mystical Experience," in which Caplan claims that many seekers mistake the mystical experience itself for enlightenment; she and the teachers she interviews all assert that enlightenment always involves gaining some knowledge about self and others. The third section, "Corruption and Consequence," focuses on the nature of power and corruption; the fourth section, "Navigating the Mine Field: Preventing Dangers on the Path," provides a survey of the ways in which practitioners can avoid the "pitfalls of false enlightenment." A final section, "Disillusionment, Humility and the Beginning of Spiritual Life," concludes that "the Real spiritual life [is] the life of total annihilation and the return to just what is." Caplan's illuminating book calls into question the motives of the spiritual snake handlers of the modern age and urges seekers to pay the price of traveling the hard road to true enlightenment. (July) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

To borrow an idea from the title, it is a sign of the maturity of a movement that it understands limit, and Caplan's thoughtful book should come as a ship to the rescue of practitioners of the broad New Age tradition. It shows how to avoid the dangers of ego inflation, transference, abuse of power, addiction to mystical states, and fraud in the long journey toward enlightenment and fulfillment. Caplan's warnings are substantiated by the witness of many seekers, and her counsel is well grounded. Highly recommended for all collections where New Age titles are popular. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.