Cover image for The next enlightenment : integrating East and West in a new vision of human evolution
The next enlightenment : integrating East and West in a new vision of human evolution
Anderson, Walt, 1933-
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : St. Martin's Press, [2003]

Physical Description:
vii, 263 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
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Item Holds
BL476 .A53 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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In The Next Enlightenment , Walter Truett Anderson treats Eastern spiritual traditions and Western philosophy, psychology and science as steps along the same evolutionary path rather than as completely separate and incompatible schools of thought.

In the opening chapters, he looks at five different "Liberation Movements" that emerged in the modern world: the eighteenth century European Enlightenment; the nineteenth century upheaval resulting from the publication of Darwin's Origin of Species ; and in the twentieth century, existentialism, psychoanalysis, and the human potential movement of the 1960s and 1970s. He then argues that this century's next surge of thought and action will regard the exploration of the physical universe and the study of human consciousness as two sides of the same coin, and equally important, come to understand personal enlightenment as a natural process of growth rather than a supernatural gift bestowed upon a chosen few.

Elegantly argued and written with a sense of humor, The Next Enlightenment offers a refreshing vision of how the ancient quest for enlightenment is taking on new life in a rapidly-changing, globalizing world.

Author Notes

Walter Truett Anderson has explored many different facets of contemporary life and evolutionary change in his essays, books, poetry, and journalism. He lives near San Francisco, California

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

Anderson offers a skillful and mostly successful re-description of the "Eastern" enlightenment experience-which dissolves or at least softens the boundaries of self-in terms accessible to Western philosophy and science. Although acclimatized to the Californian atmosphere of human potential movements and alternative spiritualities and psychologies, Anderson's writing exudes a savvy and secular tone that should please readers interested in enlightenment experiences without spiritual entanglements. He shows restraint by rationing references to "cosmic consciousness" and "paradigm shifts," and he questions whether a revolution in human consciousness is really just around the corner-a retreat from the Aquarian enthusiasms of the 1960s and early 1970s, which he covered as a journalist. Today he favors a longer view, while remaining convinced that "many or most (possibly all) people have transcendent experiences in their lives that they do not understand or satisfactorily integrate." To put these experiences in perspective, Anderson surveys not only the New Age as generally defined, but its background in the European Enlightenment, evolutionary biology, cosmology, psychology and existentialism, as well as some possible convergences with cognitive science research over the past two decades. Anderson is widely read and strikes a good balance between clarity and accuracy, with the exception of some cheap shots at "organized religion," which come off like dogmatic anti-dogmatism. His (qualified) endorsement of hallucinogens as an aid to enlightenment may also raise a few eyebrows. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Anderson (Evolution Isn't What It Used To Be) here manages the near impossible. In a readable and engaging book of fewer than 300 pages, he compares the ideas regarding human development found in several disciplines in the Western intellectual tradition-including philosophy, psychology, and the hard sciences-with the ideas inherent in Eastern mystical traditions. Much of the considerable cognitive baggage that surrounds the concept of "enlightenment" is examined and demystified. The text argues that enlightenment, properly understood, is a process in which the human organism evolves, inextricable from the larger universe, which is itself evolving. Anderson shows clearly how this view has emerged and how it is supported by both Western scientific findings and Eastern spiritual traditions, such as Buddhism, and where it might be leading. Sections on the failings of organized religion, spiritual fads, and possible futures are thought-provoking and evenhanded, and most readers should be left feeling clearer and a bit more optimistic about the future. A terrific book; recommended for all collections.-Mark Woodhouse, Elmira Coll. Lib., NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. VII
Introduction: Pulling Buddha's Toothp. 1
Part 1 Five Modern Liberation Movementsp. 17
1. Enlightenment, European Stylep. 19
2. Meeting Cousin Mushroomp. 37
3. The Dark Matter of the Mindp. 47
4. Existence Lost and Foundp. 61
5. East Meets West in the Hot Tubsp. 75
Part 2 The New Mirror of Sciencep. 93
6. Meeting Cousin Siriusp. 95
7. The Mysterious Material Mindp. 111
8. Being Constructivep. 127
9. All the Things You Arep. 147
Part 3 Daring to Know in the Twenty-first Centuryp. 159
10. The Social Ramble of Ego and Identityp. 161
11. Up and Down with Religion and Spiritualityp. 173
12. Real People, Transcendent Momentsp. 191
13. Personal Evolution: Becoming Who You Arep. 211
14. The Emerging Englightenment Projectp. 225
Epilogue: You Are Never Alone, You Are Always Homep. 243
Notesp. 245
Indexp. 259