Book Review: The User’s Guide to Spiritual Teachers

New Book Explores the Virtues—and Dangers—of Spiritual Teachers

A spiritual teacher isn’t an ordinary member of the clergy. They are a perceptive, caring, trustworthy human being who provides one-to-one, in-depth spiritual direction.

Celebrities such as Madonna and Russell Brand, and writers such as Elizabeth Gilbert and Deepak Chopra, have all worked with spiritual teachers. So have millions of people from almost every major religious tradition—as well as millions of others who are spiritual but not religious.

A new book, The User’s Guide to Spiritual Teachers, provides invaluable guidance for anyone who is curious about spiritual teachers—or who wants to work with one but doesn’t know how or where to begin.

This user-friendly book also offers practical wisdom for anyone who already has a spiritual teacher, and wants to make the most of that relationship.

Still more important, The User’s Guide to Spiritual Teachers helps readers spot and avoid the predators, narcissists, charlatans, and cult leaders who call themselves spiritual teachers—and who have ruined many people’s lives.

The book’s author, Scott Edelstein, has studied happily and productively with spiritual teachers for the past four decades. He has also served as editor and literary agent for several spiritual teachers. A longtime practitioner of both Judaism and Buddhism, he is a committed proponent of serious spirituality in all forms and traditions.

The User’s Guide to Spiritual Teachers was published on March 21 by Wisdom Publications. Wisdom also published Edelstein’s previous book, Sex and the Spiritual Teacher, which examines the all-too-common problem of sexual misconduct among spiritual teachers.

Edelstein’s website on spiritual teachers, http://www.thespiritualteachersite.com, provides more information on the subject, as well as book excerpts, related articles, and links to media interviews with Edelstein.

The User’s Guide to Spiritual Teachers
By Scott Edelstein
Publisher: Wisdom Publications, Somerville, MA
ISBN-10: 0861716108
ISBN-13: 978-0861716104

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Publishers Weekly: “In this short handbook, Edelstein guides readers through choosing and working with spiritual teachers. Drawing on his four decades of experience working with spiritual teachers as an editor and agent as well as a student, Edelstein addresses a surprisingly wide range of topics to help readers make the most of their relationships with spiritual teachers.”

Kathleen Dowling Singh, author of The Grace in Living: “A small book with a big message.”

David Rynick, author of The Truth Never Fails: “A wonderful resource. This guide is down-to-earth and offers a broader perspective about what to expect and not expect from spiritual teachers.”

Tim Burkett, author of Nothing Holy About It: “Finally, a well thought-out, easy-to-read guide to help folks assess whether a given teacher may be prone to abuse his power over them or is genuinely interested in empowering them.”

James Ishmael Ford, author of If You’re Lucky, Your Heart Will Break: “Scott Edelstein’s guide is simple, practical, and useful. It cuts through most of the confusion in seeking a spiritual guide with the clarity of someone who has been through it all. I recommend it to anyone embarking on the spiritual path, or thinking maybe they should be looking for a spiritual guide.”

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Book Promo: How to Be an Adult in Relationships by David Richo

How to Be an Adult in Relationships:
The Five Keys to Mindful Loving

“Most people think of love as a feeling,” says David Richo, “but love is not so much a feeling as a way of being present.” In this book, Richo offers a fresh perspective on love and relationships—one that focuses not on finding an ideal mate, but on becoming a more loving and realistic person. Drawing on the Buddhist concept of mindfulness, How to Be an Adult in Relationshipsexplores five hallmarks of mindful loving and how they play a key role in our relationships throughout life:

1.  Attention to the present moment; observing, listening, and noticing all the feelings at play in our relationships.
2.  Acceptance of ourselves and others just as we are.
3.  Appreciation of all our gifts, our limits, our longings, and our poignant human predicament.
4.  Affection shown through holding and touching in respectful ways.
5.  Allowing life and love to be just as they are, with all their ecstasy and ache, without trying to take control.

When deeply understood and applied, these five simple concepts—what Richo calls the five A’s—form the basis of mature love. They help us to move away from judgment, fear, and blame to a position of openness, compassion, and realism about life and relationships. By giving and receiving these five A’s, relationships become deeper and more meaningful, and they become a ground for personal transformation.

About the Author

David Richo, PhD, is a therapist and author who leads popular workshops on personal and spiritual growth.

He received his BA in psychology from Saint John’s Seminary in Brighton, Massachusetts, in 1962, his MA in counseling psychology from Fairfield University in 1969, and his PhD in clinical psychology from Sierra University in 1984. Since 1976, Richo has been a licensed marriage, family, and child counselor in California. In addition to practicing psychotherapy, Richo teaches courses at Santa Barbara City College and the University of California Berkeley at Berkeley, and has taught at the Esalen Institute in Big Sur, Pacifica Graduate Institute, and Santa Barbara Graduate Institute. He is a clinical supervisor for the Community Counseling Center in Santa Barbara, California.

Known for drawing on Buddhism, poetry, and Jungian perspectives in his work, Richo is the author of How to Be an Adult in Relationships: The Five Keys to Mindful Loving and The Five Things We Cannot Change: And the Happiness We Find in Embracing Them. He has also written When the Past Is Present: Healing the Emotional Wounds that Sabotage our Relationships, Shadow Dance: Liberating the Power and Creativity of Your Dark Side, The Power of Coincidence: How Life Shows Us What We Need to Know, and Being True to Life: Poetic Paths to Personal Growth.

Richo lives in Santa Barbara and San Francisco.

Editorial Reviews

“Well-constructed and thought-provoking.”—Spirituality & Health

“An inspiring and highly practical guide to effective relationships.”—Kathlyn Hendricks, coauthor of Conscious Loving and The Conscious Heart

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