Tag Archives: Book Expo America

Celebrating a Book Whose Time Has Circled Forward

For the past nine months, I’ve had the pleasure to circle the orbit of a truly groundbreaking book on the way we look at time, and its past, current and future impacts in world events and consciousness, The Yugas. The book, an evidence-based tome that illustrates the cyclical progression of time, inspired the successful Yuga Cycles of the Ages & Our Awakening Consciousness conference that I recently co-promoted at The Expanding Light Retreat, outside Nevada City, Calif. It also is among the titles being featured this week by Crystal Clarity Publishers at Book Expo America (if you’re a book trade member in New York, stop by Booth 3758).

My involvement with this great book begins with the authors, Joseph Selbie and David Steinmetz. I’ve gotten to know both men this year, and they are deeply committed to doing their part to educating, enlightening and helping us better understand both the more energetic and connected times we are moving into, and the times from which we emerged — which, if you go back to ancient civilizations, were a lot more sophisticated than we give credit. It seems that everyday, scientists or archaeologists are making discoveries that further validate this point that Selbie and Steinmetz hammer home in The Yugas.

I’ve done some work with Selbie to develop promotional materials and media relations for his books — The Yugas and The Fifth Force, a fine time-travel novel written under his nom de plume Michael Dyson. I serve with Steinmetz on the faculty at Ananda College of Living Wisdom, which co-sponsored the Yuga Cycles Conference. Steinmetz, who studied astronomy and physics and has a background in optical engineering, teaches a class entitled “World Cultures & Consciousness,” where he uses the ancient Yuga Cycles of time to reassess our global cultural history. It’s utterly fascinating and unique, the only such course in any university or college in the U.S.

The Yugas co-authors David Steinmetz (L) and Joseph Selbie.

In just months in print, The Yugas has drawn tremendous reviews from scientists, spiritual thinkers, ancient wisdom pundits, historians and educators alike. It has also served as center stage for a conference that drew the likes of New York Times bestselling author Joan Borysenko, 2012 International Book Award winner Swami Kriyananda, What The Bleep Do We Know? featured subject Dr. Amit Goswami, and Dr. Robert Schoch, who re-dated the age of the Great Sphinx by thousands of years.

Selbie made both the direction of the book’s narrative and mission known during his opening presentation, “A New Renaissance.”  “If you look at history from the lens the Yugas gives you, the facts we were taught in school — the linear evolution model — make greater sense if you look at it as a cyclical phenomenon,” he said. “This is a story of how much our past is with us in the present. The traditional Darwinian view is that things were invented in the past, insights are gained in the present and then improved upon, in a chain of development through the ages. The past is with us in a much more powerful way than that image would convey. We are in a New Renaissance today.”

During his presentation, Selbie drew out stirring comparisons that support the cyclical progression of time – and point to the intrinsic individual, social and scientific purpose and value of The Yugas. After lining up the key figures in the European Renaissance with the key figures in Ancient Greece, and noting the direct resemblance of their “discoveries,” Selbie took it a step further into the present — comparing new health care and health sciences discoveries of the past 200 years with the sophisticated healthcare practices of India, Egypt and Phoenicia in the corresponding time period of 1012-700 BC. During that time, acupuncture, Chinese medicine, Ayurveda, Qi Gong, yoga postures and Egyptian medicine — all utilizing one’s life force energy — were not only standard practice, but part of daily life.

“These were the developed tools of the previous 2000 years, the fruits of the last Dwapara knowledge. Now they’re coming back,” Selbie said. “This WAS medicine. It had everything – body-mind-spirit-physical-energetic and causal. It was the mode of healing in ancient times.”

Such themes weave throughout The Yugas, resulting in a growing groundswell of interest and popularity as the year has progressed. Selbie and Steinmetz worked through more than 20 years of Steinmetz’s research on the Yuga cycles, an ancient Indian method of viewing the passage of time in 24,000-year cycles drawn from the 14 pages that open Indian yoga master Sri Yukteswar’s 1895 book The Holy Science.

There are more than 140 ancient cultures that all say the same thing in their stories, myths and artifacts: we once had a Golden Age, which the ancient Indians knew as Satya Yuga, and we also had Silver, Bronze and Iron Ages,” Selbie said. “The Ancient Greeks and Ancient Romans also measured time cyclically. We’re about the only culture that thinks time is linear.

“We’re now coming out of the Iron Age, or Kali Yuga, into the age of energy, or Dwapara Yuga. You can see it readily in the great advances we’ve had in science, machinery, technology, communications, energy, awareness and the elevating of consciousness.”

As Selbie notes, these changes come right down to who we are, physiologically as well as spiritually.  “According to the Yugas, we’ve changed since Kali Yuga, in our atoms, our energy, our very physical bodies,” he said. “The outward confirmation is pretty obvious. We don’t just know more; we perceive more. The radio receivers in Kali were limited, like having AM radio only. Now we’ve added an FM band. In Kali Yuga, we had different bodies, different nervous systems. They were not able to perceive what we perceive today.”

Best of all, The Yugas isn’t written like a scientific book. It’s an engaging journey through time and our own ancestral past in a way many of us have never considered – but will, once you see what our future holds once we clear out the last of the darkness and violence on this planet.

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100th Word Journeys Blog: Involvement With an International Book Award Winner

I’ve been wondering what to write for the 100th Word Journeys Blog. I will still write an anthology blog that highlights this wonderful writing journey, with links to the better blog experiences. However, this morning, an ideal topic fell on my doorstep — rather, my email queue. It combines everything I care about: writing, books, education, my spiritual life … and a lifetime achievement by a man I deeply admire.

This morning, I learned that Paramhansa Yogananda: A Biography, by Swami Kriyananda, won the International Book Award for New Spirituality Books. Since I am in the middle of promoting this book for three major events directly ahead — the Yuga Cycles Conference at The Expanding Light Retreat, at which Kriyananda is speaking Saturday as one of 10 esteemed presenters; Book Expo America, which is June 5-7 in New York; and Kriyananda’s book appearance at the Ford Theater in L.A. on June 24 — my first response was, “Perfect timing!” Let’s face it: you can’t pay the New York Times Review of Books for a year of full-page ads and receive more serendipitous timing.

Then I sat back and thought about what this book has meant in my life: as an author; an educator at Ananda College who utilizes the Education for Life method (which Kriyananda initiated); as someone who first welcomed Yogananda’s teachings (that merge essential Christianity and essential Vedic truths) into his life more than 30 years ago; and as one who counts among his dearest friends many deep and wise souls who live and work at Ananda Village in Northern California (which Kriyananda founded). Never mind my admiration for Kriyananda’s prolific nature; Paramhansa Yogananda: A Biography is his 130th book (give or take). All of these books extend the yoga master’s teachings into the 21st century, and into every corner of our lives, societies, and communities. So for starters, the International Book Award serves as sort of a Lifetime Achievement Award for an incredible 86-year-old man who has given his entire adult life in service to God – and touched countless thousands of souls in the process (or millions, if you count the 4 million books he has sold).

When I contemplated how Yogananda’s teachings, Kriyananda’s books, and the many ways in which I have worked with Ananda over the past 23 years (including two stints at Crystal Clarity Publishers, 20 years apart), have helped define my life, I asked myself a question: Where would I be without it? I can come up with all sorts of answers, but few – if any – will add up to anything close to the mixture of God, joy, creativity, nature, happiness and serviceful spirit that is part and parcel of my daily life.

Then there is the book itself. Many of you have probably read or heard about Autobiography of a Yogi, the book Yogananda wrote in 1947 that remains the best-selling spiritual autobiography of all time. It has changed countless lives; Kriyananda read it in 1948, dropped his life as he knew it, and took a bus to L.A., where Yogananda received him at his headquarters in L.A. In one sense, Paramhansa Yogananda: A Biography tells the rest of the story, one that, for whatever reason, only Kriyananda has been willing to share. For starters, there are more than 60 stories that have not appeared in Autobiography, Yogananda’s other works that he wrote in his lifetime, or in compilations that have appeared since. Secondarily, Kriyananda offers a bird’s eye view of Yogananda’s approaches to many different spiritual and everyday life situations, creating a glowing narrative of this God-realized man’s enormous compassion and strength that Yogananda was too humble to write himself. That’s what good biographers do.

But then Kriyananda reached out and touched everyone: he shared what Yogananda did the past few years of his life. Yogananda ended his public speaking engagements, which drew up to 7,000 people during the 1920s and 1930s, and wrote books and instructed his closest disciples to carry his mission forward. As one of his editors, and the leader of the monks, young Kriyananda belonged to that inner circle — and was tasked to get the word out. Yogananda had a mission and a vision for bringing souls and society into a future age where energy would accelerate, communication would become faster and more global, and spiritual magnetism would grow to become the law of the land. In the Vedic cycles of time, this is known as Dwapara Yuga. Yogananda envisioned and spoke of communities of like-minded souls (like Ananda), education that emphasized the inner as well as outer development of the student (like Education for Life), and lives lived simply, with complete devotion to God.

Here we are. Here, in my opinion, is why this book bears such significance that it claimed the International Book Award. It is also why I, as a multiple book author dedicated to focusing on the highest ideals and potentials of my students, clients, friends and others, feel so honored to be working on the promotion of Paramhansa Yogananda: A Biography.

Finally, to Swami Kriyananda: Congratulations on a wonderful achievement. You have written 130+ books in your life and helped provide deeper purpose and meaning to the lives of countless people … and now, the book world salutes you. To put it in one of your favorite languages, “Bravissimo!”

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