Escaping Maya’s Palace has won the 2023 Gold Nautilus Book Award, snagging the top prize in the category “World Cultures’ Transformational Development & Growth.” Nautilus Awards honor “better books for a better world.” Past winners include the Dalai Lama, Thich Nhat Hahn, Eckhart Tolle, Toni Morrison, Barbara Kingsolver, and Deepak Chopra, so I’m in good company!
The AUDIOBOOK of Escaping Maya’s Palace: Decoding an Ancient Myth to Heal the Hidden Madness of Modern Civilization is out! It’s beautifully narrated by professional actor Victor Vertunni and available now on all the usual audiobook platforms, including Audible, Barnes & Noble, Audiobooks.com, Spotify, Scribd, Google Play, etc.
If you buy the audiobook, I also recommend that you download a free PDF that includes the book’s twenty-five illustrations.
A sample of reader reviews from Amazon.com:
“REQUIRED READING FOR THIS MOMENT IN HISTORY: As someone with a spiritual practice who is committed to social and environmental justice, this book is an enormous resource to help me contextualize where we’re at, how we got here and what to do about it . . . . I’ve shared this book with my colleagues and friends working at the intersection of spirituality and the social justice movement. I offer a deep bow of gratitude to the author.” ~ Julie W.
“CAN HUMANKIND CHOOSE TO ESCAPE DOOM?: Are we humans, arguably the brainiest, most creative species on this planet, doomed? . . . Sclove is cautiously optimistic that . . . we can take a path leading to environmental recovery, justice, world order and peace. How do we do this? A good start would be to read this magnificent book.” ~Ash Hartwell, University of Massachusetts – Amherst
“HEADY AND HEARTFUL AT THE SAME TIME: Richard Sclove offers us a theory of everything that reveals an extraordinary depth and breadth of personal (and transpersonal) consciousness. . . . The Mahabharata is a Rosetta Stone he has been using to decode the enigma of who we are. He has dwelled in its layered mysteries and now returns to offer us a vision of our own nature, why we suffer, how we are united in our suffering, how delusion underlies our many predicaments, and where some of the pathways out of these predicaments can be found. . . . This is a generous hearted book dedicated to helping us – individually and collectively – awaken from our dream, and moreover, from our many nightmares.” ~ Dr. Jonathan Klate
Watch Richard Sclove’s webinar with Michael Lerner, the cofounder of Commonweal, about:
- the Bhagavad Gita (one of the great sacred texts of ancient India);
- Richard’s book Escaping Maya’s Palace; and
- the psychospiritual “collaboration with the gods” through which Richard’s book emerged.
Michael is a remarkably wise and compassionate teacher and interviewer. Richard reveals that he is several months into a prolonged period of psychospiritual transformation and healing from ancient trauma. Deep truth emerges. Watch here:
Michael and Richard were speaking to the Integral Yoga Institute of San Francisco. Michael opens with a beautiful 20-minute introduction to the Bhagavad Gita. Afterwards he interviews Richard about Escaping Maya’s Palace, and particularly his psychospiritual perspective on the Gita‘s deeper meaning and purpose. Finally, Michael invites Richard to discuss his longstanding “collaborative” relationship with “the gods” and how it has infused his professional and personal life.
The entire video is well worth watching. But if you want to focus in on Richard’s portion: Michael introduces Richard at 22:10 (i.e., 22 minutes, 10 seconds into the video). Richard first appears visually (i.e., pinned visually as the speaker in Zoom) at 37:58, telling his favorite story from the Mahabharata, the gigantic epic in which the Bhagavad Gita appears as an episode.
The conversation includes several Sanskrit terms that may be unfamiliar: “Sadhana” means “spiritual practice.” “Dharma” means “moral law” or “moral duty.” A “spontaneous kundalini awakening” involves the release of latent psychospiritual energy in the human subtle body (i.e., in the chakra subtle‐energy centers and in the subtle-energy channels that connect them).
Not shown in this recorded Zoom “speaker view” is the “gallery view” of the other webinar participants. As Michael and Richard spoke, in gallery view you could see other participants occasionally wiping away tears as they were moved by the conversation.
In this conversation, framed by the Bhagavad Gita, Richard discusses the 20 percent of his book in which he decodes the Mahabharata – a massive mythological epic from ancient India. (In the remaining 80 percent of his book, he uses that decoding as a lens for mounting a psychospiritual critique of modern civilization over the past four centuries. For a recent scholarly review of Escaping Maya’s Palace‘s civilizational critique and proposed action steps, click here.)
Michael Lerner is president and co-founder of Commonweal in Bolinas, California. He co-founded Commonweal in 1976. His projects include the Commonweal Cancer Help Program, Healing Circles, CancerChoices, The New School at Commonweal and Omega. A Harvard graduate, he received a PhD and taught at Yale in the early 1970s before moving to Bolinas, California in 1976. He received a MacArthur fellowship for contributions to public health in 1984. He has been engaged with integral yoga since 1982.
Richard Sclove has been a senior staff member at the Mind and Life Institute, cofounded by the Dalai Lama, and at the Center for Contemplative Mind in Society. He earned his PhD in political theory at MIT and held a postdoctoral fellowship in economics at the University of California-Berkeley. He also founded The Loka Institute, which has worked nationally and internationally to make science and technology responsive to democratically decided priorities. The American Political Science Association honored his book “Democracy and Technology” as the best in its field, and he is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
An excerpt from Richard’s Tikkun essay, based on the argument developed in his book, Escaping Maya’s Palace:
“Having studied the history of global capitalism, I can confirm that it has imposed unacknowledged costs on human development and distorted our psychological and spiritual growth. As the world evolved toward an industrialized global trade system over the past several centuries, our inner world changed radically, and not necessarily for the better. The key change was that egoism—the sense of being a small, separate ‘me’—intensified. Symptoms of this shift emerged in the 17th and 18th centuries, especially in northwest Europe, and rippled outward. People began to exhibit heightened cravings for personal possessions, entertaining diversions, and addictive substances like sugar, alcohol, coffee, tea, and tobacco, which became dominant goods in world trade. They innovated and worked harder (or found ways to make others work harder) so they could buy these things, which they falsely imagined would assuage their cravings.”
“Heightened consumer craving stimulated further production, providing a major impetus for the North Atlantic slave trade and for slave plantations growing coffee in Brazil, tobacco in Virginia and North Carolina, and sugar throughout the Caribbean. As this spiral ascended, intensified egoism and consumer insatiability became fully embedded in our culture, consciousness, and institutions. This is a contrarian view, because it suggests that instead of allaying consumers’ hunger, capitalism actually causes our inexhaustible craving. Indeed, it argues that capitalism is rooted in its secret capacity to intensify egoism, which augments consumer demand, driving ever more economic growth. So the more the economy grows, the more we become constrained from developing and flourishing.”
Read the entire essay here.
I dive into “Escaping Maya’s Palace” with my wife Marcie (the brilliant host of “Going Deeper Interviews”). Afterwards, we have a lively session of audience questions and comments. Watch it here:
Please join me on Tuesday, June 14th for a book-launch webinar at 8 pm US eastern time. I’ll be discussing the book and afterwards there’ll be some Q&A. Use this Zoom link to join the webinar: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/83386006228. If you miss the webinar, a recording will go up here on the book’s website soon after.
Past event: Richard Sclove @ McGill University 2018