iOS app Android app

Philip Goldberg
GET UPDATES FROM Philip Goldberg
Philip Goldberg is a spiritual counselor, public speaker, and author or coauthor of numerous books. His latest publication is American Veda: From Emerson and the Beatles to Yoga and Meditation, How Indian Spirituality Changed the West. His websites are and

Entries by Philip Goldberg

January 12: A Double Guru Birthday Fest

(14) Comments | Posted January 9, 2015 | 3:30 PM


January 12 is celebrated throughout India, and in countries with large Hindu populations, as the birthday of Swami Vivekananda. A national hero, Vivekananda is revered for updating the wisdom of India's ancient sages and bringing those teachings to the West, in 1893. By...

Read Post

The Woodstock Guru's Centennial

(3) Comments | Posted December 16, 2014 | 6:35 PM


Of all the iconic images of the 1969 Woodstock festival -- writhing mud-soaked bodies; impassioned performers like Jimi Hendrix; ecstatic faces and strung-out faces -- the one that best captures the era's zeitgeist is that of Swami Satchidananda addressing the multitude. It's a...

Read Post

The Light of Yoga

(0) Comments | Posted August 21, 2014 | 9:02 PM

Last fall, I had the honor of meeting with B.K.S. Iyengar, who died this week, at his yoga institute in Pune, India. Dressed in a crisp white kurta, a perfect match for his snowy hair and famously majestic eyebrows,...

Read Post

Take a Hindu to Lunch

(19) Comments | Posted July 31, 2014 | 5:32 PM


In a recent survey by the Pew Research Center, 3,217 Americans were asked to rate religious groups on a 0-100 "feeling thermometer," with 0 representing the coldest and 100 the warmest. Hindus received a lukewarm rating of 50.

There are...

Read Post

Three Books: Gurus, God and One Amazing Life

(0) Comments | Posted July 17, 2014 | 5:57 PM

Books on spirituality and religion come across my desk on a regular basis. I don't have time to read most of them, but three recently arrived in close proximity, and since they were authored by scholars I know and trust, I cracked them open. All three were intriguing, illuminating and...

Read Post

Remembering Andy Kaufman 30 Years on

(7) Comments | Posted May 15, 2014 | 4:03 PM

Andy Kaufman died almost exactly thirty years ago. Yes, I know some people believe he faked his own death, but if he did he has lost his brilliant sense of comedic timing; three decades is a tad too long to...

Read Post

Revisiting Time's 'Is God Dead?' Cover

(18) Comments | Posted April 21, 2014 | 4:53 PM

Forty-eight years ago this month, April 8, 1966, to be exact, Time magazine published what may be the most famous cover in its celebrated history. It consisted of a plain three-word question, printed in a bright blood red on an all-black background: Is...
Read Post

Spiritual But Not Religious: 3 Important Questions

(27) Comments | Posted April 11, 2014 | 6:22 PM

Recently, I was one of five panelists for a discussion called "Spiritual But Not Religious: What Exactly Does That Mean?" It was cosponsored by the Southern California Committee for a Parliament of the World Religions and All Paths Divinity School, and the format was this: panelists were given three questions...

Read Post

Take My Book...Please: Further Thoughts on the Doniger Controversy

(0) Comments | Posted March 18, 2014 | 6:17 PM

As an author, my reaction to Penguin's decision to withdraw the Indian edition of Wendy Doniger's The Hindus: An Alternative History and destroy all remaining copies was:

Take my book, please!

Won't someone out there try to ban American Veda? I want my sales...

Read Post

Alan Watts: Reborn in Her

(0) Comments | Posted February 24, 2014 | 5:07 PM


It's not very often that you're watching a feature film and hear the name Alan Watts. But there it is, not in some obscure indie flick, but in Spike Jonze's Her, which is nominated for five Academy Awards, and has already...

Read Post

Let's Be Mindful About Mindfulness

(2) Comments | Posted February 9, 2014 | 10:02 PM


When I saw the recent Time magazine cover story, "The Mindful Revolution," it was déjà vu all over again. For one thing, Time alone has done at least two previous cover stories about the value of mental practices derived from Eastern...

Read Post

Yoga at the Smithsonian

(0) Comments | Posted January 13, 2014 | 4:20 PM

Photo courtesy of Smithsonian Museum of Asian art

You have about two weeks to get to Washington, D.C., to view the magnificent exhibit, "Yoga: The Art of Transformation." Mounted at the Smithsonian Institution's Sackler Gallery, the show's stated purpose is to...

Read Post

Missionaries in India: Conversion or Coercion?

(24) Comments | Posted December 20, 2013 | 8:48 AM

Imagine you're poor and living in a rural area. Your child gets sick. You manage to transport her to a hospital or clinic. To your relief, the condition is treatable. But the cost of treatment is not just beyond your means, it's beyond your imagining. However, says the kindly health...

Read Post

J.D. Salinger: Sage or Sermonizer?

(6) Comments | Posted September 16, 2013 | 11:53 AM

It is as inevitable as it is ironic: J. D. Salinger spends the entire second half of his life doing everything he can to stay out of the public eye (albeit, while filing and threatening lawsuits) is now everywhere:...

Read Post

Victory for Yoga in Encinitas: What Are the Implications?

(24) Comments | Posted July 11, 2013 | 3:05 PM

Last week's ruling in the Encinitas yoga case was welcome, but not surprising. Having perused the testimony and read the defense's legal brief, it seemed obvious to me that the judge would rule in favor of allowing the school system to continue offering yoga classes to students. The designers of...

Read Post

Why Everyone Should Go See "42"

(12) Comments | Posted April 12, 2013 | 4:15 PM

I have not yet seen "42" but I'm giving it an enthusiastic thumbs-up. If I had ten thumbs I would give it ten thumbs-up, because I want everyone to see the movie -- especially young people, a shocking number of whom don't know who Jackie Robinson was.

Read Post

Non-Violence Revisited

(4) Comments | Posted April 4, 2013 | 5:12 PM

Last week, in Los Angeles, I attended a two-evening event called "NonViolence: No Higher Calling." Part of a national initiative started by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, the founder of the Art of Living Foundation, its brochure read: "Ten million acts of violence are perpetrated in the...

Read Post

The Encinitas Yoga Case: Yoga Is Religious, Only It's Not

(335) Comments | Posted March 20, 2013 | 1:49 PM

The charming seaside town of Encinitas, just north of San Diego, might have more yoga classes and practitioners per capita (population 60,000) than anywhere else in the country. Which makes it an unlikely place - or perhaps the inevitable place - for a lawsuit over the teaching of yoga in...

Read Post

Beatles in India: The Retreat That Reverberates Across the Universe

(48) Comments | Posted February 17, 2013 | 2:51 AM

Forty five years ago, the Beatles were settling into the ashram of their new guru, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, in Rishikesh, India. The news coverage was nonstop and global, as it had been six months earlier when the lads first met Maharishi and became public advocates for...

Read Post

Spiritual But Not Religious: Misunderstood and Here to Stay

(310) Comments | Posted February 13, 2013 | 12:10 PM

A great deal has been written about that ever-expanding group of Americans who check "none" when asked about their religious affiliations. The segment of nones who call themselves "spiritual but not religious" (SBNR) now constitute at least 20 percent of the population, and 30 percent of those under...

Read Post