The Hindu-derived meditation movement, The Art of Living (AOL), founded in 1981 by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar in Bangalore, has grown into a global organization which claims presence in more than 150 countries. Stephen Jacobs presents the first comprehensive study of AOL as an important transnational movement and an alternative global spirituality. Exploring the nature and characteristics of spirituality in the contemporary global context, Jacobs considers whether alternative spiritualities are primarily concerned with individual wellbeing and can simply be regarded as another consumer product. The book concludes that involvement in movements such as AOL is not necessarily narcissistic but can foster a sense of community and inspire altruistic activity.
’This study of a large educational and humanitarian NGO, informed by spirituality, is an exemplary portrayal of spiritual humanism in action. The scholarship and research is outstanding, and serves to illuminate many an issue beyond the study of the Art of Living Foundation as such.’ Paul Heelas, author of Spirituality in the Modern World ’This is a timely and informative work, providing the most complete picture to date of the highly popular Art of Living organisation and its vast transnational networks. Jacobs provides an engaging commentary on the appeal of the guru, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, in the context of modern unchurched spirituality, seekership, and therapy culture. Lucid, thoughtful, and highly accessible, this work is essential reading for those interested in modern guru movements and Hindu-derived forms of 'multinational ' spirituality circulating in the world today.’ Maya Warrier, University of Winchester, UK