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Meeting the Shadow on the Spiritual Path

The Dance of Darkness and Light in Our Search for Awakening

Published by Park Street Press
Distributed by Simon & Schuster

About The Book

A guide to rekindling spiritual inspiration after betrayal and disillusionment

• Explains why we are drawn to charismatic leaders, what we unconsciously give away to them, and how to reclaim our inner spiritual authority

• Explores how to recover from spiritual abuse or betrayal by a teacher or group, including breaking free of denial, projection, and dependency using psychology and shadow-work

• Extends #MeToo into the spiritual domain and tells the stories of contemporary clergy and spiritual leaders who acted out their shadows in destructive ways, leaving their followers traumatized and lost

Within each of us is a spiritual longing that prompts us to unite with something greater than ourselves, to awaken to our unity with all of life. Yet, no matter the spiritual path we choose, we inevitably encounter our own shadow, those unconscious aspects of ourselves that we suppress or deny, or the shadows of our teachers and their secret desires about money, sex, and power. Meeting the shadow can derail the journey, but, according to Connie Zweig, Ph.D., we can learn to recover from loss of faith and move from spiritual naivete to spiritual maturity.

Calling on us to expand our vision of religious and spiritual life—and our vision of awakening—to include the human shadow, Zweig examines the yearning that sets us on the spiritual path, showing how it can lead to ecstatic, transcendent experiences or to terrible suffering by projecting it onto an authoritarian teacher, priest, or guru who abuses power. She tells the stories of renowned teachers—Sufi poet Rumi, Hindu master Ramakrishna, and Christian saint Catherine of Siena—whose lives unfolded as they followed their spiritual yearning. And she tells the cautionary tales of contemporary teachers of Buddhism, Hinduism, and Catholicism, who acted out their shadows in devastating ways, leaving their followers traumatized and lost. She explains how meeting the shadow is a painful but inevitable stage on the path to a more mature spirituality. She describes how to use spiritual shadow-work to separate from abusive teachers, reclaim inner spiritual authority, and heal from betrayal.

With guidance for both inspired and disillusioned seekers, the author explores how to navigate the narrow path through the darkness toward the light, rekindle the flame of longing, and once again engage in fulfilling spiritual practice.

About The Author

Connie Zweig, Ph.D., is a retired psychotherapist, former executive editor at Jeremy P. Tarcher Publishing, former columnist for Esquire magazine, and contributor to the LA Times. Known as the Shadow Expert, she is the coauthor of Meeting the Shadow and Romancing the Shadow and author of a novel, A Moth to the Flame: The Life of the Sufi Poet Rumi. She lives in California.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Park Street Press (May 23, 2023)
  • Length: 304 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781644117231

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Raves and Reviews

“In my half a century of spiritual practice, I’ve seen countless examples of teachers and students becoming seriously waylaid because of a failure to meet the shadow. This book is a must-read for anyone wishing to accelerate and safeguard their spiritual progress.”

– Rick Archer, creator and host of Buddha at the Gas Pump and cofounder of the Association for Spiritu

“A mature, sophisticated reflection on yearning, religion, and the shadow. Connie Zweig recognizes the power of going deep into darkness in order to find our way toward the light.”

– Lama Willa Blythe Baker, Ph.D., founder of Natural Dharma Fellowship

“Many of us fondly imagined that spiritual practice would do it all: with enough meditation or yoga we would swiftly awaken to abiding love and light. But then we ran into problems: ourselves and our shadows— those powerful inner dimensions and dynamics that remain unconscious but can overwhelm and humble us. These shadow dynamics are best recognized and healed with the help of wise friends, counselors, and guides, people like Connie Zweig—a master guide and illuminator of the shadow, our inner world, and the spiritual path.”

– Roger Walsh, M.D., Ph.D., professor of psychiatry at the University of California at Irvine

“This book is vital for anyone who yearns to fully awaken. Skillfully drawing upon her hard-won contemplative insights and expertise as a depth psychotherapist, Connie Zweig offers us a brilliant road map for navigating the inevitable peaks and valleys of the Great Way. I highly recommend this book to new seekers and seasoned spiritual veterans alike.”

– David Chernikoff, M.Div., LCSW, author of Life, Part Two

“If consciousness is a sea of limitless depth, Connie Zweig is a deep sea diver who brings back treasures for us. By examining the spiritual, psychological, and emotional dynamics between mentors and students, she demonstrates how shadow-work can help us move into deeper self-awareness and wholeness. This book is a compelling read—I couldn’t put it down!”

– Robert A. Jonas, Ed.D., author of My Dear Far-Nearness

“The shadow has emerged as a key concept in contemporary spirituality as communities wrestle with the recurrence of sexual violence and various forms of abuse across traditions. Rooted in depth psychology, Meeting the Shadow on the Spiritual Path offers a comprehensive, much-needed treatment of how the shadow and spiritual abuse operate. Updated with attention to the impact of the #MeToo movement, this new edition provides practitioners with the tools for both understanding and transforming abuse dynamics in a spiritual context.”

– Ann Gleig, associate professor of religion and cultural studies at the University of Central Florida

“Most spiritual traditions have a dirty little secret: when you surrender to an authority, you will face the dark side of human nature. At last, this book explains why and how to recover.”

– Aaron Kipnis, Ph.D., author, psychotherapist, and professor emeritus of psychology at Pacifica Gradu

“True spiritual wisdom invites all the energies within, including the darker ones. Blessings to Connie Zweig for shining a light on our shadows, allowing insight and joy to move our consciousness toward wholeness.”

– Roshi Pat Enkyo O’Hara, cofounder and abbot of the Village Zendo

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