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Universalist Radha-Krishnaism: The Way of Natural Devotion; A Practitioner’s Handbook

Copyright © 2009, 2011 by Steve Bohlert.
Sky River Press, Pahoa, Hawai’i
Casebound, 202 pages. ISBN: 978-0-918475-04-6; ISBN-10: 0-918475-04-X
Available now. List: $24.00 (USD), €19.00, £17.00, and $33.00 (AUD)
Paperback, 202 pages. ISBN: 978-0-918475-05-3; ISBN-10:  0-918475-05-8
Available now. List: $12.00 (USD), €10.00, £09.00, $14.00 (CAD), $18.00 (AUD)
Universalist Radha-Krishnaism: The Way of Natural Devotion; A Practitioner’s Handbook clearly and concisely reveals the esoteric meditative process of participating in Radha-Krishna’s transcendental play. It includes historical and theological grounding  along with instructions for the devotional yoga practice of creating an eternal, individual identity. Fully rewritten since the first edition, this edition offers seventy pages of new material that provides initiation and resources for the practice of amorous natural devotion. These teachings are addressed to western readers who need no prior knowledge of the subject to begin the path to full God-dess realization and increase their enjoyment in this life and the next.
Lifelong spiritual practitioner and teacher, Steve Bohlert (Subal Das Goswami) draws upon his interfaith background and presents everything seekers need to become full practitioners. He taught Radha-Krishna devotion internationally since 1967, lived in India, and was initiated by Lalita Prasad Thakur. He later served as a New Age leader and a Christian pastor. He currently enjoys a contemplative life with his wife in a remote area of Hawai’i.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

1. Introduction
2. Amorous Paths (New)
3. Universalist Radha-Krishnaism
4. Historical Roots
5. Means of Knowing God-dess
6. Manifestations of Divinity
7. Individual Spirits
8. World of Experience
9. Natural Devotion
10. Entering Braj (New)
11. Blazing Sapphire (New)
12. Braj Meditation (Short)
13. Braj Meditation (Long) (New)
Conclusion
Glossary
Bibliography

EXCERPT:

“Amorous spirituality may seem revolutionary, but it has a long and varied history. Universalist Radha-Krishnaism reintroduces it to enrich people’s lives. Those repressed by centuries of sex-negativity may think it a huge leap, but it is well worth the effort to become whole.
“Natural devotees integrate the needs of body, mind, and spirit. They realize the interconnectedness of all existence. Practitioners bridge the gap between sacred and profane, thus healing themselves and potentially healing society as more people become whole. By transforming themselves, people transform society. (23)”

ABOUT THE BOOK

Spiritual teacher, Steve Bohlert (Subal Das) redefines Radha-Krishna devotion for western seekers. His Universalist Radha-Krishnaism: The Way of Natural Devotion; A Practitioner’s Handbook offers the wisdom gained from a lifetime of spiritual teaching and practice in multicultural, interfaith contexts. Bohlert presents a complete philosophical system along with spiritual practices that readers can incorporate into their daily lives to develop devotion to Radha-Krishna, the Divine Couple.
Steve Bohlert is specially qualified to write this book because:
• He served as an international leader in the Krishna Movement for eight years.
• Lalita Prasad Thakur (son and disciple of Bhaktivinode Thakur–nineteenth century Bengali theologian, universalist, and reformer) initiated him into the esoteric way of natural devotion.
• He was later ordained and served as a pastor and teacher in the United Church of Christ for eleven years.
• He studied western theological traditions at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California, earning a Master of Divinity degree.
• He primarily addresses educated, open-minded people.
In today’s troubled times, many people thirst for self-knowledge and a sense of interconnection with God-dess and all creation. They hunger for higher purpose and meaning in life. This book speaks to them.
Universalist Radha-Krishnaism: The Way of Natural Devotion; A Practitioner’s Handbook offers:
• A practical spirituality that readers may harmoniously practice in their current life situations.
• A vision of eternal spiritual life as an intimate associate of Radha-Krishna as well as the means to actualize it.
• An affirmation of God-dess’ loving presence permeating this life with goodness and grace.
• A philosophical basis and practices that allow readers to begin the way of natural devotion.
• A dynamic faith that encourages liberty of thought and practice.
Realizing the individual spirit related to God-dess and the world through divine love leads to a sense of interconnectedness with all existence–both material and spiritual. A heightened sense of enjoyment naturally develops from this awareness.
To produce these favorable results, Bohlert–
• Uses language and ideas consistent with progressive, western thought.
• Highlights the essential teachings without unnecessary Indian cultural externals.
• Draws from the best interfaith sources and offers a core wisdom teaching.

A REVIEW OF THE NEW EDITION

Steve Bohlert has dared to break the shackles of fundamentalism to deliver a much-needed re-visioning of an ancient religion of India, giving it new life for those of us in a multicultural 21st Century world. He has extracted the essence of Bengali Vaishnavism, and while staying true to its person-ality, has planted the seed back into the human body, so we may again receive the Original Blessing. I do not hesitate to call Steve Bohlert a prophet, not only as one gifted with spiritual insight, but also as one who foretells the future – of a path that must be something like he sees it or not be at all. That is, without such a re-birthing of Vaishnavism, its soul will never plant roots in the world at large. The orthodox will of course decry it and condemn him. “The dogs may bark, but the caravan will pass.” — Daniel Cooper Clark, longtime Radha-Krishna devotee

FROM REVIEWS OF THE FIRST EDITION:

Many Westerners are attracted to diverse aspects of Hinduism and, in particular, devotion to Radha-Krishna, but soon find themselves alienated by two factors: an inescapable emphasis on ‘Indian-ness’ and the uncompromising literalism of the movement as it has come to the West.  Steve Bohlert’s approach to spirituality merges Western and Eastern thought by de-emphasizing cultural trappings and literalism, while maintaining a passionate emotional bond with the Supreme Being in this especially effective form of the Divine Couple, Radha-Krishna. — Dr. M. Valle, who teaches philosophy of religion
Hundreds of years ago, Radha-Krishna, the archetypal goddess and god of love, were little-known outside of India, and worshiped only within the Hindu faith. Eighteenth and nineteenth century archaeologists and scholars made us aware of Hindu gods, but prior to the twentieth century, nobody in the West had any actual experience of Radha and Krishna. Even today, god and goddess remain concealed behind a brick wall of fundamentalism, which most of us from a Judeo-Christian background are powerless to navigate. On one hand, we may sense truth there, but until Bohlert’s interpretation, there was no way to pierce the fundamentalist views and practices that keep these deities off limits. — Author Nori Muster
This book is sufficiently important that its wide dissemination amongst devotees is a desideratum. . . . old beliefs are given apparently radical new interpretations that widen their scope and potential for meaning. . . . Subal [Steve Bohlert] has done a great service by introducing or naming the Vaishnava concept of deity as panentheism. . . . I favor rāgānugā [natural devotion], as it seems does Subal, precisely because it . . . is about reforming the id-controlled ego into a love-permeated ego. . . . There is no doubt that Subal’s is an important brick in the wall of religious discourse . . . His great contribution . . . is that he has gone out on a limb and attempted to make a coherent and systematic presentation of Radha-Krishna according to his vision. This means of course that he has set himself up for criticism, but that kind of courage is what is needed to push the discourse further. — Jagadananda Das/Jan Brzezinski, translator and scholar.

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