I have read three other books by Frances Vaughan, but I might have missed this extremely interesting study if it hadn't been for Ken Wilber's laudatory forward.
For more than three decades Dr. Vaughan has been at the forefront of efforts to integrate psychology and spiritual growth. Not only is she a practicing psychologist, but also she has been trained in several contemplative traditions: Christian, Sufi, Zen and at least one Hindu school.
I would like to quote from Ken Wilber's forward, "In the West, where psychology (and psychiatry) have completely replaced religion as the dominant sciences of the soul, it is the school of transpersonal psychology that carries most clearly the banner of genuine contemplative spirituality."
Frances Vaughan's view - and I am sure that she is correct - is that most of psychology and academia, particularly in the United States, has ignored, or become insensible to most people's need for a rich and healthy spiritual life. Many believe that the ever-increasing rates of substance abuse and extreme behaviors are a reflection of that unquenched spiritual thirst. As she says, "We live in two worlds: the outer world of ego and the inner world of soul. Many people suffer from being out of touch with the inner world of soul. Others suffer because they have tried to explore the world of soul without having come to terms with the world of ego. Freedom depends on acknowledging both worlds, harmonizing them and bringing them into balance."
The book breaks new ground, providing us with accounts of spiritual awakenings that she has seen in her practice, placed in the context of the many spiritual traditions that she has studied. Dr. Vaughan dispels the myth that spirituality is something that can only be experienced by a select few who have the time and the means to withdraw from the world.
Many authors tell us only about the pleasures and promises of the spiritual journey, without also warning us about some of the pitfalls. This book does both, and is an outstanding book for anyone interested in consciousness, spirituality and the future health of humanity.