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The Great Work of Your Life: A Guide for the Journey to Your True Calling

4.31 of 5 stars 4.31  ·  rating details  ·  588 ratings  ·  84 reviews
From the Senior Scholar-in-residence and Ambassador forthe famed Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health comes an incisive and inspiring meditation on living the life you were born to live.

In this fast-paced age, the often overwhelming realities of daily life may leave you feeling uncertain about how to realize your life’s true purpose—what spiritual teachers call dharma. But
ebook, 304 pages
Published September 25th 2012 by Bantam (first published January 1st 2012)
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This book centers around the teachings of the Bhagavad Gita, an ancient Hindu text, and the concept of dharma, one's true calling in life. Cope uses the story and characters in the Gita to frame 11 different biographical chapters about famous people who have followed their dharma and serve as perfect examples of how to find one's own and why it is important to do so.

I found this book very interesting in terms of the history of the famous figures (such as Keats, Frost, and Goodall) and the study
Angela Risner
Finding this book was very crucial for me. For years, I've been trying to fit myself into an expected mold. My parents were born during the Great Depression. They came from very poor families, and to them, success was a job that didn't involve physical labor or coming home covered in dirt. My dad wore a suit and tie to work. That was a measure of success.

I was raised to want to work in an office. Actually, my parents wanted me to become a pharmacist, but I couldn't imagine anything more boring.
I'm embarrassed to read his books in public because the titles are so cheesy, but I really enjoy his writing about yoga and psychology. In this book, Cope tells the story of the Bhagavad Gita and cites the lives of many famous and "ordinary" people to illustrate how people can live out Krishna's advice.

This book does not so much serve as a "guide," though. Its "help" comes more as a revelation... like Svadhyaya, the study of self reveals ... it's all so familiar. You know this already. You just
I enjoyed this book, although there's nothing terribly deep about it. For me it functioned more as an emotional boost, a pat on the back for having chosen an impractical pursuit that means a great deal to me over a more predictable work life. Sometimes you gotta get those props. The book's message is: You have to find your dharma (life path) and commit to it... hard to argue with, but if you're someone who has no idea what that path is, or runs into serious obstacles (like the need to put food o ...more
This is a feel good book about finding your inner dharma (purpose in your life, or "what lights you up.") It's practical wisdom...bring forth what lights you up and it will save you, or deny it and be unhappy. It cannot be successfully denied. It's totally accessible and doesn't require any knowledge of eastern philosophy, although it's obvious that's what he's basing the book on. The best part of this book for me, was it's interpretation of the Bhagavad Gita, which is extensive. I reread the Bh ...more
I was given this book as a graduation gift, being that it's a pivotal time in my life and I am especially susceptible to the idea of having a purpose. Although the author said that when he was 18 he didn't understand the importance of such teachings of the Gita, I have always felt a lingering sense of a lack of dharma, although I did not know that word until now. In fact, most of my insecurities can be explained by this. So, though I am unsure of how much of Cope's advice I will take to heart, I ...more
Jennifer Louden
half way through Stephen's brilliant new book and I know I will a) be quoting it and using it extensively in my own teaching and b) that it is changing how I see my own life. The timing, for me, to be reading this feels like a tap from God.
If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you; if you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you.

The Great Work of Your Life opens with these lines from the Gnostic Gospels of Thomas Author Stephen Cope then skillfully relates “what is within you” to the Hindu concept of dharma. However, as seen by the intermingling of these two concepts, this is not a book just for followers of Eastern traditions but is relevant to people of a
Dharma is our vocation or calling and it gives us the "blue print" for being our true self. In The Bhagavad Gita, Krishna teaches Arjuna to find his purpose and the importance of living to his full potential. In The Great Work of Your Life, the author uses the lessons of The Bhagavad Gita to explain the importance of dharma in our modern life. He gives detailed examples of how both great and ordinary people have used the Path of Inaction-in-Action (the four pillars) to discover their dharma and ...more
Kristy McCaffrey
Stephen Cope uses teachings from the Bhagavad Gita to explore the idea of dharma. This can be defined as one's true calling, life path, or more simply, utilizing and accepting the spiritual gifts that God has bestowed. Through individual examples he showcases how getting close to your dharma isn't enough--such a state can cause suffering for yourself and those around you. It's every person's obligation to fulfill their purpose in life, not just for themselves but for humanity in general. You mus ...more
Antonio Farias
A worthwhile meditation of the arc between desperation and fulfillment. Moving toward a rebalanced approach to faith that is not seared in guilt but on the premise of love, renewal, and forgiveness, Stephen Cope does a wonderful job of taking you through the Bhagavad Gita and the meaning of dharma as vocation and scared duty. His conceptualization of the crossroads and the danger that inaction causes struck a cord at this point in my personal journey, my writing, and a sense of obligation to the ...more
Shin Yu
Cope focuses his project on the timeless lessons of the Bhagavad Gita concerning the individual's dharmic calling. Using the biographies of Harriet Tubman, Beethoven, John Keats, Ghandi, Susan B Anthony, as well as everyday people (clergy, healers, educators) - Cope explores the notion of embracing and choosing one's dharmic work through cultivating deep practice, letting go of the fruits of one's work, and the connection to the divine as manifested through one's own practice. This book bears so ...more
I got a lot from this book... I underlined many paragraphs, added stars and comments. Enjoyed reading about the "dharmas" of Harriet Tubman, Gandhi, Thoreau, and others. Quite a few "ah ha" moments, truths well-stated, all that good stuff. Made me want to read the Bhagavad Gita(sp) and Gandhi's autobiography. But still, I can't quite give it a 5th star. I think in some parts I found it a bit precious. And he kind of glossed over how you discover your own dharma... and of course, that is a highly ...more
Silvia Hayakawa
Good book, love Stephen Cope. Anything that is an examination of the Gita would interest me. Great inspirational true life stories. With that said, I feel like he could have gone even deeper. Not just to listen to the call of our dharma in the world but the inner dharma we are all called to do as well. Our dharma of going into the scary battle of seeing the ego do it's work (especially in those difficult situations of life and difficult people) and switching from it's autopilot reactions to more ...more
Bob Jones
The Great Work of Your Life by Stephen Cope is subtitled, A Guide for the Journey to Your True Calling. This is a spiritual book that interprets the Bhagavad Gita and Hindu philosophy in a way to which a Westerner can easily relate. As a Christian Minister I had to submit a "call" statement to be ordained. All of us have a call or dharma to live out. This book was as helpful to me in retirement as it would be to a young person deciding what life direction they should follow. That direction might ...more
Leah Walker
Cope did a wonderful job answering the questions that have scrolled through my mind lately. I was surprised to find my questions addressed in a digital book, I downloaded at random. I loved the bios he included to illustrate each step of achieving your life's great work. I also enjoyed understanding the Bhagavad Gita.

Reading this, I now understand why Churchill went from zero to hero. (See Churchill review).

I will probably buy this book. I will definitely read some Cope's other books.
Really, really enjoyed reading this book. It is EXACTLY my cup of tea! Using as background, the Bhagavad Gita, Cope explores the lives of great men and women and their call to live their dharma. From Henry David Thoreau and Walt Whitman to Beethoven and Keats to Susan B. Anthony and Harriet Tubman, the author takes us on a tour of great lives through history to demonstrate different aspects of a life committed to a greater cause. Incredibly interesting and inspiring!
Subhash Jawahrani
Mar 30, 2015 Subhash Jawahrani rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Subhash by: Stephanie Snyder
Believe it or not, this book is required reading by my yoga teacher for Yoga Teacher Training. Cope has done a great job of making the teaching and key tenants of Bhagvad Gita, for western audience by sharing the key tenants with stories who lived their life based on Gita and who w all can related to: think Beethoven and Gandhi.

The central theme of the book and Bhavgad Gita is Dharma, who we all called purpose or True calling that each and every human being has on earth. I also learned a lot ab
Jun 23, 2014 Lee rated it 5 of 5 stars
The Great Work of Your Life came along at a good time for me. As I reboot, and restart my writing career, I am feeling (finally) that I am on the right my Dharma.

Cope does a nice job of bringing forth the basic lessons of the Bhagavad Gita by equating Krishna's teachings to Arjuna to the lives of many familiar historical figures (as well as 'ordinary' people Cope knows.)

I enjoyed learning more about artists, authors and activists like Keets, Thoreau, Whitman, Corot, and Susan B. An
This book was an incredible read. Cope has gone great lengths to share his research of influential people of our present and past and how they found and lived their true callings.

This is a book I will read again and know each time I will find new insight into myself.
Inspiring but, in my opinion, not as good as his first two books. There's less of the Gita here and more of snippets of life stories. I liked it and had some interesting insights. I thought The Wisdom of Yoga was more powerful.
Dianne Lange
"We work first because we have to work. Then because we want to work. Then because we love to work. Then the work simply does us. Difficult at the beginning. Inevitable at the end."
I enjoyed and am inspired by the short biographies of the individuals and wonderful exemplars in this book. From this point of view it is a great, entertaining read filled with gems of teachings and interesting revelations from the integration of the Bhagavad Gita with the lives of the individuals. However, since it is mostly the view of extraordinary exemplars, I am missing the biography of the average Joe-the-plumber and how he found and lived his Dharma. Or maybe it should have been even more ...more
Ludmila Kovaříková
Člověk si říká, nakolik jsou životopisy osobností zabarveny úhlem pohledu (dharma - poslání). Ke konci už začala být kniha úmorná, stále o tomtéž. Ale pomohla mi si uvědomit, že strach, neúspěch (Gándhí), deprese, sebevražedné myšlenky (Beethoven) jsou součástí naší cesty.

Příjemné čtení, lehká angličtina, i když název je hrozný. Každý člověk má nějaké "vocation" - práci, ze které se mu rozzáří oči. Autor vychází z Bhagavadgíty a vypráví o osudech různých lidí a jejich posláních. Zajímavý byl pří
Deb Korch
Absolutely loved this book.
I devoured this book. The only thing that slowed me down was writing quotes and notes from it into my journal. There are so many gems throughout - so much so that each chapter feels like it could stand alone. Cope weaves together teachings from the Bhagavad Gita (and other sacred texts) with the stories of people whose lives have been dedicated to their calling to show us what it looks like to find and live one's calling. It is beautifully written, very accessible and a life changer. I plan to r ...more
Claudia Reinfelds
The four pillars of Dharma:
1. Look to your dharma
2. Do it full out!
3. Let go of the fruits
4. Turn it over to God

"They found that desire is actually a compound state. It is made up, in part, of grasping and craving, which always and everywhere lead to the experience of suffering. But there are other components of desire as well. There are salutary aspects to desire. They discovered an energy at the heart of desire that is full of aspiration for the most noble qualities of the human being. The
I was excited to begin reading this book for a couple of reasons. I had just finished reading the Bhagavad Gita again, and Cope's previous works have been pretty decent reads. Also, seeing the mostly positive reviews here, had sparked my interest. It is a nice read. However, in my view the book falls short of it's potential for a few reasons.

The tie-in to the teachings of the Bhagavad Gita is done well, however, save for the one story of Brian, the rest of the lives of the individuals in the boo
Joseph Weyek
I've read the Bhagavad Gita before. Never understood it. Cope helped me understand his interpretation of it.

He talks about the concept of dharma, which means: sacred duty, vocation, calling, destiny. It's what you were born to do. He says that the Gita is all about this dharma business.

Ok. So, find your dharma, do it with all your heart, don't concern yourself with success or failure, do it for God, and you'll be saved, happy, etc. Not a bad idea.

He tells stories about famous and not so famous p
Shaun Campbell
The Great Work of Your Life: A Guide for the Journey to Your True Calling, by Stephen Cope is a great book for an audience looking to understand the concept of dharma and the four pillars. Cope uses the lives of historic legends such as Walt Whitman, Helen Keller, Gandhi, and others to help the reader understand the principles needed to fully embrace their potential. The book is a bit of history, Buddhism, self-help, and leadership. Anyone looking to expand their horizons would gain from having ...more
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Yoga Folks: This topic has been closed to new comments. NOVEMBER BOOK GROUP: STEPHEN COPE'S NEW BOOK 8 57 Nov 11, 2012 05:04AM  
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Stephen Cope is the director of the Kripalu Institute for Extraordinary Living, the largest yoga research institute in the Western world—with a team of scientists affiliated with major medical schools on the East coast, primarily Harvard Medical School. He has been for many years the senior scholar in residence at Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health in Lenox, Massachusetts, and is the author of fou ...more
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“Every man has a vocation to be someone: but he must understand clearly that in order to fulfill this vocation he can only be one person: himself.” 2 likes
“longing for our idealized images of life separates us from our true selves and from our true callings.” 1 likes
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