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

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About the Author

Stephen CopeStephen Cope, MSW, is the founder and former Director of the Kripalu Institute for Extraordinary Living, the largest yoga research institute in the Western world. He is a Western-trained psychotherapist who writes and teaches about the relationship between Western psychological paradigms and the Eastern contemplative traditions. Scholar-in-Residence and Kripalu Ambassador in Lenox, Massachusetts, Cope is the author of several bestselling books, including Yoga and the Quest for the True Self, The Wisdom of Yoga, The Great Work of Your Life, and Soul Friends.


"The Great Work of Your Life is itself a great work. This is a wonderfully passionate book about finding your true calling. The stories within are inspiring and moving. I believe it will be of great benefit to all who read it." --Sharon Salzberg, author of Lovingkindness and Real Happiness

"Stephen Cope is a national treasure. He is an incredibly rare combination of brilliant spiritual thinker, elegant prose stylist, and empathic, grounded teacher.The dharma stories throughout The Great Work of Your Life are moving and instructive. Keep a pen and paper handy as you read this remarkable book: It's like an owner's manual for the soul." --Dani Shapiro, author of Devotion

"This book extends an impassioned, compelling promise: It is possible to live this life as a direct expression of your heart and spirit. Through masterful storytelling about extraordinary and 'ordinary' individuals, Stephen Cope unfolds perennial wisdom teachings found in the Bhagavad Gita that can illuminate your path. Not just inspiring, this book is a fascinating read!" --Tara Brach, PhD, author of Radical Acceptance

"The Great Work of Your Life masterfully unfolds the stories of everyday people like you and me, as well as those whom we cherish as our heroes and heroines, revealing the doubts, fears, trials, and passions we will all face when we dare to live an authentic life of purpose and meaning. It will deeply inspire your heart, soul, and mind and lead you ever more deeply into finding and celebrating your own dharma." --Richard Miller, PhD, author of Yoga Nidra: A Meditative Practice for Deep Relaxation and Healing; president, Integrative Restoration Institute, and cofounder, International Association of Yoga Therapy

"This is a captivating and compassionate guide to the deepest questions of our existence. Stephen Cope ingeniously helps us to 'remember' who we really are, uncovering genuine happiness and expressing it through our dharma, our authentic work in the world." --Sarah Powers, author of Insight Yoga

"I am moved and inspired by this book, the clarity and beauty of the lives lived in it, and the timeless dharma it teaches." --Jack Kornfield, author of A Path with Heart

"I was spellbound and inspired by this book from beginning to end. I thought, How is he going to bring together the message of the Gita, the enduringly compelling lives of so many amazing people, the quest for passionate expression in the lives of his friends--how will he keep so many balls juggling at the same time without dropping any?--and end by making it all relevant to me right now in my life? And he has! One rarely thinks of a dharma book as a page-turner, but this one is indeed that. This is a great read and a great revitalizing breath of fresh air." --Sylvia Boorstein, author of Happiness Is an Inside Job

"Cope layers biographical teaching stories between the lessons offered by what might be the greatest teaching story of all: the Bhagavad Gita, in which Krishna teaches Arjuna about finding and manifesting your life's divine purpose, or dharma. Cope, while examining the life struggles faced by such visionaries as Jane Goodall, Harriet Tubman, and Mohandas Gandhi, encourages readers to reject the modern idea that 'we can be anyone we want to be' and instead to discover and fully pursue their inner self's calling . . . The historical portraits make interesting reading in their own right--Cope is a skilled storyteller--but in the service of illustrating a well-organized thesis about achieving true fulfillment, they offer a rich source of contemplation and inspiration." --Publishers Weekly

"You'll find inspiration in these pages. You'll gain a better appreciation of divine guidance and perhaps even understand how you might better hear it in your own life. With this masterwork of a book, Stephen Cope shows us once again that great yoga writing need not be esoteric, complicated, or full of Sanskrit to point the way to liberation." --Yoga Journal

"Stephen Cope has taken great Western figures--poets, painters, freedom fighters, a composer--and shows how the dharma of fierce determination played through their lives and how it can inspire all of us today. Tears came to my eyes as I read how Walt Whitman found himself. This is an important book--West and East informing each other. It was a joy to read." --Natalie Goldberg, author of Old Friend from Far Away

"Stephen Cope has brought the full force of his brilliant mind and expansive heart to capture the wisdom and spirit of one of history's most revered and insightful scriptures. The Great Work of Your Life is a remarkable testament to the power of these teachings and the timeless light they shed on how we each can craft our most glorious life. This is a must-read for anyone aspiring to lasting happiness and real fulfillment." --Rod Stryker, author of The Four Desires