Coming Clean: It's Spirituality for Dogs

Even though the notion of spirituality has become somewhat mainstream, the quest for it still seems tangled in a web of religiosity and cluttered with quasi quantum physics and existential angst.
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There's something so old fashioned about writing a book. The time it takes to actually write it, the process of getting it edited and published and then the act of hitting the road to actually promote and sell it. Don't get me wrong, there's a charm and romance to it, and for a writer/creator there's nothing quite like holding that hard cover in your hands, turning those crisp pages and seeing your own words in black and white, but...truth be told, you can't help but feel that maybe you're part of a slowly dying art.

The fact is that between the time you finish that last sentence in your book and the date on which it comes out, an enormous amount of time goes by. So when that point comes to actually start doing the first interviews, podcasts, and blogs to push the product, it's quite an odyssey in retrospect and/or revisionism.

In that regard, I've been thinking quite a lot about how to answer that inevitable first question "so what's Walking Wisdom about?" Ideally an author generates a clear and cogent elevator pitch that will result in fantastically rapid sales. Because my book is alternatively dog and Deepak heavy, there's an obvious pressure to build the marketing of it around one of those two publishing stalwarts. But the truth is both my papa and my overgrown puppy are just means to an end. Really the book is about the search for something more; dare I call it spirituality?

Yikes, probably not what my publishers really want to hear on the eve of the book's release because, well, spirituality is kind of a taboo word. But hey, it's the truth. Seriously, put yourself in my shoes: for the last 25 years I have grown up around Mr. Spirituality aka Deepak Chopra (for my prior 10 years, he wasn't all that spiritual). When my dad first started talking about stuff like yoga and meditation back in the day, people branded him a witch doctor and snake oil salesman. Today -- in fact a minute ago -- when I Googled "Yoga," 61,900,000 entries came up. Oh how the times have changed.

But even though the notion of spirituality has become somewhat mainstream, the quest for it still seems tangled in a web of religiosity and cluttered with quasi quantum physics and existential angst. And not to say that at more evolved stages of spiritual pursuit, the search for meaning and purpose is not fraught with deeper questions and explanations, but in the commercialism of spirituality and more overtly the commodity of the New Age (whatever that is), we too often seem to over-complicate things.

On the contrary, Walking Wisdom is really about decoding and demystifying the idea of spirituality. True story: when I originally pitched the book, I titled it Spirituality for Dogs, which the eventual buyer, my publisher, quickly dismissed and replaced with our current title, which felt more commercial and "mass market." I hope for all our sakes they're right. But no matter what the title screams, the pages inside tell the real story. I wanted to call it Spirituality for Dogs because put through the crucible of a mutt like mine, I -- and my father, whom I recruited onto the case -- were able to see the values and ethos of this vague and ineffable term spirituality in their most stark and basic form. Qualities like love and devotion, loyalty, forgiveness, present moment awareness, unboundedness and more: these are spiritual qualities that not only don't require complex or quantum deconstructions, but that are also readily apparent in men's best friends. There's something to be said about getting a grasp on the simpler things in life before moving onto the trickier ones, and in this case every dog -- and even Deepak -- gets to have his day.

Gotham Chopra is a writer, filmmaker, and entrepreneur. His latest book Walking Wisdom, 3 Generations, 2 Dogs, and the Search for a Happy Life will be published by Hyperion books on October 5th, 2010.