America's largest Buddhist publisher discusses the myth of millennialism and the challenges of spiritual publishing in the New Age.
When Sam Bercholz founded Shambhala Publications twenty-eight years ago, there was relatively little interest in America in Eastern spiritual teachings, meditation or other esoteric subjects. Bercholz, at Shambhala's helm, has introduced millions of readers to the spiritual teachings and philosophies that are his passion and has gained a reputation for skillfully navigating the changing times, including the turbulent waters of popular spirituality and New Age movements. We were intrigued by a statement in Shambhala's company literature: "As many of these subject areas have been increasingly commercialized under the nebulous catch-all of the 'New Age,' we have quietly continued to fulfill our original mission of publishing serious books of lasting value that . . . present what's real and not the glitz." Because of his unique vantage point on the popularization of esoteric spirituality in America and his commitment to maintaining an unusual standard of authenticity in an arena increasingly subject to the demands of the market, we were eager to speak with Bercholz about some of the themes we explore in this issue of What Is Enlightenment?
Bercholz, informed by his perspective as a publisher of titles on art, philosophy, psychology and culture, as well as Eastern religious traditions, has some fascinating things to say about the vicissitudes of spiritual publishing and the myths of the New Age.