Enlightenment by Trial and Error

Ten Years on the Slippery Slopes of Jewish Mysticism, Postmodern Buddhist Meditation, and Heretical Flexidox Spirituality

by Jay Michaelson


In stock

About this book

The “spiritual but not religious” are the fastest-growing denomination on America today. Yet what are the roadmaps? What does the spiritual search look like for a seeker in 21st century America, fully plugged-in, online, cynical, and sincere?

Enlightenment by Trial and Error is a unique book by bestselling author and Daily Beast columnist Jay Michaelson. Today, Michaelson is a rabbi with a PhD in Jewish Thought, a teacher on the Ten Percent Happier meditation app, and a political columnist read by a quarter million readers per month.

But not long ago, Jay was a young spiritual seeker, pursuing mystical experiences (and even enlightenment) with an open heart and restless intellectual curiosity. Drawn from essays written over a ten-year period of questioning and exploration, this book is a unique record of the spiritual search, from the perspective of someone who made plenty of mistakes along the way.

Advance Praise

“Jay Michaelson is a true polymath. He brings wide-ranging knowledge and learning to these essays on very challenging issues. He has been a leader in helping us to change our consciousness.”
Rabbi David Cooper, author, God is a Verb: Kabbalah and the Practice of Mystical Judaism

“Lonely and in love, ecstatically high and despairing , in Jewish prayer and Buddhist meditation, Jay Michaelson shows us his path to enlightenment with all its trials and errors is exactly what it needs to be.”
Rodger Kamenetz, author, The Jew in the Lotus

“In Enlightenment by Trial and Error, Jay Michaelson offers us an honest, intimate account of the contemplative path in all of its wonder, messiness, joy and confusion. Deeply personal, sometimes humorous, and brutally honest, these self-reflective essays can guide and inspire seekers of all ages. ”
Oren Jay Sofer, author of Say What You Mean: A Mindful Approach to Nonviolent Communication

“This book maps out the development of a contemporary mystic: the transformations, doubts, convictions, joys and sorrows that have lined his spiritual path through a variety of life transitions.  Michaelson’s spiritual resources are Jewish, Buddhist, queer, earth-based, scientific and entirely his own, and he applies them to a real and complex world the reader will immediately recognize.”
Rabbi Jill Hammer, author of The Jewish Book of Days

Praise for Previous Books by Jay Michaelson

“Jay Michaelson’s incisive and exquisitely profound insights into our human condition come in full force in The Gate of Tears. Our inner world will never seem the same.”
Daniel Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence, on The Gate of Tears: Sadness and the Spiritual Path

“Serious practitioners—secular or religious—and curious individuals alike would benefit greatly from reading Michaelson’s intelligent and compassionate examination of mindfulness practice. ”
Publisher’s Weekly on Evolving Dharma: Meditation, Buddhism, and the Next Generation of Enlightenment

“With the gentle authority of a good yoga master, Michaelson, chief editor of Zeek: A Jewish Journal of Thought and Culture, offers not so much a mind/body lesson in Kabbalah as a map to a mindful, spiritually rich lifestyle.”
Publisher’s Weekly on God in Your Body: Kabbalah, Mindfulness and Embodied Spirituality