Arthur Versluis’s most recent book is

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(SUNY Press, 2017)

In Platonic Mysticism, Arthur Versluis clearly and tautly argues that mysticism must be properly understood as belonging to the great tradition of Platonism. He demonstrates how mysticism was historically understood in Western philosophical and religious traditions and emphatically rejects externalist approaches to esoteric religion. Instead he develops a new theoretical-critical model for understanding mystical literature and the humanities as a whole, from philosophy and literature to art. A sequel to his Restoring Paradise, this is an audacious book that places Platonic mysticism in the context of contemporary cognitive and other approaches to the study of religion, and presents an emerging model for the new field of contemplative science.

“An important work on the mystical experience delving deep into its history, particularly from the Platonic perspective. An essential text for anyone interested in mysticism and its relationship to philosophy and creative expression.” — Andrew Newberg, author of How Enlightenment Changes Your Brain: The New Science of Transformation

“The present work, the latest from the pen of Arthur Versluis, provides a trenchant, learned, and illuminating analysis of the origins of Western mysticism in the Platonist tradition, relayed through such figures as Plotinus and Dionysius the Areopagite, down through Meister Eckhart and others, while suitably excoriating the attempts of certain modern philosophers and sociologists of religion to ‘deconstruct’ it from a materialist perspective. I found it a rattling good read!” — John Dillon, author of The Heirs of Plato: A Study of the Old Academy (347–274 BC)



Other Books Include:

Entering the Mysteries: The Secret Traditions of Indigenous Europe

(New Cultures Press, 2016)


American Gurus: From Transcendentalism to New Age Religion

(Oxford University Press, 2014).



One could hardly hope for a surer hand and a more astute guide into the fantastically complicated story of Asian religions in American history and culture. Arthur Versluis has been that sure hand and astute guide since his first major work on Asian religions and Transcendentalism. Here, in American Gurus, he summarizes, nuances, and develops still further decades of scholarship on the history of Western esotericism, on the magical and mystical currents of American history, and on the roles that the Asian religions have played, and continue to play, in the American story. A genuine accomplishment.
—Jeffrey J. Kripal, Rice University, author of Esalen: America and the Religion of No Religion

Where do American gurus come from? In this fascinating study, Arthur Versluis offers a surprising answer: teachers who offer direct spiritual insight, unediated by religious institutions, stand in an ancient Western tradition. Overturning the usual distinctions between East and West, Versluis demonstrates that Ken Wilber, Andrew Cohen, Eckhart Tolle, and other contemporary teachers owe as much to Emerson and Plato as they do to Buddha or Krishna. Versluis’s narrative sparkles with new insights into the character of American spirituality.
—Dan McKanan, Harvard University, author of Prophetic Encounters: Religion and the American Radical Tradition

The ever-prolific Versluis offers a startling, eye-opening, and insightful historical review of American spiritual teachers whose ‘immediatism’ reflects a cultural pattern of desire for instantaneous, primordial illumination. The narrative is comprehensive, compelling, and even mesmerizing, as they author surveys with remarkable analytic skill an astonishing variety of disverse teachings whose underlying unitary themes lead to a new perspective on the popularity and success of so many American gurus. Required reading!
—Lee Irwin, College of Charleston, author of Visionary Worlds

Other Books by Arthur Versluis


Religion of Light, (Minneapolis: New Cultures Press, 2013)


Esotericism, Politics, and Religion, Arthur Versluis, Lee Irwin, Melinda Phillips, eds. Studies in Esotericism Series (Minneapolis: North American Academic Press, 2012)


The Mystical State: Politics, Gnosis, and Emergent Cultures, (New Cultures Press, 2011)


Esotericism, Religion, and Nature,Versluis et al., eds., (North American Academic Press / MSU Press, 2010)


Esotericism, Art, and Imagination, Versluis et al., eds., (MSU Press, 2008)


The Secret History of Western Sexual Mysticism, (Rochester: Inner Traditions, 2008)


Magic and Mysticism: An Introduction to Western Esotericism, (Lanham: Rowman Littlefield, 2007)
The New Inquisitions: Heretic-hunting and the Origins of Modern Totalitarianism (Oxford UP: 2006)



Restoring Paradise: Western Esotericism, Literature, and Consciousness(SUNY: 2004)



Awakening the Contemplative Spirit, (St. Paul: New Grail, 2004)


Ed., The Wisdom of Meister Eckhart, The Wisdom of Jacob Böhme, The Wisdom of John Pordage (Great Works of Christian Spirituality, Series editor) (New Grail: St. Paul, 2003)

The Way of Native American Traditions (Thorsons/HarperCollins: 2002 reissue)


The Esoteric Origins of the American Renaissance (Oxford University Press: 2001)


Island Farm, (MSU Press: 2000)


Ed., Wisdom’s Book: The Sophia Anthology, (Paragon House: 2000)


Wisdom’s Children: A Christian Esoteric Tradition, (SUNY: 1999)


Ed., The Hermetic Book of Nature, (St. Paul: Grail, 1997)


Gnosis and Literature, (St. Paul: Grail, 1996)  


The Mysteries of Love, (St. Paul: Grail, 1995)


Theosophia: Hidden Dimensions of Christianity, (Lindisfarne Press, 1994)


Native American Traditions, (Element, 1994/1995)

[Translations into various languages including those listed below; editions]

Amérindiens qui êtes-vous?: Cultures et traditions Amérindienes, (Saint-Martin-le-vinoux: L’Or du Temps, 1994)

Gli Indiani d’America, (Xenia: Milano, 1994)


American Transcendentalism and Asian Religions  (Oxford University Press: 1993)


The Elements of Native American Traditions, (Element: 1993)


Sacred Earth: The Spiritual Landscape of Native America (Inner Traditions: 1992)


Pollen and Fragments: Poetry and Prose of Novalis, (Phanes: 1989)


The Egyptian Mysteries, (Routledge, Kegan Paul: 1988)


Telos: A Novel, (Routledge, Kegan Paul: 1987)


The Philosophy of Magic, Routledge, Kegan Paul: 1986)