Phillip Berman

Phillip L. Berman

Phillip L. Berman, who holds degrees in philosophy and comparative religions from the University of California and Harvard, is an uncommonly versatile man. He is founder and President of the Center for the Study of Contemporary Belief and the author of ten non-fiction books, among them the Pulitzer Prize nominated The Search for Meaning and Robert F. Kennedy Book Award nominated The Courage of Conviction. His books have been translated into French, Dutch, Portuguese, German, Japanese and Italian.

After graduating from Harvard in 1982, Phillip founded the Center for the Study of Contemporary Belief, a nonprofit educational research institute dedicated to the study of human values. Under the auspices of the Center he studied the methods by which successful men and women put their beliefs into action in daily life.

In his work as an author, consultant and speaker, Phillip is particularly interested in one major question: How do we sustain a sense of meaning and purpose and find the courage to fulfill ourselves at various stages in life? Through his highly praised speeches and workshops, Phillip has shared his insights into the nature of courage, human achievement, and the search for meaning with a wide range of people, from bankers to retired executives. He views his speeches and workshops as a special opportunity to share his knowledge with others and motivate them to realize their fullest potential both personally and professionally.

His book, Reason for Hope (Warner Books, 1999), co-authored with Dr. Jane Goodall, was featured in a PBS television documentary in the fall of 1999.

Phillip is, perhaps foremost, a lifetime catamaran sailor and racer. He grew up racing Hobie Cats in California in the late 1960's and published his first book on catamaran racing at the age of seventeen - Multihull Racing The Hobie Cats (Sea Publications, NY.). He went on to write many more books on the subject, including the best-selling catamaran training manual of all time - Catamaran Sailing From Start to Finish (W.W. Norton, NY.) As a graduate student at Harvard he represented the U.S. in numerous international sailing races and was the Hobie Cat World Champion in 1979 and 1980. In addition to racing small cats, he has raced and cruised much larger multihulls all over the world, including his own 41 foot offshore racing catamaran, Spectris.

Reason for Hope: A Spiritual Journey
Co-authored with Dr. Jane Goodall 

Warner Books, 1999 

Jane Goodall's destiny has been blessed with faith, resolve and purpose. From a toddler entranced by all living things and a little girl inspired by Tarzan and The Jungle Book, she became the woman who, through a "chance meeting," landed a job with famed paleontologist Dr. Louis Leakey, accomplished scientific breakthroughs in Gombe, and ultimately became a champion of the environment.

The journey has not been without its crises: she endured the horrors of the Blitzkrieg and World War II, postwar hardships, vicious rumors and "establishment" assaults on the integrity of her work, a terrorist attack and hostage-taking at Gombe, and her husband's slow, agonizing death. But throughout, her religious convictions, although tested, have helped her survive -- and Jane Goodall's pursuit of science has enhanced, not eroded, her belief in the Divine.

In this book, co-authored with Phillip Berman, she candidly shares her life -- talking of the love and support of her mother, her son, her late husband, of friends and strangers -- as well as the Gombe chimpanzees she introduced to the world nearly forty years ago. And she gives us convincing reasons why we can and must open ourselves to the "saints within our souls."

At one with nature and challenged by the man-made dangers of environmental destruction, inequality, materialism, and genocide, Dr. Goodall offers insight into her perceptions of these threats and celebrates the people who are working for Earth's renewal. Here, indeed, is Reason for Hope.

A PBS special, Jane Goodall: Reason for Hope, underwritten by Tom's of Maine, was inspired by this book.

The Journey Home
What Near-Death Experiences and Mysticism Teach Us About the Gift of Life
(Pocket Books, 1998)

We have all seen many newspaper articles and best-selling books about the amazing phenomenon of near-death experiences. Hundreds of people are stepping forward to give testimony to the greater reality they have encountered. Those who have had mystical visions, have returned to report that they have seen something beyond the mundane realm of our daily lives. They have traveled beyond our known horizons, seen the face of God, and been transformed. But what do these experiences teach us?

Award-winning author Phillip Berman, a Harvard-educated theologian and himself a survivor of a near-death experience, writes: "What most of us secretly long for suddenly becomes a reality for near-death experiencers: For a brief moment in time, they come to know, not just as an abstract intellectual concept, but as a palpable fact close to their hearts, that they belong to God."

Berman believes that we can derive much more than inspiration from these stories. By looking closely at near-death and mystical experiences and attending to the lessons they contain, we can all share in their majesty and power; they can give our lives new meaning.

Drawing on hundreds of interviews with people who have had both near-death and mystical experiences, Berman explores the universal truths these moving stories reveal. As a student of comparative religions, he shows us the similarities that exist in these stories across time and cultures, similarities that allow us to define the enduring themes of these encounters. Berman argues that these experiences are the wellspring of all the world's great religions, and that their message of the oneness of creation and the Divine spark within us all, forms "an eternal theology."

Berman's perspective allows us to see that these remarkable transformative experiences are not vague philosophical or sacred visions--their message has immediate relevance to all our lives. Taking us by the hand, he shows us how to extract that lesson and let it transform our own sense of worth and meaning. He believes that each of us has the capacity, on a daily basis, to expand our spiritual horizons--to perceive the grace in our lives so that we may cultivate the self-love and extreme compassion that mark those who have had these experiences, and to share with them an abiding sense of purpose and a belief in the overwhelming value of love.

The Search for Meaning
Americans Talk About Whay They Believe and Why 
(Ballantine Books, 1993)

What do Americans, as a people, believe in? What are the experiences that have transformed their lives? How does faith -- in God, in human goodness, in politics, progress, money, or pleasure -- illuminate our actions?

These are the questions that Phillip Berman asked when he set off on a four-year, 35,000 mile odyssey to chronicle America's moral imagination. By the time he was through, he had spoken to some five hundred people from all walks of life. What they told him makes this engrossing and radiantly insightful book the first and only oral history of the religious and philosophical beliefs of contemporary Americans.

Vividly compelling in the extraordinary freshness and variety of its many voices, The Search for Meaning offers a full scale portrait of the moral state of the union.

Catamaran Sailing: From Start to Finish

The classic guide to catamarans, updated to bring readers the latest for everyman's sailboat.

Fast, inexpensive, versatile, and exciting, catamarans are one of America's most popular pleasure crafts. Here is a complete course in catamaran sailing for the beginner and the semi-experienced sailor who wants to become more skilled in the arts of tuning, handling, and racing cats. Included are sections on buying a cat, learning the basics, heavy weather sailing, racing tactics, surfing, and more. Includes a new chapter on how to use high-performance sails. Line drawings and photographs.


Phillip Berman is the Studs Terkel of American Beliefs.
-- The Chicago Tribune

Berman is ruggedly handsome in a Bruce Springsteen sort of way and has the muscular build of a world champion catamaran sailboat racer, which he was. When he speaks, he conveys evergy, confidence, and intelligence.
-- Orange County Register

Phillip Berman is unquestionably one of America's foremost authorities on contemporary beliefs and values.
-- Detroit Free Press

He soars along on clear passages of profundity.
-- Jack Smith, The Los Angeles Times

Berman, who combines the unlikely mix of looking like a taller Mel Gibson, holds a world championship sailing title and a master's degree from Harvard. He is obviously not a man intimidated by the quest for meaning.
-- San Jose Mercury News


Reason for Hope

Boston Globe
Being with Jane Goodall is like a walk with Gandhi.

Los Angeles Times
The Einstein of behavioral sciences.

Wendy Wasserstein, Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright
One of the ten most influential women ever.

Stephen Jay Gould
Jane Goodall's work with chimpanzees represents one of the Western world's greatest scientific achievements.

Encyclopedia Britannica
Without question one of the most significant contributors to our knowledge of the world around us.

Rocky Mountain News
The scarcity of Jane Goodalls...may be more ominous than the scarcity of chimpanzees.

Christian Science Monitor
A heroine, in a hero-less time.


The Journey Home

Ranks with the best of contemporary wisdom literature.
-- Kirkus Reviews

This is not a book about death and dying, but rather, about living. It is a celebration of life, and the power of love, as Berman shares with us how he has come to wake each morning with a sense of wonder and joy. I am glad I read it, and I hope you will read it, too.
-- Dr. Jane Goodall

This superb exploration of near-death experiences and mysticism fascinates and stretches the intellect, while at the same time resonating deeply with our heart's wisdom.
-- Ram Dass

Phillip Berman's study of near-death experiences is both serious and popular, both critical and open-minded, both a work of faith and a work of questing. It is a must-read for those of us who believe that hints from God about the meaning and purpose of life lurk everywhere.
-- Dr. Andrew Greeley, Professor of Social Science The University of Chicago

For some readers, Phillip Berman's The Journey Home will banish fears of death; for almost all, it will enhance their ability to enjoy and appreciate life.
-- Rabbi Harold S. Kushner


The Courage to Grow Old

(Out of print) A brilliant and unvarnished version of what it means to grow old in a society that dotes on young images...THE COURAGE TO GROW OLD is a book that most of us not only should read, but need to read to understand ourselves.
-- Claude Lewis, from the editorial page, The Philadelphia Inquirer


The Search for Meaning

A gripping, large-souled book that pulls the reader along as if it were fiction. Monumental in scope, rich in anecdote, and challenging in the variety of the many beliefs it chronicles, THE SEARCH FOR MEANING paints a vivid portrait of the moral landscape of twentieth-century America.

-- Malcolm Muggeridge

The Search for Meaning is an inner history of the contemporaryAmerican psyche - probing and valuable.
-- Norman Cousins

Fascinating characters..colorful interviews...The Search for Meaning is one of the most inspiring of its genre.
-- The San Francisco Chronicle


The Courage of Conviction

(Out of print) The essays are thoughtful, wise, often witty, and consistently well-written. They can be dipped into at random with the assurance that the reward will be a meaty idea, a lyrical passage, or an insightful anecdote...a winner.
-- Kirkus Reviews

-- The Los Angeles Time