Differences in A Course in Meditation, 2007 and the original web version
1) Easier for New Learners
The new version is more accessible to a wider range of readers, especially to busy people, younger readers, and those less adept in reading English. The text is presented in a conversational, first-person, classroom style that brings the reader closer to the experience of being in a live classroom with Ted Phelps. The instruction in how to meditate--the section called Classroom--is less than half as long as the original. It has about 18,000 words of required reading instead of 38,000 in the original. The book contains a lot more textbook reading than the original, but the textbook reading is carefully designed to be optional for the new learner. The Classroom consists of seven lessons, called "Day 1," "Day 2," through "Day 7." This implies a weeklong period of study, which is a more comfortable pace than the original. Also, students who are just planning to learn how to meditate may stop or take a long break after Day 4 if they wish, and come back to do Days 5, 6, and 7 whenever they are ready to develop a daily meditation practice. See the Book Table of Contents for details on each section and chapter.
2) Broader and Deeper
The new version also provides a deeper theoretical foundation. It does this while simultaneously being easier. How is that?! The key was to keep the Classroom (see above) light on theory, yet make theory readily available and inviting by placing it in the course textbook, which comprises two thirds of the book.
The textbook readings are carefully designed to be truly optional for new learners. The first part of the textbook, Student Readings, is specifically for students of Natural Meditation. But the second part is for anyone who has a focused interest in understanding meditation theory. The readings in Textbook, Part 2 significantly extend the depth and breadth of this work with content that is valuable not only for students of Natural Meditation, but also for practitioners of other styles, teachers, scholars, and administrators considering using the course in a school or workplace. The five chapters are presented in the form of academic talks by Ted Phelps. His personality and personal experience soak into these talks on "Meditation in Perspective." He defines "meditation", "natural meditation", the "meditative function;" describes the subtle role of intention and research on the meditative function. Without resorting to cultural terms, staying rooted, as always, in the human experience, Phelps explains difficult concepts in the development of consciousness that are usually handled by meditation teachers using highly cultural constructs and poetic language. Phelps shows how the dynamics of daily sittings play out over long periods of practice and how they cut new territory in a "journey of enlightenment."