GRAD­UAL AWAK­EN­ING

The Ti­betan Bud­dhist Path of Be­com­ing Fully Hu­man

Foreword Reviews - - Foresight Body/mind/spirit -

Miles Neale, Sounds True (SEPTEM­BER) Soft­cover $17.95 (264pp), 978-1-68364-209-1

Sto­ries abound of saints, mys­tics, and even or­di­nary peo­ple who’ve had sud­den, spec­tac­u­lar awak­en­ing ex­pe­ri­ences—the “spir­i­tual lot­tery win­ners.” But there is an­other path to lib­er­a­tion and full awak­en­ing that has for cen­turies held an hon­ored place in all of Ti­betan Bud­dhism’s lineages and schools: the “Lam Rim,” or “Stages of the Path to En­light­en­ment,” or the “Grad­ual Path.”

The Lam Rim sys­tem­at­i­cally lays out three stages to awak­en­ing: “Re­nun­ci­a­tion” (self-love, or evo­lu­tion­ary self-care), in which com­pul­sions, af­flic­tive emo­tions, and dis­tor­tions are elim­i­nated; “Bod­hicitta” (com­pas­sion, or rad­i­cal al­tru­ism), in which the mind is set upon lib­er­a­tion and awak­en­ing for the ben­e­fit of oth­ers; and “Wis­dom” (cor­rect view, or empti­ness), in which the mind achieves di­rect per­cep­tion of the ul­ti­mate re­al­ity of empti­ness and in­ter­de­pen­dence.

Neale traces the lev­els of in­creas­ing in­sight into our true na­ture as we learn to care for our­selves, for oth­ers, and for the world, in­te­grat­ing the Grad­ual Path’s an­cient wis­dom with Western psy­cho­log­i­cal con­cepts, neu­ro­science, and per­sonal sto­ries. The re­sult is a book that is cap­ti­vat­ing, rel­e­vant, and prac­ti­cal for a Western au­di­ence, while in­clud­ing tra­di­tional Ti­betan rit­u­als, prayers, philo­soph­i­cal in­sights, el­e­ments of liturgy, vi­su­al­iza­tion prac­tices, and med­i­ta­tion tech­niques.

Call­ing Western cul­ture’s wa­tered-down, con­sumer-friendly ver­sion of po­tent spir­i­tual prac­tices “Mc­mind­ful­ness,” the book chal­lenges Western spir­i­tual and cul­tural par­a­digms and the dog­matic re­li­gions that negate our per­sonal power. It of­fers in­stead a rad­i­cal, ac­cel­er­ated path to awak­en­ing and heal­ing that fa­cil­i­tates true hu­man ma­tu­rity and in­vites us to put our dif­fer­ences aside, bridge the gaps that di­vide us, and to­gether ad­dress the chal­lenges we face. “In­ter­de­pen­dence truly means that we ei­ther flour­ish or per­ish to­gether,” Neale writes, ad­vis­ing that what is needed in these per­ilous times is “spir­i­tu­al­ity with­out dogma, and sci­ence with heart.”

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