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The Book of Not Knowing: Exploring the True Nature of Self, Mind, and Consciousness Paperback – January 26, 2010

4.3 out of 5 stars 55 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“True innovators are, by definition, ahead of their time. Therefore, they remain largely unrecognized, except by a few. How many of us wish we had met Bruce Lee, sat in a session with Carl Jung, or walked around Walden Pond with Thoreau? Too late for that, but not too late to take notice of Peter Ralston. His creativity, commitment, and clarity shine through as he articulates higher principles based on direct experience and piercing insight. A caring teacher, he has been to the mountaintop and bathed in the spring of Being. His insights speak to us all.”
—Dan Millman, author of Way of the Peaceful Warrior

“This is one of those rare books that you can read again, and refer back to… 10 out of 10 on our Infinity Scale. This is a must have book for the serious spiritual seeker.”
—EnlightenmentDudes.com

About the Author

In 1975, Peter Ralston founded Cheng Hsin, a dogma-free approach to using direct experience in body/mind training, and two years later opened The Cheng Hsin School of Internal Martial Arts and Center for Ontological Research in Oakland, California. The first non-Asian ever to win the World Championship full-contact martial arts tournament, Ralston is author of Zen Body-Being, Cheng Hsin: Principles of Effortless Power, and other books.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 600 pages
  • Publisher: North Atlantic Books (January 26, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1556438575
  • ISBN-13: 978-1556438578
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (55 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #219,414 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I truly don't know where to start with this. I've never read anything like it. Take that statement for what it's worth. I'm a college student and for the past five years I've had a drive to read everything under the sun as it relates to personal growth and what it means to "be" human. As the saying goes, we're human beings, we aren't "human doings." This is in a category of its own. It sounds funny and it is, but I could just feel becoming smarter as I read this book. So many "aha" moments just clicked into place. The book just feels *right.*
I can't describe this book as just something that adds more "stuff" to your head. This book is a pointer to experience. It's also an inspiration to be aware that a human being created something of such great value.
After all other readings I've done from psychology, leadership, eastern philosophy, you name it - this book becomes a unifying principle of everything. And it is immense. It isn't everyday that I say that something becomes a unifying principle for many other seemingly contradictory or paradoxical "realities." Yet this one somehow manages to do just that.

When you read a lot, when you experience a lot, you tend to let things just be scattered all over the place in your mind. When things in your mind are scattered, your experience of reality will equally be scattered. You will be like a leaf in the wind. And you will try to fight against any currents. This is a book that unifies everything together in a holistic manner that translates in direct experience. This book is not trying to convince you of anything, it does not, and cannot become a "belief." It is trying to SHOW you, NOW. After it has shown you, you are free to do what you like. It's a piercing expose of what it means to be human.
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I appreciate Mr. Ralston taking the time to write on such a complicated subject. It is evident that he knows (experientially) of what he speaks.

"The Book of Not Knowing" will be one of the books I reread ever year or so. It is a wealth of knowledge for the truth seeker. I say this more so because - even though getting through the details is gut wrenching to read at times - it filled in some knowledge gaps for me and affirmed parts of my own path over the last 50 years (self analysis, truth seeking, travels, meditations, etc.).

For what is sometimes a lonely path - truth seeking - it is nice to periodically have your experiences and insights independently validated. Thank you Peter!
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***** for subject matter
** for execution

The subject matter is tremendous. I've been interested in this sort of thing for a long time, but have never come across a book that deals with it, at least in any depth. Since I was a teenager I've had the notion that the only thing we know is that something is itself. I remember arguing the point with a friend, who wasn't really into that kind of thinking, so his eyes glazed over before we got anywhere. And so its gone most of my life.

So this book is about trying to get to a point where we can really experience ourselves--our true Being, as opposed to a concept of ourself (our conceptual self that is seemingly created by our beliefs/assumptions about everything). It deals with getting to the Truth, which in the end, involves a lot of honest indepth contemplation.

To experience this a bit, sit back, relax and comtemplate the follow: What are you? Not what you do in life, or how you're feeling right now, or what you're thinking, but just what are you basically. What is it that is thinking about this right now and where is it exactly? In your head? But is it really? How do you know? Feel that itch/pain in your ankle? Is that you, the pain in your ankle? If so, are you your ankle? Now stop thinking and just be aware of your ankle. Where is that awareness? Can you be aware of it or look at it? Awareness is like looking out of your eyes, you can't see it just like you can't see your eyes directly. So where is that awareness coming from exactly? It can't be coming from anything you can be aware of, can it? And so on.

So why two stars for execution.

1. Because the book is way too verbose.
2. There are far too few concrete examples when there could/should be many.
3.
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10 Comments 56 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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I wish I could give this book a better rating, because I very much believe in the thought system it supports. However, if you have any knowledge about Buddhism at all, chances are you will find yourself thinking as I did that this book could have been condensed down to a volume a quarter of the size and said just as much, been just as effective. The author had the best of intentions I'm sure, but tried too hard and spent too many words explaining something that doesn't need, in fact defies, lengthy explanation.
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This is not a book of information. It is not a belief system to be adopted. It is not intellectual deliberation. It is a experiential inquiry into YOU, performed by YOU, that will leave YOU transformed in ways you quite literally cannot begin to imagine. It is a hand pointing the way. I am working through this book for the third time, and find it totally different each time. Same book, profoundly changed reader. I challenge all students of philosophy, truth seekers, and cynical intellectuals(this was me!) to sincerely work their way through this book, and not find authentic transformation. For you see, thats what this is all pointing at, an authentic experience of being. "Someone showed it to me, and I found it all by myself." Whether or not you decide to take this challenge, BE happy friends.
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