- File Size: 14621 KB
- Print Length: 514 pages
- Publisher: Atria Books (January 3, 2017)
- Publication Date: January 3, 2017
- Sold by: Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc
- Language: English
- ASIN: B01INMZKAQ
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Not Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #20,598 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
The Mind Illuminated: A Complete Meditation Guide Integrating Buddhist Wisdom and Brain Science for Greater Mindfulness Kindle Edition
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About the Author
Matthew Immergut, PhD is an associate professor of sociology. He is a longtime meditator and a dedicated student of Culadasa. He lives in Woodstock, NY.
“[Culadasa] takes me through the science of the practice straight to the adventure of sitting, and offers context through sustainable, practical applications and tools. This book is full of wisdom, story, and creativity, and I'll be glad to have it as a reference for many years to come.” -- Elena Brower, author, Art of Attention
“This book is a rare and valuable treasure, providing a detailed, step-by-step account of how meditation practice progresses. Culadasa is the real deal, a living adept with decades of experience.” -- Shinzen Young, author, Beginner’s Guide to Meditation
“Essential reading for anyone interested in meditative development from any tradition. At once comprehensive and also very easy to read and follow in practice, this is the most thorough, straightforward, clear, and practical guide to training the mind that I have ever found. A remarkable achievement.” -- Daniel Ingram, M.D., author, Mastering the Core Teachings of the Buddha
“In a time where meditation and its twin sister, mindfulness, have become the fads du jour, Culadasa gives us the real deal in this encyclopedic handbook. If you're serious about meditation, The Mind Illuminated should be on your bookshelf.” -- Lama Marut, author, A Spiritual Renegade's Guide to the Good Life
“With wisdom, clarity and grace, Culadasa has written an invaluable manual for awakening. I believe this book will become one of the "Top 10 Must Reads" for anyone on the spiritual path for years to come. Helpful for beginning meditators, and valuable for advanced meditators who are already committed to meditation but have not yet experienced the fruits of consistent practice.” -- Stephanie Nash, mindfulness coach and integrative counselor
“This book does an outstanding job of both constructing a cognitive theory of how the mind works and presenting a detailed handbook for learning and mastering meditation. The result is a beautiful integration of theory and practice, whose parallel strands lead to experientially, and account for conceptually, the radical shift in consciousness we call awakening.” -- Richard P. Boyle, author, Realizing Awakened Consciousness --This text refers to the paperback edition.
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I happen to be a licensed clinical psychologist who has also practiced meditation for the past couple of decades. I decided to put together a seminar on meditation for people in my area, but I wanted to take a neuropsychological perspective in organizing the materials. Like many people, I am hoping that the perspective emerging from empirical investigation into the brain will offer a trans-theoretical and trans-disciplinary
approach to healing. This book appeared to be in line with my intentions, so I bought it expecting to have an enjoyable entrance into someone else's perspective that would also alert me to studies I might not have already found. While I certainly got a taste of Dr. Yates' perspective, and it is a perspective I very much appreciate, I found very little in the way of neuroscience. In fact, there were only a handful of studies referenced, and the
majority of those were out of date. Oddly, this fact does not detract from my overall positive impression of the work, but I do feel compelled to make a point of it given the way the book was marketed. Both the subtitle and the "reviews" included by the publishers emphasized a scientific angle, and this is simply incorrect. I want to warn potential readers of this because, in what I can only assume was a hasty zeal on the part of the publishers to capitalize on the neuroscience zeitgeist, they have succeeded in potentially undermining the true value of the book.
In my honest opinion, this book is best described as a modern synthesis and partial reinterpretation of the Abhidamma Sutta. As a modern synthesis it certainly owes much of its language and perspective to cognitive science, but not in an academically rigorous sense (the Mind and Life Dialogues between the Dalai Lama and various leading scientists might be a better place to start). It is more an attempt to bring a Theravadan perspective on the wisdom of two thousand plus years of phenomenological investigation by advanced meditators to the English speaking public, and in this it is an astounding success. Culadasa shows himself to be a first rate teacher of meditation who has obviously guided a great number of people through the years. His compassion and experience come through from the initial chapter on just establishing a regular time to practice, to the advanced stages where the reader will find a very fine grained description of common experiences and how to best focus one's energies. As a meditation guide, it is certainly the most thorough and clear book I have ever encountered, and I would venture to say buying this book is a no-brainer for anyone seriously interested in taking up a practice. Certainly for those already inclined towards a buddhist perspective this book comes as close to being complete as any non-living guide could be expected to.
For those not commited to a buddhist world view, and even for those that are but are also willing to encounter some contradictory ideas, I would suggest that interested readers consider, "The Path of Liberation," by Adyashanti, the old gem, "Focusing," by Eugene Gendlin, and Judith Blackstone's several books. The first book will offer an interesting counterpoint to The Mind Illuminated that will help counteract the subtle but pervasive goal-orientedness that often leaks in to the types of practices Culadasa emphasizes. The second book offers an exceptionally useful method for working with feelings and emotions that come up in the middle and later stages of meditation. The third author provides a unique perspective that includes the body, feelings, and relationships in meditation. To Culadasa's credit, he clearly names many problems and offers his own suggestions, such as loving-kindness meditation as an adjunctive practice, but I have found over the years that many people are not best served by attempting to counteract negative emotions with positive ones. Rather than finding equanimity, they seem to more often feel guilty about their genuine experience and bypass the possibility of important psychological insight. They languish in the middle stages of their practice, and most eventually give up, discouraged and feeling like failures. I have found the authors above to be better medicine for people finding themselves awash in emotion and/or struggling with relationships. Of course, the best way to handle these kinds of technical questions that arise in the course of a consistent practice is on a case by case basis. No book or combination of books can replace a trusting relationship with a teacher and a community of supportive others, and again to Culadasa's credit, he is clear that there will be instances where people should consider therapeutic support, but I would suggest that later editions delve into the important issue of emotions and relationships more deeply. The basic stance that negative emotions are simple impedimets that should fade over time or be counteracted seems remarkably simplistic in the 21st century. Also, we are inherently relational creatures in many ways, so the experience of feeling angelic on the cushions only to immediately re-engage in old patterns with family and friends is legion. As Ram Dass quppied many years ago, "if you think you are enlightened, go spend a week with your family." I do not doubt that Culadasa has much useful advice on these questions, but there did not seem to be room in this volume.
Finally, there is the question of post-awakening experience and practice. In this area Culadasa is completely silent. Again, not a crticism as his intent is clearly to support the establishment of a solid practice, but his input would be fascinating. Theravadan Buddhism in particular has a clearly articulated map of awakening, so discussion among advanced practitioners and teachers would be tremendously useful in continuing the project of forging a modern and clear language regarding how and why to practice meditation. I hope we will hear more from him in the future on these questions.
I hope these reflections will be of some value to people looking for guidance on meditation, especially those without teachers who are encountering obstacles. I pray you find your way.
I should start out by saying that I'm not a Buddhist, and quite frankly have developed a degree of skepticism and disappointment for all religions of the world. In saying that I'm not an atheist by any means, but really a seeker of the ultimate universal truth. Culadasa (and team) are able to guide the reader through a very thoughtful process of how to understand your own consciousness, where one's actual understanding of truth are compiled. Indeed, I've taken college level classes on neuroscience, and heard more than once that we know where all the components of your mind are located (emotions, memory, anger, happiness, etc.), but consciousness has no actual locus. This book takes you on a journey in the attempt to understand what that means, and ultimately provides one of the best articulations I have ever read on describing the conscious mind.
How can doing something so simple, like paying attention to one thing (i.e. breathing) for an extended period of time be so profound? How can this process cause so much turmoil as your entire belief system is turned upside down? And finally, how does this result in answering some of the deepest questions that have swirled around in your mind from as long as you can remember? As I began a practice of meditation using techniques outlined in the book, there were questions and thoughts that were followed by more questions and thoughts. I was (and still am) amazed at how thoroughly everything is addressed in complete detail. In fact, I went through something quite traumatic that's referred to as "The Dark Night of the Soul". It's ultimately caused when you come to the realization your whole concept of self is something fabricated in the mind. I went through a crisis of sorts, as the ego tried to hang onto its tenuous moorings in consensus reality. In letting go of the ego so to speak, and beginning the process of unifying the many components of the mind into one cohesive process has brought about an inner peace with clarity and focus like I've never had before. I'm convinced that this is just the beginning of something more profound as the journey unfolds.
I originally had just the Kindle version, but now went out and bought a hard copy for my coffee table in the meditation area. It's a book that gets opened just about every day. As mentioned, I'm now almost finished with the second cover-to-cover reading. I've actually created a document to outline the key points of the book. There are a number of lists, levels, and other important points that really need to be committed to memory. The book is organized using side notes, diagrams, and key points in offsets. It's suffice to say that the important points, are indeed *important* to remember.
If your looking for a treatise on mindfulness, or life changing guidebook to help you with the quest for truth, then I wholeheartedly recommend the knowledge in this book as the means to get you there.
Top international reviews
However people may look at it Buddhists have been meditating and investigating the nature of the Mind, its states and possible abilities and refining the technical language to explain such states for over 2500 years and where most contemplative traditions died out in India due to various historical reasons such practices and investigation continued in Tibet and the surrounding Theravadin countries... and has amassed a vast literature on this subject, it's for this reason that I personally think Buddhism is the best place to look for this type of information.
NOW for the Book itself.
Even though this book does draw it's information from various Buddhist sources (as well as science) the language used by Buddhists on meditation itself is of a technical and non religious nature which is reflected in this book thus anyone from any Contemplative Tradition may find this book useful, or even those who are purely secular in outlook.
The method presented takes its approach from an ancient Buddhist model where a concentration (tranquil abiding, shamatha or samatha) is developed in certain stages. Where this book excels is the share amount of detail and practical advice for all stages of mental development.
For those already familiar with the Buddhadhamma one very important point the author covers is access concentration which gives access to the Jhanas, he explains quite clearly that access concentration can arise even before Tranquil Abiding is accomplished, something I've NEVER seen covered else where and over which there is much confusion even among Tibetan Lamas (sorry but it's true). He also, in my honest opinion, ends the debate between Sutta & Abhidhamma type Jhanas, Thank you Culadasa & Saaadhu !
Plus the book has what the author calls interludes which are chapters filling in essential information to progress to the next level and well as slowly presenting a more sophisticated model of mind/Consciousness as ones practice and experience develops.
There is NO book on the market as detailed and comprehensive as this one, NONE, from the Tibetans, Theravadins or anyone else, and I say this after 35 years of experience and study, if YOU or anyone else can find better than please let me know.
This author also has one or two other "tricks" up his sleeve, e.g. he explains why "laziness" might have actually been useful and is not necessarily always negative, never seen that before and, well a very useful way of seeing things, I'll let purchasers of the book learn why by reading the book...
I cannot fault this book, it has everything you need to develop tranquil abiding and much more besides. I would recommend this book over all others.
When I came across this book I had been meditating daily for about a year. I realised that while i knew meditation is for me, I couldn't tell it I was getting anywhere worth going. Then I read an article online referring to this book and thought I'd give it a try. I was NOT disappointed.
It cuts through all the words and give a clear 10-stage progressive road map that anyone with persistance can reliably follow.
It is very in depth but also offers concise overviews. There is very little mention of religious practices, this is primarily about you and your mind and what terrain your mind will encounter as you meditate. What I like so much about this approach is that is starts right at the beginning, explains what why and how. Then, as you move on it explains what challenges you will face and how to deal with them.
I have made more progress with this approach than anything else. For those who say that meditation is not about progress, that's fine. But there are many people out there who don't have a teacher or are not going to be monks and if they don't see any progress, their motivation may crumble.
I recommend this book for people who want clear instructions with a clear purpose. You can add the religious elements yourself
While I believe this book is a must for people already familiar with meditation, I would not recommend it as an introduction to it. The reason is that it is very technical, harder to read than any other book I have read and it does not put a lot of emphasis on explaining that the stages are just a training tool, but ultimately meditation is not about getting somewhere else. I have seen people getting very confused about how to move from one stage to another, too, so again, some knowledge about meditation (both theoretical and experiential) may be necessary first (I would suggest "Mindfulness in Plain English" as a first book for this reason, as it is a lot shorter, easier to read and explains the basics brilliantly).
Still, this is a 5 star book, there is no doubt about it!
Before reading this book, I was struggling with my Vipassana practice, trapped in states of 'strong and subtle dullness' (as it turned out) and puzzled as to why I wasn't making progress. I've since started again from scratch and, following Culadasa's detailed and expert guidance, have transformed my practice and am now well on my way to becoming an adept.
Importantly, as the author points out, there is no need to go on lengthy and arduous retreats to attain equanimity. Just follow the science.
Could not recommend more highly.
Thanks, Culadassa (out there on your retreat in the Arizona wilderness). Thanks to you I've cracked it! .
This book has straightened out several misconceptions I had about meditative technique, and has renewed my enthusiasm to practice. It's like he's written a book just for me since I've hit practically every one of the obstacles he's listed so far. I only wish this book had existed a decade or so ago when I began to meditate.
If you only buy one meditation book in your life, let it be this one. I cannot recommended it highly enough.
He writes about different ways to access the jhanas, which are altered states of consciousness. He shows three different ways, which give varying degrees of heaviness/hardness. The 'luminous jhanas' are especially interesting, where you can use the inner light. Other books talk about the jhanas, but not the different ways to get there.
After some initial success, I became doubtful and tried to increase my efforts, wondering whether my way was the right one and encountered all the pitfalls that the author describes in his book. I began to take time off training, convincing myself that breaks were helpful in bringing back my focus and attention, looking at new techniques and trying to rebuild my motivation.
Eventually I realised that without proper teaching, I was receding rather than advancing and all the benefits I had earned were slowly fading away. Numerous times I tried to go to retreats, but the timing was not right, a lot of them were in faraway locations and apart from the usual advice of breath in – breath out and focus, I found little detailed, practical and step by step advice in how to overcome my problems.
Until I discovered this book! Right from the first chapter, the realisation hit me that at last I had come across a manual that describes a methodology, just like the ones I had studied many times in my academic and professional life. Very quickly I got back to good habits, proper motivation and consistent joyful practice. Whereas I recognise that I am nowhere near the end of the road, I am now confident of moving down that road.
My advice is that whether you have a passing or a serious interest in meditation and if you have time to read just one book on the subject, this one is a MUST for you.
I'm a neuroscience graduate and armchair philosopher of some 25+ years who's had a simmering interest in Buddhist meditation practice for about the same length of time. I've tried to get into it properly a few times, with occasional visits to sanghas or groups happening nearby and half-hearted attempts to follow instructions in YouTube videos. Never has anyone made me feel as strongly about practice as I do with this guide in my hands. Finally I understand what I'm actually supposed to be trying to do and the reasons why it's sometimes difficult. Finally I have practical
solutions to those problems. Finally I have someone able to describe the end-game in terms that make sense in English. Every question I've ever had, and many more that I haven't, is answered.
It is the best £9.25 I ever spent. Buy this book.
Das besondere an dem Buch ist seine unglaubliche Klarheit, seine Vollständigkeit und sein Fokus auf den praktischen Aspekt. Es werden die Werkmechanismen akademisch aber sehr verständlich dargestellt ohne auf irgendwelche Mystizismen zurück zugreifen. Ich sage immer, man hat etwas nur dann selbst wirklich verstanden, wenn man es anderen klar und deutlich vermitteln kann. In anderen Büchern wird z.B. von "Loslassen" gesprochen, wo es eigentlich um gezielte mentale positive (d.h. gesunde) Disassoziation geht (Neuroplastizität: Neuronen die nicht mehr zusammen feuern, lösen sich voneinander). In diesem Buch werden nicht wischi-waschi Begriffe, Esoterik-Schlagwörter und religiös verzerrte Begriffe verwendet, sondern es wird sachlich, verständlich, fundiert und sehr tiefgreifend mit Fokus auf die praktischen Aspekte erklärt (wo nötig auch mit Zeichnungen und Tabellen veranschaulicht).
Der bisher hilfreichste Aspekt des Buches für mich war die Erklärung in "Stage Two", dass es essentiell für den Erfolg in der Meditation ist, wenn der Geist nach einer Ablenkung wieder zum Meditationsobjekt zurück findet, sich nicht zu grämen, dass man abgelenkt war, sondern statt dessen sich zu freuen, dass man wieder zum Meditationsobjekt zurück gefunden hat, bzw. geführt wurde. Denn es ist ein (zumindest zu Beginn) unbewusster Teil des Geistes, der in Zeiten der Ablenkung die Achtsamkeit wieder zum Meditationsobjekt zurück führt. Dieser Teil ist entscheidend für den Erfolg in der Meditation, deswegen sollte man ihn durch positive Assoziation (Freude, wieder zum Meditationsobjekt gefunden zu haben) stärken. Dadurch findet man im Laufe der Zeit immer schneller und einfacher zum Meditationsobjekt zurück. Die meisten Menschen machen am Anfang den Fehler es genau umgekehrt zu machen: Nachdem Sie bemerken, dass der Geist abgelenkt war, grämen sie sich, dass sie die Konzentration nicht halten konnten, belegen damit die (anfangs) unbewusste Reaktion des Zurückfindens zum Meditationsobjekt mit negativen Gefühlen und damit wird dieser Mechanismus immer weniger oft angetriggert und es läuft immer schlechter in der Meditation.
Sehen Sie Sich auch die Rezensionen dieses Buches auf amazon . com an. Das Buch ist durch und durch empfehlenswert, wenn Sie Interesse an Meditation haben und die englische Sprache verstehen. Hoffentlich wird das Buch auch noch in viele weitere Sprachen übersetzt!
Succinct and secular language will appeal to a wide audience. The layout is easy to read, with key quotations pulled out of the text, the use of charming little drawings to illustrate metaphors for some of the issues amd dynamics that one is likely to encounter.
This is a very big book, and one that you will return to time and time again as a reference.
. I bought the book looking for inspiration and guidance in how to develop a methodical way of teaching meditation, should this situation arise. This book has met this need. I've learned a thing or two myself, from the first few chapters alone, despite being a meditator and student of buddhism for 8 years. Very thoughtful and systematic.
Read it slowly, and practice each stage before moving on to the next.