On Awakening: Recommended Reads & Resources
I've tried to place these in descending order of useful information density. I recommend reading these (roughly) in order.
Must Reads (+ 1 Watch)
- Jeffery Martin's PNSE study: summarizes Jeffery's findings from 142 six to twelve hour interviews with awakened individuals. Interesting throughout, it draws on a broader sample of awakenings than anything else I'm aware of.
- Realizing Awakened Consciousness: The work of research sociologist Richard Boyle, the book begins with interviews with 11 accomplished Buddhist practictioners followed by an analysis of the common characteristics of those accounts along with a model of awakening. The most important chapters are 12, 13, and 17, which I recommend reading first.
- Frank Hale's
- Cook-Greuter's Ego Development Theory: Splits adult development into 7 clusters or stages, the last cluster roughly mapping onto awakening. One of the many nice things about this work is that it covers the prior development that most resources about awakening assume—e.g. if you're reading this, you're almost certainly at least at cluster 4/5.
- Thusness's Map: Is Cook-Greuter's final stage the end of adult development? Once you experience an initial awakening, are you finished? Nope! Thusness's map covers the next bits. One way of relating to this is as the inside-view perspective of the four locations mentioned Jeffery Martin's study.
- Culadasa's enlightenment handout: Covers awakening (in plain english) from the perspective of Theravadan Buddhism.
These following resources are very useful for understanding Buddhist insight meditation, especially noting. It's unclear to me how relevant these are to other styles of practice.
The Progress of Insight: The resources listed thus far have been the sort of high-level, bird's eye view of the path. The fine details of the stages of insight that a meditator experiences are covered in a map known as "The Progress of Insight." It has a long history, tracing back to the 5th century Visuddhimagga. Here are the presentations of it I like best: Ron Crouch's take, Mahasi Sayadaw's Practical Insight Meditation, Daniel Ingram's Mastering the Core Teachings of the BuddhaRead at least the first one. For those interested in noting, it's probably worthwhile to read and contrast all of them.
Shinzen's map: Dose a guy with 40,000 hours of meditation practice across of a variety of traditions and then get him interested in science and you end up with Shizen Young. He has a map of experience in "What is Mindfulness?", beginning at page 40. The first bits seem right to me, but I don't know what to make of the later diagrams.
Christian Mysticism Stuff
These are more just "cool works by Christian mystics," more so awakening adjacent than head on useful. Descending order of dopeness:
- This incredibly useful orienting read.
- Bernadette Robert's The Experience of No-Self, some excerpts (this chick is one of my mystical heroes, hope to write a top-level post about her eventually)
- St. John of the Cross's The Dark Night of the Soul
- Meister Eckhart, I used Penguin Classic's Selected Writings, but this looks excellent—dude seems to have the clearest (only?) description of nibanna in Christian works and, well, guess how the church treated him
- Hildegard von Bingen's works seem really interesting but I haven't found a good text for her yet. I was sold after listening to this composition by her.
- I don't like The Interior Castle but a lot of other people do so honorable mention