cover image Gradual Awakening: The Tibetan Buddhist Path of Becoming Fully Human

Gradual Awakening: The Tibetan Buddhist Path of Becoming Fully Human

Miles Neale. Sounds True, $17.95 (264p) ISBN 978-1-68364-209-1

Psychotherapist and Buddhist teacher Neale outlines a 30-step road map to spiritual transformation based on the Tibetan Lamrim (“gradual path”) tradition in this lucid book. Drawing primarily on a text by the 14th-century Tibetan sage Je Tsongkhapa, Neale describes a sequential path (initiation, preparation, visualization, renunciation, compassion, action, vision, and manifestation) that, in his view, “offers far more transformational potential than merely sitting quietly following the breath.” He warns that his system is complicated (and it is), but he has a keen ear for the mindset and objections of secular Westerners, and, in a bid to make his work more accessible to them, he incorporates ideas from psychotherapy and neuroscience as well as Joseph Campbell’s “hero’s journey.” Neale draws heavily on the work of his mentors—psychiatrist and Buddhist scholar Joseph Loizzo and professor Robert Thurman—and pays particular attention to the positive and problematic aspects of guru devotion. Throughout, Neale argues that a meaningful spiritual path (as opposed to what he calls “McMindfulness”) needs to address the “distorted, impoverishing worldview” now pervasive in America. Though Neale relies too heavily on brain-as-computer analogies and unnecessarily vague terminology (“evolutionary self-care” for renunciation, “quantum view” for wisdom), his smart, energetic synthesis of ideas gives insight into a complex form of traditional Buddhism for new generations of secular seekers. [em](Sept.) [/em]