Rediscover the Promise of Enlightenment
As Western culture has embraced practices like meditation and yoga, has something been lost in translation? “What we see in America today in both the yoga boom and mindfulness fad,” writes Dr. Miles Neale, “is a presentation of technique alone, sanitized and purged of the dynamic teachings in wisdom and ethics that are essential for true liberation.” For anyone seeking a path dedicated to both authentic personal growth and the overthrow of the nihilism, hedonism, and materialism that are threatening our planet, this compelling teacher presents a well-conceived, sustainable solution with Gradual Awakening.
The core of this book is Tibetan Buddhism’s “gradual path”—or Lam Rim—interpreted with fresh insights from modern scientific research. Offering an illuminating new presentation of Tibet’s deep psychology, meditative techniques, and virtuous rituals, Dr. Neale presents a time-honored path of enormous transformational potential. Each chapter serves as a practical manual that will allow you to experiment with and actualize the benefits of role-modeling visualization, affirmations, contemplative themes, textual recitation, prayers, altars, offerings, and meditation. Here you’ll explore:
• Uprooting the “sickness of paradigm”—why a complete spiritual practice must directly confront the fundamental human suffering caused by the modern ethos of scientific reductionism
• The Lam Rim path—the history, heritage, and power of this 30-step “hero’s journey” of awakening
• Evolutionary self-care—understanding the Buddhist concept of renunciation as a form of self-love and healing
• Radical altruism—awakening Bodhicitta, our innate aspiration to evolve fully in service to others
• Quantum vision—how the teaching of “emptiness” allows us to pierce the illusion of materialism and accurately perceive the subtlest nature of reality
• Dr. Neale’s MAPS process (Maturity, Acceptance, Possibility, and Seeds) to integrate and manifest key insights and skills in your everyday life
The mass-market dilutions of Eastern wisdom that focus on symptom relief and easy answers have left behind the ultimate promise of spiritual practice: enlightenment. “Enlightenment is an unfolding process—open to everyone.” writes Dr. Neale. For most of us, this path to awakening must be realized through a gradual process: building on incremental insights into who we truly are, learning to care for ourselves and others, and discovering creative ways to engage the problems we all face. Gradual Awakening will serve as a lifelong companion for anyone willing to embrace a new paradigm that integrates science with spirit, theory with practice, and personal meditation with the desire to transform the world.
A portion of the proceeds from this book will benefit the Buddhist nuns of Kopan Nunnery in Nepal.
"[Miles Neale's] smart, energetic synthesis of ideas gives insight into a complex form of traditional Buddhism for new generations of secular seekers."
"Captivating, relevant, and practical...Calling Western culture’s watered-down, consumer-friendly version of potent spiritual practices 'McMindfulness,' [GRADUAL AWAKENING] 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."
“As an increasingly global community continues to confront environmental, socioeconomic, and geopolitical obstacles, I hope Gradual Awakening will generate an awareness of the potential within all of us to create harmony, deepen understanding, and bring about peaceful, collaborative solutions to the issues we face for the mutual benefit of all beings. Dr. Neale not only gives us pragmatic ways to develop this potential, but he also demonstrates it by giving a portion of his earnings from this book to benefit Kopan Nunnery in Nepal. Well done!” —Richard Gere
“A fresh new voice has emerged—Miles’s message is both fiery and clear. Gradual Awakening is a timely revelation, offering an unabashed critique of our modern materialist paradigm as well as an ancient yet accessible roadmap for those wondering what’s next.? ?On your journey of awakening and social transformation, Dr. Miles Neale is a capable ally and an adept guide.?” —Elena Brower, author of Practice You and Art of Attention
“The path of the spiritual revolution is one of gradually uncovering the wisdom and compassion that has always been within us. Each act of wise attention, wise action, and renunciation leads us to a direct process of experiencing freedom from suffering. With this freedom, we find we have the power, ability, and duty to dedicate our lives to creating a positive change on this planet for the benefit and welfare of all sentient beings. Dr. Miles Neale offers us his wise and compassionate guidance in this important book that shares with us his personal journey and in-depth understanding of the process of awakening.” —Noah Levine, founder of Against the Stream Buddhist Meditation Society and author of Refuge Recovery
“It is very important in our times to have dharma literature that clearly and creatively communicates the profound and transformative teachings on the gradual path to enlightenment. Dr. Neale is a long-term practitioner, scholar, and psychologist who has been under the direct guidance of many wonderful teachers. His writing beautifully describes the critical relevance to our lives of the seminal teachings by great early masters of this lineage such as Atisha and Tsongkhapa that are still practiced and taught 600 years later by extraordinary living masters like Lama Zopa Rinpoche and H. H. Dalai Lama. Dr. Neale and I also share a common goal in our efforts to bring authentic dharma to the nuns in Nepal, which makes me very happy.” —Tsoknyi Rinpoche, president of the Pundarika and the Tsoknyi Humanitarian Foundations and author of Carefree Dignity, Fearless Simplicity, and Open Heart, Open Mind
“In Gradual Awakening, Dr. Miles Neale’s sure-footed guide to the path of mature spiritual practice in our quick-fix age, we hear a compelling new voice that is at once steeped in timeless tradition and emphatically timely and direct. Challenging the pop dilution of Buddhist mind science, Dr. Neale leads us boldly from what he calls ‘McMindfulness’ step by step up to the headwaters of one of humanity’s purest streams of psychological wisdom and contemplative healing. The stream we travel with him in this book is the one that sprung from Shakyamuni’s awakening under the Bodhi Tree in North India, then shifted its source further north—to the world’s first university at nearby Nalanda, and eventually up snow-peaked trails to the high mountain lakes of Tibet. The transformative insights and methods we drink on our journey through these pages were refined over centuries by Nalanda masters in India and Tibet to help anyone and everyone acquire a taste for the quintessence of the Buddha’s teaching, hence the timely and urgent message of this book. Awakening is not a random lightning strike, but a gradual, intentional ascent out of the deep sleep of evolution, culture, and childhood; a hero’s journey for those who seek freedom in the midst of everyday life; and a path that requires rigorous training, systematic reflection, and lifelong contemplative realization. If you’re tired of simply following your breath and want to follow in the footsteps of the Buddha and his heirs, up the path that will bring you unerringly to the source of your own fully embodied, fully human awakening, then this is the guide you’ve been waiting for!” —Joseph Loizzo, MD, PhD, assistant professor of psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College, founding director of the Nalanda Institute for Contemplative Science, and author of Sustainable Happiness
“This is a brilliant book. In a voice that is fierce yet gentle, erudite but earthy, Dr. Miles Neale combines a beautifully laid Buddhist roadmap for human awakening with modern neuroscience and psychotherapy. Not only incredibly useful for those interested in harnessing the transformative potential of Tibetan power tools like visualization, Gradual Awakening also speaks to the urgency of our time, reminding us that our personal journey of healing is not optional if we have any chance of helping a society that has lost its way.” —Ethan Nichtern, author of The Road Home: A Contemporary Exploration of the Buddhist Path
“Dr. Miles Neale gives a refreshing interpretation of an ancient classic through a modern neuropsychological lens—a hipster’s roadmap to throw into your backpack on life’s grand adventure.” —Wade Davis, PhD, professor of anthropology at the University of British Columbia, explorer-in-residence at the National Geographic Society, and author of The Serpent and the Rainbow and The Lost Amazon
“This is a wonderfully readable, fresh, and personal exploration of the traditional teachings within Lama Tsongkhapa’s ‘Gradual Path.’ Dr. Neale’s experience and insights as a Western psychotherapist blend beautifully with his deep knowledge of the Dharma. Gradual Awakening is a rich, thorough, and insightful guide for anyone new to the Tibetan tradition and a refreshing reiteration for older practitioners. Dr. Neale expertly shows how Buddhist understanding and practice can challenge and genuinely address our contemporary alienated spiritual malaise.” —Rob Preece, author of The Wisdom of Imperfection and The Psychology of Buddhist Tantra
“Dr. Miles Neale leads us on our own journey with neuroscience and psychotherapy, drawing us back to spirit. He illuminates traditional teachings for reflection and action, from aspiration and refuge to radical altruism. This is strong and effective medicine. Gradual Awakening is a true friend and guide for bringing liberating values to life.” —Sharon Salzberg, author of Real Happiness and Real Love
“Dr. Miles Neale’s Gradual Awakening offers a much-needed answer to the proliferation of popular spiritual teachings that promise some sudden enlightenment, as if awakening were the ultimate escape from the inexorable relativity and messy impermanence of the human condition. He begins by challenging the ‘easy enlightenment’ that mistakes experiences of oneness, timeless presence, or self-loss for the final goal, and goes on to explain why these routine meditative states must be skillfully harnessed to free the mind for psychological insight and the embodiment of compassion. Dr. Neale’s book eloquently presents the Tibetan tradition of teaching a gradual path to enlightenment, which weaves meditation together with wisdom and ethics in a consummate practice that fosters fully awakened humanity. The path we travel in its chapters dates back to the systematic curriculum of India’s great contemplative universities like Nalanda, and from there back to the Buddha’s original Noble Eightfold Path. Inspired by a brief text from the Tibetan Renaissance genius Tsong Khapa, this guide maps out thirty steps on the way from our common human condition of confusion and addictive emotions to the complete awakening of perfect Buddhahood. True to the legacy of Shakyamuni and the Nalanda masters before and since Tsong Khapa, this path leads not away from the everyday world of interdependence, but to a wiser, more selfless, more compassionate engagement with our infinite relatedness to others and the infinite consequentiality of our every action. If you want a way through the maze of today’s pop spirituality to find the real path to full awakening, read this book!” —Robert A.F. Thurman, PhD, professor of Tibetan studies at Columbia University, president of Tibet House US and Menla Mountain Retreat, and author of The Jewel Tree of Tibet, Inner Revolution, and Essential Tibetan Buddhism
“Looking back over my own spiritual path, there were many times I felt I was being pushed through a brick wall in order to gain the understanding that would enable me to manifest the life and freedom I have attained. I applaud Dr. Neale for this wise, thoughtful, and generous approach to becoming what we were put here to be: balanced and whole human beings.” —Damien Echols, author of Life After Death, Yours for Eternity, and High Magick
“Dr. Miles Neale’s new book is a roadmap to enlightenment. Drawing on his many years as a psychotherapist and Buddhist meditator, he guides the reader through all of the stages one needs to go through in order to heal traumas, come to terms with our lives, and find true love, compassion, forgiveness, and authenticity in our hearts. Dr. Neale writes in an accessible and profound way, elucidating precious teachings of Buddhist literature that guide us in how we should live, act, and think in order to find and spread happiness. It is a beautiful and inspiring book that will no doubt bring guidance to all who are seeking an awakened mind and life.” —Eddie Stern, founder of Ashtanga Yoga New York and author of Yoga Mala
“In the near future when we have built more equitable and sustainable societies, it will be because humanity embarked on a process of awakening with each of us not becoming Buddhist but more fully human, wise, and compassionate. Miles offers this inspiring vision, and Gradual Awakening provides a training manual for the spiritual revolution that will help catalyze global systems change.” —Robert-Jan van Ogtrop, MBA, founder and chairman of Circle Economy and founder of the Foundation for Natural Leadership
About the Author:
MILES NEALE, PSYD, is among the leading voices of the current generation of Buddhist teachers and a forerunner in the emerging field of contemplative psychotherapy. He is a Buddhist psychotherapist in private practice, assistant director of the Nalanda Institute for Contemplative Science, and faculty at Tibet House US and Weill Cornell Medical College.
Dr. Neale is coeditor of and contributor to the groundbreaking volume Advances inContemplative Psychotherapy: Accelerated Healing and Transformation and author of Gradual Awakening: The Tibetan Buddhist Path of Becoming Fully Human. For more visit milesneale.com.