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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Aims high and hits the mark
This book is a rare gem. Whether you have spent years trying to figure it all out or are new to the search for enlightenment, this book will explain all the essentials.

Have you spent years meditating and wondered why you are still not enlightened? Or do you know people who have practised a path for ages, and whilst they have received benefits, enlightenment...
Published on 7 May 2011 by Frank Skinner

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars No such an easy book to read
I find this book goes in different directions too easily. It happens so often that it becomes hard to read. The message is good but....
Published 11 months ago by Martin L.M


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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Aims high and hits the mark, 7 May 2011
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This review is from: How to Attain Enlightenment: The Vision of Non-Duality (Spirituality Religious Experie) (Paperback)
This book is a rare gem. Whether you have spent years trying to figure it all out or are new to the search for enlightenment, this book will explain all the essentials.

Have you spent years meditating and wondered why you are still not enlightened? Or do you know people who have practised a path for ages, and whilst they have received benefits, enlightenment has not been one of them? If you are not just interested in feeling a temporary sense of peace, and want to go further then this book has been written for you.

For me, the most useful teaching of Swartz was that enlightenment is not an experience. All experiences come and go, and so-called spiritual experiences are no different. Swartz first tells us and then shows us that Enlightenment is an understanding, or knowledge. This understanding paradoxically occurs in the mind, but points to the directly observable fact that we are not the body or mind and that we are in fact ever-free awareness. Based on direct observation we see that we are already whole and that no matter what happens we will be OK.

Of course, what you will discover upon reading this book is that 'you' cannot really attain enlightenment, as the body-mind is seen not to be an independent entity that can be enlightened. The idea of being an individual disappears for it was never true to begin with - it's just now we understand/know this to be the case.

Swartz teaches in line with Advaita Vedanta, and this book is the clearest and most accessible summary of Advaita Vedanta I have come across. Before reading this book I really thought that Vedanta was more intellectual philosophy than a practical guide. He uses Sanskrit terms only where required, and clearly explains what they mean. The author also tackles the current 'Advaita scene' and dispels with false ideas of what enlightenment is.

The only negative is that the book could do with some editing, but by no means let that put you off. If you are considering purchasing this, I would wholeheartedly recommend it!
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Vedanta is the way, 3 Mar 2010
By 
Fiona Agombar - See all my reviews
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This review is from: How to Attain Enlightenment: The Vision of Non-Duality (Spirituality Religious Experie) (Paperback)
A truly enlightening book which not only explains the path for spiritual seekers, but most importantly and unlike the neo-advaita teachings, actually gives a sensible methodology on how to tread this path. We have all heard teachers tell us that there actually is no path, but this, in my experience, is unhelpful. As a yoga teacher I found the description of karma yoga and manipulating the gunas the best that I have read. For those who have realised the self and don't know where to go with this, How to Attain Enlightenment is really supportive. This is a clear, well written book using the science of Vedanta, a tried and tested methodolgy that has worked for thousands of years. How to Attain Enlightenment shows that Awarness is our nature and that we are not our body or mind. If we are qualified, and James Swartz explains these qualifications clearly, then Enlightenment is possible.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful, incisive and truly enlightening, 28 Jun 2012
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This review is from: How to Attain Enlightenment: The Vision of Non-Duality (Spirituality Religious Experie) (Paperback)
An incredible book, and an amazing gift. I've been waiting 20 years for something like this! Truly, if I'd had access to the teaching before it would have avoided so much floundering and enticing side-paths that led nowhere.

This book will not appeal to everyone, as evidenced by the mixed reviews here, but if you are ready and are open to questioning literally everything you've ever learned in the spiritual marketplace of the west (and probably now the east too, seeing as 'west' is everywhere), this may be the last spiritual book you'll need. It begins by outlining the necessary 'qualifications' you need to embark on this path...that might not strike the right chord with some, but clearly a certain foundation is needed to understand and assimilate the knowledge here. To the average person on the street, and even to many spiritual seekers, it will be meaningless and perplexing. I came to realise that in large part the obstructions that prevent us 'attaining enlightenment' are are misconceptions about what enlightenment actually is.

Swartz is not a cuddly 'love and light' guru. I have absolutely no doubt that he is a fully realised being, but he is unafraid to tell it like it is and is quick to point out the flaws of lesser teachings. Frankly, this is needed. The notion that all paths are equal is a fallacy, for clearly many are more harmful than helpful. But this isn't Swartz's teaching - he draws upon the ancient system of Vedanta which is as close to a science of enlightenment as there is. There's a LOT of information here and it's important to take your time to deeply reflect on it and allow it to permeate your consciousness and overwrite all the dodgy software and coding we've acquired over lifetimes.

Especially helpful and revelatory to me were the teachings of the causal and subtle bodies, the functioning of vasanas and gunas (so helpful - this should absolutely be worked into mainstream psychological understanding) and how to create the necessarily sattvic states of mind that allow us to reflect the pure, still, expansive awarness of Self/awareness/being.

This teaching - which was, until recently, not even available to English speakers - is a gift to humanity. This is only the tip of the iceberg as well -- there are hundreds of hours of free audio and an immeasurable amount of written material on James Swartz's website that will enable you to fully assimilate the teaching. I am blessed to have found this.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book embodies the essence of Vedantic teaching with profound clarity, 30 May 2010
By 
Dr. C. Patel (London, U,K) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: How to Attain Enlightenment: The Vision of Non-Duality (Spirituality Religious Experie) (Paperback)
This book is a gem as it will set forth any ardent aspiring seeker on the right spiritual path thus avoiding years or decades of floundering in the quagmire of the world of cults, belief systems, pseudo-gurus/ teachers and self proclaimed masters of Enlightenment.
Imagine what Columbus would have given to have a more accurate map of the world when he set forth on his Journey to discover the East.
Well for a start the Na-Dene' people would not have been branded as Red Indians and the central Islands between North and South America as West Indies.
All this was product of Ignorance.
Similarly when we set forth on the Voyage of Self discovery, we do so without understanding our fundamental problem which is that of Ignorance of our intrinsic/true nature. We therefore erroneously identify ourselves with the body-mind complex and thus end up with the commensurate by-products i.e. need for security, fulfilment, happiness, leading to likes and dislikes, desires, fear, anger, greed , jealousy, addiction, fanaticism etc.
We thus look upon ourselves as a miserable insignificant little individual with the need to look for a God outside and Enlightenment/ mystical experiences via yoga/meditation/Samadhi as an achievement and a passport to merger with that external God as some future event.
This book embodies the essence of Vedantic teaching with profound clarity. It will reveal that we do not lack any experience of the SELF. That duality is experienced during our waking and dream state and non-duality (advaitam) during our deep sleep state and that the ultimate quest is to recognise the unchanging substratum i.e the witness consciousness in and through all these 3 states of mind. When the mind is extroverted we enjoy the wakerhood status, when it is introverted we enjoy the dreamerhood status and when the mind is resolved we have the sleeperhood status.
Thus we claim, I am the Waker or Dreamer or Sleeper. The seeker has to undertake an inquiry into these states of mind and recognise their transient nature and realise that what is constant and unchanging is nothing else but that immanent and at the same time transcendant consciousness 'I' which has been ever existent.

However it is vehemently pointed out that this does not mean we have to set about destroying all our thoughts or ego or sit around in meditation, or keep chanting and claiming since everything is consciousness nothing else exists or ever happened. A seeker may temporarily feel high during meditation or satsangs and weekend retreats with a guru but inevitably disillusionment will set in when facing the real world. The Self does not require any new experience of Enlightenment or awakening, it is always self evident and self effulgent.
As our fundamental problem is that of Ignorance of real nature whose locus is the
mind, there cannot be multipath approach for its removal. To remove darkness there is only one path i.e. Bring Light. This is not fanaticism but statement of fact.
Hence what is required to remove ignorance of the Self is a valid means of knowledge. This knowledge is regarding the SELF (Atman) but it takes place in the mind only. The normal means of knowledge (perception, inference etc) are geared towards investigation of the external objects or the mind but not the Self i.e the subject.
Fortunately there is a guiding map, a Valid means of Self Knowledge-Vedanta. The path is
well trodden, verified over thousands of years by great sages and most importantly verifiable by every individual. But for that what is required is genuine desire and effort on the part of the seeker. There are no shortcuts and crash courses. Any crash course on this path will crash. Everybody acknowledge the fact that to aspire for a degree in Science, Engineering or Medicine, right qualifications have to be acquired through various stages of school, college, university etc. over a number of years.
This book will without a shadow of doubt whet the appetite of an aspiring seeker to undertake such a journey of right preparation of the mind before exposure to vedantic teaching and subsequently immerse in 'consistent and systematic study for a length of time under the guidance of a competent teacher' until it will finally dawn that what we were seeking was always with us.
That is Enlightenment.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best book on enlightenment currently available, 24 July 2013
By 
P. Strand "Laughing Buddha" (Nowhere in particular) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: How to Attain Enlightenment: The Vision of Non-Duality (Spirituality Religious Experie) (Paperback)
"How to attain enlightenment: The vision of non-duality" by James Swartz presents the ancient science of self-knowledge known as Vedanta in a way that is easily accessible and which can be readily understood by everyone. That's not to say that this book is in any way lightweight or undemanding. It is very likely that it will be quite challenging for most of us. The science of self-knowledge is not the spiritual equivalent of a fast food meal, so it's not necessarily something that can be immediately assimilated and digested by anyone. It would appear that it really does require time, effort and perseverance to fully understand and live the message that is presented in this book. It's not that Vedanta is difficult to understand, but rather that for many of us our spiritual and cultural conditioning might make it harder to allow this teaching to fully flower in our lives.

James Swartz has given the world a great gift by writing this marvellous book. With "How to attain enlightenment" he has managed to distil the world of Vedanta into one single very readable volume that seems complete in itself. This book may very well prove to be the last or only spiritual book you'll ever need to read. The philosophy and methodology of Vedanta are clearly explained and unfolded, and the way it's presented leaves the reader in no doubt about the supreme importance and efficacy of this ancient spiritual teaching. It should be noted that James Swartz is no spiritual neophyte. He studied and practiced extensively under the personal guidance of such spiritual luminaries as Swami Chinmayananda and Swami Dayananda, who were two of the 20th century's greatest exponents of Vedanta and non-duality.

Vedanta is a genuine and thoroughly tested methodology for self-realisation and enlightenment, and stretches far back into the distant past. James Swartz is true and faithful to this great tradition throughout this book, yet at the same time he presents Vedanta in such a way that it will have great appeal to people in our own time, or at least to those who are qualified and ready for it. The book is written in a clear, straightforward and accessible manner and presents all aspects of Vedanta in a logical and appealing way. It is divided into 16 chapters, although the last two chapters could possibly be seen as forming an appendix to the book rather than being part of the main body of the book. The first of these final chapters is a very interesting and illuminating discussion about the teaching of Ramana Maharshi while the second one is a quite convincing critique and dismissal of the so-called neo-advaita movement.

"How to attain enlightenment" is a tremendous achievement, and a book of such strength, conviction, integrity, wisdom and clarity that it deserves to be regarded as one of the greatest books on spirituality of our time. It really ought to be mandatory reading for anyone who is at all interested in Vedanta, non-duality and enlightenment. A true classic!
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2.0 out of 5 stars The style of writing in this book made it unreadable for me., 29 May 2014
By 
Mr. G. Craig "Garry Craig" (Portsmouth UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: How to Attain Enlightenment: The Vision of Non-Duality (Spirituality Religious Experie) (Paperback)
The following is a quote from the author's guru, which appears right at the end of the book - "When will realisation of the self will be gained? When the world which is what is seen has been removed, there will be realisation of the self, which is the seer."

As a student of vedic teachings for more than 30 years, this makes complete sense to me and did not require a further 2 pages of explanation from the author. Similarly, I found the book to be so overstated, going round in endless circles of bewildering explanation and repeatedly stating the obvious.

I cannot claim to be given a totally true opinion as I found it impossible to read the whole thing.
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3.0 out of 5 stars No such an easy book to read, 26 Jan 2014
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This review is from: How to Attain Enlightenment: The Vision of Non-Duality (Spirituality Religious Experie) (Paperback)
I find this book goes in different directions too easily. It happens so often that it becomes hard to read. The message is good but....
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, 4 Jan 2014
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This review is from: How to Attain Enlightenment: The Vision of Non-Duality (Spirituality Religious Experie) (Paperback)
A superb unfolding of Vedanta. James Swartz has obviously mastered himself and Vedanta ,which is no mean feat.Great but only if you're ready.
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4.0 out of 5 stars very thorough and insightful overview of the vedantic teachings. ..., 18 Dec 2014
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very thorough and insightful overview of the vedantic teachings. a no-bull-shit approach to enlightenment thinking and realisation that is downright refreshing.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 10 Dec 2014
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The book is excellent. Great service. Thank you.
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