For most of human history, a person who wanted to learn to meditate had one teacher who taught a single, unified approach, with a coherent set of practices and terminology. An American in the 21st century, however, faces a bewilderingly diverse array of traditions, each of which has its own practices and special terms. To complicate things further, many of these traditions use the same terms to mean different things and the same practices aimed at different goals.

Faced with this Tower of Babel, it’s easy to superficially jump from one approach to another, not sticking with any practice long enough to make any meaningful progress. It’s also easy to respond to this confusion by throwing one’s hands in the air and simply giving up.

The value of The Science of Enlightenment is that it gives one a coherent mental framework with which understand all the world’s meditation practices. This is the sense in which we can say the author presents a “science.” Just as the scientific classification of animals equips a biologist to make sense of a newly-discovered species, this “scientific” classification of meditation practices equips one to make sense of the bewildering array of meditation practices they are likely to encounter in the modern “marketplace” of contemplative practices.

The book is available here.

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