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The Book of Not Knowing: Exploring the True Nature of Self, Mind, and Consciousness

4.43  ·  Rating details ·  267 ratings  ·  33 reviews
Over decades of martial arts and meditation practice, Peter Ralston discovered a curious and paradoxical fact: that true awareness arises from a state of not-knowing. Even the most sincere investigation of self and spirit, he says, is often sabotaged by our tendency to grab too quickly for answers and ideas as we retreat to the safety of the known. This "Hitchhiker’s Guide ...more
ebook, 600 pages
Published August 31st 2010 by North Atlantic Books (first published January 1st 2010)
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Apr 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing
The Book of Not Knowing is one of the most important books that I own. In fact, if I were stranded on a desert island and could only have 3 books this would be the one I most definitely would not want to be without. No one interested in understanding the nature of who they really are, should be without this practical text. I have come to view this book as having my own personal Zen Master on call.

The Book of Not Knowing has been described by some reviewers as the bible of consciousness and that
Giorgi Bazerashvili
Jan 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is the book that everyone should read! And I mean it literally, EVERYONE.

This is the most no-bullshit guide to reaching highest states of consciousness that I've ever read.

You will have to read it multiple times to wrap your mind around the concepts that are being spoken in this book. But just reading the book won't be enough. You'll know why after reading it.

Read this book and you'll know what you should do in order to understand things that are beyond your mind, beyond survival, and beyo
Aug 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
The book of returning to the simple state of nothingness. This is a direct guide to your true nature of existing, from nothing, to the whole essence of just being. The term not knowing is a start to understanding the world we live in by simply and effortlessly just living. Ralston explains step by step the profundity of how our community, thinking, reasoning and everything we know externally, determines our reality. Returning to a state of complete joy and fulfillment is what every human being i ...more
Nicholas Brink
Nov 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Ralston, P. (2010). The Book of Not Knowing: Exploring the True Nature of Self, Mind, and Consciousness. Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Books. Paperback, 581 pp., $24.95. ISBN 978-1-55643-857-8.
Reviewed by: Nicholas E. Brink, Ph.D., Clinical Psychologist
Who am I? What is the self? What is consciousness? Peter Ralston explores these questions and other related questions, but he recognized that he cannot provide answers to these questions because the real answers can only come from a person’s person
Temur Tchanukvadze
Sep 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
No words can describe the experience I've had while reading this book. It's simple and most complicated book at the same time. Peter does a great job to explain indefinable subjects in plain words, maybe that's why it took 600 pages to explain just 'not knowing'. Simply, it's about the true nature of you. It's my bible from now, I have to reread.

May 15, 2013 rated it really liked it
I am loving this book. It's easy to read and yet sort of exhausting; mindfulness requires so much energy, somehow. This book brings me peace and I like its format, laid out like scripture chapters and verses; a nice replacement for those of us who have left organised religion.
Jul 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
“It’s not difficult to think of a child’s imaginative play as a conceptual activity, but we don’t usually consider that everything we perceive as adults is subject to a similar if more sophisticated system of conceptualization. In fact, one difference between adult and child is that the child is more likely to recognize that he’s the author of his fantasies. He might get annoyed when his world of make-believe is interrupted, not wanting to admit that he isn’t really Superman, or that his magical ...more
Jul 23, 2020 rated it it was ok
I did the audio book. Apparently every sentence in the book is numbered, like in the bible or a book of scripture - for easier referencing or quoting. The chapter/Paragraph numbers read aloud in an audio book serve no indexing purpose. That was jarring and irritating and took much away from the listening pleasure one could have had from the book. Also, it is too much of the same thing over and over again and after a while of listening, one automatically sort of tunes out.
Bryan June
Sep 01, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The format of this book is laid out in such an accessible way for such an unaccessible subject matter. Ralston gives the reader plenty of time to come to terms with the topic and argument of understanding for each chapter and even outlines helpful meditation and contemplation exercises to drive the points home. Though I found it to be often repetitive, it seems it's the author's style to repeat any argument or idea several times in several different ways to clarify to the best of his ability a s ...more
Scott Ford
Oct 02, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: philosophy
The Tibetan concept of Skandah, which means 'groupings', is a framework that explains how a person generates his or her individuality, or ego. And from a Buddhist perspective, fixation on ego is at the heart of suffering. The highly abstract theory of Skandah is unintentionally made far more accessible, in my opinion, by Peter Ralston's The Book of Not Knowing. While Ralston never ties the ideas in his book directly to Skandah, his detailed, step-by-step approach in guiding the reader through th ...more
Nov 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This isn't a book to read. It's a book to study.
It's easy to glide over the contents, it's interesting stuff. But the goal of the book isn't to give yet another map or belief around what self, mind and consciousness are. It's to directly challenge your beliefs on them, and open the door towards directly experiencing them.

The deeper you go into the contents, the more the depth of the contents becomes apparent. As another reviewer stated, if I was only allowed one book on a desert island, this wou
Pat Edwards
Apr 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A book I will return to frequently. Ralston's perspective on the concepts of self are beyond thought provoking and into mind altering.
It may be a challenge for beginners in self-exploration, but worth the effort.
James Fisher
Apr 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
this is one I have recently read, and will be "currently reading" for a long time...;-)
Frank Moffatt
Jun 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Amazing book - certainly not a book to begin your spiritual journey, but once you are comfortably situated on the path this book will open more and more doors!
Sometimes in the library or the bookstore, surrounded by all the shelves of possibility, it seems that The Book must be among them.

Pieces appear while reading other books... a shared experience all but forgotten until remembered there on the page, recorded so much more completely and accurately than memory itself, an ah-hah moment mixed with a sense of déjà vu; that feeling when an unknown author becomes a new favorite, opening a universe of books to be discovered and enjoyed; even at times the
Jacob Ryan
Feb 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
An epically profound book. The power of content in this book is second to none. Surely one of the most sophisticated and in-depth reads I've had the fortune of reading on the topic of consciousness. Ralston explores all the fundamental aspects of human experience and how they interrelate with consciousness and being. He goes onto provides methods to explore oneself, how they operate and who they are at the core of their existence. Highly recommend this book for anyone interested in human develop ...more
Jordan Hutchison
Mar 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Self actualization, personal development, introspective.
This is a book you'll surely have to read more than once. I recommend doing the suggested exercises within and taking good notes so that you may refer to them at a later date. The book will have you questioning the most basic beliefs you've derived from your culture and it can result in profound revelations and insights. This book has the potential to move the gears in your head in ways you never thought possible but you must put forth the effort and work to not only understand what exactly is b ...more
Anirban Saren
Jan 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
It's life-changing. I mean to discover the true nature of oneself the ultimate goal that this book has taught me. I learnt to contemplate and know how the mind works in mysterious ways. I feel quite confident in my spiritual path. I recommend it for every spiritual seeker.
Apr 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Amazing book if you are on a search for Truth yourself. This can literally be used as a manual for becoming enlightened and penetrating into deep truths about reality and life.
Jun 13, 2019 rated it liked it
Seems similar to Robert Anton Wilson's work but presented more soberly
Aug 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Most powerful spiritual book I've ever read. If you are a serious seeker, once you read this there is no going back.
Oct 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Everyone should read this book. This is the no bullshit way of living life.
David Dvali
Dec 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Tryed to imagine person who will read this book completely and would not be interested in spirituality and will choose not taking any action. I am wondering if this kind of person exists (who is so closed minded)
Peter Felix
Dec 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
The most important book I own. This book will tear everyones beliefs apart or at least make you question them to see if there is any TRUTH behind them. This book is for open minded individuals. This book is Dogma free. This book will scare the shit out of you. Will also help you understand your self and mind . You do care about yourself and mind right? right???? right?? What is more important than you?!
May 15, 2012 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in zen-type stuff
A book to ponder over again and again.
A De
May 20, 2012 rated it really liked it
very nice book on SELF; it might be difficult if you haven't read other Prof Ralston's books and it contains many exercises that take quite a bit of time but well worth it
Apr 20, 2014 is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
This book is one that not only questions your "Belief" systems...but also takes you down further into the understanding of "Self" and "Being"...
Jun 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Most important book I've read to date
Mark Russell
Nov 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great reference for ontology & contemplation ...more
Mar 30, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: kindle-ebooks
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Peter Ralston works with people to authentically expand and deepen their “consciousness,” and to become more real, honest, and effective human beings. He facilitates people in understanding their own selves and minds, and in becoming increasingly conscious of the nature of perception, experience, and existence, and the nature of “being.” He also does this through teaching people about their bodies ...more

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