Thursday, December 25, 2008

Book Review: The Light Behind Consciousness

Like some advaitic benediction, John Wheeler's new book, The Light Behind Consciousness: Radical Self-Knowledge and the End of Seeking (Non-Duality Press, $19.95) arrived just in time for the holidays. The vermilion cover design admirably compliments John's four other titles. Similiar, too, is the book's inclusion of both essays and dialogues.

But this time around, we are gifted with a bountiful section (thirty-six pages!) of incisive and clarifying pointers. Also different is his initial focus on the conceptual distinctions between awareness and consciousness; hence, the book's elegant title. But John doesn't belabor this vital issue. The prose and discussions are meritoriously varied, and include such headings as "Prior to Consciousness," "LIfe Goes On, But Without the Self-Center," "Awareness and the Brain," "The Limits of Language," and "The Essence of the Inquiry."

Every teacher of nonduality is different. There is Bob Adamson's directness and incredible association with Nisargadatta, Gilbert Schultz's elucidating energy, and Stephen Wingate's down-to-earthness (Wingate, by the way, provides the fine Preface to this work). John attributes are his profound patience in addressing seekers' concerns and--foremost, perhaps--the precision and clarity of his pointers, e.g., "Thoughts and feelings come up in the natural awareness that you are. It is that simple. You are already that natural and effortless awareness. What else can you be?"

John is becoming a tad more categorical these days, which is perfectly fine, given that his pronouncements are utterly incontestable. Here are two gems that, no doubt, would make U.G. Krishnamurti whoop: "All paths and approaches based on gradual arrival are false" and "Everything after the 'I am' is a lie. Cross that line and...there is suffering."

The Light Behind Consciousness is a truly illuminating work. Savor it, ponder it, and allow it resonate; and perhaps you, too, will have all doubts and questions cleared away.

Note: John's books can be ordered either from Amazon ( or directly from the publisher at:


Erin Aislinn said...

I'm very much enjoying your blogs. I've read through all of them, which is a rare effort for me given the amount of stuff out there vying for my attention. After coming to your blog, I'm happy to realize that so many of those other things out there are distractions.

Your words are a gentle reminder of where I'd prefer to direct my attention, so I'm grateful for your efforts and look forward to engaging and discussing on a deeper level.

Gilbert Schultz said...

I have not read John's book but I am sure it is as good as you say it is. John is a 'nice guy' to hang out with as well. Good on you for doing this blog - warm regards - Gilbert Schultz