Stories of Enlightenment
by ROBERT ULLMAN and JUDYTH REICHENBERG-ULLMAN
The authors of this wonderful book are a local couple who have periodically contributed to The New Times, who are well known Seattle-area naturopaths and homeopaths, and who have previously written other books, including Ritalin-Free Kids. In this book, they include the enlightenment experiences of a number of individuals (both male and female) who, in the authors words, were not fully awakened at birth but went through a describable process of transformation.
In their introduction, they define what enlightenment is and how and why people get there, as well as delineating the more common characteristics of the enlightenment experience itself. They also tell why they included these particular stories and not others (some people dont talk about their experiences and/or havent left writings detailing them). Then there are outright space limitations, which, as the authors suggest at the end of the book, they may solve in subsequent volume(s).
The selections are chronological by birth date of each individual; some are universally known, but many are not (except to their immediate followers and spiritual seekers of the obvious depth of these authors). Each section begins with an introduction of that person, and follows with his or her story of enlightenment, drawing from writings, autobiographies, and interviews (of those still living).
Some of these people underwent intensive, intentional spiritual practices; others were spontaneously awakened. However, as His Holiness the Dalai Lama reminds us in his foreword, It is important to understand that each of these saints and sages was born an ordinary person and that the illumination of the mind is a universal phenomenon, belonging to all races and religions, even among people who have no religion.
I personally found that I was unable to just sit down and read this book; a couple of sections in a row tipped me over into that heightened state of awareness that occurs when we become enlightened (and from which its often difficult to function normally in the mundane world, despite the bliss and calm one typically experiences in the enhanced state).
Although I wouldnt necessarily recommend the book to soften illness (despite its having had that effect on me), I would also say that this is not a book for light reading on a cold Saturday night unless you want to space yourself out completely! Savor it as you would fine wine in small sips and let these stories lead you to that place where words have no meaning and no necessity.