"Awakening to truth or reality is something that is very hard to talk about because it is transcendent of speech. It is helpful, nevertheless, to work with some sort of guidepost. The simplest thing one can say about the experiential knowledge of awakening is that it is a shift in one's perception," writes Adyashanti, the author of True Meditation whose teachings have been compared to early Ch'an (Zen) masters of China as well as teachers of Advaita in India. In this book, he takes a hard look at the nature of enlightenment and focuses on some of the prevalent delusions, traps, and points of fixation that crop up around it. Even after we are able to perceive from the place of oneness, the ego still wants to be active on center stage. Many are shattered to discover that enlightenment does not mean a life of instantaneous peace and equanimity; there can be great turmoil and disorientation. All of this is part of what Adyashanti calls "a radical dissolving of ego."

When we awaken, we no longer invest our energy into "the trance of separation" or hiding from our own experience. Instead we activate a willingness to question everything and deal with our lives as they are: "I constantly tell people that enlightenment is no guarantee that your life is going to go the way you planned. Life will be much better than it was, but that doesn't mean it's going to go the way you want it to."

Adyshanti discusses some of the pitfalls that come with awakening, including getting stuck in a sense of superiority and getting trapped in transcendence. He concludes with a salute to positive aspects of enlightenment, such as more thought about important matters and less on the fantasies and stories we tell ourselves, a heightened sense of energy, a reinvigorated capacity to be emotionally available to others, and a willingness to let go. "The great definition of enlightenment," says Adyshanti, "is simply the natural state of being." The End of Your World also contains an interview with the author by Sounds True publisher Tami Simon.