The Book of Not Knowing

  • by Peter Ralston, Laura Ralston - editor
  • Narrated by Keith O'Brien
  • 19 hrs and 44 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

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 to Awareness" provides helpful guideposts along an experiential journey for those Western minds predisposed to wandering off to old habits, cherished presumptions, and a stubbornly solid sense of self. With ease and clarity Ralston teaches listeners how to become aware of the background patterns that they are usually too busy, stressed, or distracted to notice. The Book of Not Knowing points out the ways people get stuck in their lives and offers listeners a way to make fresh choices about every aspect of their lives, from a place of awareness instead of autopilot.

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What the Critics Say

"True innovators are, by definition, ahead of their time. Therefore, they remain largely unrecognized, except by a few. How many of us wish we had met Bruce Lee, sat in a session with Carl Jung, or walked around Walden Pond with Thoreau? Too late for that, but not too late to take notice of Peter Ralston. His creativity, commitment, and clarity shine through as he articulates higher principles based on direct experience and piercing insight. A caring teacher, he has been to the mountaintop and bathed in the spring of Being. His insights speak to us all." (Dan Millman, author of Way of the Peaceful Warrior)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

May have been good

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

I couldn't get through the first chapter, not because of the content or the narration but because of the way the chapters are structured. Every few minutes or even sometimes seconds the reader announces the chapter and section. It was so distracting that I couldn't even follow the content. It would be like reading the bible and announcing the chapter and verse after every sentence.


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- Alan Bouyssou

Opinionated, but good

The message of this book seemed very similar to Thomas Metzinger's "Being No One", but 1) much more readable and usable, and 2) coming from a place of direct insight rather than philosophical thought - so, less detailed and (despite all Ralston's hard contemplation work) more willing to jump to conclusions.

In a few places, this book is either ordinary self-help/ positive thinking material, or ordinary Zen Buddhist material. But overall Ralston has succeeded in describing a practice different from either - and, for the most part, it's a practice grounded in reality.

This book could benefit from some of the fine distinctions Metzinger makes - after all, what is it to "be conscious" of the truth? Which of the many distinct types of consciousness are we meant to employ? But, on the other hand, Metzinger's book could arguably benefit from the practical advice on reshaping our consciousness which Ralston presents.

Basically, I'm saying read both.
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- Daniel A. Demski

Book Details

  • Release Date: 04-25-2017
  • Publisher: North Atlantic Books