Everything you know, feel, think, dream, remember, fear, and hope for is made that way by your mind. Your entanglement in the subjective experience concocted by mind rules your conduct and obscures your true nature. Your being is subjugated to the reality imposed upon it by mind. In this condition, you are anything but free.
Your liberation from this predicament, the freedom to live as who you truly are, depends upon coming face-to-face with the true nature of your mind. Ancient traditions of calm-abiding concentration practice prepare your mind for insight. The subsequent insight practices reveal to you in your own direct experience the qualities of mind that will first undo and then remake your world. As the veil of entanglement parts, everything will be just as it has always been, but you will be living at last from the ground of being. Your freedom will save your life and create the opportunity for you to become an agent of compassionate conduct in this broken world.
This book is written as a story told by my older self to my younger self, a story I wish I had heard much earlier in life than I did.
That story is one of a journey, the journey from distraction to composure through the practice of calm abiding, and from unknowing to awareness through the practice of insight. In the course of that journey, both the first and second persons are quietly and gently transformed by the experience. Along the way, questions of both "being" and "knowing" arise and play out with intricacy and delicacy.
For the general reader, it's best read as a work of fiction without any attempt to engage in the practices; just watch what happens to the two characters, and how it happens.
For readers already in search of what the book has to say, the book offers a path of practice leading to compassion and liberation should they care to engage with it.
Plot/Idea: Nicholson offers a handbook for readers who feel caught up in the toils of modern life and disconnected from their fundamental existence. The author provides clear, calm guidance for achieving a greater state of awareness within a busy, chaotic world.
Prose: Nicholson's prose is warm and expressive, while also authoritative and erudite in its presentation.
Originality: Drawing from ancient traditions and philosophies, Nicholson integrates familiar practices of meditation and mindfulness. However, Nicholson's informed commentary and guidance provide readers with a broader understanding of what it means to achieve a state of liberation.
Character/Execution: Nicholson blends thought-provoking content and practical guidance for readers looking to free their minds and bodies from life's entanglements.
Date Submitted: January 25, 2023
The Veil of Entanglement recounts Nicholson’s exploration of concentration and insight practice with a clarifying and at times unabashedly complex consideration of how and why these practices can help us to better understand ourselves and our world. He’s persuasive describing the power of becoming conscious of the “reactive filters” through which we perceive our existence, reminding readers of all that it means to be “grounded in your body,” and making the case for becoming liberated from “the veil of entanglement,” which describes how those filters intrude between us and reality.
That’s fascinating material, written with conviction but also a thoughtfulness and practicality too rare in books crafted to expand one’s consciousness. Nicholson understands that his filters aren’t yours, and so the book’s heart, its extensive guided introduction of nine capacities of mind characteristic of the established Nine Stages of Sustained Attention, endorses adaptability as well as discipline. He eschews established traditions “with their moral certainty and prescriptive ethics” in favor of presenting readers with the tools themselves to begin exploring. Throughout, he reminds readers that he’s just offering an introduction, and that there’s many teachers available to suit individual needs.
Takeaway: An accidental seeker introduces the power of concentration and insight practices for a science-minded audience.
Great for fans of: Scott Barry Kaufman’s Transcend, Stan Rodski’s The Neuroscience of Mindfulness.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A-