I recently bought the second edition of Mastering the Core Teachings of the Buddha: An Unusually Hardcore Dharma Book (I already read the first edition), and it occurred to me as I was reading the introductory pages why I like this book so much: As the author (Daniel Ingram) writes, “... it is a very strange thing to have such a completely different language, set of experiences, and perspectives from most of the people around me. I can often feel like an alien wearing a trench coat of normalcy ... If you go way into this stuff, you will discover this same loneliness.” I know that feeling well.
If you’re debating about whether this book might be right for you, my recommendation is that if that description applies to you, this book is probably right for you.
Also, you don’t have to be a Buddhist to read the book. Mr. Ingram often explains mindfulness and meditation techniques in great detail, and without archaic language.
In fact, I think one of the prime reasons to buy the book might be the thought, “I had some sort of unusual experience that I find hard to talk to other people about, but I’m courageous enough to want to learn more about it, and understand it.” As Mr. Ingram explains, sometimes experiences that happen to some people while meditating happen to other people who have never meditated a moment before in their life.
I suspect that some of my early experiences happened because I was a pitcher on baseball teams in my high school years, and I took that very seriously and concentrated hard while pitching. While other players had more talent, I had great concentration (and control). These days when I meditate I sometimes think, “Yep, this feels just like the concentration required while pitching.”
If you want a truly hardcore book with no-nonsense language from someone who is willing to talk about these things, this book is for you.