"When you awaken, you realize that the separate person you took yourself to be is just a construct, a mental fabrication — a collection of thoughts, feelings, memories, beliefs, and stories that have been woven together by the mind into the appearance of a substantial, continuous someone with certain abiding qualities and characteristics. By freeing you from your identification with the separate self, awakening liberates you from the burdens and concerns, worries and regrets, limitations and preoccupations that the person bearing your name has accumulated over a lifetime. But this construct has extraordinary tenacity, and it generally won't give up without a prolonged struggle to stay in control.

"After all, if you're like most people, you've devoted your life to enhancing, developing, improving, and promoting this apparently separate someone in order to win love, succeed, get ahead, and finally achieve more happiness and fulfillment. You're not about to give it up lightly. Besides, your family, friends, teachers, and colleagues have encouraged you in your identity because they're equally committed to their own dream of separate personhood. As a result, you live your life believing that you're just a limited character in the dream and may never realize that there's an alternative another way to experience yourself, you can awaken out of the dream and discover that you're the dreamer, the observer, the source of the dream itself.

"Then one day, you have an unexpected glimpse behind the veil of conventional reality to a mysterious perspective you never knew existed. Maybe you're driving your car along a familiar street when time seems to stand still and the shops and people lose their usual solidity and become like figures projected on a screen. Or you're walking in nature when suddenly you sense a deeper energy or radiance behind the flowers and trees. Or you're lying in bed when the boundaries of your body dissolve and you expand to include the entire universe. Such provocative experiences, though not awakening itself, open you to the possibility of seeing life in a completely new way and set you on a search for the deeper truth that lurks unrecognized behind the dream of ordinary life.

"Alternatively, you may be introduced to the possibility of awakening by reading the words of the great enlightened masters and sages, who point directly to the greater reality beyond the dream and lovingly encourage you to join them in the peace and joy they've discovered there. 'You're not the person you imagine yourself to be,' they keep repeating, 'not this limited physical body or this obsessed and worried mind, but unlimited space, unconditioned presence, the essence and spirit at the heart of life itself. Just wake up and realize it!' You don't have to go off to India or read scores of books to ignite a yearning to discover this truth. Even a single phrase or teaching can capture your attention and refuse to let you go, gradually challenging and undermining your limited view.

"You may even have a complete awakening, in which the locus of your identity shifts from being the body, mind, and personality to being the eternal witness, the limitless space. Now what? What do you do if the experience begins to fade or strong feelings or old patterns intrude? What do you make of the experience, and how can you relate to it in order to nurture and deepen it?

"No matter how you're ambushed or seduced by awakening, you've stumbled on a path that's been hidden from view until now — a path that's been traveled by countless people before you and continues to be traveled now by kindred spirits everywhere. In fact, it's a pathless path because it's unique to each seeker and keeps changing as the journey unfolds. Even more essentially, it isn't really a path at all, because there's nowhere to go and nothing to discover; everything you need to know and be is right here and now — indeed, it is the very here and now that you are. But until you fully understand the truth of these words, you've embarked on a journey that eventually meanders its way back home. It's the journey of awakening, the journey to free yourself from the dream of separation and wake up to who you really are — and once you've awakened, to stay that way and allow the awakeness to inform and transform you. This book is intended as a guidebook on your journey home, a road map for the pathless path."