"I set out to study and practice Vipassana meditation in India fifty years ago. Then, as now, I characterized myself as both a spiritual seeker and a writer. During the six months that I sojourned in meditation centers and monasteries, observing the strict rules of retreat, I nevertheless spent several hours a day feverishly filling notebooks by lamplight with tightly packed script legible only to me, recording my internal experiences.
I wanted to tell a story, because I am by nature a story teller, but on my return to America I was a bit disconcerted to find that my detailed accounts read like data recorded by a naturalist hidden in the bush observing the behavior of a strange creature in the wild, information that would have little interest to anyone except an extreme specialist in the field.
Up until then my unpublished works were lightly fictionalized autobiographical accounts of my young life, but fiction wouldn’t be accurate enough to tell this tale. Instead, I created a protagonist, a bit of a hero, who was both me and not me, Eric Lerner. I re-created the external world of people and teachers and places he’d encountered, as well as ideas and beliefs adopted and discarded. In other words, a setting and a plot. All of it was real, or real enough, the product of memory and interpretation, a new veracity. A memoir."
Italy, March 2023
“With a guru, in monasteries, and isolated for weeks at a time in forests, [Lerner] practiced the Buddhist art of vipassana or ‘insight meditation.’ From exercises which took him ‘inside his body’ to undo knots of pain, he progressed through various stages of awareness... Sensitively and convincingly written, his self-absorbed book nearly succeeds in describing the ineffable.”
“Journey of Insight Meditation not only gives a fine introduction to Vipassana but sets a standard of excellence for spiritual journals of its kind. It is so good because Lerner is highly aware of the difference between the twin pitfalls of over-enthusiasm and over-analysis. His book is readable, thought-provoking and very real. Strongly recommended.”
“Lerner captures with exquisite clarity the psychological underworld of the hardcore meditator. With candor and warmth he shares the pain, agony, occasional ecstasy and hard-earned insight he found as a student of Vipassana. His is a compelling travelogue of the mind.”
—Daniel Goleman, author of The Meditative Mind: The Varieties of Meditative Experience
“I have shared many of the teachers, friends, and experiences of which Eric Lerner writes in this meditation diary. His characterization of the death gasps of our romanticism about self and journey I find to be a chillingly lucid and refreshingly accurate account of what is.”