The Mind Illuminated by Culadasa (John Yates)

Book Summary: The Mind Illuminated by Culadasa (John Yates) - Ryan Delaney

The Book in a Few Sentences

A masterful inquiry into consciousness. Learn how meditation works and how to move skillfully through the ten stages—from monkey mind to unified mind.

The Mind Illuminated summary

This is my book summary of The Mind Illuminated by Culadasa (John Yates). My summary and notes include the key lessons and most important insights from the book.


…meditation falls in the category of “first-person” science, which is only gradually gaining legitimacy among traditional scientists.

In the science of meditation, the mind itself is the laboratory, and the various meditation practices and techniques constitute the experiential apparatuses that are utilized in this research. It is a science in the sense that it is objectively verifiable through repeated testing and replication of results.

This book is my offering to all Truth seekers everywhere who are on their own special journeys.


An Overview of the Ten Stages

First Interlude: Conscious Experience and the Objectives of Meditation

Attention and Peripheral Awareness

The First Objective of Meditation: Stable Attention

Intentionally Directing and Sustaining Attention

The Second Objective of Meditation: Mindfulness

Normal Functions of Attention and Peripheral Awareness

Increasing the Power of Mindfulness

Stage One: Establishing a Practice

Practice Goals for Stage One

The Meditation Object

Step One: Focus On The Present

Step Two: Focus On Bodily Sensations

Step Three: Focus On Bodily Sensations Related To The Breath

Step Four: Focus On Sensations Of The Breath At The Nose

Counting as a Method to Stabilize Attention

Creating Solutions

Second Interlude: The Hindrances and Problems

1. Worldly Desire

2. Aversion

3. Laziness and Lethargy

4. Agitation Due to Worry and Remorse

5. Doubt

Stage Two: Interrupted Attention and Overcoming Mind-Wandering

The Problems of Forgetting and Mind-Wandering

Awakening from Mind-Wandering

Directing and Redirecting Attention

Focusing on the Meditation Object Without Losing Peripheral Awareness

“You” Are Not in Control of “Your” Mind

Calming the Monkey-Mind


Stage Three: Extended Continuity of Attention and Overcoming Forgetting

Sustaining Attention Through Following and Connecting

Cultivating Introspective Awareness Through Labeling and Checking In

Meditate while standing up.

Third Interlude: How Mindfulness Works

Level One: Moderating Behavior

Level Two: Becoming Less Reactive and More Responsive

Level Three: Reprogramming Deep Conditioning

Level Four: Mindfulness, Insight, and the End of Suffering

Stage Four: Continuous Attention and Overcoming Gross Distraction and Strong Dullness

Purification of the Mind

Learning to Overcome Strong Dullness


Fourth Interlude: The Moments of Consciousness Model


Stage Five: Overcoming Subtle Dullness and Increasing Mindfulness

The goal of Stage Five is to overcome subtle dullness and increase the power of mindfulness.

Overcoming Subtle Dullness

Fifth Interlude: The Mind-System

The Unconscious Minds

The Sensory Mind

The Discriminating Mind

Functions of the Conscious Mind


The Narrating Mind

The Sense of Self and Other

The Enduring Sense of Self

Metacognitive Introspective Awareness

Stage Six: Subduing Subtle Distractions

Conscious Intention

Experiencing the Whole Body with the Breath: A Method for Developing Exclusive Attention

Cultivating Metacognitive Introspective Awareness

Metacognitive Awareness and the Narrating Mind

Sixth Interlude: The Stages of an Adept

An Overview of the Unification Process

Pacification of the Senses and Meditative Joy

Purification of the Mind

Stage Seven: Exclusive Attention and Unifying the Mind

Habituating the Mind to Exclusive Attention

Unification of the Discriminating Mind and Recognizing Effortlessness

Seventh Interlude: The Nature of Mind and Consciousness

Increasing the Power of Mindfulness

How a Cessation Experience Becomes Transformative Insight

The Nature of Consciousness

Stage Eight: Mental Pliancy and Pacifying the Senses

The goal of Stage Eight is complete pacification of the sense and the full arising of meditative joy.

Meditation on Dependent Arising

Meditative Joy

Finding the Still Point and Realizing the Witness

The Luminous Jhānas

Entering First Luminous Jhāna

Getting Stuck

Stage Nine: Mental and Physical Pliancy and Calming the Intensity of Meditative Joy

Calming Pīti and Maturing Joy

Meditating on the Mind

Insight: Emptiness and the Nature of Mind

Stage Ten: Tranquility and Equanimity

Final Thoughts

Śamatha and Vipassanā: The Limitations of Śamatha

Appendix A: Walking Meditation

Walking Through the Stages

Step-by-Step Walking Meditation

The Intentional Pause

Appendix B: Analytical Meditation

Topics for Analytical Meditation

Problem Solving and Insight


Appendix C: Loving-Kindness Meditation

The practice is based on this simple formula:

Appendix D: The Jhānas

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