While I was away, I read this book: Essence, and The Elixir of Enlightenment, from spiritual teacher A. H. Almaas, founder of the Ridhwan School and the Diamond Approach to personal development. His approach is a contemporary path to spiritual realization based on merging ancient spiritual teachings (Buddhist, Hindu and Sufi, mostly) with modern, Western psychology. I find the approach attractive in its modernity and intend to explore it further in the following weeks.
I particularly like the language Almaas uses: self-realization (or enlightenment) is about retrieving/getting back in touch with our Human Essence - what lays at the core of our Being, what shines in the eyes and presence of babies or spiritual masters for example (Essence here is what others have called the Self, Being, God, Higher Consciousness, etc). The approach is not only focused on loosening the personality/ego's grip on our consciousness to retrieve Essence, but also on leveraging whatever Essential aspects are already manifest in ourselves to retrieve more Essential aspects (Love, Truth, Joy, Will, Light, etc).
The book is a little wordy a times (it is a far cry from some beautiful works of spiritual literature like Power of Now or Conversation with God!), but I warmly recommend it to the serious spiritual seeker, for a refreshing, no-nonsense, alternative approach to describing what spiritual realization is about. From my perspective, what the book does, mostly, is: provide a new, practical language to describe spiritual transformation, introduce elements from the Sufi tradition, and elegantly blend ancient spirituality with modern psychology. I will soon see how the approach works in practice!