Awakened is a humorous, travel-filled adventure of an American seeker’s pilgrimage to India and back. She introduces us to four living Indian saints, one of whom is a severe guru–Swami Sachchidananda Ganapati.Like a cosmic movie director, Swamiji provides horrifying real life lessons in overcoming the senses and annihilating the ego. He is intolerant of Michael’s indulgent Western ways, and with ruthless efficiency shatters her intellectual world of abstractions and unrealistic expectations about blithely floating into enlightenment. At the same time, he is a musician who creates celestial healing and meditation music captivating Michael’s heart with her first love, music. Further, Swamiji displays stunning telepathic abilities and miraculous powers.We experience this first hand through her funny, though hard earned, lessons at the ashram such as, how difficult it is to rise above the senses when uninvited monkeys, insects, a phobia of germs are pitted against unfamiliar hygienic standards in India. These plus other surprises on the Eastern path are put in the context of the usual resistances as we watch her learn to reframe problems and emotional upheaval as the requisite purification, karma, or stress release leading to an enlightened state. This culminates in her transient taste of merging with God.Unlike books that are merely descriptions of external events, Dr. O’Callaghan focuses her professional eye on the experiential internal landscape which occurs during meditation and while in the presence of an enlightened being. She shows how difficulties contain hidden lessons in “cracking the hard coconut of the ego,” i.e., transcending that limited view of our self as separate.In contrast to the Christian perspective of sin being the greatest obstacle to God, the greatest hindrance in the Eastern view is the habit of seeing oneself as separate from God.Awakened is an invitation to a spiritual journey. It provides inspiration to those already on the path and those considering embarking on one. Dr. O’Callaghan shows that travel on an Eastern spiritual path can be a raucous and, at times, irreverent adventure, with wild roller coaster ups and downs, as well as deeply satisfying emotional experiences.Over and over, Dr. O’Callaghan sheds light on the process of total surrender which is required in a guru-disciple relationship, and seen here in stark contrast with the Western veneration of individuality and independence. But can she surrender? Can she even accept the guru as god-man, or god-woman–a concept foreign to those raised believing that worship of a human as god is sin, sacrilege, or heresy?We see for ourselves as she survives Swamiji to visit him again in the States, as well as visit three other living saints:- Sri Viswayogi, who is an Avadoota–one free of bondage to the material world, dedicated to the welfare of humanity, and whose unpredictable behavior is beyond all social convention;- Ammachi, the well-known “Hugging Saint,” who teaches the value of selfless service as an expression of divine love;- Karunamayi who sings like a nightingale and teaches knowledge of Vedic chants and mantras. She provides materials to train her devotees in these powerful forms of ritual prayer which promote peace for the individual and the world. We can also meet these saints in person on their frequent world tours.Dr. O’Callaghan educates by not only highlighting cultural differences and clarifying Hindu concepts, but she also includes a glossary of Indian and Sanskrit terms. Awakened provides insights to smooth the progress of fellow travelers who may feel isolated living in a society where Judeo-Christian values predominate. By sharing her difficulties and successes on the spiritual journey, she puts our own challenges and doubts into perspective.