Piercing the Cloud

Encountering the Real Me

Non-Fiction - Autobiography
262 Pages
Reviewed on 09/19/2020
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Author Biography

I came to the U.S. in 1963 for a better education. To make that possible, I detached from my immediate family, friends, the environment I knew and loved, my culture, and native language. What I found was an opportunity to redefine who I was, get a better education, and a more meaningful livelihood.

After getting citizenship, the journey led me to a career in science, obtaining a Ph.D. in Neuroscience. For 28 years I was Professor of Cognitive Science and Neuroscience at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD). Here I explored the relationship between mind and brain. I wrote hundreds of articles and edited one academic book (Mirror Neurons, Humana Press, 2009).

I am, however, more than an academic. From childhood, I have felt an unseen presence helping and guiding me. This presence and sensitivity led to my interest in spiritual matters, forty years of exploration of Zen Buddhism, training with a master teacher, and creativity. In 2017 and 2019, I published two books of poetry (Book of Verse: The Quieting of a Mind; The Dawning of a New Mind) focusing on spirituality, mysticism, environmentalism, and social activism.

In 2020, I wrote an autobiography, Piercing the Cloud: Encountering the Real Me. It is the story of a young boy's journey into science and spirituality.The journey teaches how to feel connected to something larger than ourselves. It is a discovery of the life and world around us, and to the felt sense of larger meaning or purpose in life.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Joel R. Dennstedt for Readers' Favorite

“Life is a transformation.” The Ph.D. properly adorning Jaime A. Pineda’s name as the author of Piercing the Cloud assumes immense importance when the reader discovers that the author failed kindergarten, lending added significance to the opening quote. Fortunately, this early setback itself was not all that significant, unless it provided the prodding impetus to persevere, accomplish, and achieve meaningful academic success. Except that Dr. Pineda did not find ultimate meaning from such accomplishment. And what makes this memoir (life review) so uniquely important is the rarity of his perception and understanding that science, while providing great knowledge and technology, does not hold a candle to true spiritual awakening. That science becomes limiting and exclusive when held in the light of unified reality. For Pineda, this was indeed a transformation.

Born in Comayagua, Honduras in 1953, Jaime A. Pineda began his life enfolded within a familial atmosphere of religious faith, but as he tells so well in Piercing the Cloud, his seemingly directed path led him toward an even more directed life of scientific study in the United States, with an intensely focused pursuit of cognitive-based knowledge leading eventually to a PhD. and professorship at U.C.S.D. When subsequent events finally caught up with Pineda’s self-involvement, however, he suddenly found himself taking the proverbial road less traveled – one toward a greater understanding of true reality, the world at large, and ultimately of life itself. His life. Full circle. It is indeed a fascinating and somewhat rare tale of personal transformation, ending with a rather unusual assessment from one previously inclined to scientific determinism: “… the best and true teacher is life itself.”

Ruffina Oserio

Piercing the Cloud: Encountering the Real Me by Jaime A. Pineda, something the author prefers to call a “life review” rather than an autobiography, is a unique narrative that explores the author’s search for meaning, the hidden importance of change, and the mystery of life. The story begins when the protagonist is just four years old and armed with a slingshot. As he grows older, his mind is filled with questions about life. When he turns nine, he is sent to the US by his parents for a better life. Here he pursues his education and attends university where he earns a Ph.D. in neuroscience. With a keen interest in unraveling the connection between the mind and the brain and the true nature of being, he finds himself constantly baffled, and that is when he turns to spirituality for answers. Can Zen Buddhism provide answers to his deepest life-long quest?

This is a mesmerizing, introspective journey that many readers will relate to, a man’s quest for truth that leads him through crisis to a moment when he has to reconcile his spiritual findings with his scientific knowledge. This introspective narrative is filled with insight and lessons and also with questions that many readers grapple with. Written in prose that is fluid and an engaging voice, Piercing the Cloud: Encountering the Real Me pulls readers into the world of the author and, while entertaining them, provides insights into finding meaning and answers about the enigmas of life. Jaime A. Pineda’s story is one that shows readers the co-existence of spirituality and science and how the author used both to find meaning and answers to some of the most puzzling questions about life.

Lesley Jones

Ever since he was 9 years of age when he was sent to live with relatives in California from his native Honduras, Jaime A Pineda had an inquisitive mind. He always believed there was an invisible force much greater than he, one which was guiding and protecting him. After surviving life-threatening events, his need to answer these spiritual questions grew. Follow Jaime's life review throughout childhood in Piercing the Cloud, as he was ostracised and bullied, to university and a career in the military. His spiritual experiences and need to discover the meaning behind his existence grew stronger. But when his career took him down a path of scientific research, gaining a Ph.D. in neuroscience, he was determined to find a common denominator between the mind and brain. He found the evidence from his scientific research differed greatly from what he knew spiritually to be true. Retrace Jaime's 40-year journey from scientist to a spiritual teacher in Zen Buddism where he searches for the answers to life's most profound questions and gains some intriguing insights that there are similarities between science and spirituality after all.

Piercing the Cloud by Jaime A Pineda is an extremely compelling read for anyone who wants to gain a deeper understanding of their spirituality. Jaime's extensive scientific research goes into great detail into the mechanics of the conscious and subconscious areas of the brain. You really gain such remarkable insight that inspires new ways of thinking and behaving regarding yourself, nature, and others. I found his explanations into consciousness, fate, and the reason for our existence absolutely fascinating. What struck me most was the existence of a powerful, invisible force guiding you, where opportunities arise which you must be prepared for and alert to spot. Also, the pivotal people and events that can guide you down certain paths in life. His explanations of Buddism were clear and very interesting, especially regarding mindful meditation and these teachings seem to hold the answer to many of life's most profound questions. Jaime explains that this power to tap into our unconsciousness is something we all have, but for some of us, outside influences obscure this innate, natural ability. A fascinating read with some remarkable observations.