For this months main feature we have quite a unique offering. A delightful play of opposites if-you-will; a special feature from a UK Non-Duality imprint who primarily publishes works on the contemporary expression of Advaita by Western authors/teachers…brought to you by a Western site who often features authors/teachers from the UK and Europe!
We thought it was only natural that we hook up and give you an extensive behind-the-scenes look at this growing indie company. This offering has been in the works for a couple of years [believe it or not] as both parties have a very busy daily schedule yet maintain private personal lives.
Since its inception in 2004, Non-Duality Press has set out to make available the clearest contemporary writing on non-duality. Having read many of their offerings, we feel their books represent a substantial contribution to the understanding of Liberation, both as a resource for those that are familiar with the subject and an inspiration for those in the process of discovery.
If you are new to these writings, we hope you feel inspired to explore the perspectives contained in their books after reading this exclusive interview with Julian Noyce.
According to your website, you discovered there was: “a need for authentic and accessible contemporary writing on the subject” —please tell us more about your creation of Non-Duality Press and how that came about.
When we published our first book in 2004 it was very obvious that there were many worthwhile communicators or realizers who weren’t being published and were unlikely to be published any time soon. Books of any quality in this field could be numbered in the dozens rather than the thousands. So, my impression at this time, was that the non-dual community (such as it was), or people who might be interested in this approach, were not being very well served by publishers. Certainly, one or two books a year might emerge, or, after a large fanfare, a picture book with photos of Ramana Maharshi might be published. With the exception of Advaita Press who published Balsekar’s and Wayne Liquorman’s books, and Inner Directions, the scene at that time seemed slow and lumbering. This was not reflecting my experience and the impression that there seemed to be the beginnings of a genuine integration and re-expression of Eastern teachings in the West.
Nathan Gill, ‘Sailor’ Bob Adamson, Leo Hartong and Joan Tollifson. These teachers had many years of experience behind them but were not hamstrung by dogma or affiliated to any particular lineage. I found this an exciting development; so-called enlightened communicators, with Western conditioning, expressing and living something that just a few years earlier was previously thought to the preserve of gurus from the East. These writers were cultured and widely read but also ‘ordinary’ and accessible.
Returning to your question, in 2003 I starting a small business importing books from around the world, mostly from the US and India, for sale in the UK where they were quite difficult to get hold of. This happened to coincide with the internet becoming more accessible so that I was able to construct and maintain a website. Some of these titles were quite costly to import so I initially spoke to Sailor Bob’s people in Australia and asked if they would license Bob’s book to me for re-publishing in Europe. This was the first book we published and from there I asked Nathan Gill who I had known for several if he would like to write something. We then took on two excellent books by Joan Tollifson and Leo Hartong that had initially been self-published. I wondered in the early days if enough worthwhile manuscripts would come along but as we can see there has been a blossoming of writing on this subject since then.
Since you are primarily publishing books by Western authors and communicators, who is your target audience and or what is the ultimate goal for NDP?
We don’t think in terms of a target audience, our readers seem to come from very varied backgrounds with long seeking histories or no seeking history at all. I think it’s a wonderful aspect of this teaching that people who drift off the street and into a meeting with no prior experience can sometimes have more sense of this than long-time seekers. That isn’t to say I don’t have a great deal of sympathy for long-term seekers, by the way – but this so-called ‘scene’ is nothing if not paradoxical.
Ultimately, I feel the goal is simply to reflect how the current of non-duality and the perennial philosophy is being expressed now as best we can using words and books.
What are your thoughts on the e-book revolution? How long do you think (actual) physical books will be “officially supported” by readers and or readily available?
All our new books are published simultaneously now as paperbacks and e-books and we are gradually converting all our backlist of titles to ebooks. We were interested in e-books some years ago but the formats and platforms for selling them were so chaotic (many people cite the Betamax vs VHS analogy which fits quite well) that we didn’t really start our ebooks program until last year. We are lucky enough to be flexible with both formats, paperback and digital books; we don’t have a huge investment in hard-copy books. At the moment both are selling well with a small drop in paperback sales which is easily made up for by digital sales. I am surprised and quite happy that many readers are still very attached to physical books and we will continue to supply these and even have the occasional hardback edition planned for next year.
What are the greatest challenges you face with your business in 2013?
I think our greatest challenge is finding the right size for the company. We have no shortage of manuscript submissions but it seems to work best in terms of workload and quality if we publish between 8 and 10 books per year, perhaps even fewer. These represent what we feel are the ‘best of the best’ or the most original writing, or books we just like to take a chance on because they have a certain quality that we like.
The book trade and publishing has changed dramatically in the last twenty years and is still in flux. There is so much free material available now and this can be challenging for publishers but it seems there is still a place for a well written and carefully edited book so the foundations of the business still feel valid.
On a personal level, I find bookkeeping (accounts) a challenge – I don’t resent doing it but it seems to be a separate occupation in itself…!
Is this publishing company your primary [day] job or is this a “pro hobby” at this point? What do you like to do for fun outside of working on new projects for the press?
Very much a full-time job for the last few years – I worked part-time as an events organiser for a well-known teacher but now Non-Duality Press is my full-time job and that is more than enough to keep me occupied. Catherine, my wife, helps with editing and we have two very valuable freelancers who have worked with us on design and proofreading almost since the start of the business.
Are you an author and or writer yourself perhaps? —tell us a bit about yourself please…
I am not a natural writer although Jeff Foster likes my writing and encourages me to write more. I felt recently that it would be an interesting project to try to bring together a book about current thinking on ‘consciousness’ (entheogens, psychology, non-duality etc.); the current state of play and convergence in all these fields, the direction things are going and whether alternative ideas are becoming mainstream (and, indeed, if any of this is important…!). However, I’m not sure if it will happen.
I wasn’t a great reader when I was young but developed a passion for books after leaving school and ended up working in the book trade when I left and on and off ever since. I also worked as a gardener and furniture maker and still like to spend time with those activities when I can. And, of course, seeking and reading voraciously around this subject often go hand-in-hand as many of us know.
I met Ramesh Balsekar in 1993 and Jean Klein in 1995 and these two people were particularly influential teachers for me. Balsekar was an anomaly in the ‘90s – here was this relatively ordinary guy, apparently ‘enlightened’ who spoke about this in a very different way from the way his own teacher had communicated. If you could overcome you own projections, you could sit in a room with him at that time as an equal.
How many books and or authors have you published by your imprint thus far? What are some of the more popular titles?
We have around 60 books in print now. Our most popular books are by Greg Goode, Rupert Spira, Jeff Foster, Jean Klein and John Wheeler. We have a great affection for the majority of the books we publish – even though some sell better than others.
What does Non-Duality mean to you?
Read the books!
There are so many great books out there on the subject —who are some of your personal favorites and why? (These can be from NDP or other publishers!)
From our own list, two that come to mind are Goner by Louis Brawley and Perfect Brilliant Stillness by David Carse. Both of these are classics in this field. Goner is about the final years and death of UG Krishnamurti written by a close associate of UG’s. I found it moving and, although it’s sometimes hard to see the relevance of UG’s life to one’s own, his experience and surrender were both quite staggering. Perfect Brilliant Stillness is a beautiful and well-written account of an unexpected awakening which is then un-picked and put into context. Very compelling and erudite but also accessable. Many people including Terence Stamp, have told me it is one of their favourite books, but it’s not that well-known. I would also put All There Is by Tony Parsons in my top 5 titles – it feels very complete to me somehow.
I feel awful leaving out so many books, apologies to all the others we publish, we love them as well, of course.
There appears to be a flowering of ND expression in the last few years, what do you attribute this too? Will ND ever make it to the mainstream?
Traditional religions and paths have some beautiful aspects to them but also, it appears, many pitfalls. Many people are looking for answers (I kind of agree with the sweeping statement that we are all seekers of something) but don’t want easy answers or the extra baggage that sometimes comes with them. Maybe that’s why this approach seems to be spreading so rapidly now.
I don’t want to make any definite predictions but I think that this approach could be mainstream in the future. As Jerry Katz points out, the word nonduality or non-duality are already being used so much more frequently in the most unlikely of places. However intuitive you are, I don’t think it’s possible to tell which way this will go, perhaps the perennial philosophy was never meant to be that popular but just stay quietly in the background while the drama plays out at the front of the stage.
What are your thoughts on the traditional Satsang format? It seems some teachers are getting away from that – at least in America. Is it time for something “new” along these lines perhaps?
Absolutely right – it’s such a fraught subject. If I never see another Paypal Donate button it will be too soon! Integrating the traditional format into the West is challenging – for people who feel they want to share this in a wider way the traditional format appears to set up a distance between teacher and taught and I think as we continue to integrate and evolve this teaching in the West one of the main challenges is to break down this division as skillfully as possible. I don’t know what direction that will take.
Satyam Nadeen attempted leaderless Satsangs many years ago and Greg Goode wrote a pivotal article, From the Age of the Guru to the age of the Friend. Jerry Katz is also a great advocate of non-duality for the people. What I do sense , though, is that putting in many hours on Facebook and approaching this with a business plan probably isn’t the answer if you want to promote yourself or spread this message . It doesn’t seem to work that way. Aside from a few healthy discussion groups, and a bit of fun, I’m not aware of anything significant that has happened [on] Facebook. The people drawn to this teaching are often very intuitive and although self-promoting teachers do appear to have some success it tends to be rather ephemeral. Authenticity seems to win out in the end. Books and teachers seem to have a natural level of popularity and there is very little that can be done about that – I like it that way.
Is teacher or guru a “dirty” word? There is so much talk and or material floating around online about these topics, to be or not to be. People are claiming they are “teachers” when clearly they are not, and folks that are really helping people prefer not to be called teachers at all. We all know how much excess baggage that the word “guru” has with it. Please elaborate.
Catherine and I sometimes wince when we notice another teacher announce themselves but she also reminds me how valuable some teachers have been in our lives. It’s not black and white, unfortunately. Four of our most popular writers/teachers also keep up full time day jobs – I admire this.
On the other hand, those people who are full-time teachers may have valid reasons for being in that position, most often because there is a demand for their availability.
Is there a new Eckhart Tolle out there living today? It seems Byron Katie has quite a following and of course Adyashanti. Some folks liken these individuals as “rock stars” of the scene [unfortunately] — what’s your take?
Eckhart’s popularity is puzzling and I don’t mean that negatively … I don’t think you can manufacture this type of popularity, it’s a phenomenon which I haven’t found an explanation for. I think there could well be another communicator who reaches huge numbers of people at some point. If they could do that whilst maintaining the essence of the teaching it would be delightful.
I think there is a growing list of words and or “spiritual cliches’ that potentially hold back some folks in the West. Some words are: Ego, Enlightenment, Spiritual or Spirituality, Awareness, Awakening & even the word nonduality. Other examples could be purple lotus flowers, Buddha’s or [traditional] Satsang events. Thoughts?
I agree – we are seeing the emergence of a much more culturally stripped and grounded expression in recent years. I love the rich symbolism and romance of the older traditions but they can also be a huge impediment to people seeing the relevance of this communication in their own lives.
Unusual question time | What do you think about at night before bed? haha
I really try not to think just before bedtime. I have to be quite strict with myself or I will be thinking about non-duality every hour of the day and night – and that would never do!
What would you say is the most satisfying part of your job and your greatest accomplishment(s)?
I think many of these books we publish might have been overlooked by traditional publishers (because of the subject, I fondly imagine, not the quality!) so to make them available as best we can has probably been the most satisfying part of the job. It can be quite a workload at times but it’s always a welcome surprise when people email me and say they really enjoyed a particular book or what an effect it has had on them. Also, giving a break and a small income to some very worthwhile writers.
I guess being able to make a contribution to how all this appears to be evolving is a great privilege and I am very aware of that.
What are your plans for NDP? Any last words you would like to add?
We plan to explore different areas such as recovery from addiction, with the focus on non-duality. We also have an interest in different faith approaches (Muslim, Christianity, Buddhism etc.) and how these relate to contemporary non-duality. We already have e-books on our website but may move into downloadable films rather than DVDs which are a wee bit clunky and expensive to ship. We don’t strategize a great deal, I find this subject a little different from the standard sales and marketing which might be appropriate for other products.
Overall, we just plan to continue providing interesting books to readers interested in this for as long as there is a demand.
Quote by John Green
Pic by Art Revolution
“…And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” SJ
Happy the moment when we are seated in the palace, you and I,
With two forms and with two figures but with one soul, you and I.
The beauty of the garden and the bird-song will bestow immortality
At the time when we enter the garden, you and I.
The stars of Heaven will come to gaze upon us
We shall show them the moon’s sickle, you and I.
You and I, individuals no more, shall be mingled in ecstasy,
Joyful and indifferent to idle fable, you and I.
All the bright-plumed birds of Heaven will devour their hearts with envy
In the place where we shall laugh in such a fashion, you and I.
This is the greatest wonder, that you and I, sitting here in the same nook,
Are at this moment both in ‘East and West, you and I.
by Srinivasa Rao
The book proposes a contemporary framework for critiquing Advaita and formulating its basic thesis in a more logical and convincing way. Any proper theory in philosophy and science has to follow from accepted assumptions. Hence the book begins by identifying basic presuppositions required for Advaita and determining the different cognitive possibilities arising out of them. After thus determining what is logically and conceptually possible and impossible in Advaita, the new framework is used to assess whether the traditionally held Advaitic concepts and theories are satisfactory and acceptable.
This is done in many chapters covering discussions of the notions of:
cosmic ignorance (māyā),
individual ignorance (avidyā),
entities that are different from the real and the unreal (sadasadvilaksana)
…and so on.
The book argues that all these concepts (as specifically formulated and defended in traditional Advaita for centuries after Śankara), are simply faulty and untenable both individually and as related clusters of concepts.
Traditional Advaita has also defended an elaborate ontology of experiences like mistaking a rope-for a snake. It has also heavily defended the metaphysical thesis of the empirical world of our experience being a total illusion. The logical faults and conceptual inadequacies of this ontology and metaphysics are also discussed in great detail, offering absolutely new criticisms of them.
Despite this almost totally negative portrayal of traditional Advaita, the book is also quite positive in showing that any belief in non-duality is still very much philosophically possible and necessary.
About the Author
Srinivasa Rao is former Professor and Head of the Department of Philosophy, Bangalore University. Affiliated to IIT Kanpur, he earlier taught at Mysore University. Advaita has been extensively studied by various schools of philosophy in classical India. In contemporary times [keep in mind the original printing was in 1985], however, it has only been compared to the philosophies of Immanuel Kant and F.H. Bradley.
Srinivasa supplements the classical Indian analysis with many special concepts and techniques extensively used in contemporary Western logic and analytic philosophy. He also discusses whether what classical Advaita had maintained centuries ago can still be maintained, and if at all it is possible, in exactly which way.
This book, from Oxford University Press, will be of considerable interest to scholars, teachers, and students of Indian philosophy perhaps.
*All the above text is from the author and Oxford University Press/Scholarship Online website.
I am spontaneous simplicity
Mind, heart and feeling,
A whole being, absolute fullness
Love in action.
Reveals itself naturally;
When the mind is awakened,
All becomes One.
The past melts away
In the light of all-encompassing Attention;
In emptiness, the Sacred reveals itself
In its natural brilliance.
Experiencing the moment,
The personal mind is dissipated
Expanding into Infinity
As Universal Mind.
Each such encounter
Transforms us radically,
For in each sparkle of consciousness
We are newness, Divinity, Reality!
Well over a hundred years ago the painter Paul Cézanne said, “A time is coming when a carrot, freshly observed, will trigger a revolution.”
Has this revolution taken place, is it slowly taking place or is it about to take place? And what is the revolution to which Cézanne referred? How could something as insignificant, inconsequential and ordinary as observing a carrot trigger a revolution?
Cézanne meant that if we could see even a simple everyday object such as a carrot, as it truly is, our experience would be revolutionized. But what does it mean to see an object as it truly is? The key is in the phrase ‘freshly observed,’ which means to see clearly, unobstructed by the concepts that thought superimposes on our experience. In fact, most of us are completely unaware that our experience is filtered through a fine mesh of conceptual thinking that makes it appear very different from how it actually is.
As the Chinese sage Huang Po said, some 1200 years ago, “People neglect the reality of the illusory world.” The illusory world? Now that’s even more radical than Cezanne! It’s one thing to look freshly at a carrot, spade, house or world, but quite another to consider it an illusion. What did he mean?
We often hear phrases in the non-dual teaching such as, ‘The world is an illusion.’ But such phrases may create a rebellion in us, for we know that our experience is very real. So how to reconcile these two positions — one, ‘the illusory world’ and two, the undeniable reality of our experience?
Anything that appears must appear in or on something. For instance, an image appears on a screen; a chair appears in the space of a room; the words of a novel appear on a page; a cloud appears in the sky.
What about the mind, body and world?
Our only experience of them is what currently appears to us as thoughts, images, feelings, sensations, sights, sounds, textures, tastes and smells. In other words, all we know of a mind, body or world are appearances, and all these are continually appearing and disappearing. We may have a concept of a continuously existing mind, body or world, but we never actually experience such an object.
As Cezanne also said, “Everything vanishes, falls apart.” All we know of the world are perceptions that continuously appear and disappear. However, anything that appears and disappears must do so in or on something. What is that something?
Start with thoughts: wherever our thoughts appear is obviously what we refer to as our ‘self,’ ‘I.’ Our thoughts don’t appear outside of our self! However, we cannot see or find that ‘something’ in which thoughts appear because it has no observable qualities. As such, it is open, empty, transparent. But that doesn’t mean it is not known. It cannot be known as an object and yet it is not unknown.
If we are reading these words we are, by definition, seeing the screen on which they are written, although we may not be aware that we seeing it. If we are reading a novel we are, likewise, seeing the paper. If we are watching a movie we are, whether we realize it or not, seeing or experiencing the screen. If we are seeing clouds, we are experiencing the sky. It is not possible to see the words, novel, movie or clouds without, at the same time, experiencing whatever it is they appear in or on.
So, if we are experiencing thoughts we are necessarily experiencing whatever they appear in. Likewise, if we are experiencing a sensation or a perception — and the only experience we have of a body or world are sensations and perceptions — then we are also knowing or experiencing whatever these appear in or on.
In what does our perception of the world appear?
In what do bodily sensations appear? Perceptions of the world don’t appear in the world; sensations of the body don’t appear in a body. Perceptions and sensations appear in exactly the same ‘place’ as thoughts, that is, they appear in the open, emptiness of our self.
However, they do not just appear in our self; they are simultaneously known by our self, for our self is not just present but also aware; not just being but also knowing. Hence it is sometimes known as Awareness — the presence of that which is aware — or the light of pure Knowing.
Now, having discovered that all we know of a mind, body or world are thoughts, sensations and perceptions, and having seen that all these arise within our self, we may ask where they come from and of what they are made. What is their substance, their reality?
If we leave a jar of water outside on a freezing cold night, ice will start to form in it. The opaque ice is made only of the transparent water. However, the ice appears to be something separate from and other than the water. It seems to have its own independent existence or reality.
Likewise, the ice has a form and yet it is made of something that has no form. The ice gives form to something that is itself essentially formless. How is it possible for something that has no form of its own to appear as form, without anything being added to or taken away from it? The formlessness of the water has the capacity within itself to assume all possible forms. In fact, it is precisely because the water has no form of its own, that it is possible for it to appear as this multiplicity and diversity of forms.
Our experience is very much like this. The multiplicity and diversity of experience — thoughts, feelings, sensations and perceptions — appears in and is made out of our self. This ‘self’, pure Awareness, in which all experience appears, with which it is known and out of which it is made, is itself empty, transparent; it cannot be named and has no form, and yet it is the substance or reality of all names and forms.
All experience arises within our self, this transparent emptiness. And the only ‘stuff’ present in our self, out of which all experience can be made, is our self itself. It is our direct, intimate experience that all we know of a mind, body or world is made out of and is identical to the transparency of our own Being, the light of pure Knowing.
And what is present in our own self, prior to the experience of a thought, feeling, sensation or perception? Just itself, pure Awareness! All experience — that is, all thoughts, feelings, sensations and perceptions — is a modulation of the presence our own Being, the light of pure Knowing. The entire multiplicity and diversity of names and forms is made out of one transparent, empty, indivisible substance.
Just as the screen on which an image appears is usually overlooked due to our exclusive focus on the image itself, so this open, empty, transparent presence of our own Being is usually overlooked due to our exclusive focus on the objects of the mind, body and world — that is, on thoughts, feelings, sensations and perceptions.
However, just as it is not possible to see an image without seeing the screen so, although this Presence is usually overlooked, it is never truly unknown. Just as all we really see when we are seeing an image is the screen, so all we ever truly experience is the transparent, open, empty presence of our own Being, the light of pure Knowing. All It ever knows or experiences is Itself.
Love is the common name we give to experience when the ‘other’ is no longer experienced as ‘other;’ when the subject/object relationship collapses. It is to see the appearance of an image but to know it only as screen. It is to attribute the reality of the image to the screen. It is to know everyone and everything as one’s own self.
It is this transparent, empty Presence that, refracted through the mind, appears as a multiplicity and diversity of names and forms. However, the mind is itself a modulation of that very Presence. In other words, it is pure Awareness itself which, vibrating within itself, takes the shape of mind and, from the illusory point of view of one of the selves contained within that mind, seems to see a multiplicity and diversity of separate objects and selves, each with their own independently existing reality. In other words, the separate self is only a separate self from the illusory point of view of a separate self.
From the true and only real point of view of pure Awareness there is only its infinite self, refracted into an apparent multiplicity and diversity of finite forms, but never ceasing to be itself. This is what William Blake meant when he said, “If the doors of perception were cleansed everything would appear to man as it is, infinite.” This is what the Sufis mean when they say, “Wherever the eye falls, there is the face of God.” This is what Huang Po meant when he said, “People forget the reality of the illusory world.” This is what Jesus said meant when he said, “The kingdom of the Father is spread out upon the earth, and men do not see it.” This is what Parmenides meant, echoing the words of the Bhagavad Gita, when he said, “That which is, never ceases to be; that which is not, never comes into existence.” This is what Cézanne meant when he said that art must “give us a taste of nature’s eternity.”
All the great sages and artists from all times and all places have said or expressed this in one way or another. This is the one true revolution. At the root of all desire for change is this ultimate desire: to know only the reality of all experience; to know only love.
Unless and until the problems facing humanity are traced back to their ultimate source — the ignoring of this reality — they may be temporarily alleviated but will never be truly solved.
Rupert Spira – US meetings and retreats 2013
April 14 One Day Gathering in Sebastopol
April 15 Evening Meeting in Santa Cruz, CA
April 16 Evening Meeting in San Francisco
April 19-26 Two/Seven Day Gathering at Mercy Centre, CA
April 28-May3 Five Day Gathering at Guest House Retreat Centre
by Eric Gross
This is it!
This is the inconvertible, rock-solid truth of this cloud-like existence. You can now put away your books and cancel those satsang plans in Maui.
Life is spontaneous and immediate.
This is always true. Even thoughts that assert the opposite happen spontaneously. This “me and you” we have struggled with, are also spontaneous and immediate happenings.
Do we need to realize more than this?
So if you’re in the business of making plans, of committing yourself to a long and arduous meditation practice or chanting obscure sounds know that these choices also happen spontaneously, but the compelling choice to do these practices suggests a refusal to see this essential truth about every moment of life.
Why not just drop all the pretense and realize what is immediately true?
Eric has spoken at many national conferences and has consulted with hundreds of people. His favorite topics are Navajo Peacemaking, conflict resolution, and finding wholeness and contentment.
Eric is currently creating the first violence prevention and reduction program modeled and inspired by his many years of working with traditional Navajo (Dine) Peacemakers and traditional counselors in New York City.
He is available for public talks and personal conversation. Many people have profoundly deepened their own self-understanding in personal consultations.
He lives in New York City can be reached at:
Website: Trust in Liberation<—-The Musings of a Smiling Stoic
Ever see this film?
Michael Douglas plays a [disturbed] “ordinary” man whose True Identity is unknown through most of the film. He is stuck in Los Angeles traffic on a very hot summer day and finally just gives up and abandons his vehicle.
INTERESTING: Plot Keywords
Gang Baseball Bat Traffic Jam Gun Ethnic Slur Drive By Shooting Neo Nazi
Unemployment Murder Stabbed In The Shoulder Moral Ambiguity Tragedy
Racism Corporate Downsizing Urban Decay Price Gouging Violence
Dysfunctional Family Alienation Madman Vandalism Robbery Revolver
Machine Gun Vigilante Rage Uzi Urban Nightmare Police Militant Anger
One Man Crusade Road Rage Gay Slur Inequality Downsizing Shooting
Destroying Property Angry Customer Layoff Language Barrier Desperation
Going Postal Estranged Couple Stabbing Knife Divorce Shot To Death Laid Off
Punched In The Face Car Crash Homophobia Disgruntled Worker Beating Trespassing
Against The System Loss Of Job Misogyny Anti Hero Estranged Parent Last Day On Job
Bay Area, California
Unmani is well-known for her clarity, and gentle, but very direct pointing to the truth beyond all beliefs and concepts. Unmani spent years living a nomadic life in India, Australia and several other countries on a path of self-discovery, and now shares her insights with audiences.
Although she has had many teachers along the way, the zen master, Dolano, was her main teacher. Originally from England, Unmani now travels around the world holding meetings and retreats for those who genuinely wish to wake up to their true nature. In intimate dialogues, Unmani meets people where they are in their own self-exploration and encourages them to inquire and explore, in order to discover what is real in their own experience.
Die to Love (on Amazon)
I Am Life Itself (on Amazon)
Mar 14 2013 – Mar 17 2013
Spiritual Bypassing, True Intimacy and the Challenge of Being Fully Human
About the Conference
Nonduality derives from the Sanskrit word Advaita, which means “not-two,” referring to the fundamental consciousness that underlies the apparent distinction between perceiver and perceived. From the nondual perspective, the split between self and other is a purely mental construct. This understanding, rooted in the direct experience of countless sages through millennia, is at the heart of Hindu Vedanta, Judaism, Islam, and many schools of Buddhism, Taoism, and mystical Christianity. Nonduality points to “That” which is before and beyond the projections of a separative, self-reflexive mind. As nondual awareness emerges in the West in both therapists and clients, the practical and theoretical implications for psychotherapy are far-reaching.
This annual cutting edge conference hosts leading therapists and teachers who are exploring the confluence of nondual wisdom and psychotherapy. How does psychotherapy change when therapists and clients awaken to and embody their true nature as open, lucid awareness that is essentially not separate from the whole of life?
This year’s conference focuses on spiritual bypassing, true intimacy and the challenge of being fully human. We will explore together how to determine when the mind is using spirituality as a means of avoidance, and how to invite and embody true intimacy inclusive of our humanity.
History of the Conference
The first Conference on Nondual Wisdom and Psychotherapy was held in 1998 at the Mt. Madonna Center in Watsonville, California, and was hosted by The Center For Timeless Wisdom, a non-profit organization established by Peter Fenner, Ph.D. Subsequent conferences have been held annually since 2000 in the San Francisco Bay Area including ones hosted by the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology, John F. Kennedy University, and California Institute of Integral Studies.
Who Can Attend?
Anyone is welcome to attend. While the conference presentations are geared towards the theory and practice of psychotherapy and are available to be taken for continuing education units, they are accessible to the interested public. Many graduate students and psychology interns attend along with licensed psychotherapists. Clergy, bodyworkers, and students of nondual teachings will also find the presentations of special interest.
THURSDAY PRE-CONFERENCE WORKSHOP
The Altar of Presence: Investigating and Revealing our True Body
In non-dual therapy, our open and allowing presence, free of any agenda, points to the inherently open and welcoming presence that is our true and shared nature. Within this space, the conditioned beliefs and feelings of being a separate consciousness are invited to surface and be seen gently in their own time. It is in this enlightened seeing that true healing takes place and that the body and mind naturally realign themselves with our essential nature.
FRIDAY PRE-CONFERENCE WORKSHOP
Dark Night: The Breakdown of the Mythology of Me
Few issues can be brought to psychotherapy that better straddle the worlds of spiritual teachings and psychology than the dark night of the soul. This experience heralds the breakdown of the mythology of “me” and thus initiates an intense, comprehensive and life-changing spiritual crisis like no other. Given that therapy is the most common place people reach for help in darkness, it is vital that psychotherapists have information about this unique passage in order to treat, refer or offer resources to those who experience this phenomenon. It is critical for our world for us to see and support the emergence of beings living from tender-hearted nobody-ness, the living of life from a selfless and heart-based ground.
FRIDAY EVENING TALK
True spiritual autonomy arises when we have broken free of all the old structures, all psychological dependencies, and all fear. In order to discover this autonomy, we must be free of all external control or influence. This means that we must free our mind from all that it has collected, all that it clings to, and all that it depends on. Only then can that which is truly unique and fearless arise within us and begin to express itself. The culmination of spirituality lies not only in discovering our inherent unity and freedom, but also in opening the way for life to express itself through us in a unique and creative way.
Adyashanti, author of Falling into Grace, True Meditation, and The End of Your World, is an American-born spiritual teacher devoted to serving the awakening of all beings. His teachings are an open invitation to stop, inquire, and recognize what is true and liberating at the core of all existence. Asked to teach in 1996 by his Zen teacher of 14 years, Adyashanti offers teachings that are free of any tradition or ideology. “The Truth I point to is not confined within any religious point of view, belief system, or doctrine, but is open to all and found within all.” Based in California, Adyashanti lives with his wife, Mukti, Associate Teacher of Open Gate Sangha. He teaches throughout North America and Europe, offering satsangs, weekend intensives, silent retreats, and a live internet radio broadcast. “Adyashanti” means primordial peace.
Fierce Openness: Cutting Through Fixations of Self and Selflessness
Intertwining nondual awareness and psychotherapeutic attention, this presentation addresses the pitfalls of both spiritual and psychological bypassing. That is, using selfless (spiritual) elevation to evade the embarrassment self-centeredness, and using hesitant (psychological) self-preoccupation to evade the terror and wonder of selflessness. Drawing upon the earthy honesty of intimate, existentially-rigorous therapeutic relationship and the fierce spaciousness of unconditional presencing, we will consider skillful means of loosening self-limiting emotional compulsions and mental fixations; and, what it takes to more thoroughly embody fierce openness.
- Kenneth Bradford, PhD, is a psychologist in private practice, specializing in Contemplative-Existential Psychotherapy & Consultation. An Adjunct Professor at John F. Kennedy University, Ken he is in the vanguard of integrating meditative sensibilities and nondual presence into the practice of psychotherapy. He is co-editor (with John Prendergast) of, Listening from the Heart of Silence: Nondual Wisdom and Psychotherapy, Vol. 2, and has published several articles at the psychotherapy-nondual interface.
The Sun in Our Hearts and the Incarnation of Mutuality: Outgrowing the Preference/Avoidance Strategies of ‘Wakers,’ ‘Downers,’ and ‘Mutualites’
We’ll look into ancient and current sources that point to a specific node in the heart organ as the bodily seat of impersonal Self-realization and the source of the physical heartbeat throughout our lifetimes. Then, through lecture, Q&A, and mutual experiential exercises, we’ll explore how to outgrow spiritual bypassing of psychic trauma (often indulged by “wakers”), avoidance of cultivation of consciousness through over-indulgence in psycho-emotional issue work (by “downers”), and chronic,superficial relating at the expense of both mature autonomy and intimate vulnerability (by “mutualites”).
Saniel Bonder founded the international Waking Down in Mutuality transformational movement and was a founding member of Integral Institute. A Harvard B.A. in Social Relations, he studied Martin Buber’s I-Thou and Eastern transcendental yogas and regards Ramana Maharshi and Adi Da as his nondual lineage. He is a novelist and the author of many teaching books and, with his wife Linda Groves-Bonder, is now co-founding Human Sun Institute. www.whyWDMworks.com, www.sanielandlinda.com
Intimacy, Clarity and Compassion: When Divisions Fall Away
What is called spiritual bypassing is actually egoic fear posing as understanding. Spirit neither judges nor bypasses a single moment of its own movement, but in its non-separation, has the power to see and free conditioning with penetrating clarity and deep compassion. Intimacy is total non-separation-the substance and activity of our true nature. Being fully human is being intimate with what is, and thus completely authentic, which happens naturally with the cessation of any fixed identifications as human, divine, or even as “Consciousness.” When divisions fall away, we see the truth that shines in every experience and is revealed in every moment.
Dorothy Hunt serves as spiritual director of Moon Mountain Sangha, teaching at the invitation and in the spiritual lineage of Adyashanti. She is also the founder of the San Francisco Center for Meditation and Psychotherapy and has practiced psychotherapy since 1967. Dorothy is the author of Only This! and a contributing author to The Sacred Mirror, Listening from the Heart of Silence, and to Undivided: The Online Journal of Nonduality and Psychology. www.dorothyhunt.org
Oneness, difference and Intimacy: Exploring Ourselves and Meeting the Other
Alzak Amlani & Carlin Quinn
This talk explores how we can bring our freedom and the sacred space of non-duality to understand our personalities and contractions, face challenges in holding difference and move from being awakened bystanders to engaged healers in the world. By expanding into our multi-dimensional selves, we are more powerful, intimate and embodied in relationships with ourselves, others and our changing planet. The talk will integrate meditation, discussion and inquiry to evoke the fertile place of our unique human-Divine lives.
- Alzak Amlani, Ph.D. is a core faculty in the Integral Counseling Program at CIIS, where he teaches, “Multi-cultural Awareness for the Psychotherapist,” among other courses. He is also a transpersonal psychotherapist practicing for over fifteen years. His psychospiritual background includes the yoga tradition, Buddhism, Jungian psychology and he has been a student of the Diamond Approach for 10 years.
- Carlin Quinn, MFTI RYT is a full-time yoga teacher and psychotherapist in the San Francisco Bay area. She is currently completing a post-graduate training program at The Psychotherapy Institute in Berkeley; she also works with Alzak Amlani and co-teaches “Multi-Cultural Awareness for the Psychotherapist” at CIIS. She incorporates non-dual approach to teaching based on the Advaita Vedanta tradition and has been deeply influenced by Native American tradition, and the teachings of Tantra and Tibetan Buddhism. She has been a dedicated student of Hatha Yoga and The Patanjali Yoga Sutras for the last 13 years.
Becoming Fully Human: Nonduality, Relationship, and Sacred Duality
The ability to transcend the dualistic mind-set is an important human capacity. Yet a one-sided transcendentalism that mainly emphasizes the illusoriness of relative experience can aggravate the disengagement of people who are already disconnected from their bodily felt experience, as well as from human intimacy. In this way nondual teachings can contribute to spiritual bypassing and wind up having a dehumanizing effect in a world where our humanity is already under siege at every turn. We need an integrated spirituality in which liberation from the separate self brings with it a fuller appreciation of the wonder, intelligence, and beauty of human experience, along with fuller engagement in human relational life.
- John Welwood, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist and psychotherapist, an editor of The Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, and teacher whose innovative approach integrates psychological, meditative, and embodiment work. His books include Toward a Psychology of Awakening:Buddhism, Psychotherapy, and the Path of Personal and Spiritual Transformation; Journey of the Heart; Love and Awakening; and most recently, the award-winning Perfect Love, Imperfect Relationships. www.johnwelwood.com
Kenny Johnson will talk about how he and his co-facilitator Elizabeth Samet visit the women in County Jail #2 each week carrying in one intent: Be real, and simply listen to each person with Loving Kindness. This simple plan of “Being Empty” has been very effective. Kenny will do the same in this upcoming program “Be Empty” and see what appears.
Kenny Johnson spent over twenty years in prison and has been out of prison since 1997. He is a spiritual teacher and consultant to families and to those who have been out of prison and may be going to jail. He is also author of the book, The Last Hustle, chronicling his years as a criminal and how he was transformed while incarcerated. Kenny has one passion and that is sharing the message that “God’s Grace Is Here Now.” www.thissacredspace.org
Hiding Out in the Idea of Nonduality: Multidimensional Intimacy and Vulnerability in the Therapeutic Relationship
-A Clinical Discussion with John Prendergast & Riyaz Motan
Both clients and therapists can use nondual teachings to defend against a full-spectrum intimacy and vulnerability. We will explore the value and meaning of being open as infinite awareness and as a finite human being in the clinical setting. Through case vignettes, dialogue and group discussion, we will examine what it means to be fully available and discuss some of the subtle defenses and traps that can arise when working with clients with a nondual orientation or when positioning oneself as a “nondual therapist.”
- John J. Prendergast, Ph.D. is the editor-in-chief of Undivided: The Online Journal of Nonduality and Psychology (www.undividedjournal.com), the senior editor of two anthologies on the subject of nondual wisdom and psychotherapy – The Sacred Mirror (with Peter Fenner and Sheila Krystal) and Listening from the Heart of Silence (with Ken Bradford). He is an Adjunct Associate Professor of Psychology at CIIS and a psychotherapist in private practice in San Rafael. He also leads several private self inquiry groups. www.listeningfromsilence.com
- Riyaz Motan is a transpersonally oriented therapist with a private practice in San Francisco and San Rafael. Since the beginning of his career he has been interested in exploring how nondual wisdom informs the therapeutic encounter. For the past ten years Riyaz has served as a supervisor to CIIS students, and he has conducted training and supervision groups for the Pierce Street and Marina counseling centers in San Francisco. Riyaz has a passion for teaching and supervising therapists as they are learning to develop their own transpersonally oriented therapy style. He currently leads two ongoing transpersonal supervision groups.
Crucifixion: The Meeting of Heaven and Earth in the Human Heart
Unwittingly when we approach spirituality we often are seeking to somehow escape or transcend our humanness, to master instead of be mastered. And yet, the possibility of a full return home includes not only the clarity and breadth of transcendence, but also the depths of humility, tenderness and compassion that come with the embodiment of a mortal and sensitive vehicle. When the paradoxical wedding of divine and human are embodied in the human heart, we know ourselves as light enfleshed. Join Jeannie for a light-hearted and deep look at what it means to live as it ALL.
Maja Apolonia Rodé shares an inspiring array of creative expressions with one common purpose: to cultivate the realization and flowering of our true nature. From ethereal chants and irreverent raps to mandala art and sound healing, Maja’s creations invite us into the sacred and all-embracing depths of our being. She has worked closely with Adyashanti for 13 years as the Creative Director of his organization, Open Gate Sangha, and holds a Ph.D. in Transpersonal Psychology.
Special treat on NDA for this post.
WATCH or LISTEN to this deep/soulful/expressive offering below from Ballaké Sissoko & Vincent Segal.
- Try watching the video once [in full-screen mode] while checking out the duo’s facial expressions, playing technique and pure joy.
- Next, try it without staring at it, use your ears only [close your laptop screen, put down your tablet or smart device] & look away; better yet close your eyes!
NØ FØRMAT RECORDS | Rhino Festival : Lyon (France)
Joy | Concentration | Skill | Dexterity
Effortlessness | Flow | Imagination | Bliss
Transportation | Transmission | Creativity
Grace | Musical Painting | Experience | Knowingness
Free Association | Stream of Consciousness
Two as ONE
“It’s like a history of the world at once encountered and interpreted to remind us of our unity through music.”
“This collaboration speaks volumes about how artists can find common ground from separate cultures and the world can benefit.”
*Check out a FREE Download from the new release (coming in Feb.) by Ballaké Sissoko.
“When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” ~Max Planck [via Dr. Wayne Dyer]
Spiritual | Social Imbalance?
Happy New Year NDA readers!
Thank you very much for visiting our blog, without readers like you - we wouldn’t exist (pun intended).
Seriously though, we really appreciate your visits and feedback.
Extra special thank you:
To those of you who’ve sent us links, articles, posted comments and last but not least, all the the NDA regulars.
Let this beautiful gallery/slide show be a gentle reminder of the beauty that surrounds us.
Many are too busy to look up, go outside and or take a break or moment to chill; especially during the busy holiday season!
These images are breathtaking and my gift to you. May you find peace or solace during your viewing and or just “take 5″ and soak up the beauty contained within each landscape. Dear reader, can you spare just five seconds per photo? If so, I guarantee you will be glad you did.
*click on any image to start.
Then use the (left or right) arrows on your keyboard or select the pop up onscreen arrows with your input device.
When finished viewing, close out the slide show by clicking the X (top left corner) or ESC on your keyboard.
All images © copyright each respective photographer/artist (listed in photo captions).
Interest in nondual awareness as the essence of spiritual awakening, free from the obligations and cultural references of a particular religion, is rapidly expanding throughout the Western world. Those who have sought out and followed spiritual paths, such as Buddhism, Hinduism, Sufism, Kabbalism, etc., have often found themselves coming up against a kind of ceiling in their longing for spiritual awakening. This can be a result of the religion’s cultural context or a belief system that may not see awakening as something within the reach of adherents.
So, many serious spiritual students have turned to nonsectarian teachers to further their practice. These readers will find The Open Path to be an excellent guide to the realization of the silent ground of all being and to the expression of that realization in the diverse conditions of their lives.
The book includes very helpful exercises and practices that foster a sense of equanimity and natural insight, as well as methods and teachings from many sources: Sufism, psychology, meditation traditions, and both Eastern and Western nondual teachers.
*Enjoy an excerpt from The Open Path below entitled Release at Inception. Sentient Publications (reprinted by permission from publisher)
Release at Inception
In a future chapter we will explore the dynamic described by the fourteenth-century Tibetan Dzogchen master Longchenpa, called release at inception. I would like to introduce it here briefly, however, as a way to conclude this chapter. My hope is it will serve to ease any possible sense you may have, after reading all of this, that mental constructions and fixations represent problems requiring a lot of skill and effort to get rid of. They don’t. Yes, fixations have a stubborn tendency to show up again and again in our mind stream — that’s why they’re called fixations — but in themselves they are like all other mental phenomena that arise in our awareness: they originate out of nothing (that is, they aren’t there before they are), seem to abide for a moment or two (although they don’t exactly “abide” in a fixed way), and then they vanish back into nothing without any effort on our part. They are released naturally.
You can test this for yourself right now. Try to generate the feeling-tone of one of your common fixations — for example, a typical situation in which you feel you need to justify yourself. If you are successful at generating this feeling-tone, even to a small degree, you may notice that the pattern of the fixation, with its accompanying emotional state, arises in your awareness for a moment or two, and then begins to dissipate, and will vanish altogether unless you repeat the thought or image that stimulated it.
Over the next twenty-four hours you might try this again with a few real-life “fixation situations.” For example, there may be a situation in which you feel unsure of yourself and don’t know what to do. Notice that the thought-feeling of uncertainty appears, seems to abide for a while, and then naturally dissolves into the next thing that happens. And if you look carefully you may notice that even in the moments when it seems to “abide,” it is changing and moving, becoming stronger, diminishing, adding new elements, etc. It doesn’t even “abide” as the same thing for more than an instant.
Let’s try another example: say you suddenly feel a flash of anger at your partner because once again she didn’t put the top back on the toothpaste tube, even though you’ve asked her to do so many times. You shout, “I hate it when you do that!” As soon as you shout, you remember this suggestion, and do your best to notice what’s happening. You notice the typical sensations of anger: heat rising in your chest and face, the distance between your righteous point of view and your partner’s behavior, a near-immediate flood of mental justifications for raising your voice, etc. Now watch what happens. Either your point of view gets reinforced by more justifications (e.g., recounting all the previous wrong-doings of your partner), or it immediately starts to dissipate, naturally, on its own, if you don’t add fuel to its fire.
This natural dissipating is sometimes called the “self-liberating” quality of phenomena.
The Dzogchen recognition of “release at inception” points to the same quality. In the words of Dzogchen teacher/translator Keith Dowman, release at inception entails “confidence in the simultaneity of the inception and release of thought that induces a constant opening up that turns into seamless thought-free openness.” And as Longchenpa describes it:
Whatever occurs externally as the manifold appearance of the five types of external objects (forms, sounds, smells, tastes and tangibles) or internally as some mental activity, at the very moment of its inception as a field it is seen just as it is, and by the force of its advent it is fully potentiated and then vanishes by itself — how could it possibly remain? — released without a trace, and in that moment the three crucial functions — carefree detachment in whatever arises, access to wide-open spaciousness, and easy relaxation into the appearance upon its inception — are assimilated.
It is not necessary to understand everything referred to by Longchenpa in this passage now. The important thing is simply to begin to explore and appreciate, through your own experience, that every perception that arises in your awareness, whether thought, emotion, or sensation, “vanishes by itself.” When we no longer put energy into repeating mental phenomena, they vanish! This is the natural release of fixations.
Through the constant practice of relaxing the grip of our attractions, aversions, and the reactive fixations that express themselves from our preferences, we open to a serenity in our lives that allows us to accept each experience as it arises — simply because that’s what’s happening — without turbulent reactivity.
Rather than losing anything through releasing attachment to our likes and dislikes, our experience opens us to the possibility of the most profound intimacy.
A final example: imagine you are on your death-bed. You know you have only an hour or two left in this life. Your closest friend is beside you. What would be most helpful to you in that moment? Would it be your friend responding to your imminent death with emotional reactivity from layers of fixations about loss, fear of death, attachment to you, etc.? Or would it be more helpful if your friend were serene, free of fixations, and completely present to you in those moments, accepting what is?
Elias is the spiritual director (Pir) of the Sufi Way International. He has been an initiate of the Sufi Way for the past forty-two years. Pir Elias has also studied with Qadiri Sufis in Morocco, Theravaden Buddhist teachers in Thailand, Native American teachers of the Assemblies of the Morning Star, Christian monks in Syria, Zen teachers of the White Plum Sangha, and contemporary teachers in the Dzogchen tradition.
From child to elder, Pir Elias has lived a multifaceted, engaged life. The son of an artist and a social activist, he has worked as a schoolteacher, carpenter, architect, professor, writer, anthologist, environmental educator, peace activist, wilderness quest guide, and spiritual teacher. He helped develop several schools, including the Boulder Institute for Nature and the Human Spirit, the graduate program in Environmental Leadership at Naropa University, and the Open Path. He has a Bachelor’s degree in literature from Antioch College and has written six books.
Pir Elias has led programs in Sufism for over three decades, and Open Path programs for the past six years. He resides in Boulder, Colorado but continues to travel widely, both teaching Open Path programs and engaging in citizen diplomacy.
His website is: Open Path Training
 Longchenpa, Natural Perfection, Ó Keith Dowman, 2010. Reprinted from Natural Perfection: Longchenpa’s Radical Dzogchen with permission from Wisdom Publications, 199 Elm Street, Somerville, MA 02144 USA, p. 107.
Some of us love deadlines. Some people have even created a deadline called 2012. It is a metaphor. But the idea is useful. What is the deadline for your transformation? ~Amit Goswama
This workbook was written to aid enthusiastic viewers of the documentary film The Quantum Activist to go deep into the exploration of quantum activism. It is dedicated to all present and future quantum activists.
There is a house built out of stone
Wooden floors, walls and window sills
Tables and chairs worn by all of the dust
This is a place where I don’t feel alone
This is a place where I feel at home
‘Cause, I built a home
Until it disappeared
And now, it’s time to leave and turn to dust
Out in the garden where we planted the seeds
There is a tree as old as me
Branches were sewn by the color of green
Ground had arose and passed it’s knees
By the cracks of the skin I climbed to the top
I climbed the tree to see the world
When the gusts came around to blow me down
I held on as tightly as you held onto me
I held on as tightly as you held onto me
‘Cause, I built a home
Until it disappeared
And now, it’s time to leave and turn to dust
“Music is Life. that’s why our hearts have beats.” ~Anonymous
“As human beings we are all capable of inquiry, of discovery, and this whole process is meditation. Meditation is inquiry into the very being of the meditator. You cannot meditate without self-knowledge, without being aware of the ways of your own mind, from the superficial responses to the most complex subtleties of thought.
I am sure it is not really difficult to know, to be aware of oneself; but it is difficult for most of us because we are so afraid to inquire, to grope, to search out. Our fear is not of the unknown but of letting go of the known. It is only when the mind allows the known to fade away that there is complete freedom from the known, and only then is it possible for the new impulse to come into being.”
by Robert Keegan
Even with today’s superabundance of [supposed] nondual teachers expressing themselves, seekers still seem confused as to what a nondual sensibility actually is.
The word Advaita means not two and expresses as nearly as possible in words the perception that all and everything is already only oneness, and that there is nothing else but THIS.
The nature of THIS is incomprehensible and so any communication about it can only be an interpretation of the ideas that surround it. Those ideas can either be generated from confusion or clarity.
However, to suggest that one idea is better than the other and that the telling or the hearing of those ideas are a personal choice, would be a contradiction of the very essence of the Advaita perception.
All appearance is THIS.
All that apparently manifests in the hypnotic dream of separation – the world, the life story, the search for home, is one appearing as two, the nothing appearing as everything, the absolute appearing as the particular.
There is no separate intelligence weaving a destiny and no choice functioning at any level.
The nondual perspective is not asking us to acknowledge anything hidden and complex.
It’s asking us to realize the obvious.
It simply acknowledges that forms seem to exist, but don‘t truly exist, and it further acknowledges that we seem to be directing our lives, but don‘t truly direct our lives.
There is a great, unformed, inexplicable flow…automatically presenting itself as the liveliness of this moment.
Nothing is happening but THIS, as it is.
It is the wonderful mystery.
*Article [which is a compilation of various view points from T. Parsons, D. Bailey and Robert Keegan] used by permission from the Swanwick Centre.
The Centre opened in 1977 as a school based on the teaching of J. Krishnamurti who himself visited the Centre in 1978. After the closure of the school in 1981, the property was converted into the Swanwick Centre and offers group retreats and monthly events that support conscious living through self-inquiry.
It also offers a serene space for personal retreats and rentals by groups interested in health and well-being of body, mind and spirit.
**The book (by Swami King) is a spoof and not available on Amazon. However, the dog is REAL…
The following is a reply to a question from someone who has followed the teachings of Ramana Maharshi and Nisargadatta, both of whom advised concentration on the feeling “I AM” as a means to obtain “realization.”
This piece has made the rounds on Facebook. Apparently it hit a nerve with many. Robert thought perhaps it would go well on our site.
TOPIC: Obtaining Realization
A questioner said that some recent criticism of her practice from another so-called “teacher” had shaken her faith in her practice, leaving her confused and upset.
Here is what I told her:
“At a certain point, advice and words from anyone—Nisargadatta, Ramana, or the man in the moon—cease to have meaning. Those words may have served as a pointer along the way, and that’s fine, but sooner or later you will have to forget ALL those words and go it alone. This is why it is said that if you meet the Buddha in the road, kill him.
If you do not kill the Buddha, you will remain forever a disciple and never actually find the ground of your OWN being, which has nothing to do with words, no matter how good those words sound or how many people repeat them. That ground is here right now. What you seek is what you already are, and does not have any relation to how Nisargadatta lived or how Ramana Maharshi lived. They were not “gods,” but ordinary human beings just like you. Nisargadatta liked sex and cigarettes, and died of throat cancer.
In the beginning, the words from those guys may have encouraged and inspired you, and that’s fine, but if you cling too long to a teaching, any teaching, it will blind you to your OWN life, your OWN being, your OWN truth.
If I point at the moon, my dog will look at my finger and not even see the moon. Why? Because the dog is attached to me, and loves everything I do. The dog sees me as if I were an all-powerful, all-knowing “God.” Perhaps you feel that way about Nisargadatta or Ramana Maharshi. If you do, it is time to kill them as role models. When I say “kill” them, I do not mean any disrespect. You will continue to feel grateful to them for helping to bring you to this moment, but, if you want freedom, you must find that freedom within YOURSELF without reference to anyone else’s opinions or teachings. As long as one clings to anything—teachings, teachers, religions, practices—whatever—there IS no freedom. Clinging and freedom do not go together, and cannot exist in the same mind.
“Only YOU can know if you really want freedom or not. Many claim they do, but most who claim to want freedom do not want freedom, but only want to feel better or happier.” ~R.S.
If I give you a glass of water to drink, and you take a sip, you do not have to ASK yourself if the water is warm or cold. You just KNOW. That “just knowing without trying” is what I call “choiceless awareness.” It is present at all times and in all situations. Within or upon that choiceless awareness (which you do not have to try to summon up or create) arises everything that you see, feel, think, perceive, or come to know in any way at all.
If you have a thought, that thought is an impression upon choiceless awareness. If you feel an emotion, that feeling is an impression upon choiceless awareness. Your body image and your sense of selfhood are impressions upon choiceless awareness. All of this happens instantaneously, automatically, and without any trying. In fact, it cannot be controlled. If you have ever sat in so-called “meditation,” you soon became aware that your thoughts were not chosen at all, but simply arose on their own. Those thoughts arose upon choiceless awareness which is present whether you are sitting on a cushion or having an orgasm.
That choiceless awareness IS you. It is not yours to control, but simply is, simply exists. What you more ordinarily think of as “me” is a collection of feelings, thoughts, autobiographical fictions, etc. which are part of “story you tell yourself” about “me,” but all of that arises and is known as an impression upon choiceless awareness. The “story you tell yourself” is NOT “you,” not the real you, but an habitual, repetitive story—a habit. “You”—the real you—are the awareness which is present constantly without anyone’s trying, and beyond anyone’s ability to control. That is why I call it “CHOICELESS awareness.”
Now, “I AM” is not a fact, it is a thought, an idea. Advising someone to practice remembering “I AM” is a pointer, and for you that pointer has worked well. It has brought you to this point. It worked by reminding you that you have a life at all, that you actually exist. Now it is time to let that procedure go. You may need a raft to cross a river, but when you arrive at the other side, you put the raft down and walk on. If you insist on bringing the raft with you, you will not be able to walk freely. Now it is time to walk freely!
As soon as you see that awareness is choiceless, is always present, and requires no trying, you will begin walking without that “I AM” raft you no longer need. You have crossed the river. On this side of the river, the only “work” is to allow whatever arises in or upon choiceless awareness to be there for its moment, and to pass away again. There is no permanency in any of those arisings. Even the story called “myself” is only a brief appearance upon the choiceless awareness which is here now, and always was, from the moment of birth. When the “me” in the story I tell myself understands this, freedom, without trying, simply is.”
Dr. Robert Saltzman is a psychotherapist and [non-teacher] of non-duality who lives and works in Todos Santos, Baja California, Mexico. In addition to his therapy practice, he takes questions about psychology, spirituality, and problems of living from questioners world-wide on his website.
The site is the home of ask Dr. Robert, a unique question and answer forum open to everyone worldwide, gratis. The forum is fairly active and has many forum regulars—many of whom bring intelligence, experience, and wisdom to these online conversations.
Robert checks in on the forum regularly and contributes if and when necessary.
by Matthew King
Being a drummer for over 20+ years, I’ve wanted to create a post (or feature something like this for a while now). Something that shows how non-duality or awareness relates to musicians or more importantly what some musicians, namely drummers experience during performance.
Unlike most of our articles or features, this particular one is going to be improvised (at least my part). Nothing pre thought out, whatever flows is being committed straight to the page.
On many occasions I’ve been lucky enough to experience first-hand what “being in the now”, “present awareness“ or what I used to simply call being “in the zone” is like.
If there are any musicians reading this, you might be able to relate if you’ve “jammed” with others at rehearsal or in a live setting where there were no rules, or no pre-conceived notions of what you were going to play. I’m not talking about when a guitarist plays a solo during a song or when you play a random drum fill within said song. I’m talking about when you count off 1,2,3,4 and just start to play and go for it. When you have no idea what [any of] you are going to do next…literally. And then you continue to play, playing loud or soft, slow or fast and continue this journey indefinitely.
For me, to completely “forget” that I am playing and or just improvise and “feel” it without thinking is usually 20-30 minutes of straight up improv. For the record you must have some mastery of the drums or a rather solid skill set on your instrument to be able to express yourself and contribute to a band setting and ideally be surrounded by other musicians who have similar chops [skills] on their instrument(s) as well. Otherwise, instead of enjoyable grooviness, you end up with cacophonous noise and your jam session will quickly come to a halt [laughs]! But that is part of it.
I’ve played with a lot of musicians over the years; the deepest or most intense experiences have been while playing with a family member (cousin), so there could be a genetic connection at work. Many of my family members are musically inclined and like to sing; some say it’s in the blood.
For some musicians the thought of not knowing what to play can be rather intimidating and genuinely scary I suppose. Some folks only know how to play by reading sheet music, others [like myself] are self-taught and “feel” the groove and just roll with it. Eventually the groove either works itself out or it doesn’t.
When fully “in the zone” I have no cognizance of time while playing and have no idea how long we played until after we quit and take a break. I often feel a deep peace afterwards. Sometimes we have a small audience and they usually comment on how intense the playing was and or how we looked “out there” for the duration of the session. Our improv time is usually after playing normal songs and or during a long break from traditional performance.
Looking back, of course some of these improv sessions or musical journeys are more satisfying than others. By that I mean that we connected at some point in the journey and with eyes closed (and acute listening) we were able to put it on auto-pilot and or play what some would call “free jazz” perhaps.
Jazz has historically been the obvious genre or style that one would improvise but you can do this with any style or musical setting if the participants are willing to set aside any rules they were taught. If you are actively thinking about the next drum fill or guitar run then that most certainly isn’t IT. If you are merely playing tried and true parts over and over, then that ain’t IT either my friend. Everyone has their repertoire or bag of tricks that they use as needed. It’s when you play something far beyond your ability and [later] astonish yourself and or when you stop at a certain section and “play” nothing at all. The silence between the notes is liberation. Without space there would be no flow. It’s all about the interludes…
On a side note:
Normally when I play drums I always “hear” or see the next drum part or fill in my head (or mind’s eye) seconds before I play or execute it. I have no idea why and or where this comes from, it’s just happens and always has! When fully “in the zone” there is no thinking involved, just fluid body movements. You could say I am at One with the drums.
Without further ado I would like to present a partial transcript of a great Ted Talk video that I randomly stumbled upon. I had sort of a “ah-a” moment while watching as the presenter –Jojo Mayer is kind of hitting upon my topic and interestingly enough describing non-dual awareness [the space between zero and one] without even knowing it. The parallels in non-duality and self-inquiry are uncanny. Even some of the lingo he uses is very similar to teachers or modern-day authors/bloggers who give pointers or describe the indescribable. I am a huge fan of Ted Talks and I’ve watched quite a few of their offerings, but never one with a drummer as presenter though!
Nonetheless, I thought his (obviously improvised) presentation was pretty cool and decided to feature it here on NDA. By the way, yes his drumming chops are pretty intense and what he is doing is not easy peeps. I’m also a fan of drum n’ bass music and was an avid listener, buyer and DJ for this movement in the 90’s as well.
Feel free to read the following text and watch the video or just watch the video, I transcribed most of it for those readers (most I am sure) who do not play drums and or might not fully understand what he is doing and or what he is talking about with regards to electronic music or modern digital studio production.
Jojo will give a brief synopsis on the emergence of rhythm culture and its relationship to technology and communication in the western world. In regards to this, he shares his thoughts on interacting with digital culture and cross examines the relevance of a human performance in the digital age.
Up until the 20th century, drums didn’t have a central function in Western music.
As soon as the frantic rhythms of industrial machinery and urban life itself were introduced, drums and rhythm went from the fringe to the core of Western culture. The catalyst for that were mainly three new technologies.
- The drum set
- Jazz music
- The ability to record sounds
And when those three new technologies came together, they set off this big bang of a [rhythm] universe that kind of expanded the tribe to the entire century.
Decades after the introduction of audio recording, digital technology became the next big revolution in music.
Drum machines, sequencers and computers became a part of my musical vocabulary. Although those new tools changed the landscape of how we produce music and offered a lot of possibilities, still to this date, we cannot replicate the subtle nuances of an acoustic instrument or human performance with those digital tools.
As a way of dealing with those limitations, Electronic music somehow embraced the limitation of electronic synthesized sound and made it a central doctrine of the colloquial expression, so drum computers became a simplified abstraction of a real drummer. So in a way they created a new, but genuine expression with a fake. Which is kind of what art is all about.
In the early 90’s something happened that changed my life as an artist but especially as a drummer when I came across the mind-boggling rhythms of a new electronic sub-genre called jungle and drum n’ bass. Those beats were so radically different and new [understand] that they were no longer abstractions of a real drummer but that they came purely out of the syntax of drum machine programming.
So at that point the vocabulary of drum machine programming had surpassed the vocabulary of real drummers to articulate and express the digital age that had arrived.
At that point I became completely obsessed with the idea to reverse engineer those electronic drum beats and play live on an acoustic instrument. Mainly I did it because I loved those beats so much, that I was trying to find an opportunity to kind of’ consume them physically. So, in the process I became something like a musical John Henry.
“Because I was trying to replicate a machine that could perform statistical density and accuracy, I was just simply beyond my human capabilities. In other words, to play this music is very difficult!” ~JM
In the process of acquiring the idiosyncrasies of drum machine programming I constantly got confronted with my human limitations. But…in the process, I managed to acquire enough technical understanding or maybe even more important…stylistical abstraction that I could create the illusion that I could play like a machine. So actually I also really created a real expression with a fake, just the other way around this time.
When I passed this threshold something interesting happened. The human element that was restricting me actually liberated me. I could add the element of my emotionality and spontaneity to that genre.
When I first performed this to an audience live (with my band NERVE) the response was quite intense. I had an idea that I was onto something. Eventually I figured that something was pointing to the difference in the creative process between programming an automated musical performance or performing music live.
To a big extent, electronic music is still a pre-meditated medium while playing music happens in real-time. And when it comes to playing music, improvisation has always been the most fascinating aspect to me as a performer and the most rewarding one too. Improvisation kind of’ became the key for my current conclusion so to speak.
Drum machines and computers and all digital media are binary machines or systems, which means they compute tasks by assigning between a yes and no. In digital language that relates to zeros and ones.
When we program an electronic piece of music or automated piece of music then we also enter into a decision-making process, but the speed of those decisions does not really have an outcome of the quality of the final product. It’s just the faster we can make those decisions, the more empowered we feel and the more fun it is to do it. The more “in the flow” it is, that’s the word.
When we play music in real-time (especially when we improvise) that same decision-making process gets condensed to fractions of seconds, and to a degree to where we can no longer compute decisions anymore.
When that happens, when enter that magical zone, [pause] which probably could best be described as [pause] an OBE (out-of-body experience). That’s a place where it’s possible to surrender our attentions and let intuition take over.
This is a “zone” where it goes beyond yes or no. This is really a place that exams that distance between zero and one. Which is a zone that a machine cannot compute…[pause] yet.
While we live in a world where digital technology is driving our evolution, reverse engineering digital culture has pointed my attention to the difference between zero and one, or the distance between zero and one, which so far has gotten me the closest to comprehend the in explainable source of my creativity and human existence.
And all of this is what I am hoping to communicate when I perform this short improvisation for you, which is based on digital culture (skip to 12:45 if you just want to listen to the improvisation)
Some interesting takeaways
- At one point when the first apes (or monkeys) began beating on their chest, they did it because they wanted to communicate something.
- There is a theory that humans started to communicate with speech around the same time they started playing the drums.
- The first drum rhythms were probably an assimilation of speech patterns
- Since the amplitude of the drums could reach long distances, it became one of the first telecommunication devices.
- The reason we use drums or what we use it for is cultural esthetics and values.
- A drum beat can build; but it can also destroy
Jojo Mayer, drummer
Growing up in the influence of a musical environment, Jojo picked up the drumsticks at age 2, and learned to play the drums autodidactic.
His pioneering work of reverse engineering programmed electronic music in real-time with his band NERVE and his international bestselling drumming tutorial “secret weapons for the modern drummer” established him as one of the leading voices in the drumming world today.
Besides his work as a musician, he has also contributed award-winning product design for major drum companies. Jojo Mayer lives in New York City and his touring schedule continues to take him to all five continents.
In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TEDTalks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where x = independently organized TED event. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are self-organized.