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…
Living Relationship is the latest e-book by author/teacher/international speaker Scott Kiloby.
In this book, Scott is using innovative methods to penetrate self-limiting beliefs as they show up in relationship. “In relationship, we tend to focus outward, seeking outside ourselves and trying to change or control others.” states Scott. Within these 252 pages Scott invites us to turn our attention to the deficient self that is running the show in those moments, and to see through that self using one of three inquiries in the book.
Join us as we speak with Scott about the book and all of his latest projects for 2012!
It’s been four or five years in the making, and probably one of the most thrilling and interesting discoveries I’ve been involved with. I started writing the book long ago and kept dropping it. It seemed I had nothing new to say about Relationship and there were already so many books on the subject. My inspiration, originally, for the book was J. Krishnamurti’s line, “Relationship is a mirror.” But I didn’t want to just talk endlessly about that. Instead, I wanted to develop an inquiry that actually revealed how the mirror works and then penetrated through the belief in self and other very effectively. It wasn’t until I studied with Greg Goode, in both Direct Path Advaita and Madhyamaka Buddhism that it began to come together. I owe a large part of this work to Greg and his patience and wonderful way of talking about “inherent” selves and others. The book is not [directly] either one of those paths. It is its own method, influenced by my work in those areas. This has been one of the most effective discoveries for myself and for those I’ve worked with in private sessions. It amazes me how deep these inquiries really go.
How does this differ from your last e-book: Living Realization?
Living Realization is a book about recognizing non-conceptual reality and seeing through the belief in self, just like all my work. It deals specifically with allowing emotions, sensations, states, and experiences to arise and fall naturally and spontaneously, so that one does not identify with those appearances. It speaks very little to relationship. Living Relationship is, of course, all about relationship, and the mirroring effect (how we define self in relation to other) and then seeing through the most deeply held beliefs about ourselves that keep triggering us in relationships of all kinds (our relationship to others, to situations, to objects, drugs, alcohol, awakening, etc). Living Relationship is definitely rooted very directly in non-dual realization, but it’s focus is relationship and more specifically, the belief in a deficient self and how that belief creates and maintains seeking, conflict, and disharmony in one’s life.
Are these companion-style books or totally different material?
Yes, but totally different. Living Realization is direct pointing to non-dual recognition. Living Relationship is a book of inquiries about relationship, delving into the sticky areas that continue to pop up for people in relationship, duality.
It seems more and more authors have adopted the e-book method or P.O.D./delivery, what is your take on that VS printed books. Will your latest books be available for those who still prefer to hold a book [laughs]?
Self-publishing leaves a lot of room for an author to do whatever he or she wants to do with regard to getting the book into the hands of people who will benefit. Sometimes, publishers will put an author at the bottom of the list. With self-publishing, there is a lot of freedom, less dependence on a third-party. And with the internet, the book can be made available very easily. All the books will be in print and kindle form within the near future. We are working on it.
I know you are totally self-published and I respect that—not many are able to successfully do that.
I’m not totally self-published. The new addiction/recovery book “The Natural Rest” is being published by Wisdom Culture from California.
Any advice for other speakers/teachers or writers out there who may be thinking about self-publishing?
Yes, don’t be afraid to turn publishers down when they make offers. I did. If you get blindsided just because someone has offered you a publishing deal, you may not see the other opportunities out there. And one is self-publishing. Traditionally, the mark of a successful writer is, “I’ve been published.” Sounds good to ego. But when that tagline really doesn’t matter to you anymore, you are able to look at different approaches, not being swayed just because someone offers you a deal and not searching for a publishing deal as if that is really the Holy Grail of writing. The Holy Grail of writing is the writing itself for me, the creating, and then working with that creation in a way that allows real freedom. I can sit and do nothing with regard to marketing or I can put it out there. Either way, the freedom is retained, without having to answer to a third-party.
I’ve heard great things about the online/interactive meetings for both Living Relationship and Living Realization; what’s the latest with those projects? How do these differ from your in-person meetings, workshops or live talks?
One of the benefits is that no one has to travel! The meeting happens [right there] in your own home, on your computer. It’s a matter of just clicking on a link and suddenly you are IN the meeting. With the online meetings, there is also the ability to follow-up with people and create a relationship with them, answering questions or listening to their feedback about how the meetings work well or don’t.
We are constantly changing the format to make it more accessible and to offer benefit, with as little hassle to people as possible. With in person talks or meetings, a teacher arrives in town and is then gone within a few days, so if someone has a follow-up question, there’s no one to respond to it. And given the nature of the “Satsang hangover,” where one experiences some level of “high” during a meeting, but then crashes on Monday, it is helpful to have someone there explaining “it’s just a high followed by a crash.” And then I can point to how the search is often really a search for pleasure and avoidance of pain. That kind of follow-up talk puts things into perspective more.
You recently gave a keynote presentation at the PARADOXICA Conference in Canada. How was that experience? Was there anything new being presented and or what did you notice as far as current topical matter in the non-dual/spiritual community.
Paradoxica is a top-notch organization. Gary Nixon puts on the conference each year. The presentations are unique, and something you won’t see at other conferences. Tom Crockett and Chuck Hillig both put on really great presentations that were “out of the box.” Lots of other good stuff there , too many to mention. I highly recommend people attending next year, if you can make it up to Canada in June 2013.
Will you be speaking at this years’ SAND (Science and Non-Duality) Conference in California? I really enjoyed your panel with Jeff Foster and Unmani from 2011. It seems like that conference is getting larger every year and the non-dual community continues to flower worldwide.
Yes, I’m doing a panel with Tom Crockett, Chuck Hillig, and Jeff Foster. It should be interesting. We are discussing a topic that might seem controversial to some. Stay tuned…
Scott at the Science & Non-duality Conference
Absolute VS Relative…and why? [laughing].
Ha, with the inquiries we are doing in Living Relationship, it all becomes a moot point. Seriously. There are some great talks by Buddha where he would not answer that kind of question. Not comparing myself to Buddha here. I’m merely mentioning that he avoided those questions for a good reason, saying they were part of the “thicket of views.” He was interested mainly in ending suffering. That’s what my path has been all about and it’s really all that I’m interested in talking about these days. Clinging to views around that subject, itself, can cause suffering.
It seems you were lumped into a group of up n’ coming writers or teachers (if you consider yourself that) a few years ago in which the media labeled: neo-Advaita. What’s your $0.02 on that and it seems that “scene” is kind of dying out or fizzling somewhat.
Perhaps some of my earlier stuff could be called “Neo-Advaita.” But years later, as I sit here, having met with thousands of people in one-on-one sessions, the most effective pointing has been through inquiries and meeting people exactly where they are. I’ve sat in sessions where, for the first thirty minutes, the person just cried, obviously suffering a lot. To tell that person “it’s all Oneness,” “there is no self,” or “all is perfect,” might be something that snaps them out of identification with thought. But mostly it sounds like just more words for people. When people discover for themselves the great insights that are available, by looking into what they believe, and being with the greatest pain, that’s when freedom really dawns. Once I began using the inquiries from the Living Relationship book, I found less reason to even use the big “neo” pointers. It all became irrelevant for people. All they needed to do was see what they believed about themselves, and then see through it. Even views like “no self” or “Life already is” or whatever become redundant if you look deep enough.
You are about to release a book on addiction/recovery. This is something you could help a lot of folks with, tell us about that.
That’s another great topic, and one that touches many lives. If you aren’t addicted yourself, surely you know someone who is! And addiction comes in so many forms such as alcohol, drugs, shopping, gambling, sexual obsession, and even the seeking towards enlightenment. With that book, the object of the addiction is not so important. The book points to the mechanism of mind that is obsessed with objects and pleasures and then provides very direct ways of seeing through that mechanism, into the natural rest of the present moment, where the mind is quieter, the body feels transparent, and all temporary energies, good and bad, flow through without getting hooked into story. The book will hopefully be out this year. We are waiting on some reviews. I work with people in private sessions on this topic.
Can you walk us through a typical [private] session and or give us a snapshot of what that entails etc.?
In the first session, I want to know something about the person, his path, the kind of core story he identifies with, etc. From there, I start by pointing in the simplest way, which is that the search for happiness, enlightenment or recovery, is often a hidden search to find pleasure and avoid or cover up pain. I point to how to see that pain and pleasure are temporary energies that do not arise to a self or that there is no inherent self in anything that arises. Eventually, we get to the inquiries from the Living Relationship book and that’s usually where the rubber meets the road. People pick up those tools and start seeing through lifelong core stories that have been running the show. The goal of private sessions is to free oneself from the belief in self, then from the teacher and the teaching.
Oddly enough it seems that the West is enamored with the Eastern teachings and there seems to be a shift happening where a lot of folks from the East are becoming interested in the Western teachings. The internet affords such knowledge to circle the globe in unprecedented ways in 2012!
Can you recommend any books for “beginners” or folks starting out on some spiritual path?
- Greg Goode’s work on emptiness and the western approach to that is great. There are also some amazing techniques from psychology like shadow work that cut through self-centeredness very quickly. This field is still emerging.
- Living Relationship is a combination of Eastern and Western approaches also.
- Nonduality Press has a set of books from very good teachers. One might look there.
- Tom Crockett has some really fresh things to say about nonduality that I think will appeal to many.
There are so many things emerging. That is only the tip of the iceberg. Good ole’ Eckhart Tolle and Byron Katie are great, especially for those who are not familiar with this topic.
I am a big proponent of making the message [of non-duality] simple for the masses. So many teachers, therapists or Satsang givers use specific terminology which has no definite definition (or one def. that everyone recognizes). I think this is a downfall for such talk as it causes great confusion. I know it’s hard to use words/language to convey knowledge or concepts etc. What are your thoughts? You seem to be doing a great job of simplifying this and I applaud you for that!
The more one speaks in a simple, plain English way here in the west, the better. I try not to assume that someone knows what I’m referring to when I say “awareness” or “deficiency story” or any non-dual terminology. I break it down to one’s experience, rather than just more terminology. If you can see it in your own experience, there is less translation to do. The wilder the language gets, or the heavier it gets, the more you are asking the reader to assume the meaning of languages that have been passed down for centuries. It can actually make the mind even busier and not provide a direct experience of peaceful mind, open-heartedness, etc. Always know your audience! Sometimes I am speaking to people who have never heard about this subject. And mixed in the audience are people who are aware of my work. I try to speak to both.
Thank you for your time and service that you are doing in the community.
*Photos by M. Verkoren, E.Goodman and B.McFarlane
29th May – 3rd June, 2012
Zonheuvel Conference Centre | Doorn, The Netherlands
Mystics in all ages and cultures describe the self as infinite, stable and ever-present phenomena. Modern physics describe the world as a self-moving, self-designing pattern, an undivided wholeness, a dance. We, as a society, relate to the self mostly as an individual, unique, time bound form. Our common sense, as individuals and society, hasn’t caught up with this picture and it still based on long-held biases and stories. The Earth is clearly round but we still act as if it was flat…
We live at the dawn of a scientific revolution, every day brings new findings from a wide range of scientific disciplines about what it means to be human. Modern science now gives us the detailed descriptions of the mechanisms our brain needs to construct what we call the self.
Could it be this illusionary image of ourselves as separate beings that is keeping us in this perpetual state of anxiety, scarcity, fear, dissatisfaction and leading us, as a society, at this very delicate point in evolution?
“Many of you will have heard of the Science and Non-Duality Conference [SAND] that takes place in California every October. It is coming to Europe (Amsterdam) for the first time this year. The Buddhist teacher Thich Nhat Hanh predicted recently that the next Buddha would be the community. SAND is the embodiment of this prediction, providing a dialogue between a wide diversity of non-dual teachers and traditions and many of the leading scientific researchers in this field.
However, anyone who has attended SAND will know that it is much more than a conventional conference, albeit on an unconventional subject. It is part seminar, part festival, part celebration, part satsang, and promises to bring a new and exciting forum for Non-Duality to Europe. “
“I’m glad to be speaking at the conference. I’ll probably tie-in my grandfather’s stay in Amsterdam a hundred years earlier where he was a social revolutionary. I might talk about how non-duality is called an inner revolution by J. Krishnamurti, a revolution of the heart by Jeannie Zandi, or love’s quiet revolution by Scott Kiloby.
Others use the term revolution in relation to non-dual understanding. Somehow I’ll bring stories about my grandfather into my talk, so I think it’ll be fun and interesting. Also I’ll either be moderating or a panelist on a panel whose subject is The Business of Nonduality. What Maurizio and Zaya fashion with each SAND Conference is blissful and magical, and part of it is nothing less than their presence. If they didn’t show up, it wouldn’t be the same!
Coincidentally (or perhaps not), Steve’s book The Fall was published on the very same day as Eckhart Tolle’s A New Earth back in October 2005.
As a result (and given the similarities of the books), Steve sent a copy of the book to Eckhart’s office. To his surprise, a few weeks later he received an e-mail from his assistant, saying that he thought The Fall was a wonderful book, and would like to help him promote it. Steve states, “I spoke to Eckhart on the phone a few days later, and he struck me as a gentle, funny and generous man.”
Eckhart gave Steve a great endorsement for the cover of The Fall, and arranged for him to be a part of a ‘spiritual documentary’ directed by Guy Ritchie (which unfortunately never appeared).
Steve has kept in contact with Eckhart sporadically ever since; most recently, he interviewed him for his latest book, Out of the Darkness. Enjoy the article…
In a recent survey by Watkins Bookshop — the UK’s most famous spiritual bookstore — Eckhart Tolle was listed as the ‘most spiritually influential living person on the planet.’ You might think that this accolade would be given to someone who is a major presence in the media, and who appears regularly in public. However, Eckhart rarely gives interviews to the mainstream media and over the last few years, he hasn’t given very many talks. He isn’t a particularly prolific author either.
So how did he become so influential?
I was interested in interviewing Eckhart because he’s an example of a phenomenon which I have become more and more aware of in recent years — the power of turmoil and stress to bring about a shift into enlightenment.
As readers of The Power of Now will be aware, until the age of 29 Eckhart lived in a state of anxiety and depression. As he described it to me when I interviewed him for my book, ‘There was a sense of great fear of life: fear of the future, fear of the meaninglessness underneath it all, but not wanting to fully face that meaninglessness and find out what underlies it.’
There were some external factors in Eckhart’s depression. One was his parents’ unhappy marriage, and the continual conflict between them. He had also been unhappy at school, where he felt like an outsider: ‘I didn’t fit in. I remember my closest friend at school had a severe physical handicap. Most people didn’t want to have anything to do with him. I was an outsider for inner reasons, and he was an outsider for physical reasons.’
Another external factor was Eckhart’s lack of social roots. After his parents separated when he was 13, he moved countries twice, first to Spain then to England. In England, he found that he could boost his sense of identity through intellectual pursuits. He did a degree at the University of London, worked hard and got a first, and went on to do post-graduate studies at Cambridge. But this success didn’t bring him any contentment: ‘The more I pursued my intellectual search, the stronger the sense of despair became…In every ego satisfaction there is always fear that it’s not enough. The more you present a facade to the outside world of confidence, the greater the unconscious fear grows. That’s why people need to play roles.’
This growing despair culminated in the transformation described in The Power of Now, when, on the brink of killing himself, Eckhart’s ego dissolved away, leaving him in a state of pure peace. He experienced not a break down, but a ‘shift up’ into a state of enlightenment.
Although he wasn’t completely aware of it at the time, one of the major psychological changes he underwent was that his mind became quiet; the ego’s incessant ‘thought-chatter’ had stopped. As he told me: ‘There were long periods in my daily life where there was no thinking. I was no longer identified with thought processes. Those compulsive automatic processes had subsided, the noisy mind which I had identified with, which had covered up the deeper dimension within me.’
“A sudden awakening doesn’t mean a sudden understanding.” ~Eckart T.
Although he was very well read, Eckhart knew little about spiritual states or traditions, and so didn’t fully understand what had happened to him: ‘Being able to talk about it to others, to explain it to others, let alone help them — that came years later. A sudden awakening doesn’t mean a sudden understanding. I only knew I was at peace and I didn’t know why. But because I felt at peace, I felt very drawn to investigating spiritual teachings and schools and religions.’
It has now been more than 30 years since Eckhart’s transformation, and his awakened state has never faded, although there are sometimes fluctuations in its intensity: ‘Sometimes the underlying peace is just in the background; at other times it becomes so all-encompassing that it almost obliterates sense perceptions and thoughts and what one would usually consider one’s life. Even when things in the foreground might seem turbulent, in the background there is some sense of stillness and peace.’
Although its intensity is perhaps unusual, the transformation Eckhart experienced is not uncommon. For my latest book, Out of the Darkness, I spoke to 32 other people who went through a spiritual transformation after intense turmoil in their lives — people who were ill with cancer or ME, who reached ‘rock bottom’ through alcoholism, became severely disabled, or suffered from severe depression or intense stress. Like Eckhart, they all reached a point where they thought they were completely lost and broken, where they felt they had no choice but to give up and surrender to their predicament. And at the moment something shifted inside them. Suddenly they felt a sense of lightness and freedom. The world seemed a different place, with a new sense of meaning, harmony and beauty. And although the initial intensity of experience faded, the shift remained. They felt re-born, with a new identity. Years later — even decades — they were still filled with inner peace.
All of the ‘shifters’ — as I call them — were ordinary people with normal jobs and conventional lifestyles, who knew little or nothing about spirituality. As a result, it took some of them a long time to understand what had happened. Like Eckhart, they spent years slowly gravitating to spiritual books and teachers, gradually building up a framework to understand their new state.
If the transformation Eckhart went through is not so uncommon, what is it that makes his teachings so influential and powerful?
On the surface of it, Eckhart’s books are not standard mind, body spirit fare. They’re not always consoling and positive — a large part of A New Earth, for example, is taken up with explaining what’s wrong with human beings, analysing the dark side of human nature and the dysfunctional workings of the ego. Eckhart’s books don’t tell us that we can get everything we want just by wishing in the right way, or that there are angels or extra-terrestrial entities looking after us. But this is also part of their power. They express a very pure and direct form of spirituality, uncluttered by unnecessary concepts. They get right down to the core, beneath all the distracting bright lights and colours.
His writing style helps with this too. Perhaps because his first language was German — a logical and concise language — his use of English is simple and direct. Every sentence is measured and stately, pared down to its essence.
Some spiritual teachers — Krishnamurti, for example — say that books can be a hindrance on the spiritual path. They fill the mind with unnecessary knowledge, inflate the ego with learning. And in any case, how can words convey the richness and fullness of spiritual experience? As the Zen saying goes, ‘The finger that points at the moon is not the moon.’ But this doesn’t seem to apply to Eckhart’s books. In some mysterious way, his words are the moon. He has the rare ability to transmit spirituality through the medium of words, so that it’s possible for the reader to gain a taste of enlightenment through reading his books.
“Occasionally it happens that people want to make you into something special. This is a pitfall for anyone who becomes a spiritual teacher.” ~Eckhart T.
Compared to many spiritual teachers, Eckhart is self-effacing. Some spiritual authors and teachers seem to crave attention and power. But perhaps because he became a spiritual teacher almost by accident — simply because people were drawn to his peaceful presence — Eckhart doesn’t need disciples. He seems quite happy to be no one. Although he knows that something profound happened to him, he doesn’t see himself as a special person. As he told me, ‘Occasionally it happens that people want to make you into something special. This is a pitfall for anyone who becomes a spiritual teacher. I always point that what I term presence comes through me, not from me, and that it’s also in them, otherwise they wouldn’t even notice it. It’s not my presence or your presence.’
In my view, this integrity lends a great deal of power and authenticity to Eckhart’s teachings.
It’s also significant that Eckhart was an intellectual before his transformation. Intellect and spirituality are sometimes seen as opposites, but they need each other. Intellect without spirituality is cold and narrow, but spirituality without intellect is dangerous too, often leading to a mush of irrational wish fulfilment. The state of enlightenment, and the path that leads to it, is unknown territory for most of us. We need explorers to map that territory, guides to show us the way there, to point out difficulties along the way, show us the signs of progress and help us distinguish the false from the true. And because of his sharp intellect, Eckhart does this better than anyone. He’s really a ‘spiritual psychologist’, offering an acute analysis of the insanity of the human mind, identifying its causes and showing us how to transcend it.
And if, as my research for Out of the Darkness suggests, the kind of ‘suffering-induced transformation’ which Eckhart went through is becoming more common, over the next few years we’ll hopefully see other spiritual teachers emerge, with a similar power and integrity.
Steve Taylor is an author and lecturer whose main interests are psychology and spirituality. He is the author of Waking From Sleep, The Fall and Making Time. His books have been published in 11 languages, including Dutch, Korean, Russian, Spanish, Japanese, Polish, Spanish and French.
Steve is a lecturer in psychology at Leeds Metropolitan University and a researcher in transpersonal psychology at Liverpool John Moores University.
Out of the Darkness: From Turmoil to Transformation. Kindle version is available now in the U.S.
His website is www.stevenmtaylor.com