Conversations on Non-Duality: Twenty-Six Awakenings [Book Review]
Cherry Red Books (406 Pages)
Meticulously transcribed and edited, the book presents twenty-six expressions of awakening shaped by unique life experiences. Although this book came out last year, it is a collection of various interviews that took place between 2007 and 2009 on Conscious TV.
All of the interviews were conducted by Iain McNay and Renate McNay, in a friendly and informal way. Their relaxed interview style focuses on the background as well as the “present life” experiences of the interviewees.
This isn’t a complicated book advocating any particular spiritual path, rather a great starting point for folks wanting a broad overview and or selection of contemporary teachers or writers.
At four-hundred and six pages, it’s a pretty thick book and offers the reader [both ‘seasoned’ seekers and people who have no previous experience with or knowledge about Advaita] a lot on the subject.
It includes interviews with:
David Bingham, Daniel Brown, Sundance Burke, Katie Davis, Peter Fenner, Steve Ford, Jeff Foster, Suzanne Foxton, Gangaji, Richard Lang, Roger Linden, Wayne Liquorman, Francis Lucille, Mooji, Catherine Noyce, Jac O’Keeffe, Tony Parsons, Bernie Prior, Halina Pytlasinska, Genpo Roshi, Florian Schlosser, Mandi Solk, Rupert Spira, James Swartz, Richard Sylvester and Pamela Wilson.
“From a rich variety of backgrounds, the people profiled here [ordinary men and women from many cultures and from a range of social, economic, and ethnic backgrounds ] have been through extraordinary experiences leading to amazing new perceptions. They all shared a common sense of dissatisfaction with their lives and a longing for happiness, connection, health, love, fulfilling relationships, wealth, and freedom. As they reveal the means by which they each went about achieving an end to their suffering—from therapy to study with gurus, their stories range from funny to moving and tragic to inspiring, but there is a common element in their engagement with nonduality. Here they share their insights and wisdom.”
“Enlightenment is seen “not as the end-point, to be worked towards, but as a continual and continuing process.” ~Eleonora Gilbert
Introduction by Iain McNay
I am sure that virtually everyone drawn to this book can remember the first time they realized that life was not quite what it seemed: that reality didn’t actually appear to be the way it was presented by everyone else. For some of us this will have been a gradual process; for others a significant event or an experience, or a realization that challenged what we had been taught to believe. This can be exciting, but it can also be frightening, even quite terrifying. Structures fall away, beliefs are no longer credible and life is experienced in a radically different way.
Renate and I were always interested in making the most of the interviews. We wanted to get to know the interviewees as people, as much as possible, as well as finding out about the state they were living in. We weren’t really interested in theories and always tried to steer away from that wherever possible. We were primarily interested in how they experienced their life, what it was like to be them, and then in conveying that as accessible as possible for others to hear. Everyone has a ‘story’ which, though part of the picture, isn’t fundamentally who they are, and we didn’t want to ignore either perspective.
Iain McNay Oxfordshire, UK
A word from the editor
“The process of putting this book together, reading the manuscript many times over and absorbing the gems present in each chapter, has demystified the many ideas I have collected along my spiritual path about what enlightenment is. It has taken me deeper into the understanding of the nature of all things and has left me in awe of this constant, unstoppable, dynamic and creative force manifesting through everything.”
~Eleonora Gilbert Buckinghamshire, UK 2011
*DOWNLOAD a sample from the book
It is possible to download several of the interviews on Conscious.TV from i-tunes, Amazon and some other download services. These downloads are audio only.
There are also two DVDs available (which are collections of Conscious.TV interviews)
CONVERSATIONS ON NON-DUALITY – VOLUME 1
Tony Parsons – The Open Secret
Rupert Spira – The Transparency Of Things – Parts 1 and 2
Richard Lang – Seeing Who You Really Are
CONVERSATIONS ON NON-DUALITY – VOLUME 2
Jeff Foster – Life Without A Center
Richard Sylvester – I Hope You Die Soon
Roger Linden – The Elusive Obvious
Conscious.tv – the idea
It was approaching midnight on the 31st December 2006. My wife Renate and I were celebrating New Year’s Eve on the island of La Gomera, in the Canary Islands. As usual, she was drinking champagne and I was sipping my glass of mineral water. I had recently reached my 60th birthday and we were having a lively discussion about the things that we hadn’t yet done in our lives that we would still like to do. “It would be great to have a TV station,” I pronounced. “I could combine all my interests: consciousness, football, music, hiking, make some new programs and broadcast some existing ones. We can get literally hundreds of channels on our TV at home and they are nearly all rubbish. I am sure I can do much better than that,” I declared.
The next day we hiked into the hills behind the hotel where we were staying. Something was definitely brewing in me. The more I thought about the idea, the more I liked it. Life went on, but the idea lingered and often surfaced in my mind. Maybe I could piggy back on someone else’s channel and just show a few hours of programs a week. That seemed much more realistic. I found out that this was called a micro channel and other people were doing it.
It was now late in 2007 and Internet TV was just beginning to be established. By this time I had thought up a name, conscious.tv. I liked it, registered it and decided to make some programs. People were spending fortunes making programs that just weren’t very good, in my eyes anyway. Persisting, I found a TV studio in Acton, in West London that would do me a deal for a day and they would record the programs as if they were live and I could pretty much walk out with the finished programs. This was more like it. This was what I was used to. Something that was more instant.
On November 2nd 2007 I made four programs. I was the interviewer as I didn’t have anyone else to do it. None of the programs were very good (and I have taken them all down now). But I was determined to learn fast. Three weeks later I was back in the studio for another full day of making programs. I had coached myself and was much better as an interviewer this time and I felt I was getting somewhere. And I had also remembered a spiritual retreat that I had attended a few months earlier. We had spent four days listening to everyone else’s life stories. That was seventy stories in four days. It was an extraordinarily powerful few days. I had known all those people for twelve or thirteen years and to hear the detail of their lives was a revelation. It was very moving and touching at times. I realized that with conscious.tv I wanted to create something similar. I wanted people to learn, to be stimulated, to be encouraged and to be touched. I was also enjoying the challenge.
By April 2008 I felt I had enough interviews to launch the channel on the Internet. People’s response was slow to start with, but I wasn’t going to do any marketing as such. The phrase ‘build it and they will come’ was rooted in me. I felt what I was doing was interesting and different. The word would slowly get out there. And then four months or so after we started, three e-mails came in one week from people I didn’t know who had found the channel and enjoyed it. Something was starting to happen.
Renate started to help me by doing some interviews herself. Although our interview style may look casual, we actually do a fair amount research for most of our interviews, and that takes time. Conscious.tv is an integral part of our own personal journey. Our adventure is ongoing, and while we still enjoy it we will continue.
~Iain McNay Oxfordshire, UK