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Nondual Wisdom and Psychology Conference 2013

NDW Cherry blossomsMar 14 2013 – Mar 17 2013

Spiritual Bypassing, True Intimacy and the Challenge of Being Fully Human


Full Schedule

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.



The Altar of Presence: Investigating and Revealing our True Body
Ellen Emmet
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.



Dark Night: The Breakdown of the Mythology of Me
Jeannie Zandi
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.



Spiritual Autonomy

Adyashanti_NDWTrue 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
Ken Bradford
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’
Saniel Bonder
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
Dorothy Hunt

Hunt_DorothyWhat 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
John Welwood
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

Being Empty
Kenny Johnson

Johnson_Kenny_NDWKenny 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
Jeannie Zandi
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.



2 responses

  1. I am glad to see the conference focus on this theme. Greatly needed.

    March 2, 2013 at 5:03 pm

  2. Pingback: Seducing The Universe – Your Guide To A Great Relationship! – How To Be More In Control

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