Nonduality Salon (/ \)
Dustin enjoying the Ganges, on which the Ashram of Swami Veda borders.
The main building on the Ashram.
A school for the children of lepers, sponsored by the Ashram.
Dustin and wife Jorin on Ashram grounds.
Swami Veda in preparation for consecration.
The consecration ceremony.
Notes on a stay at Swami Veda's Ashram
The greatest gift I took away from the ashram was the gift of
touched the most profound stillness I've ever touched while I was there,
just sitting quietly on the banks of the Ganges River. To cultivate that
stillness and peace of mind always, is really my focus. I also really
enjoyed the quiet time that I spent with Swamiji. He and I got along quite
well, and very rarely spoke about too much with one another. I was happiest
to sit quietly with him and just reside in that silence. He has a
wonderfully peaceful presence that way, and if I read it right, I think he
appreciated that all I wanted was to spend that quiet time with him, too,
not pestering with a barrage of philosophical questions about the Gita and
stuff like many others seem wont to do in his presence.
Tues Mar 16
I've been reading the introductory chapter to a book called "Science of
Breath," and despite its anachronistic language (or perhaps because of it),
I'm struck by the utter meaninglessness and stupidity of this discussion,
An early assertion states that our existence is based on a continually
expanding and contracting force/field of energy (prana), which expands to a
physical, gross body and contracts back into its primal or cosmic energy.
This and every other philosophy and/or religious/spiritual tradition strikes
me the very same way. They spring up, expand from a dynamic will or
person[ality], develop into a tradition, practice, or following, and
inevitably, each and every one of them dies. They die, becuase they must:
they don't truly EXIST - they just try to discuss or explain that existence.
I hate this constant babbling about how existence is manifested in the
material world. Not a single word of it matter or has one iota of Meaning.
What is that pure, unadulterated EXISTENCE that we really are? Why can't we
just be That?
Nisargadatta says that's what we are: That. So does Swami Veda, actually,
when he's not talking about yoga or the mission. So did Ramana, and
probably, I think, every major thinker throughout human history who has
spoken with a voice of pure, unfettered EXPERIENCE.
Our conscious minds are like a many-layered sieve or strainer. The bits we
see and are able to contemplate on a given day are only small pieces of what
could be poured through. Every time we go out into the world, interact with
others, and continue to cultivate our human personalities, we add new
filter-layers to the lining of the strainer. We have so many pieces of
cheesecloth in that thing that only small drops of water and Knowledge can
make it through.
How do we remove those filters? That's what religion and spirituality are
supposed to be answering, right? How do we peel off those crusty bits of
cloth and food and mud so that all the water can flow freely through? How do
we peel off those layers that occlude the light so that we can see that
light clearly, without colour, filter, or alteration?
Several buzzwords come to mind: purification, cleansing, pure
contemplation... then pure, direct experience comes up for me. How can you
TALK about anything at all unless you've EXPERIENCED it? How can you
experience anything if you're talking all the time (i.e. philosophizing)?
There is no philosophy, no religion, no spirituality, no method, no path, no
means, no way. There is no intellect, no knowledge, no awareness. There is
no thing that can be directly experienced. If there were, we could sit
around and talk about it, but that's not pure, direct EXPERIENCE.
It still comes back to the same kind of point, often: we're still humans,
living in the world - it's lovely to contemplate a more real Existence than
this present, material one, but does that get us anywhere either? Whatever
can be contemplated is still garbage for this talk, because whatever can be
contemplated is still part of this world.
I want desperately to break out of this shell and see the light. But I think
the way to do that here is to discover what this world's light is, first.
One must have to master being Human first...
Is this path (and every other) then supposed to provide the means and
methods for doing just that? If so, is it then worthwhile, important, or
even essential to follow these paths and methods wholeheartedly so that we
attain this mastery first?
Maybe, eh? (I have heard it) said that if God was easy to handle, it wouldn't be
God. Maybe it's supposed to be hard to recognize so that you really know
it's God when you see it.
Or maybe... maybe all this IS God, and nothing else matters or exists. Maybe
that's the point, and that simply being content is residing successfully in
God-consciousness. The simpler, the betterm no?
Why do we have to invent all of these games of philosophy and religion to
occupy our "higher minds," anyway? Why the hell am I even writing this?
Who's even writing???
Thu 17 Mar
Being at the ashram has immersed me in many aspects, positive and negative,
about this tradition. Although most of the negative aspects have more to do
with the organization than with the tradition, to be sure. I've never
personally witnessed any organization that has been sustainably successful
without a really clear, unified vision; all I've seen around here is a
crumbling of that collective vision around the periphery.
There seems to be two ways to examine this. One is purely from within the
context of the material world, and one is totally divorced from it. The
reason nonduality appeals so strongly to me is because it's faceless - it
has no identity, no philosophy. I think that's healthy and pure - it's
important to strive for that unfettered quality in our lives - it can help
us get closer to the Infinite. But despite so many positive aspects of the
practical nature and approach of yoga, I still find that it hearkens of a
real path, of a philosophy, and of a religious tradition. I just don't feel
Maybe it's just my personality, but I strive for that path which is no path
at all. Wei wu wei. I've said this before, but the only "path" that makes
any sense to me at all is just pure, unadulterated Truth. My intuition tells
me that's what lies in wait for yogis in samadhi, but I just don't think we
need to concentrate so much effort on the path, the methods, the
Sat 28 Mar
I feel like I have culture shock from being home. I can't believe we're
home, with all of these crazy things everywhere, and a car. None of it feels
very real to me, and this doesn't really feel like home yet. I guess it
The only reason I wanted to write today was to see if by doing so I could
get a better hold of my awareness. I still have this detached, floating
feeling that makes me feel disengaged from my surroundings at all levels
except for the physical. It would be romantic to say that my heart or soul
is still in India right now, but I don't really know if that's true.
In general, I feel that a certain shift has occurred in my awareness.
Similar to last June, I feel like I'm seeing the world with different eyes.
When my senses take in some sight or smell, they seem to perceive them
differently. It feels like they're being perceived elsewhere, or that the
perceptions are being interpreted elsewhere, anyway. I notice it easiest
with sight, but I think it's probably occurring with all my senses. Touch
is, I know. Even writing this feels surrogate, somehow.
I seem to see myself differently when I look in the mirror. What it honestly
feels like is that the image I see reflected there is an old, comfortable
friend, but that there's someone different regarding that old friend. The
best explanation I can think of is that whatever intellectual understanding
I've had of a separate I-ness is now becoming more experiential. I'm now
_experiencing_ the I AM in a more continual way than I once did; I'm now
residing in the I AM more frequently, or more profoundly, than before.
Before "what," I don't know. I do feel the whole process differently that
"before," though. It's no longer a novel, exciting event - it seems to be a
little more relaxed, more comfortable, more low-key, but more settled, and
perhaps more permanent. Maybe that's why I've been having such trouble
understanding it and reconciling it - because it just doesn't feel like
anything too specific or groundbreaking. It just feels like nature - like a
---end of Ashram notes...
Portions of letters and diary entries:
You continually express true insight and vision, which to me, should negate any negative feelings or fear you might encounter if/when you're not remaining open. Your words above demonstrate real insight, T---. You would probably be pleasantly surprised by how little conflict would remain with you if you were to meditate on those thoughts and that insight constantly.
You know what? There really aren't "practical terms," are there? I mean, what does that even mean, terms that are "practical"? My saying that kind of implies that there are terms more "spiritual" or more "real" or more "grounded" or something, and that "practical" terms are different, somehow. I don't think there are any qualities to "terms" other than I AM. All you have to do is keep reminding yourself of I AM and the True quality brightens and breaks everything else away.
When I am absorbed in I AM, my want for food and everything gets dulled. Or at least, smoothed out somehow. Is that why you have found bland, repetitive meals to be so attractive? I ate black beans and couscous today with nothing else and the experience was almost ecstatic, even though there was nothing all that "appealing" about the dish in a traditional sense. I'd like to hear you talk about that more. I feel like I'm developing a new relationship with food that I've never had before, and I think it's because of I AM. As is Everything...
That is, that there is no seeking, only understanding. Many may know that intellectually, but when you meditate on that understanding, you Know it. It is so, so important, what he says in those last pages, that seeking in and of itself is nothing, that the search in and of itself is nothing; there can be no seeking, no search, in anything other than understanding, and if you have cultivated understanding, then there is no separate "seeking" at all. I think that's the most important thing I've ever read.
I'm very interested in picking up this thread of discussion with you specifically along the lines of something you just mentioned, being that we still have to live with others who don't have or don't know of or don't wish to have this understanding. There's never a need to create conflict with these people, obviously, but there are certainly enormous challenges for us to deal with in dealing with everyone else.
I close my eyes and withdraw the senses from all that surrounds this body
With my mind turned inward, I catch a glimpse of that universal light which is all-eternal,
Burning like the sun in my heart.
The light's brilliance warms me throughout, and I recognize its radiance as love; its love as grace; its grace as consciousness...
I recognize consciousness as I AM, and
dwell within that knowledge for ever.
Traditionally, my understanding has been based on details and knowledge such as the nature of this, the definition of that, the particulars of this, or that; I consider it a grand leap forward that I am no longer concerned with anything other than understanding anymore - there is no knowledge other than That, and That is all that I wish to understand.
Since catching what another friend calls my "blinding glimpse of the obvious" about I AM several months ago, I have endeavoured to maintain a constant relationship with that Awareness throughout the course of each and every day. I have an intuitive understanding that the constant cultivation of that Relationship is our most basic (or perhaps, elevated) human attainment. If we can maintain that relationship successfully, we dissolve the dilemmas and paradoxes that ordinarily face us in this dualistic world, and become One with our environment, our selves, and our consciousness.
I have found the very same thing that David has with regards to this understanding at the workplace and in life. I love David's phrase, "I learned not to expect fulfillment to come from my job, but to bring fulfillment to my job." How terribly insightful is that observation! - once you open yourself up fully to the grace and light of Understanding, your every experience at work and in life - no matter how mundane it may seem at first glance - becomes a beautiful expression of grace, love and truth. Would you believe, T---, that when I maintain this relationship at work, my work day is almost a constant, blissful experience?
Of course, the same goes for the rest of our lives that don't take place at work, also. The greatest challenge I have encountered personally is how to maintain that relationship in the face of the myriad dilemmas, stresses, and worries that are thrown our way every hour of every day. For me, it is a challenge to cultivate that Awareness when I have a stack of papers on my desk and a larger stack of responsibilities to others than myself and family...
I just wanted to touch on a couple of quick things. (One) mentioned, generously, that he, David and I have been successful at cultivating Awareness at the workplace. I'd like to suggest that for myself, my success definitely has its good times and bad times. Sometimes I'm less successful than others, of course. What I wanted to mention is that this type of work - cultivating Awareness - requires constant attention, as one says. It's hard work sometimes, and when you're not successful, it can be a rough road, full of what you may think are obstacles and dilemmas. But as your mind becomes more successfully one-pointed towards that Attention and Awareness, you will no doubt find that some of those seeming obstacles and dilemmas really do just dissolve into that Awareness. The nondual approach, if we can call it that, gives us a unique gift in that regard, and that is that is resolves all conflict and dilemma instantly at its touch.
As (one) insightfully suggests, the key to all of our "success" at this is to focus on what we know most deeply. You sound ready to ask yourself some hard questions about what it is that you know, and what that means. Don't ask yourself hard questions about your life, your relationships, or your job - at least, not yet - just ask yourself hard questions about Knowledge. Try and catch that glimpse of What It Is That You Really Know, and start focusing your attention on That, and hard. What an exhilarating and liberating experience!
Tuesday, July 21, 1998
Peace, peace, peace. I live inside my body in the place where no one is. I am that which is, and no thing other than that which is. I am I AM. I an OM.
As I write this, I feel the words flowing gracefully through my fingers like gentle drops of water on a leaf. My whole being is suffused with peace, love, joy and happiness. I am smiling in spite of myself. I am smiling because I AM.
Who is this beautiful One who resides so peacefully, so lovingly in my heart? Who can it be? That One who lives and loves eternally, without cause, without blame, without attachment? All I see I see through its grace and beauty. All I see is grace and beauty. All I see is I AM.
Monday, August 3, 1998
I am closer each day to cultivating my eternal awareness. I have been told that once you intuit the true nature of awareness, a major point is reached. Once a glimpse is caught of that understanding, it becomes steadily easier to keep inc touch with that understanding over time, so long as you continue to focus your awareness and attention on it. I know that I have a good intellectual understanding now, but the more sublime level that is reached is reached only with continued attention.
...distractions ar a gift to my learning; a vital part of the curriculum.
Saturday, August 8, 1998
Who am I? This is the most difficult question that can be asked. What is the nature of that part of my awareness that exists apart, or beyond, my physical percetions of the world around me?
I've recently found that an important piece of that puzzle is concentration. Without concentratin, we are not in control of our mind. No awareness can be developed or cultivated without that basic control of the mind.
If I close my eyes and open my inner eye, I can see where my concentration and awarenss rests. My awareness rests quietly within me; it is set carefully on the lotus petals that are reflective of consciousness itself. I am that awareness. I am that consciousness. I am no less than that which neither is nor is not. I am wei we wei. I am I AM.
As my concentration becomes more refined, I develop true inner Awareness. Awareness: the state of being aware. But beyond that, beneath that, at the core and the root of that, is the state of Pure Being. As I allow my mind to disintegrate and dissolve into a million dewdrops of those petals of Awareness, I finally reach peace with world around me, within me, and I AM.
OM.OM.OM. I am joy shining forth from the light of awareness within me. My body is a smooth, clean vessel that holdds that awareness within. The seat of that awareness is occupied peacefully by I AM, located deep within my heart, within my chest.
I see through Dustin's deep blue eyes. I smell through Dustin's sharp nose. I touch through Dustin's slender fingers. I exist through I AM.
Who is this peaceful one who looks through these eyes? How is the vision interpreted, how do I interpret what is seen? It is all part of the play of consciousness, all a reflection, a function, of I AM.
Saturday, August 15, 1998
My heart is bright with the warm glow of the Source within me. With each breath, I can feel the physical shell of my body slipping away from me like a sheath. I am that which resides deep within, sitting peacefully at Grace's feet.
Every aspect of my body is now Peace. I cannot make a rough gesture, I cannot utter a harsh word. Every breath, every thought, every movement I make, is borne totally from peace, from grace, from the knowledge of I AM that rests so gently yet all-pervasively in my heart. I am joy. I am love. I am happiness. I am peace. I am OM.
Nonduality Salon (/ \)