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NDhighlights Edition #1204 - Saturday, September 21, 2002 - Edited by John

Dan Berkow

Hi Drew --

Do you handle all your conversations this way?

Was just interested in a bit of conversation, not scholarly
reference materials.

You raised a couple of points, and I asked you to
explain the statements. Honestly, scholarly
reference material is the furthest from my mind --
something more along the lines of spontaneous
give and take is what seems interesting to me

I do get that spontaneous give and take is not
what you're interested in, in our conversation.
Also, you seem
hesitant to declare your thoughts on the
points you raised, and I infer that your
caution has to do with the idea that someone
must do a lot of reading of many words before
they can understand something you might have
to say.

What ends up happening though, is that you've
presented doubts about whether Wilber or
Cohen know what they're talking about,
and then pointed to other references, rather
than just saying directly what you were thinking
of when you said that.

Is this your view of enlightenment -- that one
must consult various references before something
straightforward could be said?

I'm from a totally different understanding -- I
find that someone can easily say directly
what their understanding is or isn't, and can
easily and immediately say what they meant
if they implied a criticism of someone else's
limited understanding.

I have found some limitations in Wilber's and Cohen's
expressions of what they consider enlightenment.
I'm sure my findings are biased, and are an opinion
expressed from a limited, individual perspective.

I've found that Wilber has aligned his understanding with a
progressive, developmental model that is highly conceptual without
seeming fully grounded in nonconceptual clarity. Nonconceptual
clarity isn't the outcome of progressive cognitive develop-
ment, and he seemingly makes this correlation when
he discusses enlightenment. The same model leads to
a dismissive attitude toward cultures that "lack development"
according to the scheme. However, that doesn't mean
that none of his critiques of other cultures have merit.
For example, his comments about cultures that repudiate
equality of men and women hold some value.

Cohen seems bent on establishing himself as a personal
authority, and seems to need material to diminish
those who disagree with his stance. He puts a heavy
emphasis on discipline and responsibility, but seems
to use these ideas in self-serving ways, which promote
his correctness and authoritativeness, and in fact,
imply the need for an authority like himself.

Do you think me bold to make such statements without
bringing in references? They are just spur-of-the-moment
opinion. Probably not worth much. Opinions are subject
to change at a moment's notice, and are always biased.
Of course, this is true of scholarly well-researched
opinion, as well.

Certainly, one
can't equate opinion with enlightenment whatsoever.
But then, one can't equate enlightenment with nonconceptual
knowing, either. Enlightenment has far too much said
about it, to be nonconceptual knowing.


Brother Void

"We must learn to regard people less in the light of what they do or don't do, and more in the light of what they suffer."
-- Dietrich Bonhoeffer

As you watch TV or gaze up the corporate ladder, everyone but you seems accomplished and
successful. How sweet it is, then, to realize that failure is what life is all about; failure is why you're
here. Isn't there more nobility in your failed attempt to conquer your self, or to relieve the solitude of
the one you love, or to just continue living this difficult life in the face of oncoming death than there
is in the greatest success of any banker, brain surgeon or late-night aerobics instructor? You can
ultimately succeed only at unimportant things. The loftiest things in life always end in failure. So the
next time you're suffering from low self-esteem, remember this: Every beautiful, rich, successful
person you see on TV will, like you, fail at what matters to them most. If you seek something
worthwhile, seek failure.

E-course "Practicing Spirituality with Buddhists"


When one is nobody, and has nothing, there is no danger of warfare or attack, and there is peace.
The mango tree laden with fruit did not have a moment's peace; everybody wanted its fruit. If we
really want peace, we have to be nobody. Neither important, nor clever, nor beautiful, nor famous,
nor right, nor in charge of anything. We need to be unobtrusive and have as few attributes as
possible. The mango tree with no fruit was standing peacefully in all its splendor, giving shade. To
be nobody does not mean doing nothing. It means acting without self-display and without craving
for results. The mango tree had shade to give, but it did not display its wares or fret whether anyone
wanted its shade. This ability allows for inner peace.
— Ayya Kema in Be an Island: The Buddhist Practice of Inner Peace

To Practice This Today: Opt out of "anything you can do, I can do better" games where
superiority or inferiority are the measure of a person. Try not to draw attention to yourself. Notice
the intimations of inner peace that come with such a selfless approach.

Read a review of Be an Island

felix [excerpt]
Bowing and scraping before the supposed best life has to
offer seems fairly easy. You do your little week-end hiatus
and get in line to receive the blessings and inspiration of
a saint, and it seems the proper thing to do. Why not? You
go back to your job and your comforts to see if your friends
and co-workers notice the difference in your new-found
demeanor, and life goes on... and on.

This begging routine seems to have an ancient history. It
still works. Get up from behind your computer monitor, take
all the contents of your pocket, and walk out the door of
your comfort empty-handed. Stay gone for a year without
calling anyone who knows you, and live only on the kindness
of strangers with no other resources. Do not steal or hurt
anyone to get what you need to survive. Prove to yourself
your spiritual values will sustain you. Then... you'll gnow.
Thank you, Felix.
Yes, we are all already bowing....just a question of to what.

There's another challenge I once had to deal with - empty pockets,
3 kids to take care of, and a mortgage... walking away from it all then
looked easier than staying. This is only to say that there's more than
one way to find out if your spiritual values will sustain you, and for some
people it can be getting a job and going into the office. It's hard to know
what people are going thru, and kinda pointless to compare them.
I actually did this for a year. It's a breeze compared to getting up and going to the office and dealing
with the world in all it's complexities and moral challenges.

Of course, it's not a breeze for people who are stuck there. Which is a very different experience from
the walk-about-in-faith you're sort of recommending. We come to our lessons in the way they are
intelligible to us at a given point in time. I think there are actually only a few lessons but we have to
learn and re-learn them in multiple contexts until we get it that the lesson is the same.

Om Shanti to panhandlers, givers and workers everywhere.

Love, kristi

Bob Rose meditation society of america

Well it seems that Nasrudin the well known Mullah was
once asked his favorite joke.
"Friends please do no not ask me to retell it. I
laugh so much that I
have never been able to get to the punch line - so
even I don't know
the complete joke."

"Nasrudin what is funny?"
"When I laugh at your suffering that is funny."
"When you laugh at mine it is not."

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Nonduality: The Varieties of Expression Home

Jerry Katz
photography & writings

The wind carves shapes into the beach sand

Search over 5000 pages on Nonduality: