Jerry Katz
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Nonduality Salon (/\)

Highlights #134

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In my experience it seems to be my separate self or ego that
fears. Perhaps it knows it does not in reality exist. I
mean, not the kind of real fear, such as going near the edge
of a rooftop or reacting to other danger, but of being
embarassed, etc.


There's a fear of annihilation, death, ultimate loss, which
presents a barrier. It is as real as stepping off a cliff,
a plunging sensation in the pit of the stomach. I'm
wondering how if the separate self does not in reality exist
it can feel this fear. I know this is another approach to
the question "Who am I ?", that's where I'm at right now,
finding approaches to the question "Who am I ?" It can't be
dismissed with a nonanswer like its a paradox or its a
mystery, maybe so, but that does not satisfy.



Did you ever try the question "WHERE am I". To me this is a
question that resonates much deeper than "WHO am I". To me
"The Where am I" leaves me no escape. "I" am unfindable.

The above is just for your guidance, I fully understand that
it works differently for everybody.



Is the statement that there is "no separate self" known as a
fact or is it just something that is reiterated as a nondual
party line?

I once wrote, under an alias, something to the effect that
thoughts and emotions are natural functions that are no more
"personal" than the weather. If there is fear, it is rooted
in animal defensiveness. When some turbulent emotion
arises, it is helpful to use the analogy of a rainstorm.
There is nothing personal or "self" about a rainstorm.



It's a gift that doesn't come so naturally to many. And to
those to whom it is natural, the gift, at one time bare, had
become wrapped in so many layers of fear-paper, that a great
effort is needed to bare it once more and to keep the paper,
via some static electricity of the psyche, from being
attracted back to it.


The wrapping paper is printed with fascinating horror
stories and lurid pictures, and you can get so wrapped up in
the paper that you forget all about unwrapping the gift.



Nothing is destroyed yet nothing can exist in the presence
of the nondual one. Is there anything more dangerous?


Yes, indeed. And everything is destroyed, everything is
called into question in the presence of the nondual One.
Everything is placed at risk, everything is thrown into the
upheaval of rebirth, yet the nondual One remains serene,
empty, tranquil. "The Garden of Eden is a very dangerous
place," Carlo Suarez.


The nondual One seems very much like a tax collector.



Many traditions postulate the existence of Grace operating
prior to Realization. Grace is Self. It is like Gravity.
Always Present.


Myth of the Black Sheep.

"The tale relates to a shepherd and his flock of sheep.
To the latter the shepherd takes on the aspect of a
beneficent being, indeed of a beneficent god. He
continually addresses himself to their welfare and he
employs what can seem to them to be only supernatural and
unimaginable means to assure their safety and to rescue any
of their number who may have the misfortune to wander away
and become lost or to fall into some other jeopardy. He
leads them to shelter against the cold and he provides them
with the food and other requirements necessary for their
existence. He takes very good care of them, much better
care indeed than they could assure for themselves. It is
therefore no source of wonder that they should look upon him
as genuinely concerned with their welfare and enter- tain
toward him feelings of grateful awe.

The shepherd himself, however, has purposes in relation to
these sheep of which they are unaware. These purposes would
much astonish the sheep if the latter were to know of them;
they are con- cerned first with a supply of wool, and later
with a supply of mutton.
In fact the sheep have somewhat seriously mistaken the
shepherd's motives, for his care of them is occasioned
primarily by consider- ations that the wool should be thick
and useful for human (not animal) protection and that the
meat should be well-nourished and tender when it is finally
brought to market. These values, held by the shepherd and
the real causes of his behavior, relate to matters entirely
beyond either the knowledge or the comprehension of the
ordinary sheep.

The ordinary sheep, as can be seen at a glance, is white.
He and his fellows, as alike as so many peas in a pod, make
up the vast majority of the sheep population. But very
occasionally at long intervals there appears an unusual sort
of sheep whose pres- ence can also be noted at a glance, for
this is a black sheep. The black sheep is both more
skeptical and far cleverer than the or- dinary member of the
flock and, while taking care to present an appearance of
conformity in his daily sheeplike behavior, he is all the
time directing his attention toward little anomalies which
seem to contradict the general views held by his
companions. The annual shearing, for instance, is certainly
done at a time of year when the sheep will be least
discommoded by it; yet it really seems a strange proceeding
and, upon serious reflection, one that can scarcely be
thought of as motivated primarily by a concern for the
sheep's' com- fort. The black sheep also speculates upon
the problem raised by the unaccounted-for disappearances of
his compatriots just when they have reached their manifest
prime; and he explores various hypotheses in an endeavor to
explain to himself these peculiar happenings. Many a black
sheep never arrives at any satisfactory conclusions upon
these questions before his own turn at the butcher's comes
around but very, very occasionally some unusually clever
specimen contrives to see what he should not see or to
overhear a conversation at which he is not presumed to be
present. And thus he learns the secret.

We may imagine his consternations as the truth becomes known
to him. The situation is not only a shocking surprise, it
is also so contrary to established opinions and convictions
as to overturn them completely. Every seriously held
life-view concerning sheephood is destroyed at a stroke.
And supposing the sheep to experience some feeling of
solidarity with his paler brothers, we may next ima- gine
his concern to share with them the information he has dis-
covered regarding their desperate circumstances. A large
propor- tion of the black sheep who have by some chance
reached this posi- tion, do not proceed beyond it, for
hastily to blurt out the dreadful news not only arouses the
disapproving incredulity of the other sheep but is
calculated likewise to bring matters to the attention of the
shepherd. There is a ready means at hand to quash such sub-
versive activity; it consists in a premature trip to the
slaughter- house, inevitable later in any case for this
remarkable fellow who is both too clever and yet not quite
clever enough.

Still, at very long intervals indeed, there does occur a
black sheep of such outstanding acumen that he avoids this
pitfall, too, and is thrown back upon the most sober
consideration of what to do for the best. Such a sheep has
lost his peace of mind once and for all; and he soon comes
to realize that in his extremity nothing will suffice except
to add an equal degree of courage to the intelligence which
has brought him to his present pass. To remain where he is,
is certain death, even (in his own conditions) a sort of
deliberate suicide. But what then is he to do? It would be
difficult enough to escape the watchful eye of the shepherd
and , even if such a miracle were accomplished, where could
he find fodder to keep himself alive or shelter from the
winter which he likewise knows will surely come? All these
necessities have always been provided for him; he lacks any
knowledge himself as to how to go about obtaining them.

Would it perhaps be better to forget the whole thing, to
enjoy a life in many respects obviously suited to sheephood
and to resign him- self to the fate which will overtake him
only a little sooner than properly, in any case? And so,
finally, we may imagine in what straights our sheep
struggles with these alternatives.

At the end of the fable we are told of the black sheep which
came to a final decision. Having waited interminably for a
possible op- portunity, that black sheep disappeared one
dark night from the fold and could not thereafter be found.
It had escaped....

The black sheep's secret is this: that our lives have
nothing to do with our personal aspirations or desires; that
we are born and live because death must follow life; and
that in death we pro- vide a kind of food required in the
economy of the Universe, which nothing else can provide.
The wool and mutton of the Myth are our literal physical
bodies, in which during life certain purely physical
substances are accumulated, quite unconsciously upon our
part, substances that, when automatically released at our
deaths, will furnish ingredients required by the cosmic

These substances are altogether physical in character but
they belong to the realm of physics rather than to that of
chemistry; their nature is electromagnetic."


Who does not identify with the black sheep?
This sheep will not survive if s'he remains a sheep, without
the protection of the shepherd, this sheep's a goner, short
of transformation, the sheep transmuted into another, the
sheep's dead without the herd and the protector.

There is no shepherd (that's my unfounded statement).




And yet I found myself waking this morning knowing that
nothing is right, nothing is true, anything we've said,
known, realized, is part of a cobweb. That goes for
everything that can be named or unnamed; it goes for the
greatest sameness/stillness known in our most close-to-death
moment. It goes for everything we all know and we all know
we know together; it goes for our deepest moment of truth;
it goes for Ramana's true knowing; it goes for Christ's
resurrection; it goes for the most silent moment of the
universe; it goes for the absolute ultimate reality too:
that they are cobwebs and I have to shake my head free of
all of it. None of it, spoken or unspoken, will hold up
half a billion years from now. And makes me realize I'm
just a creature trying to understand. I don't trust anyone
who knows, and that includes God.
We think we know that which will not change, but do we?
With the slightest doubt, a trillion universes are created.



The Pathway of Nonduality

Chapter 4

Parmenides and His Vision (concluded)

Q. It seems, however, that Parmenides depicts Being as a
sphere, while Gaudapada speaks of Brahman as infinite,
bodyless and beyond categories that belong to manifestation.

A. This is right as far as Gaudapada is concerned, but to
understand Parmenides it is necessary to get into the spirit
of his vision rather than dwell upon the face value of his

In ancient Greece the figure of the sphere was considered
the symbol of perfection, of completeness, of unity, etc.;
whereas all that was indefinite, formless, vague, nebulous,
etc. was considered to be lacking in perfection and devoid
of unity. Roundness gives us the impression of 'fullness',
of self-sufficiency, of completeness as well as harmony and
beauty, and as completeness it transcends all categories and
all temporal and spatial empirical determinations. It
stands for the pure metaphysical quality of the self-shining
Being and its ideal circularness can 'extend itself' as far
as the infinite because it represents the emanation of the
Pole-point or of the centre, always identical to itself.

Thus, when one wished, for example, to speak of things in
terms of perfection, unity, fullness, stability, etc., one
referred to that 'yardstick of measurement' represented by
the sphere. Plato too -- like the Upanishads -- speaks of
Being as a shining Sun. These are empirical or analogical
images the true value of which must be sought in the
metaphysical dimension.

Parmenides speaks also of 'round truth':

"You must learn to know all things, both the immovable
spirit of the well-rounded truth, and the opinions of
mortals wherein there dwells no legitimate credibility."

Now, were we to interpret literally the expression
'well-rounded truth' we would come up against a logical
absurdity. But, if we enter into the spirit of Parmenides'
thinking, of his day and of Tradition, then all will appear
to be clear to us. 'Spherical truth' gives us the idea of
perfect truth, of perfect knowledge, of an indubitable truth
of such stability that nobody may shake or destroy, as
against the truth of men which is instead simple opinion and
therefore nebulous, vague, non-definite truth and unstable

Here are a number of karikas by Gaudapada which require no

"Now I shall speak of That which has no limit, never born
and which is in constant equilibrium, and hear how it is
impossible for anything to be born, though it may seem to
have been born."

"The creation which -- with the aid of the examples of
earth, gold, sparks, etc. -- has been explained in various
ways, is simple mentioned to generate the idea (of unity),
but certainly there is no multiplicity."

"The dualists affirm the birth of what is non-born. But how
can what is non-born and immortal become mortal?"

"The immortal can never become mortal, nor the mortal become
immortal because there can be no change of nature."

"It is on account of maya -- with the exclusion of every
other possibility -- that this Non-born may differentiate.
If differentiation were real, then the immortal would become

According to Parmenides, opinion (doxa = representation,
what appears to be true; sensory perception) is an erroneous
vision of man 'in which true certainty does not dwell', and
which makes Being seem to be generated and multiple.

According to Gaudapada it is avidya, which can also be taken
to mean sensory perception (simple projection, opinion,
mental representation), which makes appear things that are


"Some researchers hold the birth of a thing already
existing. Others, instead, hold the birth of what does not

"A datum which already exists cannot be reborn and a datum
which never existed cannot come into being."

"If a person believes that a positive, immortal entity can
come into existence, how can he hold that the same immortal
and unchangeable entity can yet maintain its immortal

"By the word nature is meant what is permanently acquired or
is intrinsic or innate, what is not produced and what is
unchanging in its essential characteristics."

"Cause cannot be born of an effect with no beginning; on the
other hand an effect cannot be born of a cause without
origin, because a thing without cause certainly has no

"The unreal cannot have the unreal as its cause, nor can the
real be born of the real, nor can the real stem from the
unreal, nor, finally, the non-real from the real."

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