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Nondual Highlights Issue #1638 Saturday, December 6, 2003 Editor: Mark


If my words did glow with the gold of sunshine
And my tunes were played on the harp unstrung,
Would you hear my voice come thru the music,
Would you hold it near as it were your own?

It's a hand-me-down, the thoughts are broken,
Perhaps they're better left unsung.
I don't know, don't really care
Let there be songs to fill the air.

Ripple in still water,
When there is no pebble tossed,
Nor wind to blow.

Reach out your hand if your cup be empty,
If your cup is full may it be again,
Let it be known there is a fountain,
That was not made by the hands of men.

There is a road, no simple highway,
Between the dawn and the dark of night,
And if you go no one may follow,
That path is for your steps alone.

Ripple in still water,
When there is no pebble tossed,
Nor wind to blow.

You who choose, to lead must follow,
But if you fall you fall alone,
If you should stand then who's to guide you?
If I knew the way I would take you home.

Lyrics to "Ripple" by Robert Hunter submitted to NDS by Michael Read. More GD lyrics here:

Editor's note: The local access channel here in Taos broadcasts satsangs with Gangaji on Thursday evenings. Check your local listing - She may be there too. I take all responsibility for any mistakes that I may have made transcribing this:

G: Hello everyone. Welcome. Language is such an incredible power of mind; something precious, a great gift of mind. And if we look at it carefully, we will see it is still in the very primitive stages of development. I mean you must know that just in trying to communicate with someone you know. Right? You know what you said and they know you didn’t say that. Same words. So there are certain words that are trance words. That we kind of go into a trance about based on our past conditioning. Very important words like God, Truth, Eternity, Self. When each of us hears those words, it’s not for the first time. So the words have a history that influence the meaning, so perhaps when we first hear the word God, it’s in a very Sunday schoolish way, where it’s actually a big father, benevolent father who will take care of us if we’re good. Then we grow out of that, but that’s still filed in there somewhere it still influences. It’s still somebody, and then well maybe it’s not somebody, maybe it’s a presence, but it’s still a presence somewhere, away. And I still gotta be good to get there. Based on our different religious upbringings. Same with truth, of course. Truth is heard in the context of the family’s truth or the family’s political party truth or the tribal truth or the particular culture or sub-cultural truth. This then is what truth means, subconsciously, in individual minds. Certainly with the word self. Then even when we get sophisticated, and split that word into higher self and lower self, it gets even more complicated. The higher self is the good self and the lower self is the bad self. The higher self is going to God and the lower self is going to the Devil. Very primitive and totally conditioned - a kind of trance.

So I believe that it would be very good if I can at least tell you, if I’m able, what I mean when I use certain words. Because it is not what you think I mean. If you can just hear that. It is not what you think I mean. So when I say God. God. I am not talking about anything that can ever be separate from anything. It’s the same as truth. I’m not speaking of a truth that is subject to change, subject to opinion, subject to a vote. I’m speaking of what is changeless as truth. And when I use the word self or you, I’m speaking to the truth that you are, which cannot be thought. Because it cannot be contained. You cannot be contained by any thought good or bad, superior or inferior, just like God, just like truth. The confusion arises in our misidentification with who we are as either the physical body, the emotional body, or the mental body. So when the physical body experiences pain, through the nervous system, we say "I hurt, I feel bad." This is just common usage. Maybe we say "my body hurts." It’s a very different meaning if you say "my body hurts, my body is feeling pain." Usually we say "I hurt, I’m in pain." And when the emotional body is in turmoil, "I’m upset, I’m despairing, I’m angry" rather than "my emotions are in turmoil, there’s anger appearing, there’s despair appearing."

And our strongest identification, perhaps even more than the body identification, is with mind. And when I use the word mind here, I’m speaking of thoughts. This identification that if I think I am this body, this person, then that’s reality. Thought has sway, has authority. If I think you are separate from me, based on physical sensations, then that has authority. So thoughts have in fact, taken the place of God, and also taken the place of the Devil. And there’s a war going on between the good thoughts and the bad thoughts and there’s a desire that arises to accumulate more good thoughts so that they can defeat, so the forces of light can defeat the forces of darkness. And who will win? The good thoughts will win, my higher self will win, God will win and I will be at peace, at rest. Tragically, what gets overlooked in this is that who you are is already at rest, already at peace and winning and losing has nothing to do with the truth of who you are.

The gift of Ramana Maharshi, with the question "Who Am I?" is a gift that is designed to throw your mind back on a very basic assumption such as "I am this person, I am a good person, I am angry." Throwing your mind back on that "who" to see if you can find a thing that is these things. If this is followed, innocently, purely, then there is a huge, astounding realization - there is no entity there at all. When this question "who" is followed to its source, there is indefinable, boundless recognition of one’s self as "no thing."

The mind is very powerful. We love its power. It’s the play of Lila. There will be an arising from that precious, pure moment that says "Whoa I got it. I got it. I’m really no thing at all." This is true, and this is fine, because in that moment, the mind, the thoughts are in alignment with reality. But thoughts, having as their natural law, the law of opposition, there will then also arise, in time, another thought "No I didn’t, That couldn’t be so. I am this body." "Oh how do I get that feeling back again?" "You can’t." "I can." Another war begins with "I got it." "I didn’t get it." "I am no thing." "I am something." So this precious, divine self inquiry from Ramana gets twisted, in the corruption of the power of thought.

Papaji, my teacher, my guru, spoke to me very forcefully, when I first met him. I came to him, hungry for the truth, recognizing that all my avenues of truth, while they had been extraordinary, beautiful experiences - moments of boundless recognition of my own self as the totality the presence of all being, still there was a re-identification, that I was unable to fix. Because that’s what I was looking for - the final fix, the super fix, so I prayed to the universe "Help I need help." and from that prayer, I met my teacher; a guru. I wasn’t looking for a guru at all. I was anti-guru, I was anti Hindu names. I was anti anything other than me doing it by myself, until I became so disillusioned by me doing it myself that I was open to whatever form help could come in. I prayed for help and help presented itself in the form of Papaji, my guru, and he said to me "Stop." He didn’t say do self enquiry, he said stop. I thought I knew what that meant because obviously I had heard the word stop before. So I sat very still, but he could see that I was sitting very still thinking "Now I’ve stopped, what’s going to happen? Is it here? Where is it, what do I do now?" Even more agitated. And he said "No, stop. Really stop. You want truth? You want to realize yourself? Stop."

All my fear arose. My fear "If I stop now when it seems so close, Then I’ll lose ground, I won’t get it. I’ll miss it. I’ll return to my reptilian state. I’ll be just as neurotic as I was when I was thirty." Stop. Everything came in why not to stop. If I stop now, I won’t be like somebody who’s got it If I stop now, I won’t be able to hear what he said. He said again "Stop. Stop." Somehow the trance lifted. At that moment, I didn’t know what stop meant. I had no history of "stop." I could hear it as if I were learning the word for the first time. Really stop. If you really stop; if your mind really stops, as it does actually, all during the day. There are many moments during a day, when there is no activity of mind. But the conditioning is to pay attention to the activity of mind, so these points of stopping are simply overlooked. What my teacher was calling my attention to was that moment, that gap, that millisecond between thoughts. Not to make that moment, he was saying that moment "stop" and in his saying it with his grace, and his power, there was then consciousness - mental consciousness of no thought. Nothing that thought did, just simply what is here, between thoughts, before thoughts, after thoughts. Stop. Because there was consciousness there, there was a recognition that presence is here. I am here. Not that I’m not here when I’m thinking, but I always thought, as we all have thought, "I think, therefore I am." Rather than "I am, therefore I think."

So the conditioning, the trance, was very severe for me as it is severe for most people, but so complex was this trance that it had no defense against something so simple as "stop." Consciously recognize this stopping. Then there is a real choice. Before that recognition, there’s just mechanical action of mind, based on past conditioning, based on desire, based on aversion. In that moment, there is conscious choice, to tell the truth about what is present before thought, after thought, and also during thought. And can that be thought? This, in effect, crumbled the neat patterns of my mind. Someone yesterday used the word "trippy." It was trippy, but it was not psychedelic. There was just a dropping - a release, a relief of this huge illusory world that balancing and rebalancing and reforming and reinventing that I called "me" that was only a thought and then another thought and another thought. In a moment of this recognition of what is still; what is unthought, there was moment of recognizing who I am. The moment of mind’s surrender. Because the breaking of that trance is the empowerment for the mind to surrender. Before the breaking of that trance, surrender is just another trance word. Oh yeah, surrender - "I’ll surrender to God, I’ll surrender to the guru, I’ll surrender to the teachings." But it’s just mechanical. It’s meaningless.

In a moment, in an instant, of recognizing the silence that is always here, you recognize your true face. You recognize the presence of God. You realize yourself. Then we can speak of bodily pain or emotional turmoil, or mental confusion, but we are not speaking of who you are. We are speaking of "my body is in pain, my emotions are off the wall, my thoughts are confused." That’s a very different matter. That identification is cut in the moment of recognizing what is always free.

This, of course, gets heard in spiritual, egoic terms, as then, "I am not my body." As a further separation, then the body is like the little self and the silence is like the higher self and then we have another war going on. People even want to die, want the body to die, so then I can just be myself. (laughter) Yes it is absurd. The body has no existence separate from the truth of who you are. And the truth is free. It is existence. It is not diminished when your body dies, as it will. It is not augmented when your body is born. And you are the truth. You are existence itself. And existence is conscious, is consciousness. Existence is not some materialistic void. It is alive Consciousness. And it is in love with itself. It is overflowing in love with itself. And this theater of you and me and circumstances and emotions and good events and bad events is God’s theater, not to be just distanced from, to be enjoyed, to thrill with, too weep with, but to recognize "Oh my God, what a play, what a theater," and in that recognition, to know who you are. Whatever role you have imagined yourself to be; to know deeper than that role, closer than that role, beyond that role, who you are. Now, not who you will be,.. Now. Right now, who you have always been.

And I suspect that everyone in this room has had at least one moment, either as a child, or on some trip, or in a moment of love, a moment of nature, some moment of recognizing that. Maybe not those words. Those are the cultural conditioning words of this form, this brain, this nervous system. Maybe without words at all. And sadly, there is very little confirmation for that. Certainly as children, we are taught to be somebody. In a particular family, from a particular town, from a particular area. And we either go along with that, or we rebel against that. But the reference point is who we are taught we are rather than who we can experience one is.

So the invitation from my teacher - my teacher sent me to you 0 is to invite you to discover who you are. Without any reference point. In that discovery, you will of course, notice the reference points, Well, I’m me, well ’m my body, well I know who I am. But rather than moving outward from that I’m asking that you question that basic assumption. Not "spiritually" question it, or "worldly" question it, deeper than that because "spiritual" is a huge trance word. We think we know what is spiritual. It’s like "Indian" or "sweet" or "nice", a "saint." And we think we know what is "worldly." These are trance words. Just get them out of the way so there can be some fresh knowing, based on direct investigation, direct inquiry, without reference to what anybody has ever told you, including what I’m saying now, for yourself, so that some reference-less causeless consciousness can confirm itself as already free, always free. The mind may be always somewhat bound by past and future, the body, we know is certainly bound by genetics, environment, basic programming and even if the life of the body is expanded 200, 300, 1000 years, still it’s limited. It was born and it will die. Thoughts also are born and they die. Thoughts of who you are are born and they die, but that stillness, that presence that is consciousness and conscious of its existence - no one has ever reported birth and death there.

We have great holy saints and sages from all religions, throughout all time pointing in their particular ways to this truth. The extraordinary moment in which these lives appear is a moment where it is available for everyone who is so inclined toward this investigation. Not everyone is inclined. But to some degree or other, you are inclined. That means to me that to some degree or other consciousness already knows itself in this particular form as consciousness. And this form - this Gangaji form - has appeared in your consciousness to confirm that. To say yes, trust that, surrender your mind to that. That is where the wisdom is that your mind is seeking. That is where the resolution is, that the activity of seeking is based on. It is already alive in you. My teacher promised me that the people I would see would need no particular teachings. This confirmation and reconfirmation, and pointing and re-pointing perhaps, but no particular teachings. You have been taught and there are beautiful teachings all around also from all cultures. Nothing wrong with those teachings. They are to be celebrated. Closer than any teaching is the truth of who you are. The invitation is to wake up to that truth. That waking up occurs in the mind’s surrender to silence. Not doing silence, not being silence, closer than that.


Effort consists of going against the stream of (self-centered) thought. To go against it, is not to fight it or repress it. To go against it, is to go in the opposite direction and stay at the silent source. You understand through intelligence (or grace) this is the task at hand, you follow the perfume of truth (I AM) by enquiring where thought springs from. You don't follow the rapidly changing stream of thought -because you have seen or understood this is the violent addiction that causes so much suffering and division in this world- but rather stay centered at it's source, the place where thought originates: I AM -the simple fact/feeling of existence. To gently stay with I AM is natural effort. It is intelligent, benign, healing effort. It bares the fruit of wisdom. This wisdom translates in a new kind of behaviour: compassionate, considerate, optimistic, spontaneous action. This I would like to call natural morality.


Morality and effort are closely interlinked. With the sincere passion to find out what the cause is of dividing, separating thought, one sooner or later turns within, one stays home, you forgive yourself your stupidity and arrogance and learn to live again with that stranger: yourself. This turning within, this act of compassion, to forgive yourself, is the beginning of morality. The sincere passion to find out about yourself and your suffering, is what I would like to call natural effort.

So effort and morality have a lot in common and operate as one vehicle. I like to think of effort as the male principle and morality as the female principle of the force of intelligence (or grace) operating in the cosmos.

So in my view there is such a thing as liberation and it is a joyous, natural state where suffering has come to an end COMPLETELY AND UNCONDITIONAL.

- Ben Hassine on the YahooGroup NDS


My legacy --
What will it be?
Flowers in spring,
The cuckoo in summer,
And the crimson maples
Of autumn...

- From Dewdrops on a Lotus Leaf: Zen Poems of Ryokan, translated by John Stevens. Published by Shambala in Boston, 1996.

More here:

7. TIBETAN ADVENTURE A real Shangri-La for Zen dummies (Chicago Tribune)


James Coates
Chicago Tribune May 7, 2001

Break out the adjectives. None are too florid for heaping praise on the stunning visual experience awaiting at:

Although this is indeed a game where one moves about the landscape of Tibet spending money and gathering karma with the goal of achieving divine bliss, the real divine bliss is the magnificent 3-D scenery the authors of this Internet entertainment offer.

It all starts with a 360-degree photographic panorama of the Tibetan capital of Lhasa that lets one drag a mouse to explore the city. The game consists of clicking hot spots that take you to other stunning, photo-realistic places like nunneries, monasteries and, of course, mountaintops.

Forget the game--this is Nirvana just for the eye candy.

- Submitted to NDS by Michael Read

 Sailor Bob Adamson spent 1976 with Nisargadatta Maharaj. He never came back


Talk given by Sailor Bob at the Theosophical Society, Melbourne, Australia

3rd August 1997
Good afternoon.

Most seekers start to search because they are unhappy. They don’t feel complete or whole.
And they hear somewhere about enlightenment, truth, self-realization, something along those lines, and they begin their search. Hoping to find this liberation, this self-realization.

And most of them seek "out there", where we’ve been conditioned to seek from the time we’re little children. We start our search "out there", for a better education, for a new house, a family, a good relationship, a new car, seeking on that level from the beginning, and then later on it might develop into what we call the spiritual search, the search for realization or liberation.

And it’s always "out there".

But here I say, start looking for reality, for truth, the only place to start from is the only reality of which you are absolutely certain, and that’s the fact of your own being. There is no one sitting here today who can say "I am not". Each one of us knows that "I AM". And no one can ever negate that being. But you see, again because of our conditioning, we move away from that being-ness as we always have, into becoming. And we look at becoming at some future time.

And what future time has there ever been? Isn’t it always "now"?

Isn’t the living-ness, the actuality, right in this moment?

I can never live this moment again. But if I’m focused in memory, yesterday, the past, whether a few moments ago or years ago, I’m missing out on life.

And this is what I'd constantly done for many years.

And I go on, all through my life, seeking, if I do this, or put this practice in, or try this or something else, then I will "become...".

So I use the analogy, it’s just like pulling a bucket of water out of the river. If the river is flowing and I pull a bucket of water out, as soon as you’ve got the bucket of water out of the river, that water is dead, its finished, and the river is left behind.

That’s what happens in life. I’ve got this image of myself based on the past events, experiences, and the conditioning that’s been my overall life. And I've added this image to that pure, first thought, "I AM". And so "I am this, Australian, male, and this happened to me and blah blah blah" and formed a mental concept of what I believe this person is.

And that’s a dead ending. Life is constantly leaving that image behind. So, when I become something, I create another image in the future, "if I do such and such, then this will happen", well when that so called future comes, maybe this thing I have worked towards will be there, but will that be the finality? Will that be the happiness, the completeness?

Of course not, because that also will be a dead end.

And as life comes up with that, it passes that, and that’s let in the past.

And so, I go on continually. Creating these concepts of what I will become and what will happen. And if life is leaving me behind and I don’t seem to be able to achieve it, then, if I’m a Westerner and from the Christian religion, I’ll probably say "Well its not going to happen to me this time, but some future time I’ll die and go to heaven and be resurrected in some future time", another concept of the future. Or, if I belong to some eastern religion, "I’ll die and re-incarnate, and come back as something else". Another mental concept.

As I say, I can go on like this all my life unless I’m fortunate enough like I was, to meet somebody who might say "Hey listen - have you ever stopped for a moment and questioned who or what you are?".

You need to have a look at this idea, that you’re a person: a separate entity, an individual.

Who is this "me" that you believe yourself to be. Have you ever investigated and had a look. And when I start to do that, I find that the false cannot stand up to that investigation.

And I begin to see that all the things that I’ve believed about myself are erroneous. All through my life I’ve lived through ignorance and by that I mean, lived by ignoring my true nature, ignoring my reality and living in some mental image.

When I begin to question this and ask "Am I this body?", and I begin to look, where is this center that I call "ME", because in most of the great traditions they say that self-centeredness, selfishness and self-will is the problem, they tell us to be selfless. But where is this self? Where is this self center that I call "ME"? You see that very thought "I AM", the primary thought, which I cannot negate, is not the reality. Even that is not the reality. But it is the closest I can ever get to it with the mind. It is the primary thought. Prior to that thought, as all of you sitting here must realize, in this present awareness, before you think "I AM", each one of you knows with that innate, intrinsic intelligence within you, is constantly letting you know that you are, without using that primary thought.

And that "I AM" thought, in its purity, it isn’t too bad. But, you see, added to it is all this other rubbish. All this conditioning, habit patterns, things, events and experiences that happen in my life. Looking in the body, for this center, as hard as I look, I can never find a particular spot that I can say "This is where it all start". I can look at my heart, I can look at that knot in my stomach I used to get, or the ache in my throat, or any of these places, to try and find where I begin. I cant find it.

And going back, where does this body come from? Isn't it the essence of the food that was eaten by my father which became the sperm? And the essence of the food eaten by my mother which became the ovum? And didn’t it start off as a single cell? And didn’t that cell multiply, double and multiply again? So if that single cell is where it all started, then that would be the center. That would be what I am. But we all know that that cell is long since gone. We know that there are millions of cells in this body which are dying right now.

More Sailor Bob here:

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Jerry Katz
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The wind carves shapes into the beach sand

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