|Dr. Robert Puff|
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#1885 - Monday, August 9, 2004 - Editor: Jerry
This issue begins a review/summary of a new book, The Sacred Mirror: Nondual Wisdom and Psychotherapy, edited by John J. Prendergast, Peter Fenner, and Sheila Krystal.
Information about this book is available at http://www.paragonhouse.com/catalog/product_info.php?authors_id=218&products_id=315
Also in this issue I'll continue the In Nonduality Salon series, which covers the highlights from emails posted during the first nine months of Nonduality Salon, a span of time during which there were no Highlights.
The Sacred Mirror: Nondual Wisdom and Psychotherapy
I am going to review this book in an unusual way. In sections. As I read them. Hence this may approach be called more a summarization than a review, yet you will hear the voice of a reviewer -- an opinioned or questioning or judging one -- coming through.
I'd like to begin with a review of the Introduction. The author is John L. Prendergast, Ph.D. Dr. Prendergast is an adjunct assistant professor of psychology at the California Institute of Integral Studies. He is an author, teacher, and in private practice. His primary teacher was Jean Klein and he currently studies with Adyashanti.
The introduction gives a good introduction to what nonduality is, then proceeds to the place of nonduality in psychotherapy. The question is asked whether the nondual approach makes for a new school of psychotherapy. The author discusses how nonduality fits into practice. The questions are asked, Is psychotherapy evolving into a vehicle for transmission of truth? Are awakening therapists in the same lineage as Buddha or other great sages of all time? Prendergast speaks of the primary and secondary impacts of awakening. He discusses psychotherapy methods and skills in light of nondual awareness and how awakening impacts the psychotherapist.
Speaking to therapists Prendergast says, "We can touch the core of a client's contraction even as we retain a sense of spacious detachment." "A sense of spacious detachment" isn't the same as being awake.
As Adyashanti says later in this book when asked how therapists can facilitate awakening in their clients, "Be awakened yourself." Yet the introduction makes it clear that this book is written for therapists who are "awakening." If they may be called states, 'awakening' and 'being awakened' cannot be compared. I hope this difference and its implications are going to be addressed throughout the book.
For now, let's look at Prendergast handling the topics and questions mentioned above. I'll address each one very briefly. Keep in mind that Prendergast is giving his own understanding of nondual psychotherapy and that the eleven other authors of this book may or may not agree with him. He does not speak for all the authors or for the field of nondual psychotherapy.
1. Introduction to nonduality.
The author states that there is an intimate conversation occurring between Western psychotherapists and spirituality teachers from Buddhist, Advaita, Sufi, Taoist and other traditions. This conversation is happening on intellectual, intuitive and experiential levels. It can even be observed happening at the most basic and naked level of a conversation between the conditioned mind and the unconditioned vastness of reality. "Reality seems to be enjoying this conversation with itself, since it is happening with increasing frequency and depth."
This intimate dialogue has given rise to "the flowering of nondual wisdom." About nonduality it is said, "Nonduality is a rather curious and uncommon word that so far has been used by a relatively small number of scholars and teachers. ... Nondual wisdom refers to the understanding and direct experience of a fundamental consciousness that underlies the apparent distinction between perceiver and perceived."
2. A general statement on nonduality and psychotherapy.
The psychotherapist coming from the nondual disposition (again, this includes both the awakening and awakened) serves as a Sacred Mirror reflecting to the client his or her true nature. Contractions that arise or that are felt or intuited, are "honored, accepted and explored." The skills and methods of psychotherapy are also utilized. It is recognized that in this capacity the nondual psychotherapist functions not unlike the spiritual teacher or guru.
3.Is "nondual" a new school of psychotherapy?
Prendergast says such a school could be said to exist, that its principles could be taught, and that it is even nothing other than what Buddha and other sages have been practicing. (Again the 'awakening' versus 'awakened' dichotomy rings a loud bell here. I almost hear the implication that nondual psychotherapy can organize a Buddha. That's a slight variation of the Theosophists' game of bringing down the subtle body of Buddha into the physical body of J. Krishnamurti.) Then Prendergast backs off, admitting that the nondual is nonconceptual and that trying to pack it into a framework will be one step on the way to the psychological models compost heap for nondual psychotherapy.
4. Incorporating nondual wisdom into the general practice of psychotherapy.
While the concept of nondual awareness has been incorporated into the models of transpersonal and integral psychology, the "being" of the nondual one, which is neither about concepts nor not about concepts, is where the buck stops, where the Sacred Mirror is hung. Prendergast makes it clear that the nondual psychotherapist can function within any model of psychotherapy. No matter what the model, the nondual one brings presence and an ability to be with what is.
5. Is psychotherapy evolving into a vehicle for transmission of truth? Are awakening therapists in the same lineage as Buddha or other great sages of all time?
These are very big questions to which Prendergast gives only a brief paragraph in which he ultimately says 'yes' to both questions: "It seems obvious that any awakening or awakened beings will transmit their understanding according to their capacities and limitations in any moment."
6. The primary and secondary impacts of awakening nondual awareness.
Presence is identified as the primary impact of awakening. Presence is "Being aware of Itself," and expressed by such personal qualities as ease of being, unpretentiousness, lucidity, joy.
Secondary effects include freedom from the role as psychotherapist. That role is merely played. Since presence is primary -- "Being aware of Itself" -- it is clear there are no problems and no problem solvers. In the coming together of nondual therapist and client there is the catching of the fire of truth and reality by the client from the therapist.
Another secondary impact is "an enhanced capacity to be with what is." This is greater than acceptance. It is loving acceptance or unconditional love, and since it allows for closeness between client and therapist, it allows the client to come close to Presence. His or her presence. Therefore this capacity to be with what is, facilitates transformation.
Awakening facilitates the depth and power of the therapist's inquiry thereby making him or her a genuine facilitator of the client's inquiry.
7. Psychotherapy methods and skills in light of nondual awareness.
While it is acknowledged that the tools of the psychotherapist will be used, "The critical question is whether the therapist's awareness is centered in the moment and creatively responsive to what is.
8. How awakening impacts the psychotherapist.
This is the primary subject of this book: "Living this way brings a sense of transparency to our lives and our work as psychotherapists." The impact of awakening upon psychotherapy is a secondary consideration.
Prendergast is clear that awakening can't be achieved in the way a degree in psychology can. But it is not clear what awakening is. It's not the same as being awakened. Awakening nondual awareness may mean an intimacy with ground of being, with reality, which is a relationship that one can work at developing through various spiritual means. Being awakened is completely different. They're two different animals. It's caterpillar and butterfly. Larval and post-larval. The introduction doesn't address the difference. I would like to see how the other authors address this compacting of awakening and awakened.
~ ~ ~
If you are interested in nonduality and psychotherapy, there is no other book like it. The authors are at the top of the game. To read more about this book and to order, please visit http://www.paragonhouse.com/catalog/product_info.php?authors_id=218&products_id=315 The Sacred Mirror: Nondual Wisdom and Psychotherapy, edited by John J. Prendergast, Peter Fenner, and Sheila Krystal.
In Nonduality Salon
~ ~ ~
"They're made out of meat."
"Meat. They're made out of meat."
"There's no doubt about it. We picked several from different parts of the
planet, took them aboard our recon vessels, probed them all the way through.
They're completely meat."
"That's impossible. What about the radio signals? The messages to the
"They use the radio waves to talk, but the signals don't come from them. The
signals come from machines."
"So who made the machines? That's who we want to contact."
"They made the machines. That's what I'm trying to tell you. Meat made the
"That's ridiculous. How can meat make a machine? You're asking me to believe
in sentient meat."
"I'm not asking you, I'm telling you. These creatures are the only sentient
race in the sector and they're made out of meat."
"Maybe they're like the Orfolei. You know, a carbon-based intelligence that
goes through a meat stage."
"Nope. They're born meat and they die meat. We studied them for several of
their life spans, which didn't take too long. Do you have any idea the life
span of meat?"
"Spare me. Okay, maybe they're only part meat. You know, like the Weddilei.
A meat head with an electron plasma brain inside."
"Nope. We thought of that, since they do have meat heads like the Weddilei.
But I told you, we probed them. They're meat all the way through."
"Oh, there is a brain all right. It's just that the brain is made out of
"So... what does the thinking?"
"You're not understanding, are you? The brain does the thinking. The meat."
"Thinking meat! You're asking me to believe in thinking meat!"
"Yes, thinking meat! Conscious meat! Loving meat. Dreaming meat. The meat is
the whole deal! Are you getting the picture?"
"Oh my. You're serious then. They're made out of meat."
"Finally, Yes. They are indeed made out meat. And they've been trying to get
in touch with us for almost a hundred of their years."
"So what does the meat have in mind?"
"First it wants to talk to us. Then I imagine it wants to explore the
universe, contact other sentients, swap ideas and information. The usual."
"We're supposed to talk to meat?"
"That's the idea. That's the message they're sending out by radio. 'Hello.
Anyone out there? Anyone home?' That sort of thing."
"They actually do talk, then. They use words, ideas, concepts?"
"Oh, yes. Except they do it with meat."
"I thought you just told me they used radio."
"They do, but what do you think is on the radio? Meat sounds. You know how
when you slap or flap meat it makes a noise? They talk by flapping their
meat at each other. They can even sing by squirting air through their meat."
"Omigod. Singing meat. This is altogether too much. So what do you advise?"
"Officially or unofficially?"
"Officially, we are required to contact, welcome, and log in any and all
sentient races or multibeings in the quadrant, without prejudice, fear, or
favor. Unofficially, I advise that we erase the records and forget the whole
"I was hoping you would say that."
"It seems harsh, but there is a limit. Do we really want to make contact
"I agree one hundred percent. What's there to say?" `Hello, meat. How's it
going?' But will this work? How many planets are we dealing with here?"
"Just one. They can travel to other planets in special meat containers, but
they can't live on them. And being meat, they only travel through C space.
Which limits them to the speed of light and makes the possibility of their
ever making contact pretty slim. Infinitesimal, in fact."
"So we just pretend there's no one home in the universe."
"Cruel. But you said it yourself, who wants to meet meat? And the ones who
have been aboard our vessels, the ones you have probed? You're sure they
"They'll be considered crackpots if they do. We went into their heads and
smoothed out their meat so that we're just a dream to them."
"A dream to meat! How strangely appropriate, that we should be meat's
"And we can mark this sector unoccupied."
"Good. Agreed, officially and unofficially. Case closed. Any others? Anyone
interesting on that side of the galaxy?"
"Yes, a rather shy but sweet hydrogen core cluster intelligence in a class
nine star. Was in contact two galactic rotations ago, wants to be friendly
"They always come around."
"And why not? Imagine how unbearable this galaxy would be if one were all
alone with no-one to talk to but meat."
~ ~ ~
Biharilal L. Shah
Who am I?
Everybody wants pleasure and no pain, peace and no
happiness and no unhappiness.
Is it possible in physical and mental world ?
This is a very legitimate and logical question for a human mind. And the
The result is lots of religious, mythological, metaphysical and
philosophical theories, rituals and practices developed by different
people of different races, at different times in the human evolution
Even modern science and technology has played a tremendous role in
offering tools and resources for achieving more and more of pleasure,
peace and happiness to a certain extent.
Still human mind craves for a permanent state of pleasure, peace and
Another line of thinking was evolved by certain thinkers about this
permanant state of bliss and they came to a conclusion that this is not
possible in mental and physical area but there is a state beyond mind
and body where lies this bliss.
Those who realised this truth, realised through three main ways:
Gnana Marg....I AM beyond body and mind.
Bhakti Marg....Total surrender to God.
Karma Marg... Just Act and leave the results in the hands of Allmighty.
I AM is the result of Gnana Marg and if I am not the body and mind ,
then the core question arises
WHO AM I ?
The answer is not an explanation in words but a realisation of
establishment in that state of beyond body and mind, where BLISS is just
IS and nothing else.
~ ~ ~
The Good Souls
September 3, 1998
Swiss jet crashes near Peggys Cove
229 aboard, no survivors
I am thinking of the good souls who went down in the waters a
from here. Having lived in a village beside Peggy's Cove, I clearly
picture fishermen marching dutifully to wharves to let their boats out
into the night.
And I see them out there without a story on their windswept lips. Who
dare take-on the questions?
Many'll have wives and children at home. More likely than not would've
married a girl they grew up with who came from a neighboring village and
whose Dad fished and whose Grandad (Pappy).
I hear it was quiet on the water. I mean not too many or too big waves.
Nope, I imagine not even a story passed around. Cigarettes, sure.
Eventually someone would've made coffee on board. But there were big
The lights of scores of fishing boats and the lights of their torches.
The sea was very gentle, I heard. It would've been quiet on the boats.
No one had a story to tell.
They would've gone home in time. Home to their families. CNN would've
been on at home. Reporters would be telling what they know. A few locals
would be telling reporters about the thunderous noise they heard and
then ... nothing.
The fishermen would be taking this in. No survivors. They may try to get
some sleep now. They may. Or they may decide the best place to be is
where they live to be. On the ocean. Answers have to be somewhere.
~ ~ ~
These are the words of Abbott John Daido Loori. I came across
it when I
noticed that the link on my webpage to Dharma-Door of Nonduality was not
working. It is part of a commentary on the the Dharma-Door:
Each time you acknowledge a thought, take responsibility for it, let it
go, and come back to the breath, you move a step in the
direction of the nondual Dharma. Ultimately, when body and mind fall
away and there's no eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, or
mind to even acknowledge, this still doesn't reach it. It's only one
side. When, from out of that emptiness the ten thousand
things are manifested and you see your face in every form, you still
have not yet reached it. When these two things merge and
interpenetrate, although its another step, it's still dualistic. You
haven't reached it yet.
All of us are powerhouses of unused potential, just as every Buddha is.
It's not an easy practice. It's not something we can
separate from everything we do. To accomplish the Way is to accomplish
our lives. To practice the Way is to practice our
lives, moment by precious moment. But you have to take responsibility
for your practice. It's not enough to follow instructions
and seat yourself on the cushion. It's not going to come to you. You
have to practice it. You have to engage it - every aspect of
it. Whatever you figure you know, forget it, and keep going. Whatever
you accomplish, throw it away and keep going. It's the
ultimate human adventure to realize oneself. What else would you want to
do with your life?
So, every moment is a single moment, or a thousand kalpas. When you step
out of the reference system of time, it's the whole
universe and the rest of your life. But it's up to you. You bring
yourself here, that's easy. You place yourself in this position,
that's easy. But what you have to do once you sit on that cushion takes
a lot of effort and dedication This is a no-nonsense
practice. You can kid yourself, but it's not going to get you anywhere,
and sooner or later you realize that, and while you kid
yourself you should also realize that it's a hundred thousand times
easier to do the work.
You have everything you'll ever need to accomplish the Way. You have
even more than the Buddha ever had. He had to start
with no one to guide him. He had to oppose everything that was going on
at the time. Here we are, 2,500 years later, with this
incredible Dharma, constantly verified from generation to generation by
ordinary beings like you and me. It should be a snap for
us, compared to what it was for the ancestors. You simply have to put
aside being comfortable. You have to put aside the easy
way and really challenge yourself. You know where the edge of your
practice is. It's the place you've been avoiding. Practice
it! Put yourself there; challenge yourself, and don't waste a single
~ ~ ~
Didier and Harsha
> The non-dual path focuses on awareness, which that
perceives, not on what is
> perceived. The body sensations, thoughts, the world, manifestations of
> kundalini, are perceived objects. They come and they go, they are
> transitory. What you are really you are always. So you are not transitory
> objects, but you are that in which all these objects appear. Whatever
> appears, let it appear, let it go. Then what you are will reveal its
> presence as eternal beauty, pure joy and intelligence.
Harsha: Yes. Beautiful. Focus on the Perceiver and not perception. Mind itself
is external to the Self. Even in higher celestial realms experienced in some
superconscious states the triad of knower, the process of knowing, and that
which is known, continues. When the knower, the process of knowing and that
which is known merge or are absorbed into Reality, that which You Truly Are
Emerges to be Recognized in all its Fullness. And That is the Eternal and
Complete Beauty which has no Name and which no words can capture.
from what unknowable universe
beyond Hubble -
the cat's green stare
~ ~ ~
will they see each other tonight?
polished beach pebble
~ ~ ~
stuck to the wall
daddy long leg's
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