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#1906 - Monday, August 30, 2004 - Editor: Jerry  

    Featured is Part 10 of 13 of the review/summary of The Sacred Mirror: Nondual Wisdom and Psychotherapy, edited by John J. Prendergast, Peter Fenner, and Sheila Krystal. Information about this book is available at  

Also featured are quotations from C. Kim, George Carlin, and Margaret Cho. They might be viewed as edgy, controversial and offensive to some, while humorous and freedom-loving to others.    

The Sacred Mirror: Nondual Wisdom and Psychotherapy  

Chapter 10   Deconstructing the Self: The Uses of Inquiry in Psychotherapy and Spiritual Practice  

~ ~ ~  

Personal Experiences and Sources  

Bodian studied Zen intensely in the early 70's, up to 1982, when he pursued his own psychotherapy and studied psychology in graduate school. "I never felt that Zen offered a complete approach to spiritual and psychological development. In particular I noticed that despite numerous deep spiritual insights, I continued to respond to certain situations with inexplicable anger, sadness, and anxiety."  

Bodian learned the standard psychotherapeutic interview as a new mode of inquiry. The limitation of this approach was that it created new layers of stories.   While studying psychology he met Jean Klein, a master of Advaita. Bodian had a powerful awakening under Klein that deepend and stabilized over ten years. But there was still a split between the insight and the patterns of thinking and behavior that were known as limitation and suffering.  

Finally he encountered The Work of Byron Katie. "Under the influence of (Byron Katie's) approach I finally discovered the already-exisiting, inherent integration of awareness and the contents of awareness as a truly nondual, undivided reality."  

"The inquiry that I describe in this essay, which now arises naturally with my clients, draws upon The Work, the self-inquiry of Advaita Vedanta, and the phenomenological investigation of experiential psychotherapy."  

The Uses of Inquiry in Nondual Wisdom Traditions  

Bodian refers to Donald Rothberg, who described five modes of spiritual inquiry. Three apply to the nondual: systematic contemplation, radical questioning, and critical deconstruction. Bodian speaks of these three modes in relation to Zen, Dzogchen/Mahamudra, and Advaita Vedanta.  

The following quotations are from the subsection entitled The Purpose of Inquiry in a Nondual Approach to Psychotherapy:  

"Nondual therapy is not a special method, approach, or set of techniques, and certainly not a particular viewpoint. There are as many nondual therapies as there are nondual therapists. It's actually an interaction between two people that occurs in the absence of a viewpoint, agenda, or interpretive lens; if it's truly nondual, it unfolds in a shared, resonant space or field in which the apparent separation between client and therapist has dissolved -- or, more accurately, doesn't apply. "Interventions such as inquiry arise as a natural response to a felt-from-the-inside dissonance or discrepancy between how the client interprets reality and reality itself. This discrepancy, based on the illusory self, is the root of all suffering."  

"In its deconstructive approach, nondual therapy resembles other depth psychotherapies, such as the existential-humanistic approach taught by James Bugental. But instead of challenging and disclosing the client's 'self and world construct system' (Bugental's term), only to replace it with a more 'authentic' construct, nondual therapy gradually -- and gently, since there's no agenda, just a natural orientation toward the truth -- deconstructs this system entirely. "  

"Unlike cognitive-behavioral therapy, which works to replace negative, dysfunctional cognitions with more positive, functional ones, nondual therapy doesn't necessarily discriminate between good and bad cognitions or try to replace some with others. Rather, the fundamental understanding is that no cognitions or concepts of any kind can possibly encompass reality as it is, which is ultimately ungraspable by the mind."  

Uses of Inquiry in a Nondual Approach to Therapy  

"The foundation of a nondual approach to therapy is 'systematic contemplation,' the process of 'being with' experience with bare attention, without judgment or evaluation."  

"'Radical inquiry' occurs in nondual therapy in the form of direct questions." Such questions (e.g., 'Who are you?', 'What is experiencing this emotion right now?') "directly point not to any object of awareness, but to the background awareness itself, the vast, spacious context in which experience takes place and that ultimately constitutes the client's true self."  

"Rather than pointing directly to the context or background of experience, 'critical deconstruction' addresses the 'self and world construct system' that tends to obscure this background." Byron Katie's four questions form one of the most potent forms of critical deconstruction:

Applying Inquiry: Case Example  

Bodian describes his work with a client who complained of extreme and sometimes suicidal depression. Even during the period of therapy she had attempted suicide, though it was apparently more a call for help. In this case example the author demonstrates his use of the different classes of inquiry.  

Ultimately it could be said: "Rather than being 'deep-rooted neuroses' requiring long-term psychotherapy, as many conventional psychological theories teach, her problems ceased to exist for her in those moments when she stopped investing them with psychic energy and identification. To some this approach may seem like spiritual bypassing, but the truth is that exploring her issues in a traditional psychological way for many years had just made them seem more solid, real, and entrenched in (her) eyes and had provided more ammunition for her perfectionistic, judgmental, self-loathing mind. Now that she could hold her experience in an aware, expanded space and recognize her stories for what they were, she rapidly went from an agitated depression with active suicidality to a mostly calm, relaxed frame of mind in which the stories occasionally grabbed her but didn't retain their grip for very long."

C. Kem  

"I feel sorry for people who don't gold pan.  When they wake up in the
morning, that's as good as they're going to feel all day." -- C. Kem

"When I read about the evils of prospecting , I gave up reading." --
C. Kem

"Volunteer emergency personel are like toilet paper- no one really
understands how valuable they are until they're really needed." -- C.
Kem, Jan. 11th, 2004

"...There is a unique relation between ignorance and stupidity.  With
ignorance one has the chance to learn.  One has the chance to think.
One has the chance to change.  But with stupidity, one cannot learn.
One cannot think.  And one cannot change. Sadly, it is in not-so rare
cases where it is not as much that they cannot as it is they will not.
  And in those cases stupidity becomes death.  For one cannot live if
one will not learn, think or change....It is the human spirit and
imagination that has made the progress mankind has reached.  And it is
in the mental death brought on from the stupidity and death that is
certainly bound to destroy us.  How a non-living entity such as
stupidity can grow and infect an entire planet is astounding.  Soon,
what astounds us will scare us.  And when it scares us, it may very
well be too late...."
-- C. Kem, speech on human ethics and morality
in international politics, College of Eastern Utah, Blanding Utah, 1999

The very existence of flame-throwers proves that some time, somewhere,
someone said to themselves, "You know, I want to set those people over
there on fire, but I'm just not close enough to get the job done...."

George Carlin  


Excerpted from WHEN WILL JESUS BRING THE PORKCHOPS? By George Carlin.

Copyright 2004 by George Carlin. All Rights Reserved. Published by Hyperion. Available Wherever Books Are Sold.  


I have a problem with the Ten Commandments. Here it is: Why are there ten? We don’t need
that many. I think the list of commandments was deliberately and artificially inflated to
get it up to ten. It’s clearly a padded list.  

Here’s how it happened: About five thousand years ago, a bunch of religious and political
hustlers got together to figure out how they could control people and keep them in line.
They knew people were basically stupid and would believe anything they were told, so
these guys announced that God—God personally—had given one of them a list of ten
commandments that he wanted everyone to follow. They claimed the whole thing took place
on a mountaintop, when no one else was around.  

But let me ask you something: When these guys were sittin’ around the tent makin’ all
this up, why did they pick ten? Why ten? Why not nine, or eleven? I’ll tell you why.
Because ten sounds important. Ten sounds official. They knew if they tried eleven, people
wouldn’t take them seriously. People would say, “What’re you kiddin’ me? The Eleven
Commandments? Get the fuck outta here!”  

But ten! Ten sounds important. Ten is the basis for the decimal system; it’s a decade.
It’s a psychologically satisfying number: the top ten; the ten most wanted; the ten
best-dressed. So deciding on ten commandments was clearly a marketing decision. And it’s
obviously a bullshit list. In truth, it’s a political document, artificially inflated to
sell better.  

I’m going to show you how you can reduce the number of commandments and come up with a
list that’s a bit more logical and realistic. We’ll start with the first three, and I’ll
use the Roman Catholic version because those are the ones I was fed as a little boy.   .




Okay, right off the bat, the first three commandments—pure bullshit. “Sabbath day,”
“Lord’s name,” “strange gods.” Spooky language. Spooky language designed to scare and
control primitive people. In no way does superstitious mumbo jumbo like this apply to the
lives of intelligent, civilized humans in the twenty-first century. You throw out the
first three commandments, and you’re down to seven.   .


This commandment is about obedience and respect for authority; in other words it’s simply
a device for controlling people. The truth is, obedience and respect should not be
granted automatically. They should be earned. They should be based on the parents’ (or
the authority figure’s) performance. Some parents deserve respect. Most of them don’t.
Period. We’re down to six.  

...that's it for now, purchase the book when it comes out on Oct 12...  

~ ~ ~  

How to spot a fake George Carlin piece on the internet: "Here's a rule of thumb, folks: Nothing you see on the Internet is mine unless it came from one of my albums, books, HBO shows, or appeared on my website. If you see something with my name on it, and you really need to find out if it's mine, post a question on my bulletin board. But only if it's really important to you; don't fuck around with me for a lark."

Margaret Cho  


I Guess Not  

I am a painfully shy person.  

This poses many challenges of course, especially because I have put myself in a very
un-shy profession, which forces me not only to speak in front of thousands of strangers
daily, it constantly brings me into the company of people I have never met before.  

It is difficult for me to have conversations, which is something that I am actively
seeking to change. Whenever I am put in a situation where I am sharing a space with
someone I don't know, I try to get to know them, almost aggressively, as if I could make
up for all those years of self imposed isolation.  

It is strange how we can be solitary in the midst of crowds of people. I have lived this
way for my entire life. Aloneness is not an uncomfortable thing for me, in fact, it feels
a bit too much like home. So I attempt to venture out as much as I can. Of course, there
is a natural resistance to it, but fighting my own nature in this case I believe is a
positive thing. Besides, I am learning a tremendous amount.  

I was driving into New York City last night, and the guy taking me was amongst the
countless people we routinely ignore every day. He was young, obviously foreign, the
driver - it is always seemingly okay to talk about people in certain service professions
such as the driver or the maid - as if they are somehow not people, but their job. They
go unseen, and yet many of them have fascinating lives, extraordinary adventures to tell
of. It is like they are part of a mystical realm, that they have slipped into these
quiet, silent identities to go undercover. The incognito of lower class employment is an
effective cloak for any dagger one might wish to hide. These are those who we do not
think of, look at, talk to, yet these are those who have made vast differences and shaped
the world, at least their part of it, immensely.  

My young friend had an Albanian accent, which I would not have discerned as Albanian,
unless he told me he had come from there. He worked 12 hours a day and got stuck in
traffic that clients he picked up late would never understand. He didn't like New York
because it was too fast, too hard, too expensive of a city, admittedly a wonderland, but
only for the rich and idle. He regretted that the life here changed people, that Albanian
girls he once knew as modest and proper were now showing their legs without a care, but
he could look at them and in a moment their confidence would dissipate, for their common
culture and upbringing would shine like a sudden spotlight beaming down from overhead and
shock them into the temporary blindness of truth.  

He is Muslim and he loves his faith, yet cannot make the time for prayer when he is
trying to negotiate a town car through Midtown at rush hour. He doesn't understand why
the Republicans are going to descend on the city that they conveniently forgot. Lots of
New Yorkers are enraged that Bush is using 9/11 as a major bargaining chip in his
campaign, arming himself with NYC beloved like Guiliani and trying to make the election
all about his personal crusade against terror, when in fact Bush all but abandoned the
city after the tragedies, stiffing them on funding, opposing the creation of a 9/11
commission, and then refusing to testify once it was formed.  

My friend wants to know how a man that claims to be "of God" can possibly do so much evil
in God's name. He asks, "Isn't George Bush afraid of God?"   I guess not.

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