Nonduality: The Varieties of Expression

Photography & Writings by Jerry Katz


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After Awareness: The End of the Path

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Nondual Highlights Issue #2081 Sunday, March 13, 2005

There is no such thing as an entity.
Now you know that you are awake because,
you are here and you have that knowledge.
There is nothing else other than this
knowledge, no entity.

When you are dwelling in this consciousness
you see that you are not doing anything, it is
all happening spontaneously. There is no
question of your trying to do anything.
You cannot try to be your Self,
because you are your Self.

- from
Talks of Nisargadatta Maharaj, posted to JustThis

Q: Are the names and forms of the world real?

A: You won't find them separate from the substratum [adhishtana]. When you try to get at name and form, you will find reality only. Therefore attain the knowledge of that which is real for all time.

Q: Why does the waking state look so real?

A: We see so much on the cinema screen, but it is not real. Nothing is real there except the screen. In the same way in the waking state, there is nothing but adhishtana. Knowledge of the world is knowledge of the knower of the world [jagrat-prama is the prama of jagrat-pramata]. Both go away in sleep.

Q: Why do we see such permanency and constancy in the world?

A: It is seen on account of wrong ideas. When someone says that he took a bath in the same river twice he is wrong, because when he bathed for the second time the river is not the same as it was when he bathed for the first time. On looking twice at the brightness of a flame a man says that he sees the same flame, but this flame is changing every moment. The waking state is like this. The stationary appearance is an error of perception.

Q: Where is the error?

A: Pramata [the knower].

Q: How did the knower come?

A: On account of the error of perception. In fact the knower and his misperceptions appear simultaneously, and when the knowledge of the Self is obtained, they disappear simultaneously.

Q: From where did the knower and his misperceptions come?

A: Who is asking the question?

Q: I am.

A: Find out that `I' and all your doubts will be solved. Just as in a dream a false knowledge, knower and known rise up, in the waking state the same process operates. In both states on knowing this `I' you know everything and nothing remains to be known. In deep sleep, knower, knowledge and known are absent. In the same way, at the time of experiencing the real `I' they will not exist. Whatever you see happening in the waking state happens only to the knower, and since the knower is unreal, nothing in fact ever happens.

Q: Is the light which gives the `I'-sense identity and knowledge of the world ignorance or chit, consciousness?

A: It is only the reflected light of chit that makes the `I' believe itself different from others. This reflected tight of chit also makes the `I' create objects, but for this reflection there must be a surface on which the reflection takes place.

Q: What is that surface?

A: On realization of the Self you will find that the reflection and the surface on which it takes place do not actually exist, but that both of them are one and the same chit. There is the world, which requires location for its existence and light to make it perceptible. Both rise simultaneously. Therefore physical existence and perception depend upon the light of the mind which is reflected from the Self. Just as cinema pictures can be made visible by a reflected light, and only in darkness, so also the world pictures are perceptible only by the light of the Self reflected in the darkness of avidya [ignorance]. The world can be seen neither in the utter darkness of ignorance, as in deep sleep, nor in the utter light of the Self, as in Self-realization or samadhi.

- from
Be As You Are, The Teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi, edited by David Godman, posted to MillionPaths

Ram Tzu knows you

All of your
Dirty little secrets
Are tattooed on your forehead
For him to read.

You cling so tenaciously
To your history
Sensing correctly that to let go
Would set you adrift in a present
In which you cannot survive.

Here and now is the great evaporator
Poof - youšre gone.
Surprising isnšt it?
All that time you thought you were
You really werenšt.

Poof - back again so soon?
Guess the illusion wasnšt finished
With you after all.

If you learned anything
Youšll know it doesnšt
Make any difference.

Ram Tzu certainly doesnšt care.

- Ram Tzu, posted to AlongTheWay


"Social conditioning fosters the identification of the mind with a fixed idea of 'itself' as the means of self-control, and as a result, man thinks himself "I"- the ego.

Thereupon the mental center of gravity shifts from the spontaneous or original mind to the ego image. Once this has happened, the very center of our psychic life is identified with the self-controlling mechanism. It then becomes almost impossible to show how "I" can let go of "Myself", for "I" am precisely my habitual effort to hold on to "myself".

I find myself totally incapable of any mental action which is not intentional, affected, and insincere. Therefore, anything I do to "give myself up", to let go, will be a disguised form of the habitual effort to hold on.

I cannot be intentionally unintentional or purposely spontaneous. As soon as it becomes important for me to be spontaneous, (to overcome ego, to see beyond myself) the intention to do so is strengthened; I cannot get rid of it, and yet, it is the one thing that stands in the way of its own fulfillment.

It is as if someone had given me some medicine with the warning that it will not work if I think of a monkey while taking it.

While I am remembering to forget the monkey, I am in a "double-bind" situation where "to do" is "not to do" and vice versa. "Yes" implies "no", and "go" implies "stop".

At this point, Zen comes to me and asks: "If you cannot help remembering the monkey, are you doing it on purpose?"

In other words, do I have an intention for being intentional, a purpose for being purposive?

Suddenly I realize that my very intending is spontaneous, or that my controlling self- the ego- arises from my uncontrolled or natural self.

At this moment, all the machinations of the ego come to nought; it is annihilated in its own trap.

I see that it is actually impossible not to be spontaneous. For what I cannot help doing, I am doing spontaneously, but if I am at the same time trying to control it, I interpret it as "compulsion".

As a Zen master said, "Nothing is left to you at this moment but to have a good laugh."

In this moment the whole quality of consciousness is changed, and I feel myself in a new world in which, however, it is obvious that I have always been living. As soon as I recognize that my voluntary and purposeful action happens spontaneously "by itself", just like breathing, hearing, and feeling, I am not longer caught in the contradiction of trying to be spontaneous.

There is no real contradiction, since "trying" IS spontaneity.

Seeing this, the compulsive, blocked, and "tied-up" feeling vanishes. It is just as if I had been absorbed in a tug-of-war between my two hands, and forgotten that they were both mine.

No block to spontaneity remains when the trying is seen to be needless. As we saw, the discovery that both the "voluntary" and the "involuntary" apects of the mind are alike spontaneous makes an immediate end to the fixed dualism of the mind and the world, the knower and the known.

The new world in which I find myself has an extraordinary transparency or freedom from barriers, making it seem that I have somehow become the empty space in which everything is happening.

Here, then, is the point of the oft-repeated assertion that "all beings are enlightened from the very beginning," that "all dualism is falsely imagined," that "the ordinary mind is the Tao", and that there is therefore no meaning in trying to get in accord with it. In the words of the Cheng-tao Ke:

"Like the empty sky it has no boundaries, Yet it is right in this place, ever profound and clear. When you seek to know it, you cannot see it. You cannot take hold of it, But you cannot lose it. In not being able to get it, you get it. When you are silent, it speaks: When you speak, it is silent. The great gate is wide open to bestow alms, And no crowd is blocking the way."

It was through seeing this that, in the moment of his Satori, Hakuin cried out "How wondrous! How wondrous! There is no birth-and-death from which one has to escape, nor is there any supreme knowledge after which one has to strive!"

Or, in the words of Hsiang Yen:

"At one stroke I forgot all my knowledge! There's no use for artificial discipline. For, move as I will, I manifest the Ancient Way."

Paradoxically, nothing is more artificial than the notion of artificiality. Try as one may, it is as impossible to go against the spontaneous Way of All Things,as it is to live in some other time than "now", or be in some other place than "here".

-Alan Watts: The Way of Zen, posted to satsangdiarygroup

Kairos 25

We’re each one minute away
from annihilation,

a soap bubble wobbling
near a pine needle,
just a swift touch

and we’re gone, burst,
now a memory in the air,

a rattle
in the minds of friends,
a wound

in the soul of a lover.
In time we join the

anonymous dust of history,
become bone fragments
mixed with pottery shards

in an archeology dig or lie
long buried in the earth

vanished even from
the dim memories of
worms and beetles who

were our last lovers.
Yet this moment engulfs me,

sings in my ears and
floods my eyes with sunlight
spilling through the sky.

We touch and
become transparent,

energy fields tumbling in space
inside temporary bodies
licking the magic of each other.

Š Zen Oleary March 12, 2005, posted to SufiMystic

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