Nonduality: The Varieties of Expression Home

Jerry Katz
photography & writings

Search over 5000 pages on Nonduality:

Click here to go to the next issue

Highlights Home Page | Receive the Nondual Highlights each day

#2148 - Thursday, May 19, 2005 - Editor: Jerry Katz






This issue features a book review of This is Unimaginable and Unavoidable: Irresponsible Writings on Non-Duality, by Guy Smith.


Some excerpts were given in issue #2120:







Book Review, by Jerry Katz


This is Unimaginable and Unavoidable: Irresponsible Writings on Non-Duality, by Guy Smith


Ordering info and excerpts:


Guy Smith is a 24 year old man living in Bristol, U.K. This book was written during the six months following enlightenment. The book's purpose is to display Guy Smith's exuberance at being newly enlightened and the nondual wisdom he easily utters. Guy says, "This book is just here." Yes, it's just here and it's just about nonduality. That's good enough for me. I like this book a lot. The style of writing and expression is lively, fun, intelligent, joyous, radical, strong, vulnerable, outrageous, ordinary. It's about nonduality, sex, politics, movies, meditation, sex, pop music, science, art, enlightenment, sex, and pre-enlightenment experience, and more. Mostly it's a compilation of intelligent and sparkling writings on nonduality.


The writings are unstructured. Each chapter is brief, one to four pages. The author could have included the writings on sex, pre-enlighenment, and nondual perspectives, for example, in separate chapters or sections, but instead he scattered them throughout the book. The author explains: "This text is best treated like a treasure-chest filled with diamonds, as opposed to, say, a treasure map." It's an effective way to present the material since it corresponds to what is:  "this is." Neither reality nor the book is a bunch of "this is-es" linked together in order to teach something or to capture someone in an entrancing flow of ideas.


Almost half the book is poetry, which ordinarily would make me cringe, as the inclusion of poems by spiritual teachers or confessors is usually self-indulgent. But Smith's poetry is varied in style, easy to read, and not obtrusive. On the other hand, the poetry isn't literary either. Often it is nothing more than prose layed out to look like poetry. And more often than not it is pedestrian nonduality:


Imagine water -

Pure water without limit,

With nothing in it

Or outside it.

Not even motion

Nor shape, nor shade,

No cavity

No gravity -

Just water,

Pure water without limit -

Nothing in it

Or out of it


But for some reason I either don't mind or actually like the poetry in this book as it exists scattered among the other writings. It's part of the whole work which carries the author's exuberance at being freshly enlightened. And a couple of the poems are actually good.


Sometimes the author makes you wonder, though. The following is entitled,"An insincere, purely mischievous, ridiculous poem."


If woman is God's gift to man,

He couldn't have chosen much better.

Legs a little longer, breasts fatter perhaps,

And perhaps just that bit wetter.


If woman is God's gift to man

(As I am God's gift to women),

The fact that the gift comes so well chosen

Shows God, without doubt, is man.


Clearly, such a poem comes out of the author's new sense of freedom. He's simply speaking and that speaking is enough, regardless of what comes out of his mouth. Perhaps he is so enamored with all his utterances that he wants to share it all, whatever it is. I appreciate that and I like it. It's brash and out of line. Unlike Bob Adamson and others of his ilk, this book is not flat; it is carbonated with Guy Smith's personality.


Smith is quite taken with his new ability, since enlightenment, to write freely. "The [writing about nonduality] is basically effortless. It writes itself. This is actually the same with any literature... . ... There is a certain zing to this direct expressing of oneness that is incomparable."


While Guy Smith is a smart guy and enlightened, I wouldn't call his work literature, nor would I say all literature comes about in an effortless way. It is probably very carefully honed in most cases. What carries this book isn't the uttered truths or the novel structure, and it's certainly not any literary quality; it's the personality, the youthful energy. Yes, it is the zing. Here he is coming from the streets; he's bringing it home:


"There is a song by The White Stripes called The Hardest Button To Button. This is one of the best metaphors for selfhood I have every come across. I am the hardest button to button because however much there is bragging and asserting, defending and justifying, however much effort is put in, there is still no one here, this is still purely the activity of impersonal, characterless consciousness. One tries over and over again to make that button appear through the buttonhole, to make self a real, stable, forceful reality, this effort to be a someone, a free will; but it just won't happen, because it is a lie. There is only consciousness, trying to believe it is a person, but deep down knowing there is no one."


On the next page he's an old nondual fart again:


"To talk about an object called 'Guy Smith' who one day got or became another object called 'enlightenment' is nonsensical, mistaken.


Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.


In other places he shows some life again. There are several emails in this book and they possess an appealing honesty and normalcy. This is a portion of an email he sent to a friend.


"But the fact is, the fact that is so clear and obvious now and which makes all this so simple, that all of this, everything, including all desire, including the desire for desirelessness, is the presence, oneness, that is absolutely unmoving, desireless. ... One very annoying thing Phil. I have found it impossible to open your jam-jar. Not only is it sealed so hard it is even a match for Guru Guy here - the lid is serrated. I have tried pouring hot water on the lid and also using a cloth to dampen the sharp bits, but all in vain. I guess that's it in a nutshell (or rather a jam-jar). Guy has spent all day trying to get into the jam-jar, when really there is no jam. 'What is' is redness and the idea of sweetness...and nothing else."


There are lots of little enjoyable confessions and utterances that could be pointed out, like this smooth comparison between postmodern and nondual expression:


"One of the differences between postmodern discourse and nondualistic expression is that the former falsely interprets this to be a state of terrifying existential uncertainty and disorientation, what it calls 'undecidability'. In the case of 'womanhood' considered above, for example, the postmodern might revel and wallow in an endless questioning of 'what is a woman?', 'where is the woman?' and so on. In contrast, nonduality sees with crystal-clarity and concrete-certainty that there is no woman anywhere, womanhood is a misconception. There are no objects in reality: reality is no-thing appearing."


He speaks about art:


"The whole energy of 'consumer art' -- say, Stephen King, Harry Potter -- is invested in the solicitation of a desire that is suspended in a seductive manner until the end of the book, so the reader reads not for the present but for the future. In 'good art', it is the 'what is present now' that is the emphasis, the immediate beauty or power of the art's very fabric, the colour, the image, the sound. It is sensate reality at its most sensitive, sensuous and sensual."


He speaks about sex after enlightenment:


"With regards to sex, I have so far noticed little or no change in this organism's sexual activity, subsequent to realisation. It  periodically craves arousal and orgasm, and afterwards, the craving is not there...until it is there again! All very normal I feel. ... [Sex] is a very potent pointer to the nature of reality, the fact that there is no power, no directive, just uncontrollable happenings."


He speaks about David Lynch movies:


"This, this text here, and also this life happening right now, this reading, is a David Lynch movie." You'll have to get the book to read the rest. You'll find many other enjoyable writings, as well, as I have tried to demonstrate.


Guy Smith sees what any nonduality talker sees right away: that there are two fundamental ways of looking at nonduality: "On the one hand one talks in terms of 'awakening' and 'seeing the true nature of things', which sounds unavoidably like an event, a happening; and on the other hand, when it happens, or rather, when it doesn't happen, it is known that nothing has ever happened, nothing will ever happen, and there is only ever 'perception', or 'oneness'.


Elsewhere he addresses the issue again: "That which is called 'unity' and that which is called 'unicity' are absolutely unrealted. 'Unicity is oneness that is indivisible and limitless. 'Unity' is a wholeness that is both divisible and limited." ... The reason this difference between 'unity' and 'unicity' is being cited here is that many so-called nondualistic expressions erroneously speak as if these two were the same thing, or at least related."


In a third place in his book, Smith says this about the matter: "Nondual expression is very often contradictory. ... One says, 'There is no one here', and then one says, 'Today when I was going to the shops to buy some egges...' This contradiction happens ony because words describe the limited. ... attempting to talk about nonduality is a bit like dancing on hot coals. Everywhere you tread, each word you choose, each phrase, each subject, is dangerous, is misleading, is conducive to perpetuating the idea of separative selfhood and all its difficulties and hurtfulness. One dances on coals; one dances to keep moving away from words, to keep eluding thought, while at the same time, leaping right onto fresh problems, fresh structures."


One of the last writings in the book reveals Guy Smith's alignment with other nondualists: Sailor Bob Adamson, Leo Hartong, Nathan Gill, Tony Parsons. He calls their approach "pure nondualty." Guy Smith makes it clear that he and the others mentioned are not part of a "pure nonduality" movement. He calls it a non-movement. He calls it stillness, and because it is characterized by stillness there can be no such thing as movement. He writes, "In the appearance of life, within the last twenty years, something new has emerged and is emerging still. Because it is all about stillness, it should not be called a 'movement', so let it be called 'non-movement', or 'stillness'.


Haha. Okay. Listen carefully: It is a movement. If it's not a movement, why even mention it. It has a lineage, sometimes clear, sometimes vague. Because there is a core group of nonduality talkers at its center of gravity it will cause movement, clashes, organization, and disorganization. Anything but stillness. These talkers declare who is nondually correct and who is not correct; who is enlightened and who is not enlightened. They have followings. They have fans. It is nothing less than a movement. And it is organized. 


However, that's life. Those who are part of the movement do speak beautifully about nonduality. I recommend experiencing the utterance of "pure nonduality" through Guy Smith and all those people mentioned.


Jerry Katz


This is Unimaginable and Unavoidable: Irresponsible Writings on Non-Duality, by Guy Smith


Ordering info and excerpts:


top of page