What is Nonduality
Experience Nonduality via Yoga Nidra
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Friday, May 19, 2006 - Editor: Jerry Katz
In this issue I try to further clarify the nonduality scene by addressing a question posed by Mary
In Nonduality Salon, Mary Place asked the readership:
Funny, I was just directed to this one from a political blog:
This site made me think once again about the first time I came across the concept of
awakening--Gurdjieff-type stuff. Where "awakening" is something to do with waking up to the present
moment, and staying away from reactive, robot-type behavior. I'm not sure if Gurdjieff has anything
to do with non-duality. I discovered non-duality after taking some left turns via Vernon Howard,
Jan Cox, and a little Eckhart Tolle mixed in. Was very surprised and confused after discovering
Tony Parsons to find out it was about the non-existence of the individual. As I never got into
"awakening" through the Eastern paths, I've had a sort of backwards education into it all. Is there
any connection between the two schools?
The website mentioned above begins by stating, [begin quotation] "There is far more to this world
than taught in our schools, shown in the media, or proclaimed by the church and state. Most of
mankind lives in a hypnotic trance, taking to be reality what is instead a twisted simulacrum of
reality, a collective dream in which values are inverted, lies are taken as truth, and tyranny is
accepted as security. They enjoy their ignorance and cling tightly to the misery that gives them
"Fortunately, some are born with spiritual immune systems that sooner or later give rejection to
the illusory worldview grafted upon them from birth through social conditioning. They begin sensing
that something is amiss, and start looking for answers. Inner knowledge and anomalous outer
experiences show them a side of reality others are oblivious to, and so begins their journey of
awakening. Each step of the journey is made by following the heart instead of following the crowd
and by choosing knowledge over ignorance." [end quotation]
~ ~ ~
At some point we have stumbled upon the stone of reality. The stumbling leaves us with the sense
that "something" is more true than what the rest of the world goes around thinking is true. Out of
the desire to know what that "something" is, a spiritual journey begins.
At points along the journey, the desire to know that "something" finds apparent fulfillment. Thus
we stumble upon Gurdjieff, who used techniques to get his students to carve an opening in their
lives so that they would stand in actuality. Then we take further left turns, stumbling into Vernon
Howard, Jan Cox, Eckhart Tolle, as the questioner states above.
Vernon Howard and Jan Cox, like Gurdjieff, are like stones in the field of our walk. They stop us
and get us to see the world from the viewpoint of that "something," which might be called Truth.
Each one of those teachers uses different language and techniques. That makes sense. They are
different personalities. No two stones are the same.
So here we are on this spiritual journey, stumbling into one insight after another as this
"something" calls us to know what it is. Yet, although there appears to be the fulfillment of the
desire to know that "something," desire remains. We keep looking, searching, and stumbling upon
different seeings of "something." We have become taken by the personalities of the stones and by
the "high" achieved when we stumble. The language and the development of these stumblings vary
depending upon who is confessing them, their tradition, their culture, their times, their knowledge
and background, who they are addressing, and who their interpretors, translators, and editors are.
There are many, many opportunities for stumbling and gaining new glimpses of "something." Hence our
desire for "something" is never fulfilled.
Rather than look at each individual stone or personality mentioned, let's look at stumbling itself.
We stumble upon knowledge that is non-linear, that catches us like a stone interfering with our
horizontal walk. By tripping upon vertically protruding stones we come upon and grasp the knowledge
of nonduality. The knowledge is received vertically, not horizontally. Rather than get involved in
the personalities possessed by the stones, see that there are stones and that they are stumbled
upon. That is critical to see if we are to go beyond stumbling. But it is very difficult to get
beyond the personalities. We are instructed to inquire, to ask within who we are, but it is
difficult to do so without an image of a guru or teacher attached to the inquiry like a photo to an
If we begin to look at stumbling itself, and if we can see stumbling free of the personality of
that upon which we have stumbled, we may eventually understand someone like Tony Parsons. Tony
tells us there is not the individual who is stumbling. There is not this "something." There is not
Truth. There is not our desire to know that "something." If there is anything, it is "this." And
"this" isn't anything at all. We will begin to understand what Parsons is saying if we have focused
upon the stumbling and not the stone.
A Tony Parsons says there is neither the vertical nor the horizontal. No stone. If anything, there
is the point where the horizontal and vertical meet, which is nothing, and which doesn't exist
because there is neither the vertical nor the horizontal.
What Parsons is talking about is what Gurdjieff and the other guys are trying to get everyone to
see. Those guys are putting more stones in front of us so that we keep stumbling into reality. But
Parsons says there is no need for the stumbling. No need for techniques. He is confessing what it's
like when the final stone has been stumbled upon and all there is is "this." U.G. Krishnamurti and
many other modern day people such as Leo Hartong, David Carse, and the authors of books from
Non-Duality Books (http://www.non-dualitybooks.com) are in the Parsons camp. So is Bob Adamson. I'm
not saying they are followers of Tony Parsons or have anything to do with Tony. They speak
A Tony Parsons is standing in actuality and telling us what is. I don't think he cares one way or
the other whether "There is far more to this world than taught in our schools, shown in the media,
or proclaimed by the church and state." I don't. Do you? Because that "far more," with its
Gurdjieff, its Vernon Howard, its Jan Cox, and its Eckhart Tolle, is bullshit. They are the stones
we stumble upon. So I've stumbled. Big deal. I don't give a shit about the stone. I want to see
what the stumbling actually is and what the vertical dimension itself is all about. (Have you
noticed how people get caught up in the stone, whether upon it is the face of John de Ruiter, Adi
Da, Jan Cox, or Amma?)
Fully knowing what someone like a Tony Parsons confesses, is the end of the journey, the end of
desire for that "something." However, life still goes on. Gurdjieff and company (or Dale Carnegie
or Steven Covey or Amma, for that matter) can still be studied and absorbed, and may be necessary
for the purpose of living life effectively. I mean, why bother people around us due to the fact
that we are "so spiritual and nondual?" We need to get our lives together.
I also want to mention Jed McKenna. Jed is a little bit of every guru and teacher, which is right
for a fictional character. I think in his new book coming out this summer he will be developing a
lot of what has been said here as he tries to explain the landscape of the spirituality/nonduality
scene. Nonduality has always been either too nondual or too involved with technique. And one camp
doesn't have too much patience with the other. No one has yet meshed the two camps in a way that
doesn't freak out one or the other.
Mary, you have asked what the connection is between Western and Eastern schools. Well, it's all
about stumbling. Stumbling happens in the West, the East, and over Jolene's butt. Although it seems
as though there are many stones and many stumblings, there are about two things we can stumble
over. We can stumble over that "something," over the sense that things aren't quite right. And we
can stumble over the final stone and directly into ourselves thus ending ourselves. And that's
about all that can be done. No sense making it more than that unless you feel like it.
Let's keep it simple. One stumbling shows us that things aren't quite right and that "something" is
true. We follow that "something." "Stay with the I Am," said Nisargadatta, and we do. Then maybe,
if we really know how to stay with the "I Am," the final stumbling happens and suddenly we got a
book published with Non-Duality Books. Or maybe the final stumbling doesn't happen. It doesn't
matter. What matters is that when we hear the call to find out what that "something" is, that we
follow through with it best we can.
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