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#3104 - Thursday, March 13, 2008 - Editor: Jerry Katz

Nonduality Highlights -





In this issue are three book reviews I wrote over the last few days. Two are "neo-advaita" and one gets into tradition and practice. The latter is by Deepak Chopra, who, by the way, I think would make a more powerful guest for Oprah than Eckhart Tolle. 


Chopra has written books on almost every mode of human existence from diet to exercise, addiction to recreation, to various modes of spirituality communicated to all levels of understanding.


Chopra's basic grounding is in a nonduality harder than what Tolle offers, from what I have read.


The problem for someone like Oprah is that it would be very challenging to discover and then to extract the Tolle-like teaching from all of Chopra's works.


It's up to Chopra to package himself as a follow-up to Tolle on Oprah's internet show. I hope he does it.








Beyond Awakening: The End of the Spiritual Search
by Jeff Foster

The hallmark of Neo-Advaita, or whatever you want to call this genre, is confession of what is. The confession falls into itself leaving nothing.


There is nothing to confess, therefore there is nothing but confession.


Or as Jeff puts it: "Everything is empty, and so everything is divine. Everything is illusion, and so everything matters absolutely." Living that truth, all you can do is confess it or claim it to be so, in an infinity of ways.


What's keeping you from seeing that? You won't know until you see it. You can do things to come close to that perception, such as meditate, do self-inquiry, engage body work, do Yoga, surrender to God, take psycho-active substances. You could have that perception for days, months, or years.


However, grace descends on some people - whatever that means -- and they come to see and know that "Everything is empty, and so everything is divine." They know it so fully that there is no one to know it.


Jeff describes this descent of grace upon him, though I don't know if he would call it that: "I was walking through the rain on a cold autumn evening in Oxford. The sky was getting dark; I was wrapped up warm in my new coat. And suddenly and without warning, the search for `something more' apparently fell away, and with it all separation and loneliness."


If the grace never comes down on you, you can at least recognize what it means when it does, and live from that disposition. That is, you can know non-separation and live out of the intelligence of non-separation, even if that life is not fully dissolved into the immediacy of what is arising.


Read Beyond Awakening and you will come to know what non-separation is like to someone - or no one - who lives in the recognition of it. Whether the reading will adjust grace so that it descends upon you, who the heck knows? Is it even a possibility? Is it an event? Does it happen? Of course. Of course not.


Beyond Awakening: The End of the Spiritual Search
by Jeff Foster







The Great Undoing
by Stuart Schwartz

If you want to "get" nonduality in a 200 page book containing one short poem per page, this book will do the job.


This book is like bubble pack, that transparent plastic blister used to package items of merchandise. Reading each poem is like inviting a certain tension (pressing down on the bubble) and then experiencing a release (the pop). Over and over again.


When we forget who we are
we react and fight for our lives


When we remember,
we see that there is no one
to fight and no issue of death


A release or relief accompanies almost every poem. The idea is that you will one day find you are always walking in the state of release. Of course, there is no you, no state of release, and no "one day." The great undoing is too small and too grand to ever be known. It therefore makes sense when Stuart says,


The pursuit of happiness
is the cause of suffering



The Great Undoing
by Stuart Schwartz





The Third Jesus: The Christ We Cannot Ignore
by Deepak Chopra




In a video promoting this book, Deepak Chopra says, "I don't know who I am," implying that his viewpoint is from God-consciousness rather than egoic, person-centered consciousness.


According to Chopra, the meaning of the New Testament is that Jesus and God are not separate, and is confessed biblically as "The Father and I are one." This is the meaning of God-consciousness. Chopra says that anyone is entitled to that realization.


The theme of this book is separation and how to achieve unity by knowing Jesus as God-consciousness. The theme is supported by scores of quotations from the New Testament and the Gospel of Thomas, along with Chopra's explanations of them in terms of God-consciousness.




Chopra claims that the feeling of separation from God means a mistake has been made in how we live and see ourselves. Chopra provides fifteen steps to God-consciousness in order to correct that mistake and bring us to unity or non-separation.


The chapters on practice are excellent. Not surprisingly, Jesus is secondary and what is primary is Chopra's universal teaching of God-consciousness or enlightenment. It could be said that this whole book is more about following Deepak Chopra rather than Jesus Christ. I have no problem with that, as Chopra is a proven and effective world teacher.


Chopra exposes his Eastern roots when he urges the reader to start a satsang group. Satsang refers to a gathering of people devoted to the teaching of Truth or God-consciousness. Typically, satsang centers around a rarely found God-conscious or Self-realized sage/teacher. Chopra is calling for anyone at all to start satsang.




This inner journey is not casual. It is intense. Chopra writes, "Because he is so absolute, Jesus doesn't offer a path of devotion that consists of daily prayer and piety to God. He wants total, unswerving devotion: You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind."


Yet, realistically, people tend to unfold through practices of devotion, service, and contemplation. These are fine as long as they do not become an avoidance of inner transformation, Chopra notes.


Transformation is an extreme turning, as this confession by Chopra reveals: "It's impossible to quantify if you are on a spiritual path or how far along it you may be. But progress is always marked by transformation. The path isn't about feeling better. It's not about knowing who you are, or ending your suffering, or finding peace, or healing you deepest wounds. It's about a transformation so profound that illusion is traded for reality. Jesus survives to this day as a force in the world because he embodied that truth completely."


Final notes:


Our goal then, Chopra says, is not to imitate Jesus but to abide in him, to become one with him. We do that by giving our lives entirely to the process of turning separation into unity


Social commentary regarding Christianity and gay rights, abortion, and women's right, finish the book, but who is listening? The fundamentalist Christian has long discarded this book.


The index is very good, with 20% of it devoted to scriptural references. The term "separation", which is used a dozen or more times in the book and which arguably is the main theme, is not found anywhere in the index. In the future, Dr. Chopra might suggest specific terms for inclusion in the index or even become involved in selecting or getting to know the index writer.


The Third Jesus: The Christ We Cannot Ignore
by Deepak Chopra

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