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#3109 - Tuesday, March 18, 2008 - Editor: Jerry Katz

Nonduality Highlights -


In this issue a review of Living Deeply: The Art and Science of Transformation in Everyday Life.


Also and excerpt from the book.


I thought the book was a very substantial treatment of the journey of transformation. On the Nonduality Salon forum we've talked about how to explain nonduality to "everyone." To do that, I think you have to talk about experiences of non-separation "everyone" has had. The excerpt below talks about those kind of experiences, calling them transformational rather than nondual or non-separate.



  Living Deeply: The Art & Science of Transformation in Everyday Life Edited by Marilyn Mandala Schlitz, Cassandra Vieten, Tina Amorok link: New Harbinger Publications link:


A review by Jerry Katz


Feed Your Hungry Heart 


This book will nourish and guide the hungry heart. It is a diverse, balanced, full consideration of the art and science of transformation.


This is the book's goal: “Our single-minded focus was on the phenomenon of experiences people have, and practices they engage in, that stimulate and sustain a new worldview that may best be described as positive consciousness transformation.”


Theme - Find your own way:


The editors try very hard to be diverse and balanced while requiring the reader to be responsible rather than providing a program for transformation: “Ultimately, you need to find your own balance between convention and innovation, between the tried and true and the emerging forms of transformative practice.”


The reader is encouraged to discover ways to enrich, deepen, and find joy in each moment. Quoting George Leonard: “I can’t live the life of some teacher. I’m never going to get there the way somebody else did.”


Theme - Balance:


The theme of balance is addressed in different modes.


Throughout the book there is the return to theme of balance “between courage, determination, discipline, and choice on the one hand, and letting go, acceptance, and surrendering to the mystery of transformation on the other.”


The editors recognize that transformation can be painful, and they balance it by sharing the joy and liberation that come out of the transformative journey.


Medicine woman Tela Star Hawk Lake: “...we have to keep everything in balance. Everything has to be in harmony. Not just for the human beings, but for the animals, for the birds, for the plants, for the fish, for the rocks, for everything.”


Theme - Compassion:


Active compassion is part of transformative worldview. Psychologist Stanley Krippner says in this book that it requires “a love that actually gives people something to eat, something to wear, a place to live, self-esteem, self-empowerment.”


Using the best description of tonglen I have ever read, you are invited to practice this technique and journal your experience.




The exercises at the end of each chapter require you to write in a journal. You will investigate your life from all angles: your experiences, perceptions, practices, how they interconnect, and how all things in existence interconnect.


Last chapters:


The last chapter summarizes the whole book with the intention of getting the teachings to stick and grow and evolve.. It is followed by a resource guide which provides detailed information about The Institute of Noetic Sciences, and how to get involved in it, which would be a very worthwhile way of continuing your work and education in transformation. There is also information about the companion DVD for this book and e-courses you may take.


No index:


This book is limited as serious research tool by the absence of an index. Even only a name index would be useful. I was curious about finding out if Ken Wilber was included in this book, but had to read every page to find out.





Exerpt from Living Deeply: The Art & Science of Transformation in Everyday Life

A copublication of New Harbinger Publications and Noetic Books


Copyright 2007 By Marilyn Mandala Schlitz, Ph.D., Cassandra Vieten, Ph.D., Tina Amarok, Psy.D

New Harbinger Publications, Inc.

5674 Shattuck Ave.

Oakland, CA 94609

reprinted with permission


Finding the Extraordinary in the Ordinary

            You don’t have to be in an extraordinary place—in an ashram in India, flying across the galaxy in a space capsule, under the influence of mind-altering substances, or in the presence of a guru—to have a transformative experience. Transformations also happen in the everyday places we inhabit in the course of everyday experiences. Many of the people we interviewed and collected stories from experienced shifts in consciousness through ordinary actions. For some, transformation was found in fatherhood; for others, in tending a garden. Some even reported transformative experiences triggered by simply reading a book or being introduced to a new idea. In the end, we learned that while extraordinary experiences can offer glimpses of what’s possible—and that even a single such glimpse can have a profound and lasting effect on your worldview—transformation isn’t just about having a classically mystical experience. The sun shining through autumnal leaves, mist hanging in a lush valley, a baby grabbing your finger, eye contact with a kindred spirit on the bus, a disagreement with a loved one—these are all choice points that allow you to change the way you attend to a situation and choose to open to its meaning rather than push it away or rush past it.

            For example, sports, martial arts, and other forms of physical activity can serve as triggers fro transformation. Michael Murphy, founder of the Esalen Institute—a center for transformational learning in Big Sur, California—and author of Golf in the Kingdom (1972), told us about the transformative potential in the sport of golf:

For thirty-five years, since I published that book, people have been telling me about their extraordinary experiences on the golf courses, and some of them resemble mystical or occult experiences. By now, countless people have told me about their telepathic experiences, psychokinesis, sudden visual acuity, or other events that they cannot account for. So that’s led me now to look at this in all walks of life. This transformative process goes unnamed and unrecognized, because nobody thought to do this with golfers. (2002)

            Later in our interview, Murphy referred to these unrecognized processes as “covert” transformational practices. Clearly, you don’t have to have what we think of as a classical or mystical experience to find a door that opens to consciousness transformation. Transformation can and does occur naturally in the course of everyday experiences.  These transformative experiences are more akin to the peak experiences that Maslow believed people encounter throughout their lives—precisely because the doorways to transformation are everywhere.  


            For many of the people we interviewed, just being outdoors held great potential for a shift in consciousness. In a house nestled in the northern California redwoods, Anna Halprin—expressive arts originator, choreographer, dancer, teacher, and pioneer in the use of dance as a healing and transformative art in the contemporary Western world—shared with us her great love for nature:

Especially now that I am eighty-two, when I dance with tree, or ocean, or wind, I feel transposed. It takes me to a place beyond life, beyond death. And it helps me to accept death, and that’s a big one for me—to find a way to look at death as a cycle of life. I find that transformative quality when I relate to the natural environment. I can’t explain why, but it’s a partnership that changes my consciousness. (2002)

            Drawing on cross-cultural perspective and her Basque ancestry, Angeles Arrien’s program, The Four Fold Way, integrates ancient but universal practices into the modern world. Incorporated into the program is an archetypal wilderness experience (a period of solitude in nature) of three days and three nights to help people experience the way that nature can mirror our inner state if we look carefully and quietly. Arrien explained:


Each individual is touched by nature and in silence in their own unique way. There’s no magic formula—it’s arrogant to assume that there is a formula. One factor is the willingness of each individual to spend some time contemplating where they are in their life. What has meaning and what doesn’t? On our three days-three nights wilderness experience- often known as a vision quest among traditional societies of this continent- the transformational crucible is the outer world. In many ways the outer is really a mirror of what the person is doing internally. (2002)

            Being a sacred and mysterious force unto itself, nature often reveals new self-knowledge to us, and thus serves as a catalyst for transformation. Physician Gerald Jampolsky described to us a simple but transformative moment of inner reflection he had while contemplating a leaf floating down a river:

Maybe twelve years ago, I spent a month in Australia, just in nature- not reading, just looking at the outside world. One of the peak experiences I had was being on a big rock in the middle of a stream and watching water go by. I saw a leaf fall from a tree; I watched it go this way and that way. To my surprise, it came to right beside me and it stayed there for about five minutes. Then the wind picked it up, put it in the water, and it went down the river. Seeing that leaf was an important lesson for me. I identified with the leave as me letting go, not being afraid of what was going to happen, trusting the flow of the energy. And that was a big moment for me; it was about letting go of the body and fear of the future. (2002)

            James, a respondent in our survey study, similarly reported:


I was in the woods, sitting next to the river, reading, and I looked up. Everything looked immensely beautiful, like I’d entered another world. Leaves sparkled with golden light, the sun was brilliant, and sounds such as bird calls, and the flowing of water were magnified. I was in awe at the feelings I experienced. It left quite an impression on me for the rest of my life, and made me a seeker. (Vieten, Cohen, and Schlitz 2008).

            Nature can provide a quiet, reflective place to listen to your inner voice and your way of being. Looking deeply into simple natural events- a leaf floating in a river, sunlight sparkling through trees- can tell you about your own life journey.

            Nature can also teach us about the interconnectedness of the universe. Lakota elder Gilbert Walking Bull explained to us that it’s when you see the sacred energy that infused all of creation that you come to know true religious or spiritual power. According to Walking Bull, this awareness of interconnectedness is what gave birth to the Lakota tradition of becoming a sacred human being:

True spiritual power exists in the world. In our Lakota world, we call it “taku skan skan”—something that moves. What this refers to is how the energy of the Great Spirit, Wakan Tanka Tunkasila, is connected. The atom world is connected to everything Grandfather created. We call it “the Fire Within All Things Moving Alive”—the atom world is this. True spirit is the atom. It is in everything. When you know how everything is connected to everything—I grew up knowing this—out of this comes the seven sacred principles connected to our tradition. (2006).

For Walking Bull, nature isn’t only an entry point to the sacred, it’s sacred in itself.

Pg 55-58, Living Deeply Schlitz, Vieten, Amorok

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Living Deeply: The Art & Science of Transformation in Everyday Life Edited by Marilyn Mandala Schlitz, Cassandra Vieten, Tina Amorok link: New Harbinger Publications link:

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