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#3165 - Tuesday, May 13, 2008 - Editor: Jerry Katz

Nonduality Highlights - 



In this issue a book review by Rodney Stevens, a response from Edward Plotkin regarding the interview with Ken Wilber printed in issue 3161:; hsing-Shang quotes Andrew Cohen on ego and provides useful comments.



ASK THE AWAKENED: The Negative Way
by Wei Wu Wei

Reviewed by Rodney Stevens

Wei Wu Wei--a Taoist term which translates as "action that is non-action"--was the pen name for Terence Gray, who was born to a prominent Irish family in 1865. He died in 1986, having written eight books in fairly quick succession. Ask the Awakened is a sterling introduction to the author and his works.

Like most of his tomes, this one is a pithy hodgepodge of poems, essays, paragraphs, and commentaries. He draws from such sundry sources as Taoism (particularly the teachings of Lao Tzu and Chuang Tzu), Buddhism (The Diamond and Lankavatra Sutras), and Zen Buddhism (as taught by Hui Neng, Hui Hai, and the marvelous Huang Po).

The book takes its theme from Hui Neng: "From the beginning, not a thing is." For Wei Wu Wei,  everything--your thoughts, your coffee cup, the manifested universe, etc-- are nothing less than sheer awareness. Some other names that he uses are "suchness," "impersonal subjectively," and "Consciousness itself."

Wei Wu Wei's prose can be hard going; for he had a succinct and quizzical way of expressing himself. But rarely is his writing impenetrable. A repeated reading of some phraise or observation will likely provide any sincere reader will superb insights. And more often than not, the author is radiantly clear, e.g., "Realization is a matter of being conscious of that which is already realized," "All comparison is based on memory," and "As long as anyone tacitly accepts Time either as really existing, or even as the basis of consideration, he is only concerning himself with objectivity."

Kudos to Sentient Publications for producing such a fine edition of this trade paperback. The spine is strong, the text is crisp, and the layout is inviting. Note: Sentient also has published Wei Wu Wei's The Tenth Man: The Great Joke, another penetrating assemblage of essays, epigrams, and commentary. Alas, the the printing isn't as sharp and as uniform as the reviewed work.

ASK THE AWAKENED can be ordered directly from the publisher ( or at the following Amazon link:


Rodney Stevens lives in Columbia, South Carolina, and realized his true nature through the works of John Wheeler. Stevens can be contacted for talks and workshops at:
[email protected]


Edward Plotkin responds to a Q and A between and Ken Wilber"

Jerry, perhaps Ken Wilber is confused, too!

Steve Paulson ( do you think of the New Age writers who see a link between mysticism and the weirdness of quantum physics? There have been popular books, like "The Tao of Physics" and "The Dancing Wu Li Masters," as well as the hit film "What the Bleep Do We Know." They point out that reality at the quantum level is inherently probabilistic. And they say that the act of observing a quantum phenomenon plays a critical role in actually creating that phenomenon. The lesson they draw is that consciousness itself can shape physical reality. 

Ken Wilber: They are confused. Even people like Deepak Chopra say this. These are good people; I know them. But when they say consciousness can act to create matter, whose consciousness? Yours or mine? They never get to that. It's a very narcissistic view. 

Edward Plotkin, author, The Four Yogas Of Enlightenment: The question regarding ‘physical reality’ is flawed in the sense that nowhere, nor ever, has anyone found or discovered ‘reality’. What could ‘reality’ or matter be, independent of an observer? 

That which we call matter or reality is 'made concrete' by consciousness. What matter is prior to consciousness is unknowable. Consciousness precedes matter. Nondual awareness occurs when we no longer divide our consciousness into subject and object, and perceive inner projections as outer reality. Reality has no existence apart from consciousness, nor can consciousness itself be determined. 

Chapter 2 extract, The Four Yogas Of Enlightenment

Words are representations constructed in consciousness in an attempt to impose order on perceptions, and not some immutable sound represented reality. For instance when we say the word chocolate, the sound is only a representation in consciousness of chocolate, and not the substance itself. Various languages represent chocolate with different sound units, with no one language having priority, and neither the sound nor the spelling are an inherent aspect of the substance chocolate. The experience of chocolate is assembled by the senses in union with appearance and emptiness. The experience is empty because it cannot be ascertained that that which is assembled in consciousness is identical with the object from its own side.

    All of our representations occur within a closed system of perceptions received and interpreted by the senses. Waves of bounced radiation from the world of external objects are received, analyzed and reconstructed by consciousness. After this process is repeated innumerable times, consciousness forgets that these reconstructed reflected waves are not the external objects themselves! In a relative sense we can perceive the external world; in the ultimate sense we cannot know exactly what the external world is. 

Chapter 3 extract, The Four Yogas Of Enlightenment

From the point of view of the meditator reality does not arise independent of consciousness. The bright light of consciousness does not arise within the body or mind. The body-mind and apparent world arise within consciousness. It is not that you as the egoic person are suspended in time and space apart from the divine, or God as some sort of miraculous, but separate, non-spiritual, animated conglomeration of physical matter. It is not that you are merely viewing the world; you are being the world, as well. When discursive reasoning comes to an absolute standstill and awareness no longer moves from the well of infinite stillness, you will experience for yourself the nature of the truth of your own being. That which is witnessed is the subjective point of view projected as though it were outside of, or beyond the consciousness of the viewer, or witness of consciousness. When consciousness no longer divides itself into apparent subject and object, consciousness resides as the witness of apparent reality.          
    You as the witness of consciousness never really capture reality unmediated by your particular perceptive apparatus and beyond the confines of your unique vantage point. What is erected within the confines of the skull and consciousness is perceived and witnessed within consciousness as both internal and external reality.

Chapter 5 extract, The Four Yogas Of Enlightenment 

We are never truly functionally attached to the objects,

conceptions and perceptions in consciousness. The egoic self arises as a feeling of separation or difference in consciousness. When we falsely perceive separation or difference between consciousness and the objects, conceptions and perceptions in consciousness, we recoil into dualism. We believe we are really looking out at reality, rather than being that in which apparent reality arises. The illusory separation in consciousness, of consciousness into apparent subject and object, is the root cause of suffering. 

Mahamudra: The Quintessence of Mind And Meditation
p. 60

The first Bhavanakrama elaborates on the nature of self.

Meditate upon the nonselfhood of all things, which are comprised of the five psychological aggregates, the twelve sense formations, and the eighteen realms of elements. Ultimately, apart from being manifestations of the mind, these aggregates, sense formations, and elements do not have an independent reality. No object of attachment can exist, as the essence of reality itself is non-existent. Their reduction to particles and finally to infinitesimal proportions will show this. Determining reality in this manner, one should contemplate that from phenomena, childish sentient beings have mistaken the mind's manifestations for external reality in much the same way as a dreamer holds his dreams to be true. Ultimately, all these are but manifestations of the mind.

Although the foregoing may be of little benefit to those who have not experienced nondual awareness, hopefully it will be of interest to many on the path who have experienced satori. 

Edward Plotkin
The Four Yogas Of Enlightenment:
Guide to Don Juan’s Nagualism and Esoteric Buddhism


hsin-shang writes:

The Ego

An Anti-Evolutionary Force

There is a profound contrast between the enlightened perspective, which is the absolute, universal, and impersonal view of the Authentic Self, and the unenlightened perspective, which is the relative, separate, and personal view of the narcissistic ego. It is literally the difference between heaven and hell.

When I speak about ego, I am not using the term in the psychological sense, which usually refers to what we could call a self-organizing function in the psyche. In an enlightenment context, the word ego refers to something else altogether. Ego is the deeply ingrained, compulsive need to remain separate and superior at all times, in all places, under all circumstances. In contrast to the inherent freedom of the Self Absolute and the fearless passion of the Authentic Self, ego is experienced as an emotional quagmire of fear and attachment. It is the part of you that has no interest whatsoever in freedom, feels victimized by life, avoids anything that contradicts its self-image, is thoroughly invested in its personal fears and desires, and lives only for itself. Ego is an anti-evolutionary force of powerful inertia in human nature—attached to the past, terrified of change, and seeking only to preserve the status quo.

Ego is the one and only one obstacle to enlightenment. If we want to be free, if we want to be enlightened, we have to pay the price. The great wisdom traditions have always told us that the price is ego death, and in evolutionary enlightenment it is no different: if the Authentic Self is going to act through us as the uninhibited expression of evolution in action, then our attachment to ego must be transcended.

                                                                                                                                                            - Andrew Cohen


Regardless of the man, -Andrew Cohen- what has been said "hits the nail on the head". The core of the ego is Uniqueness. Man need not to do anything to become enlightened except to abandon comparisons -with others or with his changing conditions. If this happens, the way is wide open to enlightenment and everything follows automatically. The article discussed two aspects; the first is SEPARATE the second is SUPERIOR. Why these two aspects? Separate, means that man is alone, he has to depend on himself to survive, earn a living and function, so he depends on his qualities i.e. his intelligence, resourcefulness, health, money, power, relations and so forth; forgetting totally that Man is connected and is being cared for. The second aspect is Superior, which means that man has to be better that others in order to survive, from which springs ambition - even to continue living is considered an ambition- and competitiveness - even for a drop of water to drink- with its struggle. 

Why I said this article "hits the nail on the head"? I said this because, to become enlightened or ego less or no-mind or surrendered does not mean that you will live stagnantly, like a moron or a zombie or headless. This is the major objections by all seekers for truth when they say "How can I live and continue to function without my ego?"

The main defect in the article is he never mentions "HOW", show a way out, a path a road; or it might not be a defect, because every man has his own way to follow, according to his own make up. All paths concern "HOW", if one does not accept the basic premise - the ego has to go, and the ego rests on Superiority and Separateness- and recognizes it as absolutely true fact, then all man's endeavors are futile and useless.

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