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#3294 - Friday, September 19, 2008 - Editor: Jerry Katz

The Nonduality Highlights -



Consciousness: Talks About That Which Never Changes


by Alexander Smit


This heavy and ripe volume consists of Alexander Smit's oral responses to over 500 questions constructed around the meta-themes of what the natural state is, what reality is, what or who the "I" is. These talks mostly took place in the Eighties, prior to the Internet generation.

Smit, who died in 1998, barely 50 years old, was a student of Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj. Smit speaks from experience and requires his questioners to speak from their experience. This condition keeps the dialogue unfettered by philosophical, theoretical, intellectual distraction. It also keeps Smit free of cultishness.

He says, "Self-realisation has nothing to do with the ideas we may have about it." Same may be said for him and for you. The constant cleaning out of your concepts and your projections upon him, makes for healthy relationship, reason enough for recommending the teaching of Alexander Smit. "Young lady," he says at one point, "please do not project your own situation onto me in order to show me how I am experiencing myself."

Smit's student Philip Renard writes a useful foreword in which he lays out and talks about Smit's main themes. Renard also talks about his relationship with Smit, about whom he says, "I had learned of such expressions as, `I am Consciousness only,' or `This mind is nothing but the Buddha,' but never had I seen anybody demonstrating it."


Smit addresses many different topics. I'll mention a few of them along with a brief quotation so that you get a feel for the scope of this book. However many of Smit's responses are discourses, fairly lengthy and full of solid wondrous stories.

The guru: "One condition is that the guru himself must have reached the end, and that he himself has covered the road completely. Otherwise it will be a comedy."

Boredom, loneliness, and the fear of death: "There are but few who are prepared to face these three obstacles, for it requires courage, passion, and intellligence to face your own life."

Hope, belief, and love: "He who builds his life on these ideas will experience their stifling effect."

Self-realisation: "The only problem with Self-realisation is that you insist on experiencing that state as an `I," as a `person,' as an `experiencer.'"

Men, women, and enlightenment: "As soon as a man becomes enlightened, the first thing he will do - he can't wait for five minutes - is to gather at once disciples around him and start explaining things. Whereas a woman will simply sit down and enjoy it, that's all."


In March of 1985, Alexander Smit said, "Advaita [nonduality] will never become very popular." The reason, he explained, is that consciousness or your real nature cannot be located, experienced, or perceived, and there's nothing you can "do" with abstractions.

Advaita or nonduality is popular. What Smit did not see is that people would not be frustrated or frightened by the inability to speak the Truth, or by the non-existence of Truth as an object. People are okay with it, and they know how to prattle about the Truth, which is all Smit, Nisargadatta, or anyone can do.

On the other hand, Smit makes a good point: "You can use advaita vedanta in such a way that you actually won't have to see the truth, just as you can use any religion, any philosophy, any enlightened man as a system of thought in which you will know how to fit your own thinking - your wasted life." Yes, that's true, too.

Smit is as bottom line as any authentic teacher. His book is like a pantry chock full of nonduality. It's more diverse than a lot of the newer books on the topic. With shades of orange on the cover and nearly 400 pages stuffed with very readable teachings, this is an ideal book by which to define your Autumn.

I also want to congratulate Andre van den Brink for translating the text from Dutch.


I'll let Smit have the final word here: "A summing-up is to organize anew the confusion, which should be seen and transcended instead."


--review by Jerry Katz


~ ~ ~


Consciousness: Talks About That Which Never Changes

by Alexander Smit




Excerpt from


Consciousness: Talks About That Which Never Changes

by Alexander Smit


If something is a problem to you, then it means that you just don't want to accept what is.


A few days back somebody was telling me, "I want to change everything. Now, how should I set about doing that?" I said to him, "I have been hearing that mantra for the past two years. It has become a mantra with you: I want to do this, I want to do that. Meanwhile nothing is happening at all!" All such wishing for a change doesn't lead anywhere. I can accept that this is the way you act, but I'm not going to support it. There is an ocean of difference between the way you live and all the ideas you have. Both wishing and not-wishing are mere ideas. Realisation is actualization.


I once heard an interesting story. In Korea there is a Zen monk, who is called "the crazy monk." He is totally unorthodox. So much unorthodox that he is, in fact, very orthodox. You could say that he is a walking paradox. He goes right against any tradition which, again, is actually quite traditional. He is used to drinking alcohol, and not just one small glass of wine during mealtimes - No, he drinks heavily, and strong drink! He makes Zen drawings, but only and exclusively when he is drunk. Only when he is totally inebriated, he will make his "Zen creations." His pictures are selling well for good money. And although they don't look like the old, traditional drawings, there is something original, something authentic, something refreshing about them. The crazy monk sleeps with women and men of all ages, with goats, dogs and cats, as well as with chickens and sheep. He sleeps with everything that has got the "nature of the Buddha." So he is quite consistent in his realisation. He doesn't make any difference between beautiful or ugly women, or between age, sex or colour. He doesn't kill any mosquitoes, because they have the "nature of the Buddha." He just doesn't care whether he's eaten up by the mosquitoes or not.


Now, one day this "crazy monk" came to a particularly beautiful Zen monastery in order to secure a sleeping place. You must know that, in order to be allowed to spend the night in a Zen monastery, a certain ritual is to take place first. You have to earn a sleeping place by entering into a short philosophical discussion and thus show your insight. Now in those monasteries this has gradually become a dead ritual and, to some extent, the whole thing is just taken for granted. However, the crazy monk is an original crazy man. Normally you would arrive at a set hour and knock at the door. Then the door is opened, and a short discussion follows. The rest is taken for granted. You are then allowed to stay three nights in one of those beautiful Zen monasteries, after which you will have to move on again.


Instead of arriving at six o'clock in the evening, as was the custom, the crazy monk came at half past three in the morning which, even for a Zen monk, is an ungodly hour. So he knocked at the door and started shouting at the top of his voice, "You bald-headed imbeciles, wake up, wake up! I'm standing at the door!" The monk who was on guard-duty woke up from his comfortable doze and put his bald head drowsily through the hatch, asking, "Why are you shouting like that? Don't you have a watch? Do you know what time it is? People here are trying to sleep!" But the crazy monk replied, "Waking state - dream state - deep, dreamless sleep: Are they not all the same?" thereby starting the discussion ritual in the middle of the night. The other monk at once retorted, "If they're all the same to you, then I will go back to sleep again!" Whereupon the crazy monk replied, "And I will start shouting again!"


Do you see the difference between the chit-chat from a book, a dead ritual or a formality - and actual reality? The real is unavoidable. In this case the shouting was the real situation, while the philosophy was dead and meaningless. That was the reality of the situation. And the crazy monk was aware of that.


The question therefore is: Do you live the truth or not? If you don't actually live the truth, then all philosophizing will just be chit-chat. In that case you are simply and solely displacing air. And that doesn't amount to much.
--Alexander Smit


Consciousness: Talks About That Which Never Changes

by Alexander Smit


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