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#3301 - Friday, September 26, 2008 - Editor: Jerry Katz
The Nonduality Highlights -  


Everyday Enlightenment
Seven Stories of Awakening

Sally Bongers
Foreword by Jeff Foster site: site:

Non-Duality Press web page:

Review by Jerry Katz  

"So I'm a number cruncher, a bean counter - that's the historical phrase they use for accountants - I count beans all day. It's a perfectly meaningless job for me. A government bean counter is precisely the job you want if you are not career orientated and you just somehow get sucked into this spiritual consciousness thing."

That's my favorite paragraph in this book, which you may find to be a peaceful, relaxing, and quick read, or which may scare the heck out of you.

Other paragraphs jump off the page:

"All the clichés are dreadfully, dreadfully true. When you say, `I am that,' it really is true, which is extraordinary because I'd mouthed that in Sanskrit and Hindi for twenty-five years and thought very seriously: `I am that. I am God. I am not different from God." Indeed I'm not - but it's not quite what I meant at the time."


Henry Smith wrote in his Works in the 19th century, "Every man must homage his heart." That doesn't sound radically nondual; however this book feels to me as homage to Tony Parsons. One of the featured people in this book says,

"When I was with Osho, he was a beautiful person, but very distant. I thought I had to become this person, a kind of holy man, and I thought that this was `enlightenment.' Tony Parsons made it so simple and down to earth, which possibly helped me to recognise the moment. And to be able to cope with it."

Almost everyone in the book says something like that. Okay, so homage to Tony. I don't know if that's more nondual than paying homage to your heart. I'll leave that up to you.

This book consists of a foreword by Jeff Foster, a brief introduction by the author, and seven stories of awakening.


Jeff Foster's foreword may be worth the price of admission. Jeff is a master at handling the paradox: that we speak of awakening and there is no one who has ever awakened. He handles the paradox like a magician handles a pair of doves. "And so really anything we say about awakening isn't true, because in talking about it we've already made it into a `thing' and killed it. But as Lao-Tzu knew, although the Tao cannot be told, there's no reason why you shouldn't try," says the nondual prestidigitator.


These stories have certain elements in common. Most of the featured people deliver a version of the confession that there is no "me" to tell a story. All of them came to the end of their search through interaction with a living teacher, in just about every case Tony Parsons. None of them "got it" through a book, a website, or an email forum. Most of them don't like George W. Bush. Most speak of awakening or enlightenment as a kind of relaxation and meaninglessness.

Another feature in common with most of the stories is the response to crisis and tragedy, such as a horrible accident or an untimely death. "There was this sense of identification with the sad story of the moment and then it stopped. It wasn't anything that I turned on or off," one person notes.

It seems we blow as a leaf. Another person confesses, "...some feelings seem to be much deeper in a weird sort of way, they're much more poignant. I cry more often at television, which is quite embarrassing, and then the feeling's gone. I can't explain that either but it seems to be a feeling that's less tied up with all sorts of other stuff, it comes and goes, it passes like the weather."


They all give their take on what enlightenment is. Here are a few quotes:

"I'm not sure if there are any signs of liberation really, apart from being a bit more relaxed and at ease."

"There's nothing special. It's just awareness."

"There's not the mental confusion - but all the programming carries on."

"If I had to put words to it, it is total freedom. Total freedom to let anything arise that arises."


There is agreement on the view of "stories:"

"Consciousness animates me every day and that is what interests me, not hearing someone else's story ... but rather how it is manifesting in me."

"When there is nothing to know, absolutely nothing to know, there is nothing. And that's the beauty of it. And our stories, our life stories that go on in psychotherapy - this story and that happened - its rubbish. It's total nonsense."

"There is no better world we will ever get. I used to think that the goal was to get everybody enlightened. Well, it isn't. There is no goal. There is no purpose."


It's valuable and refreshing to hear ordinary people talk about "this stuff." What these people confess is your confession too, except that you have different words. Just be, see, and if anyone asks, tell in your own words. Or stay silent. Or fumble with the words. Or count beans.


The book ... ends ... so ... quietly ... as though it had never begun.  

Everyday Enlightenment
Seven Stories of Awakening

Sally Bongers
Foreword by Jeff Foster site: site:

Publisher's web page:

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