Nonduality: The Varieties of Expression Home

Jerry Katz
photography & writings

Search over 5000 pages on Nonduality:

Click here to go to the next issue

Highlights Home Page | Receive the Nonduality Highlights each day

How to submit material to the Highlights

#3409 - Sunday, January 11, 2009 - Editor: Jerry Katz

The Nonduality Highlights -     

This is from The Institute for Contemporary/Ancient Learning

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Review of "Not-Two Is Peace"

Book Review by Guy Burneko, Ph.D.
The Institute for Contemporary/Ancient Learning
Seattle, WA
January 8, 2009

Adi Da. Not-Two Is Peace: The Ordinary People’s Way of Global Cooperative Order. Middletown, CA: Dawn Horse Press, 2007.

This book is valuable in so many ways that writing a review of it is a pleasure; its limitations are only the result of its considerable virtues.

It elucidates in diverse ways the immense value of profound nondualist experience for humane and ecohumane well-being. And while in doing so it does not rely on scholarly references, anyone who has encountered traditional teachings of the inherent unity of being from the Vedas, Sutras, mystics or indigenous sources will recognize basic similarities in concept and import. For instance, where we read in Adi Da that “The restoration of sanity and Truth – or the restoration to Reality Itself – requires the overcoming of the ‘self’-deluded process. . . of ‘self-objectification,’” we hear echoes of ancient teachings about the avidya or ignorance that obscures and deludes our understanding (of ourselves as essentially not-twoed from “prior unity”). Our ignorance, he explains, is in thinking of ourselves as separate egos which, therefore, in turn objectify All as something separate from ourselves. From this derive the "tribalisms," competitiveness, fears and lack in peace and composure that afflict our unsustainable lives. Our presumption of individual ego eclipses the basic Self-realization that we are, finally, non-individually selfless in (and as) the not-two of never-completely-objectifiable “Reality Itself.”

Adi Da is both clear and tonic in showing the extent to which the contemporary “world is deluded by its own artifacts” and that we continuously blind ourselves to the fact that “the egoless human being fully participates in Reality Itself” by our persistently assuming that we do not do so via our repeated “egoic” assertions. In other words, it is in assuming and instantiating the unity of the reality that is prior to all egoing (rather than assuming duality in our interpersonal and geopolitical interactions) that we embody Reality. “Egolessness is the self-organizing energy of prior unity.” We have put the cart of separateness before the horse of not-two.

One miscue in the development of Da’s thinking may be in using the term “individuation” to accentuate the confrontational hyper-individualism of contemporary social psychology. Compare his criticism of it with Jung’s richly developed use of the term individuation to characterize a process of psychospiritual “integration” of opposites tending towards what Adi Da himself seems to propose. Consider also that characters and images in dream, myth and ritual drama often provide useful bridges for understanding how competing opposites reveal as well as conceal a manifold coincidentia oppositorum, or marriage of opposites. Examples are in the reciprocities of yinyang or in the unconditioned unity behind the battling armies of Bhagavadgita where Krishna, in the form of a charioteer, reminds us to “be free of the pairs of opposites. Poise [our] mind in tranquility . . .Be established in the consciousness of the Atman, always.”

Attempting to clarify the self-presencing of undivided Reality-experience, what Adi Da calls “prior unity,” i. e., the unity that is “senior” to everything that we usually experience as divided into us and them, this and that, pro and con, and all the exaggerated brouhaha of the “daily news,” he devises tactics of language, (including punctuation and capitalization). These are briefly distracting, but in no case is his use of language ambiguous or unclear. Such a statement as that: “Love Is The Inherent (and, thus, moment to moment) Transcending of the separate ‘subject’ (or the egoic and divisive ‘self’) and the separate ‘object’ (or the illusory ‘not-self’)” would by itself be a show-stopper. But the book explains its use of novel forms of expression, provides a glossary and an astute introduction by Ervin Laszlo, and the reader is made familiar with terms as they arise. So the overall experience is one of thinking together with and, gradually, as genuinely seminal being-consciousness – sometimes in tradition signified by sat-chit-ananda.

It is not initially easy, if ever easy, to bespeak indivisible prior unity in a world of mind and speech that is everywhere premised on ego-born duality and the dramas of often antagonistic multiplicities. As Zhuangzi suggests, there is the One, then there is somebody, and then that somebody is saying something about that One—which makes three; already the calculations are adding up fast. Again, however, we need to read Adi Da not foremost as an “author” or as a “writer,” and far less as an academic, but as an expression of a presumably integral consciousness that is often eclipsed by the divisiveness of “Narcissistic holocaust” in our “dark time.”

Adi Da gets right to work, in a “no nonsense. . . .only business handled” way forgoing the humor, irony, fun and sweet affection we find in the writings of such illuminated ones as Zhuangzi or Hafiz. In fact, as incontrovertibly valuable as Adi Da’s teaching is here, its exposition is sometimes nigh unto hieratic, even pontifical. And this is especially so when his apostrophe is to “you” (meaning you, me, the readers) as if he were not also one among us: “You -- the people of the world. Every one of ‘Everyman’ must be changed, and restored to the non-dissociative circumstance. . . .” There is nothing offensive about this kind of address, and in its didactic or even hortatory context it is understandable. But neither, even though written in the name of compassion, does it savor of the inclusive love of, say, the self-deprecating Hafiz who writes to a similar end: “To your deepest sensibilities my Beloved has asked Hafiz to sing with all of my millstone’s talents.” The univocity of Avatar Adi Da Samraj sometimes verges on that of the Abrahamic traditions he not unreasonably critiques.

Yet “World-Friend” Adi Da offers real gifts of trenchancy and camaraderie in his work to help us grow “to relinquish the ego-principle and to embrace the Prior-Unity-Principle” and become politically free. “To be thus grown is, itself, to be (inherently) politically free.” And a major way to this is through our “intimate cooperation” in effecting locally, and also -- notably via internet resources -- a “Global Cooperative Forum” for the future conduct of life on earth. This “does not require disassociation from one’s nation, one’s birthplace, or one’s particular citizenship. Rather, it requires the discipline of always exercising a disposition that, fundamentally, transcends any kind of particularity of orientation.” It is thinking and living in terms of all of us, not just of the ego, clan, state or other corporate body we have divided ourselves into. “The disposition of always (and inherently) being part of humankind first implies a kind of egolessness.” “Cooperation and tolerance” accompany this, “the necessary ‘new paradigm’ for the human design of future effort,” and the necessary, ensuing peace. The author also alludes to the practical value of contemplative practices, generically meditative or, as appropriate, “esoteric,” for a widespread pedagogy of “self-organizing” peace and world justice.

The egolessness we learn of is devoid of the high drama of our usual knee-jerk assertions, national and individual, of I, me and mine as if these were not “always already” one with, and as, you and yours in the ecology of mind and nature. Absent the agon of adversarial concupiscence and violence, the no-drama politique of a Global Cooperative Forum convokes a mode of global community organization. It is refreshingly reminiscent of the cadences of “No Drama Obama” and the emerging global mystique of new age aloha. Adi Da writes from Fiji; you don’t need a weatherman to know which way the Pacific wind blows.

I haven’t in a long time read a book that hits so many nondual nails on the head so neatly, to make a bad analogy. There were parts of this work that, in the words of a classical Chinese scholar-sage, made me so happy I felt like I was “dancing with my hands and feet.” There were a few where I sensed a suppressed rancor. It is well worth reading twice, and deserves a place on both public and university library shelves. I recommend it highly with the qualification that it requires concentration and patient attentiveness. It offers a diagnosis and remedy for a world culture of peaceless “mummery” and violence.

Google offers multiple references to Adi Da (some problematic, some giving different names he has used, e. g., Da Free John); and the book itself directs interested readers to, site of the Global Cooperative Forum.

In addition to texts and thinkers mentioned here, interested readers might also appreciate: Jean Gebser’s Ever-Present Origin, Sri Aurobindo’s The Future Evolution of Man, David Loy’s Nonduality, N. K. Girardot’s Myth and Meaning in Early Taoism, Thomas Berry’s Dream of the Earth, Mary Evelyn Tucker and Duncan Ryuken Williams,’ eds. Buddhism and Ecology, Beatrice Bruteau’s Evolution toward Divinity, Peter D. Hershock’s Liberating Intimacy, Ervin Laszlo’s The Connectivity Hypothesis, Charles Le Blanc’s Huai-Nan Tzu, Gray Kocchar-Lindgren's Narcissus Transformed or William Blake’s The Marriage of Heaven and Hell.


Book Review by Guy Burneko, Ph.D.
The Institute for Contemporary/Ancient Learning
Seattle, WA
January 8, 2009

top of page