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#3463 - Friday, March 6, 2009 - Editor: Jerry Katz

The Nonduality Highlights -    

In this issue, Greg Goode writes about the Nondual Dinners he's been holding for over ten years in New York.   His description is followed by a poster he designed for one of his dinners, and the written description of that meeting.  

If you are interested in starting their own nonduality gathering, or finding out about others, join our new forum, Nonduality Gatherings:    

Another Kind of Gathering - Nondual Dinners  

"Nondual Dinners" have been going on for over a decade here in New York City. In the mid-1990s they were called "Nacho Satsangs," to distinguish them from the Papaji-style satsangs where you couldn't eat or freely converse during the event! About 1998 or '99 we began to call our events Nondual Dinners.

We meet in a classic 24-hr Greek diner, about once a month (it used to be once a week). The events are free, except for what food and beverages we order. The attendance is between 4 and 14 people. 14 is the official max because of the restaurant and table size. We do get to sit in a back room, where they are accustomed to having other meetings.

And the food is a great example of diner fare. Fresh, with lots of variety.

If we can, we have a topic and speaker, which we choose by consensus. It can be on any topic related even tangentially to "nonduality," and as you can imagine, it's a broad spectrum. The talk lasts 20 minutes, then Q & A, then it merges into general conversation.

Who has attended? Writers, scientists, psychologists, anthropologists, musicians, satsang teachers, rabbis, priests, mystics, tantric practitioners, billionaires, food critics, TV stars, people from many different religious and spiritual backgrounds.

Everyone has a voice, and the events usually evince a companionable sharing and dialoguing. Every once in a while someone comes who tries to dominate everyone else. But those times are few and far between.

You name it, we've talked about it: Advaita, Buddhism, Christianity, Judaism, Sufism, enlightenment, emotions, language, books, UFO's, gurus, sex, philosophy, teachers and teaching styles, the variety of paths, unadorned gossip and plain conversation. Only once in all the meetings I remember did we ever talk about current events or politics. That was the eve of this last presidential election, and only one person in attendance was even interested. He did most of the talking!

I guess over the years we have met about 200 times in total. There is another group in Seattle doing the same thing last I heard, meeting in a food court at a mall. There could be many others as well. If you like to talk about this stuff, and if you like to eat, then it's a nice mix!

At our last meeting, we spoke about an innovative but not new format of nondual teaching - emptiness teachings using Western sources. [The flyer for the meeting and a written description, follow:]    


Joyful Irony

Joyful irony is a holistic and nondual way to engage the Madhyamika Buddhist Emptiness teachings in a secular Western context. It is a radically deconstructive, pragmatic, time-tested and life-affirming way to embrace the webwork of relations that give meaning to life.

Joyful irony is not a path. It is not meant to replace one's path. It shows up more as an attitude toward one's path. An ironic engagement of Buddhism, Advaita, Christianity, Judaism, Islam or Zoroastrianism can add the taste of lightness to whatever else is being experienced. And for those studying Emptiness teachings themselves, joyful irony provides a Western approach.

The joy in joyful irony results from realizing the essencelessness of the self and the world, which are no longer experienced as heavy, independent, or fragmented. The joy enables one's insights to expand towards more loving and compassionate engagement with others.

The irony is a lack of attachment to views, resulting from the insight that even one's most cherished views are devoid of essence and objective grounding. This irony inspires a spirit of creativity, making life precious and joyful.


To be in harmony with emptiness is
to be in harmony with all things.

When neither something nor nothing
Remains to be known,
There is no alternative left
But complete non-referential ease.
-- Shantideva

Actualization of emptiness dissolves the afflictions
of delusion, clinging, and antipathy into insight, nonclinging, and compassion.
--C.W. Huntington, Jr.

An ironist, therefore, is not just like an artist, but is an artist...
--Douglas Colin Muecke

Epic irony is rather an irony of the heart, a loving irony; it is greatness filled with tenderness for little things.
--Thomas Mann

Punk is musical freedom. It's saying, doing and playing what you want. In Webster's terms, 'nirvana' means freedom from pain, suffering and the external world, and that's pretty close to my definition of Punk Rock.
--Kurt Cobain

Introductory Readings

Richard Rorty, Philosophy and Social Hope.
Especially Ch. 3.

Adrian Kuzminski, Pyrrhonism: How the Ancient Greeks Reinvented Buddhism.

Mark Siderits, Personal Identity and Buddhist Philosophy: Empty Persons.

Jonathan Haidt, The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom.

Marie McGinn, Routledge Philosophy Guidebook to Wittgenstein and the Philosophical Investigations.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama, How to See Yourself as You Really Are.


Greg Goode

[email protected]

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