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#3537 - Tuesday, May 19, 2009 - Editor: Jerry Katz

The Nonduality Highlights

Excerpts from Alan Mann's NOWletter 140. The direct link for the entire current issue is    



The Winter Journal. Page 39 Margiad Evans.


Thanks to Jane Cox for this contribution from The Autobiography of Margiad Evans, Oxford, Basil Blackwell, 1943


The dusky darkness spread like the network of a great tree. In an elm the thrush was singing. He was so hidden and one with the bushy twigs that I could only see him by his tail which twitched when his song altered. Everything else was motionless except a broken twig which stirred and swung by a strip of bark.   As I went along I made an effort to climb out and get into these things - into the mysterious darkening and sealing of the earth, the quietening that is as the loveliest psalm of rest. And at last I did. I stood leaning on a gate. I was behind the sky. I was in the ground. I was in the space between the trees. My meaning grew in the earth and the firmament - I in the Nothing in which all is related.





From Alan Mann's NOWletter 140. The direct link for the current issue is is


Dancing with Adyashanti from Alan Mann


Joanna sent me Adyashanti’s latest book “Emptiness Dancing”. I started this note as a letter of thanks to Joanna but the book raises issues that might be worth considering at our next meeting so I expanded it into notes for that meeting. (Joanna pointed out that my initial comments seemed over-critical and that more heart and less head would be in order. I subsequently modified my original response).


If he came to our meetings I’m sure Adyashanti would find us approximately in accord with his teaching. He sounds like an update of  Krishnamurti with a coating of Advaita. I wonder if he would come to a meeting of us lay folk and if he came would he expect to be present as a participant or as a teacher? I also wondered, as I read, why he had to change his name from Stephen Gray to Adyashanti. I read somewhere that Adyashanti means primordial peace.


I am skeptical about gurus. This is based on too much patient listening and reading (and watching). As many of you know, I spent years listening to Krishnamurti. My only concession to guru these days is to seek it amongst my friends.


I thought I’d try to summarize Adyashanti’s message as I read the book:


·        See through the strong identification with my story and see that the seeing of that is not enough, we have to live our realization. P3 and p69.

·        Do not seek enlightenment somewhere else.

·        Do not seek enlightenment for one’s self. It is not something to be acquired.

·        Enlightenment is what is—freed from the ‘what is not’.

·        What is (everything-All) is sacred.

·        No continuity to realization

·        A childlike interest in everything.

·        Simplicity and the ordinariness of enlightenment—the extraordinariness of the ordinary.

·        The observer is the observed. The awakened being can be a tree, a mountain, etc., p33.

·        The necessary shift from knowing into being. P71

·        The contribution of mystical Christianity, opening of the heart. P192

·        Not a matter of finding the answer but the dissolution of the question.p190.


I don’t think there’s anything in that list we haven’t endorsed at our get-togethers, so, there is no argument from me about content.


Many Advaita people seem to be trapped in a doctrinaire commitment to nonduality and the ‘you and the world don’t exist’ stuff. Adyashanti gets a bit too close to this for my comfort on occasions, for example: ‘nothing is actually happening’, p98, and then goes on to talk about the flowering of life, e.g., p170. I think he is saved by his Zen training and sees that underlying wholeness (I think Brahman is his choice of name for it) appears as separation manifesting as the duality or multiplicity of living, i.e., Eternity is in love with the productions of time. I found an interesting and persuasive commentary on this thorny subject on the Dennis Waite’s website. A Realist view of Advaita by Chittaranjan Naik. 


I thought, as I read, that Adyashanti should be more careful to make clear that his teaching is about what he has found to be true for himself. There is a danger in assuming that what has worked out for the teacher is true for you and me or others in general. However, he put that objection to rest with a comment on page 70


No knowledge, no statement of the Truth touches what's eternal. What you really are. And no statement about how to get there is true either, because what gets one person there doesn't get another per­son there. A mind that likes to look for the one true path cannot find it. Of course, the mind doesn't like that. "No right path? Nothing that could be said or read that ultimately, in the end, could be true? The most enlightened being can't speak the Truth?"p70


One of my litmus tests for the claims of the realized is ‘kindness’. Sounds rather banal I know but I have never been happy with the pearl in the mouth of a swine perspective. If the pearl has no impact on behaviour, if it does not transform its cruel, callous or merely uncaring custodian into a considerate human being it cannot, in my view, be the ‘pearl of great price’.  Many teachers disagree with this, not least Andrew Cohen.  Donald (Ingram Smith) ascribed this unenlightened view of mine to my early Christian conditioning! I have never met Adyashanti so I don’t know whether he passes the kindness test. Perhaps some of you who have met him might like to comment. What is the effect of the realization of the impersonal on the personal? (I have since spoken to or heard from three people who have met him and/or attended workshops, all of whom assure me that his teaching is reflected in his doing*). On page 68 he says;

When you see what you really are, no concepts apply anymore. You are so empty there is just consciousness. There is no inner child, and there is no adult either. None of your identities exist until you think them into existence. Consciousness can look down and see there is a body, but that's not the source of anyone's problem. The problem is what you add on after that in your mind.


(Or, as we might say with Douglas , ‘look up’, and see there is a body). One of the difficulties I have in reading the neo-advaitists is their constant switching between first person and third person perspectives without making clear where they are coming from and Adyashanti is no exception. This makes them sound as if they are constantly contradicting themselves. On page 127 Adyashanti opens his chapter with his version of the ‘Closed Eyes experiment’, dissolving the barriers between inner and outer. On the previous page however he had said “Everything that happens between the ears is not the truth; it’s just a story. What are you without your story?” That’s very much a third person perspective, a statement by the story, an objective observation on the workings of the brain—the first person perspective he begins to unfold on the following page, quoted above, would respond with ‘what ears?’ Not to mention the matter of holding your ears and asking yourself what it is that appears between these two sensations or what is it these sensations are happening in? Is whatever is revealed to you in that condition false? Check it out, it takes five seconds. I know what he’s getting at but it’s not a good explanation.


Finally, why no index? If this work encapsulates his latest teaching surely it’s worth a bit of extra time to prepare an index. I made a few notes as I read but I’d like to review a few of my ‘facts’ without having to scurry through the whole book. 

Alan Mann

* From: I told Joe that I thought the one quality that stood out during the satsang was Adya’s impeccable manners and incredible politeness and sweetness. I’ve attended satsangs with other teachers who did not exhibit these qualities, but it didn’t occur to me at the time as a lack in them until I became aware of it so fully present in Adya. Only then did the comparison become obvious to me. He was gracious, generous, kind, a good listener, funny, friendly, very sweet, and never once introduced any kind of negativity into the discussions of the audience’s questions or concerns.

More on Adyashanti at and


From Alan Mann's NOWletter 140. The direct link for the current issue is is

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