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

#3589 - Friday, July 10, 2009 - Editor: Jerry Katz

The Nonduality Highlights
- The first periodical publication on nonduality - Submissions welcome      

Meg Hitchcock and Dr. Stewart Bitkoff are featured.    

    Meg Hitchcock Art Blog   


photo: Giovanni Bellini St. Francis in Ecstasy  

The teachings of Advaita have resonated with me for some time. When I hear the words, "I am that", something in me knows that it's true. I know on a cellular level that I am not this. I'm not what I think I am. Neither are you. We've bought into this incredibly convincing story about ourselves, and the illusion is so real that we believe it without question. We cling to our stories, we become our stories, and seemingly there's no alternative to the attachment. Pain, joy, jealousy, lust - we're caught in a web of emotions, and the only escape is to numb ourselves with painkillers or to take ourselves out of the game completely. Or so it would seem.

But there's another way out. Recognize the illusion. See the emotions and the circumstances of your life for what they are - persuasive stories. Notice who's at the center of each story, and who's always "right". That in itself should tell you that something is amiss. We should be so tired of spinning our stories, but we go right on doing it, and thus the pain persists.

Advaita teaches that there is only a nondual universe, and everything is made from the same soup, and that soup is God (or Brahman, or That). So instead of being an independent ego that runs around making itself the center of every story, you're actually That. It's the most mind- and ego-blowing piece of information that you'll ever receive, and something inside you resonates when you hear it. Advaita shows up in Christianity as well: Saint Francis (pictured above) said, "What you are looking for is what is looking." And Meister Eckhart: "The eye with which I see God is the same eye with which God sees me." All the enlightened ones knew it, embodied it, and tried to show us that we too are it. You are it. There's nothing that you have to do. Running around and trying to find it would be like searching hither and thither for your own nose. Just relax, take a deep breath, let go of all effort, and there it is - you've found your nose. Awakening to your true nature is like this. It's so simple that almost everyone misses it.

I love the simplicity of Advaita. It's so counterintuitive to our culture. We think we need to work hard to gain anything, and in most cases that's true enough. But not when it comes to enlightenment. There's nothing to achieve. Just a simple recognition of what is, and that's
That.   -Meg Hitchcock    


             Spiritual Traveler: Why Must there be Suffering?                       

                             By Dr. Stewart Bitkoff



                                    Show me someone

                                    Whose life has been easy?

                                    And I will show you

                                    Half a person. SB



For the spiritual traveler every day life problems offer an opportunity to learn and move forward along the Path.  Potentially running late to work, not having enough money to pay for gas and wondering whether the kids are coming down with a cold, all stressors- at some point on a spiritual level- offer the opportunity to go deep within our selves. 


Once the problem passes and/or is resolved, the traveler wonders: why is life filled with so many ups and downs? Why must there always be clouds to cover the sun?



                                    Problems are placed before you

                                    So you may overcome them.

                                                A. Hussain



Searching for a personal answer, the traveler looks about and sees others who are in pain and suffering from a seemingly endless variety of physical ailments. Gradually, the heart begins to ask: to what purpose is all this pain and suffering?  To this mystery, the Teaching offers there is both a short and long answer.


Also, this is one of those areas where the mind or every day consciousness asks the question and the heart or inner spiritual awareness, ponders and answers only through life itself.  The every day mind is not capable of completely figuring it out; in fact, that is not its job- its job is to ask so the heart might respond.


My teacher used to say, daily problems, suffering and pain serve as a friction which pushes the traveler onward, searching: pain and suffering is the great teacher.  Further, if this life were all joy, laughter and sunshine, many would have no need of the Light, travel further and experience what lies beyond suffering and sunshine- the Oneness.


In answering this personal question- why is life filled with problems and suffering- to fully comprehend the lesson, you must have your own experience. As the Light Wills, ask and one day you shall be ‘illuminated.’  In the meantime, it is good to consult the Books, Religions and experts: part of the answer is presented there as well.


Consider why the soul comes to this realm: to experience the fullness, serve and be co-creator.  In order for there to be darkness, there must be Light to compare it with; and beyond them both is the Oneness.  This Oneness is perceived through love and asking; in order for this personal spiritual experience to occur, you must put aside for a time preconceived notions about what you have been taught and your judgments about Deity.


In one of my books, which specifically addresses this dimension to life; why travelers suffer and are born only to have terrible illness? We go into this from the perspective of an entire family that faces life long mental illness (in the younger son) and eventually Alzheimer’s disease (in one of the parents). It is the second book in Journey of Light: Trilogy and is entitled: Teddy’s Last Swim in Paradise Land. This story offers the ancient teaching: some souls come here to take on the mantle of suffering and illness so they might spiritually advance and help others around them learn and question.


This answer is offered as a possibility to Teddy (main character) and he is asked to not immediately reject or accept, but over time let the potential be fully considered.


As the Light Wills, may your journey through life be glorious and all your questions have answers.


                                    Just as water must undergo change

                                    To become snow,

                                    So, we must undergo

                                    A process of alteration.


                                    Slowly, this world of the senses

                                    Must be taught to give way

                                    To the world of the soul,


                                    Then, the change is complete. SB


*          *


No one’s life is easy;

To each is a struggle.


Only the perfected ones

Are able to look at their pain and laugh.

To them, joy and sorrow fade

In Realization of the Beloved. SB


*          *



Listen to Dr. Bitkoff’s weekly internet radio talk show: Practical Wisdom, Tuesday

1-2 pm go to


Also by Dr. Bitkoff, A Commuter’s Guide to Enlightenment (Llewellyn, 2008) and Journey of Light: Trilogy (Authorhouse, 2004); these books are available on or from the publisher.


To contact author go to

top of page