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#3645 - Friday, September 4, 2009 - Editor: Jerry Katz

The Nonduality Highlights -
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/NDhighlights    


"Cardboard masks of all the people I've been / Thrown out, with all the rusted, tangled / dented God Damned miseries"  

Three great writers speak: Jann Arden, Jeff Foster, and Vicki Woodyard. Jeff's and Vicki's articles are new.    


 

Photo: Jann Arden  

Good Mother  

Written and Performed by Jann Arden  

I've got money in my pocket,
I like the color of my hair.
I've got a friend who loves me,
Got a house, I've got a car.
I've got a good mother,
and her voice is what keeps me here.

Feet on ground,
Heart in hand,
Facing forward,
Be yourself.
I've never wanted anything.
No I've, no I've, I've never wanted anything,
so bad..(so bad).

Cardboard masks of all the people I've been
Thrown out, with all the rusted, tangled
dented God Damned miseries!!
You could say I'm hard to hold,
But if you knew me you'd know,
I've got a good father,
And his strength is what makes me cry.

Feet on ground,
Heart in hand,
Facing forward,
Be yourself.
I've never wanted anything,
No I've, no I've, I've never
wanted anything so bad..(so bad).

I've got money in my pocket,
I like the color of my hair.
I've got a friend who loves me,
Got a house, I've got a car.
I've got a good mother,
and her voice is what keeps me here.

Feet on ground,
Heart in hand,
Facing forward,
Be yourself.

Heart in hand,
Feet on ground,
Facing forward,
Be yourself.
Just be yourself.
Just be yourself.

Feet on ground,
Heart in hand,
Feet on ground,
Heart in hand....    

Watch Jann Arden sing Good Mother: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RYOJ42ugR8I&feature=related    


   

Photo: Jeff Foster

NONDUALITY AND COMPASSION

(aka FEEDING THE STARVING CHILD)


Someone recently asked me this: Jeff, in your latest piece of writing you talk about seeing a starving African girl on the TV. But how can that be Oneness? I mean, it's okay for you to say that, you're not starving, after all. But she is. Couldn't "Oneness" just be a concept you're using to push away or deny the reality of living in this world? A way for you to cope with the harsh realities of existence and suffering?


This is a great question. Of course, "Oneness" could so easily remain on a purely conceptual level. It could so easily become something that the individual uses to block out or deny suffering: There is only Oneness! Nothing exists! Nothing matters! There are no starving children in Africa! My mother didn't die of cancer! Pain doesn't hurt! I don't need to eat, because there is no body! I didn't punch you just then, there is nobody here who could have done that! 


Yes, this could so easily be taken on as a life-denying philosophy. But of course this is not what I am suggesting. For me, Oneness - or at least what the word 'Oneness' points to - is a living reality, not just a belief... although ultimately of course it's just a word, and cannot capture the aliveness of everything. For me, Oneness is not a new religion or belief system, not a new ideology for the individual to cling to, but a clear seeing of life as it actually is, beyond our concepts about it, beyond our ideologies and religions, beyond our knowledge.


You see, Oneness is not a dead thing. Oneness could include moving to feed that starving child. It denies nothing. It includes all possibilities. Well of course it does, it is everything. How could it deny any aspect of itself? It moves to feed that child, or not.


It is everything, it appears as everything, and yet it is no-thing in particular. Nothing and everything at the same time. It appears as wars, genocides, flowers, trees, cups of coffee, cars beeping their horns, everything. It appears as saints and sinners, starving children and overweight millionaires. It also appears as apparent individuals who can apparently do something about starving children. Part of this freedom is that there appears to be free will. 


I'm not talking about "coping" with reality and suffering. I'm not talking about using Advaita concepts to cope with life. Oneness IS reality, and it IS the appearance of suffering in the world. Oneness could involve moving to feed that starving child, if that is possible. Or not. I don't know. I'm not telling you how to live. I'm just interested in reality beyond our ideas of it. Beyond even these ideas.


Reality is always already beyond our concepts about it. The mind will never catch up.


That starving girl. Her belly appears to be empty. Mine appears to be full. Oneness includes both. It appears as a starving girl in Africa, and a well-fed man typing on a laptop. Ultimately - ultimately - there is no "my belly" separate from "her belly". There is nobody here and nobody there. But in the appearance, there is. We cannot deny the appearance. Again, who would deny it? To deny the appearance would affirm the appearance, anyway. If you say "There is no starving girl" you affirm the appearance of the starving girl. If you say "There is no Africa" you affirm the appearance of Africa. What you reject always comes back to haunt you.


Hunger does not appear here - and there is gratitude for that, of course. (How damn fortunate we are in the Western world! Let's not forget that!) I apparently cannot experience her hunger. But Oneness does not deny the appearance of her hunger and my lack of hunger. It embraces both. It is both.


In other words, there is only what's happening. For the starving girl, what's happening might be this: hunger arising, sounds, sights, smells happening, maybe some pain.... and perhaps movement to find food. Over here, there is no hunger, at the moment. There are sights, sounds, smells happening, and images of the starving girl on the TV. Can you see that Oneness is all of this? It plays every role. And who knows, I might be about to do something to help that girl, who is myself too. Again, I'm not telling you how to live. Just looking at what's real. 


In a meeting once, a man asked me what I would do if a starving child came up to me and asked for food. I said I'd probably feed the child. The man came up to me after the meeting. He said he'd been shocked at my answer. He'd been to so many so-called "Advaita" teachers who, in response to that same question, had said things like: there is no hunger, there is nobody there who is hungry, her hunger is an illusion, it's all a dream... and so on. And that might be true from an ultimate perspective. But nobody can live in 'ultimately'. She needs food, not your concepts about ultimate reality. She cannot eat concepts. Remember, what you deny, you affirm. 


And so when all of those beliefs fall away, then, well... you feed the child. Or not. Perhaps food is the last thing she needs in that moment. Who knows. But your actions certainly aren't coming from rigid Advaita beliefs. The mystery meets itself in the face of that starving child. This is the essence of compassion. Who knows what action will arise out of that. 

This is certainly not about a denial of anything. If anything, it's the end of denial. It's a life lived without the illusions. Without the mythology. Without the comforting beliefs. Even the belief in Oneness - that goes too. And what you are left with is unconditional love, beyond the concept of it. And you meet the world for the first time. Like a newborn baby.


Feed the child, and you are feeding yourself. Let her go hungry, and you too go hungry. 


So are you going to sit around debating whether or not the starving child really exists? Or are you going to give her a little bit of your bread?


Feed her, damn it. What else is there to do, when there is no longer anything to defend?


Jeff Foster
Life Without A Centre
www.lifewithoutacentre.com

 


 

Photo: Vicki Woodyard

Truth Is What We Are

Truth is what we are. We seek ourselves both within and without. The
Self that we are looks on and says not a word. Silence is singing its
song while we blow up tombs looking for answers. The cross is empty and
somehow we do not ever manage to get to the bottom of the mystery. Whose
face was on the Shroud of Turin? It has never spoken a word.

Gurus come and go. Seekers are like demented papparazi. Shoving mics
into random faces hoping to catch the word that will deliver truth to
them like a pizza.

YouTube gobbles gurus like a movie-goer with a tub of hot buttered
popcorn. Each pseudo-guru takes his fifteen minutes of fame and bores us
in the end. They only say that they know. We know that and yet hope the
next Paris Hilton of Advaita may save us.

Listen for the silence in your heart. That’s it.

Vicki Woodyard

http://www.bobwoodyard.com

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