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#3670 - Tuesday, September 29, 2009 - Editor: Jerry Katz
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Invitation: Visions of Reality in the Voices of Children is a new CD of songs sung by children based on the words of Hafiz, Nisargadatta Maharaj, Buddha, Tony Parsons, Lao-tzu, Jesus, H.W.L Poonja ("Papaji"), David Carse, and Robert Frost.
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"Finally, after I had given up all hope of attaining my goal, it happened. In a cheap motel room on the night of August 13, 1983, I Awoke to a Reality at once far more astonishing and, at the same time, far more simple than anything I could have ever imagined."
The Way of Selflessness: A Practical Guide to Enlightenment Based on the Teachings of the World's Great Mystics
by Joel Morwood
Know, O noble brother, that while the paths are many, the
Way of Truth is single.
Ibn al-`Arabi (Muslim)
During a particularly dark period in my life, when I despaired of ever finding
happiness, I happened to stumble on some of the writings of the mysticsmen
and women who claimed to have discovered a universal and liberating Truth
about the ultimate nature of Reality. What I found so striking about their testimonies
was that, unlike the works of other philosophers and theologians,
whose ideas seemed always to conflict, the mystics accounts of this Reality
were remarkably similar. And this was true despite the fact that they had lived
in very different times and places, and come from very different religious
traditions. Listen, for example, to one of the authors of the Hindu Upanishads,
some of which date back to the eighth-century BCE:
As rivers flowing towards the ocean find their final peace and their
name and form disappear, even so the wise become free from name
and form and enter into the radiance of the Supreme Spirit who is
greater than all greatness In truth who knows God becomes God.
Now, compare this to how the eleventh-century Muslim poet Abdullah
Ansari of Herat describes what happened to him:
The rain drop reached the sea and found therein its mellowing,
Just as the star was effaced by the daylight,
Whoever reached his Lord and Master (Mawla) has attained
his true self.
Four hundred years later, the Christian mystic Teresa of Avila had this to say
of her union with God:
Here it is like rain falling from the heavens into a river or spring;
there is nothing but water there and it is impossible to divide or
separate the water belonging to the river from that which fell from
the heavens. Or it is as if a tiny streamlet enters the sea, from which
it will find no way of separating itself, or as if in a room there were
two large windows through which the light streamed in: it enters in
different places but it all becomes one.
And heres what the contemporary Tibetan master Dudjom Lingpa writes about
the end of the Buddhist path:
It is like a drop of water blending with the ocean and becoming the
ocean without altering it, or space within a vase blending with the
space outside, extending freely throughout space without its being
Another difference between the mystics and ordinary philosophers and
theologians was that, instead of trying to convince the reader of the truth
of their ideas through argument, the mystics insisted that anyone willing to
undertake the appropriate spiritual disciplines and practices could discover it
directly for themselves. Thus, among Sufis (the mystics of Islam), seekers who
reach the end of the path are called al-muhaqqiqun, which means verifiers.
This is because, as the thirteenth-century Sufi shaykh (master), Ibn al-`Arabi,
Knowledge of mystical states can only be had by actual experience,
nor can the reason of man define it, nor arrive at any cognizing of it
So, too, the anonymous author of the two fourteenth-century Christian classics
The Cloud of Unknowing and The Book of Privy Counseling writes,
You will not really understand all this until your own contemplative
experience confirms it.
And heres how the seventh-century Hindu sage Shankara sums up this insistence
on empirical confirmation:
From the lips of your teacher you have learned of the truth of Brahman
as it is revealed in the scriptures. Now you must realize that
truth directly and immediately. Then only will your heart be free
from any doubt.
In this respect, mysticism is not unlike a science. In science, theories can be
verified by observations gained through various kinds of experiments. So, too,
the teachings of the mystics can be verified by insights and experiences gained
through various kinds of practiceswhich is precisely what I myself did.
Slowly but surely I began to engage in practices of meditation, keeping precepts,
cultivating love and compassion, and conducting self-inquiry. At first, I
thought of all this more as a hobbysomething to do in my spare time. But,
eventually, walking a spiritual path became the priority of my life. I abandoned
my career, friends, and family in search of the Truth to which all the
mystics seemed to point. And yet, no matter how hard I tried or how far I traveled,
that Holy Grail continued to elude me. Finally, after I had given up all
hope of attaining my goal, it happened. In a cheap motel room on the night of
August 13, 1983, I Awoke to a Reality at once far more astonishing and, at the
same time, far more simple than anything I could have ever imagined. Here is
part of what I wrote shortly thereafter:
I jump up, turn on the light, and look around. Sure enough, I no longer
see through a glass darkly. The veil has been lifted and the glass
has clearedno, more than clearedit has vanished! I see the Kingdom,
and now I am laughing wildly, because the great joke of it all is
that this exalted Kingdom I have been searching for in such anguish
and despair is none other than the very room I have been sleeping
in, with its dirty, cinder block walls, frayed curtains, and horribly
grungy, blue-green rug! I could have shouted! I could have danced!
I could have done anything for that matter, because it really didnt
matter. It didnt even exist and never had. I was free.
In the years that followed a number of students sought my help with their
own spiritual quests. In 1987 we established the Center for Sacred Sciencesa
small organization dedicated to studying mystical teachings and engaging in
mystical practices. This book is an outgrowth of that work. In it you will hear
the voices of many mystics from very different traditions, but it is not meant
to be an argument for the validity of their claims. Rather, it is meant to be a
manual of instruction, a step-by-step guide for anyone who wishes to walk
this path and find out for themselves if what the mystics say is true. To this end
I have tried to distill out the most universal principles and the most essential
practices taught by mystics of all the great traditions. I have also tried to restate
them in more generic terms, suitable for modern seekers, whether they belong
to an established tradition or not.
~ ~ ~
More information about this book is at http://centerforsacredsciences.org/wos/
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