Nonduality: The Varieties of Expression Home

Jerry Katz
photography & writings

The wind carves shapes into the beach sand

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

#3676 - Monday, October 5, 2009 - Editor: Gloria Lee

The Nonduality Highlights

The Teacher in Everything

In taking up Zen Buddhism, we find that the life of the Buddha is our own life. Not only Shakyamuni's life, but the lives of all the succeeding teachers in our lineage are our own lives. As Wu-men Hui-k'ai has said, in true Zen practice our very eyebrows are tangled with those of our ancestral teachers, and we see with their eyes and hear with their ears. This is not because we copy them, or change to be like them. I might explain Wu-men's words by saying that in finding our own true nature, we find the true nature of all things, which the old teachers so clearly showed in their words and actions. But the authentic experience of identity is intimate beyond explanation. And it's not only with old teachers that we find complete intimacy. The Chinese thrush sings in my heart and gray clouds gather in the empty sky of my mind. All things are my teacher.
- Robert Aiken Roshi "The Teacher in Everything," Tricycle, Fall 2001

Read the complete article on


Advaita: The Truth of Non-duality

by V. Subrahmanya Iyer (Author), Andre van den Brink (Compiler), Mark Scorelle (Editor)   Mark Scorelle Paul Brunton left 1200 pages of single spaced type written notes from his period with V.S.Iyer. Iyer was an Advaitin teacher behind the scenes of the Ramakrishna Mission in the 40's. Guru of Swami Siddeshwarananda and Swami Nikhilananda and the Maharaja of Mysore. The notes are available at Out of that material I compiled the paragraphs I thought were the best, most concise and to the point. I had them on the website for years and then someone studied the material and asked to publish the compilation. Nice cover, eh. Here it is.  

GRACE by Rupert Spira    

Dear Chuckee,

I am touched by the openness and honesty of your response. I feel that in
our conversations in this group we are beginning to move away from the more
intellectual aspect of the teaching (which certainly has its place) and to
talk more about raw experience.

Chuckee: I have come to the conclusion that it's a matter of grace, and
there is nothing outside of that that can affect a thing in regards to

Rupert: I agree with you entirely that 'there is nothing outside of that
(grace) that can affect a thing with regards to awakening...' but we seem to
have a different understanding of what constitutes grace. You seem to
suggest (and please correct me if I have misunderstood) that grace comes
only in the form of an unsolicited and spontaneous awakening such as took
place for you 40 years ago. Moreover, you suggest that anything other than
such a spontaneous event is somehow simply "all mere entertainment....
Passing the time as mistaken identities searching for something that can't
be found."

In other words, you first decide what constitutes grace and what does not,
and then dismiss anything that does not fall within your own particular
belief as mere entertainment and trivia.

But how do you know that a 'chance' meeting, a book that you come across, a
few words read in an email or suggested by a friend, the desire to sit
quietly and welcome your feelings or to turn your attention towards its
source and other such occurrences, suggestions or impulses, are not
expressions of exactly the same grace that delivered that experience 40
years ago? The only thing that makes them seem otherwise is your belief that
they are otherwise.

If we did not superimpose our own beliefs on top of grace (yes, of course,
that is also an expression of grace) we would relieve ourselves of the
'there is nothing to do' dogma and more importantly the despair and
frustration that accompanies it. We would be open to the possibility that
grace comes in a wide variety of ways and that each of those ways is
uniquely tailored to our predicament, even sometimes in ways that may
challenge our views as to what true 'non-duality' looks like.

I meet so many people who are unhappy and have been told there is absolutely
nothing they can do about it. So, in addition to their unhappiness a layer
of resignation and frustration has been added. This unhappiness is often all
the more intense in those such as yourself who have had profound moments or
periods of awakening.

It is quite true that from an absolute point of view there is nothing to do
and no one to do it. However, unhappy people are not speaking from the
absolute point of view. They are speaking from a level at which the apparent
separate entity, its unhappiness and the seeking that inevitably attends it,
are experienced as being very real. There is absolutely no judgement in

It is important to understand that as this apparent entity, doing or not
doing is not a choice. Doing (in this case searching for happiness) is
INEVITABLE and UNAVOIDABLE if we feel we are a separate entity, that is, if
we are unhappy. It is disingenuous to say, "I feel I am a person, a separate
entity, and I am unhappy, and yet I know that there is nothing to do." The
separate entity IS the doer, the searcher, the thinker etc. What has
happened in such cases is that a thin veneer of kosha advaita has been
washed over our belief and feeling of separation.

At the risk of being repetitive let me repeat this in a slightly different
form, as it goes to the heart of the matter as to whether or not there is
something to be done:

If we are unhappy we are, by definition, rejecting the current situation. We
want things to be different. This rejection of the current situation is
itself synonymous with the search for a different situation, that is, the
search for happiness in the future. In other words unhappiness and the
search for happiness are inseparable.

If we say that we are unhappy and that at the same time we understand there
is nothing we can do, that there is no search, then we simply haven't looked
deeply enough at our present condition.

In such a case, one clear look at ourselves will reveal an apparent entity
who is very much in search, that is, an entity that is doing something.
Therefore, seeking happiness is, for the one who believes him or herself to
be an entity, not a choice. It is a given. The separate person IS the search
for happiness.

So, the best advice such a person can be given is to seek happiness in the
right place. As a result of the experience you describe, which took place 40
years ago, you have already been given direct insight as to the true nature
of happiness. It is not necessary to have such an experience to come to the
understanding that happiness is not to be found in the realm of the mind,
body or world, but as this has happened for you, you are in no doubt.

If, as you say, your experience was 'a full blown awakening' then you will
be absolutely certain that it was not located in time or space. You will be
certain that what you are is unlimited, unlocated, unborn, unchanging,
undying Presence. Your glimpse was a revelation of that which is
ever-present in your experience. This means that right now, in this very
simple act of reading these words, that non-objective experience is present.

This deep longing in your heart is a mixture of the very happiness you seek
plus the belief and feeling that it is not present. If we superimpose the
belief that there is nothing that can be done in relation to the unveiling
of happiness, we consign ourselves to resignation, frustration and despair,
relieved by odd moments of happiness. It is true that the longing in our
hearts cannot be filled. But it can be dissolved.

It is true that the company of a qualified teacher 40 years ago would have
been able to point you in the right direction, that is, towards the reality
of your experience. But that help is all around you.

Happiness is the simple recognition of our own being - it is the most
natural thing. That which recognises this Being and that which is recognised
are one and the same.

As I mentioned to Claudia yesterday it is na´ve to expect happiness to
remain ever-present after such an awakening. The mind and the body often
come back with a vengeance. It is at this time that a qualified teacher can
help, both in interpreting the often perplexing reappearance of old patterns
of feeling and, more importantly in helping to slowly realign the mind and
the body with our new awakening. In the absence of such a teacher the old
habits will, in most cases, prevail.

So, if we think we are a person (and feel unhappy as a result) there are two
things that can be done. One, is to seek the source of that apparent person.
As we turn our attention towards our own Being, this very one, the apparent
entity who seemed to turn his attention, is revealed to be none other than
Presence itself.

And two, taking our stand as this aware presence, we can cooperate with the
realignment of the mind and the body, and indeed the world, with this new
stance. It just requires patience, clarity and courage.

Presence has seemed to veil itself from itself by taking the shape of
dualistic thought. But being the very substance of all experience, Presence
has also provided within every experience, the way back to itself, a golden
thread....the way of investigation and contemplation.

From the point of view of a person these two possibilities will inevitably
feel like a doing - so be it. They are Presence's gift of grace to itself.

With love,


posted to

top of page