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The wind carves shapes into the beach sand

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#3826 - Friday, March 5, 2010 - Editor: Jerry Katz  

The Nonduality Highlights -      




Thursday, March 4, 2010

harsh words ?

Tibetan Dzogchen features a two-pronged approach, of which one prong is missing(or weak) in most contemporary non-dual pointing. Many people, these days, are pointing to what the Tibetans call "spontaneous presence" using terms like Awareness, Being, Oneness, etc. However, most give very short shrift to what the Tibetans call "cutting up", which I would call "deconstructing" duality. Without a thorough exposure of the invalidity of the perceptual/conceptual basis for the dualistic worldview, these "non-dual" pointers CAN largely serve as a new belief structure(necessarily dualistic) for the intact, "individual knower" or "experiencer" OF "Awareness", "Oneness", "Presence", etc.      

Interview with Jody Radzik  

The following excerpt is from      



ALAN:  In the chart [above] you divide the Folk Theory of Enlightenment into essentially two parts. ‘I am nothing’, or ‘I am God/All’. Can you talk about these in a little more detail? Where can we see examples of these two perspectives in mainstream enlightenment teachings?

JODY: You’ll find the “I am God/All” metaphor employed in the myth-making and marketing of the more successful commercial gurus, many of whom are from India. The basic premise is that because the guru has realized God, they can manipulate the lives of their devotees by supernatural means. This works great as a business driver, but I believe the idea leaves many of the devotees believing their enlightenment will result in the same powers. Thus, they miss who they always are as they are always expecting themselves to become someone else.

I believe the “I am nothing” trope arises when minds attempt to model the notion of emptiness. This has folks setting themselves against what they believe is that part of themselves that cognizes. This results in a kind of convoluted identity logic that would best any pretzel, as well as providing a rich source of occluding ideas, such as that enlightenment and verbal thought cannot coexist. Were this actually true, no guru would be saying anything.

Another bugaboo of mine is the idea that self-realization will lead to a pure and desireless state. I think it’s clear that nondual realized folk have desires, albeit less strongly held in many cases. But it’s quite apparent that many of the devotees believe their gurus are beyond reproach precisely because they are believed to be absolutely pure. The problem I see with this is that it leaves gurus off the hook for whatever they do—good or bad, and it gets people shooting for impossible and unforgiving self-definitions in their search, which again may cause them to keep overlooking the ongoing truth of their own nondual awareness.

ALAN: Evidently the FToE is an inaccurate description of the phenomenon of awakening. Given your grasp of where most theories of enlightenment go wrong (which it is important to remember that many genuine authorities on awakening have never ascribed to), what would you say is a more accurate theory of enlightenment? What should the FToE be replaced with?

JODY: I’d replace it with the idea that there is no theory of enlightenment that can be expressed directly. [However, some kinds of oblique reference, like koans, seem to have value when employed skillfully.] While a teacher may understand the metaphorical nature of his/her pointings, they need to understand that metaphor works by way of image-idea construction in the minds of the students, which I believe lead to notions which occlude, all happening entirely within the subconscious mind. I don’t believe there’s much we can do about this process except to try to eliminate the material it works with in the construction of the occluding ideas, which is pretty much what Zen shoots for, in my opinion, as well as traditional Advaita Vedanta.

Read the entire [fascinating!] interview at



Thursday, March 4, 2010

For Free

Driving to work, I heard the old Joni Mitchell song, "For Free," in which she compares herself to a street musician:

I slept last night in a good hotel / I went shopping today for jewels / The wind rushed around in the dirty town / And the children let out from the schools / I was standing on a noisy corner / Waiting for the walking green / Across the street he stood / And he played real good / On his clarinet, for free

Now me I play for fortunes / And those velvet curtain calls / I've got a black limousine / And two gentlemen / Escorting me to the halls / And I play if you have the money / Or if you're a friend to me / But the one man band / By the quick lunch stand / He was playing real good, for free

Nobody stopped to hear him / Though he played so sweet and high / They knew he had never / Been on their TV / So they passed his music by / I meant to go over and ask for a song / Maybe put on a harmony... / I heard his refrain / As the signal changed / He was playing real good, for free

It reminded me of the street musicians I always encounter on my annual Mardi Gras trip to New Orleans -- some very talented, some not so much, all nobodies struggling for a buck.

Or not. Because it also reminded me of the
experiment conducted by the Washington Post in January 2007, in which world-acclaimed virtuoso violinist Joshua Bell, incognito, played masterpieces on a Stradivarius for 45 minutes in a Washington metro station during the morning commute. Of 1,097 passersby, only 7 stopped to listen at length. Most ignored him entirely. Donations totalled $32, although on the previous night Bell had played a concert where seats sold for $100.

I'm not commenting on the rat race or cultural ignorance or mercenary urges, nor am I pondering the meaning of context, "art without a frame," etc. Instead, I'm thinking about the role each of us plays in the drama of life... how we were chosen for the part, how well we perform despite the payback or lack thereof, how graciously we accept the role we've been given.   Read the rest of this blog entry by Brent Robison:


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