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Nonduality Salon (/\)

Highlights #391

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MATTHEW and DAN more shuffle:

Andrew Cohen from "Halfway up the Mountain, Premature claims to
enlightenment" by Mariana Caplan.

Many mistakenly feel relieved from the burden of responsibility
For their own behavior because of erroneous conclusions drawn from
their spiritual experiences of no-separation. Realizing that "everything
is the Self", they concluded that therefore there was nothing and
nobody to be responsible for.

What does it mean to say they realized "everything
is the Self" and then concluded something?
This is bogus. There is no conclusion from it.
There is just *being* it. What does he mean
about being mistakenly relieved of their burden
of responsibility for their actions? Does he
mean that people who feel burdened by the
responsibility of their actions will behave more
responsibly than those who don't? Baloney.

I take Andrews statement as tongue in cheek Dan. We do have
experiences of the nondual reality and draw conclusions based on
these powerful experiences.

Okay, Matthew, I won't get too serious about this ;-).
Now - drawing a conclusion from a powerful experience
places a boundary between now, the moment
I'm reflecting about it, and then, the moment
when I had the "powerful experience". So,
that boundary between "now" and "then", that
very attempt to draw and have a conclusion,
is itself limitation and separation...

The "realizing that everything is the
Self" is what Andrew is saying (imo) that people often believe upon
having such experiences, when all that has happened is a little

Okay, got it.
Here's what I'm saying:
Once someone takes a belief about
an experience as something to be retained
and used, a belief has been substituted for
present Reality. In other words, present
Reality doesn't operate dependent on beliefs
about itself.

I don't think he is addressing "the real thing".

Okay. We might look at this as a discussion of how people
draw conclusions and employ beliefs as explanations,
and how these explanations serve as limitations
to awareness.

As for the
burden part i believe he is addressing the tendency in us to want to
escape from the resposibilities of ordinary life, and those
responsibilities are often percieved as burdens, especially when
contrasted to the naive concepts of "freedom".

Hmmmm, good point. I like your way of explaining it.
At the same time, I am aware that the "common sense"
idea of responsibility is a self-contradictory
position that creates a great deal of tension.
There is an isolated "me" that is supposed to
function causally, which inevitably leads to
blame of self or others. So, it's not surprising
that this is felt as a burden, and in fact,
the tension and not wanting the tension
might serve as useful motivation
to look into the situation. And you're right,
using a belief that "there is no self" is a
conclusion and belief, not openness.
A more useful teaching might be, "what 'is'
when a self is neither affirmed nor denied?"
One might
interpret A.C.'s perspective as saying that people rebel
against this "me" by claiming there is
no "me," while they still function according to a
"me" that they don't acknowledge, and they want
freedom for that "me". So what I see here is
that it's a belief, a conclusion, not Reality as such.
Responsibility, though, isn't from what someone
tells me I should be like, society's image for
me, it's my authentic responsiveness as "what is",
and my response-ability and my being aren't two.


In this way of thinking, responsibility
implies duality, and any notion of responsiblity is therefore seen
to be an expression of ignorance. In this view almost any mode of
conduct becomes acceptable- when one proponent was asked why he
habitually acted rudely and with dishonesty, he said "oh that is
not real, that's just my personality."

It's a valid point. It reminds me of Hassan al-Hussein,
master of assassins, saying "Nothing is true,
everything is permitted." The catch here, though,
is that in true emptiness, there simply isn't a motivation
to hurt another. Why would there be?

I remember what Lao Tzu said about civility and
good manners. Beware what is really going on
when people harp on the importance of behaving
civilly. The truly civil ones don't make
speeches about how others need to behave more
civilly. There's a hidden agenda here somewhere ;-)
To equate enlightenment with the ability to
follow society's ideas about morality, civility,
and responsibility is equally as erroneous as
saying "I can do whatever I want because nothing is
real, it's just the personality, etc."

As you say "in true emptiness there simply isn't a motivation
to hurt another". And this is exactly Andrews point.

Okay. If he agrees with me, then he must
be speaking the truth ;-)

He is saying, so
you say you are realized, you are empty, well look good and hard at
your life, at how you show up in all of your relationships. Are you
hurting others, are you creating suffering for others, if the answer
is yes, think again about believing your self to be empty, free,

The question I have here is this:
when I look at "my" life, I'm looking
at constructed images. Is there really
a "me" here, having "my" life? In other
words, awareness is functioning in a split
way, with "I" reviewing "my life". What is
it like if there is no split in awareness?
Are the conclusions of a split "I" reviewing
"my life" ever going to end the split? Or
does the ending of the split come only
from an instant when awareness doesn't separate,
doesn't review, doesn't draw a conclusion,
and doesn't carry a belief about a situation?

In most situations, yes, Hippocrates' principle
of "do no harm" is generally a good idea. But I
don't see liberation as being formularizable.
It's not equated with "niceness" and the happy
feeling that no one is being hurt. Sometimes,
a person feels hurt but later feels useful learning
has occurred, or sometimes hurt can't be avoided.
What you and A.C. are talking about
here, as I see it, are beliefs. There is the belief
"I'm realized," then there is the assessment of
one's life and what one believes after this honest
assessment (e.g., "I'm really not realized after all").
Yet, both of these are belief-based realities.
I'm making a case for Reality as non-belief-based.
That means one can't draw conclusions from It or
about It, and one can't formulate the "proper belief
system" by which to approach it or teach it.

Come on Dan don't take it so blatantly out of context. The
statement was used as an example of how the nondual rhetoric is used
to ignore the motivation to hurt others. And the rhetoric is used
because of having had a "partial view experience" of the truth of

Okay, Matthew, I see your point, and agree.
The use of beliefs to avoid full awareness
isn't fruitful.
I'm questioning though, whether *any*
authority's beliefs can't easily be used
that way, including A.C.'s.

"The thing is to go beyond opposites..." Well, it might be your
thing but I am not so sure it is "the" thing. Is it your idea of the
right way. If you don't understand the immense responsibility that
comes with realiztion, just don't.

Agreed, it's "a" thing.
All it is is another perspective.
I have mine and you have yours.
You have your beliefs about responsibility
and I have mine.
These are simply perspectives and beliefs,
not reality.
Tell me, Matthew, what is the responsibility
of the Universe for harming millions
of living creatures when there are floods,
earthquakes, viruses, forest fires, comets hitting
planets, and suns going nova???
Our human-centered values about responsibility
and not hurting others, do they really get to
Reality as is?
As I said, I think "no harm" is generally a very good
idea, but not as a formula, and not in every
situation with no exception. None of us can
live without other life dying. All of us die
and will be used as fertilizer. Life includes
pain/pleasure, loss/gain, sorrow/happiness.
I am Life, you are Life, all this is Life.
Our respons-ability is the responsiveness of
Life, it's not an imposed morality, a belief
system, nor a formula to impose judgments on others.

Maybe I don't understand Reality the same as you,
but maybe Reality has nothing to do with
either of our separable understandings of it;
as *is*, it's beyond either of our understandings
of it. Call it the boundless Unknowable.

You are right Dan, the person enslaves himself. I think that
the reason he doesnt say "this view doesn't appeal to me" is because
he is addressing the great disservice these types of teachings do for
the vast majority of people. Nondual concepts are just way to easy
for the mind to grasp hold of and twist around for it's own use (like
it does with most everything)

Well, what you're saying about the grasping mind
seems on-target to me, Matthew. But let's
not condemn the grasping mind, let's look
carefully into it. Because in the
very act of judging it, labelling it, we're
already grasping (i.e., our adherence to beliefs
and labels are our grasping).

Let's really see how the mind struggles
to grasp and hold things, to formularize
things, to operate by opinions rather
than "what is as is".
We're looking at the ending of our taking
beliefs and images about reality *as*
reality. The "mind" is just this activity,
isn't it, the attempt to formulate what can't be

You know, he almost comes off sounding like this:
"As an enlightened person, let me say that enlightened
persons need to have the right view of enlightenment,
which is to say, "my" view, and if they don't have this
view they are deluded, which I can say because my
view is that I'm not deluded and I know who is deluded."

Not almost,he actually does come off sounding like this and i
personally have no problem with that. I'm not sure why you or anyone

My problem with it is that it's discussing beliefs about
reality as if these are to be taken as reality,
it's taking judgments and opinions as truth.

His position is that he does know who is deluded, your
position is that you don't know, is one position better than the

As positions, they can both be transcended.
Why would I want to identify with a position,
when by releasing it, I open to wordless
being beyond thought? Then, "I don't know,"
isn't a position, it's the living Universe
So if for me the point is something other than "going beyond
views", does that mean i have the wrong view? This taking, of
geniuine responsibility is what he is talking about. There is not a
right belief but there is "right action". If it has a hollow ring, is
it because of the ringing, or the hearing?

Going beyond views isn't something that's
done to be right. It's undoing.
And it's happening now. You are being
undone, as am I. Do we see it, do we
acknowledge it? I do acknowledge it.
Yes, there is a very hollow ring to any
authority setting up a formula to judge
"right" and "wrong", the standard by
which to evaluate others, the "real" definition
of responsibility which others "should" adhere
to. Have you noticed
how often this happens, how many authorities
constantly appoint themselves or are appointed,
how they conflict, how different versions
of right and wrong depend on culture,
belief system, personality? Have you noticed
how the results are never equilibrium and
equanimity, but tension, discord, and separation?
Anyway, this is how I've noticed it.

Thanks for the dialogue.



Hi Gang,

i have a metaphor for you about the earth experience. we are seeds.
seeds are ingenious devices to defend the life of a new plant from a
harsh dry environment. seeds are coatings surrounding a spark of life.
what happens when we put a seed into water? the water soaks in and the
coating expands. it expands and softens. it expands, softens and
becomes more porous. it expands, softens, becomes more porous, and water
gets into the spark in the middle and it expands until the coat pops,
freeing the spark to grow. the water of our seed is love and we are
already immersed in it. we are NOT in a dry dangerous environment, but
we believe strongly that we are. all of us. (all of us who cannot yet
say with knowingness that the seed has sprouted) the coat is the
bargain we made with fear way back in the past, who knows when... when
the water of love starts to soak in (when we loosen the fear enough to
let it), the fear expands. we draw back and fear remains in control.
if we (no, when we...) let the water in and stand the fear expansion, we
can see the softening as well and when we let go completely and abandon
ourselves to this, the water makes our heart swell and the coat bursts.
it's nice. in some it's fast and in others it's slow. it doesn't
matter. just let it go.


Questioner to Wayne:
Are there ever glimpses of the merging and then coming
back? I've heard other enlightened teachers, or supposed
enlightened teachers say that you can come back out
of it. You can become enlightened but then you can
come back out of it.

Wayne: No. What you can come back out of is that state
you described. That is the state where all these people
go and set up shop.

Q: You mean they're up there permanently?

W: They're up there at the top of the pendulum shaft
saying, "This is my experience." And they';; say,
"Yes, and we can fall out of that, back into identification,
and then go back into that experience again." But that
is not Awakening that the sages talk about. And the
transient experience is not uncommon.

You hear this within certain, what I like to think
of as, multi-level marketing schemes for spirituality.
:-) You have someone who's had an experience of Oneness,
who says "Look, this is available to you! You can
awaken! You can have this experience! Do what I did
and you'll get this result." So, these people do what
he did, they get this result, they have this sense
of bliss, of
not being involved with their thoughts, and they, (slap),
"Okay, I'm awakened! NOw I'm going to teach you." And
then he gets eight people under him, and then they
'awaken'. Now you have this tremendous wave of 'awakening'
that's going on. And the great guru up here that has
helped all these people awaken is seen as a very wonderful,
very fine, very profound, strong guru. And all of
his sub-gurus, down through the pyramid and....:-)
You can see them in action. It's a new spiritual movement.
You don't have to look very far! :-)

Nearly every seeker has had the experience of being
at the top of the pendulum shaft - I'm sure you have,
if you've been a seeker for a while. You feel that
you are one with everything and no longer affected
by everything. Everything is simply happening, and
you are simply the witness of it. You're not involved
in it, it's just going on, and it doesn't matter. There
are a number of names for this mystical union, which
is an impersonal connection with the very nature
of existence. It is the absense of
anyone to be involved with anything. It is your relative
absense as the doer.

So if this happens to you, you're very likely to think
"I have done something to get here. Let's see, what
was the last thing I did? Well, I went to that seminar,
I practiced that meditation.." And so you double you
efforts to either get back to the top of the pendulum
shaft or to stay there! If you are lucky enough to
be at the top for a period of time, you might start
to think, "I've got this deal. This is what all the
sages have been talking about, right? I'm witnessing!
I've read Maharaj, you've
got to be the witness! And I'm doing that! I am there.
I Am That! What could be better? I can do my own
seminars! People will come to hear me! This'll be

So you set up your shingle and begin giving satsang.
The problem is that this point at the top of the pendulum
is still a point in phenomenality, it is still a point
of experience, albeit impersonal experience, and as
such it is subject to change.
Everything in phenomenality changes. Therefore, at
some point when something happens such as being diagnosed
with cancer or someone close to you dying - there is
the realization that the pendulum shfat is 'greased',
and you're sliding back down again for the big swing.
:-) At this point the intensity
of your feelings of dejction are 'double' what they
were previously, because you feel as if you've lost
something 'terribly' important, that you've lost
your union with God or the Infinite,
that you fallen from Grace. NOw you're back to being
involved and swining with all the other plebes, when
before, you and God were like this! (Holds up two fingers
crossed, laughter)

Now if you've put your shingle out and you've told
everybody "It happened to me! I'm the guy!" :-) then
you're triply screwed because you either have to come
clean and say "Um...I 'thoguht' I was enlightened,
but it was sort of a false alarm. Sorry about that."
:-) Or you have to begin living a lie, which is not
a fun thing to have to do. And actually there is a
third option that is gaining in popularity :-)
can redefine Enlightenment to include the 'flip-flop'.
You say "I am Enlightneed, but I am 'stabilizing'
into the experience." But when Enlightenment actually
happens there is no longer anyone to stabilize or be
delivered into anything!

What is important to understand is that what the sages
are talking about is not a movement from identification
to disidentifcation within phenomenality. It is a
total quantum movement fro identification with the
entire pendulum shaft of phenomenality
to identifcation with the fulcrum upon which the pendulum

The state in which there is identification at the fulcrum,
is utter, complete quantum eradication of the sense
of personal doership, of tha which gets involved with
the movement. Then there is simply pure Beingness,
which is not a change in anything. That is What Is,
That is already here, That is the state that eternally
exists. In That there can be no flip flop.

Another important thing to remember about the fulcrum
is that nothing happens there. All movement, all action,
happens around the fulcrum, yet the fulcrum is completely
unmoved by anything. Therefore, it is not that the
sage is witnessing something, rather, in the most profound
sense, the sage 'is' everything. As such, there is
no experience associated with that. All experience
is within a subject-object relationship within phenomenality.
The movement to Ultimate Understanding, or that identification
with the Totality that is called Enlightenment, is
a movement in whcih nothing happens.

A friend of mine called me a number of years ago from
Hawaii. He had been going to a teacher who was describing
this experience of oneness as being Enlightenment,
and one day he got it! And he called me to tell me
he had woken up. And he was describing this to me
and how, "It hasn't gone away, andit's been a couple
of days, and everything has a new light, and it looks
different", and how h'es "One with
all of this" And I'm listening to him and my heart
sinks and I'm thinking, "Oh man...(laughter) not you!"
And it was probably a year or year and a half after
that he tried to kill himself.

Q: So he experienced so much freedom and then to go
back into the garbage again was too devastating to

W: Mmhm.

Q: How long did it last for him?

W: I don't know. I never talked to him about the details.
It wasn't important really. Nor did I, at the time,
have the heart to tell him that this wasn't IT either.
That what he was describing was a wonderful fabulous
life experience, but an experience within phenomenality
which 'will' eventually end.
I can assure you, people do not appreciate being told

This bit is right on. I call that top of the pendulum
state being in a bubble, or frozen in ice, the world is seen
as unreal somehow, with you a detached witness. At some point
the bubble has to burst, or the ice shatter, and that's when Grace
may do its thing if you're lucky. That's when you dissolve into
the cosmic ocean.
Using Wayne's analogy, when you lose your grip at the top of the
pendulum shaft, there are two things that can happen, either you try
to hold on in fear, and slide down the shaft back into the tick tock,
or you let go because anything even annihilation is better than that,
and you plunge free of the clockwork mechanism, and endless plunge
into no thing while yourself ablates away cell by cell from outside to
core, burns away like a meteorite until there is only no thing.
So this experience that Wayne speaks of is not all the way there
he's right but it is the crucial point where the plunge into true
enlightenment can happen.
The sense of insulation and isolation must vanish at some point,
it's a metamorphosis, the bubble is a cocoon.


DAN with Miguel-Angel

The separation of ignorance from truth is simply this:
As truth is, ignorance isn't. Being true, I don't need
to worry myself about the nature of ignorance.

Quite so. But only insofar as you are true. What about
people who are in error? Would you say A) that in any
case their ignorance is always imaginary, a mere
projection, and therefore of no relevance; or B) that
their ignorance, though real, will eventually succumb
to truth?

There is no one else's ignorance for me to
be concerned about correcting. First-hand,
I say this: if I am true, the universe is true.
Others' errors don't need to be corrected by
me. If I point to something and it isn't
seen the way I want it to be seen, that's not
*their* error - it's *my* attachment. I point
as I point, what is received is received.
As for whether error will succumb to truth,
it's the same question as
whether unreality or reality will prevail.
Truth is unopposed, reality has no opposite.
Error doesn't oppose truth, the error is in
believing truth is opposed by something.
Unreality doesn't oppose reality, the unreality
is in believing reality is obstructed by something.

If it's A), then nothing needs to be done. Only truth
exists, and it is non-conceptual, unknowable,
unspeakable. What we take to be error is of no more or
less value than "right knowledge", both being just
conceptual constructions, equally groundless. Here
there's no place for progress, as everything is as it
must, perfect. All we have to do is sit back and enjoy
it all.

Well, when you say, "sitting back and enjoying it" isn't
that also conceptual? Saying "it is perfect,"
"nothing needs to be done," likewise?
When it is nonconceptual, unspeakable, and unknowable,
"it is" doesn't even apply ...
We get to where "the mind stops" (obviously, that's
conceptual, too, but words will always be that way).
So the mind stops, and in stopping, ceases to exist
as an entity; the mind-entity
*was* this very effort to label,
figure out, decide what to do.
When the mind ceases, there can be no credence
given to assertions such
as "it is perfect," or "let me just enjoy this,"
or "I'll do nothing." As far as doing goes, one
might say there isn't something to be done,
there isn't doing nothing, there isn't the category
of doing vs. doing nothing. This might be described
as "nondoing", but only to help dissolve biases
toward conceptual "doings".

If it's B), then there's some place for progress, for
improvement. Whether it's through effort or grace is
another matter. But at least there is ground for
expectation, for hope in the dissolution of one's
errors and miseries.

I see it this way: the intention to improve
splits the present and future, depends on
an entity who wants to improve a perceived
condition, and so distorts the unconditioned
reality into something it isn't.

Which of the two is it, Dan? Knowing you, I expect you
to choose A). But isn't that because you feel so sure
and happy in your position? What about those who feel
disoriented and miserable? Can they also be advised to
say "It doesn't matter, it's all just imaginary, a
mental construction" ? How can they be made to forget
all their problems, their frustrations?

Let's follow the mind, Migel-Angel,
as it constructs all these
things: achieving, improving, and the entity
who wants to get out of feeling miserable.
Can we notice so closely that we see it is
the mind itself, in its striving, that *is* the
impression of the entity, the fragmenting of
being, the formation of an image taken as reality?
If we don't follow this closely, we'll be mesmerized
by the stream of talk and images, the constant
material provided by thought, memory, and feeling.
If we do notice closely, we aren't able to continue
with the effort because we see its internal
contradiction. The effort to escape the misery
*is* the misery, the attempt to improve *is* the
fragmentation, is the perception of a separate
mind-entity that wants escape.

When the effort collapses, the
mind stops. Then there is silence. Then there is
nonmovement, nondoing as discussed above. This
has nothing to do with giving advice or telling people
to forget anything. It only comes about when there is
sincere inquiry, a willingness to notice carefully
exactly how this construction occurs. It involves
honesty, not forgetting something, and it comes from
who I am, this awareness here, not someone's advice.
It is urgent because the self-contradiction occurs
here and is friction-generating. It's not someone
else's problem, and someone else's advice can
only be useful to a limited extent.

Again, if it is A), which implies that everything is
perfect, how is it that so very few are the lucky ones,
the ones who are installed in Reality, beyond the
projection; while the vast majority suffer taking the
projection for Reality? Why the injustice of it all?

Miguel-Angel - it's urgent. It involves all of
who I am right now. If I fragment my energy
into the conceptual endeavors of trying to
figure out the justice of it all, or answer
the "why" of everyone else's suffering, how will
I attend directly to "this, here"? And it is
"this, here" that demands energy and awareness.
It is "this, here" that generates friction and
contention through self-contradiction.

Putting this off until I have solved the problems
of the justice of the universe and the reasons
why each person suffers is to defer awareness.
To put it off even until one minute from now
is to split awareness.
Ultimately, the questions about "why" and "how
can it be like this" drop away - as discussed
above, the mind stops. This stopping
shows that the "entity" tries to perpetuate
itself by constructing questions that need
to be answered in the future, gives itself
a sense of continuity, and so avoids dealing
immediately with the reality that *it isn't
there* when the mind isn't preoccupying itself
with various forms of effort. In fact, the
sense the mind has of "itself" *is* the preoccupation
with images, words, feelings, and sensations.
When mind stops, there is profound silence, nothing
"outside" or "inside" is: only the indescribable,
which is indivisible. This indivisible is
who I am, the true "in-divide-u-all".

Thank you very much for sharing this dialogue
with me, M.A.


Hi Larry and Glo,

I think that's a huge question, Larry. Another huge question
is, What is esthetic experience?

It has something to do with unity, transcendence and
realization, so it has to do with 'love' and 'truth', as I
see it. Art experience is an alternative to religion. I
think Hinduism even accepts that.

When our own pattern-buffers synchronize with apparent outside
patterns, there occurs a deep moment of recognition of self. It is
even more wondrous that we for a moment, identify what is outside, as
separate from what we are. This is for me, a sweet kiss, a conveyance
of love.

I am surrounded by such gifting. When I am by myself, I do not bother
to play the game of befuddlement; I have no-one to impress, no-one to
avoid offending or scaring. When I am by myself, I accept raw, the
offerings which shower upon me.

It is apparent that statistically, the population is in the grips of
a traditional, memetically-contagioned paranoia; and that popularity
and acceptance is gained mainly through slavish obeisance to that
shadowed harbinger of personal extinction. It is heartening to
observe many individuals breaking through those gossamer figments of
imposed imagination, even in the face of reactive assault by the
covert standard-bearers of the world-dream.

I convey my congratulations to those whose perseverance has brought
them to this moment. Having tested your phantom shackles, you have
found them mere ephemera. You have moved beyond seeking, or needing,
the approval of putative authorities.

Now, it may occur that you are subjected to more refined,
higher-level testings. Remember what you have learned, that has aided
you thus far. You have become your own authority. If you are
subjected to 'field-intrusion testing', you may stabilize yourself
into any configuration which pleases you, no matter what the apparent
consequences. Remember that you need no justification for Being, only
skill for existing.

Eventually, each is subject to an onslaught of entirely novel
circumstances. The challenge is to abide, as in your most perfect
moments. It is in those moments of challenge, that we can discover
that surrender is indeed, a two-way street.

At the console,

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