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#4166 - Wednesday, February 16, 2011 - Editor: Jerry Katz
The Nonduality Highlights


The Boomerang Inquiry

by Scott Kiloby  

I've been looking into more innovative ways of helping people see through separation.  You can read about the Unfindable Object Inquiry (the one-two punch) on this Writings page.

I've also developed something I call the Boomerang Inquiry that works with respect to relationships (i.e., seeing through the sense of separation in relationships).

Through the years, I've met many people (teachers, students, seekers of all kinds) who experience awareness as a stabilized recognition yet still buy into separation in one form or another..  This separation often shows up in relationships.  Repeatedly, I kept meeting with people who had a nondual recognition, but who still bought into conflict and other old ego patterns in relationship (e.g., control, resentment, victimization, family relationship conflict, defend/attack energy, marriage troubles).

Certainly, non-duality is not a self-improvement plan.  However, the root of suffering and conflict in relationships is the belief in separation. Therefore, the seeing through of that belief obviously releases some of these deeply rooted patterns.  This release naturally harmonizes relationships.   

Meeting with people who were still struggling in the belief in separation prompted me to go deeper into inquiry with them.

Recognizing awareness as the "background" to one's experience certainly goes a long way, but it doesn't always help one see through separation entirely.  I kept noticing that people were reporting the recognition of presence but still experiencing this oscillation, or movement, between the recognition of freedom and the sense of separation.  This is a drawback or backlash from some of the modern approaches to non-duality that focus on "being present" but that do not go far enough to reveal an absence of separation.  Non-duality, after all, means "not two."  It doesn't mean "be present."

Perhaps the most important thing any of us can do while on this earth is see through the belief in separation.  When we do this for ourselves, we do it for humanity.  We do it for every relationship on earth.  Yet, if we only intellectualize non-duality and stick only to catchy phrases like "There is only Oneness," or "be present," we are not actually looking deeply into our experience.  We are leaving it in the head only.  And so we end up with something less than a full, experiential recognition of non-duality. We may talk of experiencing freedom or even seeing there is "no self," yet we may find ourselves very much locked into old patterns of conflict and separation in relationship.

In the last few years, I've seen a sort of fast food "nonduality" where one experiences non-conceptual awareness and "presto" liberation is supposedly realized. I've been guilty of it myself, in my message.  It's great if you have realized that when there are no thoughts, there is no separation.  There is only simple presence.  It is great if you have realized that "all there is, is what is happening right now."  But we can utter catchy nondual phrases millions of times and still believe in separation.  If one is still buying into separation in any way is that nonduality?  Non-duality means "not two."  It means seeing through separation wherever that appears, in any and every relationship.  It means seeing that there is no separation whether you are thinking or not thinking.

Relationship is really where the rubber meets the road in spirituality.  One can talk of being realized or enlightened while still acting out old egoic patterns in relationships.  The true test, in my view, is this:  how do you move and act in relationship?  That reveals everything about how deeply the belief in separation has been seen through.  Merely saying there is "no self" doesn't cut it, not if you have reduced that to a mental conclusion..  It's just a fancy one-liner in that case.  It won't bring you one bit closer to real freedom.  "No self" has to be realized, through and through.  And that includes seeing that there is no separate other in relationship.   

The Boomerang Inquiry uses the mind to go beyond the mind, so to speak.  It doesn't ask you to withdraw from concepts. It invites you to see through your belief in them. It invites you to look specifically at a relationship in which there is a strong sense of separation or conflict (e.g., with a boss, co-worker, spouse, boyfriend, friend, family member).  It then invites you to see that we, as people, only exist in relationship.  This means that each object you see mirrors back to you, in some way, who you think you are.  The point of the inquiry is to see that you do not see others objectively.  You do not see separate others at all.  You see whatever your thoughts reveal..  

We do not experience each other the way we really are.  We experience objects, or others, through a conceptual and emotional filter. Thought and emotion actually create the objects (people, etc) we see.

For example, you cannot see your mother the way she really is.  You see her only through your own thoughts and emotions.  The grocery store clerk does not see the same object when she looks at your mother.  Your father does not see the same object when he sees your mother.  Your mothers' friends do not see the same object that you see when they look at your mother.

We suffer in relationships because we falsely believe that we see each other objectively.  This lie of objectivity is exactly what the Boomerang Inquiry helps us see through.

Here are a few notes about what the Boomerang Inquiry is and what it is not

What the Boomerang Inquiry Is Not

1.  The Boomerang Inquiry is not a method to change yourself or others in relationship.  It is not a self-improvement plan.

2.  It is not an inquiry designed to help you get a romantic partner or win friends.

3.  It is not a way to avoid conflict (in fact, it invites you to use conflict to "wake up" out of the sense of being a separate self in relationship to a separate other).

4.  It is not a method to improve your relationship (or, at least, that is not its goal; the goal of the inquiry is to see through the sense of separation in relationship; coincidentally relationships do improve but not through actively trying to change the relationship).

What the Boomerang Inquiry Is

The Boomerang Inquiry is a set of questions that Scott takes you through.  He firsts asks you to get a real sense of the separation between you and an other in relationship.  The "other" can be a person, place, or other thing.  It can be the court system, a disease, your father, an object of obsession.  It can be any object whatsoever. Scott then asks you to find the other through looking a individual arisings of thought, emotion, and sensation. In not finding the other, the other appears "empty" or lacking a separate nature.  The other is seen to be thought, emotion, and sensation arising inseparably within awareness.  Scott also asks you to look at the particular self that gets created in this relationship with the other.  For example, if the other is a victimizer, the self is a victim.  Once the self that is created in this relationship is identified, Scott invites you to find that self by looking at individual arisings of thought, emotion, and sensation.  In not finding the self, the sense of separation between self and other falls away, leaving non-dual awareness.

We believe we see others the way they really are.  We fail to see the filter of thought and emotion through which we view others.  Seeing this filter for what it is is helpful in seeing through the sense of separation in our relationships.

This is why the Boomerang Inquiry has been so powerful in one-on-one sessions with people.  The inquiry is content-specific.  In other words, it is not a dry, one-size fits all teaching that has no relevance to your relationships.  Its strength lies in the fact that it is directed precisely towards the relationships in your own life.  It starts out with the assumption that there are two separate individuals—you and an other.  It asks you to picture and characterize the "other" in your life.  And through picturing that other, the inquiry invites you to see who you think you are in relationship to the other.  And then the inquiry cuts through the belief in objectivity (the idea that you see the other objectively).  It cuts through the notion of separation itself, the belief that you are looking at a separate object.  

The inquiry cuts both ways.  This is what Buddha meant when he said "emptiness is none other than form and form is none other than emptiness."  The emptiness of all forms (including self and other) is one of highest Sutras in Buddhism.  The Boomerang Inquiry reveals that there is no separation there in the relationship in either direction (subject or object).  It reveals that love is already here in every relationship, under the false belief in separation and under the lie of objectivity.  This is when we take "no self" into its real depths, instead of leaving it as a catchy spiritual one-liner.  At the end of the inquiry, you are still able to use labels like self and other, conventionally.  This means that you see that self and other are conceptual only.  This allows you to use the labels, without believing in separation any longer.
If you are interested in doing this Boomerang Inquiry, email me at
[email protected] .  I also highly recommend you read the Living Realization text at  before meeting with me.  That text helps tremendously in giving you context for the Boomerang Inquiry.  You can also join the Living Realization online meetings, coming soon, to enjoy the inquiry in a small group setting

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