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An interview with Greg Goode has just appeared in Nonduality Magazine:
Here are some selections.
I like this from the bio:
Greg Goode is the author of Standing as Awareness and the forthcoming The Direct Path: A User Guide, both from Non-Duality Press. He is currently working on a book on emptiness. Greg's approach to nonduality is experiential, open, down-to-earth and non-dogmatic. He has a Ph.D. in Philosophy and has studied deeply in both Western and Eastern approaches. Eastern influences include: Shankara, Gaudapada, Nagarjuna, Chandrakirti, Tsong-Khapa, Honen Shonin, Shinran Shonin, and Sri Atmananda, Francis Lucille, and the Ven, Chin-Kung, Western influences include: Protagoras, Heraclitus, Gorgias, Sextus Empiricus, George Berkeley, David Hume, G.W.F. Hegel, Ludwig Wittgenstein, W.V.O. Quine, Nelson Goodman, Brand Blanshard, Jacques Derrida, Wilfrid Sellars, Michel Foucault, Pierre Bourdieu, Richard Lanham and Richard Rorty.
This is from the interview:
the preface of your book, "Standing as Awareness", you
say that by standing as awareness, you experience the world
quite directly, without having to perfect anything or become
However, Shankara said that there are certain prerequisites and qualifications for someone to be able to do this as outlined in his Vivekachudamani. Do you also feel that someone has to have these prerequisites to do the direct path?
Greg Goode: To stand as awareness is not a goal-seeking activity. Its more like a loving openness to awareness, a falling in love with awareness and wanting to delve into its deepest secrets. Not for any discernable reason either. Its like immersing yourself in the question What would awareness do? You come to discover that awareness doesnt act or do anything. And at the same time, nothing is left undone. This confirms the experiential nonduality of your experiences in various nondual investigations.
So is the direct path for everyone? No. No path is. People are different so paths are different. Theres no one-size fits all teaching.
What about the qualifications you mention from Advaita Vedanta? Called in Sanskrit the Sadhnana Chatustaya (fourfold preparatory process), it includes discrimination of the unchanging from the changing, dispassion or non-clinging to the fruits of ones actions, a set of behavior traits (including discipline, concentration, faith, forbearance, and the toleration of hardships), and finally a yearning for liberation from the limitations of life and death. You could look at them broadly as a set of behavioral traits that foster adaptive and life skills. Plus that yearning for liberation.
Other paths, such as Kabbala and the emptiness teachings from Madhyamika Buddhism have their pre-requisites as well.
When I took the Chinmaya Mission Advaita Vedanta classes years ago, our teacher explained that once upon a time in India, these Hindu qualifications could be treated as actual barrier-to-entry-style pre-requisites. The family Hindu guru would teach Hinduism, but he might not admit anyone to the study of the higher teachings (Vedanta) unless that person manifested these four qualities in their life, or at least the strong promise of these qualities. In this way, the four qualities did act as pre-requisites.
Nowadays, of course, the teachings of Vedanta have slipped away from this kind of social control. People encounter Vedantic or Advaitic teachings on the Internet in text, audio, video and chat form, as well as in books available for overnight delivery. People hop from one teaching to another, and create mixtures and combos of anything they like.
In a way, the four qualities are still with us, but they play a different role now. They are not an absolute or necessary condition. But they do tend to exert a clever invisible hand effect on the aspirant. It all depends on the aspirants goals for the teaching. To the extent that a person expects a phenomenal or practical goal from the teachings, the invisible hand will pull them at least partly away from the teachings to some other pursuit that handles their life-issue more squarely. And they can combine the other pursuits with the direct path as well. There is no rule that says that one of these must be done first.
Some people desire liberation as a means to other ends, and it is here that the invisible hand operates. Some of the goals I have heard people assert for the direct path (at least at first) include solving dental and surgical issues, healing from neurological, bacterial and viral disorders, curing candida and chronic fatigue syndrome, keeping themselves (or even their spouse) from cheating, getting better grades in school and better prices when they sell their houses, and increasing the personal traits of courage, concentration, intelligence, will power, discipline, fame, and the ability to write well!
The direct path doesnt set out to accomplish these practical goals. A skillful teacher can assist a student, pointing out other resources and remaining available however they can. But as long as the student really desires to accomplish one of these other goals and uses the direct path as a means to these ends, then the invisible hand will do its work.
A person can mix and match or go back and forth between the direct path and their other pursuits. And a caring, experienced teacher is supportive of the student. In the days of yesteryear, the Chinese Chan student might say, Master, I want to learn better calligraphy. The teacher would say, Ah, go see Master Han in the East.
Or I want to become more flexible for kung fu. The teacher would say, Ah, go see Master Yun in the South. But if the student said, I want to learn the secret of life and death, the teacher would say Go to the kitchen and wash the dishes.
Its the same way today. If a person desires not to improve phenomenality but to be totally free of it, then the direct path can be a perfect fit.
~ ~ ~
Read the entire interview here:
Greg's book, Standing As Awareness may be ordered from Amazon.com:
or from the publisher, Non-Duality Press:
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