Q: Talk about your interest and practice of Yoga. What
kind of yoga? Do you still practice? What are its benefits for
Well, I am about a month away from being certified as a
Yoga teacher. The longest series of classes I ever had was in
Iyengar Yoga. The teacher was gifted and I learned a lot. I have
also been exposed to Ashtanga, Anasara, and Yin Yoga. But mostly I
have been trained in what I would call Kripalu yoga, as many
teachers here in the Northeast U.S. are Kripalu trained.
To me, spirituality arises from the body and the emotions.
Yoga frees energy (prana, or chi, or kundalini) and gets it
moving. Often when I am doing yoga I revisit that state where ego
disappears and then the yoga is just doing itself. (I call this
state “up-time”). I often have had what you might call mystical
experiences during yoga, or visions, but I don’t have to make a
big deal about those. They come and they go. I like the
physical benefits of being more flexible and more balanced also.
Q: Your move to Vermont, the construction of a home, the
creation of a communal way of life, is fascinating. What
inspired Outermost Village Green? What does it take to manifest
such a vision? How does the vision of the community compare to
the reality so far?
This is a huge topic. I’ll limit my answers to a NonDual
perspective since I have written about this stuff in other venues.
I was aware of communes in the 60’s and 70’s and even visited a
few but had no desire to live in one. This changed years later
during the period of my awakening. My heart opened to others the
more I realized that my own self was nothing special. And then,
after Realization sank into me, I began longing for a deeper
connection to people, and the result of the longing was the
manifestation of community.
You ask, “What does it take to manifest such a vision”?
There’s no magic formula but it didn’t happen for me until I found
one other person with the same desire and commitment as me. She is
one of my best friends, and during the whole process of founding
the community neither one of us wavered in our commitment. That
made it possible. It wasn't me and it wasn't her. It was
manifested via our partnership
Q: I like the collection of books that inspired and
guided you in your "journey into community." What are a few
nuggets from them you could pass along?
-- The importance of weekly community meetings
-- The importance of consensus decision making. Majority
votes turn some members into losers and we don’t want that. So
consensus has to be found for every major decision.
-- Everyone contributes. Everyone is recognized with
attention.No one is a loser. each finds his or her own mission.
-- If someone shows initiative, that has to be rewarded.
Community supports the individual, as much as the individual
-- The importance of not taking in people out of pity.
People in community need to have strong lives and they have to be
centered, they can’t be in need of rescuing or they can pull the
whole community down. Caveat: there are some communities whose
mission is to help people in need. That’s different. So you have
to be hard-headed. I had to ask one guy to leave because he was
kind of a well-meaning deadbeat. It was a good decision and I
don’t regret it.
-- There are phases that people go through in starting to
live in community: First is inspiration and excitement and
idealism. Then comes the phase where you start to see people as
they are and the community as it is and disillusionment sinks in.
There might also be times when you feel everyone is in on
something that excludes you, and you feel on the outs. Finally you
get past it and somehow become part of the flow, and that’s when
you find true community.
Q: What is surprising you most about this journey to
I guess I could say that what is surprising me the most is
how difficult (but worthwhile) some of the adjustments have been
that I have had to make. I didn’t expect to be turned inside out
but I was. There has been huge spiritual benefit in that. It was
like a death and rebirth. What has made it easier is that I have
not had to defend some false nothing of my self.
-- How much of community life centers around food: growing
or raising food, preparing food, sharing food, cleaning up after,
hanging out in the kitchen.
-- How rewarding it is to work together on projects.
Whether it is splitting and stacking firewood, or weeding the
garden, or getting the house and grounds ready for a summer party,
we work well as a team and I enjoy the camaraderie a lot.
Q: How did your experience in chaotic and unmoderated
Nonduality Salon email forum prepare you for your current
communal life, if at all?
Online community is quite different from real-life
community so I would say it didn’t prepare me. But what NonDuality
Salon did teach me was how a so-called spiritual movement could
have such a wide umbrella and encompass so many shades of
expression. And how most realized people are far more colorful and
cranky and ornery and loving than their un-realized
Q: Talk about Reddit, Gaming, the online world, and
their relationship to NonDuality.
I’ve been an active online participant for 20 years, even
before the web came along. I started out in the world of email
discussion groups and Usenet. I think the online world teaches us
how fluid identity can be. We can adopt many online personae, and
we find that our persona can change depending on whether we are on
an email list, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, etc. We also find
online how easy it is to construct reality. There’s been an
explosion of cultural formation since the internet really took
off. In gaming, this goes even farther, as we construct an avatar
and then that avatar proceeds to have adventures in different
kinds of worlds. Gaming has a lot of common culture that is
seeping into real-world culture more and more. (Visithttp://reddit.com/r/outsidefor a taste of how
gamers talk about “regular” i.e. “outside”, reality).
This brings me to Reddit. This is a place that combines the
chaotic, free-wheeling nature of the early NonDuality Salon years
with gamification. (In case you haven’t encountered this term,
“gamification” is where elements of game culture like earning
points, badges, and rewards, are used to make an activity more
engaging.) So, on Reddit, you earn karma points by posting
links, and you get karma points by commenting. You can also
up-vote or down-vote other people’s submissions and comments,
which affects their karma score as well. This motivates you to
participate more, as there is something magical in watching your
karma score rise. A great thing about Reddit is that each
sub-Reddit is moderated by volunteer moderators and so the
commenting usually avoids flame-wars and such (I myself am the
moderator of reddit’s non duality sub-reedit).
I think NonDuality is the perfect spiritual model for the
Internet age. The NonDual model of relative vs absolute reality,
and the shifting impermanent nature of the self, fits well with
people’s modes of being online. Standing in NonDual awareness is a
much better stance for the online world, than the dogmatism, rigid
belief, I’m OK-You’re Not Ok, and Exceptionalism that characterize
a lot of conventional religious life today. The online world’s
spiritual practice is that of the hacker. (In this post I talk
about spiritual hackers:http://bit.ly/18RgLPG)
Q: What is your vision of the future of humanity?
I love science fiction, so my vision is informed by many
sci-fi books. I believe that humanity as a whole is evolving
spiritually, and that the overall evolutionary thrust is
propelling many to NonDual realizations such as I had. A term that
I like for this process is recontextualizing.
Humankind as a whole had to recontextualize their place in
the universe after it became accepted knowledge that the earth was
not the center of the universe. Similarly, as the knowledge and
experience of Nondual oneness spreads, people will recontextualize
their identity and their sense of self to a much wider context.
Meanwhile science and technology keep evolving as well. I
think that we will reach a stage on Earth where we are ready to
leave earth and take to the stars. This will mark our transition
from a Type 0 to a Type I civilization (see the Kardashev scale,http://youtu.be/67fPHOYqD3wandhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kardashev_scale). By the time this
happens, the overall level of consciousness of humanity, as a
result of recontextualizing, will be quite a bit higher (See David
R. Hawkins work, esp. “Power vs Force”) With this perspective, I
believe that our job (you and me and our tribes communities) is to
help this evolution along by undertaking whatever tasks are
presented to us that have meaning. In my life path, that task has
taken the shape of learning to live in community and harmony with
others by dropping family, clan, tribe, or national allegiance in
favor of a global, if not galactic, allegiance. In some way, in my
visionary moments, I like to think there is a direct line from my
little community in Vermont to the lift-off, on some glorious
future day, of the first colony destined for the stars.
Q: Big thanks to you David for your clarity and scope of
practice and vision.