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Highlights #951

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nonduality and devotion

Hi Larry... you wrote:

>To my understanding, nonduality is what is left after relinquishing
>attachment to oneself. Duality is the split between me and everything
>else. This split is attachment.

Hmmm... yes, I could agree with this as a conditional description
of 'equivocal' nonduality.

>There are may ways leading to this relinquishment. One way is Vedanta,
>which mostly is a matter of recognizing the primacy of subjectivity. In
>philosophy subjectivity is called neumenon, as distinct from phenomenon.
>It's difficult to describe exactly what it is; one could say, "point of
>view" or "where you're coming from" . One thing we could say is that
>there are absolutely no qualities or experience of any kind in
>subjectivity. As such, it is logically impossible to be devoted to
>subjectivity because the devotee, subjectivity, would have to make an
>object of devotion out of subjectivity. When subjectivity becomes an
>object it is no longer a subject.

One way to say this (in implication at least), is 'There is only self'.

However, this has been 'reduced to solipsism' by certain analytical

Not that I agree with those opinions; the concept of 'solipsism'
(which btw is seldom addressed here in NDS, strangely enough)
implies what seems to be a rather crippled and unconscious
awareness. On the other hand, it could be argued that 'the Universe
is God's solipsism'.


I like to contemplate "there is only self".

I do get the gist of what you are saying, above.

>However, most of the great realizers of Vedanta ascribe qualities to
>subjectivity and appear to recommend devotion to it. There are at least
>two reasons for this.
>One is that most people are put off by the idea of no experience.
>"What's the good in that." The only sense in which "good" is meaningful
>is as pleasant experience. And, by all accounts, what happens when
>attachment to oneself is relinquished, is that pleasant experiences

Yes, quite so! An unexpected and powerful paradox.

>So, looking at it in this way, one of the consequences of
>pursuing a recognition of the primacy of subjectivity is that attachment
>to oneself is relinquished and pleasant experiences arise.

Yes, if it is actually taken that far, which I think is rare.

>Another reason for recommending devotion to subjectivity is that
>devotion is very close to surrender. And surrender is what happens when
>attachment to oneself is relinquished. Unfortunately, devotion is also
>very close to attachment and all attachment devolves into attachment to
>oneself. So if the cord of attachment to oneself isn't completely
>severed, devotion will become attachment and be completely useless.

That is well-reasoned, IMO, and hits the nail on the head.

>At least this is what I think today. Corrections welcome.
>still very attached, Larry

Nice summation, Larry, as seen from here.

It is getting into the tiny crevices of the 'issue', and why not?

I would address the issue of 'vulnerability' (ability to receive wound) here.

Perfect vulnerability 'equals' non-reactive sensitivity, receptivity which is
able to take in, without contradiction, the gift of all of reality itself.

Unconditional receptivity is a possibility; what is one, who is so-informed?

==Gene Poole==

sexual misconduct by gurus

An Interview with Pema Chodron
from Tricycle issue #9

Pema Chodron is an American nun in the Kagyu lineage of Tibetan Buddhism,
and the Director of Gampo Abbey, on Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. She was a
student of the late Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche and in 1974 she received the
novice ordination from His Holiness Gyalwa Karmapa. She took the full nun's
ordination in 1981. She is the author of The Wisdom of No Escape and Be
Grateful to Everyone: A Guide to Compassionate Living, forthcoming from
Shambhala Publications next year. Editor Helen Tworkov conducted this
interview for Tricycle in Nova Scotia in June [1993].

Tricycle: Pema, your life has unfolded into an interesting paradox. Because
you are the Director of Gampo Abbey, one of the few Buddhist centers in
North America to maintain the traditional monastic precepts, and because
you have been a celibate nun for twenty years, you are considered eminently
trustworthy, a teacher beyond reproach in terms of ethical conduct; at the
same time, you have become one of the foremost representatives of the
Vajrayan lineage of Trungpa Rinpoche, a teacher who became legendary as
much for his unconventional behavior as for his spiritual attainment -
specifically his drinking, and having sex with students. Since his death in
1986, there has been increasing concern about the inappropriate use of
spiritual authority, particularly with regard to sex and power. Today even
some students who were once devoted to Trungpa Rinpoche have had a change
of heart. Behavior that they may have formerly considered enlightened they
now consider wrong. Has there been a shift in your own outlook?

Pema Chodron: My undying devotion to Trungpa Rinpoche comes from his
teaching me in every way he could that you can never make things right or
wrong. I consider it my good fortune that somehow I was thrown into a way
of understanding Buddhism which in the Zen tradition is called "don't know
mind": Don't know. Don't know right. Don't know wrong. As far as I'm
concerned, if you're going to make things right and wrong you can never
even talk about fulfilling your bodhisattva vows.

Tricycle: How do you understand the bodhisattva vow?

Pema Chodron: The bodhisattva vow has something to do with going cold
turkey, naked, without any clothes on into whatever situation presents
itself to you, and seeing how you hate certain people, how people trigger
you in every single way, how you want to hold on, how you want to get in
bed and put the covers over your head. Seeing all of that just increases
your compassion for the human situation. We're all up against not finding
ourselves perfect, and still wanting to be open and be there for others. My
sense of what it means to be a bodhisattva on the path, a
student-warrior-bodhisattva, is that you are constantly caught with "don't
know." Can't say yes, can't say no. Can't say right, can't say wrong.
Trungpa Rinpoche was a provocative person. In Cutting Through Spiritual
Materialism he says the job of the spiritual friend is to insult the
student, and that's the kind of guy he was. If things got too smooth, he'd
create chaos. All I can say is that I needed that. I didn't like being
churned up and provoked, but it was what I needed. It showed me how I was
stuck in habitual patterns. The closer I got to him, the more my trust in
him grew.

Tricycle: What was that trust based on?

Pema Chodron: It wasn't trust that he would be predictable or follow some
kind of reliable code. It was trust that his only motivation was to help
people. His whole teaching was about leading people away from holding on to
some kind of security. And I wanted my foundations rocked. I wanted to
actually be free of habitual patterns which keep the ground under my feet
and maintain that false security which denies death. Things are not
permanent, they don't last, there is no final security. He was always
trying to teach us to relax into the insecurity, into the groundlessness.
He taught me about how to live. So I am grateful to him no matter what.

Tricycle: Stories of Trungpa Rinpoche's sexual encounters with students
still upset a lot of people. Have they ever upset you?

Pema Chodron: No. But he upset me. He upset me a lot. I couldn't con him,
and that was uncomfortable. But it was exactly what I needed. Sometimes, in
certain situations, I can see how I'm a con artist, and I can see how I'm
just trying to make everything pretty and smooth, and all I have to do is
think of Rinpoche and I get honest. He has the effect on me of
relentlessly-in a dedicated way-keeping me honest. And that's not always

Tricycle: How did he respond to your choice of celibacy?

Pema Chodron: He encouraged me to be very strict with my vows.

Tricycle:He never provoked you or needled you about being attached to your

Pema Chodron: Quite the opposite. He actually was very strict and used to
say, You know people will be watching you, people will watch how you walk,
how you move, and you should really represent this tradition well. In terms
of how to be a nun or monk, his teachings were always very straight, very
pure. He needled me about other things. I remember one time saying
something to him about feeling that I was a nice person. I used the word
"nice," and I remember the look that crossed his face-it was as if he had
just eaten something that tasted really bad. And he would also do this
thing, which many students have talked to me about, where you'd be talking
on and on in your most earnest style and he'd just yawn and look out the

Tricycle:Would you say that the intention behind this unconventional
behavior, including his sexual exploits and his drinking, was to help others?

Pema Chodron: As the years went on, I felt everything he did was to help
others. But I would also say now that maybe my understanding has gone even
deeper, and it feels more to the point to say I don't know. I don't know
what he was doing. I know he changed my life. I know I love him. But I
donęt know who he was. And maybe he wasn't doing things to help everyone,
but he sure helped me. I learned something from him. But who was that
masked man?

Tricycle:In recent years women have become more articulate about sexism.
And we know more today about the prevalence of child abuse and about how
many people come into dharma really hurting. If you knew ten years ago what
you know today, would you have been so optimistic about Trungpa Rinpoche
and his sexuality? Would you have wanted some of the women you've been
working with to study with him, given their histories of sexual abuse?

Pema Chodron: I would have said, You know he loves women, he's very
passionate, and has a lot of relationships with women, and that might be
part of it if you get involved with him, and you should read all his books,
go to all his talks, and actually see if you can get close to him. And you
should do that knowing you might get an invitation to sleep with him, so
don't be naive about that, and don't think you have to do it, or don't have
to do it. But you have to decide for yourself who you think this guy is.

rest of this long interview here:


Originally brought to our attention by Gloria Lee.

One of my favorite verses. Perfectly describing
Self-Realization or more correctly Self-Recognition.

From "Four Quartets" by T.S. Eliot


We shall not cease from exploration

And the end of all our exploring

Will be to arrive where we started

And know the place for the first time.

Love to all


> >Jody wrote:
> > What my experience is can only be known by myself and I make
> > no claims about it, but I can tell you assuredly that
> > nonduality can only be known by being known. It cannot be
> > taught, even by Krishna Himself.
> >
>Paul wrote:
> 1) The central hub of nonduality is that there is only one Self.
> So what is the difficulty?

Hi Paul,

If I may jump in, difficulty may come from the understanding that there is
neither a central hub of nonduality, nor is there the absence of a central
hub. What there is, is a kind of void. In that void is great freedom. In that
great freedom is often great fear. Out of that great fear comes saviors, such
as Krishna, Buddha or Jesus.

If there was no fear of the void, would we need them? If there was only
playing in the void, who would need an Avatar?

Nobody, that's who.

They are our guides to the void.

If you don't need a guide, you only have the void and great freedom.

If you need a guide, there's the chance you'll think everyone in the void
needs your guide.

No tour guide has ever kept a certain portion of his charges from thinking
that way. There's good and bad in that.

Krishna is your tour guide. Great. Fine and dandy. You get points for saying
his name, for staying in line.

You're free to leave the group.

Aren't you?



> Thank you, although I'm just a wannabe. I get 2
> points for getting you say Krishna's name twice. 8^) You also
> get 2 points.
> Your well wisher,
> Paul

Dear Paul,

I used to visit a Hare Krishna temple in New York 23
years ago on Sundays because they had pretty decent
Indian food. Sweet rice pudding and stuff like that. I
was not making much money teaching yoga so it was nice
to have a free meal once a week. I made many friends
there. There was one person Hamsa Raj whom I used to
converse with often about Sri Krishna. He was a monk
with a shaved head. Very beautiful person and a true
Krishna devotee. Every time I saw him and spoke to him
I wanted to shave my head and join him.

We used to chant Hare Krishna together. I don't
remember how many points I earned but would certainly
offer them to you.



> Pema Chodron: I would have said, You know he loves women, he's very
> passionate, and has a lot of relationships with women, and that might be
> part of it if you get involved with him, and you should read all his books,
> go to all his talks, and actually see if you can get close to him. And you
> should do that knowing you might get an invitation to sleep with him, so
> don't be naive about that, and don't think you have to do it, or don't have
> to do it. But you have to decide for yourself who you think this guy is.

ya really gotta love it. how does that differ with anyone you meet on the internet
or on the street? People are always trying to protect us from 'bad' people.

There are people who believe only certain Teachers should be qualified to Teach.
These people would want to see a committee of respected people decide who these
acceptable Teachers are. Those of us on email lists wouldn't even be considered, so
forget about it. It would only be for famous people who have books in Chapters.

I'm just wondering if Pema Chodrin or this Trungpa guy would be accepted by the
committee. They have books in Chapters. Anyone know for sure?

Of course the guy who succeeded Trungpa knowingly infected many men with AIDS. What
would the committee say about him?

Hey, one guy told me that he left this list because he felt there were people on it
teaching, who he determined weren't qualified. He said they weren't legitimate. He
couldn't tell me what a 'legitimate teacher' was. He dismissed my request for a
definition. My impression was that I didn't meet the level of erudition,
refinement, scholarship, intelligence and good sense, which would warrant a
response. But this person acts as though he knows what's best for others without
needing to discuss it. Perhaps we'll soon get a list of approved teachers from him.

Until then, does anyone know what a legitimate teacher is?


nonduality and devotion

> Gloria wrote:
> >However, to require that the cord of attachment to oneself or the
> subject of devotion must be completely severed first is like putting
> the cart before the horse. If one is already "there", what need
> to hitch up the horse of devotion to get to surrender
> ----------------------
> I agree. If there were a recipe we would all be cake.
> Larry

Yes, I too agree...this wavicle keeps veering in and out of being
calm with 'groundlessness,' and needing something to pour devotion to.

A quote I heard long ago, imperfectly remembered:

"In the midst of terror and confusion,
I reached out for the nearest metaphor
And steadied myself
For a moment."


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Jerry Katz
photography & writings

The wind carves shapes into the beach sand

Search over 5000 pages on Nonduality: