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Satsang with Everyone I
Byron Katie, The Work, Part 1, by Petros
Quoting Byron Katie, Part 1
Byron Katie, The Work, Part 2, by Petros
Quoting Byron Katie, Part 2
Aleks Questions Petros
Retreat with Francis Lucille, by Greg Goode
Leonard Jacobson, Greg Goode
Smell the Perfume of Happiness: Satsang with Francis Lucille, translation by Mira
Andrew in da flesh: A report of Andrew Cohen on book tour, by Michael Read
Gangaji Retreat, by Xan
Satsang with Neelam, by Su Gandolf
Satsang with Neelam, by Carol
If I had more of the vagabond in me, I'd be right there with
you, Scientology and all, just for the tour of it. Some of
you might remember, when I first started my
Realizers/Confessors list it was called the Rider's List. I
described a rider as one who is neither a follower nor a
leader, though sometimes the rider is a leader, sometimes a
follower. The rider rides along with a pack for awhile, then
splits off and goes on his own, then perhaps collects a
gathering around him, then rides off alone again, then
serves as a follower for awhile, then rides off, and so on.
I rather like that analogy! Most apt.
The Rider is not desparate. He or she is not seeking, not
jumping from one teaching to another, because no teaching is
ever 'left' if it is a genuine teaching. The Rider is a
rider in and out and through and alongside all the spiritual
goings-on in the world, visiting friends, as you say, and
there are riders in every endeavor, not only spirituality.
I look forward to more reports from you, Petros, and other
It's been a long, strange trip for this one indeed. I have spent years
"riding" other people's hobby horses and am at a point in life (as we near
Anno Petros XXXIV) to fully "incarnate" as myself. What that's going to
look like, even I don't know yet.
Much has been learned in ten years of playing the field. In terms of
spirituality and organizations, I've always been more attracted to the
quirky characters that attract attention. I went through a teenage rebellion
against the lukewarm Catholicism of my youth and entered into devotion to
the cult of "reason" and materialism -- Ayn Rand and Madalyn Murray O'Hair
were my idols (I met Madalyn once in Austin and knew her son Jon Garth and
daughter Robin.) I edited a newsletter for American Atheists of Connecticut
for two years and even won an award at a convention for my work. (It was
many years before I learned how much of a bitter, dictatorial con-artist
Madalyn was, and discovered the strongly mystical underpinnings of Ayn
Rand's "rational" philosophy. I went away from both, taking with me only
their staunch comittment to free thought and individualism.)
I discovered that Catholicism had left more of a mark in me than I had
imagined; that I loved the ritual and drama of ceremony despite being
180-degrees opposed to the theology. Looking for a way to combine Catholic
ritual and mystery with atheistic rationalism and stark Nietzschean
individualism moved me to the Church of Satan. I sent my obligatory
questionnaire in to San Francisco and, with my $50 donation, received a red
cardboard membership card designating me a "Lifestime Citizen of the
Infernal Empire." I still have that card, too. And a Temple of Set card
that came at a later phase of my life. (Sadly, I never had a chance to meet
LaVey in person though I have met Michael Aquino.)
A search for greater profundity and mystery moved me to seek out LaVey's
influences (Ayn Rand being one of them), thus began a long interest in
Crowley, the O.T.O. and ceremonial magick. Crowley and acid, of course,
brought me to Buddhism and Hinduism. Still caught up in the "mystery" meme,
loving all things secret and vaguely masonic, yet trying very hard to be
"American," I found myself being baptized into the Mormon (LDS) church where
I stayed for six years. I found their mysteries lacking somewhat in
profundity, though I remain a fan of Joseph Smith. (At the same time I
managed to maintain handshake-level relationships with groups like Baha'i,
Christian Science, and others.)
My latent subversive streak, coupled with leftover teenage rebellion, led me
to some ill-advised flirtations with various loony fundamentalist groups and
unsavory right-wing "movements" located in places like Mississippi and
Idaho. I realized quickly that I could end up with an extra hole in my head
by asking too many profound questions in these groups, so that ended my
I owe a debt to LSD which has been discussed on this forum in the past, so
no need to go into it again. Suffice it to say that _that_, and
"association with truth" (satsang) brings me up to the present time. To
think that a handful of little brown guys from India -- Ramana,
Nisargadatta, U.G., et al -- could wipe out all of this balderdash, as they
have for me, is astonishing.
BYRON KATIE, THE WORK, PART 1, by Petros
Check out Byron Katie's website at http://www.thework.org
first for some background on this, then you'll get more out
of my report.
Katie's teaching is more psychological in nature than
metaphysical. It's referred to simply as "the Work" (tm),
and she has "intensives" and two-week "certification"
courses rather than satsangs. The intensives are free or
for donation only, but the longer courses may be expensive.
This weekend's (Oct. 9 & 10, 1999) intensive was held in a hotel ballroom in El
Segundo, adjacent to LAX for convenience I suppose. It was
set up like a satsang, with about a hundred chairs facing a
wide dais with a comfy couch upon which Katie sat. She has
a very professional organization, with video monitors
arranged about the room and several wireless microphones
that volunteer assistants could pass around to people who
had questions and comments. Katie herself wore a headset
mike, which meant you didn't have to strain to hear what was
Essentially she asked who was taking "the Work" for the
first time, and picked someone from the group of raised
hands to come up and sit beside her on the couch. Prior to
the start of the meeting everyone who registered was handed
a piece of paper on which to write down the basic
self-inquiry questions in the Work which could then be
discussed on the platform.
Katie has a soft but very confident and intelligent manner.
Her whole work consists of encouraging people to "turn
around" their judgments of others, bring them back to
themselves, so that they can see clearly how their judgments
of others merely reflect self-judgment. She says it's best
to begin by judging others, because we're so good at it!
After working with one man's particular problem for about
ten or fifteen minutes, Katie turned to the audience and
encouraged people to provide feedback; then used this
feedback itself as a means of showing each person how they
are really addressing themselves. The exciting part is that
eventually people "get it," and actually *listen* to
themselves before saying anything that they wouldn't be able
to "turn around" and put back on themselves.
When you register at the desk you are handed the "little
blue book" which contains the written portion of The Work
(tm.) In a nutshell, this is:
"Judge your neighbor, write it down, ask four questions,
turn it around!"
Also one is handed a clipboard and a printed form which
contains the same questions, and one is "invited" to fill
this out prior to the beginning of the intensive. The
inquiry is as follows:
1. Who or what don't you like? Who or what irritates you?
Who or what saddens or disappoints you? (I don't like or am
angry at ________________, because ___________________.)
(When one of Katie's volunteers greeted me at the
registration desk and helped me find a seat I was already a
little annoyed, as I tend to get very hostile and
hyper-cynical before anything of this sort. When she asked
me without any preface, "Who are you angry at?" I thought
she was reading the expression on my face and was a little
taken aback until I realized she was just showing me how to
do the inquiry. I considered saying something like, "People
who ask stupid questions" but my brain wasn't working fast
Maybe I'm coming down with a bug or something, but I felt
rather under-the-weather this morning and the sight of all
those tanned Californians hugging and kissing each other and
getting all slimy just made me a little queasy.)
2. How do you want them to change? What do you want them
to do? (I want __________ (name) to ____________.)
3. What is it they should or shouldn't do, be, think or
feel? What advice could you offer?
4. Do you need anything from them? What do they need to
give you or do for you to be happy?
(Katie says, "Personalities don't love, they want
5. What do you think of them? Make a list.
6. What is it that you don't want to experience with that
person, thing or situation again?
The "four questions" part is:
a. Is it true?
b. Can I really know that it's true?
c. How do I react when I think this thought?
d. Who would I be without this thought?
And the big "shift" comes at the Turn Around portion of the
Work, which follows in my next post.
After dialoging with someone form the audience, going
through the person's six questions and four inquiries, Katie
works to get the person to turn the judgment around, back
onto oneself. This is the most important part of the whole
process, and is where the real shift of awareness comes in.
This is also why Katie wants us to start work with *others*
rather than ourselves, since we have so much more practice
judging others (this is also a good example of her subtle
humor.) It also creates more of a shift when the turn-around
For instance. The first person up on the couch with Katie
was an Australian man who decided to write about a Rajneesh
therapist he knew by the name of Tirtha. He read from his
notes that he felt this man was continually bullying him,
disrespecting him, and had prejudice against him. Katie
said "turn it around." Thus: "I am continually bullying
myself, disrespecting myself, and have prejudice against
myself." The point is *not* to try to get rid of these
negative attitudes, but to go deeply within and experience
Quotes from Katie:
"You cannot fail to be whole. Whatever name you are given,
you can find within yourself if you go deeply enough. I am
always discovering new names for myself to make myself more
whole. For instance, if my husband says I'm an asshole, I
can go deeply enough inside to find that in me. When he
says I'm wonderful, if I go deeply enough inside I can find
that there too."
"It's not other people's job to acknowledge you or like you;
that's your job."
"Thoughts appear. It's not personal. You're not doing it."
Though the intensive was scheduled from 9:30-4:30 today and
Sunday, I left after just an hour because I felt I had
"gotten" what she was saying. I was feeling a lot better
about everyone there, no more hostility or irritation, so I
figured that was a good time to leave.
You know, I felt after I left the meeting this morning that
something really important was going on there. There is
this sense one receives from Byron that there is almost no
"person" left inside her. Just a precise responsiveness to
others. Yet I was too asleep or dull to appreciate it until
QUOTING BYRON KATIE, PART 1
Quotes from _Losing the Moon: Byron Katie Dialogues on
Non-Duality, Truth and Other Illusions_.
"As God, I'm watching my image. It's called you. It's
called the books over there. It's called the wall.
Fireplace. Everything. Okay? So I'm watching it, and I
thought I was that. I thought I was God. Here's how I came
in as a reversal: I wasn't born this woman for 43 years and
then awakened -- I was BORN. I was born at what you would
call age 43. I came from nowhere and nothing. It was wiped
out. I looked at my hand for the first time. I came in
through a back door."
"I'm too beautiful to be nothing and no-one. Give me a
mirror. Why would I deny my very self?"
"To wake up forever implies time. To wake up is just a past
history apparently arising. It's old. It's to keep you
from the experience now. . .
. The stories go on, but without attachment to the story.
And that's what the inquiry leaves us with. The freedom of
non-attachment. Internal. Detachment from the movie."
"When you look at, 'What do I get for holding the belief, I
want to be enlightened,' you see you get to stay stuck in
what you quote Ramana as saying is the problem ["The only
obstacle to your enlightenment is the belief that you are
not enlightened." Ramana Maharshi]. And the inquiry shows
that beyond a doubt. . . . And who would you be without
it? That's when you go into that space. And you can
continue to hold the same concept after investigation, but
without attachment, which is mostly what I experience you do
anyway. You can't long for what you don't know. The
concept is what you say it is."
"And I could honestly say, 'Nothing is God.' It doesn't even
exist, it's just one more concept. But when a person has
'God is good, everything is God,' then everything has to
fall into that pocket. It's a one-mindedness. .
. . And it's infinite. So, it's that symbol that I
suggest to people.
Everything will fall into it, beautifully. And on the other
side of it, when all falls into it, you come to see that it
"For some of us, to go back to the Self is to ignore what's
out there -- it's a direction that would exclude. And I
say, love where you are, because that's my experience."
"I'm pretending not to be non-duality. Ramana holds the
place where people can understand that truth. And I pretend
I don't. And there's no 'I' doing it. It's just an
BYRON KATIE, THE WORK, PART 2, by Petros
I returned to the Byron Katie intensive this afternoon for a
couple of hours. I was feeling a lot better. I definitely
confirmed the sense I got yesterday about the quality of
BK's method of approach and understanding.
She invited a 12-year old boy up to her couch to dialogue
about some abuse he had experienced from a stepfather, and
time he spent in a shelter for single women and their
children. Katie listened as he read from his "Work sheet"
the six questions (see my earlier post) and helped him
through the process of "turning it around." (This process
of writing it down, going through each inquiry, and "turning
it around" is called "doing the work.")
Judgments of other people in our lives are thus clarified
and turned around, so that we can easily see how we are
really only ever judging ourselves.
Negative judgments are inquired into.
"Who would I be without this thought? Who would I be
without this story?"
"Can you see a reason for keeping this thought? Don't *try*
to get rid of it! But can you see a reason for keeping it?
Who would you be without this thought?"
"Is this judgment true? Can you know that _____________ is
"Judge your neighbor, write it down, ask four questions,
turn it around."
"If you're over in someone else's mind dealing with their
business, and they're in there dealing with it anyway,
that's two of you over there, and there's nobody where YOU
are. No wonder you feel lonely!"
"Except for the story, there's no reality to it. Ever."
This process took about half an hour, after which Katie
opened the dialogue up to the audience for comments,
questions and general feedback. Most people in the audience
offerred their support and encouragement to the boy. He
really did fantastically well. Afterward everyone was
invited up to the couch to give him a big hug. (His mom
QUOTING BYRON KATIE, PART 2
"It takes an absolute love of God. Is it 'I love God,' or
is it 'I love God
sometimes when he's giving me the reality I want?' War is what is. It's
nature. It's what is sometimes. It's not personal. If someone (God, 'what
is') pulls my baby from me -- if that's what it takes, I'm there. Take the
baby. Tear my baby from me. Throw it in the fire. What does it take for me
to get this thing? What does it take for me to understand that I am a lover
of 'What is, God?' My discomfort *is* my war with God. It's my war with
reality the way it is, and not the 'loss' of my baby. You see, there are no
choices. What is, is. When you know that, it's over. And it's beyond full
acceptance, it's the love of itself, the love of God. There is nothing
terrible. Shall I say it again? There is nothing terrible. There has never
been anything terrible. There will never be anything terrible. But when we
get to the baby thing, we're getting down to our sacred little concepts now.
. . . Me, me, me, me in the name of the baby. I'm the one in hell. It's all
about you're destroying my dream. That's all. You take my baby from me,
you're messing with the illusion of I'm the mommy, this is the baby, there's
the daddy, we're going to raise it, happy-ever-after fairy tale. But tearing
the baby away -- that's the higher. Because it snatches your story from you
and makes it apparent in your face -- nothing's real short of reality. The
baby's gone and you're left with you and your thinking."
"I want you to have what you want. Because that's what is. But if you come
to me, and you present yourself in such a way that is asking, or is
interpreted as an asking, then I am going to take that. I'm going to get
your baby and I'm going to throw it in the fire, your baby love. It will
give you, beyond a concept, that which you wanted really. It will leave you
"And I'm not speaking of not holding onto your baby with your arms and your
cries. I'm speaking only of how you hold onto the baby internally -- how
loud is the screaming there?"
ALEKS QUESTIONS PETROS
you mentioned that byron katie is working from a
psychological rather than metaphyical ground.
Yes, it comes across as psychological or psychoanalytical,
but in fact the source is from a much deeper place. I can
sense it in her dialogues with people. I just bought one of
her books at the meeting today and in it, she is quite
explicit about her debt to the teachings of Ramana and
nonduality in general. More on this later. I can
understand the tactic of not making this explicit in public
gatherings, however -- in order to make her teaching more
accessible to people who may be put off by esoteric concepts
and Indian terminology. (Katie does this much more so than
Gangaji, who still makes use of Indian concepts and
interesting, cause a thought/question crossed my mind after
the gangaji satsang along these lines. she claimed the
same-- said she wouldn't use the word enlightenment, or
ignorance! that hers was not a religion or a denomination.
the question is-- then why the air of spiritual gathering?
the pranams, the silence, the lineage. ... i mean-- if
you're not building a church, why put a steeple on it?
Interesting question. You should have asked Gangaji
In my experience, some sort of setup is necessary. The
"couch" has become practically a religious icon in
psychotherapy. In satsang, it's the Chair.
(Though Katie uses a couch on a dais, so that she can have a
person sit next to her during dialogue and everyone can
Katie also has some flowers and music, and photos of her can
be purchased along with audio and video cassettes of prior
intensives. However, there is no prostration or folding of
hands (namaste), it's very "western" except for the dais
arrangement. I mean, anyone (like me) who's been to many
satangs would immediately see the Indian influence and
either feel comforted (like me) or put off (if someone had
bad experiences with "gurus" in the past.)
would you say that katie is more western in her
Definitely, except for the details mentioned above. I'll
post some quotations from her book soon and we can read
places where she expresses a debt to folks like Ramana
Maharshi -- but she doesn't have "a" teacher, as far as I
i'll be interested in hearing if you formulate any more
thought about her not seeming to have "a person" left inside
her. .. i do know exactly what you're saying there. ..
Yes. I feel that there is *almost* no personality left in
there. I mentioned this to a friend of mine who also
attended the intensive and he also knew what I was saying
and agreed. I say "almost," because Katie does have a
colloquial presentation style and a subtle, ironic humor,
not to mention a typically Californian warmth that makes her
accessible to so many people. I might venture to suggest
that she has kept just enough of a personality to be
approachable and available to a large number of modern
If you lose too much "persona" in this part of the world,
you are not likely to be respected as a Teacher, but just
end up homeless instead. There's a place for such extremism
in India, but it is not part of our culture. That's okay,
because I like it this way.
Francis Lucille, Wakefield, Canada
October 10-17, 1999
by Greg Goode
Wakefield is a village about 40 miles north of Ottowa, Canada. It is held
in a country lodge (called "The Barn"). This one-week retreat is held
there every October and April since 1996.
Attendees are 45 in number.
The daily program is as follows:
12noon-12:45....body awareness (yoga)
9:30pm-until....more satsang, which can include impromptu
entertainment, skits, drumming circles,
musical events, comedy, or more
Francis Lucille has been travelling since 1995 or so, after having taught
in France and spent about 15 years with his teacher, Jean Klein. Francis'
emphasis is on Consciousness, which he defines as "That which is reading
these words now." He teaches that lasting happiness cannot be found in
physical or subtle objects, which are temporary and intermittent. Instead,
happiness is the ground of all being, and when this is realized at every
level, it is Self-Realization.
"Every level" means not just intellectually, but also in the heart and
through the body. Intellectual understanding is not enough. Non-doership
is not enough. The body and the world are to be experienced as sensations
and feelings arising from Silence (=Happiness or Consciousness or
sweetness) and therefore not different from Silence.
The guided meditations are to allow a chance to experience the mind and
body as feelings and sensations aising in consciousness - instead of as how
they normally appear, as concretized entities, or as conduits through which
experiences happen. Instead, the mind and body themselves are experienced.
The yoga is physically very easy and can be practiced in a chair. Based
loosely on Kasmir Shaivism, it is a continuation of the guided meditations,
and allows the opportunity to continue the experience in the midst of
The dialogues are ideally to answer questions about these other processes,
or any other metaphysical questions.
Francis has a very quiet, kind, humble and compassionate manner. Unlike
many other satsang teachers, he does not encourage bhakti devotion
towards himself as the object. It is not about a Francis, but about
people being among loving friendships. He teaches that the purpose of life
is to discover our true nature, then to celebrate it. He talks a lot about
beauty, music and art, sweetness that is the background from which objects
arise. He doesn't draw any distinction between realized or unrealized
people, because freedom os freedom FROM such distinctions. He also doesn't
say that you must stop being with a teacher or a spiritual friend once you
have understood the point of these teachings (he was with Jean Klein for 15
years "after"). He emphasizes being happy, enjoying life. He treats
everyone with respect, like an adult who has already graduated - not like a
kid who will never get out of school. He is also very accessible for
45 in number. Average age, 50. From all parts of the U.S. and Canada, as
well as the U.K., Holland, Spain, and France. It is a seasoned bunch of
folks, usually people who have spent 10 or 15 years studying advaita, Zen,
or Krishnamurti. Other large contingents are former Osho sannyasins,
members of the School of Practical Philosophy, contemplative Christianity,
and the Sedona Method. This particular retreat, there were lots of people
who arrived with copies of Ramesh Balsekar's CONSCIOUSNESS SPEAKS to read
during the week.
There are breakfast, lunch and dinner, where the residents prepare and
serve the food. (I am usually head of the breakfast team.) There is lots
of freedom in between the events, and even during - there is no pressure or
compulsion to do any of the events at all.
In addition to the planned events there are lots of nice opportunities to
walk in the woods, go canoeing, go for a great latte at the nearby village
cafe. On Wednesday we had a classical music evening, where Francis Lucille
played the flute, joined by with local musicians (who were not attending
the retreat). One of the attendees is a professional clown and mime
artist, a friend from New York named David Ellzey. He did several mime
acts, plus some non-dualist comedy as "Swami Hagen Daz" and "Reverend Billy
Another evening we had a drumming circle for about 90 minutes, accompanied
by people dancing.
I had a very nice time and will go again!
LEONARD JACOBSON, by Greg Goode
I saw Leonard Jacobson about 3 years ago. He teaches a sort of
conglomeration of psychological freedom, encounter-group methodology,
delicately peppered with Christian terminology. He also teaches with the
assistance of his wife, a clairvoyant. Jimmy, a friend of mine, was
actually helped to release an aversion to using and hearing the word
"God." In the session that I saw, Jimmy laughed and cried, getting angry
at God until Leonard's wife said that Jimmy was actually an Old Testament
prophet who was martyred for God, but became resentful of the fact that God
let him die. When the present (1996) Jimmy heard this, he said, "Yes, yes,
yes!!!" And from then on has had no problem with the God-concept or the
reprinted from The Nondual Daily Nugget:
I am not into the take-away-the-fear-business, I am into the who-am-I-business. Anxiety disappears as a result of enlightenment, and is not an objective in itself
Smell the Perfume of
Happiness: Satsang with Francis Lucille
by Onno van't Klooster
Translation by Mira
This is a portion of an article that appeared in Het Haarlems Dagblad, 21 July 2000. Thanks to Mira for translating and submitting this material. --Jerry Katz
The French spiritual teacher Francis Lucille preaches an age old message. Everything is universal consciousness. The separation between mine and thine, here and there, this and that, you and I is only an illusion. Because everything is one. This is the truth, according to him. "When you acquire this insight, you first smell the perfume of happiness. Subsequently you see life as beautiful and magical", is what he says.
Last week, Lucille was in the Netherlands to explain the essence of the 'everything is one' principle (non-dualism). Not everyone was able to grasp this. A middle aged woman comments: "But I am seated here, and you are over there". Lucille maintains a long silence, thinks, and finally says: "The idea of yourself as a person with a body is mistaken. A body/mind is only a receiver, like a mirror. You see people and objects reflected in the mirror, but the mirror itself is neutral. Thus thoughts that you have are not yours. They are everywhere and can be received by your body/mind. According to Lucille you cannot say that these are 'your' thoughts, spoken by an 'I'. "This doesn't exist", he teaches "hence the idea of an I which is seated over here and you over there is mistaken. Your body/mind is seated over there, and mine over here, but not our consciousness, because consciousness is universal, not personal. Could you say that consciousness is being 'seated'?"
The people attending Lucille's 'satsang', the Hindu word for gathering, laugh about the idea of a seated consciousness. Nevertheless various questions follow, perhaps formulated differently, but they all boil down to the same thing. Francis Lucille is a former scientist (physics) and diplomat. He is reluctant to say anything about himself, because, as he says in consistency with his message: "My personality doesn't matter".
His satsangs, like last Wednesday in the Amsterdam Iyengar Yogacenter, attract about twenty to fifty visitors, who pay 15 guilders ($ 7) entrance fee to listen to Lucille, who advertises himself as 'advaita-teacher'. Inspite Lucille's efforts to integrate familiar Western religion and points of view in his explanations, the public fails to understand entirely what purpose advaita or non-dualism serves.
A man asks what he is supposed to do to reach 'enlightenment' and become a 'self-realised' person like Lucille. The Frenchman thinks again. Lucille takes his time, and the silence is deafening. Finally he replies that enlightenment is not something that you have to do in order to reach it. " ...since there is no you. Self realisation in that sense doesn't exist, because there is no self. It is the experience - which is more than just the insight that all is one - that leads up to enlightenment."
According to Lucille, duality is an illusion, and "consciousness is not personal, but impersonal, universal and eternal. The human ego is only an observed object, not the all perceiving awareness." The questioner nods but looks lost. He is about to ask another question, but changes his mind. When Lucille tries to clarify his argument by taking 'loss of fear' as an example, the public starts to loosen up. Now almost all questions are about how people can lose their fears. Lucille says: "I am not into the take-away-the-fear-business, I am into the who-am-I-business. Anxiety disappears as a result of enlightenment, and is not an objective in itself." Judging from the enormous amount of follow-up questions on the anxiety-problem topic, the public doesn't just take this explanation for granted. After a few more attempts to clarify the same point, Lucille suddenly folds his hands, takes a small bow and says: "Thank you". The satsang has ended. Tomorrow he will give a seven day retreat in a more serious attempt to really clarify the concept of non-dualism and enlightenment to his students. "When you see that dualism is a lie, you smell the perfume of happiness, and subsequently see the whole of life as beautiful and magical".
ANDREW IN DA FLESH: A REPORT OF
ANDREW COHEN ON BOOK TOUR
by Michael Read
Well, I didn't do any flute shopping. I had a lovely
vegetarian lunch at an Indian restaurant and went to hear AC
Hooha! Andrew is a nice person. He is sincere and appears rather unshakable in his viewpoint. He also has a
delightful laugh. He genuinely cares about people and wants to help.
I largely kept quiet during his talk and the question and answer period. That is to say, I didn't speak, but I did
almost fall off of the chair laughing at one point. More on that later.
AC stated that he would discuss his new book for about 45 min and then take questions.
What he talked about were his five tenents. I won't go into them here. He says exactly the same thing on his web site www.andrewcohen.org
The 'crux' of his focus was that he had developed these five
laws over the last fifteen years. Yes, he referred to them as
laws. Furthermore, any truly enlightened person HAS to agree that
these laws are correct. How could it be otherwise? (His words -
One of his emphasises (sp) was on the point that the seeker has to have an overwhelming desire to attain liberation. This is of course emphasised by most if not all teachers and religions. (My words) Where I almost fell off the chair was when he referred to the 'diabolical ego'! Earlier in his talk he tried to make a joke about rape. He couldn't understand it when nobody laughed. He said it must be something about Portland. Excuse me, I like a joke as much as or more than the next gentle being, but rape? Well it must have been the diabolical ego that thinks rape is funny. Sheesh!
AC, despite the lapse into failed humor, did often state that there is only one conciousness a number of times. He would also say that you, the seeker, had to do something to realize this conciousness. More like, you have to do something to become enlightened. There was never a mention of grace.
His message or teaching, if you will, was a mixed bag of duality, non-duality, work, and responsibility. Because he often repeated that the overwhelming desire for liberation is so vital to the process, some may have been inspired to open up thier hearts.
Overall, his mixed bag of concepts and insistance that his tenets are the only real path may make him less than appealing to many. His personality is somewhat guarded, though he exihibits an outward fondness for people. He may be more dynamic in a longer workshop environment.
This tour is mainly a book promotion. He said that he was doing the West coast in a week. After the talk he autographed copies of his book. I did not purchase one. I did take a moment to shake his hand and thank him for his visit. When I shook hands with him I noticed that his aura was lit up in the white and extended out a few inches from his body. He was obviously quite pleased with the afternoon's talk.
Would I want to become a student of his? In a word, no. Does he have something of 'value' to offer? Of course, we all do. :-)
HAHAHAH and HOHOHO!
Peace - Michael
This is my report from a 7-day silent retreat with Gangaji.
For those who are not acquainted with Gangaji, she is an American woman in the lineage of Ramana Maharshi and Poonjaji - Papaji. As a personality she is a powerful presence, beautiful and gracious with incisive intelligence and a playful wit, all used in service to truth.
Arriving and leaving on two Saturdays, we were in silence from Sunday morning to Friday evening except for two satsangs meetings each day and some singing.
Being with her and the group of about 200 this time was yet another excursion into self-honesty and through that into deepening awareness of/as Self. Self-inquiry for her leaves no thought, emotion or identity fragment unturned. She said again, "Never forget the mind's capacity for self- deception, as long as you are in the body."
During the first satsang she laid out a framework for inquiring through and past the veiling mind. In duality, all the "doing" that the mind does is toward or away from forms and situations which are believed to produce experiences one either wants or does not want.
We reach *toward* by desiring, hoping, acquiring, achieving, clinging, grasping. We move *away from* by avoiding, rejecting, judging, defending, denying, resisting. I observe these in myself as a sensation of pushing or trying.
Seeing these movements of the mind, one can stop in the neutral wholeness of the present moment where nothing is sought or avoided.
One way that self-inquiry can be practiced is by observing oneself down through the layers of these movements which comprise the stories of our daily lives. First notice the Story then move awareness down below that to Body Sensations under those to Emotions beneath these to Energies sinking through that to ..............
I find that recognizing the activity of my mind as simply energy continues to depersonalize and free it.
I was also reminded that underneath anger, fear,and all negative emotions is helplessness - the one experience that humans avoid the most. Over this we layer all sorts of stories and "doings" and distortions of power. Attack occurs when one feels s/he has failed in trying to get or get rid of and covers the underlying sense of helplessness.
The self-inquiry of feeling directly into helplessness and down through that can be a straight route into essential effortlessness.
I came home gracefully discombulated and expanded.
Satsang with Neelam
by Su Gandolf
It was with Neelam. In fact, her last open satsang here
is going on now. I went to two of them. In one, I got
"the look" before questions began, and cried pretty
deeply when someone mentioned something about the state
of the world (most likely post-9/11 grief for me). I
left pretty high, but I had come pretty high too. In the
other, fear of death/change came up and I asked about
it. When she asked me the wrap-up "do you understand?",
I said no, and laughed. This time, I left on a low,
which started then and hasn't really let up. This is all
just emotional stuff, but it is a peeling of the layers,
and there were certainly moments of letting go and
something not quite insight.
This was the first time I was at something called a
satsang with a teacher in the chair (except for a short
visit at the beginning of a much larger Gangagi
satsang). From my limited point of view, there is a
layer of "there's nothing to get but I've got it" in the
set-up with the teacher being on a pedestal that is not
so freely addressed, although Neelam is lovely and
"real" (one of her words), and I have a vision of her
transmission as a rowing out with you to the middle of a
quiet, (some light shade of) blue lake. (where another
teacher might take you to a mountain)... and I see my
wanting something too, the contradiction in that. I had
an interesting experience watching a young man with one
of those ever-present beatific smiles on his face that
was so easy to judge badly. The second day, I decided to
see myself in him, and when I looked again, for the
first time his smile had softened. Like my accepting of
him (that part of myself), made it so that part didn't
have to appear so intensely externally anymore. I pretty
much ignored Sai Baba.
Satsang with Neelam
In a message dated 4/20/02 6:56:00 PM, I was at Neelam's
meetings this past week here and am happy to report that
hers have been among the least woo-woo of all the
Ramana-lineage satsangs I've been to here. I liked Su's
"rowboat on the river" analogy; it does seem intimate
when N. works with you, and not at all formal, despite
Papaji photos and her position in and the obligatory bow
to the seat. And in my experience she is sensitive to
where the individual's at. She does not, in the words of
my main-teacha-squeeze BK, push one beyond one's
evolution, unlike some other satsang-givers who
aggressively go for the close whether or not the student
What I find fascinating about Neelam is that there's not
much to attach to -- she's a very "nobody's home" kind
of teacher, not a big personality, decidedly
un-charismatic, no strong opinions apparently. She
doesn't make huge, memorable pronouncements, no
"mahavakyas." So there is a "realness" to her meetings
in that one is left with onesself.
In short, I appreciate her.
Satsang with Everyone I
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