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February 06, 2010

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If "is" is God, then we're all about in the Quad?

Brian: The answer, if there is one, might be: to realize that there's no one to get the point, or any point. The self which is doing the asking doesn't really exist, so existential questions are pointless.

>> so existential questions are pointless.
The elephant: This is a narrative, a entailment that does not belong to all non-dual views (sic).
Both Niz and Ramana Maharshi would strongly advice the inquiry 'Who I am'. Turn knowing (non-intellectually) to the 'I am'. In his Sermon, Meister Echkart did not take lightly or trivialize the existential predicament of each one of his listeners. Neither Hakuin ('the great matter') nor Dogen (Genjo Koan). They all understood the ambiguity of now; not just its simplicity. They all knew 'pointing to' the simplicity of now would not cut it for very good reasons ...

Again, it all depends where you get your shit (narratives). Of course, if you go to place like there
http://beingisknowing.blogspot.com/
http://avastu0.blogspot.com/
you get what you paid for ...

Nonethless interesting that you ended up characterizing and narrowing non-dualism using the narratives of a bunch of fools imagining what the Unmanifested, Eternity, the Godhead, etc may be. Why they hold these narratives is not so difficult to explain at an 'all too human' level. So again, may be the mind cannot grasp the Absolute (which was never the point) but it can do a good job at seeing through their shit. Although it can as easily fall for it ... It is one of its countless and beautiful ambivalences ...

the elephant, I'm not sure who you mean by a "bunch of fools." Do you mean the author of the book I'm reading, who is deeply familiar with Buddhism, Vedanta/Advaita, and other nondual approaches? Do you mean Ramana, Shankara, and other nondual "sages" quoted in the book?

Like religions in general, one problem I have with nondualism is the inability to differentiate "fools" from "sages." I've made this observation before: if it isn't possible to distinguish an enlightened nondual person from an unenlightened one, then nondualism has to be taken on faith almost as much as Christianity does.

I mean, if it isn't possible to observe someone and tell whether they are filled with the love of Jesus, and it also isn't possible to observe someone and tell whether they are filled with a nondual vision, aren't both of these faith-based?

I realize that nondualists (like Christians) say that the truth of the cosmos has to be experienced to be known. But this is the same with lots of things. I can't tell what it like to dance salsa until I dance salsa. But I can see someone dancing salsa, and differentiate someone dancing salsa from someone who isn't.

So this gives me confidence that when I'm dancing salsa, I'm having somewhat of the same feeling that another salsa dancer has. Yet when it comes to nonduality, apparently there is no way to tell who "has it" and who doesn't. Thus we get into all these debates about who is a genuine nondual sage and who isn't, which seem ridiculous to me.


Hi Brian,

Rereading my comment I see why it is not clear who is this "bunch of fools". To keep things short I would include a lot of people. It is easier to say who is not. I would include amongt those who are not fools the names I named [(Both Niz and Ramana Maharshi would strongly advice the inquiry 'Who I am'. Turn knowing (non-intellectually) to the 'I am'. In his Sermon, Meister Echkart did not take lightly or trivialize the existential predicament of each one of his listeners. Neither Hakuin ('the great matter') nor Dogen (Genjo Koan).] I don't know much about Shankara since usually I find anything before year 1000, particularly in the East, unreliable, and to be honest and most importantly unnecessary.

I respect the spiritual endeavor of the author your discuss (he completed recently a five months buddhsit retreat) but what I red by the guy strongly suggests that he is not 'where' the aforementioned 'sages' are. He is writing about stuff he does not speak of with intimacy and authority.

Of course such foolish statement and claim from my part (who Am I to judge or tell after all!) opens myself to the crucial issue your raise: how can you make such distinction? Unfortunately, as you wrote, a practical rule of thum, often adequate in practice, does not seem to work well in these cases:
> Asked by Shelby how excessive trading activity would be recognized by regulators, Volcker quips, “It’s like pornography: you know it when you see it.”
http://blogs.barrons.com/stockstowatchtoday/2010/02/02/volcker-talks-to-senate-banking-committee/

As you point out a lot of non-dual narratives stuggle with this question, or often the answers sound like cartoons of reality. I don't. But to explain why I may not be just another 'fool' [and may be I am after all :)] I would need a different outlet from short exchanges on blogs ...

People are looking for some kind of perpetual bliss and/or freedom from the fear of death when following some religion, path or non-duality. They expect an overwhelming experience, satori now or heaven later, that casts away all difficulties and leaves them on a permanent high that they never come down from.

Blogger B said: "nondualism has to be taken on faith almost as much as Christianity does."

--There really isn't anything in non-duality to have faith in. No heaven, no prize, no God, no thing at all. Non-duality is no thing, but non-dual teachings as written or orally expressed are really just a series of readblocks. All non-duality seeks to do is wipe away all our "narrative shit", break through conditioning and wipe the slate clean. It seeks to put the mind in a corner where it has no where to go and comes "full stop". In that moment it may be seen how things are.

There isn't anything you can do. There just comes a time in the search when the ego mind becomes exhausted and lays upon the mountain of beliefs, concepts and striving and just collapses. It stops. What remains is the non-dual cliche'..just this and that's all it is.

Non-dual teachings are sort of like the barriers in a pinball machine which represent the conditioning and concepts the silver ball of 'me' runs into until there is no where to go but to the opening of clarity and then the ball just drops away.

This is a simple recognition of how things are and once seen is perfectly normal and ordinary. Many who see this say something like, "Is that all it is?". Fireworks don't have to go off and you don't have to ride a cosmic rocket ship in ecstacy struck dumb by the splenor of it all. Not that there isn't splendor, but the recognition isn't.

It is kind of a relief not to have this burden of an actual self to nurture and find salvation for. You feel more relaxed and more able to take things lightly and see the humor in situations. You see all as mirroring yourself, ironically a "self" you cannot find because you can't turn around and face it. In that, there is a oneness and general feeling of good will toward life. But there are still problems, bills to pay, diseases and assholes to deal with and your personality with all its facets. Sometimes you get pissed off, irritable or frustrated. It's just that they seem more like passing appearances than something you latch on to and own. It's all part of the play or leela.

The dilemma about death. Yes the current body-mind association breaks up. What you think of as you is no more (unless you realized that already) but as what you really are, manifestation keeps on manifesting impersonally as usual in its myriad forms as 'this' Here. All non-duality is about is finding that Here is what one is. all there ever was or could be. Here never goes anywhere and there is plenty of matter left to keep us busy playing the game of living.

**In case I come off as preaching to you as saying this is the way it is. I don't mean it that way. I'm just writing for the fun of it. If you find value in it fine. If it's utter crap to you, that's fine too. You may be right!!!

tucson, thanks for your clear and appealing description of nonduality. I resonate with what you said much more than with "preachier" nondual teachings.

Often promoters of nonduality (like Ken Wilber) make it out to be some complex, life-changing, unique take on reality that leaves all other philosophies, religions, spiritual paths, and such in the dust.

That turns me off. It also seems to go against the grain of nonduality. If there is no self, and no genuine duality to the cosmos, then who is there to be "enlightened" and what special state is there to be enlightened into?

Like you said, to me nonduality is an attitude, an approach to living in the world, a fresh perspective. Nothing changes other than our viewpoint. Shit still happens. Beauty still happens. We just see all that less personally, with less attachment, taking life a bit less seriously.

Tucson: People are looking for some kind of perpetual bliss and/or freedom from the fear of death when following some religion, path or non-duality. They expect an overwhelming experience, satori now or heaven later, that casts away all difficulties and leaves them on a permanent high that they never come down from.

The elephant: I think it is pretty simplistic view of the spiritual endeavor; it may accomodate the narratives you tell afterwards but I have seen and heard much mature descriptions and characterizations, which of course don't fit very well, and I would say invalidate to a lesser extent the rest of your story.

An example:
http://www.amazon.com/Origin-Human-Nature-Buddhist-Evolution/dp/1845192605/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1265570797&sr=8-5
And there is of course the Ethics of Spinoza but the latter is opaque and difficult.

Tucson: **In case I come off as preaching to you as saying this is the way it is. I don't mean it that way. I'm just writing for the fun of it. If you find value in it fine. If it's utter crap to you, that's fine too. You may be right!!!

Elephant: Like they say in the Koan Tradition, it seems like you opened your mouth at least one time too many with this disclaimer ... why going to extraordinary length to emphasize the ordinary? Seriously ...
Well ... We all know the Koan "chopping wood, carry water".

Tucson's version must be: "chopping wood, carry water" ** please be sure to note that I am just chopping wood, I just carry wood ... are you seeing it ... and then get in my pickup truck ... all cool ... take or leave it ... :)


Blogger B, Thanks for your thanks.

Elephant,
You take a mean-spirited and deliberately antagonistic approach. Why? It only deepens your personal unhappiness and dissatisfaction.

Tucson: You take a mean-spirited and deliberately antagonistic approach. Why? It only deepens your personal unhappiness and dissatisfaction.

Elephant: So when Tao insults, disrespect, terrorize, etc. others you excuse it on the account that it is for the good of the interlocutor: tough love kind of explanation. When I poke fun at your bullshit with a bit of sarcasm [why not listen to your own advice and lighten up dude! :)]it is because of my personal unhappiness and dissatisfaction :) Sure ...
Please ... If there is anything deepening around here is how self-serving you come across ... Why do you rule out the tough love hypothesis? I love you dude :)

Regarding our exchanges ... all you have are pity generalizations and self-serving speculations ... at least my observations target specific and existing textual evidences of yours ...

If you feel I am not as nice as Brian, is it not what it is? Anything wrong with that? :) All for fun after all?


Enough of this, Elephant.

Back on topic. It seems to me the whole point of non-duality is to help one recognise oneself as one's absence as subject. This is easy to understand superficially but our conditioning makes this difficult to apprehend profoundly.

This problem has perpetually been attempted to be solved with a mind that is itself the problem. And what says that? The self-same mind! Empty the bathwater and the baby with it!!

"the narratives of a bunch of fools" -- Posted by: the elephant | February 07, 2010 at 04:07 AM

-- this sure looks like "insults" & "disrespect" to me... not to mention "mean-spirited and deliberately antagonistic".


"I see why it is not clear who is this "bunch of fools"." -- Posted by: the elephant | February 07, 2010 at 08:49 AM

-- looks like "insults" & "disrespect" to me.


"I poke fun at your bullshit with a bit of sarcasm" -- Posted by: the elephant | February 07, 2010 at 03:19 PM

-- looks to me more like a case of hypocrisy, than "fun".

"Tao insults, disrespect, terrorize, etc. others" -- Posted by: the elephant | February 07, 2010 at 03:19 PM

-- didn't I just mention hypocrisy? well there it is.


Hi Brian, I've been absent for awhile but I'm back...so to speak! Fresh from the Kitchen Sink tradition of Advaita. Really enjoying your blog and I'm putting a long-overdue link to it on mine. Remember all the hoo-hah about the Rules of Nonduality? Never have so many buttons been pressed on so many persons by no one. All about a bit of wry observation, not meant to be taken seriously...but people will take things the way they will! All control is illusory.

I've come to your blog purposefully because I've recently come across some stuff about Evil Yoga:
http://www.macgregorministries.org/cult_groups/yoga.html
http://www.opinioneditorials.com/freedomwriters/mwest_20080125.html
Among many others. Just wondering what you'd make of all this...and it's good to be back on your blog.

Suzanne,

i checked out those two webpages. imo, the content of both of those pages are about as ignorant and idiotic as it gets.

so i wonder why you would even bother thinking twice about such nonsense? thise people have no absolutely understanding of hatha yoga or kundalini yoga.

moreover, whomever wrote those is terribly narrow-minded, judgemental, and life-negative.

do you actually think there is something there worth consideration? if you do, then i would suggest you do some basic research into hatha yoga, kundalini yoga, and vedanta and eastern philosophy. and don't listen to christian fundamentalist fools and religious nuts who don't know what the hell they are talking about.

i am amazed. i had thought that you seemed to be into advaita? so why would you think twice about this kind of ridiculous and dualistic religious garbage? like: 'yoga is evil' and 'hinduism is satanic'??

come on, you can't really be serious, are you?


Suzanne, I assume you shared those anti-Yoga links as an example of how ridiculous Christian fundamentalism can be.

Fortunately, many (most?) Christians are much more open-minded. In my Tai Chi class, which has a thoroughly Taoist atmosphere, Christians happily co-exist with Buddhists, agnostics, and other persuasions.

Thanks for the Churchless mention on your blog. I've reciprocated in my "Links to Explore." I enjoy your nondual slant, though as I said in this post, there are aspects of nondualism that appeal to me more than others.

Just came across it, was surprised it even existed, and thought to throw it to the specialists.

Just remember Brian...nonduality isn't a belief system, but rather an attempt to describe fundamental awareness. Nicholas Powiull describes the encompassment of all beliefs in this post terribly well: http://consciousflex.blogspot.com/2010/02/more-questions-about-nonduality-and.html However, the ego will relish the idea of sticking around to battle that conceptual argument out!

Thanks for the link back Dude, you sure work hard!

My dear Suzanne,

Your 'mind' has rejected the mind so categorically that you can't, as well as this fellow Nicholas, realize how ridiculous and naive your own beliefs are. What is Nicholas' article after all: the mind (alledgedly and mistakenly) showing/describing how your narratives are not beliefs and the divergent narratives are. But why believe what the mind has to say in this case and not believe it other times ...

You obviously understand little of the the mind you so lightly dismiss. The irony is that the story of no-story you tell yourself is still a story but of the worst kind: with respect to the 'myriad' you are: you are completely stuck. Your story of no-story obstructs perniciously -- with respect to the reflection of Oneness and Identity you are, what Niz refers to the 'I Am'--the ambiguous unfolding of life; you cut yourself completely from the 'co-operation' that simutaneously is and must be.

"Exactly. Do understand that you are destined for enlightenment. Co-operate with your destiny, don't go against it, don’t thwart it. Allow it to fulfil itself. All you have to do is to give attention to the obstacles created by the foolish mind." [I Am That, chapter 64]

Your descriptions (sic) and poetries about Reality and narratives are rigged with what you sketchly called 'belief', which in the end turn out to be unhelpful caricatures of the referent. The simple recognition of your ignorance is something that is well within the power of the mind to achieve. Forget about the Absolute ... but that is something you and your friends are addicted, fixed, stucked on ,,, hence these long and pointless posts and comments ... Have you had and done all the 'point to' 'what cannot be described' that can be? ... how much more do you need? Probably better for you if you come back on earth for a while ... . What you do is 'wondering' at the steps of the Absolute and disparaging the mind ... you got it all wrong up is down down is up.
As Nisargadatta said:

"After all, it is the mind that creates illusion and it is the mind that gets free of it. Words may aggravate illusion, words may also help dispel it." [I Am That, chapter 39]

Love,

Hey Elephant,

Your ego is doing a fabulous job of wrangling with the paradoxical conundrums of trying to describe what is "before" thought. Blah blah blah blah blah, I'm sure either of us could go on, pointlessly, about it all, forever...which is exactly what we're doing!

Mind is in no way rejected, it is revelled in...by who? By what is aware of mind, I suppose is the simplest way to put it. Not sure what you mean by disparaging the mind...it seems I'm one of the few writers on the topic around that remind people that mind is fine, thought is fine, it is, and so it is (fine). The paradox of the story of no-story is appreciated; when there are words, there are concepts, or stories, it is unavoidable; often, it seems, everything must be let go of (not disparaged) to be appreciated.

As far as I can tell, I'm on Earth. It looks like Earth, it feels like Earth, smells like it, tastes like it, sounds like it. I certainly don't feel "completely stuck". The ambiguous unfolding seems full of engagement and co-operation, which you suggest may be absent. Life is beyond my wildest dreams, as it is unlimited by my wildest dreams. There is no better, whatever is, is. It's ALL a bit pointless, but certainly fun! And thrilling, and miserable, and blissful, and dull, etc. etc.

I certainly agree that mind creates illusion, and mind dispels illusion, and some words may seem helpful, and some words may propagate it. I'm not sure what you mean by "you got it all wrong up is down down is up", unless you're one of the objectors to the concept of enlightenment (or whatever we're calling it today) without traditional practice coming "first". It seems that the unfolding stories themselves can be practice, in many forms and many presentations, whether it be therapy or any rigorous self-enquiry, which sometimes happens within simple life in its ordinary presentation. It's not just Nisgardatta who is That, ya know.

Elephant, you seem a bit cantankerous, and mebbe a li-i-itle argumentative when it comes to this topic - I sense buttons being pushed! Would you like a hug?

Love, Suzanne

P.S. I've already forgotten about the Absolute. The Absolute? What's that?

My dear Suzanne,

You replied: Your ego is doing a fabulous job of wrangling with the paradoxical conundrums of trying to describe what is "before" thought.

--There is no wrangling here. Actually, if you carefully pay attention to my post you will see that underlying it is the message that the mind cannot grasp or describe the Absolute. So where would it be implied that the mind is trying to describe the Absolute? You are so caugth up in your own mind that you fail to see what is plainly written by others ... Don't you realize how you are trying to fit what I did write in something I did not write just to fit your narrow narratives? If it can be of any help, you may notice one day that between the both of us you are the one who cannot let go of the Absolute (Pure awareness) at a conceptual level (with your blog as actual evidence).

You said "Mind is in no way rejected," but in the paragraph just before you were saying: ". Blah blah blah blah blah, I'm sure either of us could go on, pointlessly, about it all, forever...which is exactly what we're doing!"
-- Whatever you may say, it does not change the fact that your are trivializing and dismissing the mind and its powers based on a false view. Actions speak louder than words in this case.

You wrote: The paradox of the story of no-story is appreciated; when there are words, there are concepts, or stories, it is unavoidable; often, it seems, everything must be let go of (not disparaged) to be appreciated.

-- One symptom of the the story of no-story is the tendency to excuse and conceptually trivialize everything--after all it is only 'what is' no? :)--it is simply a sad game by the mind, and as such, it shall crumble one day.

You wrote: Elephant, you seem a bit cantankerous, and mebbe a li-i-itle argumentative when it comes to this topic - I sense buttons being pushed! Would you like a hug?

--Why do you suggest this narrative instead of many others that would 'explain' 'me being a bit argumentative'? Why do you prefer this one? Wish you are feeling better ... Believe what you wish to believe ... one day you will perhaps 'see through' the artificial nature of your 'harmony' ... It is why both Niz and Hakuin showed us that love can be quite feisty and 'argumentative' ...

Your wrote: P.S. I've already forgotten about the Absolute. The Absolute? What's that?
-- Again, as I pointed out to someone else before: Why going to extraordinary length to stress the ordinary? Can you not smell the ego/mind you decry so much on your blog?

Love,

Hey Elephant, ego/mind might arise, they might not, they are interpreted however they are interpreted, the ego/mind is not decried, but celebrated. Maybe you should re-read my blog, I defend the ego all the time - it's just doing its job. Playfulness is the most essential quality of what seems to arise, for me...it may change...it may not. In that playful spirit, asking if you want a hug, denying knowledge of the absolute, calling you cantankerous...it's all just play, a call to fun. I don't prefer it; it comes up. It's not harmony that's experienced: it's everything. Everything is available. And however artificial it may be - yet another label - it is real, firm, good, bad, enticing, fragrant, intense, lovely, life. Just life. Everything I thought I had been searching for had never left.

And, just out of curiousity, what DOES the ego smell like? I can't detect ego/mind by smell if I don't know what to sniff for. Gone-off cabbages? The first damp earth of spring? Low tide? Jasmine through the open french doors at dusk? Wet dog? A field of hyacinths? Gimme a clue Dude.

If you can figure our why on Earth I go to such extraordinary lengths to stress the ordinary, will you please, please let me know?

Playfully, and love, Suzanne


Suzanne vs. The Elephant, can't resist doing some scoring (I've been watching a lot of winter Olympics).

Style points: close call until the finish line, where Suzanne relaxes, puts on a big smile, and cruises by the rigidity of The Elephant. Score!

Compulsory figures: both competitors danced around, left me confused as I watched the whirling arguments, wasn't sure what the point of it all was. In short, exactly what I'd expect from two proponents of nondualism -- entertainment without a lot of coherence. Draw.

Intangibles: Since I don't know what this competition was all about, nor what the rules are for scoring it, I'll go with my gut. Another point to Suzanne! Clear winner!

(I just don't know what was won, or if anybody won anything, since nondualism says there is no "self" to do any winning or losing. So I gather both competitors couldn't care less about this scorecard.)

Hi Brian. Coherence is way overrated. And I think Elephant won, since he is obviously right!

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