The next two issues that I edit (today’s and Tuesday’s) will primarily be devoted to one of the founders of Nonduality Salon, a pioneer in both online nonduality and real life communal living, David Hodges.
We begin with a recent article from David posted to his Reddit nonduality group at www.reddit.com/r/nonduality. This will be followed by Part One of an interview with David, along with photos. In Part Two we’ll conclude the interview and show you more photos.
photo: David Hodges
What is a spiritual hacker?
by David Hodges
There is an image of hackers in the movies as bad characters or evil geniuses who can unlock even the most secure computer systems, and to defeat them you need a white-hat hacker on your team who can do the same.
However, within the computer community, the term “hacker” is generally a term of praise. Good hackers are heroes of resourcefulness. Computer hackers can cobble together programs to do just about anything out of parts of other programs. The whole open-source movement was created by hackers who were less interested in making money than in providing valuable programs to the hacker community. Linux is the hacker’s operating system. I speak as a computer programmer, for whom there is nothing more satisfying than a good, ingenious hack.
Do-it-yourself hackers can hack together a robot out of a Roomba vacuum cleaner, a Kinect game controller, a raspberry Pi, and some open source control programming.
Musicians increasingly are hackers of sound, cobbling together remixes and mashups using GarageBand and ProTools.
So what is a spiritual hacker?
If a person wants to put together a coherent, meaningful spiritual life, and if they don’t want to go down the line with a mainline church, or if they are a refugee from organized religion, then they can now go the hacker route.
Spiritual hackers can cobble together a spiritual framework for themselves out of the plethora of ideas, discussions, articles, posts, tweets, facebook groups, and so on that are available now.
Just because you are a smart person, steeped in technology, doesn’t mean that you can’t have a deep spiritual connection. Just because your rational brain rejects what you see as the mythologies on the trashheap of spiritual history, doesn’t mean that you can’t construct a viable alternative.
There are many paths to God.
The hacker’s path is now, at this time in history, the one to watch. And NonDuality is the spiritual hacker’s Open Source operating system.
Interview with David Hodges
The following questions come from each of the Highlights editors, Gloria, Mark, Dustin, and Jerry:
Q: How/when did you experience nondual awakening/insight? What was your spiritual background or reading/research on the topic?
It was in the spring, around 1999 or 2000. I had driven about 45 miles from my home to visit my mother, who was ill. I was in my car, on my way home, Madonna’s “Ray of Light” on the CD player, when something gave way. It was like a balloon popping and suddenly the skin of my small self wasn’t there. Instead everything was just happening on its own – the landscape on the side of the highway rushing by, the music flowing from the car’s speakers, my hands, looking strangely foreign, on the steering wheel.
I stayed in an expanded state for several days. When I slept I had lucid dreams. Everything had flipped. The world was full of self, while inside me was just emptiness. It was glorious to just take a walk and feel that the trees had awareness and that everything was made from consciousness.
This was a big deal in my life and a lot of things changed for me after that.
In answer to the second part of the question, I was raised a Christian but had become interested in the NonDual approach when I read R.H. Blyth’s “Zen in English Literature and Oriental Classics” in high school (except I didn’t know the term NonDuality then). I considered myself a spiritual seeker for years. I started meditating in my 40’s and found the Witness state pretty quickly, and felt energy moving in me when I meditated. When the Internet came along I discovered some kindred spirits in the Kundalini mailing list, among them Jerry Katz, Harsha Luthar, Berit Ellingsen, and many others, and was one of the first to jump with Jerry to his NonDuality Salon group. I learned a lot about self-inquiry then. Jerry helped me during that crucial period when I walked around asking myself “Is this I AM?” I would come to awareness with this question in mind a hundred times a day. And it was then that the experience in the car happened that pretty much ended my spiritual seeking, but led to other things opening up for me.
Q: How has your investigation evolved?
It’s a paradox. I just don’t believe my personal self is that important anymore, yet the Self that is the Absolute (Atman in Brahman) insists that I keep working on the personal self. It’s a continual deconstruction. The impermanence and downright inadequacy of the personal self keeps getting shoved in my face. I suffer when I don’t get it or resist it.
I keep getting nudged to move in the direction of devotion. NonDuality and Devotion is a tough one for Americans but very familiar to those who were acolytes of a guru. How can a Western NonDualist practice the yoga of devotion (bhakti yoga) without a belief in a personal creator god? That’s my paradox right now. Because in my heart of hearts I feel a lot of praise and thankfulness.
Q: What does surrender mean to you?
Surrender means “No Resistance”. When faced with oppositional energy from someone or some situation I try non-resistance, the way a martial artist might. Then the oppositional energy often is deflated or transformed into
Surrender also means I stopped having anything to prove. I stopped trying to perfect myself. I prefer to be whole, with a lot of flaws, than to aspire to perfection, which is a recipe for making oneself crazy. Surrendering the personal will means opening up to the incredible manifestation power of the universe. So many things have manifested for me at the right time, that trying to exert will to make them happen seems pointless.
Q: How do you feel that nondual insights have affected the machinations of your daily life, particularly with respect to how you handle conflicts in your work life and interpersonal relationships? Is there a way that you bring your nondual insight to bear in your interpersonal relationships?
Since I came to know that there is nothing to defend, I stopped being defensive in conflict.
Since I came to know that there is nothing to be made perfect, I stopped trying to be right in an argument.
But, I muck about in relationships like everyone else I guess. I am learning to be more open, more honest, to communicate my needs better, but I am still an amateur at that.
I think that since my NonDual realization I have become more conscious of love. Not romantic love, but love as a basic flow between me and just about everyone I come in contact with. I mentioned devotion previously. I think in the NonDual sense, Devotion means following the love energy. But that doesn’t mean all relationships are hunky dory. Living in community, you don’t always get the best side of people. And you accept the fact that they are going to see you at your worst from time to time. Projections, shadow stuff, baggage, button-pushing – yeah, all that happens to me and to my community-mates. But also good communication, sharing, connecting, working together, laughter, trust, caring.
David’s Facebook page will draw you further into his life, his writing, his photography, and his spirit:
In the second part of the interview, David talks about Yoga, his journey to community, Reddit and gaming, nonduality itself, and the global picture.