Category Archives: Gurus/Teachers/Sages

#5225 – Interview with Dr. Gary Tzu

Edited by Jerry Katz

photo: Gary Tzu

Interview on Nonduality Talk radio with Dr. Gary Tzu:

Download link:

Gary is Director of the Addictions Counselling Program at University of Lethbridge in Alberta, Canada, where he is an Associate Professor. He is also a counselor, a conference organizer, and founder, publisher and editor of Paradoxica: Journal of Nondual Psychology. We talk about Gary’s new book, Awakening in the Paradox of Darkness.


Here’s descriptive listing of tracks with time cues:

0:00 – 7:58 Introduction to Dr. Gary Tzu. Gary defines nondual and talks about his experience of seeking and its death.

7:58 – 9:46 Gary expands on the nature of seeking and the burning out of hope.

9:46 – 12:34 Imitating teachers, nondual ideals, and other byproducts of awakening.

12:34 – 15:38 Gary talks about building relationship with people through intense connectiveness. Paradoxica Conference being held June 12-13, 2014.

15:38 – 25:07 The grey realm, being stuck in limbo, the positive thinking sinkhole, managing the intensity of existence, having a secret life. False core drivers. Sitting in the nothingness with total presence rather than trying to manage the intensity of nothingness.

25:07 – 31:04 Taking risks in day to day living is essentially dying unto the moment and allowing nondual energy to flow. Avoiding those risks and living a convenience store life. Nondual teachers avoiding risk taking. Sharing your emerging understanding as risk taking. Gary taking risks of sharing nondual understanding within the context of a traditional university. Writing a text book on nondual psychology.

31:04 – 36:26 Mandee Moon joins the show. The Black Realm of Terror as a portal to nondual awakening. “I am the terror itself.” Light of existence revealing itself out of the total blackness of terror. Panic attacks and existence. We don’t realize we’re living in fear.

36:26 – 42:00 Gary talks about his clients’ awareness of the nondual and the invitation for the ego to have its death. Therapists have to work through their own trauma before doing nondual trauma work with others otherwise they will get lost in the trauma of the client. Childhood sexual abuse briefly discussed.

42:00 – 44:15 Healing and nondual awakening compared. Gary’s degree programs and counseling requiring nondual awakening and deconstruction of the expert stance.

44:15 – 49:11 Other deep darknesses that may have to be faced, such as birth trauma, experience of hell realms, past life traumas. These traumas can deconstruct and dissolve into vastness.

49:11 – 55:12 Celebrating existence, enjoying the energy of nondual awakening. “The dangerousness of existence is accepted.” The wisdom of insecurity. Accepting the wildness of existence. The desire for nondual teacherhood. Desire as rejection of the present moment. Danger of spiritual bypassing. Building idleness into daily life. Conclusion of interview.

55:12 – 57:37 Mandee and Jerry chat about Gary’s bringing nonduality into his university. Final words. Music by Prosad, I Am Free.



Here are my interviewer’s notes, which summarize the main sections of the book and include some of questions asked:

– Your book is astonishing dissection of darkness. Please give us a general statement of what your book is about and in addition the adjective nondual is used throughout the book, such as nondual awakening, nondual portals, nondual ideals, so please define nondual or nonduality for us as well.

– The book begins with revelations about the death of the seeker. Then it explores various realms of darkness, fear, and trauma, and how to work through them, using the example of your life and those of people you’ve counseled. Finally the book ends with embracing the mystery and just being. Let’s talk about these themes of darkness. There was your own seeking and its death. Would you talk about that?

PART ONE Death of the Seeker

  • I became aware that my desire for awakening had been an obstacle .
  • We have to let go of our addictive pattern of always turning to the mind for something to grab onto.
  • People on the quest for spirituality and awakening often spend so much time trying to imitate spiritual ideals like loving-kindness and compassion.
  • In my own journey, at a certain point, I realized there was no answer for my seeking. There was no remedy and no way out. … a “fuck it” came out of the depths of my being, and I relaxed.

– Let’s look at some of the realms of darkness and fear you write about. The grey realm has some fascinating psychological manifestation. Would you tell us what the gray realm is and talk about the secret life people have. How do we work through the grey realm?

  • PART TWO The Grey Realm: Stuck in Limbo
  • We can feel inadequate and grey inside, and we have our little addictive rituals to overcome our insufficiency . All of these grey realm issues are just invitations to plunge into all of life and embrace existence head on rather than hiding out .
  • The Positive Thinking Sinkhole: We see that it is the discriminatory mind with all of its preferences, choices and judgments that keeps us in emotional hell—keeps us suffering.
  • what does it mean and what are the implications of being frozen in complaints
  • This is when a person is functioning, in many ways, at a beingness level, but at the same time has a secret life, in which he or she plunges into addictive behaviours. Case study. What does this require?
  • I have noticed that, if a person stops taking risks in the day-to-day aspect of living, it impacts the non-dual energy flowing through them; it is almost like the person becomes a hoarder—rather than a sharer—of energy
  • the only way to work this through is to accept the lostness and unmotivated state with no judgment and plunge into nothingness by resolving the gap between the illusionary “I” and the nothingness itself.

– The realm of the blues includes romantic love and waiting for enlightenment. Ask about example and how to work through it.

  • PART THREE Hanging On: The Realm of the Blues
  • We believe in our perspective of separateness, and we try to resolve it by looking to the other to save us.
  • These holes originated during childhood, partly as a result of traumatic experiences or conflicts with the environment. As we move into adulthood, we bring our wounds from childhood . We have all such wounds, which we try to medicate with some type of addictive process.
  • People can slip into a perpetual waiting mode for years, even decades. They typically report some variation of, I am waiting for something to happen [esp. Enlightenment
  • PART FOUR The Black Realm of Terror: Fear and Trauma
  • non-dual awakening so energizes and magnifies the whole system of awareness
  • I discovered that avoidance was far worse than the actual emotions.
  • to me, as a non-dual therapist, it is almost a good sign when I hear a person is having panic attacks. We can only deal with something if it is in our awareness.
  • The key is accepting the reality of death in each moment .
  • warning to therapists: beginning therapists can get lost in the belly of the client.

Some people might be surpised that you talk about realms of past life trauma, birthing trauma, and hell realm trauma.

  • PART FIVE Veiled Darkness: Diving into the Deep Dark Realms
  • Past Life Trauma: Finding the Missing Key: one day we can even see that past, present and future are contained in the now . So, all of this past healing is really a healing of this moment .
  • Intra-uterine Trauma: The Pain of Being Born: People can re-experience the birthing process as well as other cosmological themes of existence through Grof’s Holotropic Breathwork Therapy .
  • Hell Realm Trauma: From Enduring Terror to Finding the Light Within the Darkness. a key theme is that you are hanging on, desperate to survive no matter what.

Finally things turn around

  • PART SIX Embracing the Bedazzling Mystery
  • What is called for, now, is to come down and share our awakening and all encompassing love with everything in life: with our friends, family, institutions, communities, and the whole globe. Always transcending ourselves as we realize this journey never stops, we joyously embrace this wondrous existence, and celebrate this infinite bedazzling mystery .
  • The dangerousness of existence is accepted. It is a fact of existence. Existence is celebrated in this moment with the realization that there is nothing to grab onto for the next moment. Death could show up at any time, and I am ready .
  • Talk about the urge that led you to where you are. For me, my fall from grace was tied up with heightened energy to be on the edge of discovery, on the very frontier of human consciousness, helping shape the next step in human consciousness development. The learning process goes on and on as we integrate our lessons and give back to the community and keep opening up to the vaster planes of existence .
  • Seeing through the Desire for Non-dual Teacherhood: The way I look at it these days is that the mind with all of its expectations is dropped moment to moment . Expectations are misery, so cut the root .
  • Rather than escaping the world by retreating into an idealized transcendent state, the sharing of our non-dual awakening needs to bring us back into the world.
  • The true medicine for suffering lies in awakening to reality and “what is” as we realize there is no such thing as a permanent self, for in actuality no one exists,

Awakening in the Paradox of Darkness, by Dr. Gary Tzu


#5223 – Dr. Kriben Pillay: Interview and Article

Edited by Jerry Katz


Here is a link to my interview with Dr. Kriben Pillay on Nonduality Talk Radio:
(you could right click and “save as…” or “save link as…”, or left click and listen!)

Dr. Pillay is a professor and Dean within the College of Law and Management Studies at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa, and also a long time writer, educator, publisher, and even an entertainer in the field of nondualism, since the middle 90s. As an entertainer he is a magician, and it was recently announced that,

“Professor Kriben Pillay, Dean of Teaching and Learning in the College of Law and Management Studies at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa, has become the first South African to be given full membership of Psycrets: The British Society of Mystery Entertainers.

“Founded by the noted mystery entertainer, Professor Todd Landman, who is Professor of Government and Director of the Institute for Democracy and Conflict Resolution at the University of Essex, Psycrets’ membership is drawn from a wide range of professional and semi-professional mystery entertainers.

“In a recent letter to Pillay, Landman said:

“‘The Committee of Psycrets was particularly impressed with your application for membership. While our membership includes full-time working professionals, we also have a wide range of performers who combine the art of Mentalism with other areas of professional practice. The Committee was impressed with the ways in which you use Mentalism to explore and illustrate your work on consciousness.”

Nondualism, Radical Change and the Illusory Self
Kriben Pillay, D.Phil
The Leadership Centre
University of KwaZulu-Natal
Durban, South Africa


This chapter offers nondualism as a perspective for transformation and critiques the notion that conceptual systems of thought can ever be vehicles for radical change in the most profound understanding of the term; where this change would be a transformation of the perception of ontological status leading to the felt nondual realisation that ‘I am the world’, with its consequent social enactments necessarily being of a different order to the divisiveness currently experienced in our personal lives and social institutions. This recognition is in effect a dismantling of the illusion of a separate self that has to navigate a fearful path, always in opposition to the ‘other’ who has to be vanquished or subdued in some way (which is really the modus operandi of all our current conflicts, be they personal, social or ecological). The author draws on theoretical and empirical levels of evidence to delineate the terrain of radical transformation, where the latter is situated in both third-person observation and first-person self-study. In doing so, the study accounts for the paralysis of purely conceptual models to effect change, as well as unmasking the many transformation projects that are still about an improved self rather than being true processes of change. Modern exemplars of nondual teachings – such as J Krishnamurti, Douglas Harding and others – will be referred to, as well as eminent scholars in the field such as Ken Wilber and David Loy.


This chapter will argue that we cannot approach the complexities of our societies and the challenges to live radically transformed lives – where such a transformation is a deeply enacted recognition that the world of self and other is a false dichotomy – without giving rigorous consideration to a perspective known as nonduality; a perspective that encompasses both theoretical and experiential dimensions and for these reasons is referred to here as ‘nondualism’, so as to distinguish it from purely scholarly studies such as David Loy’s Nondualityi, to which this research is much indebted. Loy’s The Great Awakeningii is also a seminal work for its construction of a Buddhist social theory, and needs to be read alongside this exploration, which will nevertheless summarise key ideas from this work while venturing into territory not covered by Loy, or perhaps only hinted at.


This section focuses on sketching the features of the main concepts of nondualism, so that we have a sense of what it is as opposed to a dualistic world-view. Of importance are the categories of nondual perception, nondual action, and nondual thinking, both as theoretical assumptions and as expressions of the experiential dimension of nondualism. It is emphasised here that the philosophy is inextricably linked to the experiential dimension, and that without the latter, the former is purely speculative. As Loy writes:

from the ‘perspective’ of nonduality – that is, having experienced nondually – one can understand the delusive nature of dualistic experience and how that delusion arises, but not vice versa.iv (1997, p. 8)

Loy presents insights about the different categories of nondualities. The first category is ‘the negation of dualistic thinking’v which bifurcates the world into conceptual opposites such as good and bad which are then regarded as absolutes.

The second category is ‘the nonplurarity of the world’ where this is an outcome of the first category where we experience the world ‘as a collection of discrete objects (one of them being me)’.vi

Loy’s third category is ‘the nondifference of subject and object’vii which is the recognition that the observer and observed is a conceptual structure of thought and not the reality of what is.

It is useful at this point in the discussion to note that all three categories, while they are on the one hand philosophical tenets, they are also, on the other hand, dependent on a sense of experience even as verbal descriptions. But a closer look at this experiential dimension will occur later in this section.

For the purposes of this argument it is adequate to state that at the heart of nondualism is its insistence that the dualistic division of the world into subject and object, into discrete objects, is our primary human error. It is only apparent that there are absolute objects and absolute subjects in the world. Dualistic experience, which appears to be the common-sense, intuitive, sense of things, cannot conceive of experience without the subject-object dichotomy.

This basic error of human perception is, within the nondual view, the root cause of all human suffering. The world is treated as the other by a subjective self that regards itself as an autonomous me that can only survive by subjugating the other, through various acts of control, both obvious and subtle. So, the individual’s sense of isolation in a conceived hostile world becomes the seed of all kinds of divisions within this dualistic conception; good/bad, love/hate, life/death, health/illness, us/them. This is not to deny polarities like light/dark, negative/positive, strong/weak, etc., and naturally occurring physical dualities between object and ‘observing object’. This latter term needs amplification within the context of nondualism, because it immediately offends our natural inclination through social and linguistic convention to regard the observer as the ‘observing subject’. Nondual teacher Ramesh Balsekar, in answer to a question replies:

The human being … experiences this basic duality of the observed object and the observing object. But along with the basic split of duality, the human being functions in dualism, which is the mental split between the ‘me’ and the other. It is in the mind that the separation between ‘me’ and the other arises. That is where the separation from duality to dualism occurs … Duality is an essential mechanism in phenomenality.viii

This is the crux of the nondual position – that there is no observing subject. The body-mind that we take to be me, the natural subject of objective experience, is really another object that is deluded into subjectivity by the naturally occurring duality. Thus duality is not denied and is seen as the necessary play of life – the interplay of polarities, of the Chinese yin and yang – but it is the mental ‘dualism’ that is negated. Krishnamurti extends this perception into the social context when he says:

The division between the individual and society does not really exist at all. When one tries to carve out a life of one’s own, the individual is not different from the community in which he lives. For the individual, the human being, has constructed the community, society.

The ‘you’ is the world … ix

From the above discussion, we can see that one central perception underpins nondualism – the mental error of subject-object dualism – out of which many kinds of insights and descriptions about the self and world arise; descriptions and insights that pertain to our ontological status, society, and issues of values.

Those who have broken through the illusion of dualism as an actual, experiential fact, all say that the nondual vision, while far-reaching in its implications for human perception, action, and thinking, is simplicity itself, and that there is really no complex philosophy other than the simple recognition that dualism is our primary error. If any complex philosophy does exist, it is because language, being dualistic, fails to convey the simplicity of the nondual perspective, and also because this perspective is very often taken on board by dualistic thinkers who create complex theories about that which they have only partially glimpsed, if at all. Hence, the necessity to recognise that the journey into the nondual perspective is more meaningful within the locus of its experiential dimension. It is here that we have a better sense of what appears to be counterintuitive. English nondual teacher and philosopher Harding says emphatically:

This is not a matter of argument, or of philosophical acumen, or of working oneself up into a state, but of simple sight – of LOOK-WHO’S-HERE instead of IMAGINE-WHO’S-HERE … If I fail to see what I am (and especially what I am not) it’s because I’m too busily imaginative, too adult and knowing, too credulous, too intimidated by society and language, too frightened of the obvious to accept the situation exactly as I find it at this moment.x

The above quotation anticipates the following section on the experiential dimension, where philosophical description is only valid through a description of an experiential mode of Being.


For the purposes of this study, it is the question of ontological status that concerns us most; that is, ‘What is my Being?’ Every school of nondualism finally places great emphasis on awakening to our true nature, out of which, it is asserted, intelligence, creativity, and right relationship to the world spring. But a more complete presentation of nondual ontology can occur only within a discussion of perception, action, and thinking, because these acts traditionally define how we experience ourselves and the world. Loy’sxi terms – nondual perception, nondual action, and nondual thinking – are also located within experiential modes that finally are the foundation on which this study rests.


Nondual perception collapses the habitual distinction between the perceiver and the perceived. Krishnamurti’s comment emphasises the outcome of attaining to this nondual perception:

So to bring about a radical transformation in society and oneself, the observer must undergo a tremendous change – that is, to realise that the observer and the observed are one.xii


Nondual action arises ‘when the mind, based on experience, is not guiding action: when thought, based on experience, is not shaping action.’xiii


Krishnamurti again provides another perspective on nondual thought:

So the thinker and the thought are one; without thought there is no thinker. And when there is no thinker and only thought, then there is an awareness of thinking without thought, and thought comes to an end.xiv,xv


In terms of our ontological status, the negation of an ‘observing subject’ raises the question ‘Who am I?’. The answer to this lies not in any verbal description, but in actual apperception, not because this is an obtuse way of avoiding any meaningful confrontation with the most crucial of human questions, but because it is precisely that nondualism postulates the dissolution of the subject-object matrix, that any description of who we really are is bound to be fraught with logical difficulties; because a description, a concept, immediately becomes an object related to by a pseudo-subject.

We see then that this central perception of the falseness of subject-object duality has meaning only within an experiential framework. That is, it is simply conceptual and without value unless we follow the injunction to experience the nondual. And the various Eastern spiritual systems (and some Western) have prescribed different methods of meditation and self-inquiry to awaken from the dream of separation. While various forms of meditation have become increasingly popular in the West, the very perceived esoteric nature of these practices, combined with a scientific rational mind-set that is inherently sceptical, makes the endeavour of the nondual rather hopeless. It is for this reason that Krishnamurti and Harding have been selected for this study. Both bring refreshing, new perspectives to the problem of unpacking the nondual to a culture that is firmly embedded in the world-view of subject-object duality; a culture which points to the exponential growth of its science and technology, plus apparent common-sense experience, to validate the reality of the dualistic perspective.


Both Krishnamurti and Harding, through diverse discourses utterly lacking in traditional philosophical and esoteric terminology, lead the individual to the edge of the nondual perspective, by shifting one’s consciousness from the thinking mode to the seeing mode. This is the crux of the experiential dimension of the nondual; that there is – quite natural to all of us, and not limited to the fortunate few – a different mode of being that is normally overlooked because of the dominance of the thinking mode. It is the thinking mode that creates the idea of a ‘me’ separate from existence, and out of this duality all other subject-object problems arise that eventually create the turmoil of life. The seeing mode is conscious awareness that can observe the body-mind and all its operations, but is itself beyond all objectification. Traditional nondual systems also call this the ‘witnessing consciousness’, but I prefer to use the term ‘seeing mode’ because the word ‘see’ is so apt to the teachings of both Krishnamurti and Harding.

Logic and an appeal to observation of the facts at hand are the distinguishing characteristics of both Krishnamurti’s and Harding’s teachings. This immediately draws upon a different kind of audience, one that is accustomed to the rationality of scientific materialism.xvi What is of importance here is that Krishnamurti’s insistence on being choicelessly aware is a directive to shift into the seeing mode

Harding’s ‘seeing’, while experientially leading to the same end as Krishnamurti’s ‘choiceless awareness’, has one important difference as a technique; it directs the observer to consciously see who is doing the seeing, and situates this within the context of experimenting with the senses rather than mere intellectual understanding. Harding, like Krishnamurti, does not make claims for instant transformations into the seeing mode with his ‘seeing experiments’; it is a matter of dedicated inner application.

It is useful at this juncture to summarise the essential similarities and differences of approach between Krishnamurti’s and Harding’s experiential teachings

Krishnamurti’schoiceless awareness’ is an experiential technique to attain to the nondual perspective, which is to see there is no separation between the self and the world. As such there is just the what is, with the ‘self’ and ‘other’ being concepts born of thought). Krishnamurti’s teachings are characterised by his incisive psychological descriptions of the human state and the causes of our conflict. His language is free of esoteric concepts and his method is dialogic in bringing his audience to an apperception of the nondual perspective.

Harding is more concerned with establishing the view that dualistic perception is not common-sense, even though scholars like Loy, with an intellectual and experiential bias toward the nondual, see this as counterintuitive to common-sense. Harding takes a very empirical approach in his exercises in order to bring about an insight into the continuum of the outer world and the inner awareness. He appeals to common-sense and the scientific spirit and is impatient with descriptions of the ordinary human condition, which he claims are aberrations and not ordinary at all, and was more interested in giving his workshop participants a direct route to seeing who we really are. In a description of a ‘Model Workshop’, Harding says this is his aim:

Enlightenment as to What/Who one is as 1st person singular, present tense. Not a psychological investigation into one’s ever-changing thoughts and feelings, but direct seeing into their background – one’s True Nature …xvii

In some respects, Harding is both refuting Krishnamurti’s dialogic exercise, and emphasising the ‘choiceless awareness’ that Krishnamurti finally wanted his listeners to attain after seeing the futility of dualistic thought through deep analysis. This study attests to the value of both approaches because they complement each other, and are deficient as ontological tools without the strengths of the other.

To sum up this section, the nondual perspective is a re­vision of our ordinary way of experiencing ourselves and the world. Through an analysis of the experiential dimensions of the teachings of Krishnamurti and Harding, this study is attempting to show that this revision of experiencing can take place only with a shift from thinking to seeing, where this ‘seeing’ is the awareness that is the background to our thinking, and which dissolves the sense of so-called ‘normal’ subject-object dualisms.


The previous sections establish the philosophical concepts of nondualism, as well as the experiential dimension that these concepts simultaneously point to and arise from. This section looks at these concepts as they have manifested as critical theories, because it is being argued that nondualism, as a valid theoretical perspective for radical change, displays through different critical contexts evidence of a sound epistemological base.

‘Critical theory’, as defined here, conforms to common dictionary definitions of ‘critical’ being ‘characterised by careful and exact evaluation and judgement’xviii, and ‘theory’ as being ‘systematically organised knowledge applicable in a relatively wide variety of circumstances’.xix

This section looks at the critical theories that arise out of: the teachings of Krishnamurti, especially in relation to structuralism in Western thought; the mathematical discipline of fuzzy logic; Wilber’s integral theory; and Harding’s science of the 1st person. Each critical theory provides different kinds of tools for interrogating knowledge and experience, and when these are used in conjunction with one another, they provide an overall theoretical perspective for nondualism. It is noteworthy that these critical theories emanate either from nondual transformative teachings (Krishnamurti and Harding), or from the intellectual efforts of self-declared practitioners of nondual spiritual disciplines (Kosko and Wilber), who are nevertheless firmly grounded in the methodologies of their Western disciplines.

Krishnamurti was not an academic scholar and always maintained that he was speaking from direct experience. This is an important point when discussing the value of the experiential dimension of nondualism in the teachings of Krishnamurti. Similarly, fuzzy logic in its mathematical context will be out of place here. So in effect the complete theory is truncated to arrive at the conceptual tools. Nevertheless, the term ‘critical theory’ is retained, because it will be argued that the great contribution of each theory is that it also functions as a meta-theory, that is, theory about theory. The section on Wilber shows how this naturally arises.

The section on Krishnamurti compares similarities of perspective with structuralism. This is important because Marxism, philosophically, is an off-shoot of structuralism, and by showing where structuralism and Marxism are deficient as critical theories, primarily because they arise from a dualistic world-view, it can be argued that nondualism provides the next development of these theories as they relate to radical change.

The value of fuzzy logic is in its deconstruction of the dualistic world-view through concepts that have their roots in mathematics. This is important for this study in that we see nondualism emerging as an integral view of life.

Wilber’s integral theory is a wide-ranging intellectual endeavour that spans many disciplines to show that the bipolar, antagonistic positions created by the array of religious, philosophical, scientific, and cultural ideologies, can all be accommodated within a theory that sees everything as having a place within certain ‘structures of consciousness’, a critical tool originally developed by Swiss cultural philosopher, Jean Gebser, and refined by Wilber in his many theoretical examinations of consciousness. The value of this critical tool, besides extending the nondual perspective as a critical application, is to show that the nondual is conceptually consistent as theory.

The last critical perspective is Harding’s science of the 1st person. This is being examined last, because while certain concepts are given that can be used as critical tools, these not only link up in different ways with the concepts in fuzzy logic and Wilber’s integral theory, but are inherently a part of the experiential dimension of Harding’s work; that is, his ‘seeing exercises’. The critical tools of fuzzy logic and integral theory are firmly located within the conceptual realm; that is, theoretical discourse, and can be accepted from within that order. Harding’s perspective, however, equally straddles both theoria and praxis, and while the former has conceptual substance of its own, it is the implied conflation of the two that has meaning for the experiential dimension of nondualism in effecting a radical transformation of consciousness.


The material for this section was originally published in Language and Stylexx, but has been abridged here for the purposes of this exploration.

This study proposes to explore how the basic tenets of structuralism, which arose with the disciplined reassessment of the way man orders his world (and the conclusions that resulted from that), bear a strong relation to the teachings of Krishnamurti. These teachings offer a basic understanding of human activities but, unlike structuralism, go further in their delineation of human problems because they provide a compelling argument for their resolution.

Structuralism as a discipline works largely within the framework of linguistics and anthropology, where the latter concerns itself (in structural terms, that is) with the way prehistoric man thought about his world and with how this thinking led to the development of ‘structures’. Structuralism, then, cannot be dissociated from psychology since the examination deals with the processes of thinking and perception. Similarly, because structuralism as an intellectual discipline is a response to certain philosophical notions about man and his world, it is also a philosophical discipline. In fact, structuralism covers all the intellectual disciplines because, fundamentally, it examines the way man’s activities have arisen.

Terence Hawkes says that Giambattista Vice, in a book called The New Science published in 1725, perceives that:

man constructs the myths, the social institutions, virtually the whole world as he perceives it, and in so doing he constructs himself. This making process involves the continual creation of recognizable and repeated forms which we can now term a process of structuring. Vice sees this process as an inherent, permanent and definitive human characteristic whose operation, particularly in respect of the creation of social institutions, is incessant and, because of its repetitive nature, predictable in its outcome.

Once ‘structured’ by man, the ‘world of nations’ proves itself to be a potent agency for continuous structuring: its customs and rites act as a forceful brainwashing mechanism whereby human beings are habituated to and made to acquiesce in a man-made world which they nevertheless perceive as artless and ‘natural’.xxi

This quotation contains the gist of structuralism, and it can be seen how Marxism, for instance, is a logical extension of this world-view, with its insistence on the transformation of social structures to effect both a conflict-free society and a conflict-free individual. The logic is plain: structures (at least some of them) condition the human being either positively or negatively, and to effect the required conditioning, particular structures have to be changed. Up to a point these ideas relate directly to the teachings of Krishnamurti, but where the structuralists stop, Krishnamurti continues.

Krishnamurti is in agreement with the existentialists and the Marxists who say that there is no ‘given’ human essence, no predetermined ‘human nature’ because ‘particular forms of humanity are determined by particular social relations and systems of human institutions’.xxii

Structuralists see structure-making as a permanent human characteristic, while Krishnamurti sees this process as the result of conflict and fear in the individual, which arises out of a false sense of duality. This duality arises when the ‘me,’ the ‘self’, is created through faulty perception. The individual’s faulty perception creates the ‘self’, the psychological entity who experiences a false duality where the individual is separate from the world. This duality causes fear, which results in the individual’s creating structures to overcome this fear. A process of conditioning is then established that is too forceful to make the individual see the trap she is in, and so she is cut off from the primary ontological state of Being.

Krishnamurti’s teachings and structuralism are fundamentally ways of ‘thinking about the world which [are] predominantly concerned with the perception and description of structures.’ Both modes of thinking state ‘that the world is made up of relationships rather than things’.xxiii

Structuralists and Krishnamurti are travelling the same road, but where the former insist that humans can change by understanding and changing a particular structure, Krishnamurti talks of being aware of the structure-making process totally from moment to moment in daily life, so that it is transcended to experience Reality. This Reality is the state of experiencing without the experiencer, which is the psychological ‘me,’ the ego, the self-constructed structure.

This discussion of structuralism emphasises the limitations of a dialectical materialist approach, showing that while, as a structuralist methodology, it is effective in revealing ever deeper layers of structures – both personal and collective – which shape conscious and unconscious meaning, it can only reveal what is beyond itself through total negation. This process is actually captured in the dictionary meaning of the term. The Reader’s Digest Universal Dictionaryxxiv defines ‘dialectical materialism’ as:

The Marxist interpretation of reality, viewing matter as the primary subject of change and all change as the product of a constant conflict between opposites arising from the internal contradictions inherent in all things, these contradictions being resolved at higher levels and fresh contradictions arising.

Wilber skilfully unpacks the limitations of dialectical materialism, tacitly pointing out the limitations of all conceptual systems, including nondualism, if it remains purely speculative theory:

It is not: the body alone is real and the mind is a reflection of that only reality. It is not: mind and body are two different aspects of the total organism. It is not: mind emerges from hierarchical brain structure. In fact, it is not even: noumenon and phenomena are not-two and nondual.

Those are all mere intellectual symbols that purport to give the answer, but the real answer does not lie in sensibilia or intelligibilia, it lies in transcendelia, and that domain only discloses itself after the meditative [seeing mode] exemplar is engaged, whereupon every single one of those intellectual answers is seen to be utterly inadequate and totally off the mark … xxv


Fuzzy logic provides very simple conceptual tools that deconstruct dualistic thinking very elegantly, in the same way that the mathematical sciences symbolise the physical world and create our complex computer technology. With simple zeros and ones, great complexity is deconstructed, and other kinds of complexity are created.

I am indebted to Bart Kosko’s book Fuzzy Thinkingxxvi for opening up this arcane world. Very simply put, Fuzzy Logic is about multivalence as opposed to bivalence.

The Chinese have a saying: A mind that thinks in terms of right and wrong is a corrupt mind. (This view is not confined to Easterners and can also be found in the teachings of Western mystics and in the genius of Shakespeare – Hamlet reflects that ‘there is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so’.) We have to ask the question why it is that the bivalent mode, which has its rightful place in the scheme of things, should dominate so exclusively, especially in Western culture (although it is by no means absent in non-Western cultures)?

Bart Kosko gives an elegant answer. Bivalence trades accuracy for precision, and precision is not only important in technology, it also makes the real world easier to deal with. What is meant by the terms ‘accuracy’ and ‘precision’? You have an apple and I have an apple. That makes two apples, or so it appears. For the purposes of simple precision, to state that there are two apples is correct. But it is not accurate of the real world, because no two apples are exactly the same. There will be slight or major differences of weight, shape, colour, texture, taste, etc. So in saying that there are two apples we are being mathematically precise in terms of quantifying the number of objects belonging to the same set. But we are also being extremely inaccurate by suggesting that the apples are identical. By understanding this very important distinction, we begin to see how we are constantly seduced into seeing the world in bivalent terms; we see the description of the tree and not the tree itself. Perhaps this is the price that had to be paid initially for the development of all our symbolic processes.


If Krishnamurti’s critical theory provides a psycho-social model that disproves the dualism of the individual and the world, and if fuzzy logic provides razor-sharp concepts to show how this dualism is maintained conceptually, then Wilber’s contribution to this study, besides re-affirming the perceptions of the other critical theories in his own way, is his argument that all our human endeavours have got to start embracing the nondual perspective.

Wilber’s intellectual efforts are immense in developing an integral theory that has its roots in what is commonly known as the ‘perennial philosophy’ and first applied to transpersonal psychology, but which now encompasses everything from philosophy to eco-feminism to literary studies. What is being attempted here, for the construction of a theoretical perspective, is the extraction of a core theory that can be applied to bring home conceptually the insight of nondualism; that is, life is not a division into discrete objects, but a seamless continuum.

What distinguishes his method is his meta-critical approach where his theory ‘transcends and includes’xxvii other theories, in a way that is perfectly consistent with his model of the spectrum of consciousness, which is the first essential feature of Wilber’s theory. Wilber has acknowledged his debt to philosopher Jean Gebser’s ‘structures of consciousness’ which sees human development in terms of different stages – archaic, magical, mythical, mental-rational, integral.xxviii To this schema Wilber has added the ‘transpersonal stages’, the first of which is ‘vision-logic’. This concept is important for the links it has with Krishnamurti and Harding, and will be discussed later.

But unlike dualistic hierarchies that are essentially separate categories, and to which the postmodern mind has reacted in extreme ways by trying to collapse all hierarchies because they are seen as essentially bad, Wilber’s theory avoids an either/or dualistic situation, but instead provides an inclusive concept that he acknowledges originally came from Arthur Koestler.xxix

In reflecting on the extreme position of postmodernism to regard everything as socially constructed, and that no holarchies exist, Wilber comments:

If the constructivist stance is taken too far, it defeats itself. It says all worldviews are arbitrary, all truth is relative and merely culture-bound, there are no universal truths. It is claiming everybody’s truth is relative except mine, because mine is absolutely and universally true … This is the massive contradiction hidden in all extreme multicultural postmodern movements. And their absolute truth ends up being very ideological, very power-hungry, very elitist in the worst

Wilber comments that ‘this extreme constructivism is really just a postmodern form of nihilism’xxxi and shows that conceptual confusion arises from collapsing categories of experience.

This insight is an important conceptual tool in that it helps locate some problems that have arisen in the worst interpretations of nondualism through woolly thinking – that of the New Age spiritual movement, which often makes claims like: all illness is the result of psychological problems, or all modern science is intrinsically bad. A good analogy would be to say that because theoretical physics shows that all matter is ultimately pure energy, one can knock one’s head against a wall without getting hurt. This is the worst scenario of collapsing categories, particularly because extreme reactions to divisions in the postmodern mind have created another kind of dualism: division is bad and non-division is good.

Wilber’s term ‘vision-logic’ communicates the sense of the seeing mode discussed earlier, but also includes intellectual discrimination. It is of the same order as Krishnamurti’s ‘choiceless awareness’, and Harding’s ‘seeing’. Vision-logic, as given in Wilber’s schema, is part of what he calls the ‘eye of spirit’ or ‘contemplation’ which, like the ‘eye of flesh’ and the ‘eye of mind’, produces a ‘spectrum of different modes of knowing’.xxxii Wilber relates empiricism to the physical, rationalism to the mental, and mysticism to the contemplative. Given his holarchical view that a higher holon includes but transcends a lower holon, Wilber argues that as the mental-rational includes but transcends the physical, so the contemplative nondual will include but transcend the mental-rational.

Wilber also makes another important point about the way we interpret experience. Seeing that there are different modes of knowing within different collective and individual domains of experience, we begin to realise that interpretation is context-bound.

In some ways this might appear to agree with postmodern deconstruction, but Wilber is at pains to point out that where the postmodernists see fictions, the nondualist sees ‘nested truths’.xxxiii This leads to the very next point in Wilber’s schema, and that is a way out of the existential terror of the modern mind. And the way out is to engage in the ‘eye of spirit’, the experiential dimension of nondualism, which conceptually is the next holarchy that includes and transcends the mental-rational sphere, the ‘eye of mind’.

The importance of Wilber’s theory for this nondual perspective is that he brings to it practical insights. Given that the mental-rational mind, in its transcendence of the prerational, is wary of anything that suggests a regression, a schema that suggests mysticism is bound to attract a great deal of scepticism. But the mysticism that Wilber is referring to is not the prerational altered states of consciousness that are so beguiling to the unwary spiritual seeker, but is the nondual experience that Krishnamurti and Harding refer to: the experience of no separation, the converse of which is the root cause of all our conflicts. Wilber thus poses the question for the sceptic. How valid is this type of knowledge? His answer is:

Eye to Eye suggests that all valid knowledge (in any level and any quadrant) has the following strands:

Instrumental injunction. This is always of the form, ‘If you want to know this, do, this.’

Intuitive apprehension. This is an immediate experience of the domain disclosed by the injunction: that is, a direct experience or data-apprehension (even if the data is mediated, at the moment of experience it is immediately apprehended). In other words, this is the direct apprehension of the data brought forth by the particular injunction, whether that data be sensory experience, mental experience, or spiritual experience.

Communal confirmation (or rejection). This is the checking of the results – the data, the evidence – with others who have adequately completed the injunctive and apprehensive strands.xxxiv

At this point Wilber shares precisely the same vision of the nondual as outlined earlier. That is, for the concepts to be truly understood there has to be an engagement with the experiential dimension. This will be reiterated in the section on Harding, and it is necessary to repeat it, given the impotency of thought to engage in anything but the conceptual.


While it is not the intention to engage in a comparative study of Harding and Wilber, it is useful to note how their intellectual efforts, within the tradition of Western thought, have given rise to complex concepts that confirm the nondual perspective, which both maintain is simplicity itself once experienced. (One of the many paradoxes of the nondual perspective is that in order to prove it intellectually, one has to be complex. This is a danger that Harding was alert to after writing his dense philosophical work, The Hierarchy of Heaven and Earth,xxxv and which led to his almost childish exercises to bring about the experiential dimension of nondualism.)

No doubt if Harding had been aware of the term ‘holarchy’ he would have used it, because he is making the same point as Wilber when he says that life is ‘a nest of regional manifestations, the first of which contains the second, the second the third, and so on …xxxvi Out of this view, Harding developed the science of the 1st person, which is the title of one of his books, and which is being used here as a term for his critical theory that also encompasses the experiential dimension. This term is being used because it captures Harding’s scientific, empirical methodology. This is crucial to the unfolding of the nondual perspective in this study because it needs finally to be seen that nondualism does not exclude but ‘includes and transcends’.

The methodology of the science of the 1st person is observation, and this is central to the experiential exercises that Harding and others have devised. In the service of the ‘eye of spirit’, Harding utilises both the ‘eye of the flesh’ and the ‘eye of mind’. His insight, which was arguably stated before the post-postmodernist conclusion, was that the meaning of things changes when the context changes. This is stating in Wilber’s words what Harding similarly observed in the physical world. Richard Lang in an essay on Harding makes this point:

the appearance of things, including himself, depended on the range of the observer. For example, this page is a page only at half a metre, more or less. At a very close range it is fibres, and closer still it is molecules, atoms, electrons … In other words it has layers, like an onion. You and I are the same. Within a certain range we are clearly human, but not on closer inspection. And further away? We appear as a city perhaps, then a country, then the Earth, the Solar System, the Galaxy…xxxvii

Where Harding differed from conventional scientific observation was that he included in his investigation the observer that was doing the observing and this leads to one important observation in terms of critical theory: that Harding’s translation of his nondual insights into experiential exercises is his theory … theory cannot be separated from practice.

The view of ourselves nondually is to experience ourselves not as objects but as the noumenal Awareness, the true 1st Person. The science of the 3rd person is the science of observed objects, but the science of the 1st person is the science of the observer. In the following excerpt, Harding elaborates on the differences:

This science requires its practitioner to do exactly what SCIENCE-3 forbids – to put himself back in the picture and take his subjectivity seriously. Here is a procedure so revolutionary, its subject-matter so unique, its results so remarkable, that they constitute an altogether novel kind of science … As the 1st Person is to the 3rd so are their respective sciences to each other: in every particular, SCIENCE-1 is the polar opposite of SCIENCE-3. Yet it contradicts nothing, undoes nothing. Instead it carries to its proper conclusion the immense work already done. In no sense is it anti-scientific; rather it is ultra-scientific or meta-scientific. And its procedure is simply this: by turning his attention through 180° and viewing himself as he is to himself, SCIENTIST-1 is at last in a position to remove the basic anomalies of SCIENCE-3, and simultaneously to solve his own basic problems, the problems of life.xxxviii

The distinguishing principle of Harding’s exercises is the shifting from thinking to seeing. When he asks participants in a workshop to ‘see who you are’, he is not asking for the employment of imagination or memory – any kind of thinking – but the act of seeing. This is seeing into the Void, our no thingness.

Harding insisted that Science-1 is verifiable by the ordinary methods of Science-3, provided the injunction to carry out the seeing is done, where it cannot be theorised about, but only perceived. These are not esoteric mind exercises, but simple sense-based practices that move from concepts to nondual percepts by an objectivity that transcends modern scientific method: an objectivity of simultaneously seeing the observed and seeing who is doing the observing. Harding draws special attention to the inherent dualisms in language that keep alive the fiction of a subjective ‘me’ in an alien world of discrete objects. The subject that I think myself to be, is, in seeing, another object seen to be arising from the ground of Awareness.

Essentially then, Harding offers a simple, verifiable observation – that there are two ways of seeing; the outward way which is the way of conventional experience, including that of the scientific method, and the two-way, outward-inward way; where the latter is just the act of observing without the identification with thought and the resultant sense of separation that thought creates.

We must note how critical theory within the nondual paradigm refuses to be just intellectual abstraction, or even, in the best sense of the term, an intellectual grid – a way of seeing to apply to the world and experience to make greater sense of things. It is always pointing to its experiential dimension so that concepts can be transformed into percepts. If there is a core perception, it is that theory, to be truly critical, must take the leap into the seeing mode where seeing includes but transcends thinking. This radical re-orientation of perception heals our intrinsic sense of separation, and is the transformative agent in all our endeavours.


A materialist world-view and its concomitant expression in social theories that espouse dialectical materialism or other variations of this paradigm, seems to be supported by science and its discoveries. At one level of investigation matter appears to be made up of discrete objects and, like the discrete individuals of human society, they can be controlled, manipulated and reconfigured for whatever purposes that are projected by those in power. Social engineering of various forms thus dominates our political landscape, and neither capitalism nor socialism, as broad, generalized categories of socio-political expression, are really different in their dualistic approaches to the world. Their differences are ideological, based on different conceptions of the common good, but the heart of divisive thinking remains. And the various religious systems with their structures of belief are in the same epistemological place, notwithstanding that the symbols of this epistemology may appear to be of a different order; the social systems appear to be located in the here-and-now, while the religious systems are located in the other-worldly, but intersecting and shaping each other in some contexts, or being defined by an antagonistic reactivity to each other in other social and intellectual domains. All these expressions, and the intellectual systems that arise to account for them or modify them, create a dense illusion of impenetrable differences, but this is not really so. Like the binary zeros and ones that can create great mathematical complexity, the basic structure of illusory self and other creates our amazingly complex, but ultimately lonely and fearful, individual and social lives.

However, the same science that supported our self-delusion of being a separate, discrete object, now shows, in its study of the brain, that the narrative of the self is wired into the way the left brain works out of a biological imperative to ensure survival by controlling its environment through measurement. This functional need for measurement has also resulted in the construction of the illusory narrator, the imaginary doer, that believes itself to be the agent of action, when in fact it is only creating a narrative of agency after the fact.xxxix

This evidence would seem to support a materialist position, especially the image of the human being as a machine. This would then justify those political actions where human beings and natural resources are things to be exploited, and certainly negates any assertion of a spiritual essence, however conceived, by the various religious systems.

This, however, is the problem that Wilber’s integral theory alerts us to: that this perspective appears to have validity when observed without the interior recognition of where this observation is located. Accepting the findings of neuroscience and cognitive psychology, the observer, bluntly put, is a product of a material process. The question is, what is the nature of the Awareness that we can experientially validate as being prior to the consciousness produced by thought? Before we approach this question, let us bear in mind the characteristics of thought and awareness. Explorer of consciousness and author Steven Harrison notes that thought is characterised by ‘me’ and awareness by ‘us’.xl This is a remarkable distinction given the imperatives of a biology that at first glance appears to be concerned only with a self-centred survival. In fact, whatever the nature of awareness, which we will come to later, science is also providing evidence that we are hard-wired for empathy, compassion and community.xli This natural, inclination, it would seem, is being subverted by thought, and only a disidentification with thought (the thinking mode) and an identification with awareness (the seeing mode) is the radical answer to our quest for a radical change, as suggested by Krishnamurti, Harding and others, where the delusion that there is a real self separate from other real selves ends, and in this ending the psychological and social outcomes of greed and ill will also end.xlii

At this point I would like to introduce the concept of memes into the exploration, but more as metaphor than in a strict theoretical sense. Simply put, memes are the equivalent of genes; replicators of information (that is, all our human stories) that compete selfishly for survival. But while genes replicate in the structures of DNA, memes replicate through human interactions. In this way stories of all kinds – religious, political, social, etc – compete for survival using the human being as its carrier. Now this turns the common perception of things on its head; the perception being that human beings are in charge and that we can make informed choices about the things that matter in our lives. No wonder the meme theory is regarded as ‘highly controversial and has been criticised by biologists, sociologists, anthropologists and philosophers’.xliii One could speculate, and with good reason, that the very reaction to such a theory is part of the survival instinct of memes.

Meme theory also points to the illusion of self. Psychologist and memeticist Susan Blackmore writes:

Another possibility is that this illusion of self is actually harmful to us, although it benefits the memes. On this view the self is a powerful memeplex (the selfplex) that propagates and protects the memes, but in the process gives rise to the illusion of free will, and to selfishness, fear, disappointment, greed and many other human failings. Perhaps without it we might be happier and kinder people… xliv

Given our exploration thus far, we see that the theory of memes, like most perspectives of human action, is really not new. The Buddha, more than 2,500 years ago, said that the life of bondage was predicated upon the vast stream of co-dependent conditioning to which all humans were subject, while Krishnamurti reduced this movement of bondage to thought. The theory of memes simply elaborates on the technical details, but essentially the human being is far from a free agent but is manipulated by thought, which turns out to be our stories of identities, protected by a meta identity, the self.

It is noteworthy that Blackmore ends her detailed, technical exploration of consciousness with these words when she asks what might happen if ‘psychologists, philosophers and neuroscientists’ saw ‘nonduality directly for themselves’:

… might they then understand exactly what happened in their own brains when all the illusions fell away and the distinction between first and third person was gone? This way the direct experience of nonduality might be integrated into a neuroscience that only knows, intellectually, that dualism must be false.xlv

In fact, Blackmore’s question has been answered by the experience of Dr Jill Bolte Taylorxlvi, a neuroscientist who suffered a stroke, and who, in the process, was able to observe two totally different worlds: the world of separation created by the left brain, and the world of non-separation that is intrinsic to the right brain. And this raises the question, who did the seeing? This will be pointedly addressed in the last section, which deals with the author’s personal narrative, but in a sense it is also being covered but what follows in this discussion on awareness and totality.

Let us now go back to why awareness is characterised by the quality of ‘us’. And that is because awareness, nondually, is the totality of Being, that intrinsic sense of existing, of ‘am-ness’ which no one can refute, nor which anyone can adequately describe because it is not a product or object of thought; thought can only speculate about it through logical inference. Furthermore, it is the totality, because it is the ground in which thought appears. And as both brain science and postmodernist exploration have shown, reality is a construction; what has not been explored is this apperception that this reality occurs as time; but time is a chimera produced by thought. There is, in fact, no time, because only what is exists as the ever present now; hence Being, the fact of existing now, must be that which is outside time. And if there is no time, there is no space, so Being is the totality of existence.xlvii The individual, then, is simultaneously the part and the Whole. Standing as awareness, we cannot fail to see the delusion of separation, and therefore there is the ending of greed and ill will, because I am the world.

Within this conception of awareness as the ground of existence, it is therefore not surprising the Otto Scharmer’s research on the U-processxlviii, which is essentially about the transformative, generative field of potential, essentially deals with processes of community when members of a co-creating group are willing to suspend their mental models of the past (that is, the habitual movements of thought that are centred on illusory identity) and move into presence (that is, non-phenomenal awareness) before creating the change context for emergence (the arising of the new). But presence has be preceded by seeing and sensing, both acts initiating a movement away from self-centred thinking. Scharmer quotes eminent cognitive psychologist, Eleanor Rosch:

There is this awareness and this little spark that is positive – and completely independent of all of the things that we think are so important. This is the way things happen, and in the light of that, action becomes action from that. And lacking that, or being ignorant of it, we just make terrible messes – as individuals, as nations, and as cultures.xlix


This section is somewhat paradoxical, given the insights of nondualism that the separate self is a fiction. And yet, it concludes with what appears to be a personal narrative.

From an empirical perspective, it is necessary to provide data from one’s own experimentation with the experiential dimension of nondualism, for without this evidence we return to the purely speculative, which finally has no meaning in the exercise of radical change.

As an amateur magician and mentalist, I am sometimes asked to do impromptu acts. On one such occasion a mentalism routine did not go as expected, which resulted in much hilarity for both myself and my small teenage audience, and then… I disappeared.

That is, the phenomenal self called Kriben was utterly absent. And so was the phenomenal world. What was present was a timeless Presence that was one’s very own incontrovertible Identity. It was a Presence that was present to Itself.

Then, as normal consciousness returned, the phenomenal self was slowly reconstituted along with the physical world; and to sense perception this was very similar to a computer image taking shape pixel by pixel.

What was significant was the feeling of being born back into unreality, into a world of false separation.

From the viewpoint of those watching the event, they witnessed me laughing and then suddenly slumping into the chair behind me. For the next few minutes they were at a loss as to what was happening, but from the feel of the physical body afterwards, I would speculate that the laughing fit cut off oxygen to the brain causing me to pass out (a peculiar condition that also occurs when there is incessant coughing). Whatever the precise medical description, like Jill Bolte Taylor, something occurred to the brain that caused it to shut down temporarily, and while there was a loss of ordinary consciousness, the awareness that is prior to thought came to the foreground, experiencing itself without the filter of thought.

This ‘experience’ answered a thirty-year-old question. Who awakens, who sees? And the answer is: the seeing itself sees, this being the noumenal awareness that is ever-present existence. When this is apperceived, it is very difficult to be seduced by the stories of self and other; the delusion that gives rise to greed and ill will.


This chapter has attempted to provide a theoretical perspective of nondualism, showing that such discourse has no meaning without engaging in a deep consideration of its experiential dimensions; after all, proponents of nondualism as a theory of radical transformation are explicit that intellectual appreciation is at best only a conceptual platform leading to experiential practice, which finally validates theory. This validation occurs in the existential collapse of the concepts of theory and practice.

It has also been shown that nondualism is eminently suited to scientific inquiry. Susan Blackmore writes that ‘Zen l is said to require “great doubt”, great determination, and the more perplexity the better.’li But a cautionary note. Perplexity can also serve to maintain the illusory self while it attempts to undo the perplexity. This can be a never-ending endeavour where the project of radical change is forever postponed. And this will then take us back to the mindset of time and the future, and a re-enactment of our utopian ideals be they social or religious or both, where the psychological mechanism is to command and control. And to date these have had disastrous consequences for human society and the natural world. However, understanding the nondual perspective in all its conceptual nuances also points to necessary acts of community that we can all engage in now, because there isonly now; and these act of community are essentially acts of communion because there are no actual divisions, only conceptual ones. We need to unmask the illusory self’s last hiding place – the conceptual quest for transformation – and in so doing we become radically changed expressions of a life that is without boundaries.

i Loy, David (1997) Nonduality: A Study in Comparative Philosophy. New Jersey: Humanities Press.

ii Loy, David R. (2003) The Great Awakening: A Buddhist Social Theory. Boston: Wisdom Publications.

iii This and the next section are adapted from the author’s published thesis Nondualism and Educational Drama Theatre: A Perspective for Transformative Training (2007).

iv Loy, Nonduality, 8.

v Loy, Nonduality, 18.

vi Loy, Nonduality, 21, emphasis in original.

vii Loy, Nonduality, 25.

viii Balsekar, Ramesh (1992) Consciousness Speaks. Redondo Beach, CA: Advaita Press, 112-113.

ix Krishnamurti, J (1970) Talks with American Students. Boston & Shaftesbury: Shambhala, 8-9.

x Harding, Douglas E (1986 ) On Having No Head: Zen and the rediscovery of the obvious. London: Arkana, 9.

xi Loy, Nonduality.

xii Krishnamurti, Talks, 97.

xiii Krishnamurti, J (1986) The First and Last Freedom. London: Victor Gollancz Ltd, 54.

xiv Krishnamurti, J (1992) Choiceless Awareness: A Selection of Passages for The Study Of The Teachings of J. Krishnamurti. Ojai, CA: Krishnamurti Foundation of America, 61.

xv14. A common misunderstanding with Krishnamurti’s teachings is that he is denying the thinking process. This confusion is cleared up in the later discussion in this chapter on the seeing mode and the thinking mode.

xvi Krishnamurti has often been accused of being a materialist by audiences steeped in traditional religious discourse.

xvii Harding, Douglas E (1995) “Model Workshop” in Share It. Spring ( Issue 9), 53.

xviii Reader’s Digest Universal Dictionary

(1986), London: Reader’s Digest Association, 373

xix Reader’s Digest Universal Dictionary, 1566.

xx Pillay, Kriben (1988 ) “Structuralism and the Teachings of J. Krishnamurti”, in Language and Style 21(Summer), 327-31.

xxi Hawkes, Terence (1977) Structuralism and Semiotics. London: Methuen, 14.

xxii Hawkes, Structuralism, 15.

xxiii Hawkes, Structuralism, 17.

xxiv Reader’s Digest Universal Dictionary, 430.

xxv Wilber, Ken (1977) The Spectrum of Consciousness. Wheaton, Ill: The Theosophical Publishing House, 92, emphases in original.

xxvi Kosko, Bart (1994) Fuzzy Thinking: The New Science of Fuzzy Logic. London: HarperCollins.

xxvii Wilber, Ken (1996) A Brief History of Everything. Boston & Shaftesbury: Shambhala, 67.

xxviii Feuerstein, Structures, 20.

xxix Wilber, The Eye of Spirit, 42.

xxx Wilber, A Brief History of Everything, 62-63, emphases in original.

xxxi Wilber, A Brief History of Everything, 63

xxxii Wilber, The Eye of Spirit, 84, emphasis in original.

xxxiii Wilber, The Eye of Spirit, 113.

xxxiv Wilber, The Eye of Spirit, 85.

xxxv Harding, Douglas E (1979 ) The Hierarchy of Heaven and Earth. Gainesville: University of Florida.

xxxvi Harding, The Hierarchy of Heaven and Earth, 33.

xxxvii Lang, Richard (1997) “Seeing Who You Are – The Headless Way”, in The Headless Way 17 (Autumn), 19-24.

xxxviii Harding, Douglas E (1997) The Science of the 1st Person: Its Principles, Practice and Potential. . London: Head Exchange Press, 8, my emphasis.

xxxix Gazzaniga, Michael S (1998) The Mind’s Past. Berkeley, California: UC Press.

xl Harrison, Steven (2002) The Questions to Life’s Answers. Boulder: Sentient Publications, 90.

xli Goleman, Daniel (2006 ) Social Intelligence. London: Hutchinson.

xlii Loy, The Great Awakening.

xliii Blackmore, Susan (2003 ) Consciousness: An Introduction London Hodder & Stoughton., 163

xliv Blackmore, Consciousness,165.

xlv Blackmore, Consciousness, 414.

xlvi Taylor, Jill Bolte (2006) My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist’s Personal Journey. New York: Viking.

xlvii Peter Dziuban provides very elegant proofs for the primacy of a timeless consciousness in his book Consciousness is All (Blue Dolphin Publishing, 2007).

xlviii Scharmer, C. Otto (2007) Theory U: Leading from the Future as it Emerges. Cambridge, MA.: SoL.

xlix Scharmer, Theory U, 168, emphasis in original.

l Zen is traditionally regarded as the most austere form nondual Buddhism, and is characterised by the practice of unwavering seeing into one’s real nature.

li Blackmore, Consciousness, 414.

#5221 – bill darryl mandee chuck rafael anamika colin. whew.

Editor: My name Jerry Katz

~ ~ ~

Bill Dana is a renowned and even legendary comedic writer and performer whose work spans the 1950′s to the present day. He is best known for his character Jose Jiminez. I’ll do my best to remember one of his visual sketches. It features Dana dressed as a surgeon with a female surgical nurse alongside him. Dana and the nurse are seen gazing down upon what is apparently a patient lying upon a table, however you cannot see the table or the patient. Throughout this entire sketch you only see the upper bodies of the “surgeon” and the “nurse.”

Dana says to the nurse, “Scalpel.” She efficiently hands him the scalpel. He apparently makes some maneuvers with the scalpel, though you can’t see what he’s doing. “Scissors,” he says next. She passes him the scissors and he again keeps busy doing something with the scissors. “Sutures.” She passes the sutures and, seeing how stressed Dana the surgeon appears to be, she wipes perspiration off his forehead. “Scissors,” he commands. With a look of concern, she hands him the scissors. After a moment of maneuvering with the scissors, Dana finally announces, “There. I’ve sewn the hole in the sheet, now let’s do the surgery.”

~ ~ ~

This brings up the inquiry of the day: “Sewing the hole in the sheet, or doing the surgery?”

Beyond that, there’s self-inquiry, which looks toward that out of which the trinity of the sheet, the hole, the body arise.

These two attentional  modes — one psychological, the other based in awareness itself — seem to characterize much of the nonduality movement.



Very interesting interviews with Darryl Snaychuk and Mandee Labelle on Nonduality Talk Radio may be heard or downloaded via

I recommend downloading and then listening.


Chuck Hillig was my guest on Nonduality Talk Radio on May 14, 2014. We talked about what led up to Chuck writing his first book in 1977. We discussed his other books, as well. Chuck spoke about his work in psychotherapy and the nature of creating dream solutions for dream problems. Download/listen at


Rafael Stoneman

No Thinker

It is easy to be deceived by thoughts.
Thoughts are like bed-time stories told to
little children to put them to sleep.
To be awake, be without thoughts.
Notice that during your search for the thinker of thoughts,
the thoughts, one by one, march away into nothingness,
and what is left is the enquiry, “where is this thinker?”

Any answer to this question is a lie.
Any verbal, mental, emotional, psychological, spiritual, etc.
answer is a story about this thinker.
The absence of all stories is the only direct discovery.
It could be called silence, but don’t even call it that.
Just dwell there, where there is no thinker and don’t call it anything.

Get used to this thought-less or thought-free way of being.
Thoughts will come back; “is it time to pick up my son?”
But there is no issue.
The enquiry is not to get rid of thoughts, certain thoughts
are natural and practical to functioning–
some thoughts are troublesome, often the ones surrounding
fear and deep seated anxiety– but more specifically–
the enquiry is to get rid of the thinker.
Or more accurately, to look for the thinker–
and discover that there is not an actual thinker of thoughts.



A bug in the system

Our view, our perceptions
are already Nondual,
are already direct and immediate.

Are already just happening,
just appearing
and just noticed.

They are already known for what they are.
Are already totally welcomed and accepted.
As this is what is happening.

Our perceptions and views, thoughts and feelings
do not need permission or
acknowledgment to do what they do.
Which is just appearing the way they do.

It is what is happening.

The apparent person is in no way needed or necessary
for any function to take place the way it does.

Like with babies, young children and with animals.
Things, life is happening just fine.

The person is an after thought.

A bug in the system.

A virus which has put a apparant screen between
the perceptions and the cognizing function.
And calls this Me.

Happening after the fact.

Out of sync.

And this is also noticed.

There is only Nondual perception
or if you will this mysterious happening.
As This is all there is.

This includes always All,
it is the totality.

And in This and as This
the dance of life plays out.

A person centred existence is
an aberration of perception as
in reality nothing is ever separate.


Balancing Worldly Life and Nurturing The Spirit

 by Colin Drake 

Many of the people I encounter are stressed or tired and it is well known that stress and depression are on the rise in the western world. In fact the modern mode of life seems to consist of a continual round of acquiring more to better our ‘standard of living’, or a constant search for distraction and entertainment. Not only that but when one’s ‘standard of living’ is threatened people react in the most extreme manner, as the recent ‘austerity riots’ in Europe demonstrate. There seems to be an expectation that ‘things will continually get better’ in terms of comfort and material goods; whereas, as the world becomes a ‘global village’ and manufacturing continues to move to countries with the lowest wages the ‘standard of living’ in the western world is bound to decline as this slowly evens out across the globe.

However, if you look at many tribal cultures or eastern countries where spirituality is highly prized, and part of day to day life, you find a completely different picture. For the people seem to be happier, less stressed and more integrated in their daily living. There is much less emphasis placed on the acquisition of ‘things’ and in many tribes there is no personal ownership but everything is shared. Unfortunately this situation seems to be deteriorating as they are (over)exposed to western culture.

Which makes me ponder the whole western paradigm of achievement, acquisition, unnecessary deadlines and incessant busyness. For not only does this wear the body (and mind) out but it tends to make reflection and insight rare, even when time is set aside for contemplation and meditation. For I know that if I am really tired I find it impossible to concentrate, stay one-pointed, or devote my mind to a single train of thought. Even just relaxing into Awareness is more difficult for this does require some degree of alertness, staying identified with This, and the tired mind tends to wander aimlessly or fall asleep.

What is required is a balanced approach in which one takes care of worldly needs and leaves plenty of time (and energy) to nurture the ‘spirit’. To aid this approach a simple life is very useful, for the more complex is our situation the more time and energy is devoted to the former, leaving less time for the latter. This does not entail renouncing the world, or our enjoyment of it, but just not letting it dominate us and fill us with care. Actually life is much more enjoyable when one is not tired, or exhausted; so excessive chasing after material wealth, possessions, power, status etc., is counter productive leaving us unable to fully appreciate the benefits of our efforts.

One’s approach to this whole question is, as usual, highly influenced by how we identify ourselves, how we define what we ‘are’ (in essence). For if we identify ourselves as separate individual beings (in a universe of such) then:

we tend to expand our concept of self-identity to include an imaginary self-image consisting of our physical appearance, mental ability, status, occupation, position in society, family situation, achievements, lack of achievements, ambitions, hopes, fears, memories and projections into the future.This naturally leads to feelings of separation and isolation; separation from our fellow man and the world we live in. Which further engenders feelings of insecurity, and fear. We tend to combat these by trying to improve thisimaginary self-image, by attempting to ‘better ourselves’, achieve more – knowledge, possessions, power, fame, etc. – polish this self-image and generally build ourselves up. This tends to make us live in the future and stops us living fully in the present moment. The other side of this coin is to live in regret as to what might have been, self-loathing, melancholy or nostalgia and yearning for the past. This, once again, stops us seeing ‘what is’ here and now, either by making us live in the past or by the mind spinning on our failures and lack of self-worth.[1]

In this scenario one naturally gives too much weight toself-image, wealth, status, achievements etc., and is liable to spend too much time (and effort) on these allowing too little left to enjoy life and nurture the ‘spirit’.

Whereas if one discovers, by investigation, that at a deeper level one is not separate but an expression of Pure Awareness (Consciousness at rest) in a mind/body of cosmic energy (Consciousness in motion) then one’s whole paradigm is changed. This is easy to do, see appendix one, but must be cultivated by repeated investigation until identification with (and as) This becomes established. Following from this is the realization that one is an instrument (and manifestation) of Consciousness, through which This can ‘know’ Itself when in manifestation (when in motion as the material universe) and when at rest as Pure Awareness. This is also easy to realize, see appendix two.

From this follows the natural conclusion that we need to divide our attention between ‘knowing’ (engaging with, acting in and enjoying) the world and investigating the deeper level of Pure Awareness to ‘know’ This better. This latter is never ending as there is always more to be discovered for what is being investigated is infinite! Nor is this limited to set aside periods for contemplation, or meditation, for insights may occur at any time during the day if one is relaxed and alert. Naturally if one is stressed, or physically tired, these are unlikely to take place. Even when one is engaged in enjoyment and distraction (entertainment) insights are more infrequent. For instance, when we recently spent eleven weeks travelling in our campervan across Australia (to Broome and back) I was not inspired to write a single article … although I did manage a few poems. We had a wonderful time but my mind was too involved with the minutiae of life ( and relationship, Janet and I being together 24 hours a day), and enjoying the natural world as it unfolded, to delve any deeper into the question of Pure Awareness and how further discoveries enhance the quality of day to day existence.

Since I have returned, and have had plenty of free time, articles seem to occur at an increasing rate as more ideas pop up, and questions are being asked. I am still keeping our ten acre farm (of macadamias) clear of the ever intruding lantana and rain-forest, looking after three old vehicles, maintaining our eighty year old farmhouse, ensuring that our self-provided services (solar electricity, water tanks and septic system) are all functioning, and running our (very) small business – the pottery, which used to generate all of our income when hand made items were in fashion. But now that I have much more time I read, think, write and even watch TV more than I did.

I recently read a poem by Rumi in which he recounted the tale of a Sufi sheikh who died after telling the town judge to give his inheritance to the laziest of his three sons for:

Mystics are experts in laziness. They rely on it,
Because they continually see God working all around them,
The harvest keeps coming in, yet they
Never even did the ploughing![2]

This doe not imply that we should just sit back and expect everything to come to us for as I said in my earlier article on The Kingdom of God:

That is not to say that our physical needs do not need to be taken care of and we have at our disposal a wonderful instrument to achieve this – the human mind, our onboard computer. All that is required is to have faith in this to take care of our needs, provided we do not identify with it … and then ‘all things shall be added unto you’. For this too is an aspect of (movement in) the divine presence that permeates all of existence, but being ephemeral, as are all ‘things’, it is not the Absolute (unchanging) Reality – Pure Awareness – Consciousness at rest.

Which means that we do not need to over-accumulate wealth and possessions as a hedge against the future, just have faith in this wonderful expression of Consciousness – the mind/body – to take care of itself. For, once again from the same article:

The mind also works much more efficiently when misidentification, as the small self, has been overcome and it is not distracted by self-concern, -interest, -aggrandizement, -loathing, -promotion, -survival, -security, etc… Which gives us even more reason for having faith in ourselves and our ability to cope with the complexities of modern day living, provided that the self that we are identified with is Pure Awareness (The Self) and not the mind/body as a separate object.

So I urge you all to awaken to the truth that we are all expressions and instruments of Consciousness, and as This have faith in Its ability to take care of us. In this way we will live a more balanced existence between our two functions of experiencing (and enjoying) the world and investigating the nature of the One True Self (Pure Awareness). This will also be greatly helped by simplifying one’s existing, which is easy after awakening as one tends to enjoy everything one does (and has) rather than chasing after particular pleasures and ‘things’.

Colin’s books are available at

~ ~ ~

Here is a new review of ‘A Light Unto Your Self’ by Ramaji, the author of1000 - The Levels of Consciousness,and a Map of the Stages of Awakening, for Spiritual Seekers and Teachers

Here Is Some of the Best Spiritual Advice on the Planet By a Non-Duality Master!, April 19, 2014

This review is for: A Light Unto Your Self (Paperback)

This book is rather unique because Colin covers a wide range of territory while sticking to his non-dual guns. By wide range of territory, I mean he responds in each separate chapter to real life questions that most of us, if we are honest with ourselves, have had in terms of this whole non-duality thing.

For example, how does non-duality relate to The Secret and the whole mind power manifestation thing? How does the “there is nothing you can do” advice work (or dos it work at all)? What if the study of non-duality has led me into existential despair and a sense of powerlessness? (I personally went down that road). What about free will? Will non-duality help me with my anxiety? and so on and so forth…

this book is like a “hit parade” or high quality gourmet buffet of profoundly useful topics, relevant for those of us — meaning most of us — who must deal with the so-called “real world” and have to work for a living, deal with people, raise families, experience intensely painful feelings and the like. Frankly, I cannot even think of even one other book that cuts so wide a swathe in the non-dual book universe. Furthermore, he is able, apparently without effort, to generously, brilliantly and precisely respond to all of these issues from all of these people with enormous compassion. Do I recommend this book? Absolutely! Like all of his books, a classic that sets the gold standard. Thank you, Colin!

Colin Drake’s books are available at

#5217 – Greg Goode on Advaita “vs” Madhyamika

Kim Lai, who runs the Nonduality Sydney meetup group, sent the following articles by Greg Goode:


Greg Goode

Coming to Madhyamika with Awareness teachings in your background

One of the most important points if you come to Madhyamika from an Awareness background is to realize the emptiness of awareness.

Why? Because in Buddhism, everything is empty, not just stuff other than awareness. But in Buddhism, awareness is empty too.

For such a person with such a background, this can create a paradoxical difficulty.

One one hand, it might be easy to realize the emptiness of objects like tables and chairs. After all, according to the awareness teachings, these objects cannot exist on their own. Tables and chairs depend on awareness by being nothing other than awareness. The transition of this insight to Madhyamika is pretty smooth. (Of course in classical Madhyamika, tables and chairs depend on other things too, like elements and conditions. Sometimes awareness teachings pay lip service to these effects, sometimes not. But mostly in awareness teachings, things are nothing in themselves but are actually the nature of awareness.) So tables and chairs might be pretty easy.

But on the other hand, it is harder to realize the emptiness of awareness itself. And this difficulty is something we see in so many of these cross-path discussions.

This difficulty comes from the fact that awareness does so much work in the awareness teachings. It becomes something quite NON-empty when seen from the perspective of the Madhyamika teachings. In teh awareess teachings, awareness is the sum and substance and nature and identity and truth and being of everything. It depends on nothing else. In some awareness teachings, awareness is not even said to be self-knowing (for that would be a dualistic relation.) It just shines in its own glory.

So when you come to the emptiness teachings, it can be very challenging and disorienting. It’s difficult for many folks new to the emptiness teachings to see the emptiness of awareness. It is hard to see awareness depending on anything else. But that is what one must do according to Madhyamika.

This difficulty is even harder to address if a person makes an equivalence in their mind as they cross paths, saying “awareness=emptiness, they are the same thing.”

Why is it so important to realize the emptiness of awareness?

For two reasons.

One, in Buddhism, it is important to realize the emptiness of everything. Everything is inter-dependent. If we still have the conception of the inherent existence of anything at all, then to some extent we are still clinging and grasping.

Two, and more important, is this. In the case of most awareness teachings, it is taught that the self is nothing other than awareness. “I am awareness.” So if I have the conception of awareness being inherently existent, then I will also have the conception that I am inherently existent. I won’t be able to realize myself as empty unless I realize that awareness is empty.

So it must be done. It’s almost like a person coming from awareness teachings must investigate awareness as a special topic, a special dedicated set of emptiness meditations. It’s that important, and the “awareness-is-all” assumptions are that strong when you come from those teachings. When you are doing emptiness meditations with that kind of background, seeing the emptiness of awareness has complexities and subtleties that other things don’t have.

Greg Goode

Advaita “vs” Madhyamika

I wrote this yesterday for the Dharma Connection group, and maybe it’s relevant here too (it has some edits for this group). It’s in response to someone who was claiming that all paths, including Advaita and Madhyamika, truly lead to the same truth, the same realization. Sometimes when people confront a lot of different paths, they get a sense of cognitive dissonance. They feel like they have to make that tension go away by landing on a judgment about paths or goals as truly “the same” or “different.” But how can that really be?

So, about Advaita and Madhyamika…..

We can certainly say that they share an overall soteriological goal: freedom from suffering, happiness, compassion, love. The heart wants to say “SAME” here. That’s understandable, and I feel that deeply.

But beyond that, the mechanics, concepts, and languaging are very different, even on the surface.

Something Michael Zaurov said makes a lot of sense, and it has extremely radical consequences:

“Certain views lead to certain realizations. Other views lead to other realizations. Realization is dependent on view.”

If realizations can affect views, then views can affect realizations. The views of Advaita and Madhyamika are quite different. In fact, Madhyamika owes much of its presentation to the rejection of essential nature and absolute truth that Advaita proposes. The two paths could not be more different on this.

Even the “ultimate truth” in Buddhism does not map to the Absolute Truth in Advaita, though there has been a perennialist effort to combine the two into a master Vedantic meta-view for about a century. Perennialism began as long ago as the 15th century with Neoplataonism, and was appropriated by Christian exclusivism. In the last century we’ve seen Swami Vivekananda, Rene Guenon, Frithjof Schuon, Ananda Coomaraswamy, Madame Blavatsky, Aldous Huxley, and the New Age movement opt for “inherent sameness.” The resulting view is much more Advaita-like than Buddhist-like, which corresponds with the favored view of the perennialist proponents most of the time.

The Buddhist side would not insist on either “inherently same” or “inherently different.” The Buddhists would be more like, “You do your thing, we’ll do ours. Let’s just all be kind to each other.”

I even remember hearing a story about the Dalai Lama giving emptiness teachings. Someone in the audience asked him, “What about Brahman and all the Vedantins who study that? Are you saying that emptiness is true and Brahman is mistaken?”

He thought for a moment and replied, “Brahman – that is their business. Emptiness – that is our business.” :-)

So I think it is not helpful to try to stand in a neutral place and compare the truths or the metaphysics of these teachings. We can’t do it. Where would we find a neutral place?

We can give a Mahyamika interpretation of Advaita or an Advaitin interpretation of Madhyamika. Or a comparative religion-style story about them. Or an everyday psychological assessment of both paths, if we have have had experiences in both.

But to try to give a metaphysical comparison and ordering and ranking of views from a place that is “neutral” or “impartial” or “unaffected by views” cannot be done. Comparisons and ordering and ranking and assessments are never neutral, but always themselves dependent upon certain standards. And standards are dependent upon views.

It SEEMS possible to do make these assessments neutrally, but that’s only if we are blind to the emptiness of view, blind to how our conceptual or experiential assessment is already conceptually implicated in some view or another. In my experience reading so many of these essays and posts, the comparative efforts usually (not always) tend to favor the perennialist view, resulting in a kind of projection and imperialism of the “mine.”


Learn more about Emptiness and Joyful Freedom


#5216 – Conversation between Dhanya Durga Moffitt & Jody Radzik

Edited by Jerry Katz

Some new books from Non-Duality Press:

ndpress_opt (1)

This issue of the Nonduality Highlights follows a discussion between Dhanya Durga Moffitt and Jody Radzik  held in the Nonduality Highlights group on Facebook (which all readers are welcome to join, by the way) and inspired by the interview with Jody featured in the previous issue of the Highlights.

  • Dhanya Durga Moffitt Hi Jody, et al. 

    Jody, I think you made a very good point at the beginning of the interview (if I remember it correctly) that a lot of the misunderstandings of what nondual realization is come from the thousands of years old scriptures (the Vedas) wh
    ich form the basis of Vedic culture. 

    In this particular case, it would be from the Upanisads–which contain the scriptures which describe the nature of reality (i.e. nonduality), and which are found at the end of, and comprise the second half, of the Vedas.

    I remember one course, which my teacher, Swami Dayananda, gave, unfolding some verses from Brhadaranyka Upanisad. The verses basically say “The ananda–[the happiness or fullness] of nondual realization is greater than that given by any experience found in within the creation.” This Upanisad goes on to give all of sorts of examples of superlative happinesses which might be found within the dual world of experience (including in celestial realms), and then it says that the happiness of brahmananda (the Self) is greater than any of those.

    Most people are seeking happiness within the dual world of experience (known as samsara). That is samsara’s trick–it occasionally seems to deliver happiness. I think that many spiritual seekers are really seeking a kind of uber experiential happiness. The problem with that type of happiness is that it comes and goes.

    The teachings of Vedanta would say that the first step for someone who is mature enough to recognize the truth is that person needs to have understood that the dual world of experience cannot give the type of happiness which one truly seeks (one which is lasting). That’s called having an initial type of viveka (discrimination).

    Why do people seek happiness in the first place? Because happiness really is one’s true nature. It doesn’t feel okay to be unhappy.

    Does recognizing the truth of existence mean that one will be happy all the time? No it doesn’t. One’s mind (which is where happy and sad thoughts, i.e. emotions, take place) will not always be happy. 

    However, I think it isn’t correct to say that the recognition of one’s true being as nondual does not lead to happiness, because IMO it does.

    So how to explain or reconcile those two apparently opposing views? IMO (and according to my teachers, Carol Whitfield and Swami Dayananda) the problem really lies in unresolved psychological problems held in the unconscious mind. These problems kind of cloud or as though block what is called in Vedanta ‘the fruits of jnanam’ (the fruits basically being happiness). So the more these unresolved psychological issues are dealt with, the happier one will be–one could say–the more the reality of who one is will get reflected or shine in the mind.

    Perhaps long ago, in ancient India, family structures were more together and people didn’t have so many psychological problems, so when someone recognized the truth of existence the happiness of the Self shone more clearly and readily in that person’s mind. But now, with all of the screwed upedness found in modern day society, more work needs to be done on the level of the psyche before the fruits of jnanam (i.e. happiness) are fully evident.

    Luckily we have psychology, which Swami Dayananda feels is the modern day gift of duality. 

    Alienation is the problem. Even after recognizing the truth of existence, one can still suffer tremendously due to unresolved psychological issues.

    So everyone seeks happiness, because it is one’s true nature. Recognizing the source of happiness as one’s being is the fruit of nondual realization. Does this mean one will always be happy all of the time? No it doesn’t, but if one is mature in that recognition then the effects of the slings and arrows that duality throws one’s way will be felt and processed more like writings on water rather than like writings carved in stone. 

    (Too much going on in the house right now, but I hope what I’ve written is clear)

    11 hrs · Unlike · 1
  • Jody Radzik “So everyone seeks happiness, because it is one’s true nature.”

    I disagree. Everyone seeks happiness because it’s the highest form of comfort, and we are biologically driven to find comfort. It’s ultimately the primary factor in all human behavior.

    The problem arises because enlightenment is projected to be the ultimate comfort, giving folks many hooks upon which to hang conceptual scaffolding, thereby erecting their own avidya constructed entirely out of the terminology of Vedanta and what they believe it means.

    One solution is the measured approach of the Vedanta tradition, but there are way more enlightenment seekers than there are truly qualified Vedanta teachers to service them all, thus, there is always going to be a conceptual marketplace where folks trade in ideas that keep them in ignorance.

    I agree that the recognition of the nonduality of ordinary awareness is a great aid in finding happiness, but only because there is bliss combined with a greater ease in detachment. The way I read it, folks believe that they will always be happy—that they can never be unhappy—once realization has dawned. Thus, for my own purposes, I feel it’s important to keep notions of happiness aside when discussing nonduality.

    10 hrs · Edited · Like
  • Jerry Katz The search for happiness may be called a search for some condition known by the absence, not of desire, but of the pain associated with desire. It is a search for the end of that pain. The end of suffering seems more like “true nature” than “comfort.”
    10 hrs · Like · 2
  • Dhanya Durga Moffitt Hi Jody and Jerry

    Jody, It’s my impression that you have a lot of respect for my teacher, Carol Whitfield. It is from her that I first heard that one’s true nature is happiness. Perhaps one needs to define happiness in order to see whether that is true or not.

    What is it that a person loves more than anything else. ‘Me,’ correct? Well who or what is this ‘me’ that one loves? Is ‘me’ the body/mind and sense organs individual or is ‘me,’ the nondual reality?

    My understanding is ‘me’ is in fact the nondual reality, prior to recognizing this fact, taken to be one with and a product of the body/mind.

    Okay, so is my true nature happiness? I would say that it is. I wrote an article about this once, my one and only article published in a print magazine. I’ll put a link to it here. It is not the happiness which comes and goes, but a kind of bottom line happiness, an okayness, or well-being, or if one wants to call it ‘comfort,’ I think one could because it is ever present, the mind’s refuge in the turbulent sea of changing experience (samsara).

    It is that which is firmer and stronger than anything else for all changing things arise and have their being in it. Vedanta likens it to an anvil upon which all else changes but which itself never changes.

    I think it’s good to make a distinction between the happiness produced by changing circumstances and the wellness of one’s own being. However, Vedanta would say, and I would agree that changing happiness is a reflection of one’s true nature which is why one is so addicted to it. I’ll post the article and you can see if you agree or not.

    Jerry, IMO what you are talking about in Sanskrit is called ‘viragya,’ which translates as dispassion, which is a very bad translation of the word. It’s kind of like what is more important, the result of a fulfillment of a desire (which itself comes with the seed of suffering embedded in it for any temporary gain comes along with its loss), or resting the mind in one’s being, which is full and complete as it is? And that is comfortable. The ease of being (I believe someone once said), or the ease of one’s being to bring it home.

    9 hrs · Like
  • Dhanya Durga Moffitt Here is the article. It’s pretty much pure Vedanta. See if you agree or not with what it says, Jody: (from

    We all want a good and happy life. Most of our pursuits are geared toward that end. What we may not understand is that the happiness gained through changing experiences and actions is fleeting. The only way to gain the lasting happiness we seek is through the recognition that our true nature is happiness itself. This recognition is called moksha, Self-knowledge or liberation.

    The Vedas are the world’s oldest-known scriptures. The essential subject matter of these revered texts is happiness and the nature of your Self. The Vedas are divided into two parts. The first part is by far the longer and contains instructions on how to achieve the best life possible in the world of changing experience known as samsara.

    The second part of the Vedas is for those who have discerned that changing circumstances cannot deliver something that lasts. This part of the Vedas contains the Upanishads, the original source books of the teachings of Advaita Vedanta. (Advaitameans “not two, nondual.” Vedanta means “the end of the Vedas.”)

    The entire teaching of Vedanta is encapsulated in the word upanishad. The Upanishads convey the very well-ascertained knowledge (ni) of that which is most near, the Self (upa), which brings about the disintegration of sorrow—along with its cause—when the truth is revealed (sad). In other words, it is Self-knowledge that delivers lasting happiness.

    The teachings of the Upanishads tell us that the cause of sorrow is taking the ever-present changeless Self (Atman) to be one with—and a product of—the body, mind, and sense organs. Thus we take who we are to be limited, subject to birth, death, and change. Vedanta tells us this is not true. Who we are is not subject to any of these things; rather, we are birthless, deathless, changeless, limitless Atman. Not recognizing the Self as it really is, we suffer.

    A student of Vedanta is guided by the teachings to distinguish between that which doesn’t change (the Self/Atman), and that which does (everything else). This is done through a dual process of negation and positive assertion. “Not this, not this” (neti,neti)is the negation of the notion that our Self has anything to do with the body, mind, and sense organs, all of which change. At the same time, positive assertion is used to point out that we are “that which is changelessly ever-present, illumining all of these.”

    This is not a conceptual exercise. The teachings are pointing us to recognize directly and without a shadow of a doubt the truth about the Self. People often say, “My body has changed and aged, but I feel as if I never have.” This intuitive feeling is accurate. Although the Self has never changed, it remains undifferentiated from the changing experiences of the body and mind until the teachings clearly point the unchanging nature of the Self out to you.

    Guided by the teachings of Vedanta, the student examines the phenomenon of happiness in order to ascertain its source. When we obtain a desired object, for example, we experience a moment of pleasure. A variety of other experiences—such as meditating, listening to music, or watching a sunset—may also produce pleasure.

    We naturally assume that the source of our pleasure lies in the situation, experience, or object that appears to have made us happy. Thus we keep trying to gain those objects and replicate those situations that seem to produce this effect. However, the same objects and situations please some people while displeasing others. Also, what once gave pleasure may later become a source of pain. Meditative experiences don’t last. In short, no object or situation is, in and of itself, a source of constant happiness at all times, for all people, in all places. How then does the experience of happiness arise?

    The mind is composed of thoughts. The Atman is ever-present and illumines the mind. The nature of the Atman is pure happiness. In the instant a desire is fulfilled the mind relaxes, and the ever-present Atman is reflected in the mind in the form of ananda(pure happiness). This produces a moment of pleasure.

    In the next instant another thought or desire may arise, replacing the reflected anandaof the Atman. Rather than recognizing the Atman as the actual source of happiness, the source of happiness is projected out onto the changing world of objects, and we try to gain happiness from them, an activity the scriptures compare to trying to drink water from a mirage.

    Once the Self has been recognized as it truly is—ever-present, limitless, and full—we no longer need to project our well-being onto objects and experiences. We no longer need to pursue happiness; we know our nature is happiness and we can rest in that recognition.

    There is only one Self, one Atman. This same Self shines in the hearts and minds of all. Step by step, as the teachings progress, using a process of logic and reason, we come to recognize that this same Self is Brahman. This very Self, from which the world has come, is the stable being of the entire world of changing experience.

    Everything we see, perceive, and experience has for its actual being Atman, which is Brahman, which is the Self alone. Once we gain this recognition we know the truth of existence. Despite any appearance to the contrary, all is in reality only one, nondual, advaita: one being, one reality, one Self, which—due to the veiling power of maya—appears to be many.

    This recognition takes place over time and through the teachings. Because the verses of the Upanishads are terse, and their meaning difficult to decipher, we require the guidance of a highly trained teacher who knows how to unlock the meaning of the words, and then how to use those words as direct pointers to the Self.

    Having acknowledged that the changing world of experience can never be a lasting source of happiness, the Upanishads do not tell us there is something we need to do in order to be happy. The result of any action, being time-bound, will not provide lasting happiness. Once the Atman is recognized as it is—limitless, full, and complete, ever-present, never-sorrowful, and never-changing—we don’t need to look for happiness elsewhere.

    The Upanishad is the revealer of truth. Moksha is that which is revealed. The meaning of the revealer and the revealed is the same. When that which is most near and dear(upa) is very well ascertained (ni), all sorrows disintegrate—along with their cause—in the knowledge that I am Brahman alone (sad). This is moksha—the discovery that your true nature is happiness.

    The Vedanta Column is published in partnership with Advaita Academy, a nonprofit organization which aims to preserve and promote the awareness of traditional Advaita teachings through a comprehensive website and in collaboration with similar associations.

    ABOUT Dhanya Moffitt Dhanya Moffitt has been a student of traditional Advaita Vedanta for the past eight years.

    9 hrs · Like
  • Jody Radzik It’s a really great article, Dhanya, but I’m a heretic on this point. Being human is about being an animal, and all of them, regardless of where they sit on the phylogenetic tree, seek comfort first and foremost, however it may have been defined for them by evolution.
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  • Dhanya Durga Moffitt Hi Jody, I don’t think you are a heretic. In fact the Vedas themselves list human pursuits as four. These are called the four purush (human) arthas (pursuits). 

    The first one is called artha. This is the pursuit of basic needs, like food, clothing and shelter. The things we need in order to survive. 

    The second one is called kama, which means pleasure. So if the first artha is covered we seek pleasure.

    Animals also share these two pursuits with us. They seek to survive, and when that is covered, they can play and enjoy.

    Humans have two more pursuits, dharma and moksha. Dharma means doing the right thing, living a moral life, helping others, etc. 

    And moksha means liberation (recognizing the true nature of all changing things).

    So I would say comfort fits into the first artha, and it may fit into the second kama/pleasure.

    But all of these themselves artha, kama, dharma, moksha are about happiness, IMO. The fruits of all of them are certain types of happiness. But it is only moksha which leads to the recognition that real happiness is not an experience to be gained through the manipulation of samsara, but rather it is the very nature of one’s being. And it is that being from which all of the other arthas borrow their spark.