Book Review: An Extraordinary Absence, by Jeff Foster

An Extraordinary Absence:
Liberation in the Midst of a Very Ordinary Life

by Jeff Foster

Review by Jerry Katz

Jeff Foster is a young and gifted confessor or sharer of what is. Jeff’s words are full of space. This book is incredibly effective in getting “you” to see there has never been a “you.” There’s only this.

I like the writing styles: Question and answer; confessions of what is; some writing structured as poems; and a fourth kind of writing that is set off by its own font, a courier typewriter style font, that gives a sense of “happening now.” This fourth kind of writing appears throughout the book under the heading “this”; here’s an example:

“Silence. I have no answer for her. This is empty of questions and answers. I am a child, I know nothing about nonduality. All I know is car horns, the whiff of aftershaves, the blowing of noses and aching of feet. This is where I live. Right here, not in some other dimension. The mouth opens to speak, even though I have no idea what to say.”

An Extraordinary Absence is a book of beauty but it’s not pretty. Jeff talks about pain, including his own extreme physical and emotional pain. He writes about the spectrum of humanity from “A little red-faced toddler in blue dungarees” to a man with terminal cancer:

“He is losing control of his bowels … I don’t tell him there’s no suffering, I don’t say `I’m enlightened and you’re not,’ I don’t even mention nonduality, I just wash his testicles.”

The Foreword by Kriben Pillay and the Introduction by Philip Pegler are themselves worthwhile documents on nonduality. Especially Kriben, a writer, observer, researcher, and publisher of nondualia since the mid-90s, makes strong statements:

“Much of the current nondual scene is … engaged in layered deceptions…”

It is essential that nonduality constantly check and undo itself. If the worldly construction of nonduality — as it is known in books, websites, forums, gatherings, conferences, satsangs, all media — if it can’t stand up to its decimation, what good is it?

Something else I like about this book is the quotations. They balance the book.

By around page 90 came the insight that I was reading a classic, even a potential screenplay with Jeff starring and doing the voiceover.

I also like how Jeff brings in Zen, Advaita, and Christianity. The emphasis on Christianity and crucifixion convey that Jeff knows Jesus the man, and resonates with the pain and the utter humanity exposed in this book, and yields this confession:

“Waking up from the dream of separation, there is a death, and that death, as Jesus said, is the only salvation. You have to lose your life to save it. And so when there is no-one, there isn’t an empty void, a lonely and joyless black space devoid of all qualities, no, no, no. That void is full, it is bursting with life. … And in that, all the concepts in the world dissolve.”

Read An Extraordinary Absence and watch how you become comfortable with wonder.

~ ~ ~

An Extraordinary Absence:
Liberation in the Midst of a Very Ordinary Life

by Jeff Foster

Order from or Non-Duality Press, publisher in the U.K.

Read extracts from “An Extraordinary Absence: Liberation in the Midst of a Very Ordinary Life”

3 thoughts on “Book Review: An Extraordinary Absence, by Jeff Foster

  1. lovinginthenow

    Thanks for this review! I haven’t read the whole book but have listened to his podcasts, and yes, they are full of space.



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