The following was sent by JP to the Nonduality Salon forum:
My first grandson was born six months ago.
Our entire family is overjoyed at his arrival.
My daughter and her husband are experiencing the
joys, worries and responsibilities of new parenthood.
From the immense ocean of existence, wave upon
wave of life appears for a few brief seasons upon the
shore of this world. Countless generations lived
before him. Ancestors from Greece, Italy, Armenia,
Egypt, Ireland, Cornwall. My partner is Indian, with
ancestors from Gujarat. From diverse cultures,
they survived, with amazing resilience. Through war and
devastation, famine and plague, peace and prosperity.
Mariners, artisans, merchants, scholars, illiterates,
land owners, peasants, nobles and ignobles.
With each new birth, in each successive generation,
life is renewed. To simply be alive is a miracle and wonder.
You witness this miracle in your little one, every day.
I hope you can acknowledge the
miracle of your own existence, which includes
the heartaches and struggles that life
inevitably brings to each and every one of us.
My beard has now turned silver with age.
A few decades (at best) remain until
the sandcastle of my body dissolves back
into the ancient sea. The years pass so
swiftly, though there are times when life
seems unbearably long.
I write to you, like an aging grandfather
writing a handwritten letter to his distant
granddaughter, offering a few words of
encouragement as you bravely move through
your difficult time of transition; as you struggle to
fulfill your many responsibilities as mother,
guide and friend to your beloved child; as you
learn to trust your innate wisdom
to further guide you along the way.
With sunrise, another day of repetitive tasks
and heavy responsibilities awaits you, until
sunset arrives again. Another dawn, another
another day, with a few precious hours to sleep
and rest, before it all begins again.
How to find courage, how to survive, how to
how to endure, how to pay the bills, how to
parent wisely, how to heal anxiety and depression.
how to handle the next crisis, how to make it through
another day without falling apart, while often feeling
utterly alone and bereft.
These are the pressing questions asked by
millions of people, by parents, and especially
by new separated or divorced moms or dads.
Not the questions of how to understand some
ultimate meaning of existence, how to decipher
esoteric mysteries, or how to become enlightened.
You have come across the notion of ‘nonduality’,
here on this NDS list. There are a few voices here
who repeatedly post the more extremist, nihilistic
versions of nonduality, in which there is absolutely
no ‘you’, no ‘me’ and no ‘others’; in which all
phenomena is mere illusion; in which you are but
a passive, helpless observer of thoughts and
events that you do not control and cannot manage.
Children go through various stages of
physical, mental/cognitive, emotional
and social development. Jean Piaget was a
pioneer in this research:
Could you imagine telling your son that he is
nothing; that he doesn’t exist at all; that you
and he are illusion; that the world is utterly unreal;
that he cannot manage his emotions or thoughts; that
others are only characters in a movie or video game;
that he doesn’t need any social skills; that everyone
else is him?
Could it be that some of the more extreme notions
of nonduality are expounded by persons who may be
stuck in idealized early stages of development?
They offer these extremist, passive,
dehumanized, nihilistic notions as some kind of ultimate
panacea for the many complex problems of daily
living and relating. You may have already noticed
that the extremist views are entirely conceptual,
and rarely if ever relate to the details of daily
When reading these extremist notions, you may
wonder if the writers know something very special
and extraordinary that you do not know, and that
perhaps, maybe, if you could just ‘get it’, your
life would be magically transformed and all
distress and anxiety would evaporate like dew on
This is the ‘carrot of ultimate peace’ dangled
in front of the anxious human being; the shining
pot of gold at the end of a rainbow, promising
the confused person easy riches of calm, wisdom
and compassion. This carrot is but a sludge of
rotted turnip and that pot of gold that is but a
heap of rusted metal.
Fortunately, there is no magical, ultimate cure-all
to permanently dispel all anxiety on this, or any,
internet list. The work of becoming aware,
skillful and wise is the long work of a lifetime.
There is however, your innate bravery to move
through the seemingly overwhelming challenges
of life, with steady progress and many setbacks along
the way, day by day.
There is your innate courage to bear mental and
emotional discomfort and anxiety; to
discover that mental and emotional discomfort
can be endured, without panic.
There is your innate resilience, as you go through
There is your growing wisdom, which discovers
that you are not a victim, but
rather, you are the now one who is fully
responsible for your own actions and their
consequences and for the quality of your
life and the life of your son.
Mistakes, many mistakes, must be
made along the way. All opportunities to learn,
adapt and make wiser decisions.
Last week, my youngest son talked about
how good it is to learn from mistakes. He
said he recalled what I had told him
numerous times. “It is a foolish man
who cannot learn from his own mistakes.
It is a wise man who can also learn from
the mistakes of others.” I learned that
from my Greek mother who is now dead. She
learned it from her grandmother, who in
turn heard it spoken from her grandmother.
Small, golden stands of hard earned wisdom
passed along through the resilient generations.
Life will reach out to you, in the form of
different personalities. As you also reach
out, you will find wise mentors, councilors or
friends in your community who know, through their
own direct life experiences, skillful ways to heal
and wise ways to navigate the rough waters.
Practical life skills will be learned, gradually,
day by day, with incremental progress
and many setbacks.
Mature spiritual teachings will balance
any ultimate views with the unavoidable
requirements and responsibilities of ordinary,
daily living and relating.
The NDS Daily Digest can be a source of
inspiration and further exploration. Jerry offers
a variety of ‘nondual’ perspectives in his collations.
Gloria Lee is a very special woman who is especially
careful to balance various views, and include down
to earth, practical perspectives that re-humanize
perspectives that over-emphasize dehumanization.
Hopefully, other list members can point you to various
wise resources for your consideration. Resources that are
not mired in mere concepts, but grounded in down to earth
I wish you all the very best.