I spent four days at the Science and Nonduality Conference (SAND) in San Rafael, California. Flying back to Nova Scotia on WestJet, the view offers crisp constellations, the northern lights, and rare shooting stars. I don’t know the names of the constellations, and the northern lights are carrying on for so many hours I’ve lost interest. But a shooting star means there’s nothing to forget when there’s only the surprise of the moment.
SAND is a conference of constellations, lights, and shooting stars. That’s the stuff we’re made of. That means SAND is also a community.
When people ask me about the Conference I tell them I’m interested in the sense of community that is generated, because I feel that that is how the teaching of nonduality is honed, made available, and disseminates.
Early in the life of the email forum Nonduality Salon, I guess it was the late 90s, I proposed the concept of the hologuru: the community as guru, teacher, guide, friend, source, muse; container of lights northern, southern, eastern and western.
This, the third SAND, was the best one. It’s hard to pinpoint why it was so good this year. It felt “rounded out” somehow. Peter Fenner used the word “mellow”. It’s one thing to create that feeling with a dozen people, but to generate it with 500 is a different level of achievement.
James Traverse describes it this way: “The blessing of SAND is that there is an endless number of beautiful people to meet and experience and each is a fascinating jewel of Indra’s Net – it was a truly breath-taking privilege to be in the presence of such beauty, integrity, honesty, humility, dedication, truth, joy and uninhibited Love.”
James Traverse is my neighbour and friend. We flew together, both gave talks, and shared cabs and a room. What we didn’t share was the same experience at SAND. If you talked to each of us separately, you might think we attended different gatherings. That speaks to the Conference’s complexity and richness. We agreed we’ll be back next year.
Besides James, I spent quality time with a few other people whom I wish to acknowledge and thank:
Maurizio and Zaya whose love energy drives everything.
Closer-than-close friend, former editor of the Highlights, and main nondual squeeze Christiana Duranczyk.
Long time Nonduality Salon and Advaita Academy contributor Dhanya for bringing me into her fresh and beautiful home in San Rafael and preparing perhaps the best meal I ever ate while bringing me up to date on her travels, adventures, and the world of traditional Vedanta.
My publisher Connie Shaw from Sentient Publications.
Kathy Berndt from our Nova Scotia Nonduality Satsang Meetup group.
Puppetji, whom I met at the elevator and even got mentioned in his appearance.
Chuck Hillig and Jeff Foster.
Author Sam Avery (we sat on the bench outside and smoked cigars together, therefore we are bonded for life).
Prema Akasha (who also did a delightful job emceeing my panel discussion and other sessions. Too bad she doesn’t smoke cigars.)
Jonah Mark Bekerman.
Chuck (darn it, last name I can’t remember, but I enjoyed meeting you a couple times).
Scott Kiloby, Peter Fenner, John Prendergast, Unmani, David Loy
East West bookstore, which runs the SAND bookstore with great care and knowledge.
the artist Prasanna.
the volunteers, the technical people.
the small audience that saw my stand-up comedy act on open mic night.
I met lots of other people including several readers of the Highlights: Hi and thank you.
The biggest thanks goes to each one of you who attended my talk on Albert Blackburn and the panel discussion that I put together. Deep bow to each one of you. I also thank those who wanted to attend but could not due to conflicts as there were several concurrent talks and other obligations people had.
I also want to thank the young people I talked to, the college and high school kids. I’d love to see a big gang of young people next year. They’d have a ball and add a whole different kind of energy to the conference.
I saw many talks and loved to see the interest and passion of the speakers. I can’t say one stands out over the others as I appreciated each speaker for what he or she offered.
There’s so much I didn’t do and so much I didn’t see and so many people I didn’t talk to that it’s ridiculous. However, I have always felt that abundance is its own message. There should be even greater abundance, like a city that cannot be fully explored in many lifetimes because there is so much happening and change constantly happening.
Also at my age I tend to forget, so if we had a conversation and I forgot to mention you, please remind me so that I can acknowledge you. Fact is, with some people you connect with their eyes and spirit and not their name tag and there were many people I met in that category and you know who you are.
The SAND is as intriguing as the northern lights, as eternally wondrous as constellations, and as rare and startling as a shooting star.
In the next entry I’m going to publish James Traverse’s impassioned description of the Conference. I’ll gladly publish notes on your experience if you’ll send it to me.
Last note: SAND Europe is happening at the end of May 2012 in Amsterdam. I’ll post details as I receive them.
Thank you for your interest.