Category Archives: Jerry Katz, writings

Nonduality in the Architectural Theory of Christopher Alexander. Part One

The purpose of this series of articles is to show how the writings of architect Christopher Alexander bear on nonduality.

The fundamental message, which will be elaborated, is that architects who work from realization of their true nature could build structures that inspire realization of true nature.

Nonduality means non-separation, which refers to all things being the same at some level of understanding, while retaining their individuality. A  classic metaphor pointing to nondual reality is that of the wave and ocean. Though each wave is unique, each one is the substance of the ocean and not separate from the ocean itself: Nonduality, non-separation.

16may2017martbeach3770 3photo by Jerry Katz

What is the “I”?

Christopher Alexander’s term for what is the same and unchanging in reality, is the “I”. The “I” is Christopher Alexander’s most common term for one’s essential being or true nature, although he also uses other terms, such as
“eternal self” (Alexander, 2004, p. 40),
“ground of all things” (Alexander, 2004, p. 47),
“Self” (Alexander, 2004),
“substrate of the universe . . . the origin of who and what we are” (Alexander, 2016), “true childish heart” (Alexander, 2004, p. 5),
“true self” (Alexander, 2004, p. 52),
“ground of the universe” (Alexander, 2004, p. 35),
“the Void, the great Self, maha-Atman, God, the Friend” (Alexander, 2004, p. 35),
“‘a something’ which lies in me and beyond me” (Alexander, 2004, p. 37).

The term “I” has been given terms by prominent teachers, for example, “awareness of being aware” (Spira, 2015), “essential being” (Spira, 2015), “God” (Ramana Maharshi, 1989, p. 550), “I am” (Nisargadatta Maharaj, 1993, p. 13).

niziamthat

The need to experience the “I.” The role of nonduality

Christopher Alexander’s work is characterized by persistently and passionately speaking about the need to experience in one’s self what he calls the “I” (Alexander, 2004) and to intentionally create buildings and structures that are founded in the realization of the “I” and which in turn inspire the realization, or at least the sense, intuition, or feeling of the “I” in those who experience the built structures.

[The “I”] is a part of the human being which exists already, and is available to us. . . . It is that which makes [art and architecture] powerful, which makes it useful. And this self — or “I” — is the core of every living structure (Alexander, 2004, p. 40).

Speaking to people in today’s world, Alexander says, “Our own way of making a connection to the “I,” must be … rooted in truth consistent with the 21st century”   (Alexander, 2004, p. 44) . . . “Something that would virtually have to be a new faith for our time must be found: some modern way in which we can make — for our time — a realistic and satisfying connection with the I” (Alexander, 2004, p. 45).

The True Meaning of Science and Spirituality: The existence of  this entity I call the “I” can be confirmed by experience, and it will — I believe — one day become part of physics, part of our understanding of the material universe, which reunites self and matter, ourselves with the world (Alexander, 2004, p. 44)

Sometimes implicit, sometimes explicit, in this series of essays is the offering that the teachings of nonduality, as known experientially and via an unfolding, process, path, or way that is unique for each individual, are a modern way of making that connection to the “I.”

Yet, since there is no central authority for the teachings of nonduality, no specific path can be recommended. The curious one simply has to start searching, looking within, doing whatever seems to be the next obvious step. Many, many paths and teachers could be recommended, and some will be noted in these essays and throughout this entire blog, however the author recommends no one and nothing. The reader must find out for him- or herself.

Doubt

As far as those who doubt that the “I” really exists in the first place, Christopher Alexander provides an intellectual argument over the course of the four volumes of  The Nature of Order. Christopher writes, “[A] difficult intellectual path lies before us in this book.” (Alexander, 2004, p. 8). While some feel they require a well-marked path to walk, Matthew Arnold’s words from Human Life, could be considered:

Ah! let us make no claim
On life’s incognizable sea
To too exact a steering of our way!

I shall not present an argument. I write more for those who already have no doubt about the reality of the “I” and the importance of living from their true nature as “I,” and who find value in hearing the variety of expressions regarding the “I,” hearing it from all conceivable sources, whether a book, a dance, or a rock.

 

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A rock. Photo by Jerry Katz

A note regarding what lies beyond the “I” 

As for those who have even seen the “I” evaporate into an is-ness which neither is nor is not, these quotations may provide some enjoyment. Although I would not demand there is such a thing as an “I,” expressions about the “I” help me focus on my artistic objective; they serve as a muse.

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“Expressions about the “I” help me focus on my artistic objective; they serve as a muse.” Photo by Mary-Jean Doyle

Biography

christopheralexander
Christopher Alexander

Christopher Alexander was born in Vienna, Austria and raised in Oxford and Chichester, England. He studied at Trinity College in Cambridge, at Cambridge University, and at Harvard University where he received Harvard’s first Ph.D. in architecture. In 1963, Alexander became Professor of Architecture at the University of California, Berkeley, where he taught for 38 years, becoming Professor Emeritus in 2001. He has published hundreds of papers and built over 300 buildings globally (Christopher Alexander, 2011).

Some quotations from the YouTube video: Every step you take … has to increase or deepen the part of the enivornment you are working in. . . . Where does the whole come into play and what is it we need to do to deepen that wholeness … and what are the means one could use or should use to make this happen? . . . You can’t say something is beautiful unless it actually produces in you the emotion of beauty.

Christopher Alexander currently lives and works in England, where he has been since 2002. For nearly 50 years he has promoted an architectural hypothesis which values the “I” or essential self. His work arises out of refined observation and testing, and the totality of his works bears not only on the design of buildings but on computer science, transportation science, art in general, and cognitive science (Christopher Alexander, 2011).

Alexander’s groundbreaking works including A Pattern Language: Towns, Buildings, Construction (Oxford University Press, 1977), The Timeless Way of Building (OUP, 1977), and the four-volume book set, The Nature of Order: An Essay on the Art of Building and the Nature of the Universe (Center for Environmental Structure, 2004), from which Volume Four is the source for most of the material in this essay (Christopher Alexander, 2011).

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The nature of order: An essay on the art of building and the nature of the universe. Book four: The luminous ground, by Christopher Alexander. The book upon which this paper is based

Alexander’s most recent book is The Battle for the Life and Beauty of the Earth: A Struggle Between Two World-Systems, authored with Hansjoachim Neis and Maggie Moore Alexander, and published in 2012 by Oxford University Press in New York.

When in 1958 Christopher Alexander began to study for his Ph.D. in architecture at Harvard, he was seeking “the smallest particles of fact that I could be certain of . . . small enough and solid enough that I could be sure that they were true” (Alexander, 2016).

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“…the smallest particles of fact that I could be certain of.” Photo by Jerry Katz

In this search, he came upon an awakening experience when he realized that some of the small details of architecture touched people in beneficial ways. They had the potential to inspire and support mental and emotional well-being: “. . . a shelf beside the door where one could put a packet down while searching for one’s keys, for instance, or the possibility of a sunbeam coming into a room and falling on the floor” (Alexander, 2016).

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“…the possibility of a sunbeam coming into a room and falling on the floor.”
Photo by Jerry Katz

He elaborates on this awakening experience:

I was able to see how buildings support human ­well-being — not so much mechanical or material well-­being, but rather the emotional well-being that makes a person feel comfortable in himself. And as I studied these small effects carefully, gradually I was led to a conception of the wholeness and wellness that might, under ideal circumstances, arise between buildings and human beings (Alexander, 2016).

This and likely other such awakening experiences fueled an inquiry into the fundamental nature of architectural elements. Through this inquiry he ultimately recognized his fundamental self: the “I,” his own true self, or his “true childish heart” (Alexander, 2004, p. 5), about which he observed,

. . . is something vast, existing outside myself and inside myself, as if it were a contact with the eternal, something everlasting existing before me, in me, around me. I recognized, too, that my most lucid moments occur when I am swept up in this void, and fully conscious of it, as if it were a blinding light (Alexander, 2004, p. 7).

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“I am swept up in this void, and fully conscious of it, as if it were a blinding light.”
Photo by Jerry Katz

Alexander’s architectural theories began to emerge. They were based on imparting a deep feeling — psychologically and emotionally — of being human (Alexander, 2016).
Now, for nearly sixty years, Alexander has worked “to provide a basis for architecture that can sustain human feeling and the human spirit” (Alexander, 2016).

chartres-cathedral-1021517Chartres Cathedral, a well-discussed example by Alexander of “Architecture that can sustain human feeling and the human spirit.”

Summary

Christopher Alexander’s work is characterized by persistently and passionately speaking about the need to experience in one’s self their true nature or what he calls the “I” (Alexander, 2004), and to intentionally create buildings and structures that are founded in the realization of the “I,” which in turn inspire the emotion of beauty and the realization, or at least the sense, intuition, or feeling of the “I” within the one experiencing the built structures.

In Part 2 I’ll write more about the “I” and discuss the meaning of “living structure.” Your comments are welcome.

References

Alexander, C. (2004). The nature of order: An essay on the art of building and the       nature of the universe. Book four: The luminous ground. Berkeley, California: The Center for Environmental Structure.

Alexander, Christopher. (2016) “Making the Garden.” First Things. Retrieved from  www.firstthings.com/article/2016/02/making-the-garden

Christopher Alexander: The Battle To Bring Life and Beauty to the Earth. (2011, May). Retrieved from atc.berkeley.edu/bio/Christopher_Alexander/

Nisargadatta Maharaj. (1992). I am that: Talks with Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj.         Durham, NC: The Acorn Press.

Ramana Maharshi. (1989). Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi. India: Sri Ramanasramam.

Spira, Rupert. (2015). “Meditation: Being Aware of Being Aware is the Highest      Meditation.” Rupert Spira: The Essence of Non-Duality. www.youtube.com/watch?v=OZ8tQYYNIg0. Accessed 14 Mar. 2017.

The Timeless Way of Educating Architects: A New Master in ‘Building Beauty’ in Naples, Italy. (2016, October). Retrieved from papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2846153

Oneness and the Embracing of Opposites in Some Songs of Grace Vanderwaal

[All song lyrics are from http://gracevanderwaal.com/lyrics/]

Grace Vanderwaal is a 13-year old singer, musician, and songwriter who won America’s Got Talent (AGT) in 2016 at age 12 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4sgjgPSdADE. I want to look at lyrics which, in my opinion, contain themes of oneness and of authentic living in the midst of ordinary, everyday life.

These are only my interpretations of some of her songs, set forth for the reader’s consideration. I accept that there are multiple valid interpretations.

I have no idea what Grace was actually trying to say in any of these songs. She has said she believes in Jesus and is a Methodist https://www.gnjumc.org/news/grace-vanderwaal-sings-a-story-of-talent/,
https://twitter.com/gracevanderwaal/status/742860886164013056?lang=en. Thus I have quoted the Bible. However, I have also quoted from other spiritual and religious traditions.

Unifying opposites

From an assessment of her lyrics and interview comments, it appears that Grace’s world view is unifying and transcendent.  When asked how it feels, looking back at winning AGT: “It feels like it was twenty minutes and it also feels like it’s fifteen years ago at the same time” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uEvkz2je304&t=9s (1:56 – 2:29). She easily and comfortably embraces opposites.

On being happy

The point of transcendent religious and spiritual teachings is to be happy. Grace was asked about her vision for her future. She said, “To just be happy and enjoy what I’m doing, no matter what it is. Too many people in the [show biz] industry lose sight of that and I think that’s why a lot of people have a tough time in this type of business and I never want to get caught up in that” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uEvkz2je304&t=9s (17:50 – 18:16).

Perhaps she aligns with this passage from Psalms:  “So my heart rejoices and I am happy; My life is safe” http://biblehub.com/net/psalms/16.htm. Grace has spoken of writing songs that come from her heart https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3F5D6vIG7ng (1:35 – 1:39). One might imagine that she knows the connection between the heart and happiness and is unlikely to compromise it.

An old soul

I’ve heard people talk about Grace being “an old soul.” https://www.forbes.com/sites/timmaurer/2016/09/14/amazing-grace-prevails-unlikely-star-breaks-reality-tv-mold-to-win-americas-got-talent/#45850e1c6e7f https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uEvkz2je304&t=9s (18:52 – 18:58). The Bible says, “Whoever doesn’t receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never get into it at all” http://biblehub.com/niv/luke/18.htm I wish to offer that she is more of a “young soul,” in the spirit of the Bible.

Grace radiates a universal appeal. Her world view and values resonate with teachings of other religious traditions. I am not saying she believes in other religions or in anyone other than Jesus. I am only suggesting that her world view, her attitude and beliefs, are not dissimilar from those expressed by other religions and traditions.

For example, Zen Buddhism speaks of “beginner’s mind,” which, seems to me, is freshly born every moment, the opposite of old. In the classic book Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind, by Shunryu Suzuki Roshi, the opening sentence is, “In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few” Suzuki, S. (1995). Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind. New York, NY: Weatherhill. My sense is that the freshness of artistry and spirit that Grace brings is based in beginner’s mind, or upon the spirit of the little child of which the Bible speaks.

A relationship with darkness and light

Yet Grace does not write from superficial happiness. She is contemplative and richly authentic. In Darkness Keeps Chasing Me, she writes

God ​I ​want ​to ​be ​different ​but ​I’m ​not ​sure ​if ​i ​can ​do ​it ​on ​my ​own
‘Cause Every ​now ​and ​then ​the ​darkness ​tries ​to ​chase ​me
And ​my ​legs ​are ​getting ​tired ​of ​running
No no no no
Please ​don’t Please ​don’t Let ​it ​get ​to ​me, oohh
I ​don’t ​want ​to ​give ​up ​that ​easily
But ​the ​darkness ​keeps ​chasing ​me, ​me, ​me, ​me

The resolution to this song lies in the way she sings, “Me, me, me, me,” in a way that is somewhat light and fanciful as though graciously surrendering to God’s way, thus balancing the dominant tone of darkness, and as though saying, “Oh well, this ‘me’ runs from the darkness and knows the pain of it, yet I also see a profound playfulness in this darkness.”

Darkness as light

And why not? In Psalms we read, “He made darkness His secret place, His tent round about Him” http://biblehub.com/dbt/psalms/18.htm. The higher darkness chases Grace and she runs perhaps because the power of God is too awesome to totally surrender to, but part of her already sees light within the darkness, and maybe even she would acknowledge that the darkness is light. The following passage is from the Christian mystical tradition:

At first the Supreme Reality appears to the inner eye as darkness. This apparent darkness is, however in itself light, dazzling and blinding in its splendour, and it gradually becomes visible as such, when the spiritual vision is purged and strengthened and renewed by the stripping off of all love for the relative, the dependent, the phenomenal, and by the assiduous practice of all moral virtues. – W.S. Lilly, The Great Enigma, p. 267 Quoted in Dictionary of all Scriptures and Myths., p. 200. G.A. Gaskell, editor. The Julian Press, New York, 1977. 

The song reveals a mature insight into the human condition and in its way delivers a spiritual/religious teaching.

It could also be said that on another level she’s talking about those times a person feels tired, exhausted, a little depressed, and just wants to give everything up, but of course we don’t. Oh well, I gave the song a more dimensional meaning! When a person can see a lot of meaning in a song it might mean it’s a great song.

“So I heard you are my sister’s friend.”

Grace Vanderwaal excels at artistic abruptness. She brings the listener back and forth between poetical, possibly mystical and transcendent states and feelings, to the most down to earth.

This abruptness was memorably illustrated within the first few seconds of singing her first song on AGT https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eNxO9MpQ2vA&t=226s:

I don’t know my name,
I don’t play by the rules of the game
So you say I’m just trying
Just trying

So I heard you are my sister’s friend you get along quite nicely
You ask me why I cut my hair and changed myself completely.

What an abrupt change from a personal and poetic take on her life to talking about her sister’s friend. In this second verse she steps right into the muck of the small world and in that way appears to be telling her audience something like, “I’m gonna tell you the way I see the big world but I will not dismiss, deny, or disregard the pettiness of the small world. I’ll address them both together. They are inseparable. Love ties them together.” (I may have put words into Grace’s mouth, but they’re good words!)

With those few lines she was at once identified as an artist of originality and power. She takes you for a ride and cuts around corners and thrusts you into the starry sky and then into her house and back to the sky and you love it all.

Knowing the better life

Grace Vanderwaal plays with opposites of feeling and happiness, and she knows which is the lower or temporary happiness, and which is the higher, the more permanent and solid.

You found a lighter
On the street
And suddenly everything just
Seems so happy
mmm
My honey it’s all temporary

Just close your eyes
And create yourself a better life
Let the wind blow through your hair
Let the music take you there
And make a better life

Again we see that abrupt transition between the street and the sky, between the ordinary and the transcendent. It is a most agreeable transition delivered with the ripened innocence of the child within or with what I am guessing Grace calls her “heart.”

My understanding is that Grace is saying to enjoy the pleasure of finding the lighter. She is not denying anyone that pleasure. Just realize, she is saying, that this kind of happiness is temporary and will fade in a short while.

Living from small happiness to small happiness only makes you seem happy. Grace is saying to look beyond to find deeper, more solid, more permanent, more real happiness.

She says to close your eyes (turn away from the everyday world of temporary happiness), feel the beauty of nature and music, and try to live your life from the more solid and real places of true beauty. In this way your life will be better.

I feel that Grace is telling us that life is better when the more solid happiness is far more important to you than all the temporary happinesses that show up like a lighter on the sidewalk.

This shedding of the temporary happiness finds resonance with the earlier quote by Lilly in which he speaks of the “stripping off of all love for the relative, the dependent, the phenomenal,” in order to know the Supreme Reality, or the “better life.”

We’re brighter than fireflies

The same message is delivered in Light The Sky. Grace again admits we are individual, ordinary people, yet each of us shines with a certain light that lights up the world.

The first line tells the point of view of the song: “Stars . . . they got nothing on us.” The message is echoed later on: “The stars are dull when they’re compared to you and I.” She declares, “And yeah, I think we were born to shine.”

“We’re not the same and we don’t have to try / ‘Cause we’re brighter than fireflies we’re gonna light the sky.

You and me we stand out of the crowd / ‘Cause we aren’t afraid to let our light out

In my view, Grace seems to be saying: We don’t have to be the same. We are individuals. We are fireflies. We are stars. Yet we are brighter than stars and fireflies. We contain a light that is brighter than our individual light. That greater light is our birth right: “We were born to shine.” In this way we light the sky and reveal the world beyond the everyday, the nondual world. There’s a transcendent light. We are not the same and at the same time we are this one light that lights up the sky.

Bob Dylan, a Saint, and Taylor Swift? Sure, why not

These qualities — unifying opposites, being happy, coming from the heart or child within, — and the artistic ways she presents them, give her songs an anthem-like quality and a depth, as well as a joy, perhaps unmatched among singers of her generation.

Grace Vanderwaal is like Bob Dylan with regard to her literary capacity and potential to change the music scene and industry; like a Saint for her ability to embrace light and darkness and to see both the flawed individual and the unflawed perfection of a person at the same time; and like — hey why not? — like Taylor Swift for her pop presence.

Of course these comparisons break down once you look closely at them. In reality Grace is only herself.

Or is she?

Is Grace “only herself”? Or is she — are we — something else? Grace pointed to the illusory quality of this life and personhood in a recent video apparently shot on her phone while at Universal Studios in California with her mom. Walking past fake storefronts brightly lit with Christmas decorations, Grace noted, “They only thing that bothers me … it looks like there’s all these great stores … and they’re fake stores … they’re just an illusion. Everything’s an illusion. Am I an illusion? Are you an illusion?” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uOYnW_0OKGA (4:33 – 4:57).

Though it seems she was talking in an off-handed, fun way, there’s a sense that behind it is a serious consideration. The sense is that Grace questions everything, even the nature of her own existence and that of others. It seems likely that her world view will be further elaborated in future songs and projects and that she will take millions along on her journey.
copyright©2017 by Jerry Katz. All rights reserved. Contact: halifaxjerrykatz at gmail.com

The Evan Gattis Story: A Milestone

The Evan Gattis story reaches a milestone. He has gone from high school baseball star, to suffering depression, to quitting baseball, to discovering nonduality, to finding out his true nature, to getting back into baseball, to playing professionally. His story is best told in this Sports Illustrated article.

Last night his team, the Houston Astros, won the World Series (advance to 9:22 if you do not wish to watch all the game’s highlights). Winning the Series is every baseball player’s dream and few achieve it.

Gattis does not make a public display of nondualistic claims and confessions as do Jim Carrey and Prince Ea. Some day in a book or movie he may do so. Or not. Meanwhile there’s more to come. He’s only 31 and has more years to play baseball.

Atlanta Braves v. Washington Nationals

Photo: Evan Gattis

Let the Scene See You

Let the Scene See You, an article I wrote on photography and nondual view has been published in Paula Marvelly’s The Culturium:

A LANDSCAPE PHOTOGRAPHER enamoured by a scene might enquire, “Do I feel the landscape ‘sees me’ even while I see it?” Or, “Do I hear, see, taste, recognize the true nature of ‘me’ in the landscape?”

Thirteenth-century Christian mystic and philosopher, Meister Eckhart, wrote, “The eye through which I see God is the same eye through which God sees me.”

The eye through which I see a landscape is the same eye through which the landscape sees me.

Please view and read the entire article at
https://www.theculturium.com/jerry-katz-let-the-scene-see-you/

#5307 – What Is the Satguru?

What Is The Satguru?

brilliant-owl-camouflage-15

It’s not hard to see what one actually is, but sometimes you need someone to point it out to you. You may be looking right at it and not see it. It hides in plain sight like a camouflaged owl.

You can be taught everything about the owl. You may be shown pictures, videos, you may study its anatomy, physiology, and behavior. But if you can’t see the owl in the tree right in front of you, the essential discovery is missing.

You’ve probably experienced a situation where, for example, a friend sees an owl in a tree and even though you are looking at the same tree you cannot see the owl.

Your friend tries to help you see it: “See that large branch, the third from the top? The one with the remnant of plastic bag stuck to it?”

“Yes.”

“Okay, now follow the branch from the tree trunk.”

“Okay.”

“See the first branch coming off the large branch and sort of pointing downward?”

“Okay, yes.”

“Now follow that branch down until you come to the second clump of leaves. Ignore the first clump.”

“Think I got it.

“On the second clump of leaves, some of them are kind of orange in color, see that?”

“Yes.”

“Just to the left of that orange cluster, half behind some green and some of the orange leaves, is the owl. See it?”

“No.”

“Just look.”

“Oh. Geez. Yeah. There it is. Why couldn’t I see it?”

“It’s hard to see sometimes.”

The owl was always there, you just couldn’t see it. The owl represents your true self. It’s always there and you know it’s there.

The guru shows you the owl in the tree. Now you can hang up its picture, see it in your mind’s eye, place its form on your altar, remember it, allow its image to comfort and guide you.

The satguru goes a step further and removes any subtle separation between you and the owl. Wherever you look is the owl. The looker is the owl. When there is only the owl, how can there be an owl?

owls-being-cute-18

Robin Williams Passes Away – Interesting Memorabilia

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Photo: Robin Williams in the 70s

Meeting Robin Williams

by Jerry Katz

Back in 1975 I tried stand-up comedy for about a year. I mostly performed on Sunday nights at the Improv in West Hollywood. Sunday was open-mike night and if you wanted to perform you had to line-up outside the Improv. The first 12 or so people in line would get to perform. You had to get in line around 6pm.

Once we have about a dozen people in line, we didn’t want to stay there until they let us in at 9pm, so we would write our names on a sheet of paper according to our place in the line. We would then go our own way and get back in line around 9pm according to the list.

On one of those nights, for some reason, I kept the list of names and when I re-discovered it, I saw that one of the guys who signed it became very famous. Robin Williams, who passed away today: Continue reading

I see your true colors

In the old days of TV you’d get a lot of static. You might have a station with a show you wanted to watch but you had to view it through static. So you might change the channel to watch a show you didn’t like as much but at least the picture was clear. There was value in the clarity itself. For one thing, seeing that there was such a thing as a clear picture let you know that the static wasn’t the nature of picture. The picture was inherently clear. The static was a function of the TV set. Satsang is like switching to a clear channel. In color! -jk

Psychiatry, Society, Industry, Economics, and Nonduality

Okay, we know how to celebrate nonduality for its diversity and wild freedom. Now we need to back up a little and focus on some of its niches, specifically nonduality and society, and nonduality and psychiatry. Because we can get lost in the celebration and forget that there are some untapped areas.

We’ve got the arts, sciences, psychotherapy, religion, even humor, pretty well covered. Western philosophy, literature, yoga, sexuality, and maybe even sports have some momentum to them. Ecology, which has deep nondual roots, seems to have stalled in the nonduality arena.

Addiction recovery is getting excellent coverage and Gary Nixon leads this effort, running what is essentially a department of nondual psychology at the University of Lethbridge in Canada.
Gary exemplifies how one person can establish nonduality within a traditional university located in a community with zero roots in nondual thought. I mean Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada isn’t exactly Marin County, if you know what I mean.

But mostly, in my view, the “economic, social, or industrial infrastructure (quote from Wikipedia under Society)” needs coverage, as does the field of psychiatry. I’ve been in touch with some people in these fields. Maybe there needs to be an international conference on Psychiatry, Society, Industry, Economics, and Nonduality. PSIEN. This is where the rubber meets the road. Enough celebrating.

The Significance of the Nonduality Movement

Where is the nonduality movement — whose Eastern-inspired, Western roots go back to the late 19th Century — going? In my view it’s on the way to becoming less exotic and less spiritual and more ordinary, in the same way exercise and healthy eating have gone from being viewed as “kookie” to ordinary and widely accepted. But the significance of the nonduality movement is that it means living from the poetry — the honest madness — rather than the anxiety — the dishonest normalcy — of our lives.

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The Only Two Guides You Need in Your Pursuit of Nonduality

Pursuing nonduality? In the old days you had to do Google searches, join email forums, read books, watch videos, listen to podcasts, go to satsangs, make pilgrimages to see gurus.

All that has changed. Now you only need two guides.

1. Facebook.
2. MeetUps.

Have a question about the reputation of a teacher? Want to know whether nonduality will affect your relationships? Ask your friends on FB. Want to hear the latest utterances of some enlightened dude or girl? Facebook. Want to chat with the hottest guru? Want to post your own confessions about the nature of reality? Want to know who’s who and who’s doing what? All you need is Facebook.

For your offline experience, no need to travel far to see a sage or guru. Attend a local nonduality MeetUp group. If there isn’t any, or if there isn’t one to your liking, start one.

Facebook and MeetUps are the only two basic guides needed for your journey to nonduality.

If there’s a third guide, may I suggest the place where the vision for popular nonduality found a home: Nonduality.com

-Jerry Katz

What Is Nonduality, Really?

Nonduality today consists of a wide array of expressions on themes of oneness, interconnectedness, non-separateness, and paradox. These expressions are found in many fields of knowledge and endeavor: science, psychology, religion, spirituality, martial arts, poetry, music, art, literature, communication, education.

The desire to awaken often leads to a search and the discovery of some form of nonduality.

The purpose of my work in nonduality is to provide many opportunities for discovery. It considers nonduality as both a practical tool for more effective living and a pointing to what is. My work also includes the deconstruction of nonduality, and the deconstruction of deconstruction.

In other words, there’s both something to nonduality and nothing to it. Out of some colors of existence something is fashioned and it is called nonduality. But what is nonduality, really? Knowing what it really is, there is laughter, enjoyment … and another email to open!

-Jerry Katz

Beyond Lucid Dreaming and Waking

While it is fascinating to dream lucidly, that is, to be aware that you are dreaming and to be able to manipulate your environment — whether sleeping or awake — it is not a recognition of your natural self. It’s a recognition of your cool self.

The natural self, the Self, is stillness. It is dreamless sleep and dreamless waking.

Instead of trying to experience a lucid dream, upon lucidity in a dream, be still. There’s nothing to chase, nothing to manipulate. Carry this stillness to the waking world, to the greatest extent possible. In this way you will come to your natural way of being.

The Nonduality Movement: Part Four

Hi Jerry,

I think with the advent of the internet, the overall scenario has indeed changed. If we think of it, some centuries ago, anyone interested in non-duality would have to search a living “teacher”, for most did not read or write. Till a few years ago, one had the option of reading books. But with internet, and mainly these forums, there is this opportunity to participate actively in a dynamic that was unavailable before. Where would I meet others to discuss these matters just a few years ago? Where would I be able to look more deeply into the hidden nature of the sense of ego that is revealed in these exchanges?
So…. this “new” environment certainly must make some difference. Or perhaps none, if it only leads to more entertainment to escape from the implosion.
-geo-

The Feminist (Women’s) Movement changed consciousness even though many influenced by it didn’t bother to study academic papers or to read the significant books or attend meetings. The message of the Feminist Movement about equal rights hit home on everyday fronts: voting, pregnancy, the workplace, relationships, lifestyles, politics, ecology. The Feminist Movement is a model for giving structure to the nonduality movement, as far as looking at it in waves and describing each wave and looking at the movement in terms of scope, social change, and effects on religion, science, and other disciplines.

I see the Feminist, Eco-Feminist, and Nonduality Movements as merging more fully. But it would be helpful to define the Nonduality Movement so that it can more easily fit into these other movements. Ken Wilber has somewhat of a movement going with the Integral Institute and the Integral way of looking at things.

A person could ride the Nonduality Movement on the backs of Intergral Theory, or quantum theory, or neo-advaita, or Sufism, or as a Catholic monk, or as a new ager, or as nothing. Primarily, the message of nonduality becomes known, accepted, debated, refined, altered, and then one lives life with a deep and serious valuing of that message which can be worded in different ways.

My objective is to declare that there is a Nonduality Movement and to begin to describe it. People can see it, especially those who have been on the internet for a few years.

If I were creating a panel discussion on the topic of the Nonduality Movement, who would people like to see on it?

The Nonduality Movement: Part One
The Nonduality Movement: Part Two
The Nonduality Movement: Part Three

The Nonduality Movement: Part Three

The New Nonduality: The Nonduality Movement

Jerry Katz

In these times, both traditional and neo-Advaita exist in the matrix known as the new nonduality and they spread throughout the matrix thus creating what I call The Nonduality Movement.

The New Nonduality is in fact The Nonduality Movement. It is a matrix made up of every field of human endeavor. What moves through it, thus creating it, is the teaching of nonduality (usually along with a form of the word nonduality).

The word “nonduality” or one of its forms — nondual, nondualism, nondualistic, nondualist — serves as a marker revealing the movement.

I was interviewed a few days ago by a woman who, in preparation for the interview, googled “nonduality.” She told me that she thought there would very little about the topic and that it wouldn’t be hard to prepare. However, she was overwhelmed by the choices. I told her it wasn’t always like that. Had she done the search more than ten years ago, the pickings would have been too slim to prepare for such an interview.

Comparing the search engine results for the word nonduality now and yesterday, it is clear that the teaching of nonduality has “moved.” It has diffused.

My eyes these days are on The Nonduality Movement in Western culture. We have seen the movement happen on the Internet. It began in its most direct form in the latter part of the 19th Century, which is when we find the first uses of the forms of the word nonduality. Prior to the Internet, there were many gurus and teachings that have advanced nondual teachings, yet one couldn’t say for sure that there was ever a Nonduality Movement during those decades.

We are in the midst of The Nonduality Movement. It means that the teaching of nonduality, in one form or another, through its diffusion, propagation, circulation, is finding everyone who is open minded about human potential and about who they truly are and why they are alive. That audience consists of the spiritual mainstream and everyone else who questions what they’re doing, how they’re doing it, and what is behind what they are doing.

My thoughts are somewhat scattered on this topic, however they are coming forth as blog entires. Perhaps they’ll be made more coherent in the near future.

-Jerry

The Nonduality Movement: Part One
The Nonduality Movement: Part Two

The Nonduality Movement: Part Two

The Nonduality Movement: Part Two

Read The Nonduality Movement: Part One

The Oxford English Dictionary defines a “movement” as “A course or series of actions and endeavours on the part of a group of people working towards a shared goal.”

I don’t think a movement has to be as intentional and organized as the OED implies. For example, while the anti Vietnam War movement was intentional and organized, the Beat Movement was about freedom and being in the moment, rather than intent and organization. However, the Beat Movement was more of a meta-movement since it informed other movements, including the anti Vietnam War movement. This is from the Wikipedia article on the Beat Generation:

…the Beat Generation phenomenon itself has had a huge influence on Western Culture more broadly. In many ways, the Beats can be taken as the first subculture (here meaning a cultural subdivision on lifestyle/political grounds, rather than on any obvious difference in ethnic or religious backgrounds). During the very conformist post-World War II era they were one of the forces engaged in a questioning of traditional values which produced a break with the mainstream culture that to this day people react to – or against. The Beats produced a great deal of interest in lifestyle experimentation (notably in regards to sex and drugs); and they had a large intellectual effect in encouraging the questioning of authority (a force behind the anti-war movement); and many of them were very active in popularizing interest in Zen Buddhism in the West.

In 1982, Ginsberg published a summary of “the essential effects” of the Beat Generation [35]:

* Spiritual liberation, sexual “revolution” or “liberation,” i.e., gay liberation, somewhat catalyzing women’s liberation, black liberation, Gray Panther activism.

* Liberation of the world from censorship.

* Demystification and/or decriminalization of cannabis and other drugs.

* The evolution of rhythm and blues into rock and roll as a high art form, as evidenced by the Beatles, Bob Dylan, and other popular musicians influenced in the later fifties and sixties by Beat generation poets’ and writers’ works.

* The spread of ecological consciousness, emphasized early on by Gary Snyder and Michael McClure, the notion of a “Fresh Planet.”

* Opposition to the military-industrial machine civilization, as emphasized in writings of Burroughs, Huncke, Ginsberg, and Kerouac.

* Attention to what Kerouac called (after Spengler) a “second religiousness” developing within an advanced civilization.

* Return to an appreciation of idiosyncrasy as against state regimentation.

* Respect for land and indigenous peoples and creatures, as proclaimed by Kerouac in his slogan from On the Road: “The Earth is an Indian thing.”

The Nonduality Movement is associated with promoting those values, though it is beyond promoting any values at all. Therefore, the Nonduality Movement is even more of a meta-movement than the Beat Movement. The Nonduality Movement is also more accessible than the Beat Movement was. It’s not defined by a handful of people, by coolness or being “in,” or by a literature, a music, a political stance, a lifestyle, or by a style of any sort, or by anything I’ve yet to identify. It is admitted not only that nonduality cannot be defined, but that it does not exist. Yet there is a movement founded in nonduality.

Where and how can the Nonduality Movement be identified? I’ll consider that and other questions in future blog entries.

-Jerry Katz

“Show me the paradox!” The Nondualist Phone Call

Question: “In Sri Nisargadatta’s talks the world is only in the perceiver’s mind. So would the person I am perceiving also be aware of me perceiving him?”

Answer: The question, as far as enquiry goes, is, “Who is the ‘me’ perceiving him or anything else?”

The “me”, like the world, is in the perceiver’s mind.

If it should become seen that the world is in the mind, then the questions of “me” and “him” dissolve in that seeing. There is only what is arising now and it is what it is.

All things are made of the same “stuff”, yet all things appear individualistic. The question of how things interact becomes moot at the point of seeing that all is exactly what it is in this instant. All questions dissolve in that moment.

Still, from the point of view of parapsychology and quantum theory and other disciplines, it is an interesting question about how perceivers are aware of each other. I don’t have all the theories and studies at hand to relate or summarize, nor are they the point of this response.

There is the day to day way of addressing questions, in this case by talking about parapsychology and quantum theory. And there is also the absolute way of addressing questions, in which questions are revealed to dissolve into that out of which they arose, like a wave out of the ocean.

Nisargadatta is sometimes “day to day” and sometimes absolute in his responses. Questions dissolve into the Absolute and get addressed at the day to day level, both.

The answer to the question is that there is no question, no “me” asking the question, and, at the very same time, there is an interaction between perceived and perceiver that quantum theory, parapsychology, psychology, physics, sociology, and other disciplines study and address.

There is no answer and there is an answer. Discussions about nonduality are presentations of paradox. Where the materialist (you and me?) calls out, “Show me the money!”, the nondualist gets on the phone and shouts, “Show me the paradox!”