Category Archives: Jerry Katz, writings

Nonduality in the Architectural Theory of Christopher Alexander

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

The fundamental message 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”? Continue reading

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. Continue reading

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

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.

Nonduality Teacher Albert Blackburn and Now Consciousness

Now Consciousness: Exploring the World Beyond Thought


by Albert Blackburn

Selections:

To me, the valuable characteristic of Now Consciousness is the universal availability for anyone. It can be experienced by rich or poor, in a palace or a hovel, by an intellectual or a simple person. It is the common heritage of everyone. Because of its simplicity, it is easily overlooked by the erudite.

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.

Nonduality: Definitions, Non-Definitions, Un-Definitions, and Anti-Definitions

There are endless definitions, non-definitions, un-definitions, and anti-definitions of nonduality. They are all pointings to the nondual.

I like to say that nonduality means there are not two things, so no things are separate. Yet things appear distinct, separate, and highly individualistic.That’s paradoxical, crazy, humorous, and not the case. But it’s a definition you can sort of “get.” It gives the mind something to chew on. It’s a definition with traction.

Just minutes ago I heard Peter Fenner on a video say that nonduality is “going beyond existence and non-existence.” There’s no traction with that definition. It’s “way beyond the mind,” Fenner says. It’s a different way of defining nonduality; it’s more of a non-definition. But it’s a pointer.

Dan Berkow has said that “defining nonduality is like adding legs to a snake.” That’s an un-definition.

Kenneth Madden recently gave this anti-definition: “Non-duality or Advaita then becomes the last refuge of the individual who is under threat. It is fodder for the mind. It becomes the new, best concept in town as it were.”

Stephen Wolinsky, at the last Science and Nonduality Conference announced cheerfully and insistently to a large audience, “There’s no such thing as nonduality!” Another anti-definition. He says the same thing on the video I mentioned above.

So there ya go. For another hundred definitions please visit http://nonduality.com/whatis.htm

Start with a definition you can “get” but don’t settle for it. Question it. The consideration of definitions of nonduality is itself a form of inquiry, a spiritual practice.

Nondualism Sneaks Into Everyday Life

I like to see how the words nonduality or nondualism are becoming part of our everyday language alongside meatballs, crotcheting, cigarettes, and coffee. This blog entry is a perfect example:

from http://bgoing.blogspot.com/2010/01/year-in-review-pt7.html

Friday, January 1, 2010

Year in Review, pt7
22 February (Denton)

I woke up, the morning after the party, at Matt’s house with Ryan. Ryan and I made our beds, gathered our things, put on our shoes and socks (our clothes were still on from the night before) and we left for coffee. We sat for two hours or so and listened to music and wrote and conversed lightly, then we took his truck to the shop to be fixed. His dad picked us up and drove us down to Corinth where Ryan lives with his parents.

Avatar, reviewed by Jerry Katz

Avatar

A review by Jerry Katz

I’m reading a book on conducting interviews and one suggestion for a print magazine interview is to hold the interview at the home of the subject. It’s an older book and an example is given of Fred Astaire. An interviewer noted that in Astaire’s home there were no photographs, mementos, keepsakes, or other reminders of Astaire’s past. Except for two Oscar statues quietly on display, Astaire lived in an ordinary home. You would never know it was the home of one of Hollywood’s most revered and appreciated stars.

The point was that one should note the surroundings of the interviewee, as they often say more than words. Clearly, Astaire lived in the present and must have felt burdened by tokens from the past. Anyone seeing him dance sees at once that Astaire was all about lightness and ease. Check him out here:

The advice of observing the surroundings I carry to this review. Maybe that makes this no review at all, but this is Avatar I’m reviewing so I think it’s okay to stretch and reach and see if I can pull everything together. Let’s look at certain surroundings of this film, surroundings I happen to encounter and notice.

I saw this film in IMAX 3D. IMAX is a Canadian invention begun in 1967. The first IMAX film was shown in 1970 and first IMAX 3D film was shown at the Expo in Japan in 1985. It was We Are Born of Stars:

“Using computer graphics, the film traces the development of life from the formation of atomic nuclei in stars to the molecular structure of water and DNA, zooming the audience through the five-billion-year evolution of our solar system.” [http://www.bigmoviezone.com/filmsearch/movies/index.html?uniq=124]

The history of IMAX 3D, therefore, is rooted in a film which connects the audience to their cosmic self, their biological self, their molecular self and which would, I imagine (I haven’t seen the film), give the viewer a sense of interconnectedness with literally everything. That interconnectedness and the intelligence associated with it, is what Avatar is about.

But let’s look at more of the surroundings of this film. I’m really indulging myself here as this review should have been finished by now. So on we go. Interconnections. Surroundings.

I had heard so much about Avatar, especially within nonduality circles, and had talked to several friends who had seen it, that I figured I better see it. I went on the Internet to find out the times it was playing. Then I bought my ticket online and printed it out at home. Surroundings. Interconnections.

Then I checked my bus schedule and walked to the bus stop and got on the bus which picked me up on time. Interconnections, interconnections.

The bus delivered me early, so I stopped into Chapters (aka Borders Books in the U.S.) and strolled amongst tens of thousands of books and accessories associated with books, the scent of Starbucks permeating one end of the store. Books are interconnections of themes and stories within interconnections of stores interconnected by computers, and all of it pulsing within an interconnection of interconnected supporting businesses and industries.

I haven’t stepped into the theatre yet but I feel I’m living the movie at some level. Avatar is about seeing interconnections and also the failure to see interconnections. The theme of Avatar is told in three words: “I see you.” Someone once sent me a book and inscribed it, “I see you.” The question is, who is this you? It’s the interconnectedness, the vast and deep interconnectedness, and the unknowable knowing that one is That.

It’s not hard to see interconnectedness. Anyone can see it in the Internet or a bus schedule or a military takeover. Avatar requires you to look at another person and to see interconnectedness as it was depicted in the first IMAX 3D movie. It requires the seeing of intelligence immeasurable and incomparable. I see you: I see nonseparateness; I see the immeasurable, the incomparable, the unknowable. That’s what the guy was saying when he inscribed that book to me. He’s a sage. What else is he going to see?

That’s the theme and message of Avatar. How was it delivered? Pretty well. Fact is, it was IMAX 3D. You could show an old sneaker in IMAX 3D and it would hold your attention for about 8 minutes. The movie was a thoroughly enjoyable experience, but not a great film.

There is one more layer to Avatar. After the story was over I watched the credits and listened to Leona Lewis sing I See You:

There were about 3000 names listed in the credits. For me that was a back story worth seeing on the screen, a story in names. Here was yet another layer of interconnectedness, another sheath of intelligence.

And so I left the theatre and walked to the bus stop, my awareness filled with certain surroundings of the day. The most impressive and notable layer of interconnectedness wasn’t the movie itself. It wasn’t the rolling credits or the bookstore or the Internet. What was it? The running of the buses, the meetings of passengers, buses, and destinations. The coming, the going, the waiting, the sitting, the departing and arriving, that meant interconnectedness to me more than anything else.

However, seeing interconnectedness doesn’t require a display of buses or anything else. It requires seeing something, which in this movie is called “you.” This “you” is the other — whatever the other is — and you, at once. Our surroundings are deeply interconnected and saturated with intelligence and wonder. Those themes are what Avatar is about and they are delivered in a very entertaining way. The same could be said for the day, any day.

-Jerry Katz

Lucid Dreaming Meets A Comfortable Bed

Are you ever frustrated that during a lucid dream you cannot fly, walk through walls, run fast, or get someplace you want to go?

Consider that your mind, by restricting your activity, is telling you to stop fooling around and to do what you’re supposed to be doing: sleeping deeply.

Sometimes the best thing to do during a lucid dream is find a comfortable bed and get into it.

Nonduality is art

My motivation isn’t spiritual as much as artistic. What I do in nonduality is art. I’ve created nondual adventures such independent nonduality, a wide open list of gurus and realizers, nondual perspectives, the genre of cinema nondualite’, the independent nondual chat space, a daily e-letter, and street nonduality or the bringing of nonduality to the everyday level of life outside the Internet.

I’ve noted that many people like what I do and some don’t.

It is art, “the quality, production, expression, or realm, according to aesthetic principles, of what is beautiful, appealing, or of more than ordinary significance.” I am motivated to do the art, not to save anyone or the world. If anything or anyone is saved, that’s part of the work of art. I am an artist.

-Jerry Katz

How to Walk Through Walls in Dreams

The first thing you have to do is become lucid in your dreaming. You need to stop in the middle of a dream and say, “Hey, I’m dreaming.”

Then you need to find a wall, preferable one within the dream that is felt to be imprisoning you.

Then realize in your lucidity that you have to walk through the wall.

Next, realize that there is no wall. It is only a thought and has no existence as a solid wall. Make that realization within the dream.

Then lean against the apparent wall. Lean into the apparent wall. A resistance may be felt, but a certain kind of momentum will be generated to take you through the wall and into another dream space.

Where you go from there and how you apply lucid dreaming to your thoughts and your self-image in the waking world is the stuff of spiritual searches. Good luck!

Notes on a Talk by Ani Pema Chodron

I saw Pema Chodron speak the other night. It was a fund raising event for Gampo Abbey. Here are notes I took.

The following description is from www.pemachodronfoundation.org/gampo-abbey/

“Gampo Abbey is a Western Buddhist Monastery in the Shambhala Tradition, Nova Scotia, Canada. Founded by Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche in 1984, it is an affiliate of the Vajradhatu Buddhist Church of Canada and Shambhala International. Under the spiritual direction of the Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, the spiritual head of Shambhala International, Gampo Abbey is guided by our abbot the Venerable Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche and our principal teacher Acharya Pema Chödrön.”

Cultivating wakefulness, fearlessness and gentleness: Monasticism in the 21st century: a public talk with Ani Pema Chödrön given in Halifax, Nova Scotia, May 1, 2009.

Notes on the talk, by Jerry Katz

Notes from Deepak Chopra’s Talk

I went with nondual guys James Traverse and Dustin LindenSmith and a couple other friends to see Deepak Chopra speak in Halifax, Nova Scotia, on April 22, 2009. There were about 1300 people attending.

The following are notes taken by James and me. There is some commentary, which is noted in italics.

Chopra’s main message is to find out the nature of consciousness as “I am.” He uses a variety of fascinating and popular teachings as vehicles to communicate that. As well, he is a polished speaker and very funny and engaging. The two hour talk, without breaks, flew by.

Neo-Advaita and the Silk of Paradox

A reader of the Nonduality Highlights writes in reference to teachers who approach nonduality in the neo-advaita style:

I always wonder why these people are called teachers as most of their students do not understand their teachings or leave any way different. I always wonder is any of them “enlightened” or just selling the nonduality belief system. All of their stories can easily be dismantled and shown to be based on thought and copied from others. I always wonder this. One even said to me privately, “I worry less about death!” Certainly despite reading their books and going to their lectures I only left with ideas in my head.

Response:

For me, these guys are reminding the reader or listener that he or she exists. If someone picks up on that and values it and pursues it, then they may find they don’t exist!

That’s paradox, to exist and not exist non-separately. If inclined, that one may spin claims, confessions, declarations, assertions, reports about … that. Whatever it is.

It’s true that it’s easy to copy the neo-advaita way of talking without ever having actually spun the silk of paradox. A few may be doing that.

Since so many people don’t realize they exist and don’t value and pursue that, or are hesitant to talk about it, they will consider the one who does have a familiarity with his or her existence, and who speaks confidently about it, to be a kind of guru, even if that familiarity isn’t very deep or stable.

It comes to be seen that every atom is the guru. Then in the seen suchness of the guru, the guru falls away, and what remains is … what? What to call it? Out of the silk of paradox spin something.

Coffee Does Not Induce Enlightenment

I’m hypersensitive to caffeine. I can only drink one cup of coffee a week, and not too strong. Usually the caffeine energizes me. I can work 14 hours straight. It’s like speed.

Other times I get panic attacks. They’re managed through slow and deep breathing and are more of a nuisance than anything else.

Today, after a cup of coffee, I am experiencing what I understand to be dissociation. I can’t feel my body. I feel as though I am air. I went through my daily workout like butter. I felt no tiredness. I had to force myself to stop so that I would not injure muscles.

This experience has happened before. It makes you realize that when you associate with the body and the mind, how much it slows you down and weakens you.

In this dissociative state I can see more clearly where people are adhering to body and mind.

This state feels like liberation. Is it? No. It’ll pass.

Is it like an out of the body experience? Not at all. An OBE is a separation from the body so that you know yourself as awareness while viewing your body. It feels like a true separation.

This caffeine-induced dissociation is more like a body dissolution experience. There is nothing to be “out of.”

How does this experience I’m having relate to enlightenment or liberation? This experience passes. Soon I’ll be back to feeling tired, dragging sometimes, back to my old self, which, don’t get me wrong, is a good self.

Do I like these dissociative experiences?
No. You need to be in touch with your body in day to day living. In crisis situations or extreme events, your body may kick into a dissociative state in which you function with superhuman strength and ease. Athletes, dancers, anyone who gets deeply involved in an activity may know of such states. But for everyday living where I’m watching TV, chatting online, and building a new website, who the heck needs it?

How do you terminate a dissociative state? Probably a tranquilizer would work. For me, food helps. The deep and slow breathing that alleviates panic attacks doesn’t help with dissociation because “there is no body” to calm. I’ve also used Mystress Angelique’s Grounding Exercise, which seems to re-draw the body.

The bottom line is that this experience is not enlightenment.

The Diamond Sutra Would Suck Without You

There’s a good chapter on the Diamond Sutra in my book, One: Essential Writings on Nonduality.

In that chapter I quote some key sections from the Diamond Sutra. They’re followed by Wei Wu Wei’s explanation from his book, Ask The Awakened.

Here are a couple of quotes from the Wei Wu Wei section:

… this world-system the Tathagata has taught as no world-system. Therefore it is called a world-system.

‘Beings, beings,’ Subhuti, the Tathagata has taught that they are all no-beings. Therefore has he spoken of ‘all beings.’

Wei Wu Wei writes, “[Buddha] taught that things and concepts (dharmas) are not, and that is why things and concepts (dharmas) are.”

The only way to understand the Buddha, is to experience or “know” what he is saying. In these days where it is commonplace to hear that there is no you, it should not be hard to understand this:

You, you, there is no you. Therefore, there is you.