Tag Archives: Eckhart Tolle

#5100 – Sunday, December 1st, 2013 – Editor: Dustin LindenSmith

The Nonduality Highlights

This marks the 100th issue since our last milestone issue of #5000. Happy Thanksgiving and Chanukah greetings to our US and Jewish readers. I hope that none of you were affected by the various shootings, stabbings and assaults that occurred throughout the US at Black Friday retail events.



This 1985 performance by Whoopi Goldberg might have been one of the first “one-woman shows” to have been performed on one of Broadway’s main stages. In this production, she portrays several different characters: a drug dealer named Fontaine who has her world view rocked by a visit to the Anne Frank Museum; an apparently vapid Valley Girl whose waters run deeper than they first appear; a woman with a severe physical disability who finds love and a sexual partner; and a young black girl with a painful yearning to look like a Caucasian girl with long, straight blonde hair.

By inviting us into the souls and minds of these disparate characters, we learn of a commonality to our human experience that we might not have previously acknowledged. It’s fun to imagine experiencing this show nearly 30 years ago, too.

I’ve also always been totally tickled by Goldberg’s stage name. Born Caryn Johnson, she apparently she chose the name “Whoopi Goldberg” because she was told that “Johnson” wasn’t a Jewish-enough name for show business.

Fair warning: this video does contain a fair bit of swearing and other explicit language. It’s what the kids would call NSFW (Not Safe For Work):


On a slightly related note, a Florida school made the news this week when it threatened a 12-year-old African-American girl with expulsion if she didn’t tame her natural Afro. An initial read of the story reveals that the school is citing concerns about the transmission of lice, although sadly, I strongly suspect the decision has some sort of racist underpinning.



Several of my artistic friends and I enjoyed this comic strip from Doodle Alley about self-judgment, discernment, taste, and mastery in the context of practicing visual arts:


This was one of the biggest take-home messages for me:

some artists are so averse to failure they would rather repeat one method they know works again and again than try something new


I’m often moved emotionally by pieces that recognize how hard we often are on ourselves and which try to get us to recognize all that is good in ourselves instead of only what’s bad. I felt something click when I read the following section from a recent book by Jeff Foster that Jerry excerpted earlier this week:

as we awaken from our dream of separation, we encounter not just the bliss of existence, but its pain too

I find myself choosing, over and over each day, to look at the events in my life from a positive perspective. It’s purely arbitrary, and I have the enormous luxury of living a comfortable life without any major suffering to speak of. But I do like acknowledging that everything is perfect, just as it is. I’ve been told that this might be just a form of denial about all that is wrong with the world, but it seems to be working for me okay.


Another video on enlightenment topics with Russell Brand has emerged. It’s a fast-cutting series of carefully-curated clips of his speaking in a huge variety of contexts:

The video has an almost assaultive editing style, spraying deep wisdom at us with the force of a firehose. I haven’t been able to handle watching more than 1 minute of it at one time, but I wonder if its ripping fast pace is more in line with the attention span of younger viewers these days.


Parenting coach and author Susan Stiffelman wrote a guest post on Eckhart Tolle’s website this week:


From that piece, I’d like to highlight the following passage:

As Eckhart Tolle says in A New Earth,

“while the child is having a painbody attack, there isn’t much you can do except to stay present so that you are not drawn into an emotional reaction. The child’s painbody would only feed on it. Painbodies can be extremely dramatic. Don’t buy into the drama. Don’t take it too seriously. If the painbody was triggered by thwarted wanting, don’t give in now to its demands. Otherwise, the child will learn: ‘The more unhappy I become, the more likely I am to get what I want’” (page 106).

This idea is what is powerful. When we argue or negotiate with a child while he or she is caught up in an emotional hurricane, we only make the winds blow more fiercely. Instead, parents can stay quiet and still, listening with a loving and open heart, without having an agenda for making things different than they are.

Powerful ideas, indeed. With extensive experience, I now realize that trying to win an argument with a 5-year-old boy is a fool’s errand. I’ve also learned that powerful things can happen when I learn how to meet my son on his own level in that moment, without imposing my own stringent set of expectations on how I think he should be behaving right now.

Teaching us how to relinquish our desire for things to be other than how they are is perhaps the greatest contribution to our spiritual practice that raising children can give us.

Since meeting her in person this past summer, I’ve worked up a healthy crush on a francophone jazz pianist and composer out of Quebec named Marianne Trudel. She has an unorthodox but delightful trio named Trifolia that I’d like to share with you. The video is shot and edited by a visionary Montreal producer named Randy Cole, who has made dozens of superlative-quality films of several of Canada’s top jazz artists in the recent past.

Trudel is one of those rare artists who can write music that directly evokes the experience of being outside in nature. Her music may or may not be to your personal taste, but I hope that her connection with nature and her commitment to her own authentic artistic vision is evident to you, a careful viewer and listener. Plus, it’s always fun to listen people speak such beautiful French.

I wrote a short review of a performance she gave here in Halifax, Nova Scotia, at the 2013 jazz festival:


At the time, I remember feeling like what her group was playing was a form of direct nondual expression in action; she and her music had such profound, poetic qualities. I had trouble expressing that sentiment to a broader audience, however. This is how I described it:

This trio is indeed an integrated, whole group. They don’t just run through tunes, pass around solos, or trade with the drums. Each song Trifolia plays is a piece of truly collaborative musical expression. To my delight, it was also evident that each member was fully absorbed: they responded immediately and tastefully to whatever was unfolding at that very moment, at all times.

It’s perhaps that last bit that makes me feel that Trifolia represents the best of what jazz has to offer: totally spontaneous, improvised interplay between performers which yields a musical result that connects authentically with its audience. It’s music that makes you feel something when you hear it played live. And in Marianne Trudel’s case, it’s music that invites you to stop, look inward, and feel grateful that you are there at that moment to experience it.

I may be overstating it, but I’ve also long thought that what we’re trying to do here with the Nonduality Highlights is akin to playing jazz. Instead of exchanging musical riffs or phrases between band members, we play ideas off each other and off of what’s arising in the environment and culture around us. If done well, we find unique and rhythmic ways to express our own true reality to each other that hopefully incite interest, insight and realization.

Thank you for being a part of our band!


Nonduality Talk: Interview with Gonzalo Fernandez

Interview with Gonzalo Fernandez (conducted by Jerry Katz)

Download/listen link:


Descriptive listing of tracks:

Gonzalo Fernandez is a native of Costa Rica, “the happiest country in the world.” Gonzalo organizes meetings in his country featuring nondual teachers/sharers from around the world. He spoke from the community of Moravia, a suburb of the capitol San Jose. Meet Gonzalo on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/gonzalo.fernandez.5437

0:00 – 10:24 Beginning of Gonzalo’s search. Milestones including discovery of J. Krishnamurti, Nisargadatta, and Ramesh Balsekar. Went to India to visit Ramesh. His realization is demonstrated to Ramesh. Roshi Phillip Kapleau mentioned. Teaching of J. Krishnamurti as too intellectual.

10:24 – 15:19 Life after meeting Ramesh. Costa Rica and nondual teachings. Spiritual practices are popular. A few years ago met people who like him were interested in Nisargadatta. Formed small groups after coming out of zazen group.

15:19 – 23:40 Eckhart Tolle comes to Costa Rica but locals were not allowed to hear him. It was too expensive for locals and the locals weren’t invited. Spirituality as a business.

23:40 – 30:41 Gonzalo’s involvement in starting groups. Eckhart Tolle group. Toni Packer’s work discussed. Sandra Gonzalez invited to Costa Rica to lead silent retreats.

30:41 – 41:26 Unmani invited to Costa Rica twice. We digress and talk about Costa Rica as a retirement destination, especially the option of living a simple life. We talk about Unmani again. Gonzalo talks about his role in bringing teachers to Costa Rica and the roles others play.

41:26 – 47:13 Elena Nezhinsky discussed. Nature of Elena’s teaching style, her visit to Costa Rica and the time spent with her.

47:13 – 49:04 The nature and humor of seeking when the answer is always right here. There are no seekers, yet seeking happens.

49:04 – 53:55 Noumenon and phenomenon discussed. “Seeking happens, but there are no seekers.” Seeing all this as consciousness dreaming and we are a dream character. I ask Gonzalo whether he has spoken as a teacher to locals and talks about that.

53:55 – 58:02 We talk about locals in Costa Rica forming their own groups without inviting teachers from the outside around the world. Is it necessary to invite outside teachers? “Are prophets not prophets in their home town?” Extreme case of Ramana Maharshi as a local teacher. You can find enlightened peope everywhere.

58:02 – 1:03:24 Encouraging a locally grown group in Costa Rica. Nature of such local groups in which Gonzalo has been involved, as confrontational and requiring the presence of someone who they see as holding spiritual authority. We talk about what it takes to form and operate an open-minded group that supports and nurtures all who are drawn to it.

1:03:24 – 1:08:27 Inviting Hashim Zaki (aka iamyou on the internet), a student of Nisargadatta Maharaj, to Costa Rica, where he is going to speak for a few days and may decide to retire.

1:08:27 – 1:11:18 Running open meetings with locals without focusing on a single teacher.

1:11:18 – 1:16:04 Light-hearted talk on the beautiful women Gonzalo invites to Costa Rica. The beaches. Nosara Beach discussed for it’s spiritual activities and women. Pamela Wilson and Jac O’Keefe mentioned.

1:16:04 – 1:25:06 Everytime Gonzalo wants to stop getting involved in inviting people, but someone comes across for him to invite. Francis Bennett mentioned and planning to come to Costa Rica. Nature of Jerry’s visit to Costa Rica discussed and marking the next step in group meetings in Costa Rica. Jean Klein mentioned as a teacher of Gonzalo. Gonzalo will let Hashim Zaki know about the local group, which Hashim might become part of if he moves there.

1:25:06 – 1:42:55 Things get personal here and I feel we’re hearing the natural Gonzalo these next few minutes aside from his work in nondual teachings. Gonzalo’s daily life in Costa Rica. His interest in farming. He prefers to walk and sit in nature. Gonzalo’s family. His minimal needs. His conversations with the farmers at a local bar. What he drinks. “Peace is the most essential thing.” Just being who you are. Friendship in its most basic sense as a sharing of being. Being social as natural. Accepting all interaction including the belief that there’s a seperate entity, thus welcoming the dissolving of the separateness. The oneness that we are. Life is nothing complicated, belief makes it complicated.

1:42:55 – 1:50:48 We express mutual gratitude and talk about the nature of doing what interests you compared to doing work in order to make money. People avoiding others who are too peaceful; they need you to be against something so they can fight with you. However, it’s nice to talk to people about things other than ultimate reality itself. We talk about some details of farming coffee. We talk about coffee and how Gonzalo makes his coffee.

Eckhart Tolle on The Dark Night of The Soul

Chris Hebard writes…

Eckhart Tolle on The Dark Night of The Soul

I came to know of Eckhart Tolle through his powerful book, The Power of Now. I had stumbled onto the book in profound disorientation resulting from a momentary and overwhelming “glimpse”, which had left me disoriented and absolutely clueless any longer as to what or who “I” was.

It was actually quite a frightening period for me. Many days, I wondered if i should be hospitalized.

I was shocked to read Tolle’s account of an almost identical experience. It was this revelation that gave me hope and ultimately, fueled my obsession regarding the pursuit of understanding of what had occurred. In this case, knowledge followed experience, not the other way round.

Last summer, we were invited to a very intimate setting in Santa Barabara for a week with Eckhart Tolle. During this time, the entire session was filmed for Eckhart Tolle TV. A short dialogue between us was captured; frankly, it still deeply touches me.

Enjoy this gentle and clear dialogue where Eckhart discusses the impersonal sense of awareness in his friendly, accessible way. If you find these well produced, video dialogues with Eckhart Tolle enjoyable, discover more about Eckhart Tolle TV by clicking here.


Namaste for the Gods, the Guru, and Kelly Ripa

I was watching Meg Ryan on the Regis show and as her interview ended she signified her departure to Regis’s co-host Kelly Ripa by bringing her hands together prayer-like in front of her forehead. That is to say, Meg presented the sign meaning Namaste.

Namaste means “my soul and your soul are one,” according to nonduality teacher Dr. Jean Klein. Further, Klein points out in the video Discovering the Current of Love, that when the hands are held at heart level it is intended for your neighbor and all people. When the hands are brought to forehead level it is a namaste for the Guru. When the hands are held over the head, Klein says, this is namaste for the gods.

On the Regis show, Meg Ryan brought her hands to forehead level, signifying to Kelly Ripa that this namaste was for “the Guru.”

So, what Guru do Meg Ryan and Kelly Ripa share or recognize? More broadly, what is the spiritual connection between Meg Ryan and Kelly Ripa?

How deep, diverse, and widespread is the teaching of nonduality throughout Hollywood? I think it is prevalent and takes the forms of Tibetan Buddhism, Eckhart Tolle-ism, Kabbala, and open Christianity ala A Course in Miracles. That’s only a few.

It’s all over the internet that Jeff Goldblum is reading Talks with Ramana Maharshi.

Acclaimed British actor Terence Stamp has voluntarily read the audio version of David Carse’s most nondual Perfect Brilliant Stillness.

Legendary Richard Beymer has written the wild and penetrating nonduality book, Impostor, a creation that should be made into a movie.

Since my work in nonduality over the last ten years has been to bring nonduality to “the people,” it makes sense that I would try to gauge how nonduality has penetrated the lives of people within certain groups. The mass entertainment group is interesting since it could spread the teaching of nonduality very broadly, if, perhaps, not too deeply.

Initiation vs the Aha Moment

What is an aha moment? How does it compare to initiation?

An aha moment is a sudden stumbling into a deeper truth. Suddenly you see a connection previously unseen. Suddenly what made no sense, makes sense. An aha moment is a turnaround. Disliking someone for a certain quality and suddenly realizing you dislike yourself for that quality, is an aha moment. Not wanting to go somewhere or do something, but saying yes, going and enjoying yourself, qualifies as an aha moment. Solving a difficult problem upon waking up in the middle of the night with an answer, is an aha moment. Being shown a bigger picture that you missed seeing; realizing you were doing something incorrectly all the while, are aha moments.

Oprah makes a big deal about aha moments. On Oprah’s website Julia Louis-Dreyfus describes an aha moment she had upon listening to Bobby Kennedy, Jr. speak about the environment and how our caring for the environment bears on caring for our children. Her aha moment was the seeing of that connection and the realization that she had to do a lot more to support the environment.

Juliette Binoche also describes her aha moment on Oprah’s website. I didn’t bother reading it. I just like saying her name. She’s the new face of Lancome, in case you didn’t know.

For purposes of the nonduality work, an aha moment is the realizing of a connection with your sense of being, with your sense of existence. Suddenly you realize the importance of the apparent fact that you exist. That’s a real aha moment. I read in the New York Times that a woman had an aha moment upon realizing she didn’t need to live in a building with a doorman. O-kay. Unless the doorman was Eckhart Tolle in a diaper, we really don’t need to dwell on those kinds of aha moments.

An aha moment happens without apparent assistance. An aha moment is like spotting a rare bird in a tree.

Initiation is like someone pointing out to you where the rare bird is located. But you still can’t see it. So the initiator takes your head in hands and directs it toward the rare bird and also points in the exact direction and say, “See?!” And you see.

The initiation is more personal and powerful than the aha moment because the force of the hands on your head and the precisely pointing finger never leave. Therefore you have been shown and are forever guided. Initiations are always long-lasting. Aha moments may be long-lasting, but usually they are more superficial. Initiations strike you at the cellular level. They change you from deep within. Aha moments strike at the level of personality, feelings, emotions, mind, and aren’t as penetrating.

A depiction of the aha moment experience:

Aha moments are new directions. Initiations are redirections. Aha moments add to your inventory of spiritual experiences. Initiations discard a mess of spiritual experiences. Aha moments take you in many directions. Initiation takes you in a single direction. Aha moments form a rainbow. Initiation is a beam of white light. You can sell aha moments. No one really wants an initiation. Aha moments are fascinating. Initiation can be frightening, painful, and sickening, since there is often resistance to the process of initiation. Aha moments are usually pretty cool. Initiation isn’t cool. You can share an aha moment. It’s hard to talk about an initiation.

A depiction of the initiation experience (see the difference?):

That’s all I really wanted to show, the difference between an aha moment and an initiation. I tried to include at least one aha moment. And it’s all initiation, right? Every letter.