Friday, July 10, 2020

Zahir Khan - Being normal...

In a recent conversation with a friend, I stated that finding my life becoming increasingly normal was both scary and exciting.  I had for years led a turbulent existence.  Moving from place to place and seeking out teachers and teachings hoping enlightenment would spell an end to my troubles.

It was after seeking ended that I noticed the troubles were still there. Old issues started appearing and slowly but surely, I started to deal with them. Life started to improve.  I also noticed my communication of this reality became simpler and more focused on the ordinary and everyday existence of our lives. Something about an ordinary existence was so much clearer and simpler than the expansive and ecstatic utterances of my past.  As life became even more ordinary the subtleties of existence started to make themselves apparent to me. Going further into this ordinariness, the need to speak a certain way was seen as redundant and almost an impediment to effectively communicating this reality of who we are.

Seemingly ordinary experiences such as going shopping or mowing the lawn felt so much more alive and I started looking at my life and realising that had I just dealt with my problems than maybe this whole journey may not have been needed. The term spiritual bypassing came into my life and I realised how incomplete our understanding of spirituality was and how we in the West are chasing the big enlightenment experiences, and yet sometimes it can be as simple as tidying your room. 

That a complete teaching is practical and focuses on the ordinary and the extraordinary and then collapses the apparent separation to reveal it is all one reality.  That whether we are on the mountaintop or whether at home washing the dishes that it is the one reality and that there is a myriad of ways to realise this.  This seeing everything as it is allows us to fully engage in living instead of waiting. That what we spiritually bypass offers us the greatest opportunity to realise ourselves. That when we chase the big ecstatic experiences the answer may well lie in the pile of dirty washing and if we were to accept that our search could be over.

Life is infinitely simpler now.
I have travelled and loved and lost.
I have had my heart broken and screamed at my very maker.
I have been high, and I have been as Oscar Wilde stated, “in the gutter looking at the stars” and yet as beautiful as this adventure was, I have now found something so much more.

Life in all its form is beautiful and yet terrifying.  For those of you who have dedicated your lives to truth. I say look around you. That which you are fleeing from may in fact be the answer.  That broken relationship, that reminder from the debt collectors, that impossible situation may provide more of an understanding into your true nature than any holy man or holy book.

 If you would but stop and see.


Testimony of Enlightened Beings


The door that locks you in is also the door that lets you out.
I Am is the door. Stay with it until it opens. It is always open, but you are not at it.

You are and I am, but only as points in consciousness.

Nothing perceivable is real. Only the onlooker is real, call him Self or Atman. That which makes you think that you are a human is not human. It is a dimensionless point of consciousness.

All you can say about yourself is I Am.

At the root of my being is pure awareness, a speck of intense light. This speck, by its nature, radiates and creates pictures in space and events in time, effortlessly and spontaneously.

I see only consciousness, and know everything to be but consciousness, as you know the pictures on the cinema screen to be but light.

Once you realize that there is nothing in this world which you can call your own you look at it from the outside as you look at a play on the stage or a picture on the screen. To know the picture as the play of light on the screen gives freedom from the idea that the picture is real. In reality I only look. Whatever is done is done on the stage. Joy and sorrow, life and death, they are real to the man in bondage. To me they are all in the show, as unreal as the show itself.

It is enough to shift attention from the screen onto oneself to break the spell.

Delve deeply into the sense I Am and you will discover that the perceiving center is universal. All that happens in the universe happens to you, the silent witness. Whatever is done is done by you, the universal and inexhaustible energy.
There can be no universe without the witness, no witness without the universe.

To be born means to create a world around yourself as the center.

Everyone lives in his own world.

Everyone creates a world for oneself and lives in it, imprisoned by one’s ignorance. All we have to do is to deny reality to our prison.

The world you can perceive is a very small world, entirely private. The world is but a reflection of imagination. Take it to be a dream and be done with it. What you call survival is but the survival of a dream. By forgetting who you are and imagining yourself a mortal creature you create so much trouble for yourself that you have to wake up, like from a bad dream.

Some go on a journey and come back, some never leave. What difference does it make since they travel in dreamlands, each wrapped up in his own dream. Only the waking up is important.

Once you have seen that you are dreaming, you shall wake up, but you do not see because you want the dream to continue. A day will come when you long for the ending of the dream. You become willing to pay any price. The price will be dispassion and detachment, the loss of interest in the dream.

The dreamer is one.
I Am beyond all dreams.
I Am the light in which all dreams appear and disappear.

You see yourself in the world, while I see the world in myself. To you, you get born and die, while to me, the world appears and disappears. It is your imagination that misleads you. There is a deep contradiction in your attitude which you do not see.

The world is but a mistaken view of reality, unreal to its core.

I am like a cinema screen, clear and empty.
The pictures pass over it and disappear, leaving it as clear and empty as before.
The screen intercepts and reflects the pictures. These are lumps of destiny, but not my destiny; the destinies of the people on the screen.
The character will become a person when he begins to shape his life instead of accepting it as it comes-identifying himself with it.
All this I perceive quite clearly, but I am not in it.
I feel myself as floating over it, aloof and detached.
There is also the awareness of it all and a sense of immense distance as if the body and the mind and all that happens to them were somewhere far out on the horizon.
To myself I Am neither perceivable nor conceivable.
There is nothing I can point out and say “this I am”.

In the immensity of consciousness a light appears, a tiny point that traces shapes, thoughts and feelings, concepts and ideas.

Look within and you will find that the point of light is reflected as the immensity of light in the body as the sense I Am. There is only light. All else is appearance.

You are that point of consciousness.

By your movement the world is ever created. Stop moving and there will be no world.

At the root of all creation lies desire.
The projecting power is imagination prompted by desire.
Desire and imagination foster and reinforce each other.

All limited existence is imaginary.
Even space and time are imaginary.
Pure being, filling all and beyond all, is not limited.
All limitation is imaginary.
Only the unlimited is real.

Nothing lasts. The void remains.

In pure being consciousness arises.
In consciousness the world appears and disappears.
Consciousness is on contact, a reflection against a surface, a state of duality.
The center is a point of void and the witness a point of pure awareness; they know themselves to be as nothing.
But the void is full to the brim.
It is the eternal potential as consciousness is the eternal actual.

The totality of all mental projections is the Great Illusion.
When I look beyond the mind I see the witness.
Beyond the witness is infinite emptiness and silence.

Awareness comes as if from a higher dimension.

The witness that stands aloof is the watchtower of the real, the point at which awareness, inherent in the unmanifested, contacts the manifested.

The Self stands beyond the mind, aware, but unconcerned. You are the Self, here and now. Stand aware and unconcerned and you will realize that to stand alert but detached, watching events come and go, is an aspect of your real nature.

Find the immutable center where all movement takes birth. Be the axis at the center, not whirling at the periphery. Nothing stops you-except fear. You are afraid of impersonal being.

You must realize yourself as the silent witness of all that happens. Your consciousness raised to a higher dimension, from which you see everything much clearer.

There is nothing more to it. The attitude of pure witnessing, of watching events without taking part in them.

What begins and ends is mere appearance. The world can be said to appear but not to be. It is your memory that makes you think that the world continues. Memory creates the illusion of continuity. I see the world as it is, a momentary appearance in consciousness.

In reality only the Ultimate is. The rest is a matter of name and form. As long as you cling to the idea that only what has name and shape exists the Supreme will appear to you non-existing. Names and shapes are hollow shells. What is real is nameless and formless, pure energy of life and light of consciousness.

Everything is a play of ideas. In the state free from ideation nothing is perceived. The root idea is I Am. It shatters the state of pure consciousness and is followed by the innumerable sensations and perceptions, feelings and ideas which in their totality constitute God’s world. The I Am remains as the witness, but it is by the will of God that everything happens.

If you seek reality you must set yourself free of all patterns of thinking and feeling. Even the idea of being human should be discarded. Abandon all self-identifications, abandon all self-concern, abandon every desire. Stop thinking of achievement of any kind. You are complete here and now. You need absolutely nothing.

Nothing stands in the way of your liberation here and now except for your being more interested in other things. You must see through them as mere mental errors.

As long as you are interested in your present way of living, you will shirk from the final leap into the unknown.

In the end you get fed up with the waste of time and energy.

When you are in dead earnest, you bend every incident, every second of your life, to your purpose. You do not waste time and energy on other things. You are totally dedicated, call it one-pointedness of the mind.

The search for reality is the most dangerous of all undertakings for it will destroy the world in which you live.

As long as you are locked up with your mind and ego, you cannot go further. Were you really at war with your ego, you would question its reality. You don’t question because you are not really interested. You are moved by the pleasure-pain principle, fear and desire, which is your ego. You are going along with your ego, not fighting against it. You are not even aware how totally swayed you are by personal considerations. Be in revolt against your ego, for the ego narrows and distorts. It is the worst of all tyrants. It dominates you completely.

Your thoughts dominate you only because you are interested in them. Turn away from your desires and fears and from the thoughts they create and you are in your natural state.

Whenever a thought or an emotion of desire or fear comes to your mind, just turn away from it.

Turn away. Refuse attention.

When you refuse to play the game you are out of it.

Only in complete self-negation is there a chance to discover our real being. The false self must be abandoned before the real Self can be found.

Self-identifications are patently false and the cause of bondage.
Your attachment is your bondage.
There is trouble only when you cling to something.
It is your desire to hold onto it that creates the problem. Let go.
When you hold onto nothing, no trouble arises.

You create bondage when you desire and fear and identify yourself with your feelings.
You identify yourself with your desires and become their slave.
Your bonds are self-created as chains of attachment.
Cut the knot of self-identification.

As long as there is the sense of identity with the body, frustration is inevitable. It is because of your illusion that you are the doer.

As long as you have the idea of influencing events, liberation is not for you. The very notion of doership, of being a cause, is bondage.

There is no such thing as free will. Will is bondage. You identify yourself with your desires and become their slave.

Desire for embodied existence is the root-cause of trouble. You imagine you were born and you will die if you do not take care of your body.

Selfishness is self-concern for the protection, preservation and multiplication of one’s own body.

To be attached is to be selfish. As long as you have a self to defend you must be violent.

Selfishness is due to self-identification with the body.

A man who knows he is neither body nor mind cannot be selfish. He has nothing to be selfish for.

The body and mind are limited and therefore vulnerable. They need protection which gives rise to fear. As long as you identify yourself with them you are bound to suffer.

It is your mind that has separated the world outside your skin from the world inside and put them in opposition. This created fear and hatred.

There is nothing wrong in the idea of a body, but limiting oneself to one body only is a mistake.

Struggle to find out what you are in reality. To know what you are you must first investigate and know what you are not. Discover all that you are not: body, feelings, thoughts, time, space, this or that. Nothing, concrete or abstract, which you perceive can be you. The very act of perceiving shows that you are not what you perceive. The clearer you understand that on the level of mind you can be described in negative terms only the quicker will you come to the end of your search and realize that you are the limitless being.

The way to truth lies through the destruction of the false. To destroy the false you must question your most inveterate beliefs. Of these the idea that you are the body is the worst.

Destroy the wall that separates, the ‘I-am-the-body-idea’.

You progress by rejection.

Investigate your world, apply your mind to it, examine it critically.
Scrutinize every idea about it.
Everything must be scrutinized and the unnecessary ruthlessly destroyed.
There cannot be too much destruction.
For in reality nothing is of value.

To question is the essence of revolt.
Without revolt there can be no freedom.

Freedom means letting go.
Spiritual maturity lies in the readiness to let go of everything.

Giving up is the first step. The real giving up is in realizing that there is nothing to give up, for nothing is your own.
Give up all and you gain all.
Then life becomes what it was meant to be: Pure radiation from an inexhaustible source.
In that light the world appears dimly like a dream.

In reality there is only the source, dark in itself, but making everything shine with the light of consciousness. Unperceived, it causes perception. Being nothing it gives birth to all being. It is the immovable background of motion.

To the mind the light of consciousness appears as darkness. It can be known only through its reflections. The highest state of awareness is to be the point of light tracing the world. Beyond the highest state of awareness is to be the source of light.

Moments when one feels empty and estranged are desirable moments, for it means the soul has cast its moorings and is sailing for distant places.

There is a vastness beyond the farthest reaches of the mind. That vastness is my home; that vastness is myself.

When the mind becomes quiet, if you do not disturb this quiet and stay in it, you find that it is permeated with a light and love you have never known, and yet you recognize it at once as your own nature. Once you have passed through this experience, you will never be the same again. Delusions and attachments end and life becomes supremely concentrated in the present.

Self-surrender is the surrender of all self-concern. It cannot be done, it happens when you realize your true nature.

When there is total surrender, complete relinquishment of all concern with one’s past, present and future, with one’s physical and spiritual security, when the shell of self-defense is broken, a new life dawns, full of love and beauty. Complete self-surrender by itself is liberation.

Your natural state is pure awareness of being, without any self-identification with anything in particular. In that pure light of consciousness there is nothing, only light.

When the mind is quiet we come to know ourselves as the pure witness.
We withdraw from the experience and stand apart in pure awareness.
The personality continues, but its self-identification with the witness snaps.

Liberation is never of the person, it is always from the person.

The reward of Self-knowledge is freedom from the personal self.

The dissolution of personality is always followed by a sense of great relief, as if a heavy burden has fallen off.

All attachment implies fear, for all things are transient.
Fear makes one a slave.
Freedom from attachment is natural when one knows one’s true being.

Discrimination will lead to detachment.
You gain nothing.
You leave behind what is not your own and find what you have never lost:
Your own being.

When you refuse to open your eyes, what can you be shown?

In ignorance the seer becomes the seen and in wisdom he is the seeing.

First we must know ourselves as witnesses only, dimensionless and timeless centers of observation, and then realize that immense ocean of pure awareness.

On the surface of the ocean of consciousness, names and forms are transitory waves. Only consciousness has real being, not its transformations.

Every moment returns to its source, just as every wave subsides into the ocean.

Realization is in discovering the source and abiding there.

The realized man has returned to the source and realized his true nature.

The realized man is beyond life and death. Life and death appears to him but a way of expressing movement in the immovable, change in the changeless. He has died before his death and he saw that there was nothing to be afraid of. The moment you know your real being you are afraid of nothing.

One is left without questions; no answers are needed.

One is undeceived only.

Your true home is in nothingness.

Remain as the silent witness only; a mere point in consciousness, dimensionless and timeless.

Know yourself as you are. Stay with the sense I Am.

Externalization is the first step in liberation. Step away and look. Separate yourself and watch. The physical events will go on happening, but in themselves they have no importance.

Seeing that you are not the person you take yourself to be, step out and look from the outside.

Your questions are about a non-existing person. Realize that whatever you think yourself to be is just a stream of events; that whatever happens, comes and goes, is not real; that you alone are, the changeless among the changeful. Separate the observed from the observer and abandon false identifications. Be a fully awakened witness of the field of consciousness.

Mere knowledge is not enough; the knower must be known.

Without knowledge of the knower there can be no peace. I know myself as I am in reality. I am neither the body nor the mind. I am beyond all these.

The person is a very small thing. Actually it is a composite, it cannot be said to exist by itself. Unperceived it is just not there. It is but the shadow of the mind, the sum total of memories. Pure being is reflected in the mirror of the mind as knowing. What is known takes the shape of a person based on memory and habit. It is but a shadow or projection of the knower onto the screen of the mind.

Once you realize that the person is merely a shadow of the reality, but not reality itself, you cease to fret and worry. You agree to be guided from within and life becomes a journey into the unknown.

As long as you take yourself to be a person, a body and a mind, separate from the stream of life, having a will of its own, pursuing its own aims, you are living merely on the surface and whatever you do will be short-lived and of little value, mere straw to feed the flames of vanity.

You must begin by being the dispassionate observer. Then only will you realize your full being. As long as you are enmeshed in the tribulations of a particular personality, you can see nothing beyond it. Ultimately you will come to see that you are neither the particular nor the universal. You are beyond both.

Everything is depicted in the pictures on the screen, including the person you take yourself to be; nothing in the light. You are the light only. You are the pure light appearing as a picture on the screen and becoming one with it.

Yours is the power of perception, not what you perceive. Whatever you are conscious of, is not you. Yours is the cinema screen, the light and the seeing power, but the picture is not you.

The sense of identity is like a sequence of pictures on the cinema screen. Without the light and the screen there can be no picture. To know the picture as the play on light on the screen gives freedom from the idea that the picture is real.

The unreal appears to be real only because you believe in it. You impart reality to it by taking it to be real. Doubt it and it ceases.

The world is but a show, glittering and empty. It is there as long as I want to see it and take part in it. When I cease caring, it dissolves. It has no cause and serves no purpose. It appears exactly as it looks, but there is no depth in it nor meaning.

To the Self the world is but a passing show. The world just sprouts into being out of nothing and returns to nothing. As long as the Self is merely aware, there is no problem.

You can stop it any moment by switching off attention.

You make it possible by giving it attention.

Do not undervalue attention. To know, to do, to discover, or to create you must give your attention to it.

Give your undivided attention to the most important in your life, yourself.

Attention comes from the Self.

All you can do is to shift the focus of consciousness beyond the mind.

By its very nature the mind is outwardly turned; it always tends to seek for the source of things among the things themselves. To be told to look for the source within is the beginning of a new life.

As long as you are engrossed in the world, you cannot know yourself. To know yourself, turn your attention away from the world and turn within.

It is disinterestedness that liberates. If you lose interest, you break the emotional link that perpetuates the bondage.

You can spend an eternity looking elsewhere for truth, all in vain. You must begin in yourself, with yourself. Realize that your world is only a reflection of yourself. All you need is to stop searching outside what can only be found within.

Turn within. I Am you know. Be with it all the time, until you revert to it spontaneously. There is no simpler and easier way.

The point of I Am is the bridge between the watcher and its dream.

I Am both inside and outside the dream, but what I see in dream, I am not.

You are the source of reality, a dimensionless center of perception that imparts reality to whatever it perceives, a pure witness that watches what is going on and remains unaffected.
It is only imagination and self-identification with the imagined that encloses and converts the inner watcher into a person.
The person is merely the result of a misunderstanding.
In reality there is no such thing.
Feelings, thoughts and actions race before the watcher in endless succession.
In reality there is no person, only the watcher identifying itself.

The state of pure witnessing is like space, unaffected by whatever it contains.

The difference between the person and the witness is as between not knowing and knowing oneself.

You can see a person but you are not a person.

As long as there is consciousness of something, its witness is also there.

Give attention to the witness to break the spell of the known, the illusion that only the perceivable is real. As long as you believe that only the perceivable world is real you remain its slave.

To become free your attention must be drawn to the witness.

All that is, lives and moves and has its being in consciousness.
I Am in and beyond that consciousness.
I Am in it as the witness.
I Am beyond it as Being.

Absolute reality imparts reality to whatever comes into being.
It is the very source of reality.
It is what is, pure being, the timeless reality.
It is not perceivable; it is what makes perception possible.

Awareness is beyond all.
Awareness is primordial; it is the original state.
Awareness is undivided, aware of itself.

The Supreme state neither comes nor goes. It is.
It is a timeless state, ever present.

In the timeless state there is no Self, no I Am, no witness.

I am dead already. Physical death will make no difference. I am timeless being.

Before the mind happens, I Am.
Before all beginnings, after all endings, I Am.
All has its being in the I Am that shines in every living being.

In reality there is only the source, dark in itself, but making everything shine with the light of consciousness.

Reality is essentially alone.
To know that nothing is, is true knowledge.

Do nothing. There is nothing to do. Just be.
To be, you must be nobody.
You make yourself mortal by taking yourself to be a body.
That which is alive in you is immortal.

Between desires and freedom from all desires is an abyss which must be crossed.

Cross the door and go beyond.

The experience of the inner void is an explosion into reality.

The Supreme reality is the void beyond being and non-being, beyond consciousness. There is no journey to Supreme reality. One is undeceived only. One is as one always is. One knows nothing, wants nothing, is nothing. There is nothing left to do. One’s work is done.

The I Am in movement creates the world.
The I Am at peace becomes the Absolute.

For the path of return naughting oneself is necessary. My stand I take where nothing is. To the mind it is all darkness and silence. It is deep and dark, mystery beyond mystery. It is, while all else merely happens.
It is like a bottomless well, whatever falls into it disappears.
-Nisargadatta Maharaj

We call Buddha the awakened one. This awakening is really the cessation of inner dreaming. When there is no dreaming you become pure space. This non-dreaming consciousness is what is known as enlightenment.

The inner emptiness itself is the mystery.
When the inner space is there, you are not.
When you dissolve, the inner emptiness is there.
When you are not, the mystery will be revealed.
You will not be a witness to the mystery, you will be the mystery.

You fall into an abyss, and the abyss is bottomless: you go on falling. That is why Buddha has called this nothingness emptiness. There is no end to it. Once you know it, you also have become endless. At this point Being is revealed: then you know who you are, what is your real being, what is your authentic existence.

That Being is void.

That which permeates all, which nothing transcends, and which like the universal space around us fills everything completely from within and without, that Supreme non-dual Brahman
That thou art

Brahman is the only truth, the world is illusion, and there is ultimately no difference between Atman and Brahman.

I discovered the secret of the sea in meditation upon a dewdrop.

Now I am darker than the deepest sea, just hand me down, give me a place to be.

Something makes you turn around,
The door is open, you can’t close your shelter.
You try the handle of the road.
It opens. Do not be afraid.
It is you my love, you who are the stranger.

Now I Am become death, the destroyer of worlds.

The soul that with a strong and constant calm
Takes sorrow and takes joy indifferently
Lives in the life undying.
That which is can never cease to be
That which is not cannot exist.
To see this truth of both
Is theirs who part essence from accident
Substance from shadow.

Never the spirit was born,
The spirit shall cease to be never,
Never was time it was not.
End and beginning are dreams.

The unreal has no being.
The real never ceases to be.

In the knowledge of the Atman, which is a dark night to the ignorant,
The recollected mind is fully awake and aware.
The ignorant are awake in their sense life, which is darkness to the sage.

In the silence and the void
Standing alone and unchanging
Ever present and in motion
I do not know its name
Call it Tao

Tao in the world is like a river flowing home to the sea

Returning is the motion of the Tao

It returns to nothingness
It leads all things back to the great oneness

Empty yourself of everything

The man of Tao remains unknown.
Perfect virtue produces nothing.
No-self is true self
And the greatest man is nobody.

The wise are impartial

Ever desireless, one can see the mystery
Ever desiring, one can see the manifestations
These two spring from the same source
This appears as darkness
Darkness within darkness
The gate to all mystery

The great path has no gates
Thousands of roads enter it
When one passes through this gateless gate
One walks the universe alone

He must dare to leap into the Origin so as to live by the Truth and in the Truth, like one who has become one with it. He must become a pupil again, a beginner; conquer the last and steepest stretch of the way, undergo new transformation. If he survives its perils then is his destiny fulfilled; face to face he beholds the unbroken Truth, the Truth beyond all truths, the formless Origin of origins, the Void which is the All; is absorbed into it and from it emerges reborn-Eugen Herrigel


Sunday, July 5, 2020

John McIntosh - The awakening kiss

 Rarely does a gentle kiss serve to awaken the deep unconsciousness of the ‘sleeping beauty’ SELF. Usually loud clattering noises, earth quakes and being shaken like a rag-doll over and over again is required before the first yawn occurs … so deep is ITs sleep. The ‘witch’ of separation pierced the SELF’s Perfect Awareness with the seductive world of contrast, which took the SELF on a downward spiral into the illusory world of time and space where wonderful fantasies awaited to entice ITs Pristine Beauty into deeper and deeper unawareness of Truth.

The offered kiss is rarely accepted initially by the sleeping God YOU Are due to the iron-like grasp of hardened habits, played over and over again for eons trapping you on a loop like a movie that repeats endlessly. The Beauty YOU Are must be totally satiated by this grand illusion before ITs frustration becomes enough for the ‘easy-way’ of the kiss to be accepted.

The kiss is your YES to What Is, your unconditional ‘surrender’ to the Silent Voice of Truth that tugs at your Awareness by sending you a myriad of triggers designed to take you into the tangled web of conditioning that forged the phantom-chains binding you to time and space. Your vigilant acceptance of these triggers as your ‘friends’, there to take you Home, facilitates the rapid release from your ancient sleep.


Jeff Foster - Spiritual teachers, WAKE UP!

“I am Pure Awareness. The Unmoving Subject of experience. That which never changes. I am Consciousness itself”.

It may be true, on an absolute level. But try saying that to your partner, when he or she stands in front of you, demanding your human heart, your truth, your vulnerability, your brokenness and your courage, your fire, your sorrow, your fear, your rawness and your awkward authenticity.

I have seen too many spiritual teachers attempting to avoid deep human connection and intimacy using spiritual concepts, non-dual language and brilliant verbal gymnastics.

I have been guilty of this "spiritual bypassing" in my time too, as I have written about. (I once argued with my mother for hours about the non-existence of the tree she was pointing to. Oops.)

Once, a teacher of Advaita literally said to me, “Jeff, this teaching of non-duality has NOTHING to do with relationship”.

Oh, I respectfully and profoundly disagree, sir. This teaching has everything to do with relationship. Relationship with our deepest self, with the fucking ground, with our genitals and our guts and our feet, with hearts calling out to other hearts, with the loneliness and longing of a billion billion beings, with the One in front of us, begging for connection.

Awareness cannot detach itself from all that arises. The many is the One. We are air but we are also fire.

Yes - on some unspeakable and mysterious level we are all the same Awareness.

But - we are also gorgeously messy human beings, imperfect, unfinished, traumatised to the extent that we are traumatised. Realizing that we are Awareness does not change this fact. In fact, realization only makes us more acutely aware of the subtleties of our humanness than ever. More willing to be raw, vulnerable, naked. To admit that we do not know, to admit our mistakes, to admit that we are forever learning. To cry, to shake, to speak our terrifying human truth, to reveal our mess.

When there is less to defend, we can connect more deeply than ever.

When teachings of Awareness become detached from healthy shame – that is, our human imperfections, our vulnerability, our awe and our wonder, our fallibility, our not knowing and our tender hearts – they only become teachings of violence, toxic teachings taught by toxic teachers who are trying to avoid their own pain, shame and trauma.

I speak not to judge individuals, but to illuminate a collective misunderstanding.

I once saw a “nondual” teacher approached by a courageous woman who was going through a profound life transition.

She said, “I have deep anxiety in my belly”.

He replied, without compassion, “You are still attached to your body, still identified with the separate self".

In his drive to be an expert, he missed her heart - and belly - completely.

She was crushed after this interaction, even more anxious and disconnected than before. I gave her a big hug and let her tell her story. She wept, her anxiety diminished, and she felt whole again. Love is not difficult. Vulnerability is not shameful - it can heal us.

I saw the terrible dogma of Advaita. The vilification of the “separate self”. The denial and shaming of human pain and trauma. I saw how teachings of Awareness can be used – by the most brilliant of minds – to crush our humanity, numb our vulnerability, silence our sweet doubt and annihilate our exquisite fear.

This is why I quit as a “nonduality teacher” many years ago. Truth cannot be found in any dogma, and for many, sadly, nonduality has become just another dogma. I have written extensively about this.

Personally, I am deeply in love with this yummy mess of humanity. I am in profound relationship - yes, relationship - with shaky hearts, fluttery bellies, yearning and confusion and anxiety too. I see none of it as separate from nonduality, none of it as some “sign” that we are failing, or not yet “fully realized”. I see all of it as deeply sacred; I believe it is deep in this ordinary sacredness that we find our true freedom.