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Dustin LindenSmith

father | musician | writer

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On cultivating awareness of the unconditioned, by John Taylor

The following comes from a website called Choose to be Free, by a nondual satsang teacher named John Taylor. It was excerpted in Issue #2980 of the Nondual Highlights. In John Taylor's language, the Unconditioned is "you minus the conditions." He speaks of "closing the gap" wherein we believe (fallaciously) that God, Enlightenment or the Unconditioned is somewhere other than where I AM. He says that we can close that gap of misunderstanding by contemplating three statements:
You are you and you are THAT which is Significant.

There is nothing for you to do in order to be you because you are
already you.

You are already you because you have never been anyone else.
He also has some nice, lucid, and modern-sounding things to say about our Ego:
Cultivate Awareness of the Unconditioned

Most of us have been focused on the Conditioned since birth and we’ve
had quite a bit of help to have that focus. Our parents, siblings,
friends, schools and any thing else that we call society is one big

Birth and Death and every thing in between are a Condition.

The Ego believes that it can create conditions that are favorable to
it and having done that, it will be happy.

The difficulty is that this is only a belief and one that the Self
Improvement people are trying to sell to us. Yes friends you can have
it ALL! You can have the MONEY! You can have the TOTALLY HOT BODY of
all times! You can have a love relationship that exceeds the love of
Romeo and Juliet!

The above is what Ego wants and what society is trying to sell to it.
Please stop buying into this. Even if the Ego could acquire these
things it will then need to maintain them or they will be lost.

No matter how well they are maintained and that of course assumes
that one acquires them to begin with, they are destined to perish.
The reason that they are destined to perish is because they are
conditions. Conditions do not unfold. Conditions always collapse in
on themselves.

The Ego is actually the opposite of the Four Principles. The Ego does
not close the gap it creates gap. Ego does not cultivate awareness of
the Unconditioned. It prefers to cultivate awareness of the
Conditioned. The Ego doesn’t attempt to deepen in wisdom and
compassion because it’s too focused on itself to care about others.
The Ego does not trust or rest. The Ego does not unfold it collapses
in on itself as does all other conditions.
Perusing his website also taught me that he's giving satsang in Calgary, Alberta, Canada later this month, if anyone reading this is from that sunny, Cowboy town, which is also my own hometown. I moved to Nova Scotia in 1996 and have only been back for visits since then. The city has changed enormously since I left, and my family notwithstanding, I have no wish to return to live, for now. Nova Scotia and the East Coast is a sort of paradise compared with that frenetic, overly-rich city.

(x-posted to nonduality)

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(Deleted comment)
iamom November 12th, 2007
Thanks man, I'm glad to hear that you dig these posts. A lot of people would probably think they're pretty cracked, so I appreciate hearing from people who understand them, or at least are interested in them.

I like your naming of it as a secular nonduality tradition, although to be precise, there really is no such thing. A big part of the gist of nonduality is to shun specific traditions for their own sake, leading as they so often do to a placing of too much importance on a specific 'thing' or set of rituals or belief systems which are ultimately incompatible with a radical nondual perspective. Some people, like Ken Wilber or Andrew Cohen, have kind of tried to establish themselves as nondual gurus, and while I have no issue with that (everyone has to make a living, after all), I don't think that you can nail down nonduality in that kind of way. And it's sort of false when some guy stands up and says, I am the one to lead you to Truth and Reality." You already are That, after all! Nonduality means one without a second, and that means that everything and everyone is nonduality, is one.

It's also true that nonduality in some form is present in all the world's major religious traditions (and in Zen, is part of its backbone, through the notion of sunyata and such), so in that respect, you could be a practicing whatever you wanted and still be true to a nonduality tradition, as it were, provided you were tripping out on the nonduality aspects of that given practice.

Having said all that, I'm going to negate it by saying that there probably is a practice or two that is identifiably nondualistic in the sense that you mean: it's Ramana's simple practice of self-inquiry: Who Am I? By continuously asking ourselves that question in zazen/or and in everyday life, we gradually develop a constant-running insight into our true nature, and this nature is nondual, and this practice brings us to that insight.

In practice, the practice of self-inquiry might go something like this (and you'll recognize this from Zen and/or vipassana, I'm sure): you're sitting in meditation, and a thought arises. But instead of letting your mind ruminate on that thought and then letting it lead to other thoughts, you stop for a moment and ask yourself, Who is thinking that thought? And then you might reply, Me. And then you might ask, Well, who am I? And then you might say, I am Dustin. And then you'd ask, Who is Dustin? And you'd keep questioning until you got to the point where you have no real concrete answers left other than I Am. Who am I? I AM. I am simply awareness, manifest in a body-mind, sitting on this cushion in this room in this moment: I am I AM, I am awareness itself. And you keep coming back to that, over and over. And if it sinks in fully, then you take that sense of I AM with you throughout the rest of your daily activities, just like you do with present-moment mindfulness in a Zen tradition -- all day, every day, every moment. I Am.

I'm going out on a limb here, but that's how I think of it. What do you think of that response?

baal_kriah November 16th, 2007
The problematic nature of this kind of description of beliefs and conditions is that when looked at closely it is seen to be just another conditioned belief. Who does it help if there is no one to be helped, and how can it help when no help is needed?

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