Nonduality: The Varieties of Expression




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Issue #1389 - Tuesday, April 1, 2003 - Editor: michael meanings/meanings1.html    

  --- In, "Gene Poole" wrote:
>"advaitagirl"  wrote:
>  "Gene Poole"  wrote:
>  >  "advaitagirl" wrote:
>  > > "Most of us have heard and read more than enough times that we
>>  > are what we are looking for but can't deliberately let go of the
>>  > belief that the holy grail of unity, of enlightenment, must be
>>  > something other, something extraordinary that is hidden, but can
>>  > be discovered, given sufficient vigilance, seriousness and
>>  > dedication.
>  > <content snipped for brevity>
>>  > Extracted with a few liberties from "Self Enquiry" Dec 2002/Jan
>>  > 2003.
>>  Is that a diary of sorts?
>It's a quarterly publication produced by the Ramana Maharshi
>Foundation in London.

Ah ha. Attribution is good.

<more snippage>

>  > Not bad.
>>  I could suggest to substitute the word 'identity' for 'ego',
>>  though.
>"Person" or "identity" is often better than "ego", because they are
>not such loaded terms.
>>  Identity is the 'me' that imagines itself. The imaginings
>>  have basis in experience, but the experience is that of
>>  the prior version of identity, and so on, and thus is
>>  identity constructed 'from memory'.
>The Sanskrit word for ego is "Ahankara", which derives from "Aham" -
>"I am" and "kara" related to the rootword for "creation".  Ego is
>thus "I am", the pure feeling of existence, presence, attached to an
>object.  So, "I am hot", "I am typing", "I am Gene Poole", "I am
>human", "I am an individual", "I am advanced", "I am not as


Do you know the Sanskrit word for 'false self'?

>"me" does not "imagine itself"; (if you consider this circular
>statement, you will see it is mechanically impossible.)  It is
>brought about by the process of identification of presence with an
>object - the body, mind, the -concept- of presence.  But, on
>examination, there is no such identity. The notion can of 'me',
>nevertheless, arise, in the mind, in consciousness, but it is seen to
>be just that - a notion.

"I understand" is also an impossible circular statement
of the same sort.

>  > Interestingly, a story such as you have shared, is indeed
>>  told by 'an identity', but one which has to some extent,
>>  seen through the apparent 'realness' of identity. This is
>>  an interesting paradox; it is 'a person who is saying that
>>  everything said by that person, is a lie'. Yet, to describe
>  > the paradox, banishes the lie, and reveals the strange
>>  truth behind the whole enchilada.
>No identity is involved in talking, sharing, typing.  An identity
>cannot "see through" "the apparent realness of identity".  There is
>no 'person who is saying that everything said by that person is a
>lie'; there is no person to say a lie,

OK... here is the impasse.

If the 'Advaitagirl' identity had been born in a non-English
speaking country, and had never learned English, the
'Advaitagirl' identity would have to be appended with the
knowledge of the English language, in order to write this
letter in English.

Whether we posit 'mind' or 'identity', experience layers
into a database which is 'learned', and  as I have said,
it is this accumulation of memory which is the lens through
which all notions, concepts, etc, are 'seen'. The lens
of accumulated experience, is what is assumed to be
identity, but is merely a stack of memories. It is not
animate, but it shapes perception. Perception shapes

>Understanding takes place in the mind, and the mind is not presence -
>actual being.  Understanding, like every other action, doesn't need a
>person, a subject.  "I" may attach to understanding, and produce "I
>understand", "I have understanding" (which does indeed happen over
>here!)  However, whether and to what extent there is understanding
>of "the truth" in this particular mind does not change the fact that
>there is no me, no "person" here - or there.


Do we agree that the 'person' is merely an agglomeration
of experience, known as 'identity'? And that this 'identity'
is at best, a  convenient 'knowledge-lens' through which
to better deal with the local environment? And that if a
cop asks for my 'ID', that he is satisfied  with what is
printed on my driver's license, and does not give me
an advaita-quiz before I can go?

[ I can't resist: Scenario of cop checking my ID: ]

Cop: Let me see your ID

Me: OK, here is my DL

Cop: Hmmm... Gene Poole. But, who are
you, really?

Me: You mean, like, really really?

Cop: Yes, really really.

Me: Nobody.

Cop: Ok, you can go.

>Even though there be continuing illusion in this mind, it is still
>illusion, and that is true whether understood or not.  So "my
>understanding" has no importance at all.

I can recommend the experience of 'dissection'
to see what a 'localized body-mind' is actually
made of... nonphysical, of course.

The 'lunar lander module' that has never been on
the moon, is in certain ways, quite  different than
one that has spent considerable time on the moon.

In what ways do these two modules differ?

>  > Yet, it must be known, that identity is indeed 'real', in
>>  the sense that it is a 'real identity', as opposed to being
>>  a 'false identity'. Identities are real enough, relative to
>>  other identities, or, relative to 'no' identity.
>This can only be verified by observation.  Show me where your
>identity is.

My identity is 'in memory', of course. And nowhere else.

Wanna see my ID?

>  > The issue of 'no' identity is the boggle of 'advaita', but
>>  it is not so hard to understand, if we are willing to perform
>>  a thought experiment...

Yes. Boggle. The point at which understanding
breaks down completely, and the intensity of
confusion at that point of 'boggle' is often mistaken
for 'understanding'.

Consideration of 'no identity' can indeed produce a
shock of sufficient intensity to temporarily disable
identity; and in the instant that identity is not the
foci  of attention, 'self-remembering' may indeed
happen. However, this is a 'best-case' instance.

What usually happens, is that the void in which
identity is stored, becomes the environment of
perception, and this is a shock to one who is
accustomed only to the synthetic realm of identity,
and so, there is clinging to the familiar objects
of identity-land (in memory, remember) and thus
the void is avoided, and experience is once
again, time and space based, as identity
has been compounded.

>  > If we consider identity to be something constructed,
>>  we can admit that there is not only something that is
>>  constructing it, but also, a place for that construction
>>  to dwell.
>No, that is again the process of imagining a "constructor", subject
>and object.

All of those 'imaginary' components are just as 'real'
as is the imagined identity which as you point out, does
not exist.

>  > Ego is what constructs identity, in the same manner that
>>  the tiny larvae of the dragonfly, crawling about underwater
>>  on the  sandy bottom of a creek, _must_ cover itself with
>>  particles of sand, in order to live and survive. Eventually,
>>  the larvae sheds its constructed shell, climbs onto a
>>  twig, and dries its new wings in the sun, before flying to
>>  its destined union with another dragonfly.
>Pure theory. Imagined ego constructs imaginary identity.

In the realm of identity, there is only theory, entirely
constructed from void-stuff; all of it arises from nothing.

Theory is the glorious  'map' of  reality which identity
so skillfully traverses, naming things and knowing things.

In this case, "the map is indeed the territory", the only
territory, and identity lives in this map, and if the map
goes away, identity vanishes  in a puff of imaginary
smoke. Identity is constructed  entirely from map
coordinates, which are held in memory, which is itself,
the map!

>  > The body of the dragonfly larvae secretes a sticky substance
>>  which holds grains of sand, in order to construct that
>>  protective coating. For the human, memory serves this
>>  purpose, acquiring the material from which to construct
>>  a protective 'coating' of identity.
>>  So far, we have components: Identity, ego, and memory
>So we have imaginary identity, imaginary ego, and memory which
>comprises images of the past.

Yes... very good. Seeker, map, and compass, all of which
are actually the same thing... imaginary.

>  > Now, what would happen, if there was a rumor among
>>  dragonfly larvae, that the larval state was somehow
>>  'bad' or 'wrong', or even 'illusory'? Maybe one of the
>>  larvae would feel bad about being inside of a protective
>>  coating of sand particles, and try to somehow strip
>>  it away, perhaps with the dragonfly  version of  'LSD'.
>There is nothing bad about illusory.  Creation is a fantastic
>illusion.  All of it is illusion, not just the "larval state" in
>comparison to the "mature state".

Hah! "Illusion" you say?

I have been trying to point out, that within the
'illusory realm', there is a designated relativity,
and the proper use of language must respect
this designated relativity.

So words such as 'real' must be used within
a designated context, Advaitagirl. All expositions
of 'advaita' must conform first, to accepted
rules of grammar; only then, will any 'truth'
be admitted, although there are several
grammars in use.

>  > On the other hand, it is useful to propagate stories
>>  of larval and post-larval states, among the adult
>>  population of humans, many of whom have not
>>  learned to "shed" the acquired identity. This is not
>>  a  matter of 'getting rid of it', but more learning to
>>  see it as a mere phenomenon, which behaves in a
>>  predictable manner. When the truly mechanical nature
>>  of identity is seen and deeply appreciated, it is
>>  possible to operate aside from it. This is called
>>  'nonattachment'.
>Not: "learning to see it as"...yet another concept.  Just take a
>look, try and find it.  Identity is truly a mechanical
>identification.  There is no one to "operate aside from it".  Being
>is already being.  It is whether there is a state of attachment or
>not.  None of these mechanical "operations" is relevant.

On the contrary. The perspicacious observer notes
that in proper practice, the leavings of the operator
become less, as identification diminishes.

Occultists (whether or not they consider themselves
as such) attempt operations which are designed to
increase or decrease impact of identity. Inverted
identity seeks to increase impact, which is movement
in the direction  of solidity, or 'total identification'
as 'something real', perhaps so 'real' as to become
'immortal'... perpetual 'realness'. Most Xtians are
closet occultists of this stripe. Oops, I said it!

The occult practices which aim to reduce density,
to reduce impact, lead to Being equivalency with
void, AKA awareness, or 'Self'. Most advaitains
are occultists of this stripe.

On the way to the void, are left a linear train of
identity dopplegangers, each of less density,
as the operator succeeds in this operation.

Awareness is what sees this, and so, can name
it. Naming does not imply reality! <--- see this.

>  > To carry through with the dragonfly analogy, it is
>>  difficult if not impossible, for the dragonfly to
>>  spread its wings and fly, while remaining coated
>>  with a thick sticky shell of sand. This is the aspect
>  > of delayed maturation which is addressed in the
>>  many 'remedial' advaita texts and 'satsang'.
>There may be many useful developmental processes, which a human being
>can undergo, flow with, understand, but this has nothing to do with
>advaita, with nonduality or with spirituality.

That is a very big and important evaluation, with
which I disagree.

>  > When the human allows transition to the post larval
>>  'condition', there is possibility to prepare for the next
>>  phase of Being, known as 'post-terrestrial', meaning
>>  'after Being on the Earth'.
>All these states, conditions, transitions and phases are related to
>manifestation, to phenomena.

Of course. The trick is to NOT identify as one
of the billiard-balls.

>  > Typically, the human will not transition to post-larval
>>  until around age 40 or later, when the parenting
>>  and householder duties have been discharged.
>>  Until that time, one may study these matters, and
>>  hopefully become very comfortable living in a shell
>>  of memories, soon to be shed...
>You may well have studied these phenomena and reached a good
>understanding of the anatomy of development, but we are addressing
>entirely different subjects.

Really? Perhaps, in your personal system of categorization,
it is so, but take a deeper look please. To do so, you will
have to access other databases. You may be able to do
that, even though you were not 'born' in those databases,
not a native to those. Is the alacrity of your reader, sufficient
to read and compare 'foreign' database with your 'own'?

>I'm sure you are right, that 'we become very comfortable living in a
>shell of memories'.  When we address relative issues, as opposed to
>absolutes, degree, scale, proportion, precision, judgement become

I can measure in both inches and millimetres, but I am
aware that there are other operations to perform.

Compliance with grammars is one such measuring task.

All grammars fall under higher grammars; please tell
me... what is the highest grammar? <---serious question.

If we decide to respect the highest grammar, we must
of task, also respect all subsidiary grammars. If not, we
corrupt our own map; the consequences of using a
corrupted map are quite terrible. But perhaps I say
too much.

>You can't have compassion for a baby, unless you not only
>acknowledge its being (absolute), but also pick it up with the degree
>of support and pressure that acknowledges its physical fragility etc

I will let you parse the errors in the above statement,
which otherwise will pass muster.

>That is why violent assaults and war are so shocking.  LSD -
>dragonfly version or otherwise - can be a violent assault on an
>organism, can produce a chemical change in the brain, an experience
>in the mind, but these are all phenomena.  And there are violent, so-
>called spiritual practices.  They violate the organism, not the
>being.  Because the being cannot be violated, the "spiritual
>practioner" jumps to the conclusion that everything goes in the
>relative world too.  "Who is being hurt?" misused in this way, is
>just inhumanity.

No kidding. The above paragraph merits rereading.

>But there is still no person in the baby, and no person picking it

True but only in a relative sense.

If you have the temerity, to assign name to
form or void, you must of course stand ready
to assume responsibility for that behaviour.

>  > "Parting, is such sweet sorrow.... "
>Not possible. Detaching, disillusion yes.

Parting, as in, unzipping the costume. As it
drops to  the floor, empty, I stand revealed.

>Thank you.
>You can see why I don't know how to sign off these damn things can't

Uhhhh.... maybe.

In the realm of experience, experience counts.

Eater of all realms,

==Gene Poole==   Mark Otter responds: Hi Marcia and Gene,

For me, the dark night of the soul was the process through which I
resisted how things are until I could resist no more, and then I
accepted. I didn't disconnect, I just gave up pushing it all away.
(I'm not trying to suggest this activity is finished) When I did
give up, I sat, exhausted and quiet, and my heart opened up and
tenderness rose up, making me realize how much I love everyone and
everything, including George W. Bush and Saddam Hussein, and I saw
how their actions were just resistance too. The resistance here is
sneaky and willing to subside, watch, gather strength, and pounce
again. Okay, I know that now, so what shall I do whenever it occurs
to me? I will sit on a couch and be present to whatever arises and
allow tenderness to accept it, give love to it. It's just coming
from the unloved depths to which I apparently banned it, to be loved.
That's who and what I am, so how could I deny it again?

I think that may be what Gene is saying here too. Learn to go with
it, however fierce it appears. I know I'll be tested on this, and I
will fail until I no longer fail, and if that looks like there's
no "I", then that's cool. If not, that's fine too. I've had far too
strong an opinion on what that will look like thus far. That's been
part of the resistance.

It doesn't look to me as though the world never existed. It looks as
though my conclusions about it were just stories I told, and never
large enough to do it any justice. Stories are too small. It's the
story that wasn't real. I don't have any clue about whether or not
the world is real. That's where it feels best to rest - in not
knowing anything anymore. It's freedom and it feels so wonderful to
be along for the ride rather than trying to pilot the boat.

Love, Mark
ps I'd love to hear about your experiments with tenderness. (You said
you'd be willing to give it a try...)

The art of

Germaine Arnaktauyok Germaine/

  Artists' Profile

Born in lgloolik Northwest Territories in 1946, Germaine went to school in Chesterfield Inlet NWT and Churchill Manitoba before taking a fine arts course at the University of Manitoba with George Swinton. She has also studied at Algonquin College in Ottawa and most recently is completing a printmaking course at Arctic College in lqaluit including studies with a master printer in Montreal. She is well known for her work illustrating children's book for the Baffin Divisional Board of Education. She has also completed work for Hyperion Press in Winnipeg and for Nick Nicol a Canadian author who is widely published in Japan. Her imagery reflects her cultural roots and her current works are exploring the myth and folklore of her ancestors. In particular she is proud of her illustrations for a comic strip version of the stories of Qiviuq, an Inuit mythical hero figure similar to Ulysses. Five of her original works have been purchased for "Art from the Arctic" a multinational touring exhibition of art from the northern circumpolar countries. Her other original works hang in many private, corporate and public collections including the Canadian Museum of Civilization and the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Center.


Heaven and Hell

by Ming Zhen Shakya, OHY

I wish I didn't enjoy my prison ministry so much. If it were less agreeable I could make myself seem like a martyr for making the trip out to Jean every Wednesday.

But the fact is, I like going there. It keeps me on my toes. Every cleric is a philosopher of sorts and prisons are often the true enclaves of philosophy. The men don't have an awful lot to do in their free time. So they think and then discuss what they think and then, I think, lay intellectual traps for me to see what I think.

The subject of heaven and hell came up recently. One of the men quoted Milton to me.... or threw him at me, I should say. "'Better to reign in hell than serve in heaven,'" he challenged. "Geez," I said, responding with the standard comeback, "What makes you think that if you go to heaven you'll be a servant but if you go to hell you'll be a king?" And he countered with a certain, histrionic flair, "If? If I go? I am in hell." And after the others stopped grunting in affirmation, I said, "Well, Your Majesty, there you may be, but not for the reasons you think." And then I had to start thinking about reasons and as I say, it keeps me on my toes.

Fortunately, he had picked the best known passage in Milton's Paradise Lost. Had he been more esoteric in his reference, he might have made me switch subjects... after all... I haven't read the whole of it. He probably had... but then it would pretty much take a prison term -- I'd better quit before I offend Milton lovers.

"Well," I said with a sizzling riposte, "just before Satan said that, didn't he say something about the mind being its own place and inside itself could make a heaven of hell and a hell of heaven?" This equally famous line constitutes, you see, the core belief of Zen Buddhism. We can't help it if Milton put the line in Satan's mouth. Satan surely can get a few things right. As they say, even a stopped clock is correct twice a day.

more at: Science/ERR.htm  

To Err is Human

To err is human. Understanding the mechanisms by which humans repeatedly make errors of judgment has been the subject of psychological study for many decades. Why do people disagree about beliefs despite access to the same evidence, and why does evidence so rarely lead to belief change? Psychological research has examined numerous risks of assessing evidence by subjective judgment. These risks incude information-processing or cognitive biases, emotional self-protective mechanisms, and social biases.

All of these factors play a major role in both sides of the debate betwen proponents and opponents of psychic phenomena. No analysis of the controversies surrounding the nature of the human spirit, and its propensity for greatness, would be complete without a realistic look at the human proclivity for folly. 

The Psychology of Cognitive Biases

The investigation of cognitive biases in judgment has followed from the study of perceptual illusions. Our understanding of the human visual system, for example, comes in large part from the study of situations in which our eye and brain are "fooled" into seeing something that is not there. In the Muller-Lyer visual illusion, for example, the presence of opposite-facing arrowheads on two lines of the same length makes one look longer than the other.

We generally do not realize how subjective this construction is. Instead we feel as if we are seeing a copy of the world as it truly exists. Cognitive judgments have a similar feeling of "truth" -- it is difficult to believe that our personal experience does not perfectly capture the objective world.

With a ruler, we can check that the two lines are the same length, and we believe the formal evidence rather than that of our fallible visual system. With cognitive biases, the analogue of the ruler is not clear. Against what should we validate our judgmental system?

In the 1950s, researchers began to compare how well expert judgments compared with simple statistical combining rules in predicting mental health prognoses and other personal outcomes. Typically, such studies involved providing several pieces of information -- such as personality and aptitude test scores -- about patients or job applicants to a panel of experts. These expert judges would then record their opinion about the likely outcome in each case. 

Statistical predictions were obtained using a "best fit" procedure that mathematically combined pieces of information, and determined a cutoff score that would separate "health" from "pathology" or job "success" from "failure."

Predictions from the human judges and the statistical models were then compared with the actual outcomes. The expert judges in these studies were confident that statistical models could not capture the subtle strategies they had developed over years of personal experience. But the actuarial predictions were superior to the expert intuitions. Many studies indicated "that the amount of professional training and experience of the judge does not relate to this judgmental accuracy."

more at: Science/ERR.htm

Seeing Others More Clearly

Part 1: Barriers to Intimacy

Juanita Ryan

A ll of us long to love and to be loved. We long to both experience and express respect, kindness and acceptance in our relationships. We want to know and be known, to understand and be understood, to care and be cared for. To love and be loved.

But our relationships are often marked by tension, misunderstanding and distance rather than by the safety, empathy and closeness we desire. Even our most intimate relationships are at times anything but what we want them to be. For some relationships the periods of tension and misunderstanding are short-lived, but for other relationships distance, in the form of either avoidance or unproductive conflict, becomes the norm.

In my own relationships and in working as a therapist to help other people with their relationships, I’ve found that a significant part of the problem in our relationships grows out of our misperceptions of ourselves and of others. For a variety of reasons we lose sight of who we really are and of who the other person really is. Our fears and our defenses can blind us to the deepest truths about ourselves and about others.

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Nonduality: The Varieties of Expression




Photography by Jerry Katz





DISSOLVED, Tarun Sardana



   HIGH JUMP, Tarun Sardana    HOME

Discover over 5000 pages on by Googling:

google [your choice of keyword(s)]

Read Jerry Katz's article in The Culturium:

Let the Scene See You

Landscape photography from a nondual point of view

Photography by Jerry Katz