|DR. ROBERT PUFF|
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#1892 - Monday, August 16, 2004 - Editor: Jerry
Featured is Part 4 of the review/summary of The Sacred Mirror: Nondual Wisdom and Psychotherapy, edited by John J. Prendergast, Peter Fenner, and Sheila Krystal. Information about this book is available at http://www.paragonhouse.com/catalog/product_info.php?authors_id=218&products_id=315
There is also part of an interview with Adyashanti from the new Tricycle: The Buddhist Review
Also in this issue I continue the In Nonduality Salon series, which covers the highlights from emails posted during the first nine months of Nonduality Salon, a span of time during which there were no Highlights.
The Sacred Mirror
Chapter 4: The Sacred Mirror: Being Together, by John J. Prendergast
"When we look into an ordinary mirror, we see how we appear. When we look into a sacred mirror, we see who we are." The role of "sacred mirror" has traditionally belonged to the guru or spiritual teacher. This chapter describes how the role is being played by the therapist and explores ways of including this function into transpersonal psychology.
Prendergast engages a nonintentional eye gazing which brings presence into the foreground for both therapist and client. In this process defences, reactivities, and personal difficulties are released or opened up to a large shared space in which they could more easily dissolve. He calls this experience 'being together'. The role of therapeutic mirroring in modern psychotherapy is briefly reviewed with emphasis upon Freud, who prohibited visual mirroring, and upon the contribution by Carl Rogers, who introduced the transpersonal or spiritual dimension of mirroring.
The author discovered sacred mirroring or 'being together' in 1988 while working with a client with whom he shared an intimate rapport. "There were several moments in our work together when there was a natural stop to our conventional thinking and feeling and we simultaneously dropped into a shared space of Being. There was a spontaneous feeling and understanding of common ground beyond and before the roles we were playing as therapist and client and whatever individual indentities we were attached to at the time. It felt like a holy meeting and a truly sacred space."
Prendergast had occasionally experienced that state with Jean Klein, his spiritual mentor, yet it wasn't clear to him how to incorporate this sacred mirroring into his practice. It would arise with different clients. In 1996, he began to invite clients "to settle into a soft gaze with me while we are both silent."
The author writes about functioning as a sacred mirror. He says that as the therapist "deepens into Being," the function spontaneously arises. Being and the mirror are not separate. The mirror will be distorted to the degree that the therapist has egoic needs, which include identification with sacred mirroring as a tool or skill. Regarding the becoming of a sacred mirror, Prendergast makes clear that any effort to attain will bring one further from it. Instead of effort, what must be present is wordless understanding of already always being the sacred mirror.
With this background, the author spends the bulk of the chapter describing 'being together' in detail. Half the 26 page chapter is devoted to client experiences with sacred mirror or 'being together.' There is the presentation of a single case with one called Armand in which the levels or phases of breakthrough achieved over 82 sessions are described. These include conventional psychotherapy at the beginning. Ultimately, Armand could write, "Experiences of opening give me a glimpse of what seems to be the truth of being. Against the experience, the activities of daily life lose their significance. My life is being slowly reset with this new compass."
The reader who understands ground of Being will find Prendergast's offering as nothing more or less than making sense and being natural. It could be called Natural Mirroring.
~ ~ ~
The Sacred Mirror: Nondual Wisdom and Psychotherapy, edited by John J. Prendergast, Peter Fenner, and Sheila Krystal.
Information about this book is available at http://www.paragonhouse.com/catalog/product_info.php?authors_id=218&products_id=315
The Taboo of Enlightenment
Stephen Bodian http://www.tricycle.com/new.php?p=article&id=254
One of the most popular Buddhist teachers in the San Francisco Bay
Area these days is not a Tibetan lama or a traditional Zen master but
an unconventional, American-born lay teacher named Adyashanti. His
public talks and dialogues (which he calls satsangs a term borrowed
from Indias Advaita, or "nondual," tradition) attract hundreds of
seekers, Buddhists and non-Buddhists alike.
Although Adyashanti rarely talks about Zen or Buddhism these
did train closely with a Buddhist teacher, spending more than a dozen
years practicing meditation under the guidance of Arvis Justi, a lay
teacher in the lineage of Zen master Taizan Maezumi, the founder of
the Zen Center of Los Angeles. At age twenty-five, while sitting
alone on his cushion, Gray had a classic kensho, or awakening
experience, in whichas he describes it nowhe "penetrated to the
emptiness of all things and realized that the Buddha I had been
chasing was what I was." As powerful as this experience had been,
however, Gray knew immediately that he had seen just the tip of the
iceberg. "I had discovered that I am what Ive been seeking," he
explains. "Then the next koan arose spontaneously: What is this that
Although Gray continued to meditate, absorbed by this new
he reports that all sense of effort and anxiety disappeared. During
this period, he married and went to work in his fathers machine
shop. "I was happy," he recalls, "but I knew it wasnt enough." As
his inquiry deepened, his practice diverged from the traditional
format, and he lost interest in doing retreats or relying on his
teachers for guidance. Instead, his energies turned inward and
became, in his words, "exclusively focused on realizing the truth of
my own being." In addition to meditating, he spent many hours sitting
in coffee shops writing out answers to the questions, or life koans,
that spontaneously came to him.
Finally, at thirty-one, Gray had an experience of awakening
immediately put to rest all his questions and doubts. Two years later
Arvis Justi asked him to teach, and he changed his name to
Adyashanti, Sanskrit for "primordial peace." I interviewed Adyashantia teacher of mine for several yearsat his
home in San Jose on a warm Indian-summer afternoon. Hes a small man,
slight of build, with blond hair cropped close like a monks. Our
conversation was grounded in our familiarity, as friends and as
teacher and student, and we laughed frequently as we talked.
Whats the relationship, do you suppose, between
all those years of
sitting zazen and this kensho experience? Did they prime the pump of
awakening? Were they steps leading to awakening? You now seem to be
dismissing the concept of "stages of the path," yet there appears to
be some causal relationship between your Zen meditation practice and
Im deeply grateful for my Zen practice. It ultimately
led me to fail
well. I failed at being a Buddhist, I failed at being a perfect
exemplar of the ten precepts, and certainly I failed at meditation,
failed at all my efforts to bust down the "gateless gate" to
awakening that Zen speaks of. And the fact that I actually got to the
point where I failedand I failed completelywas useful. Zen provided
a place for me to fail, and I needed that. In fact, Id say my
process wasnt so much a letting go as an utter failure. Zen did a
good job of letting me fall on my face.
What would have been a successawakening?
Well, failure was the successawakening happened through
that sense I have a great respect for the lineage. What was
transmitted was bigger than all the carriers, it was even bigger than
the lineage, much bigger than Zen, much bigger than Buddhism.
What was that?
Id say a certain spark, an aliveness.
How has your own enlightenment changed the way you
function in the
world: your relationships, your family life, your everyday behavior?
Does being enlightened mean that you never get angry or reactive or
make big mistakes?
Theres no such thing as never getting angry.
Enlightenment can and
does use all the available emotions. Otherwise, we would have to
discount Jesus for getting pissed off in the temple and kicking over
the table. The idea that enlightenment means sitting around with a
beatific smile on our faces is just an illusion.
At a human level, enlightenment means that you are no longer
within yourself, and that you no longer experience a division between
yourself and others. Without any inner division, you stop
experiencing most of the usual forms of reactivity.
Could you say a little more what you mean by no "inner division"?
Most human beings spend their lives battling with opposing
forces: what they think they should do versus what they are doing;
how they feel about themselves versus how they are; whether they
think theyre right and worthy or wrong and unworthy. The separate
self is just the conglomeration of these opposing forces. When the
self drops away, inner division drops away with it. N
ow, I cant say that I never make a mistake, because in
world being enlightened doesnt mean we become experts at everything.
What does happen, though, is that personal motivations disappear.
Only when enlightenment occurs do we realize that virtually
everything we did, from getting out of bed to going to work to being
in a relationship to pursuing our pleasures and interests, was
motivated by personal concern. In the absence of a separate self,
theres no personal motivation to do anything. Life just moves us.
When personal motivation no longer drives us, then whats
left is our
true nature, which naturally expresses itself on the human dimension
as love or compassion. Not a compassion that we cultivate or practice
because were supposed to, but a compassion that arises spontaneously
from our undivided state. If we undertake being a good, compassionate
person as a personal identity, it just gets in the way of awakening. I
n traditional Buddhism, at least as I practiced it,
theres a taboo
against talking openly about enlightenment, as were doing now. It
seems to be based on the fear that the ego will co-opt the experience
and become inflated. In your dharma talks you speak in great detail
about awakening, including your own, and in your public dialogues you
encourage others to do the same. Why is that?
When I was sitting with my teacher, Arvis, wed all go
kitchen after the meditation and dharma talk and have some fruit and
tea, and wed talk openly about our lives. For the most part we
didnt focus on our spiritual experiences, but they were a part of
the mix. Then these same people would do retreats at the Zen Center
of Los Angeles and have big awakenings, and the folks in L.A. began
to wonder what was happening in this little old ladys living room up
north. Arviss view was simple: The only thing Im doing that theyre
not, she said, is that we sit around casually and talk, and whats
happening on the inside for people isnt kept secret or hidden. This
way, people get beyond the sense that theyre the only ones who are
having this or that experience. They come out of their shell, which
actually makes them more available to a deeper spiritual process.
The tradition of talking about certain experiences only in
with your teacher keeps enlightenment a secret activity reserved for
special people. I can understand the drawbacks of being more open, of
course. Some people may blab on about how enlightened they are, and
become more egotistical. But when everything remains open to inquiry,
then even the egos tendency to claim enlightenment for itself
becomes obvious in the penetrating light of public discourse. In the
long run, both ways have their strengths and weaknesses, but Ive
found that having students ask their questions in public breaks down
the isolation that many spiritual people feelthe sense that nobody
else could possibly understand what theyre going through, or that
theyre so rotten at their practice, or that nobody could be
struggling like they are. And when people have breakthroughs and talk
about them in public, awakening loses its mystique. Everyone else can
see that its not just special people who have deep awakenings, its
their neighbor or their best friend.
Would you claim that you are enlightened?
Well, no, not with a straight face. I would say enlightenment
enlightened and awakeness is awake. Its not an experience; its a
To read more of this interview, please see the Fall 2004
Tricycle: The Buddhist Review.
In Nonduality Salon
Selected posts from the early days of Nonduality Salon
~ ~ ~
Crimson flames tied through my ears
Rolling high with mighty traps
Pounced with fire on flaming roads
Using ideas as my maps
My pathway led by confusion boats
Mutiny from stern to bow
But I was so much older then
I'm younger than that now...
~ ~ ~
My Dear, Beautiful and Wonderful Friends,
To be able to see things as they are is the gift of Satsangha (Spiritual
Fellowship). When we are not in Satsangha but perceive ourselves to be in
hostile circumstances, the fundamental and ancient need for
self-preservation comes into play. Then fear, anger and greed dominate.
That is all right. That is our pain. But this pain is obscured, hidden, and
beneath the surface when we are busy attacking and defending. In the
company of good, gentle and wise people who have the spiritual insight and
Self-Knowledge, a deep calmness and security is experienced. That is the
time that our pain becomes apparent to us in order to be released. That is
why many people even cry in Satsangha without any apparent reason.
Sometimes it is difficult to give up our pain as we believe it constitutes
our identity. But it does not because it can indeed be released. Giving up
and surrendering everything to the Divine, even offering their own self,
has been the way of Devotees of God and Jnanis. Then Divinity Shines by its
Own Light. God bless everyone with everything that is best in life and with
peace and joy.
~ ~ ~
Formal teachings... build 'sugar cubes' in our mind.
Little boxes... that define, confine and *bind*.
A nondual 'realization'... is like a drop of rain,
that washes the 'sugar cubes' down the drain.
~ ~ ~
n exerpt from "THIS", a book with poetry and prose
of Dancing Emptiness from Papaji.
Hello all beautiful friends...
Hereunder an exerpt from "THIS", a book with poetry
and prose of Dancing
Hope you enjoy it..
All that you are attached to, all that you Love,
all that you know, someday will be gone.
Knowing this, and that the world is your mind
which you create, play in, and suffer from,
is known as discrimination. Discriminate between the Real and the unreal.
The known is unreal and will come and go
so stay with the Unknown, the Unchanging, the Truth.
~ ~ ~
judy walden wrote:
> > "i dont feel particularly good about taking up so much time from everyone"
Its ok..its your turn. I have been following all these sugar cubes,
while still chewing on my last message from Gene Poole. Maybe you have
been sampling the smorgasboard long enough to start identifying what
food you want? That's what your lovely confession allows you to do...ask
for what you are particularly hungry for.
I also hear my story in your story. Would it make you feel better if I
admitted to having watched soap operas and reading stupid tabloids
during a year that I had to take my 3 sons to live with my mother
because my entire life went down in flames? And I just was too angry to
give a damn at that point. (And this was AFTER doing the good Christian
wife and mother trip complete with Bible study classes and regular
church attendance for 10 years.) Then I got back on my feet somewhat and
a few years later my son was stricken with some rare mysterious loss of
vision at age 14..so I spent a year taking him to doctors and feeling so
helpless that I just would burst into tears uncontrollably. If I could
have ripped the eyes out of anyone else to give them to my son, I would
have. Getting to acceptance of THAT was a challenge. Somehow we got
thru that and then my husband of 22 years simply fell apart, left and
abandoned us all with no money. SO when I hear a bit of guilt and
wishful thinking in your life summary, its because I too have looked
back at my life with self-condemnation. Hey, even when I thought I WAS
on some super spiritual quest trip, it was still just another attachment
to ego/personality needs..as you said. So when you DO look back with
hindsight, try to remember that its precisely because you had those
experiences that you learned what you needed to learn to understand
yourself better. All those "if onlys" and wishing you had come down some
other path or comparing your life to how you imagine other people
somehow did it better...or had a better easier life..or are now doing it
better? I'm even now still hiding behind the excuse that no one really
wants to hear the details of my life story anyway..but I know I'm just
avoiding self-disclosure for my own self-protection more often. So I
admire your courage here, Judy.
Self acceptance is a toughie...all this better than and worse than
thinking...the issue of pride and humility never seems to go away, it
just happens on different levels about different questions, so learn to
be gentle with yourself wherever you are. Whenever you read some wise
sounding post that leads you to believe this person really has it
together and understands life better, you may rest assured there is
likely a great many experiences of pain and failure and suffering as the
price of that wisdom. Oh sure, its just life's ups and downs, so many
stories and external dramas, the usual experiences. I've had my share
of joyous happy ones, too, of course. But I hear you kinda giving
yourself a low score on your self-examination. Now that's a familiar
tune to my ears. :):) Try to remember we are writing these exams on
water...that's how Jerry means the sugar cube dissolves (sorta what I
think he means anyway).
But I also hear in your posts that you are already seeing the more
fundamental questions of being...so whatever path got you to here kinda
becomes irrelevant. ..Tho your life remains very precious simply because
you live it, Judy, and you are looking with your eyes and your heart and
your mind. It really really matters and in another way it doesn't
matter at all how or why you went down some one path instead of another.
What is all this longing you now feel for God and your hunger for real
truth and real love...if not your original innocence of Being simply
remembering who you are? Among all the other things that I AM says...I
AM says "I am THAT_ I_ am (Judy)..and I am THAT_I_am too - (also Niren,
Jerry, Harsha.. insert anyone and everyone) I don't have any kind of
final answer here. Sometimes I find it helpful to step outside my life
and look from the perspective of infinite manifestation of Being is
happening here. Other times I find it helpful to look thru a microscope
to my own self awareness.
Its good to hear more from you...your sharing here means a lot to me.
Whether we are looking within or looking without...its good to be
looking together...you are good company to cross paths with.
~ ~ ~
New Members Coming?
I just want to tell list members that I have -- for the first time, I
believe -- mentioned our list on a couple of well-visited Newsgroups:
alt.meditation and alt.zen.
I've also invited people on the I Am list to subscribe here. I
think I've explicitly done that in the past.
Our current list membership is 42. Thank you, and, uh, Harsha,
expecting guests, can you wipe that spaghetti mustache off?
Love to all,
~ ~ ~
Well, I've spent the last four months reading about nondualism
Vedanta). I had determined that this was my last stop in a spiritual
journey that really started when I was only nine years old and reading
about the "occult" in the public library in Springfield, New Jersey.
Since then, I've gone from Roman Catholicism, to Schopenhauer, to
Buddhism, to Taoism, to Krishnamurti, to scientistic atheism, to the
Baha'i Faith, to the Gurdjieff work, to Jung, and then, finally, to
I've spent hours at nondual Web sites. I've read _Consciousness Speaks_
by Ramesh Balsekar, _No Way: for the Spiritually Advanced_ by Ram Tzu
(Wayne Liquorman), _Relaxing into Clear Seeing_ by Arjuna Nick Ardagh,
_Awareness_ by Fr. Anthony de Mello, _The Perennial Philosophy_ by
Aldous Huxley, _The Life and Teachings of Joe Miller_, a bunch of
Krishnamurti stuff (again), some Meister Eckhart, _Collision with the
Infinite_ by Suzanne Segal (see my scathing review at Amazon.com). I've
come to the following, tentative conclusions.
The "Source" is the supposedly the source of all manifestation. This
"Source" is the source of the torture/mutilation murders of children.
This "Source" is the source of spinal bifida. This "Source" is the
source of migraine headaches. This "Source" was the source of Hitler
and his holocaust, as well as every other episode of genocide through
In short, this "Source" is supremely indifferent to what is harmful to
us and what is not-and yes, that's from our point of view. Petty, aren't we?
I no longer pine to "realize I am the Source," or however you might
characterize it: enlightenment, divine union, etc. I've decided to be
as profoundly indifferent to this "Source" as it is to us. I am totally
apathetic about this "Source". To me, it is as practically
consequential, although perhaps as necessary, as quarks or hydrogen.
Maybe it's there. Who cares. "It" certainly doesn't.
So I've come to rest as a non-scientistic, apathetic agnostic. And if
anyone tells me this means I'm ripe for enlightenment, I'll scream.
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