Causes, in fact, are like Views: Right View is to cling to no views at all. --Terry Murphy
Laying the Groundwork for Nondual Activism
Jerry Katz and Terry Murphy
I believe that those who are involved in the Nonduality Salon list and the other nonduality lists can somehow picture their involvement as being with some kind of group. Without trying to describe it, something is pictured or imaged that describes the communion. It is know visually, viscerally, emotionally, mentally, and so on. The communion is brought into one's senses and being. That kind of consciousness or picturing is what I think could be built upon.
There is (always, dialectically) a macro and a micro group. The micro group is the members of the list itself; the macro group is the identification each of us has with the cosmic egg, the nondual reality, the Universe. Seeing this way I can move on and off the list with out personally feeling any great discontinuity. I make the point because any group devoted to Nonduality is likely composed of individuals who have to some degree made that connection between themselves and literally everything else.
Regarding political action, I have no model to refer to. I am not calling for anyone to do anything than what they are already doing. The action I'm really calling for is strictly attentional.
I encourage people to be mindful of truth at all times, and to refuse to be convinced of what they know in their hearts is false. That may not sound like much but it is a revolutionary act that will ultimately set us all free.
What I do invite is simply
awareness that when anything is done in the way of
activism, political influence, social change, is that it
be done with an awareness that the visualized and felt
group of which each one is a part, is doing the the act.
It's hard to say what I've just said without it sounding
like mind control. However, I'm talking to people who are
artists at attentional refinement and I trust I'm being
heard in the purist way possible.
It seems to me that this is how it always is, that the sense of ourselves working as individuals is an illusion. When people *recognize* that it is a group which is operating, they feel differently about what is said and done than if they perceive it to be an individual. And it makes a much greater impression on people if they think a group is behaving a certain way than if they think it is an individual, because people tend to project their own sense of individuality on others, even when it is not there. If this were not true, there would be little point to forming groups and operating as a group; it wouldn't matter.
I also think that social change is the aggregate behavior of society, not something any individual or even group can effect. But what people do reflects their core values, their awareness of what is right, and that awareness can be affected by both individuals and groups. I think groups have a greater effect, because we are social animals, and it is easy to dismiss an individual's ideas and much harder to do so when several agree.
A question I ask myself is how
much change is exoteric and how much is esoterically
effected? Exoterically, the Beatles did bring about
change. Esoterically, what was going on that seeded the
cloud that let the rain of john paul george ringo to fall
on us? The esoteric really interests me.
"When your inside is out, your outside is in. When your outside is in, your inside is out. So come on...everybody's got something to hide, except for me and my monkey." (lennon/mccartney) The point being that letting your inside be your outside (sincerity) makes the esoteric exoteric.
I was impressed with the seminar
I went to yesterday. There were fifty or sixty in the
room, and the guy told me the businesses who paid the
fees were charged $59.00 for each of the fifty or so in
the room. He also had a load of books and tapes for sale
which helped pay for the show. That is a potential model,
to do lectures on Nonduality, if there is sufficient
interest. What impressed me about the seminar I took is
that so many ideas from nondualism are present in these
motivational seminars. These are ideas that are
genuinally inspirational and arouse great enthusiasm and
heightened feelings of self-worth. Such ideas - and in
the motivational seminar they stressed ideas which were
empowering - are good for communities and businesses. I
am leary of the donation model; most people like would be
charged upfront rather than be pressured to contribute.
The 'retreat' idea, other than for teachers who then go
out into 'the world' to enlighten others, I'm not so sure
about. It might work; it could be combined with
ecotourism and capture a niche market. Communal living is
a tremendous savings of money, and can be a great way to
assure the members of sufficient 'spare' time to reflect
and enjoy life; it is made easier if the members share
values. It is a bit like a marriage though, washing other
people's underwear and cooking for them. Bad marriages
are painful things and divorce is expensive and
difficult. Things can be easy to combine and hard to
separate. A retreat could be combined with sufficient
land to build a number of small dwellings for permanent
members. One's whole life can become a showcase, part of
the act. We're talking some serious human resources here.
Success in any of these endeavors would depend greatly on
the actual people doing the work. And people who are
living and working together aren't going to be part of an
e-group any more.
All I suggest is that a person do nothing other than what they are doing -- I'm not going to recommend causes we 'should' be fighting for. The causes aren't the point.
Causes, in fact, are like Views: Right View is to cling to no views at all. Rather than be a member of a group which advocates ecological purity, better to be part of a coalition of interests, a group combining hunters, fishers, mining interests, forest companies, recreationalists and ecologists, and come up with viable solutions to real problems that leave people more-or-less satisfied and willing to continue to work together.
All I ask is that when anything is done, whatever it is, is that it be done not by the individual but by the felt group. I say this at the risk of sounding cultish, however I trust that people 'know what I'm talking about.' The felt group is simply the personal image you have of any group. It's the congregation that wordlessly comes to mind when I say 'nondual realizers', for example. The felt group has to be treated like a homeopathic remedy. A person's felt group may actually consist of, say, 20 known people. However it has to be diluted and diluted and diluted until the names are gone, the faces are gone, their bodies are gone, their personalities are gone, their essence is gone. And what is left is the pure felt group. A person acts from that feeling. This is an esoteric practice. However, I'm not saying anyone has to do it, nor am I interested in who is and is not doing it. I'm only describing a direction in which I am moving. That is the kind of action I would call for. It's strictly attentional.
As far as being associated with Nonduality, perhaps. People, I think, are going to have individual 'causes' that appeal to them in particular, perhaps due to things that have happened to them. Not everything needs to be done in lockstep, eh?
I have a sense that everyone is a 'nondual realizer' and that most of them don't 'realize' it. A paradox perhaps; but without the nondual, without a sense of mystical participation in the collective unconscious or world soul, none of us would make it through any minute of any day. We cling to the string of moments of self-consciousness and think of them as 'who we are,' but much of the time each one of us is as completely dependent on the universe as a babe is on its mother. Perhaps a community of conscious 'nondual realizers' might have more of an impact on me if I actually knew any personally, in the flesh, which I don't. It is such a community that interests me, though, and the potential for social change which lies with them - to begin with, increasing their numbers and articulation.
As these attentional or esoteric ideas are put out there, people do what they want. There's no need for me to know who is doing what. I don't want to know.
Out of that all kinds of movements and events would crystallize, including specific political actions. But to seek political change without the change in attention might not be so effective.
Yes, absolutely. Non-action is key. Let others fight the battles, and us work for peace; perhaps as part of ad hoc coalitions with other Non-Governmental Organizations. *Live* peace and others will emulate it, peace is desirable and when it gets hard to find, people become willing to change their values to get it.
There is a certain sense of anarchy about 'non-dual realizers,' isn't there? We are connected at a deeper level than the merely human. More than human. We can't help but be 'part of the plan' but it is a wonderful thing to have a degree of consciousness about it, to feel the sense of Grace wherein everything which happens is Perfect.
Now, to describe my call for action to any group other than nondualists, would be inviting blank stares, mockery, accusations of mind control, or, at best, support from New Age or religious groups which might be unable to accept a call for a slight attentional movement without incorporating it into a ritual, and not without standing firmly for that ritual and its particulars.
We don't need rituals unless ritual is part of a person's real culture, as in the case of the Original People or part of an individual's personal and private ritual (we probably all have those). Let people practice their rituals. There's no specific rituals associated with this call for an attentional shift. I sense, Terry, that one could be put off by the ritualistic nature of the retreat opening near you when you say "are based on a special reverence for certain materials."
Perhaps one of our contributions to the field would be to strip away the cultural baggage and get to the heart of the matter, which is Nonduality, not Advaita or Zen or Taoism or what have you. One of the reasons such retreats use the methods of hinduism is to give credibility and structure to their program. You would need credibility and structure for your NDS retreats as well.
I think that contribution has already been made on the internet. Inner Directions has gatherings that get to the heart of the matter. Our retreat in Rhode Island was as pure as it gets; even 'nonduality' was stripped away. I think credibility is present.
Sure, to lots of people in hawaii 'meditation' is foolishness, navel-gazing, slacker stuff. People here objected to the retreat in front of the planning commission, they saw it as an outside organization using up prime agricultural land (currently cows), an organization having no useful local purpose. The hawaiians, like many other cultures, have a very significant spiritual inheritance of their own, and might be amenable to devices based specifically in their culture; there is little chance of them adopting hindu ways or dress or methods or culture. Still, they might be open-minded as far as whatever else works; and they said they would make the space available to the community if they were not having retreats, so I imagine their facilities could be rented, right down to the incense. I'm personally not big on group meditations, especially where rigid postures are required and people are allowed to hit you and shout at you. Dharma talks are OK though, depending on the teacher. This is another case in which the trappings of one of the great wisdom traditions is an aid to credibility and structure. What will you say? What exercises shall we perform? Still, one does not put new wine into old bottles, as I sense you agree.
These questions make me assume the position of a contriver. I can only do what I already see done, and I don't see that done yet, but I will. Meanwhile, retreats involving NDS members certainly don't need anything at all in the way of hour to hour planning. However, it is hoped that people will come prepared to grace others with their gifts during the retreat. If many people come, then some organizing and scheduling will have to be done, but there are no guidelines with regard to what is taught, shared, offered, given.
I can only tell you what I see myself doing at this time. I feel my work on the list and website has matured. My calling is toward activism, world change. I'll be starting new web pages in a section entitled Nonduality Salon-A: Activism. Its purpose will be to create a felt group of activists. The esoteric attentional work with the felt group of nondualists will combine with the felt group of activists and this will create power.
That, then, is the political agenda that I know. It's not like any other political agenda. It's a very simple way of changing consciousness. When combined with traditional ways of changing consciousness, such as debate, demonstration, education, expression through different media, the world itself, civilization itself changes.
That something is created doesn't necessarily mean it is contrived; 'new wine' is not something I think of as a contrivance, anymore than sufi references to Wine indicate contrivance. As close as a sufi would get would be in Omar's lines:
I wonder what it is the
To me, the essence of nonduality is the merging of the exoteric and esoteric. In practice the amounts to a kind of mysticism in which everything we do is by impulse or hunch, modified by intermittent periods of reflection. Eventually we develop the ability to act in accordance with what is not yet seen, heard or felt, not actually 'knowing' the future in any conscious way but conforming with what has yet to happen on a regular basis.