Non-Dual Awareness.

This is really the heart of the matter,
but not easy to explain in words

But here goes!

Religion does not own spirituality. My view is that religions begin with some genuine, profound realization on the part of the founder; but as this realization is non-conceptual, it is impossible to communicatein words alone! So often, what gets passed on is at best a misunderstanding, at worst a total distortion, of the original insight. The only effective way of passing this realization on is to give methods whereby one can gain it.

For some reason, the Eastern religions (Buddhism, Taoism, Hinduism) have kept these methods as the core of their teaching, whereas in Christianity, Judaism and Islam they have been marginalized

Christianity, Judaism and Islam too have their mystical core; those who truly know what the teaching means. At the time and place of Christ, the Gnostics were very active, and it is thought Christ studied with them. The word "gnostic" means, of course, one who knows; but the knowledge referred to here is non-conceptual.
So what IS this mysterious knowledge??

, it does NOT involve the existence of some super-being who controls things. God, Jehovah, Allah are just (poor) metaphors. Buddhism and Taoism don't really have a concept of 'God'; Hinduism is such a vast sprawling edifice that one can find almost everything there.

, this is first-hand knowledge, like knowing what sugar tastes like or what red looks like. You taste, you know. You can't really explain it.

, this 'knowledge' (gnosis) has to do, not with simple things like the taste of sugar, but with the nature of reality itself! The big questions, like 'what am I?', 'what is the world?', 'what is reality?'

, even though I have been referring to it as 'an experience', it is NOT really an experience (like the sky opening up, light showering down, Jesus, Mary and Buddha doing the two-step on the Cosmic stage). In fact in Zen, such experiences (which of course can occur--well, maybe not the two-step) are regarded as obstructions!

I might say that, compared with whatever ideas one tends to form about this mysterious knowledge, it is both less and more that one imagines.

Any attempt to put this in words comes up against paradox. Everything changes and nothing changes; the experience is defined by not being anything; that sort of thing.But I can say that it has to do with Awareness (consciousness) itself; not the contents of awareness, but awareness itself.

The genuine Spiritual teachings of the Asian religions have become more and more accessible in the West over the past couple of hundred years.

Some of the most direct, complete and profound are:
  • Dzogchen (Tibetan Buddhism)
  • Advaita Vedanta
  • Zen (Chinese and Japanese Buddhism)
  • Raja and Jnana Yoga
  • Taoist Yoga
However, it is usually difficult to separate the essential teachings from the cultural trappings. Too many finger-studiers, not enough moon-gazers!

Also, these truths and the methods which reveal them are hard enough to understand without having to translate from a different culture as well!

Fortunately, in the past 20 years or so, there has been an extraordinary surge of Western-born Teachers who can speak to us out of our own culture. Some of these have had Realization in the context of an Asian religion; others have Realized outside of any context. They speak to us without cultural baggage, without the hierarchical structure that often permeates Asian religions; they speak as simple humans, but humans who have recognized what they really are, and what all of this amazing phenomena that surrounds us truly is.

Eckhart Tolle is perhaps the best known, praise be to Oprah! Others include Tony Parsons, Jan Kerschott, "Sailor" Bob Adamson, Douglas Harding, Peter Fenner. Krisnamurti was one of the earlier ones to teach in this way, as was Joel Goldsmith. More are listed in the Bibliography and on the Links page.

Some of them have developed uniquely effective teaching devices, like Douglas Harding's "headlessness" exercises, and Peter Fenner's unstructured dialogs. This whole "Bodymind" endeavor is my own best effort, inadequate though it is, to help others towards this Realization

Here is a basic but very effective little exercise.
Please sit comfortably, and ask yourself:

What am I noticing right now?

Allow yourself effortlessly to notice what presents itself to you, with no attempt to concentrate or focus on anything particular.

There are sights; sounds; smells and tastes; feelings of touch; the feeling of your posture and movements of your body; internal sensations in your body; emotional feelings or mood states; and a whole variety of thoughts: inner dialogue or monologue; images; memories; fantasies of the future; images of yourself; and the central thought, 'I'.

All these various experiences arise, interact, and pass away, in the field of your awareness.

They are all (obviously) happening NOW.

It is as if you are just resting, watching the play of experience.

Now: WHO is watching this play?

This is NOT a conceptual or philosophical question; it asks that you observe, pay direct attention, to the one who is experiencing all that arises; the 'I', the awareness.

As you explore this, you will find that you can't actually find the 'I'. Anything you find (such as sensations of your body, feelings, or thoughts in your mind) is clearly not 'I', the experiencer, but just part of the flow of experience.

Rest in this place, where you cannot find the experiencer. There is just a spontaneous flow of sight, sound, sensation, feeling, thought; but there is no-one watching.

For more information: Head, Heart, Belly, Center,
Nine Centers, Centerline, Ground, Sky, Trauma