#1892 - Monday, August 16, 2004 - Editor:
Letter to the Editors: Click 'Reply' on your email program,
compose your message, and 'Send'. All the editors will see your letter.
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
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
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
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
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
~ ~ ~
The Sacred Mirror: Nondual Wisdom and Psychotherapy,
edited by John. L. Prendergast, Peter Fenner, and Sheila Krystal.
Interview: The Taboo of
One of the most popular Buddhist teachers in the San
Area these days is not a Tibetan lama or a traditional Zen
an unconventional, American-born lay teacher named
public talks and dialogues (which he calls
satsangs a term borrowed
from India’s Advaita, or "nondual," tradition)
attract hundreds of
seekers, Buddhists and non-Buddhists alike.
Although Adyashanti rarely talks about Zen or
Buddhism these days, he
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
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 which—as he describes it now—he "penetrated to the
emptiness of all things and realized that the Buddha I had been
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 I’ve been seeking," he
explains. "Then the next koan arose
spontaneously: What is this that
Although Gray continued to meditate, absorbed by
this new question,
he reports that all sense of effort and anxiety
this period, he married and went to work in his father’s
shop. "I was happy," he recalls, "but I knew it wasn’t enough." As
his inquiry deepened, his practice diverged from the traditional
and he lost interest in doing retreats or relying on his
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
immediately put to rest all his questions and doubts. Two
Arvis Justi asked him to teach, and he changed his name to
Adyashanti, Sanskrit for "primordial peace."
I interviewed Adyashanti—a teacher of mine for
several years—at his
home in San Jose on a warm Indian-summer afternoon.
He’s a small man,
slight of build, with blond hair cropped close like a
conversation was grounded in our familiarity, as friends and as
teacher and student, and we laughed frequently as we talked.
What’s 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
be some causal relationship between your Zen meditation practice
I’m 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
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 failed—and I failed completely—was useful. Zen provided
place for me to fail, and I needed that. In fact, I’d say my
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 success—awakening?
Well, failure was the success—awakening happened
through failure. In
that sense I have a great respect for the lineage. What
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?
I’d 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
Does being enlightened mean that you never get angry or
make big mistakes?
There’s 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
the table. The idea that enlightenment means sitting around
beatific smile on our faces is just an illusion.
At a human level, enlightenment means that you are
no longer divided
within yourself, and that you no longer experience a
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
forces: what they think they should do versus what they are
how they feel about themselves versus how they are; whether they
think they’re right and worthy or wrong and unworthy. The separate
is just the conglomeration of these opposing forces. When the
away, inner division drops away with it.
Now, I can’t say that I never make a mistake,
because in this human
world being enlightened doesn’t mean we become experts
What does happen, though, is that personal motivations
Only when enlightenment occurs do we realize that virtually
everything we did, from getting out of bed to going to work to being
a relationship to pursuing our pleasures and interests, was
personal concern. In the absence of a separate self,
there’s no personal
motivation to do anything. Life just moves us.
When personal motivation no longer drives us, then
what’s left is our
true nature, which naturally expresses itself on the
as love or compassion. Not a compassion that we cultivate or
because we’re supposed to, but a compassion that arises
from our undivided state. If we undertake being a good,
person as a personal identity, it just gets in the way of
In traditional Buddhism, at least as I
practiced it, there’s a taboo
against talking openly about enlightenment, as
we’re doing now. It
seems to be based on the fear that the ego will co-opt
and become inflated. In your dharma talks you speak in great
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, we’d all
go into the
kitchen after the meditation and dharma talk and have some fruit
tea, and we’d talk openly about our lives. For the most part we
didn’t focus on our spiritual experiences, but they were a part of
mix. Then these same people would do retreats at the Zen Center
Angeles and have big awakenings, and the folks in L.A. began
to wonder what
was happening in this little old lady’s living room up
north. Arvis’s view
was simple: The only thing I’m doing that they’re
not, she said, is that we
sit around casually and talk, and what’s
happening on the inside for people
isn’t kept secret or hidden. This
way, people get beyond the sense that
they’re 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
The tradition of talking about certain experiences
only in private
with your teacher keeps enlightenment a secret activity
special people. I can understand the drawbacks of being more
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 ego’s tendency to claim enlightenment for itself
obvious in the penetrating light of public discourse. In the
long run, both
ways have their strengths and weaknesses, but I’ve
found that having
students ask their questions in public breaks down
the isolation that many
spiritual people feel—the sense that nobody
else could possibly understand
what they’re going through, or that
they’re 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 it’s not just special people who have deep
their neighbor or their best friend.
Would you claim that you are
Well, no, not with a straight face. I would say enlightenment is
enlightened and awakeness is awake. It’s not an experience; it’s a
To read more of this interview, please see the
Fall 2004 issue of
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
Pounced with fire on flaming roads
Using ideas as my maps
pathway led by confusion boats
Mutiny from stern to bow
But I was so much
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
Sometimes it is difficult to give up our pain as we believe
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.
that define, confine and *bind*.
A nondual 'realization'... is like a
drop of rain,
that washes the 'sugar cubes' down the drain.
an exerpt from "THIS", a book with poetry and prose of Dancing Emptiness
Hello all beautiful friends...
Hereunder an exerpt from "THIS", a book with poetry and prose of
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
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
I also hear my story in your story. Would it make you feel better if
admitted to having watched soap operas and reading stupid
during a year that I had to take my 3 sons to live with my
because my entire life went down in flames? And I just was too angry
give a damn at that point. (And this was AFTER doing the good
wife and mother trip complete with Bible study classes and
church attendance for 10 years.) Then I got back on my feet somewhat
a few years later my son was stricken with some rare mysterious loss
vision at age 14..so I spent a year taking him to doctors and feeling
helpless that I just would burst into tears uncontrollably. If I
have ripped the eyes out of anyone else to give them to my son, I
have. Getting to acceptance of THAT was a challenge. Somehow we
thru that and then my husband of 22 years simply fell apart, left
abandoned us all with no money. SO when I hear a bit of guilt
wishful thinking in your life summary, its because I too have
back at my life with self-condemnation. Hey, even when I thought I
on some super spiritual quest trip, it was still just another
to ego/personality needs..as you said. So when you DO look back
hindsight, try to remember that its precisely because you had
experiences that you learned what you needed to learn to
yourself better. All those "if onlys" and wishing you had come
other path or comparing your life to how you imagine other
somehow did it better...or had a better easier life..or are now doing
better? I'm even now still hiding behind the excuse that no one
wants to hear the details of my life story anyway..but I know I'm
avoiding self-disclosure for my own self-protection more often. So
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
together and understands life better, you may rest assured there
likely a great many experiences of pain and failure and suffering as
price of that wisdom. Oh sure, its just life's ups and downs, so
stories and external dramas, the usual experiences. I've had my
of joyous happy ones, too, of course. But I hear you kinda
yourself a low score on your self-examination. Now that's a
tune to my ears. :):) Try to remember we are writing these exams
water...that's how Jerry means the sugar cube dissolves (sorta what
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
you live it, Judy, and you are looking with your eyes and your
your mind. It really really matters and in another way it
matter at all how or why you went down some one path instead of
What is all this longing you now feel for God and your hunger for
truth and real love...if not your original innocence of Being
remembering who you are? Among all the other things that I AM
AM says "I am THAT_ I_ am (Judy)..and I am THAT_I_am too - (also
Jerry, Harsha.. insert anyone and everyone) I don't have any kind
final answer here. Sometimes I find it helpful to step outside my
and look from the perspective of infinite manifestation of Being
happening here. Other times I find it helpful to look thru a
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,
believe -- mentioned our list on a couple of well-visited
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
journey that really started when I was only nine years old and
about the "occult" in the public library in Springfield, New
Since then, I've gone from Roman Catholicism, to Schopenhauer,
Buddhism, to Taoism, to Krishnamurti, to scientistic atheism, to
Baha'i Faith, to the Gurdjieff work, to Jung, and then, finally,
I've spent hours at nondual Web sites. I've read
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
Aldous Huxley, _The Life and Teachings of Joe Miller_, a bunch
Krishnamurti stuff (again), some Meister Eckhart, _Collision with
Infinite_ by Suzanne Segal (see my scathing review at Amazon.com).
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
enlightenment, divine union, etc. I've decided to be
indifferent to this "Source" as it is to us. I am totally
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
So I've come to rest as a non-scientistic, apathetic agnostic.
anyone tells me this means I'm ripe for enlightenment, I'll