#4646 - Friday, July 6, 2012 - Editor: Jerry
I discovered this review on Cory Bright's Facebook page.
Spira, Rupert. Presence: The Art of Peace and
Happiness, Volume 1. (2011) Salisbury: Non-Duality Press.
Reviewed by John Prendergast, Ph.D.
In this important new book Rupert Spira offers a deeply
eloquent, insightful and mature exploration into the heart of experience that
takes a subtle step beyond his earlier The Transparency of Things. At first he
covers the familiar ground of the futile search for happiness and the discovery
of true nature from a traditional Advaita perspective, although expressed with
an unusual freshness and clarity. For example:
"The history of humanity on an individual and collective
scale is the drama of this loss of our true identity and the subsequent search
to regain it."
"Every direction turns out to be the wrong direction. It
is like standing up and trying to take a step towards ones body; every step is
the wrong direction."
"In fact, all experience is intimately close to our self;
closer than close. There is only our self. Only knowingness."
"When it is said that awareness is underlying, it is a
half-truth spoken to one who deeply believes in the separate existence of
objects. In fact, awareness is not just underlying. It is also, as it were,
on the surface. That is, it is not just the witnessing background but also the
substantial foreground of all seeming things."
"Love is normally conceived of as the quality of intimacy
that characterizes a small handful of relationships, connecting one person to
another, whereas it is, in fact, the natural condition of all relationship, of
There are some enjoyable flashes of humor as well,
including speculation that there may one day be a diagnosis of SSS - Separate
"The longing for happiness and the fear of death are, in
fact, two aspects of the same syndrome. The syndrome is the imaginary inside
self. Future generations may one day diagnose SSS - Separate Self Syndrome from
which the vast majority of humanity suffers and which is the main cause of most
The book becomes most valuable, however, when it breaks
from traditional teachings and addresses the reality of the residues that the
imagined separate sense of self leaves on the feeling level of the body, even
after an initial mental awakening. He frames the matter clearly:
"The exotic name for this understanding is enlightenment
or awakening, but it is more simply the knowing of our own being; its knowing of
itself. It is the end of ignorance - the ignoring of our true nature. Because
this understanding was, until recently, more fully explored and explained in
foreign cultures it is often associated with the cultural conditioning with
which it was expressed. This inevitably led to many misunderstandings as the
cultural conditioning was not clearly distinguished from the universal nature of
the truth that was being pointed at. One of the main misunderstandings is the
belief that when it becomes clear that there is not a separate inside self, the
expressions of ignorance that dominated the body and mind for so long
immediately come to an end. This is not so."
"To begin with, the investigation may be confined to our
thoughts, but long after it has become
clear that the separate self does not
reside in the mind, the feeling that it is located in the body
remains. In fact, by far the larger part of the imaginary inside self is made
out of this
feeling. This realization may precipitate a much deeper
exploration of the sense of a self inside
"In most cases this re-orchestration of the body and mind
takes place gradually, but
occasionally the change is dramatic. As a result
of such a dramatic change the body and mind
may become disoriented and the
loss of the familiar structures in which we invest our identity
may result in
fear and even panic. At this point the desire to return to the old habits of
and feeling as a source of security may be strong and, if succumbed
to, will allow the imaginary
self to reassert itself again. However, if we
have the courage and the love to remain in the
openness and unfamiliarity of
this new landscape, the fear will subside, leaving us in our true
peace and happiness. In time, the residues of the separate self are gradually
out of the body and the mind, not through any effort or discipline but
simply because they are
no longer being fed and reinforced by the belief in
the reality of such a self."
This critical point is often overlooked by those who may
have broken through identification with
thought but for whom this
understanding has yet to penetrate deeply into the feeling of the body.
understanding is not fully experiential and a strange denial may ensue
which uses the philosophy of
nonduality to dismiss or rationalize continuing
Read more relevant quotes and the remainder of the review