#1746 - Wednesday, March 24, 2004
Nondual Highlights Issue #1746 Wednesday, March 24, 2004
Editor's note: Caveat Emptor. I'm grappling with the problem of "the doer" in my own life, and so the question of "nondual activity", or to push the envelope a bit further than my own life-situation, "nondual activism" has arisen here. This edition of the highlights is in some way part of my struggle to understand, or perhaps to let go of understanding and allow activity to happen; I'm not sure. Anyway, please don't think that every quote is to be taken literally, I'm just trying to get my head and heart around the issue. Be well, Mark.
PS I'm sitting in today for Joyce, who's back is bothering her. I wish her a speedy recovery!
There is no neutral ground -- no neutral ground -- in the fight between civilization and terror, because there is no neutral ground between good and evil, freedom and slavery, and life and death.
All of us are called to share the blessings of liberty, and to be strong and steady in freedom's defense. It will surely be said of our times that we lived with great challenges. Let it also be said of our times that we understood our great duties, and met them in full.
- Two short excerpts from remarks by U.S. President George W. Bush on Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, from the East Room of the White House, on March 19, 2004
The profoundest wisdom coincides with the profoundest compassion. At times, wisdom/compassion indicate intervention, at others times they indicate non-intervention. Each of us must act and let-be in light of the greatest wisdom and compassion available to us. In so doing, we will make contributions as well as mistakes. For this, perhaps we should each apologize in advance, but in making such an apology, we must also offer forgiveness to all the rest, each of whom is acting according to his or her own best wisdom and compassion, though--of course--in some cases not much wisdom or compassion is available! In such cases, the outcome is not very pretty. Nonduality does not mean simply sitting around doing nothing, but neither does it mean incessant action, as if the mirror opposite of an alleged passivity. I think that David Loy's account of the Taoist notion of WU WEI in his book, NONDUALITY, goes a long way toward making sense of the idea that nonduality means going BEYOND activity and passivity. I hope that all of us can see BOTH that "all is well" and that "there is plenty of good work to be done"!
- Excerpt from an internet post by Michael E. Zimmerman, Department of Philosophy, Tulane University
To live your life intensely and on the edge-of-the-wedge, act "as if" you're experiencing everything that shows up for you for the very last time.
Obviously, sooner or later, this will certainly be true.
Then every conversation, every cup of tea, every bird in flight, etc, becomes a cause and an opportunity for celebration and gratitude.
Create deep passion in your life for something heartfelt ... and then stay fully committed to it.
Taking a stand in life is even more important than the nature of the particular stand that you're taking.
Amazingly, the universe doesn't really care what you want to get committed to.
It just doesn't like you to be "wishy-washy."
Chuck Hillig, from his book Seeds for the Soul, published by Black Dot Publications
I am of old and young, of the foolish as much as the wise,
Regardless of others, ever regardful of others,
Maternal as well as paternal, a child as well as a man,
Stuff'd with the stuff that is coarse and stuff'd with the stuff that is fine,
One of the Nation of many nations, the smallest the same and the largest the same,
A Southerner soon as a Northerner, a planter nonchalant and hospitable down by the Oconee I live,
A Yankee bound my own way ready for trade, my joints the limberest
joints on earth and the sternest joints on earth,
A Kentuckian walking the vale of the Elkhorn in my deer-skin
leggings, a Louisianian or Georgian,
A boatman over lakes or bays or along coasts, a Hoosier, Badger, Buckeye;
At home on Kanadian snow-shoes or up in the bush, or with fishermen
At home in the fleet of ice-boats, sailing with the rest and tacking,
At home on the hills of Vermont or in the woods of Maine, or the
Comrade of Californians, comrade of free North-Westerners, (loving
their big proportions,)
Comrade of raftsmen and coalmen, comrade of all who shake hands
and welcome to drink and meat,
A learner with the simplest, a teacher of the thoughtfullest,
A novice beginning yet experient of myriads of seasons,
Of every hue and caste am I, of every rank and religion,
A farmer, mechanic, artist, gentleman, sailor, quaker,
Prisoner, fancy-man, rowdy, lawyer, physician, priest.
I resist any thing better than my own diversity,
Breathe the air but leave plenty after me,
And am not stuck up, and am in my place.
(The moth and the fish-eggs are in their place,
The bright suns I see and the dark suns I cannot see are in their place,
The palpable is in its place and the impalpable is in its place.)
- excerpt from Walt Whitman's poem Song of Myself, as contributed by John Metzger to Nonduality Salon - A
The interesting thing is, this is reality. This is just simple reality. It is not some exalted state of enlightenment. It is just recognizing what is obviously, irrefutably true. There is just Awareness experiencing form. If you really check and see, it is just Awareness meeting Awareness. There is only really one of us here in the whole game. The interesting thing is, you see, since this is reality, since this is just what is real, how might life be if it was lived like this? If there was not the referencing of something that anyway does not exist, how could life be? How would world economics be if there was no sense of "you" and "me"? Competition would disappear. Starvation would disappear. Environmental degradation would disappear. You know, I came from quite an educated family and I had a good education, so everybody was interested in solutions, political solutions, environmental solutions, but it became really obvious to me from quite early on, when I was about fourteen, that the only solution is to awaken from this dream. As long as action is taken based in separation, you can "Greenpeace" as much as you like and Greenpeace is a great organization, but it is still coming from separation, you see. It is still "us" against "them" - bad guys and good guys. You can come up with all kinds of new political systems. You know, Marx was really idealistic. I mean, if you read "Das Kapital," he had fantastic ideas, but you can't implement a different system without first changing Consciousness. It has been the same with everybody who has tried to shift the external.
Nothing is really going to fundamentally shift because the underlying blueprint has been left untouched. It seems like it is only through this shift from separation to wakefulness that life on this planet can be lived as it is intuitively meant to be lived. You know what I mean? You look around and you see so much funny stuff going on. There's the weirdest stuff goes on on this planet, you know. I mean, stuff that when you look at it, it looks just crazy.
I used to live in Bali in Indonesia and they are cutting down the rainforest very fast there. I found out that there are teak trees there which are really beautiful and very valuable hardwood which they cut down, put them on boats and take them 200 miles offshore and dump them into the ocean. This is because Japanese businessmen are amassing hardwood in warehouses in Japan and they want to keep its value high. So other companies cut trees but these Japanese companies pay for them and just dump them in the water; abandon them just to keep investment high. Now, somebody doing that has to have billions of dollars already. What kind of thought process is at work with billions of dollars that is willing to risk the environment just to keep value? It has to be a thought process that is thinking in terms of limitation, that is thinking in terms of "me" and "you." So, what kind of world could it be, what kind of manifestation could it be where this imaginary separation is just no longer referenced?
- Part of the Preface to an essay entitled "Epicenters of Justice," by Drew Hempel, the rest of which may be found here:
Her search for something to take its place led her from San Francisco to India and to Poonjaji, "a remarkable teacher."
"In meeting him all I really saw was that there was nothing to do, nothing to seek for. That only imagination impedes happiness. We imagine that we're separate. We imagine that we have these problems."
Imagination gives rise to what Ingram calls the "story." Each of us spins his or her own story, allowing it to dominate our thoughts and actions as each day, each chapter unfolds. The story is about each of us, what we have done, what others have done to us, what we have lost and what we have acquired. We get caught up in our own stories, their emotional ups and downs, their tensions and triumphs. We fiddle with them, rewinding and replaying the past and fast forwarding to the future.
This story-driven way of life is unnatural, Ingram says, and takes a toll on all who live it. Ultimately, such stories create suffering, she says. What is natural is an immaculate, shining presence that exists in each of us, before the story starts, underneath it. In her classes and retreats, Ingram tries to help her students recognize this presence, to swap the suffering of story for genuine happiness, the freedom of just being.
"It's an immediate recognition of what is already the case, right now, a present awareness," she says. "You don't attain it, you just relax into it, a stream of now."
Poonjaji led Ingram to this awareness, one that she says has brought her the joy and love that had been missing in her life. With it came an overwhelming compassion and a call to activism. Her book, In the Footsteps of Gandhi, is a collection of interviews with a dozen contemporary social activists including the Dalai Lama, Desmond Tutu and Cesar Chavez.
"This love I am speaking about more and more wants to give itself away, to be of sevice to others," says Ingram, who co-founded the Unrepresented Nations and People Organization In The Hague, Netherlands.
By her own estimate, Ingram has given more than a thousand "Dharma Dialogues." In the two-hour sessions she calls "interactive meditations" she welcomes questions and comments as she describes her experience, encouraging what she calls "a switch in perception."
"Assume the mind is mad," she says. "Freedom is in the impersonal welcoming of whatever madness arises and in the calm knowing that it all inevitably passes."
It is a matter of releasing beliefs, pictures or stories that obscure the shining presence and resisting the temptation to replace them with new beliefs, pictures or stories.
"It's more about subtraction than addition," she says.
- excerpt from "Delving into 'Dharma Dialogues'", an article about Catherine Ingram, written by Nancy Haught for the Oregonian, January 30, 1999
Garlic and sapphires in the mud
Clot the bedded axle-tree.
The trilling wire in the blood
Sings below inveterate scars
Appeasing long forgotten wars.
The dance along the artery
The circulation of the lymph
Are figured in the drift of stars
Ascend to summer in the tree
We move above the moving tree
In light upon the figured leaf
And hear upon the sodden floor
Below, the boarhound and the boar
Pursue their pattern as before
But reconciled among the stars.
At the still point of the turning world. Neither flesh nor fleshless;
Neither from nor towards; at the still point, there the dance is,
But neither arrest nor movement. And do not call it fixity,
Where past and future are gathered. Neither movement from nor towards,
Neither ascent nor decline. Except for the point, the still point,
There would be no dance, and there is only the dance.
I can only say, there we have been: but I cannot say where.
And I cannot say, how long, for that is to place it in time.
The inner freedom from the practical desire,
The release from action and suffering, release from the inner
And the outer compulsion, yet surrounded
By a grace of sense, a white light still and moving,
Erhebung without motion, concentration
Without elimination, both a new world
And the old made explicit, understood
In the completion of its partial ecstasy,
The resolution of its partial horror.
Yet the enchainment of past and future
Woven in the weakness of the changing body,
Protects mankind from heaven and damnation
Which flesh cannot endure.
Time past and time future
Allow but a little consciousness.
To be conscious is not to be in time
But only in time can the moment in the rose-garden,
The moment in the arbour where the rain beat,
The moment in the draughty church at smokefall
Be remembered; involved with past and future.
Only through time time is conquered.
- T. S. Eliot from his poem Four Quartets 1: Burnt Norton.
KAIA: John, it sounds to me like you have moved to a place of acceptance of whatever will be, including the possibility that higher mammals may not roam the earth fifty years from now. I don't hear outrage at other humans: you have just said that blaming ourselves is part of the illness of alienation. And yet, you have not given up. On the contrary, you seem to have given yourself quite fully to the possibility that humans will awaken to this crisis. You craft your life around that likelihood, moving from land to land, singing, reporting on the destruction, giving workshops. Your face lines tell that you grin a lot, your body says it's relaxed. Where are you, John?
JOHN: I'm here with you, a being who feels her connection to the planet. I'm sitting close to another amazing being with strong rough bark for skin and tendrils so delicate they suck nutrients from the soil and I hear another winged being trilling between our words. So, in every moment, I am surrrounded by wonder and beauty in myriad forms. I am also in the eye of the hurricane. Yes, I look as clearly as I can at the reports of destruction. I release all my hopes and pleas that such things are not so. With that release, tremendous energy is freed up for me to calmly accept the state of things as they are and to create passionately and lovingly all that I can to change the flow. I stay in touch with my wild love for beings of all kinds as much as possible so as to nourish myself and so as to model for others that it is safe here. You can open your eyes to what is happening and not go crazy or you can lose yourself in endless depression. It is good here. I am present to as much of earth as I can be. I am awake to my life.
- Excerpt from 'In the Eye of the Hurricane: An Interview with John Seed, from the book The Soul Unearthed, edited by Cass Adams, and published by G.P. Putnam's Sons, New York.