I spent four days at the Science and Nonduality Conference
(SAND). You have no idea how good that feels when three people in one day tell
you -- in person -- how much they love the Highlights. It's surreal because all
our nonduality work in online. Thank you to those who took the time to express
appreciation for the Highlights and to those who stopped to talk about other
things. I value the presence of everyone. Please look me up at next year's
conference and stop to talk.
Maurizio and Zaya Benazzo pulled it together again. There was a great
diversity of speakers and topics: Jeff Foster (a nice guy whose hair and
wife I hope to steal some day), Scott Kiloby (so generous with his time),
Rupert Spira (a man whose charm and talent are surpassed by only two
people: his wife Ellen and mother Meriel, who were both present), Francis
Lucille, Adyashanti, Robert Lanza, Larry Dossey, Drew Dellinger, Nassim
Jay Michaelson (named by Forward as one of the 50 most influential Jews in
America; I was named number 51, having just missed the cut. In any case, between
the two us we couldn't get the guy at the raw food concession to give us extra
salsa, so to heck with being influential), Stanley Sobottka (who revealed for
the first time in public his spiritual "story"), Peter Fenner (another guy with
a beautiful wife; what's that all about? I asked his wife if Peter uses his
tremendous deconstructive skills to get out of doing the dishes. She
Zoran Josipovic, Peter Russell, Peter Baumann, A.H. Almaas, Puppetji (who
is a youngish, good looking, funny guy), Jerry Katz (who is old, blah looking,
and not funny), Jonathan Bricklin (the William James expert who has
a cousin who once built a car in New Brunswick, Canada), Sheikha
Ayshegul Ashki (who gave a stunning talk on Sufism seen by only a handful. What
a woman. Look her up.)
Florian Schlosser, Prema Akasha (a cool woman, a fine performer, and
creative director for Adyashanti. I hung around with her in hopes that I could
get Adya to like me; at the end of the conference I asked Prema if Adya likes me
now. She said no.), Natalie Geld (see, I remembered you!), Ravi Ravindra (a
world teacher who lives here in Halifax, Nova Scotia), Stephen LaBerge (the
lucid dreaming guy; he was good), Chuck Hillig (long time partner in nondual
crime and brilliant explicator of the nondual; fun sitting with Chuck and
chatting; Chuck's one of my peep).
Kenneth D. Johnson (a former bank robber and pimp sentenced to forty years
in jail and awakened by Gangaji following initial contact with a supportive
prison guard; Kenny received a standing ovation; great speaker.), Loibon Le
Baaba (a man who has been initiated into 16 Shamanic traditions and who wears
gigantic piercings, traditional clothing and goes barefoot; a man whose love
fills the conference venue).
I also want to mention James Hebert whose film Awakening Itself was shown
as the last event of the conference. It was very well received. After I send
this email, I'll think of other people, like Jon Bernie, who drives a hell of a
Porsche, Peter Dziuban, Pamela Wilson, who is so entrancing I just wanted
to sit there and watch her all day; primarily though she's one heck of
a smart nondualist. And Tami Simon who owns a small publishing company called
Sounds True. What a gang! Add several hundred attendees who are just as
interesting, and you have a rare gathering in which anything could happen. Oh
yeah, Mark Scorelle who we're always ripping off for Highlights material. It was
great meeting you, Mark. And here I thought you were just a name in Gloria's
Highlights. Also Kurt Schmidt, David Kindschi, Sam Saddigh, John Troy and Trip.
I can't remember everyone. And of course Patrick Manigault.
Many attendees were very, very pleased with their experience. Some wanted a
better organized experience. What is needed, it has become clear, is better
organization, along with an orientation to the conference. The buzz is that the
organization of next year's SAND will be different. Details are being worked on
Oh, I didn't mention the experiential rooms, the music, the entertainment,
the films, the raw food concession, the tea nooks where anyone could sit and
enjoy free tea from a local tea shop. Those were teas rich, thick, and hearty.
Or Prema Akasha's mandala to which anyone could add a line, a squiggle, a
circle, etc., until a beautiful mandala emerged, little by
little. What did I forget?
There were many others. I haven't mentioned everyone I met and spoke to, so
I'm sorry if I missed you. Be assured that you made my day, every day. Again,
thanks to Maurizio and Zaya Benazzo for putting together the conference. They
are all about the love.
Here are excerpts from Rupert Spira's talk at the SAND
All we know is experience. Check that that is true for you. Have you ever
known, do you know, or could you know anything other than experience? And
whatever it is that knows experience intimately, utterly, pervades all
experience equally. No part of experience is further from or closer to myself,
whatever my self is, than any other part. In fact we don't really know
experience, we just know experiencing. And if we stay close to experiencing, we
never find a separate self, object, other, or entity. We just find the pure
intimacy of experiencing. There is no inside of experiencing, there is no
outside of experiencing. ... All experience takes place now. Check that for
yourself. Can you move just a second away from now? ... The past and the future
are never experiences, they are concepts. That is, time is never an
experience. Now is not a moment in time but is truly timeless or eternal.
Experience takes place here. ... Try to move just one millimeter away from here.
... All experience is here. We never experience distance or space. ... This
locationless dimension which has no finite qualities (is) called here.
... It is known by all of us. It is what we refer to when we speak of love.
Love is absolute intimacy, immediacy, innocense of experience. It is not just
the condition of our relationship with one or two special friends. It is the
name we give to the fundamental condition of all experience. ... The moon is
only ever the sight of the moon. The sight of the moon is made only of
seeing, as seeing takes place here, not there. The American poet e.e. cummings
tried to describe this in this poem:
love is a place
& through this place of
brightness of peace)
yes is a world
& in this world of
So how is it that this absolute intimacy of experience, the lack of any
distance, otherness, separation, or objectness of experience, which is the
fundamental quality of all experience, how is it that it sometimes seems to be
missing? ... How does thought veil love? ...
The separate entity never finds love; it dissolves, or dies, in love. This
is in fact the only thing the separate entity ever truly seeks: it's own
death or disappearance. When the mind re-emerges again after this timeless
experience of love about which it knows nothing, it recreates again the separate
self in here and the separate other out there. And as we all know, before long
the experience of love seems to be lost again, so again we go out in search of
an object or an other that will deliver the experience of