#4744 - Tuesday, October 30, 2012 - Editor: Jerry
Video excerpts from this past weekend's Science
and Nonduality Conference:
This is a good time to sign up for next year's
Tone of the conference
I enjoyed a few things about the conference this year. I
always try to be aware of the overall tone or feel in order to gauge the
directions of nonduality. Maybe what I perceive only reflects my own interests
for nonduality, but whatever, here's what I picked up. I felt that the strong
sense of community we felt last year was a culmination from previous years and
that this year the sense of community shifted its focus from being
for the sake of the community itself to being for the sake of society
and the world.
In other words, it was as though people realized, "Okay,
we're together and that's a great feeling. Now let's do something to help clean
up some of the world messes." That sensibility has been present in all the
SANDs, but I felt it was focused with a greater maturity this year. "Maturity"
or "mature" was the word used by John Prendergast when we were discussing the
feel of this year's SAND.
Join or start a nonduality meetup
When I talked to people, my main themes were
about joining or starting meetups wherever people live. A meetup is two or
more people getting together to talk about nondual consciousness. I would
typically suggest that people explore the website http://meetup.com, which makes it easy to find
members and plan meetings.
I made a point of considering that showing videos of
famous people need not be a big part of such meetups and that in fact they could
stifle the growth of nondual community where one lives. It's important that a
local nonduality meetup group be made up of local people. That demand connects
nondual understanding with the geography, with the earth, so that a deeply
rooted nondual community may form.
Right away I think of the Shambhala Buddhism community
headquartered in Nova Scotia. Pema Chodron is the most famous person from that
group. Shambhala is a significant contributor to the economic and cultural scene
in Nova Scotia. But how deeply are they rooted here? I don't know, because they
upped and left Boulder, Colorado in the late 80s at the command of their leader.
What if the current leadership calls for another move to another distant
location? The roots of Shambhala aren't deeply set in Nova Scotia.
I don't think you can have deeply set roots for nondual
community when a mass of people who form that community could leave
overnight. Deep roots come from ordinary people who are likely to stay
because of ties to job, friends, family, and the land and culture.
That was my theme and message. Start or attend a
nonduality meetup where you live and keep it local. Showing a video of a famous
teacher ignores the soil of one's own community and the people growing out of
it. We have formed community out of nondual gatherings online. Now we are
forming nondual gatherings out of our local communities. That's the shift.
And I know some of you wonder what to do or talk about if
you start your own nonduality meetup group. My suggestion is, don't worry about
it. The people who attend want to talk. Just make sure you keep the discussion
on the level of pointers to what always is. And know what's important in each
meeting. If you start each meeting with a few minutes of silence, it is obvious
that that's what's important. At our meetings I often say that there's nowhere
else to go after the opening meditation and that just the being together is
enough. Francis Lucille said essentially the same this weekend at SAND when he
said, "Satsang is being together in beingness, not talking." Yet, yes, we talk.
But keeping those values of beingness and silence, and always pointing to what
is beyond the dualities, one can hold an intimate nonduality meetup. To hold a
successful nonduality satsang or meetup, you don't have to be a famous sage nor
do you have to show a video of one.
Nonduality and society
The other theme I talked to people about is related. It is
the bringing of nondual consciousness to every element of society. That movement
depends upon the preparing the soil of local community for the arising of deeply
rooted nondual gatherings. In that regard, I talked to David Loy, Highlights
reader Ray Gravineau (spelling?), and Julie Shearman. You know David as author
of the book Nonduality and others. He's a brilliant speaker and organizer of
nondual teachings. Ray is a retired money manager who insists that in order to
see societal change, economists must absorb the teachings of nonduality.
And Julie is an organization/project manager who understands how organizations
communicate and who came to SAND with her husband Jonathan (who many of you
probably know) from Australia. These are people seriously interested
in seeing the color of nondual consciousness seep into the structures
of our civilization. David even mentioned holding a conference on nonduality and
society. At the very least we could hold a session on the topic at a future
A conversation I couldn't get
I'm interested in a conversation on nonduality and
psychiatry but I couldn't find any traction in that discussion. It could be a
future session at SAND. Although that brings up another topic that the
organizers Maurizio and Zaya might consider. SAND needs to keep stretching and
growing. I know that's easier said than done. And my understanding is that there
are going to be small SAND meetings that address specific themes. However, I
don't want to see the conference get too comfortable with itself.
Maurizio and Zaya are the mind and heart of SAND and their
house burned down in the midst of planning this year's conference. Yet the light
of their love and spirit was never diminished. Did it grow stronger? Yes.
Nothing can stop expansion of nondual consciousness.
A look back at turnings in the nonduality
Just for a moment I want to look back at key
turnings in modern nonduality, because they might recapitulate your own
journey through nonduality and help you see where it is going. In the beginning,
the late 90s, it was a breakthrough just to form a small internet email list
dedicated to nonduality itself without circling around a specific teacher or
tradition, while respecting all speakers and traditions. Even at that level my
interest was the people in the group rather than bowing down to a famous sage,
although we did that too. But primarily we recognized that ordinary people could
speak with authority about nonduality. That recognition would take nonduality
out of the ashrams and out of the university departments of philosophy and
religious studies and put the word nonduality right into the streets, right onto
the sidewalks, right in the middle of the kitchen tables.
In 2003, blogging reached a peak of popularity and saw the
word nonduality used almost too casually. I would sometimes quote those
overly casual usages in the Highlights in order to show how the word nonduality
was becoming the mainstream. In 2006, I believe it was, at a nonduality
conference in Boulder, Colorado, I briefly spoke to the group urging people
to use the word nonduality in their daily conversation. The point was that the
word nonduality alone is powerful. Simply knowing the word could elicit a
looking up of the word, and a looking up of the word opens a big and brave new
world. The word can change lives.
About a year later I helped organize the first Science and
Nonduality Conference and spoke about a "nonduality movement." I think people
cringed at that suggestion as much as some cringed at the recommendation that we
use the word nonduality in our conversations. However, this bears on something
else I noted at the most recent SAND this past weekend. People are now talking
about a movement in nondual consciousness as though it is clear and obvious. I
don't have proof that that's the case, but people no longer cringe when you talk
about a nonduality movement. I guess because they see the teaching spreading in
such a way that it could be called a movement.
And now in the last few years we have seen
nonduality become known through Facebook. And in-person meetups are another
important phase of the nonduality movement. All that I've described here, from
the first nonduality email forums to the calls for a conference on nonduality
and society are part of the modern nonduality movement. That movement started in
North American in the late 1800s with The Sacred Books of the East, Swami
Vivekananda, and others, and it has continued unhalted ever since.
Where is the nonduality movement going? In my view it's
going to further color real life local communities and then society and then
everything else. The significance of the nonduality movement is that in the
future we will live from poetry rather than anxiety.
I met and spoke to many wonderful people at SAND. I'll be
featuring some in upcoming issues. And don't forget SAND Europe 2013 in Doorn,