I forget, exactly, how I came across John Wheeler's
2004 nondual classic, Awakening to the Natural
State (Non-Duality Press). I had been a frustrated
spiritual seeker for over 20-years and had tried
everything from Catholicism and self-help books
to lucid dreaming and TM. There were many, many
experiences (some quite amazing, actually), but
none of them led to self-realization, which was
my paramount concern.
I do remember starting to read U. G. Krishnamurti's The Mystique
of Enlightenment and Robert Adams' Silence of the Heart three
or four years ago. I might have even ordered them from Amazon
at the same time! I was enthralled by U.G's book. I didn't exactly
know why at the time; for I couldn't make head-or-tails of what
he was saying. Also, he often seemed fatalistic, telling questioners
that there is absolutely "no hope for you!" (Now, of
course, I know perfectly what he meant--that there is no hope
for this apparent person or ego that you take yourself to be,
that it is a fiction, and thus cannot lead you to any deep or
As for Adams, I was moved by the simplicity of his advaitic-like
dialogues. But I was perplexed by his saying that you were already
truth itself, and then giving you practices or exercises to "open" you
to that truth. His book is a fine one, and it has many clear
pointers. But I felt that if Supreme Reality could be talked
about this clearly, perhaps it could be pointed to even more
directly, with no practices whatsoever.
So I earnestly began investigating nonduality on the Web and
came across John's praiseworthy site. Impressed by the clearness
and immediacy of his writing, I purchased a copy of Awakening
to the Natural State, which was his first book. I didn't
come to any sudden understanding. But I did feel an
usually strong resonance with John and his prose. There was even
that hushed hint of a click you have when someone reverberates
with your being.
I read the book well-over a dozen times, and each time, oddly
enough, was completely okay. There was no frustration or anxiousness.
Indeed, every re-reading of John's essays, pointers, and dialogues
was just as captivating as the previous one. I emailed him several
times concerning some questions I had, and much to my delight,
John promptly responded. And each reply was clear, detailed,
and with absolutely no hint of impatience or weariness. The weeks
went by, but I still didn't find the answer.
Then, one spring evening in 2007, with John's battered book
in hand, I came across the following sentence for about the
fifteenth-time: 'It's all about seeing what is fully present
right now.' Suddenly, I perceived that nonconceptual, presence
of awareness, i.e., my natural state. There it was, in all
of its peace and simplicity. Descriptions are tricky. But if
pressed, I would have to utter: There was a vastness all around.
For decades, I had missed it by a hair's breadth
-- but not
because it wasn't there; rather, because of misplaced attention
and antiquated concepts. For our ordinary, everyday awareness is the
Buddha-field, the Great Unborn that is without beginning or end.
I waited nearly a week before emailing John. I wanted to be sure
about this--though I knew, by then, that this was the real deal.
And John confirmed it.
I was once asked in my blog "What does one look for in a
teacher?" Besides the obvious (that he or she be self-realized),
the teacher's words should give you pause. In his or her presence,
things tend to settle. You may not, then and there, come to an
understanding of who and what you are. But there will certainly
be less mental agitation. It all comes back to that much-used
expression in nonduality circles: You resonate with the teacher
and his writings. And who knows, he or she may be instrumental
in helping you to discover your own radiant and ever-present
nature. That is what John Wheeler did for me.
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