I. Möller's Original Essay.
II. Tony's Initial Response.
III. Alan's Response to Tony.
IV. Möller's Response to Tony.
V. Tony's Response to Alan and Möller.
VI. Alan's follow-up comments.
VII. Tony's final statement.
VIII. Alan's final statement.
I. Spiritual Humanism and the Question of Doing vs non-doing - Möller de la Rouvière
In the following reply to a questioner, Möller addresses the fundamental difference between his consideration and what he refers to as the ‘intellectual Neo- Advaitist teachers’.
Q. You seem to take your position from the ultimate sense of wholeness or non-duality, yet you are also very critical of the current wave of non-dualist, or so-called Neo-Advaitist teachings found in the USA and even other parts of the world. Could you explain the difference you see in your own teaching and that of the advice regarding no-doing, non-effort and no-doer offered by so many present teachers in our country?
A. Yes, you are right in suggesting that my own work is founded in the non-dual experience of the living moment. However, my sense is that, as a teacher, one should make a rather clear distinction between the non-dual truth of the present moment, and that which may facilitate the transformative process in the student from dualistic vision to the direct experience of the non-dual. For this it is important to introduce the notion of non-duality or wholeness right from the start, so as to orientate the student intellectually and intuitively in the understanding of the non-dual nature of manifest existence.
In principle I fully agree with the Advaitist, non-dualist, (please note that I do not use the term Advaita Vedanta) perspective which suggests that non-duality is the already existing truth of human life. I also find myself in complete resonance with the fact that nothing the separate ‘I’-state can do to bring itself to the state of wholeness, can succeed. However, this is where the resonance generally stops between my work and that of Neo-Advaitism.
Allow me please to explain briefly the argument, relative to doing and not-doing, these teachers bring to their students:
The argument they present for consideration is that because the non-dual condition is already the case, nothing needs to be done, or even could be done, to allow for its manifestation in the student’s life since no movement is possible towards that which you already are. This perfectly logical statement usually leaves the student in a very vulnerable position, because it is felt that although the truth of the non-dual vision makes perfect sense, nothing could be done to bring this truth down into the living reality of his/her actual experience. In other words, the truth of the non-dual is presented in such a way that it stands in opposition to the truth and living reality of the student's experience of themselves, which clearly tells them that despite their clear intellectual grasp of the argument for non-dual reality, this is not the truth of their present experience of themselves.
Here we notice how the presumed argument for non-duality serves to fragment, condition and limit the potential for the experience of the truth of non-duality. It disempowers the student to discover for themselves what it could be which gives them the very strong impression of their separate existence or dualistic vision. Rather than serving the natural process of self-observation, self-enquiry and self-transcendence, through which the false assumption of separation could be explored and transcended, it stunts any further enquiry and therefore the possibility of awakening to the non-dual. Briefly stated, this Neo-Advaitist advice could be seen as integrally part of the process by which non-duality gets obscured and duality perpetuated.
A further dilemma which these Advaitist teachers very often bring to their students is what they regard as the necessary involvement of the ego in all forms of practice. They simply argue that the ego, or the separate self-sense, is the necessary basis of all approaches to self-transcendence, and therefore of necessity can only strengthen the ego, instead of showing it up as simply non-existent. So, here again we have the sense of disempowerment in the student where it is felt that not only can nothing be done about h/her condition of separation or ‘I’-consciousness, but that should one dare to enter any form of practice, it will be utterly detrimental and counter-productive because it cannot but be ego-enhancing.
Now, in my understanding all of this is clearly false and misleading. All it achieves in most of the students who try to make sense of this intellectual approach to self-transcendence is for them to internalise this misguided information about non-practice, non-doing and so on into their own understanding and to start believing themselves that they truly don't need to do any practice. They develop the false sense that they are already free and it is this very false sense of intellectual freedom that frustrates and obscures the natural process of inner unfolding. Yet, this simply leaves them back from where they started their enquiry: confined to the prison of their own separate self-sense, but now with absolutely no hope of ever being relieved from the limitations of the ‘I’-conscious state. They have become ‘knowers’ of ‘truth’, not realisers. Their intellectual certainty becomes a barrier between the living, experiential truth of the undivided nature of the living moment, and their confused state, masquerading for deliverance.
After all, if practice is precluded for one by one’s teacher with whom one has entrusted one’s deepest human longing, then all that remains will be the empty, stagnant idea of wholeness or unity consciousness. The whole thing becomes a movement in idealism, rather than realism. And unfortunately this is the destiny of this entire Neo-Advaitist dream. It is a mere intellectual affair, masquerading for revelatory truth. Teachers and students alike go about proclaiming the truth of the non-dual nature of everything (it is now called consciousness) to one another as a kind of mantra, not realizing that what they so enthusiastically share and teach are mere ideas about the truth of non-dual living reality. Neo-Advaitism is a dream. It has become a new religion. A new drug to lead the enquiring mind once again astray into the wilderness of dualistic vision. These are nothing but ideas supporting ideas. And as is the fate of all ideas mistaken for truth, they become nothing but a series of lies – albeit honest, well-intentioned lies – yet, because they are founded in nothing but intellectual argument, they remain uninformed by the truth of the direct experience of that which they proclaim.
What I am trying to bring into this matter for the intelligent consideration by any student of life, is the fact that although the final revelation of human potential is indeed the recognition of the non-dual nature of existence, this can only be stated as a retrospective description of experience. In other words it is a statement of factual experience to those who truly stand in the freedom of their own wholeness. And from this natural clarity alone it is obvious that those who do not as yet share their ‘vision’ of non-duality, are nevertheless already living in the wholeness of being.
BUT, and this is the great BUT, for those in whom the separate self-sense still forms the functional basis of everyday existence, such a description of wholeness may be interesting, but rather meaningless. It can very easily become just another form of mental projection, more or less in line with all other forms of mental projections, which serve only the deluded state of fragmented living founded in the separate self-sense.
It is indeed true that the ego cannot participate in its own destruction. It is also clear that the ego, as it is experienced as a separate entity, cannot go beyond itself. Clearly any such endeavour must of necessity result in the strengthening of the ego-principle. But who has determined that all investigation into the totality of that which presents itself as ego, separation, dis-ease and dysfunction must of necessity be done by the ego? Only the intellectuals.
This is where the intellectual Advaitist teachers depart in their view from that of mine. And this why I regard the movement as intellectual and idealistic, rather than realistic. They mistake logical argument for living experience and then attempt to deny living experience the truth of its own deeply committed endeavours with regard to establishing a life free from the domination of the separate self-sense. They have not realised that logic is of an order, not only categorically different from, but also inferior to, the inherent Intelligence within our being which can, and does, look at the problem of dualistic vision from a perspective which does not strengthen the ‘I’-state.
Direct experience will reveal this to anyone who truly engages the work of self-observation, self-knowledge and self-transcendence. Such work inverts upon the ‘I’-state as such. It implodes the ‘I’ upon itself, rather than feeds and elaborates on its presumed existence. Such work is truly self-transcendent and not priorly based within the ‘I’ – state itself. This is an aspect of the path which the Neo-Advaitists have completely missed. In their philosophical eagerness to make reality fit the ideal, these folks could not allow themselves to look at the reality of the falseness of the ‘I’-state. They only noticed the rational falseness, in relation to the Substance theory as advocated by Advaita Vedanta which proclaims that everything, including human life, is already integrally part of a universal unitive energy called Substance, Brahman, Self or Consciousness. Taking this presumed, revelatory truth as the ultimate basis for all manifest existence, their ‘argument’ appears reasonable: how can there movement from this to That if everything is already That?
The questions which Spiritual Humanism addresses, differ categorically from both premises as suggested by the Neo-Advaitists: firstly it rejects the notion of Substance altogether, and secondly it does not assume that all inner work is a movement towards such a Substance. Spiritual Humanism suggests that wholeness is not a state of being where everything takes on the so-called ‘one- taste’ of the universal, Unifying Principle or Substance as advocated by the Advaita Vedanta philosophers, and subsequently taken on board as the primary point of departure of the Neo-Advaitists.
The non-dual truth of present experience is not dependent on any great Unifying principle. Spiritual Humanism suggests that when the inner presumption of separation (i.e. the separate self-sense) has been transcended, what remains is the mere truth of non-dual experience. Here is no sense of being or becoming one with some primordial, universal Consciousness, Brahman or Self. Human life, refined to its greatest simplicity, stands entirely free in its own nature of undivided being.
From this it may be evident why Spiritual Humanism also rejects the notion of the Neo-Advaitists that all inner work is a movement away from wholeness as it can only serve the presumption of separation from Substance, God or Brahman, as well as ‘clearly’ being an impossibility. Spiritual Humanism suggests that correct inner work will undermine and ultimately completely transcend the presumption of separation within us. It regards the separate self-sense as part of the obscuration to the truth of the non-dual nature of living experience. And in discovering ways for undermining this false sense of inner subjectivity, Spiritual Humanism points directly to that which creates and sustains the limited ‘I’-state. In this there is neither a sense of movement toward the whole, nor some inner actor trying to get rid of itself.
This work fundamentally transcends the entire notion which presumes any movement toward the whole. But this has to become part of our living reality, based on direct experience. It is only revealed in deep and penetrative inner work. It is observed in function, not come upon by the rational, philosophical mind. We cannot start with the assumption of wholeness and then project from this mental assumption what appears to be a logical deduction that all inner work can only strengthen the ‘I’-state which it is trying to get away from. This argument keeps Neo-Advaitism locked within the very mind they believe they have gone beyond. This is the most fundamental criticism Spiritual Humanism brings to the entire Advaita Vedanta Substance theory and its emphasis on no-work, non-doing, no-actor etc. These are two thought-projections resulting in inner paralysis. In fact, if this Neo-Advaitist notion of things achieves anything, it serves to strengthen the very ignorance it presumes is present within the condition of the ‘I’-state, and therefore the strengthening of the separate self-sense itself.
As I have indicated before, ignorance is always, first and foremost, ignorant of itself. The path suggested by Spiritual Humanism explores the subtle approach to self-transcendence to free the being from its chronic, habitual and illusory self-projection. To my understanding it is impossible for the ‘I’ to look for the truth which is transcendent to the apparent reality of its own existence. What is indeed possible is for us to look into the nature and function of fragmentation and illusion, and in the light of such clarity see the falseness of the `I'-process which is the active principle of the dualistic vision.
Here the investigation is into the ‘I’ itself. So in this there is no necessary involvement of the ‘I’. What is required is for us to learn to observe without the observer. Simple and direct observation. Just as the eye sees by itself, and reveals all the diversity of present arising without ever seeing itself, similarly does this act of direct observation reveal with great clarity the nature and function of the fragmentary process which is the self-sense, without having to have any sense of itself as doer or observer.
Much depends on the nature and inclination of the investigation. If it is purposed towards some final goal or pre-determined notion of reality (non-duality), then the ego is indeed just continuing with its play of self-deception and thereby strengthening itself. But if the investigation is directed into the nature of that which appears to give us the sense of fragmentation, unfreedom and duality, then such an enquiry can have no particular end in view. By looking at the mechanisms and inner faculties which keep the ‘I’-state in place, no movement is possible towards any goal the ‘I’ might project. And this enquiry into the ‘I’ is characterised by a live and radical spirit of enquiry which observes with simple and direct clarity all that presents itself as fragmented existence, including the separate self-sense.
Such investigation most certainly has consequences. But its consequences tend not to enhance the ego, but rather to reduce its sense of its own solidity and reality. It literally relativises and marginalises the ego-state. And with each release or ‘mini-transcendence’ of the contracted self-state comes a greater sense of relaxed awareness which makes it further possible for the enquiry to deepen into even more subtle aspects of the presumed reality of the ego-state. Soon, clarity itself becomes the ever-increasing basis from which we operate, instead of the limitation we place on our being by believing in the contracted ego-reality as the basis for our lives. The process leads itself naturally away from contraction (ego-consciousness) to openness and clarity of non-dual Being. If the process of observation is correctly applied then all this takes place without the overt involvement of the doer.
The ego can only do. It cannot just be. It is always on the move towards self-fulfilment or self-release. This is the very nature of doing. And to come into direct contact with this ego-doing, the very clarity which reveals this process, will also initiate the natural abandonment of this false and inappropriate process which for so long presented itself to us as the functional centre of our being and the basis of all fragmented existence.
So by clearly observing how this process creates and fulfils its destiny as a separate entity, and the natural suffering associated with such sense of separation and alienation, such clarity of vision brings its own Intelligence into play. It gradually becomes clear that this process within thought is not useful to be associated and identified with. Rather, it is recognised as the very essence of human-created suffering, and in this pure recognition a natural abandonment of this process begins to assert itself, quite naturally. No conclusion is reached from which again to start the process of bringing action in line with such a conclusion. It is an inherent aspect of such recognition within our own clarity that the very act of conclusion from which to determine `right' action, is again part of the process within thought which obscures clarity of vision.
The clarity of vision is sufficient unto itself to do the work. Clarity itself becomes the ‘base’ from which we begin to feel our way into a life less burdened by the contracted self-sense. Clarity is not just pure vision. It brings with it the sword of real discriminatory Intelligence, compassion and emotional equanimity which function totally free from the conditioned thought which created the ‘I’ and has enslaved us for so many thousands of years.
And it is this natural clarity and Intelligence which progressively reveal the non-dual nature of all present arising and which alone has the power to bring the contracted self-state to its natural and unforced dissolution. No intellectual process, such as unknowingly proposed by Neo-Advaitism, has the integrity and self-transcending potential to facilitate this.
II. Response from Tony Parsons
It is a continuous source of surprise and intrigue to me that those who seek to expose and devalue what they call the neo-advaita message consistently and very successfully fail to comprehend the fundamental principle that is at the core of its perspective, and which renders it not only new but prior to, and at the root of, all esoteric revelation. Your inaccurate and shallow interpretation of neo-advaita as nothing more than the passing of an intellectual idea affords you the ground to argue convincingly about the apparent benefits of "deep and penetrating investigation into the nature and function of the illusion of self through self-enquiry and self-observation, eventually leading to clarity". You speak with great logic and certainty about what you see as the best approach, but at no time do you question the nature and origin of that approach.
The fundamental principle of the message you attack, but don't comprehend, is that there is no-one to make the approach, nor is there anything to approach. There is no such thing as free will or choice, there is no doing or destiny, motive or purpose. The belief that there is a seeker (subject) who has the free will to choose to self-enquire in order to discover clarity (object) simply maintains the dreamer in the hypnotic dream of separation.
Inevitably this revolutionary principle threatens the seeker's dream of becoming, and even its very existence. As a consequence this paradoxical message is either ignored, misinterpreted or dismissed out of hand. It is the cornerstone which is constantly rejected. See www.theopensecret.com but who will see?
III. Response from Alan Stoltz to Tony's comments
As a general initial statement, it seems to me that the fundamental error and misunderstanding of the Neo-Advaitist perspective is the belief that all 'inner work', 'self-enquiry' ...etc is done by a separative 'ego' or 'I'-state. And which, according to some, only results in strengthening this separative 'self-sense'. Such a belief is a belief! And it is a false belief, I would say! And it is a false belief for the simple reason that no 'doing' of any type is done by a separative 'someone' or 'I'-state. As Tony Parsons says, "there is no-one", so any type 'self-enquiry', 'inner work', 'spiritual practice' ...etc can only be done by "no-one". In other words, it arises impersonally!
So 'self-enquiry' (and all 'inner work' like it) is done 'impersonally'! It is not done by the separative 'self-sense' but by Nature itself, so to speak. Ultimately, everything that happens or is 'done' arises from Nature or Being or Consciousness itself.
The idea that 'inner work' and 'self-enquiry' can only result in strengthening the separative 'I'-sense, is unreasonable. It's like saying that a de-conditioning form of 'cognitive therapy' can only lead to strengthening the conditioning it is in fact removing! If someone is deluded with a false identity, removing the delusion with an effective 'tool' or technique does not strengthen that false identity. On the contrary, if it's an effective technique and it's effectively applied it removes that delusion to reveal the True or Real Identity which was always there all along!
Tony Parsons in his response to Möller's essay says that Möller has failed to understand the "fundamental principle" at the core of the Neo-Advaitist 'perspective'. This is unjustified. Möller, as we can see from his essay, understands it perfectly. He simply doesn't agree! It seems to me that Tony is saying this in an attempt to make it appear that Möller is incorrect in his point-of-view because 'he just doesn't understand'. Well, you can say this in defence of any belief-system, any 'perspective'. Even 'perspectives' riddled with internal incoherencies, inconsistencies and absurdities. Tony gives no evidence at all for what seems to be a clearly false point here. In fact, one could ask Tony: "In what way has Möller misunderstood, exactly? Where's the evidence?"
Tony mentions Möller's "great logic". Well, if it's "great logic", there might just be something to it, one might not unreasonably point out! And this, especially, as Tony has not answered Möller's critical points arising from this "great logic" at all! In fact, confronted by the powerful points in Möller's essay, all Tony has done is repeat his own usual material - which Möller is criticising – instead of responding to it.
"The belief that there is a seeker (subject) who has the free will to choose to self-enquire in order to discover clarity (object) simply maintains the dreamer in the hypnotic dream of separation."
'Self-enquiry' is not about a "seeker (subject)" "choosing" to "discover clarity (object)". Putting it like this is completely misleading. As I've said above, effective 'self-enquiry' is an 'Impersonal doing' which arises and which serves to de-condition and de-construct the separative 'self-sense' to reveal what was always here, what was always the case, but which was obscured. Rather than maintaining the 'hypnotic dream of separation', it dismantles it. 'Self-enquiry' effectively carried out is a form of 'de-hypnosis', the complete opposite to Tony's idea.
Secondly, Tony talks about there being "no-one to make the approach" [to the Non-Dual, presumably], and then a bit further on in the same paragraph he talks of the 'self-enquiry' approach as maintaining "the dreamer in the hypnotic dream of separation." Well, if there is "no-one", who is this "dreamer"? How does he reconcile his idea of "no-one" with his idea of a "dreamer" ('someone') kept in a "hypnotic dream of separation" by impersonal activities such as 'self-enquiry' ...etc? There seems to be an inconsistency here!
It also occurs to me that the misleading form of the above statement by Tony can be thrown back upon himself: "Here is Tony (subject) making out that he ('no-one') is 'someone' in which there is clarity (object)." Is the form of this type of 'argument' valid?
Tony also indicates in his piece here that his 'perspective' is "new" and is some kind of "revolutionary principle". Is it? Is the idea that there is no real independently existing separative 'someone' "new"? Is the idea of 'non-doership' "new"? Is the idea of 'no-practice' "new"? On the contrary, these are old ideas found in many of the old spiritual systems of the world.
And even if Tony's 'perspective' was "new", would that therefore make it correct and valid? Many a "new" recipe for a pudding has proved (when tasted) to be pretty indigestible! And so it is with many a "new" idea or 'perspective'.
Apparently, "this revolutionary principle threatens the seeker's dream of becoming, and even its very existence", according to Tony. But also, according to Tony, "there is no-one" ... so who is this "seeker"? There is 'seeking' indeed, as we can see from the evidence, but is there really a 'seeker'? It seems that Tony assumes the existence of coherent 'seeker' entity while at the same time maintaining that "there is no-one" - a confused and unsatisfactory position! [And calling this 'seeker' a 'dream seeker' does not remove the inconsistency here, we should note!]
He uses the word "paradoxical" to describe his message. It should be pointed out that being "paradoxical" does not therefore mean that it is coherent or necessarily correct!
On his website he dismisses 'self-enquiry' (and 'inner work' like it) by saying they are "dualistic practices". Again this is unjustifiable, it seems to me. 'Self-enquiry' ...etc are rather “non-dualistic practices” as, correctly carried out, they lead to the uncovering of the already-existing Non-Dual.
Also, on his website, he uses a dubious image to dismiss 'self-enquiry' and activities like it. He says that these "dualistic practices" are like trying to get a blind man to see. It is not at all clear how this metaphor can be applied in relation to a “non-dualistic practice” like 'self-enquiry'.
Tony has said that his 'perspective' will never be popular. Well, he was wrong on that as he is wrong in his dismissal of 'self-enquiry'. Tony is very popular on the satsang circuit, as we can indeed see. And the reason is, I think, is because what he offers is essentially a merely intellectual understanding ("There is no-one!", "This is it!" ...etc), in which the hard work of a proper, real and actual de-construction of the 'personal self-sense' is essentially dispensed with. It's "Awakening lite", as David Carse might call it. There is no cutting of what Ramana might call the 'granthi (knot) in the heart’ with Tony's ‘perspective’ either, it seems! And, unfortunately, many people are only too easily attracted and swayed by these types of easy simplistic intellectual doctrines where they don't have to bother with the kind of hard committed work that 'self-enquiry' and investigations like it often entail. Hence the popularity of Tony and the ‘Neo’ perspective, generally.
IV. Response from Möller to Tony's Comments
At last I got my email connected again! What a relief. I was sent a reply (by Alan?) to your letter by a friend of mine who seems to belong to your group. Alan's reply was interesting and particularly well argued. He made some very valuable points and explained himself very well indeed! I agree with Alan that your letter is somewhat unsubstantiated, in that it merely repeats the neo-Advaitist slogans and fails to address with clarity exactly where you feel my essay is unreasonable or `fails to comprehend the fundamental principles' of the neo-Advaitist doctrines.
You prefer to call my essay `inaccurate and shallow', yet offer little in the way of qualifying these rather harsh criticisms. So, from this perspective it is not exactly easy to reply in any reasonable or comprehensive way – there is unfortunately not much to reply to. However, if I have to attempt to add to Alan's excellent submission, it may be worth perhaps to go to the fundamentals of my position and just restate them briefly in a somewhat different way.
In your letter you say:
The fundamental principle of the message you attack, but don't comprehend, is that there is no-one to make the approach, nor is there anything to approach. There is no such thing as free will or choice, there is no doing or destiny, motive or purpose. The belief that there is a seeker (subject) who has the free will to choose to self-enquire in order to discover clarity (object) simply maintains the dreamer in the hypnotic dream of separation. Inevitably this revolutionary principle threatens the seeker's dream of becoming, and even its very existence. As a consequence this paradoxical message is either ignored, misinterpreted or dismissed out of hand. It is the cornerstone which is constantly rejected.
I fully agree with you that ultimately there is no self. The sense of self is an illusion, based on nothing but a series of misapprehensions of how we function. If you would care to read my book “Spirituality Without God”, you might notice that I take the point that the separate self-sense is an illusion. However, (and perhaps it is on this point where you might not have understood my essay completely), my interest in these matters is not philosophical, metaphysical or conceptual, rather, it is practical.
I have delved into these matters for the better part of 40 years of constant meditative enquiry, and it has become clear to me that the question of self-transcendence is a very subtle matter where it is better not to come to conclusions about things too quickly. In other words, although I totally agree with the notion of non-duality and non-self, my own sense here is that this becomes the living reality of the student of life ONLY after deep and profound investigation into that which presents itself as fragmentation, duality and therefore separateness.
I see absolutely no point to start and end the matter with the idea of non-self as you seem to suggest. Before the truth of the non-self becomes self-evident, self reigns supreme. Be not mistaken about this, my friend. In other words, if you and I are going to be of genuine use to those who approach us for guidance, or who might read our writings, and who bring to these matters their deep dedicated interest and longing for liberation from a sense of isolation, separation and loneliness, we have a huge responsibility to walk their paths with them with great care and circumspection.
Suppose that someone comes to me because they are distraught, sad, lonely, disillusioned, bewildered and so on, and I tell them:
“Look, all of this is nonsense, because there is no you who are experiencing these genuinely disturbing emotions. You are not creating any destiny for yourself, even while you are the living proof of such destiny of inner turmoil. There is no motive for you to come and see me, even while your very pain is the motive that makes you enquire. There is no purpose to this pain, even while all pain has as its purpose to tell you that you are busy doing something against the natural order of human life. You are not doing your suffering to yourself, it is mere illusion, after all, only the self can feel this kind of emotional suffering, and the self does not exist. You are a seeker, and the very seeking to want to be free from this suffering, is part of your dream - your self-hypnotized state of suffering. In truth, you, my suffering friend, do not exist. It is all a dream – nothing but a dream. Even while you stand in front of me, sharing your deepest feelings of discontent with me, I tell you, this you that is in pain, does not exist, therefore your pain is as unreal as the one presuming to feel it.”
Now, my question, as a person bringing my genuine suffering to a teacher who tells me these things will be: “What you say may all be very true, but how does it help me? I am still caught in my inner turmoil, I am still suffering as before, can you not suggest something which could be done to relieve me from the plight of all the things you have explained so well?”
You reply once again: “dear brother, it is all illusion, neither you nor your suffering is real.” Where does this leave the honest seeker for truth, happiness, integral living, non-fragmentedness, wholeness? My sense is no-where.
However, if you and I were to broaden our view of the self we say does not exist, and not just regard it as a simple one-liner – a mere single thought of self – it may become clear to us as teachers or spiritual friends, that every aspect of suffering the student brings to us, is part of a complicated and subtle process of illusion-making, based on subtle misapprehensions within the human mind, and deeply embedded in our psyche. We may then begin to notice that the self is a series of resistances to the holistic unfolding of the living moment. It manifests on many different levels of our being – emotional, mental, physical – and all are forms of fragmentation which together constitute the separate self sense.
If once, through self-observation, we begin to notice the profound and subtle complexity of our confusion which results in the sense of the separate self, then our approach to the suffering of those who approach us will be different. Then we will no longer be so eager to send them on their less than merry way, telling them they do not exist, but rather, we would enquire with them what it is that brings to their mind-heart the deep disturbances they feel so acutely. In the process we will be forced to find ways of how to discover the nature of the presumption of separation. In this we will invert the separate self-sense on itself, and allow mere observation and the intelligence associated with such observation to reveal to us the truth of the falseness contained in all and every sense of separate existence. (This is not something I could adequately discuss here: I have written a book about these matters).
In the process we may also point out to the enquirer that their problems may be directly related to the way they look at themselves and their world, how they create images and believe these images to define them, how they actively take part in the creation and maintenance of their inner disorder, how they create and sustain fragmentary living through uninspected ways of doing things, how certain inner instruments function which are directly responsible for the creation of such states of confused identification with misapprehensions like the `I', God, Brahman, Advaita etc. We could assist them to observe without the `I', to do inner work which in no way strengthens the separate self-sense, to observe the self-sense in operation and to discover ways of completely transcending the illusion of the self-sense.
But these ask for direct and dedicated involvement with the false. The false, as the separate self sense, is all the beginner is aware of – despite the knowledge you and I may give them of the non-dual truth of the living moment. This knowledge serves only a marginal purpose at the beginning stages of this work. It vaguely points to the possibility of non-fragmented living. But the work is to enquire into that which creates and sustains the illusion of separation. To my mind this is the path, and there is always a path as long as there is delusion. And because there is in most of us this presumption of separation – even perhaps in someone like yourself who intellectually proclaims the contrary - my approach to these matters is practical and realistic, not idealistic.
This much I explain in my essay and in my work in general. I say start on the level where the pain is experienced and work from there. No premature argument against the fact of the illusion of the self can be of any meaningful help to the person immersed in the suffering of this illusion. Alan is perfectly right in saying that a careful process of deconstruction of the separate self-sense is required. It cannot be wished away by saying it does not exist. Seeking is therefore not only motivated by one single little `I' believing it is seeking for truth as the neo-Advaitist movement tries to explain . True seeking is motivated by a profound sense of disillusionment, bewilderment, suffering, fragmentedness, inner and outer disorder. It is born from within every aspect of the totality of the fragments constituting the presumption of separation. The `I' is a complicated affair and is as big and real and solid, while it is present and active, as any illusion.
That is why I say (tongue in the cheek): Seek ye first that which obscures the kingdom of heaven (read non-duality) and all else will be revealed to have been the truth of non-duality all along. Before that everything is duality. And the experience of duality and non-duality are mutually exclusive states of being. I hope this letter offers some further clarity with regard to this difficult subject. Life is not easy. Clarity is not generally part of our present human condition. To see through that which obscures the truth of the non-dual is more subtle than any thought about it may express adequately. May I suggest that in view of the fact that your letter to me was not private, and perhaps read by quite a few interested folks, any of the above recipients kindly have this reply posted to the relevant lists to which they belong.
Möller de la Rouvière
V. Tony's Response to Alan and Möller.
Dear Alan and Möller,
We are speaking to each other from perspectives that do not meet, and any ideas about being right or wrong seem futile. I am however still intrigued at how you are both able to avoid recognising the difference.
The perception here is that, yes, absolutely everything that apparently happens arises out of and appears to be done from Being (Consciousness) or the Impersonal. How can it be otherwise – there is no other! Therefore, everything that appears as being done by Being doesn't only include "inner work properly carried out", it also has to include inner work not properly carried out, fragmentation, delusion, raiding banks, woolly-mindedness, megalomania, making marmalade, happiness, stupidity, clarity and confusion.
However, Being also arises as the separate individual who believes and experiences that it is the sole producer of all choices, all actions that arise from those choices, and is entirely responsible for the apparent ensuing consequences.
Alan – the separate entity cannot recognise that it is only the infinite expression of Being! It believes and experiences that it acts out of its own free will and that life is a journey with meaning, purpose and goals which are possibly realisable through self volition. If these goals include the attainment of enlightenment, then it is also likely that the separate individual will believe that impersonal Being will be motivated to choose to do the "necessary inner work properly carried out", because Being wishes the individual to divest itself of falsehood and become enlightened in order that there can be more Being and the world will be a better place. All of this is what I call the hypnotic dream of the separate individual which is both conceptual and energetic.
What very effectively supports and re inforces that dream is the idea or teaching of becoming. This is the fundamental perception that arises out of The Open Secret communication which both of you have avoided speaking about in clear and uncompromising terms.
Being, source or consciousness, is the ineffable, inviolate, unrelated, uncaused, impersonal, silent, still, empty fullness, which is absolutely without need or purpose but from which need and purpose appear and seem to be real. The Absolute appears as the Relative (or No-thing manifests as Everything) including the apparent sense of something (the individual) being apart from No-thing and not wanting to be.
The development of an intelligent understanding "mind" apparently brings with it the ability to make choices and take actions in an attempt to negotiate with "the world" lived in. These negotiations are not always successful and the individual seems to experience its own pain and pleasure. It also develops a great respect for the guidance and control apparently emanating from the understanding "mind". However, as long as there is a sense of separation there is a sense of disquiet or loss and there is a seeking to dispel that sense. It seems logical that the much respected understanding "mind" must be capable of investigating the cause of this disquiet and discovering ways of dispelling it. Out of the multitude of ways the "mind" has devised to end all suffering, self-enquiry is one of them and it is believed and experienced (dreamt) that "many years of intelligently applied and properly directed self-enquiry can dispel the hypnotic dream of separation, and reveal a false and fragmented delusion" which can then dissolve and leave the individual experiencing "happiness, integral living, non-fragmentation, clarity and wholeness".
These qualities are all still individual experiences arising apparently as a result of using practical, spiritual psychology which then brings temporary comfort to the individual, but has no relevance to liberation.
Even direct awareness, which can often arise in self-enquiry and meditation, is a subtly dual and transitory state. Direct Awareness of Everything is not Being Everything.
The separate individual still reigns supreme, and disquiet and loss still arise. And further self-enquiry is applied in an attempt to keep it at bay.
The separate entity can only seek to dispel that sense of separation but can also only try to imagine or project an idea of what it must be like not to be separate. What is sought is the possibility of a future goal or state that can be realised and therefore, logically, must be approachable. Consequently, the function of seeking and the teaching of becoming (traditional Advaita for instance) locks the seeker into a state of continuously approaching something that it cannot comprehend. All of this is the expression of Being, arising as the good, old, dependable and reliable understanding "mind" functioning as it can only function… in continual movement and anticipation. It is this activity of becoming which very effectively keeps the seeker in the hypnotic dream of individual free will, choice and action which reaches out for something it cannot grasp. Of course Liberation can apparently happen despite all of this effort.
But Being is not a state that can be imagined, conceived of, attained or even realised by that which seeks it. Being requires absolutely nothing… it is the Nothing and Everything that is already immaculate fulfilment and wholeness. Nothing needs to be changed or attained, lost or found, for Being to simply Be. The appearance of separation is simply the expression of Being. The very idea of something needing to approach that which it already is, is wonderfully futile. Being is a comedian with an audience which never laughs.
The dream seeker feels a sense of loss and unworthiness, and so is very attracted to dream teachings which involve purification, hard committed effort, surrender, devotion and the development of renunciation and detachment. There is a kind of logical inevitability and worthiness about these ideas which resonates with the sense of lack. The almost endless path of striving happily ensures the continuation of the individual experience. These ideas seem to arise out of a very substantial and reliable history of traditional wisdom which surely must be respected, even though it is only available as words on bits of paper.
I notice that you are both very ready to portray what you call neo-Advaita, as a shallow and superficial broadcasting of rather dubious concepts which can appeal instantly to the spiritually lazy seeker. It is very easy to get stuck in Advaita and non-dual concepts, and there are those who seem to believe that a reiteration of clear ideas alone can transform the dream seeker. This is idealism.
The Open Secret communication is not dependent on clear concepts, however much they may expose confused concepts. Speaking happens and words can only point to another possibility which is beyond verbal expression. It is the eternally new message which is hidden within the scriptures and rejected in the "mind".
The idea of prescriptive teaching, guidance, or the offer of any kind of help simply does not arise. This is a message without hope or comfort of any kind, but invariably the dream seeker will still believe that something is on offer… this is the function of seeking. It is also possible that all that will be left is nothing, and then another possibility could arise. There is no agenda or motive because nothing is for sale.
It is possible that clarity could arise but absolute understanding is not liberation. However, all of this conceptual communication is secondary to the primary element that is most illuminating and which neither of you seem to recognise. That primary element is energetic, impersonal aliveness, the implicit, vibrant wonder of simply Being.
It is an energetic shift, apparently out of contraction into boundlessness. This boundlessness cannot be owned and so cannot be given. Its simplicity utterly confounds the "mind", but what arises is an impersonal recognition that there is no-one and nothing to be liberated. All ideas of separation, individual suffering, free will, choice, meaning and purpose, destiny, fragmentation, delusion, hierarchy and tradition, are simply seen by no-one as the dreamplay of Being.
It seems that the seeking "mind" is fascinated by struggle and complexity. The whole fabric of seeking is full of stories of great edifices, seemingly arising out of simple beginnings. Buddhism, Christianity and so many other dogmas, arise and grow and fight each other over having better gods. Catechisms of sin and worthiness, degrees of awareness and levels of enlightenment are investigated, dissected and struggled over.
The mind loves the idea of enlightenment being some kind of distant, virtually unobtainable, perfect place of permanent bliss, free from suffering and full of omniscience, omnipresence and lots of other important "omni's" stomping around, shouting the odds and saving the world. But of course because all this glory and specialness has to be attained, there has to be a long haul through the dark night of the soul, endless past karmas, original sin, right-thinking, right action and preparation for the bardos. "It is a tale told by a fool, full of sound and fury signifying nothing."
But Natural Being is such an ordinary and gentle constant. When it is seen it is. When it is avoided it is. It requires no effort and demands no standards. Being timeless there is no path to tread, no debt to pay. It is already totally known. When this is heard and confusion collapses, when the contraction of struggling to get something falls away and the vibrant energy of being aliveness becomes apparent, suddenly the eyes light up and something else is seen, very easily of course, because it is already all that is but has apparently been overlaid by the seeking of it.
VI. Alan's Response to Tony
Your email response to Möller and myself was entitled "Being". I'm inclined to title my follow-up comments to your response "Being and Becoming".
As you still haven't really addressed the criticisms that Möller and myself have made of your perspective and the 'Neo' perspective generally, all I can really do is comment on the response you have given us.
Firstly, it’s clear from your response that you agree that "everything that apparently happens arises out of and appears to be done from Being (Consciousness) or the Impersonal." As you say, "How can it be otherwise – there is no other!" It's pretty obvious, really! So the idea that 'self-enquiry' type investigations etc are done by a 'separate individual', 'person' or “dreamer” entity (that "simply maintains the dreamer in the hypnotic dream of separation") cannot therefore be correct! As I said in my defence of Möller, "effective 'self-enquiry' is an 'Impersonal doing' that arises which serves to de-condition and de-construct the ‘separative self-sense' to reveal what was always here, what was always the case, but which was obscured. Rather than maintaining the 'hypnotic dream of separation', it dismantles it. 'Self-enquiry' effectively carried out is a form of 'de-hypnosis', the complete opposite to Tony's mistaken idea."
Of course, as you indicate, a whole load of nonsense also arises Impersonally from Being. Megalomania, raiding banks, delusion, woolly-mindedness, confusion, 'inner work not properly carried out', yodelling, writing pompous letters to the Times etc. However, it does not follow that 'effective self-enquiry', 'inner work properly carried out' etc is therefore part of this nonsense any more than your OpenSecret message is therefore part of this nonsense! There is nonsense and there is sense. There is confusion and there is clarity. There are 'ways' that work and 'ways' that don't. The test is: does it actually work? As regards 'self-enquiry' type investigations the two cases which spring to mind (where it has worked!) are the cases of Douglas Harding and Greg Goode . In both these cases there was an intense enquiry of a 'self-enquiry' kind leading to Realisation. [Interestingly, Douglas Harding has a whole chapter in 'Look for Yourself' defending 'self-enquiry'. Also, Ramana advocated 'self-enquiry' to such an extent that the term is almost synonymous with his name!]
Anyway, as you have agreed that all arising is Impersonal, including 'self-enquiry' investigations, I take it that you have conceded the point here that 'self-enquiry', 'inner work' etc are not done by a separate 'someone' but arise Impersonally. Whether any 'inner work' or 'enquiry' is effective in de-constructing the 'separate self-sense' is, of course, another matter.
You go on to say that, "Being also arises as the separate individual who believes and experiences that it is the sole producer of all choices…" I'm afraid this doesn't make much sense to me, Tony! How can non-dual boundless Being be the 'separate individual'? Doesn't make any sense! Isn’t it rather the case that what arises is the 'idea' of a 'separate individual'? The 'separate individual' is a 'construct' of the mind. It's an idea, and a misconceived idea at that! And it's a misconception that can be de-constructed by enquiry and investigation. Impersonally arising, of course!
In addition, isn’t it the case that this idea that "Being also arises as the separate individual” is at odds with and completely contradicts the sense of your favourite saying (so it seems) "There is no-one!"? If there is "no-one" who or what is this “separate individual” entity you seem to assume? Is it really “Being” or is it rather a 'construct' of the mind. If you consider this properly, Tony, I think you'll find that you've perhaps shot yourself in the foot on this point, so to speak.
You go on to say that "the separate entity cannot recognise that it is only the infinite expression of Being!" implying that I hold such an idea! I think you've slipped into the 'straw man' fallacy here, Tony! I can assure you that I hold no such idea! You've either been mis informed or have a mis-perception as to my views here. How could a 'construct' recognise anything? How can the 'construct' of 'personal-self', a 'thought', recognise Being or Awareness? Surely it is only Being or Awareness that can 'recognise' Being or Awareness? When the obscurations of the mind have been removed, It knows Itself! Of course, in one sense It always knows Itself, but when the obscurations have been removed this non-conceptual 'knowing' or 'seeing' becomes apparent or known in the 'story', that is, phenomenally. It becomes ‘recognised’ or ‘apperceived’ as a ‘cognition’ whereas before it wasn't!
You then go on to talk about the 'teaching of becoming'. I would agree that those teachings that teach only of some future Enlightenment far off only attainable by decades of 'spiritual work' and meditation etc are barking up the wrong tree. If I may quote from my own main teacher here (Douglas Harding):
"… though down the centuries this in-seeing has been made out to be the most difficult thing in the world, it’s really the easiest. This most cruel of practical jokes, this most impious of pious confidence tricks, has taken in countless earnest seekers. The treasure of treasures they wore themselves out searching for is in fact the most accessible, the most exposed and blatantly obvious of discoveries, brilliantly lit up and on show all the time. … … [And there’s] Zen Master Huang-po’s caustic comment that one must be blind drunk not to see this! … [Also there's] Zen Master Ummon's statement that the first step along the path of Zen is to see into our void nature: getting rid of our bad karma comes afterwards. Then there's Ramana's insistence that it's easier to see What and Who we really are than to see a gooseberry in the palm of our hand. All of which means that there are no preconditions for this essential in-seeing. To oneself one’s true nature is forever on display, and how one can pretend otherwise is one of the world’s great mysteries. It’s available now, just as one is, and does not require the would-be seer to be holy, or virtuous, or learned, or clever, or special in any way." [from 'Look for Yourself']
So with teachers like Douglas (and yourself perhaps) there is an effort to communicate "This is it!", "This is Being!", "You're already there!", "You're already it!", "You are Awareness!", "You are already this non-dual Being which is …… ineffable, inviolate, unrelated, uncaused, impersonal, silent, still, empty fullness", as you say, Tony. In this regard, I think Douglas, with his 'experiments' and various pointings-out and de-constructings, is particularly good at producing an instantaneous 'hit' of spontaneous Recognition and Apperception or 'in-seeing' of what it is we really, truly are. Of course, as Douglas (quoting Zen Master Ummon) indicates above, this is the first step. There can be a powerful (Impersonal) Recognition of what is Constant and Unchanging making all transient experience (perceptions, thoughts, feelings and sensations) seem pretty dreamlike in comparison, but such a Recognition doesn't obliterate or 'gut' the 'separate self-sense' immediately and entirely in most cases. Continued 'in-seeing' or 'self-enquiry' is usually necessary in order to break down the strong conditioning of the 'separate self-sense' thought-complex. Old habits die hard! And when this 'work' is continued the deeper more hidden layers of the 'separate self-sense' become apparent. Ramana speaks of the 'Granthi knot' in the heart. Douglas too has made it clear that 'losing one's head' (limited conception of a "me") is not enough; there has to be a 'breaking' in the heart. And it is this deeper 'work' or arising which gives depth and substance to any Awakening or Realisation, rather than just the somewhat superficial and predominantly intellectual Realisation and so-called Liberation that we have a tendency to see in Neo-Advaita.
So with 'ways' like Douglas Harding's there's an immediate instantaneous aspect and a progressive aspect. What's wrong with that? In phenomenality there is becoming and unfolding. What's wrong with that? That's just the way it is! Yes, of course Being is unaffected and untouched by any apparent happening or unfolding in phenomenality. But we have to remember that Realisation, Liberation etc happen (or apparently happen) in the 'story' or in phenomenality. Awakening, Realisation, Liberation (whatever) have no meaning outside of this context. There's a bunch of fresh air over there, it's just become Liberated! What could that mean? No. Awakening, Realisation, Liberation (whatever) only has meaning (on this earth) in a human context. And fullness in this regard implies fullness in the removal of the ‘separate self-sense' at all levels of the psyche, not just the intellectual!
You go on to say that the "mind" has apparently devised ways of ending suffering etc and that 'self-enquiry' is one of them and that there is the belief that this leaves "the individual experiencing 'happiness, integral living, non-fragmentation, clarity and wholeness'." You then say that these are "still individual experiences arising apparently as a result of using practical, spiritual psychology which then brings temporary comfort to the individual, but has no relevance to liberation." But to say this, Tony, is to misrepresent 'self-enquiry' type investigations completely! 'Self-enquiry' is not a form of "spiritual psychology". It is about de-constructing the 'separate self-sense' to reveal what is already here, what is already the case, the already existing Non-Dual; this already existing Non-Dual which has been obscured by the 'separate self-sense' thought-feeling complex, a deep conditioning that has arisen and blighted the human condition for thousands of years.
One could say exactly the same thing about your OpenSecret message. It's a form of spiritual psychology that has been devised by the much respected understanding "mind" and leads to the individual experiencing "happiness, integral living, non-fragmentation, clarity and wholeness". It's still an individual experience essentially and brings only a superficial liberation and comfort to the individual, and has little to do with any genuine Liberation. We can all 'argue' in this manner, of course!
You go on to say that, "Even direct awareness, which can often arise in self-enquiry and meditation, is a subtly dual and transitory state. Direct awareness of Being is not Being." I have to say I don't know if these are coherent statements which actually mean anything! You're talking about Being as if it's some kind of 'object'! A complete impossibility, I would say!! Being is surely the ultimate non-dual 'Subject'! Of course, different people use terms such as 'Awareness' and 'Being' in different senses. But I would say surely 'Awareness' and 'Being' are synonymous terms? I don't see the dualism between 'Being' and 'Awareness' that you seem to see here, Tony. Being is that "ordinary and gentle constant", to quote your good self, that is 'aware' of stuff, or in which or to which stuff arises; that ever-changing fleeting transient stuff we call phenomenal experience or phenomenal reality. And it is this 'Being', this "ineffable, inviolate, unrelated, uncaused, impersonal, silent, still, empty fullness" that we really, truly are!
Furthermore, this is only directly Realised in the 'story', in phenomenality, when the 'separate self-sense' has been sufficiently de-constructed. If the 'separate self-sense' is still a significant (perhaps hidden) factor then surely any Realisation/Liberation must be predominantly intellectual? When I look at people like Nathan Gill and some of your other 'students' writing books and giving satsangs or chatting away on internet message boards ... and I look at people like David Carse ... I can't help noticing a significant difference! [I'll except Roger Linden in this comparison as there does seem to have been a genuine Realisation/Liberation in his case. Apparently there was a 'snapping' in his heart centre which threw him (or almost threw him) off the chair he was sitting on. I sensed his Realisation/Liberation (whatever) on first meeting him. Rather nice sublime bloke, too! Have a lot of time for Roger, even if I don't agree with the 'Neo' line in chat and concepts.]
You then go on to talk about how the "teaching of becoming (traditional Advaita for instance) locks the seeker into a state of continuously approaching something that it cannot comprehend etc." But 'self-enquiry' type investigation is not about "approaching" anything! It is about the removal and de-construction of the strong conditioning of the 'separate self-sense' to reveal the already-existing Natural Being. The terms "approach" or "approaching" or terms like these are completely misplaced. Again, your words here are a mis-representation, I feel. [I can't speak for traditional Advaita as I'm not an expert here, but I do detect a definite hint of "This is it!" (You are already the Absolute Consciousness) in the Ashtavakra Gita, for example.]
However, having said this, I would agree that there are "teachings of becoming" about and that these systems can indeed, as you say, lock the apparent 'seeker' into a state of continuously approaching something that never actually arrives. The type of 'self-enquiry' I advocate is not one of these, I would say, as it's not about "continuously approaching" some barely-achievable distant goal. It's about what the Facts already are in relation to what we really, truly are and the removal or de-construction of those strong conditioned tendencies in the body-mind-psyche system which tell us that our identity is the body-mind-psyche system or the 'separate self-sense'.
Also, in this regard, speaking in your own terms, would you not say that non-investigation of the 'separate self-sense' and the conditionings which maintain it actually leave the 'seeker' locked "in the hypnotic dream of separation."? How is non-investigation helpful?
You then go on to say, "But Being is not a state that can be imagined, conceived of, attained or even realised by that which seeks it. Being requires absolutely nothing… it is the Nothing and Everything that is already immaculate fulfilment and wholeness. Nothing needs to be changed or attained, lost or found, for Being to simply Be." I would agree… more-or-less! [And rather beautifully expressed, by the way.] However, what we're talking about here in relation to 'seeking' is the Realisation of this in the 'story', in phenomenality. There's a difference between how things actually are and the Realisation of how things actually are! We can accept that what you say here is the case intellectually or philosophically, of course, but the actual Realisation of this in a deeper real direct sense is another matter. That's what the game of 'seeking' and Realisation/Liberation is all about. And if you insist that Being is 'not Realisable', then how do you know this? How do you know that the words you speak above are true if there has not been a Realisation of some type? Is it just a philosophical intellectual viewpoint or speculation?
You also say that, "The appearance of separation is simply the expression of Being." Well, yes, of course, everything is the expression of Being. Disease, wars, famine are also the expression of Being. It doesn't mean that they are desirable in the 'story', though. In Tony's 'story' I'm sure there's a desire or preference for living in a beautiful comfortable house rather than a dirty ramshackle broken-down hut! I'm sure! So in the Appearance, in phenomenality, there are things which are desirable and things which are not. In fact, one could argue that from the point-of-view of phenomenality, of the 'story, 'the appearance of separation' is actually pathological or a type of 'disease'. It's certainly a 'dis-ease', let's face it! So just casually saying that "The appearance of separation is simply the expression of Being" is missing something, really. It's missing the distinction between that which is sane and healthy and that which is pathological and of dis-ease.
Yes, as you say, "The very idea of something needing to approach that which it already is, is wonderfully futile." But, to repeat the point, that's not what we're talking about, Tony! We're talking about the *Realisation* of what already is, of what we truly are, becoming known in the 'story'. There is knowing and not knowing. Again, this whole concept of "approach" is totally misplaced.
You also say here that, "Being is a comedian with an audience which never laughs." Well, if I may pretend to be a 'separate entity' for a moment, I'm inclined to say, "I'm not sure you've got that quite right, Tony, as I, for one, tend to spend a lot of my time laughing!" [Laugh!]
You continue, "It is very easy to get stuck in Advaita and non-dual concepts, and there are those who seem to believe that a reiteration of clear ideas alone can transform the dream seeker. This is idealism." Yes, I would agree that this is "idealism". Just reiterating and clarifying ideas is certainly not going to transform the 'dream seeker'. I think the keyword here is "transform". Merely stating "This is it!", "There is no-one!" etc is not going to result in any type of real transformation. Though, saying this, I'm glad to see that you seem to think that transformation is important as you use the term "transform". I, of course, as you can probably predict, would say that a real transformation can only come about with a proper and actual de-construction of the 'separate self-sense' on all levels of the psyche… not just the intellectual!
You continue, "The Open Secret communication is not dependent on clear concepts, however much they may expose confused concepts. Speaking happens and words can only point to another possibility which is beyond verbal expression." Well, this last bit is a bit vague and unsatisfactory, if you don't mind me saying, Tony. I'm getting a definite hint of a 'teaching of becoming' here. This possible, possibly distant, 'possibility' might just "lock the seeker into a state of continuously approaching something that it cannot comprehend." I'm sure you remember those words!
You further add, "It is the eternally new message which is hidden within the scriptures and rejected in the 'mind'." Well, again, I don't know if this is quite true, Tony. Lots of 'minds' seem attracted by your OpenSecret message. You're pretty popular on the satsang circuit. I have to say I'm not really opposed to your message. It's just that when you start having a go at 'self-enquiry' and start projecting a whole bunch of mis-representations and distortions in addition to some rather poor 'arguments' dismissing it that I tend to sigh rather wearily and fashion words to the effect that dear old Tony is not necessarily talking sense here. Yes, this message of "This is it!", "This is already Being!", "It's already achieved!" etc does have some significant value, I feel. It's a fundamental Insight or Recognition, if it’s really ‘seen’! But it strikes me as a first or foundational step in one sense. Yes, one could argue that as it's foundational it's pretty absolute. What happening or unfolding in phenomenality could possibly affect Being? Nothing that is done or experienced makes the slightest difference! When this is directly non-conceptually (and simply) Recognised… some people start talking of Liberation etc. It seems to me that true Liberation is more than this. We have to remember that the term Liberation only has meaning in the context (on this earth) of a human-being, of a human 'story' in phenomenality. So, as I've indicated before, this surely implies a deep de-construction of the 'separate self-sense' on all levels, not just the intellectual. There's the matter of the solution or dissolving of the 'knot' or 'knots' in the heart-centre. Ramana and Douglas Harding seem to think this is important. I wouldn't disagree. Shankara (the Jesus or Einstein of traditional Advaita) also mentions this. And the 'Katha Upanishad', too: "When all the knots that fetter the heart are cut asunder, even while here on earth, then a mortal becomes immortal. -- Katha Upanishad II.iii.15"
You continue, "The idea of prescriptive teaching, guidance, or the offer of any kind of help simply does not arise. This is a message without hope or comfort of any kind..." Well, again, I don't know if this is entirely true. There does seem to be a definite comfort in the idea that this is it already and you don't have to do anything except accept this. Very comfortable! Don't bother with 'enquiry' and meditation. Go and sit in a comfy chair, drink coke and watch soap operas on TV! Highest form of spiritual practice there is, you know! And, of course, you're not strengthening the 'separate self-sense' by the clear silliness of any type of 'self-enquiry' investigation and de-conditioning etc. That 'other possibility' is now very possible indeed! Almost certain, one could say!
Also, I think if we look at the evidence, you do offer people a little help now and again in the way of enquiry and investigation. This is clear from your dialogues with people. As we read in 'All There Is', "Get the sense of there being no one sitting there. Get the sense that all there is is space, that all you are is space - just space, in which things apparently happen. When that begins to take over, then somehow the self drops away - it’s only a mirage anyway - and all that is left is the knowing of what is." Now it's pretty clear from this that there's a definite effort in the way of de-conditioning going on here. There's also a definite prescriptive feel when you say, "Get the sense that all there is is space, that all you are is space - just space etc." Also, wouldn’t you say that this could also be considered a form of "guidance"?
You continue, "It is also possible that all that will be left is nothing, and then another possibility could arise." Well, again, I'm getting anticipation and expectation and goal-seeking… "locking the dream seeker into the hypnotic dream of separation", possibly? Definite hint of a 'teaching of becoming' here, I sense.
You further add, "There is no agenda or motive because nothing is for sale." Now come, come, Tony. Nothing for sale? Nothing on the agenda? For a start, listening to your message 'live' costs a tenner or so. And on the 'agenda', is there not this 'other possibility' you mention? Let's call a spade a spade! And a certain type of Advaita teacher pushing a certain 'Neo' (if you'll pardon the expression) line… exactly that!
You continue, "It is possible that clarity could arise but absolute understanding is not liberation." This is presumably because 'understanding' is essentially an intellectual 'cognition' of a certain type, whereas 'liberation' implies a freedom of the 'separate self-sense' at the level of the heart and gut as well, so to speak, as well as the "mind". Is that what you're pointing to here?
You continue, "However, all of this conceptual communication is secondary to the primary element that is most illuminating and which neither of you seem to recognise. That primary element is energetic, impersonal aliveness, the implicit, vibrant wonder of simply Being. It is an energetic shift, apparently out of contraction into boundlessness." Well, firstly, I think the reason you say that Möller and myself do not “seem to recognise etc” is because your perspective here is different from ours. We, of course, could probably say something similar in your regard. In fact, this type of ploy, this type of rather lazy 'argument' is often used when different perspectives debate. It is not necessarily a 'good' argument! Secondly, yes, I would say that I can see what you're pointing to here. With certain 'possibilities' arising I can certainly see that there can be an "energetic shift, apparently out of contraction into boundlessness." I can see that very clearly! In fact, such an 'energetic shift' often happens in 'self-enquiry' type investigations, I would say, as was the case with Douglas Harding and Greg Goode , to mention again just two cases that we have on record and which I'm actually familiar with. There are no doubt many more. Lastly here, yes, "impersonal aliveness, the implicit, vibrant wonder of simply Being." Yes, marvellous, isn't it!
You add, "This boundlessness cannot be owned and so cannot be given." Well, it certainly cannot be given as one might give a bar of chocolate or a bunch of flowers etc. But it can certainly be pointed to! Also, ways to de-construct and remove the obstructions and conditionings ('separate self-sense') can be given and employed. This 'boundlessness' is our Natural Being, and the 'impersonal recognition' of this arises naturally as the impersonal tendency of 'self-enquiry' investigations themselves arise and naturally unfold.
As you say, "Its simplicity utterly confounds the 'mind', but what arises is an impersonal recognition that there is no-one and nothing to be liberated." I presume by 'impersonal recognition' and 'no-one' here you mean that an impersonal 'cognition' arises that there is no independent separate individual personal 'self' that actually exists… and that all there is is Being. Now such a 'cognition' can indeed arise impersonally [are not all arisings impersonal?] but it still arises in the context of a body-mind system, usually human. It certainly doesn't arise in the context of an empty cardboard box! Also, such a 'cognition' arising doesn't necessarily mean that the 'separate self-sense' at a deeper more hidden level (the heart) has been dissolved. One might say, well, who cares! But a fuller dissolution of the 'separate self-sense' (esp. in the heart) does seem to make quite a difference in the 'story' which is where Realisation/Liberation (whatever) happens, after all. I've come into contact with one or two 'Neos' now who think of themselves as 'liberated'. And I have found them to be anything but! They can still be deeply selfish, arrogant, petty, boastful, unstable, deluded etc… and they still suffer psychologically with personal ownership and attachment problems. Such a 'liberation' seems pretty superficial to me! They may indeed have this 'impersonal recognition' that there is 'no-one', but because the deeper more hidden aspect of the 'separate self-sense' is still very much intact… "the separate individual still reigns supreme, and disquiet and loss still arise", if you remember those words from your (I would say, mistaken) view of 'self-enquiry' type investigations.
As regards, “… nothing to be liberated.” Yes, in an absolute theoretical sense, maybe. But, again, the terms Realisation and Liberation only have meaning and reference to the ‘story’, to the phenomenal. Outside of this context they can, of course, be denied… as can anything phenomenal! Realisation and Liberation are terms that apply to a body-mind-psyche system where the idea-feeling complex of the ‘separate self-sense’ has been de-constructed, negated, broken down etc.
You continue, "All ideas of separation, individual suffering, free will, choice, meaning and purpose, destiny, fragmentation, delusion, hierarchy and tradition, are simply seen by no-one as the dreamplay of Being." Yes, that's one way of looking at it, I suppose. Phenomenality, the Appearance, “that which comes and goes” is very dream-like compared to the Constant, Unchanging, Still, Silent, Timeless Stability of Being. Fair enough.
You continue, "It seems that the seeking "mind" is fascinated by struggle and complexity." I don't know if this is really true, actually. I think a lot of the 'complexity' and confusion arise from misunderstandings and vague confused teachings. I'm sure most seeking "minds" would love their struggle to end. In my own case coming across Douglas Harding's clearness and clarity in these matters ended a lot of wrong thinking and misconceptions. In his own particular way, he says, I don't think it's too unfair to say, "This is it!" I was glad that the struggle of seeking ended. Of course, the "impersonal recognition that there is no-one", as you have it, is one thing. Liberation, in the true sense, is another. And this latter, I would say and repeat, implies a de-construction of the 'separate self-sense' at a deeper more hidden level of the psyche (connected with the 'heart-centre') which is not something you seem to talk about. Maybe that's intentional. Maybe your intention is simply to concentrate on the "This is it!" message as this is basic and fundamental.
You continue in relation to the 'mind', "The mind loves the idea of enlightenment being some kind of distant, virtually unobtainable, perfect place of permanent bliss, free from suffering and full of omniscience, omnipresence and lots of other important "omni's" stomping around, shouting the odds and saving the world." Well, again, Tony, I don't think you have quite hit the nail on the head here, really. I think it's more the case that a lot of misunderstandings and misconceptions have arisen in relation to 'enlightenment' etc. And from these (sometimes gross) misconceptions a whole load of religious and spiritual nonsense has arisen, stomped around and generally messed up the world… actually!
You further add, "But of course because all this glory and specialness has to be attained, there has to be a long haul through the dark night of the soul, endless past karmas, original sin, right-thinking, right action and preparation for the bardos. 'It is a tale told by a fool, full of sound and fury signifying nothing'." Yes, I think we can agree that there is a lot of nonsense and silliness in the 'spiritual enlightenment' game. However, that said, I think we have to be careful not to throw out the good worthwhile stuff with the nonsense. For example, if we interpret something like 'right-thinking' as being free from false and nonsensical concepts as to 'how it is' etc, then there may actually be some value in 'right-thinking'. Also, there can be significant stresses and strains involved in the de-construction of the 'separate self-sense' and/or the 'impersonal recognition that there is no-one' etc so empirically there may be something like 'the dark night of the soul' or something along those lines.
Lastly, you finish rather beautifully with, "But Natural Being is such an ordinary and gentle constant. When it is seen it is. When it is avoided it is. It requires no effort and demands no standards. Being timeless there is no path to tread, no debt to pay. It is already totally known. When this is heard and confusion collapses, when the contraction of struggling to get something falls away and the vibrant energy of being aliveness becomes apparent, suddenly the eyes light up and something else is seen, very easily of course, because it is already all that is but has apparently been overlaid by the seeking of it."
Yes, as you say, "Natural Being is such an ordinary and gentle constant." But while this is not recognised in the 'story', phenomenally, there will inevitably be a 'seeking' of some type. When something that has been looked for is found, the looking for it generally stops! Also, to say, "It is already totally known" is only true in a certain sense. If that 'impersonal recognition', you speak of, is not present as a 'cognition' then it can't really be said to be 'totally known'. It seems inevitable to me that while this constant 'Natural Being' we really are is apparently occluded, not recognised or not 'seen', where there is not an 'impersonal recognition that there is no-one' etc, there will inevitably be a sense of disquiet, dis-ease and alienation. A feeling that one has been cut off from one's 'roots', so to speak. And this will inevitably lead to a 'seeking' to dispel such disquiet and sense of alienation etc. However, that said, I suppose one could use this idea that "It is already totally known" as a pointer. It might kill the 'struggle to get something' and perhaps 'collapse confusion' and lead to 'seeing' etc. But, as I've indicated, this 'impersonal recognition' is a 'cognition' of a certain type which doesn't necessarily de-construct the 'separative self-sense' at the deeper more hidden levels of the psyche. Hence the view of many that your OpenSecret message is either somewhat superficial or essentially intellectual or, possibly, a useful preliminary or first step only.
At the beginning of your response to Möller and myself you say that our perspectives do not meet and that any ideas of right and wrong seem futile. Well, I would say that my perspective (can't speak for Möller) includes yours as a subset. Yes, "This is it!" and the 'impersonal recognition' you speak of is a type of 'Basic Recognition'. Yes, it's fundamental. Yes, it's absolute, in one sense. But there's still the matter, as I've frequently pointed out here, of the deeper more hidden aspects (or 'knots') of the 'separate self-sense' lurking in the heart ('heart-centre'). In fact, it would be interesting to hear of your experience - if any - of these 'knots'. Was there any 'cutting' or dissolving of what Ramana calls the 'Granthi knot in the heart' in your case? [Some people seem to think there are a number of these 'knots' in the 'heart-centre'.] Can there be a true Liberation without the dissolution of these 'knots' or this 'Granthi knot' in the 'heart-centre'? Also, as regards right and wrong. Well, it can be a case of right or wrong! You are wrong about 'self-enquiry' investigations, I would say! You seem to reject 'self-enquiry' on a priori or theoretical grounds and seem to ignore the a posteriori evidence where it has worked (Douglas Harding and Greg Goode , as previously mentioned). To completely reject and dismiss something that has actually been proved to work is to put oneself in the 'wrong', it could not unreasonably be pointed out!
As I've indicated, I'm not really against your OpenSecret message. It does seem to have value as a preliminary or foundational teaching. It's just that I object to your unjustifiable rejection of 'self-enquiry' type investigations, and the rather crude and flawed 'arguments' you employ in order to do this. I think it would strengthen your OpenSecret message if you removed these crude and flawed 'arguments' from your ‘perspective’, as perceptive and intelligent people will see them for what they are!
I also think you need to re-assess and notice the inconsistency between the idea of "no-one" and the idea of a "dreamer" ('someone') being maintained, you say, in "the hypnotic dream of separation" by impersonal activities such as 'self-enquiry' etc. There can indeed be "hypnotic dreams of separation" and the idea of a separate 'someone'. But to speak of this 'idea' ('someone') as being a “dreamer” being maintained in "the hypnotic dream of separation" as well as sounding confused tends to imply that this “dreamer” is an actually existing ‘something’ that can ‘wake up’! An ‘idea’ or ‘construct’ is hardly something that can ‘wake up’, I would say! The ‘idea’ of a ‘separative someone’ can indeed be de-constructed and dissolved… but ‘woken up’?? And, of course, the implication of an actually existing “dreamer” flatly contradicts your great saying, "There is no-one!"
Turning now to Being and Becoming. Yes, Being is the fundamental. All there is is Being. Being is this Ever-Present, Unchanging, Still, Silent, Timeless Awareness that we really, truly are. But the phenomenal Appearance is inseparable from this Ever-Present Non-Dual Being. And the essential characteristic of this phenomenal Appearance is Becoming. So Wholeness, I would say, includes both Being and Becoming. I say this as there has been an unwholesome tendency (arising from misunderstanding, I would say) in many 'spiritual systems' to reject the Appearance as 'illusion' or 'mere dream' etc. There is also a sense of this tendency in 'Neo-Advaita', I have detected. Another point in its dis-favour, I feel. To reject or to be slightly dismissive of the Appearance is to reject Being, in a certain sense, as the Appearance and Being are inseparable. A point we should not forget, I would say.
Thank God for Becoming, I think we can also say, as without it there would be no unfolding or evolution of phenomenal life. Without Becoming there would be no 'movement' from the amoeba to the human-mind-psyche system. Without 'Becoming' there would, in fact, be no Tony Parsons speaking about the "impersonal recognition that there is no-one". Without 'Becoming' such an "impersonal recognition" would not even be possible! Without 'Becoming' there would only be the 'rest', 'stillness' and 'peace' of 'Being' ... and no 'adventures', 'dreams' and 'stories'. You've said that 'Being' is a "comedian", Tony. Well, perhaps it's more accurate to say that Being is an "adventurer". Though some 'adventures' may be 'comic', of course! So when we look at the Facts, there is Being and there is Becoming. This is a more Whole and wholesome view, in my opinion. [You haven’t denied this, let it be said.]
Also, with the arising of Realisation/Liberation there is (or can be) the unfolding or development of certain subtle 'senses' and capabilities in the human psyche. This is to do with Becoming and, of course, does not affect Being. But I don't see why these shouldn't be explored and developed. The tendency in the Appearance seems to be towards ever greater 'joys' and 'wonders', so to put it. The philosophy and practice of 'non-doing', which I sense in 'Neo-Advaita', can lead to a type of stagnation that paralyses [Thank you, Möller!] the natural impersonal tendency of the unfolding and development of this remarkable human body-mind-psyche system that exists. Perhaps it can be said that true 'non-doing' is about not opposing any resistance to this natural unfolding and development. True, there is no 'choice' about this, but false ideas can poison the ground, so to speak, just as poisonous chemicals in soil can poison healthy plants and wither their natural unfolding.
So, in conclusion, Tony, to your a priori theoretical rejection of 'self-enquiry', I would say, "but empirically, in practice, it has been proven to work!" To your "impersonal recognition that there is no-one", I would say, "dissolution of the ‘separate self-sense’ at all levels of the psyche, especially the 'heart-centre'." And, lastly, to your "Being", I would say, "Being and Becoming".
VII Tony's Final Statement
Dear Möller and Alan
My original question was to ask what, in Möller’s perception, is the origin of what appears to be individual volition and choice to, for instance, self-enquire. Both of you responded without answering very clearly. I again explained the Open Secret perspective of this question and also described how much deeper that message is than your superficial portrayal of it. However, neither of you appear willing or able to understand the meaning and implication of my response, and Alan, you have come back with all guns firing but at the wrong target. It is very obvious that there is confusion about what I am actually saying. If you re-read my last letter very carefully you may come to see that there is no concession or contradiction in any part. You may also understand, intellectually at least, the following simpler explanation.
1. The belief and experience of being a separate individual with free will and choice is particular to humans. It is not simply a mental construct Alan, it is a seemingly powerful energetic state that is seen by most people as reality, including obviously you and Möller. This state is what I call the hypnotic dream of separation (illusory). It is Being dreaming it is separate from Being.
2. Because that dream is disturbing, it also includes a belief, which you both also share, in hope, meaning, purpose, becoming and destiny, and this includes for some the idea that there is another benevolent energy called, for instance, the impersonal, which is motivated to guide and influence the process, for instance, of self- enquiry, together with any other "worthy teaching of becoming". This is again seen from here as the illusory dream of separation.
3. The Open Secret is not saying "there is nothing you can do about enlightenment", that would imply that there is an individual who cannot do something. So there is no one to choose to self-enquire or sit and watch television all day, EXCEPTING IN THE DREAM. That is what is meant by the statement "there is no-one" - it means that there is no separative individual except in the dream of individuality which is illusory.
4. Obviously The Open Secret communication is not about the rejection or acceptance of anything.
Yes, within the dream, it would appear, along with dreamt personal experiences of success or failure, that self-enquiry seems to work for a while and bring the individual temporary detachment and a certain pride, it seems, in what the "person" and "impersonality" seem to have achieved. All of this is the self dreaming it can find a better place than this. This is how the dream of continually becoming is maintained.
So there it is, and maybe you will want to comment on this mysterious and illogical perception, but there is no longer any interest here in continuing this argument. There are no right or wrong perceptions . . . just different ones.
In the meantime it appears that the activity of self-enquiry continues, together with the "untying of granthi knots", and there can also arise a sudden realisation, by no one, of the deep and uncompromising meaning of the word Advaita.
VIII Alan's Final Statement
Well, I have to say you have misrepresented and distorted the position of Möller and myself in a quite remarkable way in your last contribution here. So much so, in fact, that I’m left wondering if you really understand what we are actually saying!
Anyway, that said, picking up on a very worthwhile remark in your last piece here, I would agree that the "belief and experience of being a separate individual" is a "powerful energetic state", as you have it. In fact, I think this at least is something that all three of us can agree on (if I understand Möller correctly). So given that the 'separate individual' condition is a "powerful energetic state" I think we can say that mere 'talk and tea with Tony' or anyone else is not going to affect it that much. The implication of a "powerful energetic state" surely points towards a 'sustained practice' of some sort if it is going to be overcome to any appreciable degree. I think if you were going to comment further, you would be hard put to deny this!
Also, I think it's very clear from my last piece that my position in relation to the 'separate individual' state is that it's not just a mere ‘mental construct' as you seem to imagine that I believe, but rather a 'powerful complex in the psyche' as a whole. In fact, I was critical, if you remember, of the general tendency in 'Neo-Advaita' to neglect and essentially ignore the deeper aspect of the separate self-sense at the 'Heart' level, so to call it, of the psyche. The only aspect that seems important to you and 'Neo' people like you is this ‘impersonal recognition’ that you mention. And, of course, a 'recognition' of any type is to all intents and purposes a 'cognition' which is an event or happening in the mental-cognitive functioning. Now I'm not saying that this 'cognitive' *seeing* is not important or is insignificant. It's certainly more than just an intellectual understanding. It's certainly more than just a thought, as it has an 'experiential' aspect, so to put it. But the fact remains is that it's essentially 'cognitive' and so therefore remains on the level of the mind. The deeper aspect of the 'Heart' in 'Neo' teachings like yours remains unaffected and unaddressed.
The ‘No-Heart’ Failing of Neo-Advaita
In fact, this is such an important failing in 'Neo-Advaita' I think it's helpful to give it its own special status and designation. Let's call it ‘The No-Heart Failing of Neo-Advaita'. Alternatively, it could also be called 'The Incompleteness Failing of Neo-Advaita' or 'The Cognitive-mental-aspect-only Failing of Neo-Advaita'. And summing up this Failing in a nutshell: 'Neo-Advaita addresses only the Cognitive-mental aspect of the separate individual state and ignores the deeper Heart-psyche aspect.'
In this last piece of yours here, you again speak of 'freewill, volition and choice'. This is an old point long settled in this particular field and is not relevant to this particular discussion. The debate here is about 'doing and non-doing'. It's about 'practice.’ It's about 'self-enquiry', 'self-observation' etc and whether this can lead to Realisation or Liberation or Enlightenment. It's also about 'no-practice' and whether this leads anywhere other than to stagnation and paralysis! The debate here is not about 'freewill, volition and choice'. However, as this matter seems important to you, as you focus and question here yet again, let me be as clear as possible on this matter: For the 'normal' person in the street, yes, there is a belief that they as a 'separate person' have choice and freewill etc. This is because the idea of freewill and choice has not been examined and investigated. There's been no 'enquiry', you see! Now the average 'seeker', on the other hand, has investigated this and has found that individual freewill and choice is illusory. In fact, those poor 'seekers' in Ramesh's context have probably been driven up the wall on this as Ramesh hammers this point 'ad nauseam', as David Carse has it. So it is only the 'normal' person in the street, the 'non-seeker', that believes in 'freewill, volition and choice'. The average 'seeker' and the average 'enlightened-one' do not. So the 'origin', to use and address your specific word, of the belief in 'freewill, volition and choice' in any matter is based upon a lack of investigation and enquiry into this particular belief. Hopefully, that's now clear as regards my position at least. So whether there is a belief present that ‘self-enquiry' (or any activity, for that matter) arises through 'freewill and choice' is literally beside the point here! It's a red-herring, to quote your good self from a number of years back on precisely this point!
You also again bang this particular drum that Möller and myself don't really understand you and we are confused over your Open Secret message. This is an old ploy, of course. "Such and such simply don't understand, you know etc." Very often, of course, this ploy is adopted when analysis and close investigation points to the incompleteness and weaknesses in a particular position. Möller and myself understand perfectly what you're saying. It's just that we're not in agreement with your views on 'self-enquiry' and 'self-observation' and 'practice' in general, for that matter. I think this has been very clear throughout the discussion.
I have re-read your last letter very carefully and still see the flaws and weaknesses that I pointed out at length in my 'follow-up comments'. It may be that you have a certain difficulty in accepting the possibility that you may be wrong or unperceptive on certain issues. Or that some people may just simply disagree with you! I sometimes get the impression, Tony, that you think you know it all and cannot be mistaken in how you see things. Humility is a great virtue, particularly in relation to what we think we know. And, further, aids a certain objectivity and clarity of perception in many matters, I would say. A virtue ‘no-one’ should be without, perhaps!
Commenting a little now on your numbered points:
- Yes, the "belief and experience of being a separate individual" is a "powerful energetic state". It's more than just a 'mental construct', we can certainly agree! So dealing with this "powerful energetic state" surely calls for a 'sustained practice' of some sort. Mere investigation of concepts, although important as a preliminary step, is not going to be enough. There are cases like David Carse's case, of course, where through a deep powerful event the "powerful energetic state" that is the 'separate individual' condition is annihilated or transcended. But these are spontaneous events which cannot be relied upon. And, of course, such spontaneous 'happenings' do not preclude other ways of dealing with this "powerful energetic state" such as through deep systematic practice and enquiry. This "powerful energetic state" is a state in Phenomenality and so can be addressed with techniques and tactics like any other state or condition in Phenomenality. I see no sensible reason why this should not be possible! And points about 'freewill, volition and choice' are simply not relevant on this issue, as I’ve hopefully clarified above.
- Neither Möller nor I have made the slightest reference to any kind of "benevolent energy" here, impersonal or otherwise. Or suggested anything about any type of “energy” being, quote, "motivated to guide and influence the process" of self-enquiry. Your perception (or rather, misperception!) here is quite extraordinary! I think if you re-read our material it’s abundantly clear that our concept of 'self-enquiry' and ‘self-investigation' is that it's an impersonal process which, if effectively and deeply carried out, de-constructs the separate self-sense to reveal (the) already-existing Non-dual Being. It is not a "teaching of becoming", as it's not about "becoming"! It's about the 'uncovering' and revealing of ever-present "Being"!
On the specific point of 'Becoming', I simply pointed out that this is just a fact of how it is as regards Phenomenality. Things arise and pass, come and go. There is constant 'Becoming'. This is simply a description of how it is in Phenomenality. There's nothing bad or negative about it. It's simply how it is as regards Phenomenality.
In passing here, as it’s relevant to this discussion, Möller has written an excellent article entitled "Becoming is the denial of Being (J Krishnamurti)" which you may like to consider, Tony. [He uses the term 'Becoming' in this article in a different sense than I did in my previous piece, we should note.] It is also another excellent and powerful critique of the 'talking school' of Neo-Advaita, as Möller has it.
- Möller and I are not talking about 'choosing' to self-enquire etc. This whole point about 'freewill, volition and choice' is irrelevant here, as I’ve tried to make clear. We are talking about 'self-enquiry' (and 'practice' generally) as an impersonal process, impersonally arising, which, if correctly and deeply carried out, leads to the de-construction of the separate self-sense to reveal and 'uncover' the already-existing but obscured Non-Dual. It is a form of de-hypnosis! It is about Awakening from the 'dream of separation'. It is not a 'teaching of becoming'. It is, rather, a 'teaching of Being'!
And, yes, of course, "there is no separative individual except in the dream of individuality which is illusory." The point is: how do we address this 'dream of individuality'? How do we 'break' the dream, so to speak? It's a "powerful energetic state", let us remember! Is doing absolutely nothing going to affect this "powerful energetic state"? Or is some powerful 'practice' of some sort required? I think the answer is obvious! Is it not? Doing nothing, as Möller has pointed out, just leads to paralysis and stagnation. And here we can point to another significant Failing of the 'Neo' perspective. A Failing we could call, perhaps, 'The Stagnation Failing of Neo-Advaita'.
The ‘Stagnation’ Failing of Neo-Advaita
Summing up this Failing in a nutshell:
'Neo-Advaita's tendency to no-practice leads to paralysis and stagnation in the 'seeker' as the "powerful energetic state" that is the ‘separate individual’ condition remains, inevitably, completely unaffected by the sheer idleness of no-practice.'
- Here you say that, "Obviously The Open Secret communication is not about the rejection or acceptance of anything." On the contrary, it appears that you are rejecting all alternative views to your own. You are not exactly massively accepting of 'self-enquiry' and 'practice' in general, as we can clearly see from the evidence of this discussion alone! I think the term ‘rejection’ captures your attitude here and elsewhere much more accurately than ‘acceptance’, wouldn't you say?
Next you go on to say that, "self-enquiry seems to work for a while and bring the individual temporary detachment and a certain pride, it seems, in what the "person" and "impersonality" seem to have achieved. All of this is the self dreaming it can find a better place than this." This is just not true, Tony. Let’s be fair! This is clear misrepresentation! To remind you yet again, 'self-enquiry' is about waking up from the 'dream'. It is about the de-construction of the separate self-sense. It is not a temporary measure! Nor is it about finding a better place than this! It is about revealing our 'true nature', Being.
Towards the end of your piece here you repeat what you have said before, "There are no right or wrong perceptions . . . just different ones." As I said before, commenting on this 'wrong’ perception, this is just not true! There are ‘wrong’ perceptions! People can, and have, believed that the earth goes round the sun, when, in fact, from a truer and more objective perspective this is just not so. Or to choose a more extreme example, a group could have the belief and perception that the world is just about to end and that it's God's will that they commit suicide, or not plant crops etc. Such ‘wrong’ perceptions have occurred, by the way, with their inevitable consequences! So ‘right’ perceptions (or perceptions that fit the empirical evidence!) can make an appreciable difference as regards the practicalities of our experience. They can have an impact on illusion and that which maintains illusion! And ‘right’ perceptions here in relation to ‘self-enquiry’ (and ‘practice’ generally) can have their own specific and particular impact too, we should note!
'Self-enquiry continues'? It all continues, Tony! Your meetings continue! That 'possibility' - which may be a possibly distant 'possibility', perhaps! - that you mention in the context of your meetings and teachings continues. So your remark here doesn’t really have a pertinent point to make, if we reflect less casually.
You speak of the "untying of granthi knots". I never mentioned anything about "untying". This is a clear 'wrong' perception you have, I think we can perhaps ‘rightly’ say! And on this whole matter of the de-construction of the separate self-sense at the deeper level of the 'Heart'-psyche system [“cutting” of the Granthi Knot in the ‘Heart-centre’] you are clearly in disagreement with people like Ramana and Douglas Harding, we should note! You only talk about an ‘impersonal recognition’ which is a cognitive matter on the level of the Mind-Intellect alone. As Douglas has said, in so many words, the ‘impersonal recognition’ or Realisation of Being sets itself up as Liberation but it's not!
Isn’t it possible, Tony, that you've exaggerated the significance of your own spiritual experience and mistakenly believe that the resulting Realisation is final and complete on all levels? Is it possible that you have a ‘wrong’ perception here, perhaps? As the evidence of your extraordinary misperceptions and projections in relation to Möller and myself have very clearly shown, you can be massively mistaken in your perceptions! So is it not possible therefore that you are mistaken here too? Or as regards your perceptions concerning the various aspects and ways and means in this ‘Enlightenment field’, so to call it? Or it might just be the case that your perceptions and understandings in relation to these ‘Enlightenment’ matters are only partial and are therefore incomplete?
I think the whole problem with this particular field is that there are far too many people around who think that they know it all! And who think that while their 'Enlightenment' is true and genuine and complete in other cases it may not be so. In essence, there are just far too many differing ideas and interpretations: giving satsang, not giving satsang; saying this is the way, saying that is not the way; practice this, don't practice anything etc. It's like a veritable tower of Babel ! It’s hardly surprising therefore that many 'seekers' get confused! In fact, this whole field reminds me of the early days of Science which was dominated by (lone) mavericks and quacks involved in alchemy and astrology and all sorts of nonsense in addition to real testable and verifiable Science. I look forward to the time when this Enlightenment field, so to call it, becomes a proper Science (or ‘community effort’) based upon intelligent research and verifiable evidence. It may come to be called 'Ontological Science', perhaps. And may arise one day.
[As a note to the above, it's interesting that if we do the research and collect the evidence, in most cases of what seems like genuine 'full' Enlightenment, a 'breaking' in the 'Heart-centre' always seems to happen. David Carse's case is the most extraordinary in recent times, perhaps. And there is Ramana and Douglas Harding, of course, as well as Eckart Tolle, Jean Klein, Francis Lucille, Poonjaji, Neelam, Shantimayi, Robert Adams, Shankara and no doubt many others I don't know about as well.]
You finish with, "... and there can also arise a sudden realisation, by no one, of the deep and uncompromising meaning of the word Advaita." Again, it's clear that the 'realisation' you're talking about here, Tony, is essentially 'cognitive' in nature. It is on the level of the Mind-Intellect alone. There is no deeper 'Heart' aspect here, it seems! Also, the word 'Advaita' is not in itself "uncompromising". No word is, in fact. (Except the actual word "uncompromising" itself, perhaps!) I think it's rather you, Tony, that is "uncompromising"! You have views and opinions and interpretations which are "uncompromising" just as your average bible-basher or TV evangelist has views and opinions and interpretations which are "uncompromising". Being "uncompromising" or a type of 'evangelist', as you seem to be, Tony, is not necessarily a good thing. Many 'evangelists' in any particular field are often simply mistaken and misguided at best, or just plain bigoted at worst! Judge them by the fruit, as someone once said.
A final comment occurs to me here, I think it’s wise to have a certain humility as regards any particular Realisation (or spiritual experience), especially if it leads to the tendency to believe that we now know and understand it all. Or that ‘Enlightenment’ is full and complete on all levels. It may just not be. Our perception and understanding could be mistaken! People who are "uncompromising" are rarely humble people. The "uncompromising" attitude, often full of self-satisfied airs and odours, has its arrogance! And arrogance can blind one to the real truth in any matter. So it is wise therefore to always drink deeply of that great virtue we call …………. Humility!
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