On his work
I work with a client, I meet the client where the client is. I
understand the world from the client's perspective as much as possible,
and try to get a sense of the client's use of words and ideas
so rapport can happen.
When we interact, I want to
formulate a dialogue in which the client looks into
himself or herself, so that experience is accepted as is, and
anxieties and doubts can be confronted
Here's the thing about that: I am not assuming to know ahead of time where the
client needs to go or be, nor am I assuming to know what change
may occur or what may be accepted as is, rather than changed. It is not my agenda, although my
profession is to be with someone
in an open way that assists this kind of looking. So, for
this kind of dialogue, I am a person with another person. I am
aware of my feelings and thoughts, and the client's feelings
and thoughts as that client's feelings and thoughts. The nondual being which embraces us is
never absent, but it is not
a goal of the situation. Sometimes, opening may happen
assisted by such dialogue, but usually not, and that's fine.
So, let's see if this could
be related to teaching nondual wisdom.
I have, at times, had
classes, the point of which was to look at nondual teachings and
discuss these. Such classes were different only in that
the participants came with different expectations or
agendas to some extent, wanting to know about things they had
read about or studied with others, and how it applies to them, such as how could they
realize nondual truth, what does kundalini have to do
with it, what happens to their realization when their kids are
angry with them, etc. But essentially, it was more alike than different. It involved a facilitating
type dialogue, and the
nondual truth that embraced the entire setting could
never be made into a goal.
So, in conclusion, I'd say
this: in dialogue, the participants aren't in two
different, separated truths. If so, there is no dialogue. If
I am acting as a mirror for you, then you also are a mirror for
me. This makes it hard for me to understand
dialogues that get set up around rigid roles, such as "I am the
guru and I'm in an entirely different reality than
yours," or "I can mirror you, but you can't be a mirror to
me," "I don't have a center, but you do, and I'm here so
you can lose yours like I have." This is why I don't
tend to agree with your idea that a student should thank
a guru for being mean-spirited or sarcastic in a way that wouldn't be accepted by the
guru from the student,
as I tend to see this as a traditional and rather restrictive
form of dialogue, based on roles derived from the past
and culture. Particularly in current American
culture, there are many drawbacks to such an approach, as
it tends to get mystified, sometimes abused, since it is so
divergent from our mainstream culture.
It doesn't ring true
to me to say, "Thank you for showing me the flaws that I too have,"
from someone who
has made it clear that such feedback from me is irrelevant to them, or even not to be tolerated.
Such roles seem
quite rigid, and the appeal of taking such roles may
have nothing to do with "enlightenment" ...
Should a child
thank a verbally abusive parent who denigrates while
expecting to be appreciated? Or does this set
up unnecessary and often unhealthful tension for the
child? If such a dynamic is recapitulated by a
"spiritual teacher," is not such dynamic more likely to assist
regressive, even hypnotic states, than openness and shifting
vision as "reality" as "nondual truth" ...
I'm sure there are
exceptions, and I don't believe in absolutistic rules. I'm not saying this to try to
preach how people
should always behave. What I am doing is raising questions,
and trying to explain the drawbacks of rigid roles and
stylized interactions around topics like
On his story
My story just involves
someone who stopped still at
a given moment.
Not out of choice, but because that's
how it happened.
Inexplicably, and after everything went somewhat
crazy for a while.
First, the stillness.
Then, the dissolution of any
psychological reality to "the future."
Then, dissolution of the sense of identity,
day to day.
Yet, the dynamics of my personal being continue
to work themselves out, day to day, as this
process of becoming ...
So, day to day, working on opening,
relaxing into/as "what is." Not working
toward something, but as what already is ...
Just me, working out my life and dramas, day
to day ... just a human being like others ...
not heroic or unusual ...
And yet, and yet ...
Something that can't be stated, that is all that
As if, at the same time this day to day life unfolding,
with its ups and downs, stresses and resolutions ...
at the same time there is only no-thing ...
and all this happens as it must, all relational,
all-inclusive, past, present, future, here and there,
all intertwined and resonant ... no being ever separate
Well, you can see why it's difficult for me to
make a story of this ... sounds funny even as I
try to write about it :-)
Dan has written more on
his story as an illustration of process, with a bit more historical
(an edited exchange)
D: If your practice
depends on conditions, then it's a conditional activity,
like other conditional activities.
Q: I'm not exactly sure what you mean by
D: We were speaking about certain conditions being more favorable,
and other conditions being less favorable for the practice, and
some conditions virtually precluding the practice. So, it's
a conditional practice.
Q: But ideally practice wouldn't depend on conditions. If say,
one has a sitting meditation practice, it shouldn't really matter
if one is sick, or tired, or it's hot or cold. You just sit
D: You still need a place to sit, time to sit, and a body that is
capable of sitting in whatever posture you deem is important for
Whatever conditions interfere with being able to get to, or
maintain the place, to have the time, or to have the necessary
condition of the body, will interfere with that practice.
[ . . . ]
D: Can a conditional practice truly make
"all the difference" as you contend is possible?
Anything conditional will pass when the conditions supporting its
existence change, and no longer allow it to occur.
Practice that is conditional, doesn't in any way evade, alter, or
transform the conditionality of one's being.
A deep insight into the nature of conditionality can't be brought
about more and more as you pursue with vigor your conditional
That is because conditionality is the basis for such practice even
Insight into conditionality cannot itself be brought about by
conditions, nor can it have an existence apart from conditions --
or it wouldn't be affected by conditions and be able to have an
insight into them.
As my practice is insight into conditionality, it is of a
different nature than the practice you are describing -- it is the
meditation that doesn't depend on any particular meditational
activity. It is one's own present awareness, which is the
moment one is experiencing.
The practice you describe is merely one aspect of the conditional
unfolding of conditioned being. Being aware, one *is* the
insight that goes to the heart of all conditioned being, and
through any moment of conditioned being. Being unaware, one
is caught in conditions, taking oneself for an existing being that
accomplishes things under certain conditions. One might even
make a claim to be accomplishing a movement that deconditions the
conditional, or makes one more and more aware of one's
unconditional nature. But all of that is conditional.
Although this sounds paradoxical, that is only because words are
themselves conditional events that depend on a conditioned mind to
make sense of them. And so are day to day perceptions, such
as the rain making the grass wet.
Q: The way you describe unconditional practice, doesn't really even
sound like what I would call practice in the first place.
It sounds more like a way of being, or something like that,
because it seems as though you speak of it as a constant, and
not something that you actually do.
D: Yes, I agree.
Doing, being, knowing aren't separated here.
So, it's not saying, "I'm going to do this to make that
happen, so I'll benefit by the result of x."
That would involve separating the doer, that which is
done, the result aimed at, the awareness of what needs to be
It's not practice in terms of cause and effect, an intentional
movement to make a desired result occur, which would be desired
by a partialized being, a limited entity.
It could only be construed as a way of being, if it were
understood the the being, the way, the movement, and the
stillness weren't separable one from the other -- not something
that is done by a part, to get somewhere else -- but the
The practice doesn't get you to totality, because that would
involve a part getting to the whole, which can't happen.
Totality is all-at-once, is not partialized or divided against
Totality is the practice of totality.
Q: There is no trying to be aware, or get out of unawareness.
So what I take you to be saying is that this practice is
about being aware, as you describe here.
"Being aware, one *is* the insight that goes to the
heart of all conditioned being, and through any moment of
conditioned being. Being unaware, one is caught in conditions,
taking oneself for an existing being that accomplishes things
under certain conditions."
So at one point Dan was unaware, and then he became aware?
D: At one point, there was the imagined construal of a Dan
entity that existed at certain points, but not other
points. That construal involved assigning awareness
to Dan, as if there were a quantity of awareness, a
personal perspective, that belonged to Dan.
Timelessly, clarity is, that awareness isn't separated out,
doesn't belong to particular entities, that existence doesn't
happen in pieces.
Dan didn't become aware. The barriers that were necessary
to keep the Dan-image in place, dissolved. The awareness
as is, *is*, as could never not be the case.
Q: Before becoming aware there seems to only be conditional
practice. After becoming aware, there is only unconditionality,
awareness, but nothing
that could really be called practice any longer.
D: Well, you can certainly practice. Being aware needn't
prevent or interfere with whatever practice you deem useful.
I don't see this as an either-or situation.
The awareness that has no beginning isn't something you become
or get to.
Conditionality *is* the meditation of the nonconditional being.
So, any conditional practice can be done, and day to day
conditional events transpire. The meditation is never
interrupted. Watching the rain fall on the grass, hearing
Bush give a speech, being aware of breathing, interacting with a
client, helping my girlfriend with her nursing homework -- all
of these are conditional events, all are included in/as the
meditation which is the unconditional expressing as
conditionality, as "my perception, my being-time, my
Q: Is there a catalyst of any kind to get from unaware to
D: This present moment is fully catalyzing, exactly as is ... if it
is not refused or avoided. All kinds of things that seem
like "this couldn't possibly be *it*" are *it* in
disguise ... You are confronted on all sides by *this* --
that it seems otherwise is only avoidance -- that any additional
catalyst is needed is imaginary -- if a physical teacher appears
who opens you as this opening which is also the teacher -- that
is fine. The teacher could also be
not-a-physical-being. That also is fine. When there
is opening where the catalyst is the teacher which is not
represented by a physical entity, the entire situation of your
being is the teacher. It is not hiding from oneself, not
avoiding anything one is doing or trying ... that, to me,
is the central catalyst.