Radiant Mind » Articles http://www.radiantmind.net Buddhist psychology and nondual therapy | Peter Fenner Ph.D. | buddhism, nondualism Fri, 13 Nov 2015 01:33:26 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.3.12 Natural Silence and Profound Unthinkability http://www.radiantmind.net/natural-silence-profound-unthinkability/ http://www.radiantmind.net/natural-silence-profound-unthinkability/#comments Wed, 12 Dec 2012 19:32:03 +0000 http://www.nondualtraining.com/?p=3642 In Java, Indonesia, there are mystical communities who spend time silently together after an evening meal. They do not meditate, nor do they ‘relax’ or snooze. Rather, they sit attentively together in shared silence, just being with each other in the appreciation of existence. They may be smiling, gazing at each other, sitting quietly with their eyes closed, or taking in the vastness of the sky. Regardless of what they do, they are completely at ease with sharing silence. Most of us in the West don’t have a model for collective natural silence. Sitting in a space of alert, intimate silence with others in an informal setting is kind of a radical idea. We’ve never had the opportunity to feel totally at ease and absolutely alert, being no-one, going no-where within a group of people.

Like many teachers of awareness, I use dialogue as a central means for invoking and resting in pure awareness. However, in this contribution, I’d like to talk about the dynamics and flow of the silent dimensions of my work in part because this has become richer and more nuanced in recent years. I’d like to share the flavor of what can happen in these periods of natural silence so that you can enter them more deeply.

As a facilitator of nondual work, I often find myself saying nothing and doing nothing. Everything slows down and there is very little happening. After all, wherever we are, we aren’t going “anywhere.” This recognition allows silence to emerge naturally, and with this silence comes a rich sense of feeling connected to the others who are present, with no overt cognitive processing. A type of transpersonal communing within boundless awareness emerges with no effort. It’s possible to be in silent communion with people, some with their eyes open, others with their eyes closed, for 20 or 30 minutes; just appreciating the space that we are sharing individually and together.

The quality and energy of the silence that can emerge in this space is very different from the silence of most formal meditation. Normally when people “meditate,” they “agree” to be silent, mindful, introspective, or contemplative with a koan for a set period of time. In the space I’m describing, people know they can talk, move, and theoretically do anything at any time. People align to a space where nothing is prohibited, yet within which there is a deep respect for resting in the ultimate state of unconditioned awareness. We aren’t being silent for a predetermined amount of time. This allows the silence to be natural, uncontrived, effortless and potentially very deep. Nothing is being forced. There is no effort to avoid or produce anything. This is natural meditation: deep meditation without meditating.

I may close my eyes, but people know they can still talk to me. They can ask questions, or share their experience, because in the space we create together, nothing can be interrupted or disturbed. People often enter into profound states of the deepest quiescence because there is no pressure to be in any particular way. As this space deepens, thoughts begin to thin out. At an even deeper level, thoughts and feelings dissolve into nothing before they can take the form of a single word or a fleeting sensation. This is what I call the auto-liberation of thoughts and feelings. In this state, it is impossible to produce any interpretation of “what’s happening.” Energy that could take the shape of a thought-form continually dissolves into structureless awareness without any application of effort.

This type of vortex doesn’t necessarily happen for everyone. Regardless, the free-form space that neither encourages nor suppresses verbal communication undeniably supports the emergence of a samadhi-like resting in the state of profound unthinkability. In this state of unthinkability, it’s impossible to think about anything. We have no idea about what it is that we can’t think about, because even that thought can’t happen. This is the unthinkability of nondual wisdom.

Silent deconstruction

In psychotherapy it’s often thought to be more useful to vocalize our silent thoughts and work with them in open dialogue. There is an obvious and vital role for dialogue in nondual inquiry. However, silent communication is a powerful way of invoking a form of deconstruction in which people can dissolve different structures, or points of reference, at the same time. In the nondual space, we don’t need to rush into any verbal exchange. We don’t need to stimulate an inquiry or a dialogue, but we can allow dialogue or inquiry to stimulate us as it arises naturally from awareness whenever it does.

A primary dimension of nondual awareness is that we aren’t conditioning the space; we’re not pushing it in the direction of speech or silence. As facilitators of this work, there is always the option of letting participant’s play out their silent conversations, giving them the opportunity to dissolve their own fixations. As a facilitator of this process you might sense that someone is poised to ask a question, but is unsure about whether to talk, or what to say. Here we play in the liminal spaces between silence, sub-vocal and vocal communication.

We are in an ambiguous place, not knowing what will happen next. You might be thinking, “It seems like she wants to say something, but she doesn’t know what to say.” You are dancing together in a place where talking may or may not happen. Neither of you know. This is a very intimate, and often light and playful experience, during which your participant is likely in her own silent conversation about if, and what, she might share.

If there’s a shared history in which workshop participants have experienced you publicly deconstructing different points of view and types of understanding about our condition or nature of reality, people continue to deconstruct their beliefs in the “projected conversations” they have with you in their mind. There is something very exquisite and beautiful in this shared space where the dissolving of ideas and concepts happens naturally and effortlessly.

Often, this type of sharing is punctuated by smiles and laughter—and we don’t even know what we’re laughing about—which can make this all the more absurd and wonderful!
In this space the nonverbal, extra-linguistic dimensions of communication become very rich. The turn of our mouth into the hint of a smile, or a broad grin, the tilt of our head, the relaxing or straightening of our posture, the seriousness on our face, clearing of our throat, settling back into unthinkability, are all tightly coordinated with the mental processing of people who are in the room. Our body becomes an instrument through which we communicate ease, relaxation and a letting go of all striving and needing to know.

I’m reminded of the Lankavatara Sutra in Buddhism that talks about how the Mahayana transmission happens in some awakened awareness fields (buddha-kshetra) without the need for words to be spoken. Contentless awareness is transmitted through steady gazing, in gestures, through a firm concentrated visage, by movements of the eyes, laughter, even by yawning, clearing the throat, or bodily vibrations. Perhaps this is the direction that nondual gatherings move towards when dialogue and inquiry matures into shared natural meditation.

Unbounded possibilities

When people aren’t given the same level of content or type of feedback that they normally receive in a conversation, they may begin to wonder what to speak about, or if there’s anything to speak about at all. They become engaged in silent conversations with themselves that can take them all the way through to unconditioned awareness. People drop into spaces of deep inner stillness that are extremely nourishing and profoundly centering.

The value in letting conversations unfold silently is that they allow us to dance in a set of open-ended possibilities without prematurely conditioning the space by asking a question, or making an observation that’s simply a reflection of our own insecurity. On the other hand, this needs to be balanced with an awareness of the fact that we sometimes protect ourselves from other people’s judgments and perceptions by being silent and uncommunicative. In nondual inquiry we’re often dancing at the confluence of the conditioned and the unconditioned, sensing the influence of our energy field in activating and releasing fixations.

This is a way of connecting with people at the transition point where someone moves from being silent to speaking. Here we are playing with “not knowing” around the themes of, “Am I going to talk first, or are you going the say something?” “Are you going to talk or not?” “Is anyone going to talk?” We are playing with the open dimension of nondual awareness within which there is no possible bias towards silence or speech. This play can go on for several minutes.

Contentless communication

As a facilitator, I allow people to rest in the present moment. I provide very little content. For much of the time, there’s very little to do or say, very little for people to build on, and create meaning. After a while it becomes obvious that there’s nothing to understand.
People then have the opportunity to be with this space. They can fight it by looking for an argument or struggling internally. At the beginning of a workshop there may be periods of boredom and tiredness. But at some point there’s profound depth to the space. Participants can look at each other within the space with wonder and love. They’re neither bored, nor highly stimulated. They’re just sitting in alert presence, with great appreciation for the space.

Many forms of nondual teaching produce periods of natural silence, and it’s important we understand the function and potency of this experience. In a retreat setting, people can spend hours resting in subtle states of bliss-consciousness. In one-on-one sessions, people can spend many minutes in deep aesthetic appreciation, as their thoughts dissolve into unconditioned awareness.

In nondual work, silence is equally as potent as dialogue in terms of its capacity to enhance or diminish the experience of unconditioned awareness. The creation of meaning is just one possibility, but we aren’t compelled to make everything meaningful. We can make meaning out of thoughts and interpretations, but it is also possible to just be with “what is” without needing to understand it or make it significant. Resting in unconditioned awareness gives us less to think about because it is ultimately unrelated to our thinking. When we make a distinction between our thoughts and the awareness of those thoughts, we invite identification with awareness itself. Resting in awareness is completely unrelated to our thinking because the need to think or not think is simply a thought that arises within centerless awareness.

Not all experiences of silence decondition our minds. Silence can do the opposite: it can exacerbate and amplify people’s fixations. If people feel uncomfortable, silence can intensify feelings, especially if they feel that the opportunities for communicating are being curtailed or suppressed. This is why it’s critical in unfolding this type of work that we are totally open to everyone, without exception, and that we’re also open to the possibility that anything and everything can happen in the next moment. From our side, there is no such thing as an “interruption” or “disturbance” to this type of unconditioned silence, because this is the silence of pure awareness where there is nothing that can be disturbed.

Peter Fenner, Ph.D.

Copyright © Peter Fenner, 2012

Peter Fenner, Ph.D. is a spiritual leader in the adaption and transmission of Asian nondual wisdom. Pioneer in the development of nondual therapy, he created the Radiant Mind Course® and the Natural Awakening: Advanced Nondual Training. Peter runs courses, trainings, retreats and satsang telecalls and offers individual coaching sessions. His students and clients include Buddhist psychotherapists, psychologists, coaches, Zen masters, Sufi masters, Vipassana and Mindfulness teachers, Yoga teachers, psychiatrists, medical doctors, hospice workers, students of Tibetan Buddhism, followers of Advaita, artists and spiritual seekers worldwide.

Peter was a celibate monk in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition for 9 years and has a Ph.D. in the philosophical psychology of Mahayana Buddhism. Over a period of 40 years Peter Fenner has distilled the essence of traditions like Zen, Dzogchen and the Buddhist Middle Way, and adapted them to suit creatively our post-modern culture. He is the Director of Education of Timeless Wisdom.

The Radiant Mind Course (www.radiantmind.net) is taught in North America, Australia, and Europe, as well as the Natural Awakening Training, (www.nondualtraining.com.) Peter also offers retreats on 5 continents.  He has presented his work at leading universities and institutions including Columbia, Stanford, CIIS and Naropa.

Peter Fenner has written extensively on Buddhist nondual traditions. His books and CDs include:

Stay in touch with Peter Fenner

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“If I had the time, I’d be like the Buddha!” http://www.radiantmind.net/if-i-had-the-time-id-be-like-the-buddha-2/ http://www.radiantmind.net/if-i-had-the-time-id-be-like-the-buddha-2/#comments Sun, 13 May 2012 00:08:57 +0000 http://www.nondualtraining.com/?p=3285 One of the common things I hear from people when I’m running a workshop is that, “This space is great, but my life is so busy. I just don’t have the time to rest and be present to “what is.” I’ve got the meals to prepare, emails to do, phone calls with family and friends, making a living! All I really want is to spend my life in this space, but I have all these other commitments that I can’t walk away from. What can I do? How can I respond to the demands of life and still cultivate the connection to nondual awareness?”

I respond to this plea in different ways. First, I will point out that the “doing nothing” that’s happening in a workshop or on a teleconference call can’t be compared with inactivity. I may say, “It’s true that in Timeless Wisdom workshops we aren’t playing sport, surfing the internet, engrossed in a movie, negotiating airport security, or visiting our parents, but the “this” we are doing—that’s happening here—is ultimately unrelated to being still, or inaction. At the very least we can see how, right now, it’s possible to abide in awareness—and talk, listen, make notes, stand up, sit down, and move around.

the art of not looking back
Photo M. Andrews DR
 

It’s true that, as beginners, it’s easier for us to enter awareness when the environment is simple, stable and undemanding. But, it’s also important not to make a connection and think that “this”—being here—is doing nothing. We aren’t doing nothing in the way we typically use that phrase. We aren’t sitting around aimlessly, watching things go by. We are resting in a pristine state of being: a state where we could rest, fully aware, without a flicker of boredom or distress, for eternity. This is completely different from “hanging around, letting time pass by, doing nothing, until something comes along.”

In fact, I question the belief that we really want to spend more time resting in awareness? I think that, if we really wanted to spend more time “here”, somehow we’d figure out how to do it. The Buddha worked it out—how to be permanently free—as have hundreds of thousands of other sages. What’s clear is that there is a fundamental change in priorities. For the Buddha, the priority wasn’t having a roof over his head, or knowing where his next meal was coming from. Something completely different was going on. So different that he didn’t need a roof over his head, money in his pocket, or fallible human company. It’s easy to say, “Ah, but he could renounce all those things because he was enlightened.” But this is a cop out. For the Buddha, the only thing was abiding in liberating awareness, needing nothing, rejecting nothing, and letting his life unfold with no concern or preoccupation about tomorrow, or the next minute. His power and influence as the founder of a new religion came precisely from his capacity to encounter everything that came his way: scorching heat, drenching rain, an empty stomach, ridicule, unrestrained adoration, assassination attempts, numerous smear campaigns, without any of these producing the slightest mental or emotional disturbance. Such was the power of his unconditioned love and nondual wisdom.

If the same priority was alive in us, we wouldn’t be who we are. It’s very simple; we’d be a completely different person, someone so different from who we are, we couldn’t even recognize ourselves. We would see a clone of our body, but the speech, functioning, gait, comportment, lifestyle, network of friends and colleagues and career (if we could still call it that) would be completely different: like someone from a different planet. For a start, we wouldn’t be saying, “I don’t have enough time to rest in awareness. My life is too busy. I have too many other commitments.”

There is nothing to be gained in thinking, “I don’t have enough time for this work.” We rest in awareness for us long as we can. If we could do more of “this” we would. I have no doubt about this.

I invite you to be honest and realistic about how you are with this. Complaining about our time being limited and committed, and wishing it were otherwise–that there wasn’t so much to do, there weren’t so many responsibilities–merely fosters conflict. No one ever entered (or re-entered) this state by thinking, “I wish I could do more of this.” Unless, of course, in thinking like this we see that there is no “this” to want more of! No one has ever entered buddhamind wishing that their life was different. In this work we embrace what is, aware of our deepest longings and our present choices, acknowledging where we are with love and understanding.

The Bhagavad-Gita speaks about the practice of desireless action (nishkama-karma). When time is available, we sense that there’s nothing we need to do, and so we do exactly that. We find a quiet place and abide in unconditioned awareness. In the rush of getting things done we may forget the possibility of being “here,” but not entirely. Unconditioned awareness is always here, silently in the background, needing and expecting nothing but somehow drawing us into it. Knowing that the ever-present possibility can shine through at any moment, we grow in our capacity to find the time for abiding. We remember how sweet, peaceful, spacious and free this space is, and we receive it as the sourceless gift of the universe. We find a few minutes each day, and each week, to rest in nondual awareness, and we plan ahead for a retreat so we can dwell more deeply and uninterruptedly in timeless presence.

Copyright © Peter Fenner, 2012

 

Peter Fenner, Ph.D. is a spiritual leader in the adaption and transmission of Asian nondual wisdom. Pioneer in the development of nondual therapy, he created the Radiant Mind Course® and the Natural Awakening: Advanced Nondual Training. Peter runs courses, trainings, retreats and satsang telecalls and offers individual coaching sessions. His students and clients include Buddhist psychotherapists, psychologists, coaches, Zen masters, Sufi masters, Vipassana and Mindfulness teachers, Yoga teachers, psychiatrists, medical doctors, hospice workers, students of Tibetan Buddhism, followers of Advaita, artists and spiritual seekers worldwide.

Peter was a celibate monk in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition for 9 years and has a Ph.D. in the philosophical psychology of Mahayana Buddhism. Over a period of 40 years Peter Fenner has distilled the essence of traditions like Zen, Dzogchen and the Buddhist Middle Way, and adapted them to suit creatively our post-modern culture. He is the Director of Education of Timeless Wisdom.

The Radiant Mind Course (www.radiantmind.net) is taught in North America, Australia, and Europe, as well as the Natural Awakening Training, (www.nondualtraining.com.) Peter also offers retreats on 5 continents.  He has presented his work at leading universities and institutions including Columbia, Stanford, CIIS and Naropa.

Peter Fenner has written extensively on Buddhist nondual traditions. His books and CDs include:

Stay in touch with Peter Fenner

 

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Selflessness and the Mandala of Pure Perception http://www.radiantmind.net/selflessness-and-the-mandala-of-pure-perception/ http://www.radiantmind.net/selflessness-and-the-mandala-of-pure-perception/#comments Tue, 06 Mar 2012 01:24:02 +0000 http://www.nondualtraining.com/?p=3131 By Peter Fenner, Ph.D.

The buddhas teach that there is a self, that there is no self, and that there is neither a self nor the absence of a self.

Nagarjuna

The flower’s perfume has no form, but it pervades space.  Likewise, through a spiral of mandalas formless reality is known.

Saraha

When we inquire into the reality of the “being within us” who seems to experience everything that we sense, feel and think, we can never find the experiencer.  If we find something—like the sense of a center, a feeling of “me” in the head, heart or anything—this would be something that’s being “experienced.”  We still wouldn’t have found “who” is experiencing this.

These days many people are finding their way into “selflessness” or “centerlessness”—the state of being without there being a center or separate experiencer.  People realize this state through self-inquiry, using questions like “Who or what is experiencing this moment?” People may struggle for a few minutes thinking that the word “me” is the experiencer, but after a few affirmations, most people who engage in this type of inquiry can see that, yes, the idea of “me” or “I” is a particular idea that’s also being experienced.  Some people find it easy to discover selflessness using the perceptual doorways made famous by Douglas Harding’s “experiments.”  We point one of our fingers at our face and see that we can never see, never find, what our finger is pointing at.  The finger points at a space, a clearing, that is the centerless universe that circumscribes our reality.

No “non-self” either

Moreover, if we try to find the “absence of a center,” or a “self,” or “me,” we can’t find what’s not there.  So, contrary to what some people conclude, we can’t say that there is “no self,” or “no experiencer,” either.  We are left speechless, seeing that we neither exist nor don’t exist.

Sometimes people get nervous when they first encounter the realization that there is no findable “me” that sits in our head, or stands behind everything out there. People fear that the bottom of their lives might fall out.  But, if we look at what really happens, nothing changes at all.  Our fear is baseless because, while we can’t find ourselves, equally we can’t conclude that we don’t exist.  We have no basis at all for saying “Who we aren’t!”  If we look at things, we are here—you and I—and  everyone else is exactly where they are.  And yet we are all unfindable!

At this point you might be thinking, “I can’t think about ‘this’.”  And, yes, that’s precisely the case. We can’t think about “this.”  We are beyond dualistic concepts. We can’t even say, “we are beyond.”  Nothing whatsoever changes when we realize selflessness because a self was never there in the first place.  We might think that something goes away (the self) but it doesn’t.  There is nothing to disappear!

Liberated in the here-and-now

This realization is wonderful because it creates a sense of open, unbounded, freedom that’s completely fused with the infinitely complex mandala of our unique, empirical existence.  This realization allows us to be totally free in the same moment that we are, effectively, trapped in the particulars of our moment-by-moment experience.  Think about it, in this moment, nothing can be different.  The thought we are thinking displaces every other thought, if we are inhaling we can’t be exhaling.  The word you are reading right now can’t be another word, because this is the one that’s here.  Your body can’t be in a different location in this very moment, because it is where it is.  Every square centimeter of our life-world is filled to the limits with a panoramic display of colors, shapes, sensations and thought-forms.  We are engulfed in a seamless and totalizing sea of sensations and cognition that has no ruptures or interruptions.

If you’re like me, your capacity for resting in the ground of being is highly conditioned. The external circumstances and state of my body-mind need to be “just right” if I’m to have any chance of resting in awareness.  Even when things are just right, I can still be distracted by my “important” projects or necessary interests, like thinking that I really need to know the current updates in world news.  It takes just a small discomfort to wish that “things were different.”  Frustrations, anxieties, fears, annoyances, boredoms, and vulnerabilities abound.

Gradual evolution

The path for many people is gradual.  Moments of selfless awareness arise within the larger context of our life—all the events that happen from our birth, initial awakening, on into death and beyond.  The first recognition of pure, primordial awareness may occur as a child, or the serene setting of a contemplative dialogue with a nondual master, after years of meditation practice, while taking in a sunset, or in dokusan with a Zen roshi.  Or, perhaps we are introduced to the nature of mind by watching a YouTube video or informally in a café when a friend who knows this space shares the unfindable “this.”  Sometimes the first recognition happens spontaneously without any obvious precondition.  One day, everything drops away and we find ourselves in a space that’s like the open sky: beyond all concepts and feelings.  Or, perhaps this realization creeps up on us, and we can’t say exactly when we first become aware of the fact that we can’t find ourselves.

Having tasted the goal, the path consists of incrementally expanding and deepening our capacity to abide more continuously and reliably in selfless awareness as we engage the full range of experiences that are delivered to us by our karmically conditioned body-mind.  The scope for integrating what’s possible within the extremes of nirvana and samsara are enormous. Perhaps it has no limit.

Universal awakening: limitless integration

In Mahayana Buddhism the scope for our evolution is said to be inconceivably vast.  Quantum physics leads to the conclusion: “If it can happen, it will.”  Mahayana takes this further saying, “Everything can happen, and already is.”

The scope for deepening and expanding the embodied realization of selflessness is limitless.  According to the Mahayana, there is no conceivable event or experience that can disturb the vast, open-minded equanimity of a buddha. For a buddha, violent emotional invasions are received as whispered teachings of “perfect wisdom.”  Mental energies that would otherwise be experienced as psychological anguish and torment auto-liberate into a continuous stream of meditative quietude.  Physical pain is instantly and continuously transmuted by buddhamind into super-sensory pleasure.  For buddhas, energy in any form is the currency of bliss—exchangeable like dollars and euros for whatever we wish.  They live continuously in a “heaven on earth.”

One of my teachers, Lama Thubten Yeshe, often used the example of atomic power.  Awakened beings radiate a fusion-energy field.  They live in a matrix, a holographic mandala, that penetrates other people’s psyche and transforms any environment they inhabit.  The realization of buddhas is contagious, like a chain reaction.  Lama Yeshe embodied this capacity himself.  In the space of one or two minutes he would do a complete make-over of people’s limited conception of themselves.  They would arrive at his doorstep feeling very miserable about themselves, and leave a few minutes later with a life-changing experience of their spiritual potential.

Even though we are just scratching the surface of these buddha-like capacities, it’s inspiring to see that we have everything that’s needed to follow the same path to universal awakening (mahabodhi).  We are aware, and more over, we can see that we can be free in the moment without anything needing to change at all.

Pure perception

Within the vision of universal awakening, a gap between where we are now and the irreversible liberation of all mind-streams, is creatively and lovingly bridged by visioning the ideal spaces within which people can wake up and be constantly suffused and infused with the nectar of selfless awareness.  This is called “pure perception.”

“Pure perception” arises naturally when we see that there is no end to the dimensions and realities that can be touched and transformed by the liberating field of selfless awareness.  Ultimately, there is no other work to do.  We learn to how to think, feel and live at the result-level.  The type of visioning I’m talking about here comes to us effortlessly as we tune into precisely what people need in the moment in order to abide in the primordial state.

As the Buddha says in the Prajnaparamita Sutra:

Bodhisattvas are ceaselessly inspired by the conviction that the infinitely diverse structures of relativity, far from being some dangerous disease, are actually a healing medicine. Why?  Because in their intrinsically selfless nature, interdependent structures perfectly express the mystery and transmit the spiritual energy of universal companionship.  Not just awakened sages but all structures of relativity are dwellers in the boundlessness which constitutes all-embracing love, selfless compassion, sympathetic joy and blissful equanimity.

The wonderful thing about “pure perception” is that we can taste it now.  By definition, this is the nature of pure perception.  Pure perception is never something that happens in the future.  The idea that “pure perception” can only happen in the future, degrades the very quality of this experience itself.  In pure perception we bring an exalted appreciation to our experience of the world, including our own physical form.  We see the intrinsic harmony within and between all phenomena.  We experience the seamless, unimpeded flow of everything that arises and dissolves within the reality-sphere that is the mandala of our own existence.  Nothing is out of place; everything gives unique expression to an infinite network of conditions that are implicated in every manifestation from the most miniscule to the most cosmic, from the most insignificant to the most magnificent.   Everything is revealed as an expression of the unfindable vastness.

Copyright © Peter Fenner, 2012

 

Peter Fenner, Ph.D. is a spiritual leader in the adaption and transmission of Asian nondual wisdom. Pioneer in the development of nondual therapy, he created the Radiant Mind Course® and the Natural Awakening: Advanced Nondual Training. Peter runs courses, trainings, retreats and satsang telecalls and offers individual coaching sessions. His students and clients include Buddhist psychotherapists, psychologists, coaches, Zen masters, Sufi masters, Vipassana and Mindfulness teachers, Yoga teachers, psychiatrists, medical doctors, hospice workers, students of Tibetan Buddhism, followers of Advaita, artists and spiritual seekers worldwide.

Peter was a celibate monk in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition for 9 years and has a Ph.D. in the philosophical psychology of Mahayana Buddhism. Over a period of 40 years Peter Fenner has distilled the essence of traditions like Zen, Dzogchen and the Buddhist Middle Way, and adapted them to suit creatively our post-modern culture. He is the Director of Education of Timeless Wisdom.

The Radiant Mind Course (www.radiantmind.net) is taught in North America, Australia, and Europe, as well as the Natural Awakening Training, (www.nondualtraining.com.) Peter also offers retreats on 5 continents.  He has presented his work at leading universities and institutions including Columbia, Stanford, CIIS and Naropa.

Peter Fenner has written extensively on Buddhist nondual traditions. His books and CDs include:

Stay in touch with Peter Fenner

 

 

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How will this change me—will I be happier? http://www.radiantmind.net/how-will-this-change-me-will-i-be-happier/ http://www.radiantmind.net/how-will-this-change-me-will-i-be-happier/#comments Sat, 03 Mar 2012 05:58:39 +0000 http://www.nondualtraining.com/?p=3115 A question that frequently, and naturally, arises in any type of transformational work is, “How will this change me?” “Will I be more effective?” “Will I suffer less?” People would like to hear that their lives will be richer, more harmonious, and that they will be better able to deal with challenging situations. It’s tempting for people to infer that such change will happen. People in Radiant Mind, Natural Awakening and parallel programs regularly offer personal accounts about how they feel more peace and openness through engaging in nondual work. They report how their relationships and communications improve, and their fears and anxieties decrease. People validate their participation in this way. New participants are comforted and reassured by such reports. Marketing materials often imply such things, “You will discover a space where there is more intimacy, openness and less struggle, etc.”

However, as soon as people are fully engaged with nonduality, we can’t promise anything. There are two reasons for this. First, the focus of our work is on nondual awareness. If we give attention to change at the conditioned level this throws us into time and casualty. This attention doesn’t create an entry point into nondual awareness. In fact, it distracts us from the unbounded panorama of pure awareness.

We can’t know how the infusion of nondual awareness within a mindstream will influence someone’s evolutionary path. Even here, in saying that nondual awareness influences how we think, feel and perceive, I am telling a story. I am moving away from the language of the unconditioned where there’s nothing to say, nothing to describe, where the nondual can’t influence anything because it isn’t a force or power or energy. It is nothing. I acknowledge that I am no longer talking from the nondual. I’m aware that what I am about to say can easily raise as many questions as it seems to answer. I preempt this by saying “I’ll give you my thoughts on this but it will be quite brief because this is just the way that I try to make sense of things.”

Wonderful things do happen when we engage in nondual work. People experience super-deep, super-smooth and totally effortless sessions of natural meditation. They are able to feel totally complete, even blissful, in the midst of illness, irresolution or environmental threats. My approach is to acknowledge these “side effects,” but not dwell on them. They don’t become a focus of the work. In fact, these types of effects arise more consistently and comprehensively when we don’t give them any attention.

People often attribute these changes to the work they are doing. It can be tempting to agree with them and to interpret positive change to the work they are doing. I listen to these reports with pure listening. I don’t reject them or accept them. I’ll say that’s great, but I don’t make a link between the nondual program and the positive changes that are happening.

It’s a trap to attribute such changes to spending more time in nondual awareness. We then begin to assess the effectiveness of nondual work in terms of changes that are happening at the conditioned level. But the unconditioned isn’t ongoingly revealed and presenced when we are anticipating and tracking changes at the conditioned level. When we anticipate and track changes, we are no longer engaged in nondual transmission.

The second reason I don’t make promises that people’s lives will improve is that I don’t know what will happen for someone, tomorrow, next week or next year. While I’m sure that nondual awareness only serves people positively, it’s impossible to know what’s going to happen in a person’s life. We can’t know what those challenges will be. Someone’s life may move from being peaceful and easy to becoming demanding and stressful overnight. This happens all the time. Everyday thousands of people are losing their jobs, needing to sell their home, welcoming a newborn child into their family, and dealing with the news of a terminal illness. The stresses involved in some of these experiences can last for months or years.

Engaging in nonduality doesn’t provide insurance against relationship problems, financial loss, illness or death. All we can confidently say is that the more time we spend in nondual awareness, the better we will be able to handle life’s challenges, no matter what they are. Once we’ve experienced unconditioned awareness, this healing experience percolates through the layers of our conditioning. There is a natural and effortless process, which is different for each complex being, and it happens in its own time. At times, this deconditioning can happen quickly, and then we might regress and find ourselves confronting something that has been deeply held within our conditioning. At other times, deconditioning happens slowly and steadily. The entire process may take more than a lifetime. We might never reside permanently in unconditioned awareness. We have no concern for this. We can simply let the process happen in its own way.

An excerpt from Natural Awakening: Advanced Nondual Training Manual written by Peter Fenner

Copyright © Peter Fenner, 2009-2012

 

Peter Fenner, Ph.D. is a spiritual leader in the adaption and transmission of Asian nondual wisdom. Pioneer in the development of nondual therapy, he created the Radiant Mind Course® and the Natural Awakening: Advanced Nondual Training. Peter runs courses, trainings, retreats and satsang telecalls and offers individual coaching sessions. His students and clients include Buddhist psychotherapists, psychologists, coaches, Zen masters, Sufi masters, Vipassana and Mindfulness teachers, Yoga teachers, psychiatrists, medical doctors, hospice workers, students of Tibetan Buddhism, followers of Advaita, artists and spiritual seekers worldwide.

Peter was a celibate monk in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition for 9 years and has a Ph.D. in the philosophical psychology of Mahayana Buddhism. Over a period of 40 years Peter Fenner has distilled the essence of traditions like Zen, Dzogchen and the Buddhist Middle Way, and adapted them to suit creatively our post-modern culture. He is the Director of Education of Timeless Wisdom.

The Radiant Mind Course (www.radiantmind.net) is taught in North America, Australia, and Europe, as well as the Natural Awakening Training, (www.nondualtraining.com.) Peter also offers retreats on 5 continents.  He has presented his work at leading universities and institutions including Columbia, Stanford, CIIS and Naropa.

Peter Fenner has written extensively on Buddhist nondual traditions. His books and CDs include:

Stay in touch with Peter Fenner

 

 

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Nondual Ecology http://www.radiantmind.net/nondual-ecology-interview-of-peter-fenner/ http://www.radiantmind.net/nondual-ecology-interview-of-peter-fenner/#comments Fri, 12 Aug 2011 19:25:45 +0000 http://www.nondualtraining.com/?p=2389 Unstructured, contentless and ineffable – Part 1

An Interview of Peter Fenner, Ph.D. by Alex Dijk for BewustZijn magazine


The Australian Peter Fenner (1949) lived nine years as a Tibetan monk, and then taught in the academic world. He is now regarded as an expert in applying and adapting Asian nondual wisdom through his programs, the “Radiant Mind Course” and the “Natural Awakening: Advanced Nondual Training.”

“I am very fortunate in that what I do now with my life is essentially what I hope to be doing until I die. I try to live my life so that I suffer less at a personal level. I hope that this then increases my capacity to support other people. My path has been one of discovering, first, to take care of ‘me’ so that I’m less preoccupied with myself, and then having done that, freeing up my time and energy to begin to contribute to others.

I’ve been involved with Buddhist teachings for quite a long time. Buddhism captured my attention 40 years ago because the idea that our needs and preferences are the source of our suffering made immediate sense to me at an intellectual level. Having what we don’t want, and not having what we do want, is the recipe for all our pain, upset and dissatisfaction. If we can free ourselves from the ‘need’ for things to be different, or to stay the same, we have discovered a state of unconditional freedom. This is what is meant by the term ‘nirvana.’ It is the state where nothing needs to be different. So the path consists of gradually reducing our needs and loosening the restrictions of our preferences.”

Big demands

“More recently I’ve seen how this teaching and path offers the most efficient way for addressing the ecological imperatives which become more obvious day-by-day. The work of reducing the demands we place on external sources of pleasure and satisfaction is entirely relevant to the environmental discourse of today. It is the demands we make on planet earth that are rapidly degrading the quality of our environment, which in turn compound existing social and geopolitical pressures.

There are really two sets of demands that we make on the external world. There are the demands we make of other people, and the demands we make on the biosphere. The demands we make on others are the source of our interpersonal problems and conflicts: in couples, within families, within societies, between countries, races and religions. When we make demands, we place requirements on other people to be a particular way, and not be so in other ways.

Similarly we make tremendous demands on the environment because we believe that we need all sorts of things in order to be fulfilled. We are relatively incapable of ‘just being with ourselves,’ simply sitting and enjoying our connection and relationship with awareness itself. Instead we need to be entertained, amused, distracted or unconscious. The external resources that are required to keep us just marginally content are truly phenomenal. Just look at the funds involved in producing sporting events, luxury cars, technological gadgets, feature films, etc. If we decreased our demands on the external world by 10%, we would be living in a different world. It would be unrecognizable. Physically, tangibly, the world would be a different place.

Similarly, our relationships would transform if the source of our fulfilment was coming from within. The wonderful thing is we can make this change. We can train ourselves to rest peacefully in the nature of our own being, without needing to look outside for emotional pleasures and sensory stimulation. The greatest pleasure and peace comes from just being able to be completely fulfilled with things exactly as they are.”

Sustainable thinking

“We also set standards for our physical wellbeing that place a huge cost on the environment. We spend enormous amounts of money on our appearance: wearing the right clothes, trying to look young and attractive. In some weird way we want to be in optimum health, right up until the moment of our death! Globally, we expend vast amounts of energy and spend huge sums of money trying to retard the aging process and prolong life.

What a great asset it would be if we could just let ourselves age, for example, without holding on to some notion of agelessness or immortality. No one really believes that we can remain young forever, and still the illusion motivates us to spend enormous resources on trying to forestall the aging process.

The ecological alternative here is to discover how we already have everything that’s needed to be fulfilled in the most comprehensive way possible. This isn’t just a fanciful idea. There are hundreds of thousands of great spiritual masters throughout the ages that have shown us that this is possible. There are sages who lived in ‘great bliss’ in severe environments without any heating or air-conditioning, without the latest gadgets, and without the security of knowing that quality medical care was close at hand.

The ultimate benchmark that these sages offer us is the possibility of making the journey through aging and dying without losing a connection with the supernal bliss of unconditioned awareness. For these sages, death itself was a non-event. As the 16th Karmapa of Tibet said on his deathbed in 1981, ‘nothing happens.’”

Detachment

But more significantly, we can make our own experiment right now. Here we are. We’ve come together in this moment. How do we discover, first-hand, the very same reality that allowed the sages of the past and present to remain unperturbed in the face of the very same experiences that throw us into confusion, obsession, anger or fear.

The remarkable news is that nothing is needed in order to make this discovery. We don’t need ‘more time,’ to be somewhere else, to receive a superior teaching, or engage in a special practice. All that’s required is to see that we can be—that we are, in fact—already fulfilled. In this moment we don’t need anything more. We don’t need more money, a different body, a different partner—not in this very instant.

This moment—right now—is giving us everything we need just to be here; unassumingly, effortlessly, being ‘no one’ in particular, and with no need to be anywhere else. That’s the magic of this moment. This moment is perfect. Why? Because don’t need anything more. Here we are—you and me—in this tight, quite unique, perhaps slightly weird, but effortless conversation. We started with my observations about Buddhism and it’s relevance to ecology, and here we are, not asking for anything more. This moment is giving us everything we need just to be here, in the simplest way possible. We don’t need to be entertained, right now—enough is happening. We don’t need a flashy car—we’re not in it! In this moment, we don’t need a different standard of living, or a better return on our investments—we are clothed, fed and comfortable. We have everything we need, in order to rest with ‘what is.’

The beauty of this moment is that it’s effortless and uncontrived. The magic of this moment is that it’s ungraspable and ineffable. We can’t say what ‘this’ moment is. It leaves without a trace or history. In the very same moment that it arises, it disappears. We can’t say where it comes from, or where it goes. We can’t even say ‘where’ this is, except that ‘this’ is where it is: where ever that is! We can’t think about ‘this’ because there is nothing to think about. This is exactly what the sages mean when they say that ‘this’ is ineffable.

And now we can also see that if we are ‘here’ at the moment of our death, we have no fear. If we were to remain in this state, our death would be uneventful. The process of dying is nothing more than a continual letting go of everything at the conditioned level: our body, our friends, our possessions, our memories—in fact, the entire known world. At our death we say goodbye forever, to everything that we know and we never return. If we are here—resting in unconditioned awareness—everything can drop away with no grasping or attachment.”

Practicing no-practice

“So, how do we go about this? How do we stay connected with ‘present awareness,’ not just now but going into the future? How do we cultivate this way of being? In one way that’s simple, just by being ‘here,’ whenever we can. Right now we have an opportunity, and we are using it. We’re still in this conversation together, and it has taken us into ‘present-moment-awareness.’ And these opportunities will return, again and again.

Visiting this place, resting here, enables ‘this’ to come into the foreground. Over time this might even become the baseline state. But we should be reminded that there is no practice involved in doing this. You haven’t been practicing these last few minutes. Neither have I. We’ve come together in a resonant field that allows the quality of this present moment to emerge like bubbles floating to the surface of water. This is a matter of recognition rather than practice. We recognize when it’s possible to be ‘here,’ and then we recognize ‘this.’

And yes, our capacity to recognize this opportunity does produce a change in our objectives. Our objective swings away from being preoccupied with our body, our finances and our relationships. We see that in this moment, we don’t need more zeros to our investment account. The objective right now is to continue to be ‘here.’ Not here as a physical location, but here as a state of consciousness that simply precludes the possibility of feeling that anything is missing, or wrong, or even that things could be better.

Over time, the contrast becomes clear. If we had the option of resting ‘here’ for the rest of our lives, or accumulating more assets, or keeping ourselves young and beautiful, the choice is obvious. It’s a choice between unconditional contentment and the ups and downs of chasing after fleeting experiences.”

Nondual Ecology – Part 2

Peter Fenner, Ph.D.

Copyright © Peter Fenner, 2011

 

Peter Fenner, Ph.D. is a spiritual leader in the adaption and transmission of Asian nondual wisdom. Pioneer in the development of nondual therapy, he created the Radiant Mind Course® and the Natural Awakening: Advanced Nondual Training. Peter runs courses, trainings, retreats and satsang telecalls and offers individual coaching sessions. His students and clients include Buddhist psychotherapists, psychologists, coaches, Zen masters, Sufi masters, Vipassana and Mindfulness teachers, Yoga teachers, psychiatrists, medical doctors, hospice workers, students of Tibetan Buddhism, followers of Advaita, artists and spiritual seekers worldwide.

Peter was a celibate monk in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition for 9 years and has a Ph.D. in the philosophical psychology of Mahayana Buddhism. Over a period of 40 years Peter Fenner has distilled the essence of traditions like Zen, Dzogchen and the Buddhist Middle Way, and adapted them to suit creatively our post-modern culture. He is the Director of Education of Timeless Wisdom.

The Radiant Mind Course (www.radiantmind.net) is taught in North America, Australia, and Europe, as well as the Natural Awakening Training, (www.nondualtraining.com.) Peter also offers retreats on 5 continents. He has presented his work at leading universities and institutions including Columbia, Stanford, CIIS and Naropa.

Peter Fenner has written extensively on Buddhist nondual traditions. His books and CDs include:

Stay in touch with Peter Fenner

 

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Nondual Ecology – Part 2 http://www.radiantmind.net/nondual-ecology_part-2_by_peter-fenner/ http://www.radiantmind.net/nondual-ecology_part-2_by_peter-fenner/#comments Fri, 08 Jul 2011 17:48:29 +0000 http://www.nondualtraining.com/?p=2394 Unstructured, contentless and ineffable – Part 2

An Interview of Peter Fenner, Ph.D. by Alex Dijk for BewustZijn magazine

[…] Click here to read Nondual Ecology – Part 1

A shared experience

“The place we are exploring now is where we always are. It’s never a different place. We’re not talking about me sitting here in Amsterdam being interviewed, and you, wherever you are, reading this. It’s here where we meet, in a space where we access a state of consciousness that goes beyond our individual conditions, yet doesn’t deny them either. This is a transcendental state of consciousness, but not transcendental in a way that disconnects us from the reality of our lives. We are fully present, totally present to each other in this moment. At the same time, we are accessing a state of consciousness that has nothing to do with us that is timeless, that isn’t limited by our physical location.

This is the same state of consciousness that the great sages were familiar with and lived their lives from. And we’re here, touching it, learning how to connect with it, learning how to expand it. There have been people who have lived their entire lives from this place, but even if we’re unable to do that in this lifetime, still, just connecting this once, to know that this is possible, is the greatest blessing that can happen. Why? Because this gives us a new frame of reference that can really change our lives. We say: ‘Aha! So it’s not just about my career! It’s not just about getting the right partner! It’s not just about bringing up the right children, and being the perfect parent!’ Some of those things might be part of our lives, but living is also knowing how to access unconditioned, timeless awareness that is beyond cultures, beyond you and me.

This is the only state that we can truly share with each other, in which we both know exactly where the ‘other’ is. There’s no scope for misinterpretation here. I don’t have to ask you what you mean by ‘this.’ You don’t have to ask me what I mean – we know this is beyond our personal interpretations.”

What are we talking about?

“As a reader you now have two options. Either you are in the groove of where we’re moving, or you might be quite lost. It’s easy to get lost in this at some point, because that’s what happens when we’re still trying to ‘understand’ what ‘this’ is. The need to know, the need to understand, is sometimes like a mountain that we have to climb over or move through before we can rest here. We have a habit of needing to know and thinking that if we can’t know what this is, then we have no means of relating to it.

One of my guiding principles is to do whatever needs to be done in order to rest in this space, in order to be here. That’s not the same as doing nothing. If we do nothing, if we’re inactive, the world just demands our attention anyway, doesn’t it? It forces its way into our lives in the form of broken relationships, medical problems, financial difficulties, and so on. Things go wrong if we don’t take care of our career, our responsibilities to our parents, our children, our body and so on.

Our presencing of pure awareness make us more finely attuned to what’s happening at the conditioned level. It shows us how to do no more and no less than what’s required at the level of environment, body, money, and relationships in order to spend more time in this ultimate state, called buddhamind.”

This-ness

“Within the unconditioned state itself, there’s no activity. And yet, right now there’s also quite a lot of action. A lot is happening in our conversation while we’re resting in awareness. This is also highly creative because I don’t know what I’ll be saying from one minute to the next. I don’t know how you will be responding to me and vice versa, so it’s a dynamic state, but at the same time ‘nothing’ is happening at all. Communication and the silence of unperturbed awareness are happening at the same time. There are two dimensions to tune into. There’s the dimension of movement and activity, of words coming out of my mouth: the conditioned state. That’s obvious. And we also tune into the ‘field’ of awareness within which this is all happening.

This awareness is like a mirror: it reflects what’s happening, but isn’t changed by the activities themselves. The only hesitancy I have in using a word like ‘field,’ or any word really, is that it has associations for people. And so the ideal in pointing to the unconditioned dimension of this moment is to use words that have minimal associations. If the words we use have associations, they give us something to think about. This is why some traditions simply refer to this as ‘suchness’ or ‘this-ness.’ A word like ‘suchness’ is great because it points to ‘this’ without saying anything else.

This state has no structure. It’s completely unstructured; it’s contentless. That means we can never understand awareness. It’s not an object of knowledge. What we can understand, what we can study, what we can theorise about and write about are the objects of awareness: sense phenomena, thoughts and feelings. We can develop physical and psychological theories about the nature of reality at the objective level, which is the level of the objects of awareness, but awareness itself can not be known.”

Prajñāpāramitā

“Something unique is happening in this conversation. It’s moving differently than most conversations. We can feel how our minds are functioning differently. We can feel the energy moving in our bodies. We are aware of the different phenomena, the transformations that are happening at the conditioned level, the mental, emotional and physical impact this has on us. Exploring awareness in the way that we are can produce all sorts of wonderful feelings, including a sense of wonder and excitement. This is great. You can just let that happen. But we can also recognize that the excitement has nothing to do with ‘this.’ Excitement comes and goes. You can let it be here long as it is, know that at some point it will disappear. As the excitement matures, we can really tune into how this is different, because it can’t be lost. There is ‘nothing’ to lose. Here we are again, pointing to a dimension of reality that is generally inaccessible to most people.

Why are we doing this? We’re not doing anything. This transcendent dimension of being is just here again. It’s not a ‘thing,’ but still it’s here, and we are pointing at it, because we can. Most people miss this, because it’s invisible. We can’t hear it, we can’t touch it, or even think about it, so it’s very easy to miss. And still, nothing could be simpler than this. Nothing needs to change. We don’t have to do anything different. There’s no more work to be done.

When we read the writings from the great sages of thousands of years ago, we know that they knew ‘this.’ They were here, in this exact same space. This is what they were pointing to in their writings and teachings. They use different names like primordial awareness and the awakened mind. In Sanskrit, it’s called prajñāpāramitā which means ‘transcendental wisdom.’

If you look at it, everything we do is ultimately aimed at being here, because this is where the path stops. There’s no more path, and nowhere further to go. The work is over, the work is done. We’ve gained the ultimate state. We’re resting in the state that’s the ultimate goal of all human endeavours in every field. From conducting wars, to entering into relationship, to trying to make a billion dollars, whatever it is, it is all aimed at being here. It’s all aimed at getting to the point where the game is over, where we can truly and deeply say that everything has been accomplished. And here we are at that point, at least in this moment. We’re at the top of the mountain. There is nowhere further to go. And what’s so incredible is that it’s not even an accomplishment. We can say what it is, but we don’t need to.”

Incredible

“But at some point we won’t believe this. At some point we’ll think: ‘No, hang on, there are these other important things that need to happen.’ We’ll forget this, and there will be projects and things that we think we will have to put our effort and energy into. We’ll think that we’ve lost this state, when in fact there’s nothing to lose. This is beyond loss and gain, we haven’t gained any thing. We have and we haven’t. That’s the paradox.

There’s nothing to perpetuate, nothing to hang on to. If we get into the mindset of trying to perpetuate ‘this,’ it’s no longer ‘this,’ it’s something else. All we need to do right now is appreciate how this is happening by itself. If we think we need to do something to ‘stay here,’ we immediately see that there’s nothing to perpetuate. And that’s how this continues, by seeing that there’s nothing to perpetuate!

Thank you very much for this opportunity to share this time and space with you.”

Copyright © Peter Fenner, 2011

 

Peter Fenner, Ph.D. is a spiritual leader in the adaption and transmission of Asian nondual wisdom. Pioneer in the development of nondual therapy, he created the Radiant Mind Course® and the Natural Awakening: Advanced Nondual Training. Peter runs courses, trainings, retreats and satsang telecalls and offers individual coaching sessions. His students and clients include Buddhist psychotherapists, psychologists, coaches, Zen masters, Sufi masters, Vipassana and Mindfulness teachers, Yoga teachers, psychiatrists, medical doctors, hospice workers, students of Tibetan Buddhism, followers of Advaita, artists and spiritual seekers worldwide.

Peter was a celibate monk in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition for 9 years and has a Ph.D. in the philosophical psychology of Mahayana Buddhism. Over a period of 40 years Peter Fenner has distilled the essence of traditions like Zen, Dzogchen and the Buddhist Middle Way, and adapted them to suit creatively our post-modern culture. He is the Director of Education of Timeless Wisdom.

The Radiant Mind Course (www.radiantmind.net) is taught in North America, Australia, and Europe, as well as the Natural Awakening Training, (www.nondualtraining.com.) Peter also offers retreats on 5 continents. He has presented his work at leading universities and institutions including Columbia, Stanford, CIIS and Naropa.

Peter Fenner has written extensively on Buddhist nondual traditions. His books and CDs include:

Stay in touch with Peter Fenner

 

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Nondual Therapy and Nondual Coaching http://www.radiantmind.net/nondual-therapy-and-nondual-coaching-some-distinctions/ http://www.radiantmind.net/nondual-therapy-and-nondual-coaching-some-distinctions/#comments Tue, 10 May 2011 01:00:48 +0000 http://www.nondualtraining.com/?p=1601 Nondual Therapy and Nondual Coaching – Some Distinctions

Question: What is the difference between nondual therapy and nondual coaching?

Peter Fenner: Nondual therapy has emerged from within the field of psychotherapy. Nondual therapists are credentialed psychologists or psychotherapists who have easy access to nondual awareness, who recognize this as the ultimate state of being and are skillful in supporting their clients in resting as awareness when this can arise naturally and appropriately. They have received training within one or several therapeutic modalities such as transpersonal, humanistic, existential, eclectic, cognitive-behavioral or depth psychology. Nonetheless, nondual awareness sits in the foreground as an ever-present possibility in each clinical encounter.

The therapeutic context means that clients tend to approach a therapist feeling that some event or events in their life history negatively impact the quality of their present and future life. With this assumption, entry into the nondual is often preceded by the release of somatically embedded emotions and detachment from personal narratives prior to engaging with questions such as; “Who thinks that?” or, “Where are those feelings being received?”

In nondual therapy, nondual awareness itself is also used as an agent for clearing past traumas and for seeing that less work—or even no work—needs to be done in terms of processing the past in order to be totally complete and fully integrated with the present moment. Awareness is used as the ultimate healer. For the most part, nondual therapy augments other forms of therapy. Ultimately there’s no such thing as “nondual” therapy since there is “no one” in need of anything.

These days, many informed spiritual people specifically decide to work with therapists who have access to the nondual and can integrate this into their therapy. People recognize a need to work with their obsessions, fears, traumatic memories, shadow side, but want to do this in a way that doesn’t fortify the energy of their limitations, or conflict in any way with ever-present awareness.

Nondual coaching differs from nondual therapy in at least two ways. Firstly, nondual coaching can be a “stand alone” offer. People approach nondual coaches with the specific intention of discovering nondual awareness and learning how to become more and more familiar with this state. In contrast, people tend to engage nondual therapists with the dual objective of improving their emotional wellbeing and exploring pure awareness. The tacit or explicit agreement when people work with a nondual coach is that the coach will “speak from, and relate from, the space of awareness itself.”

This means that skilled coaches can operate more consistently at a “results level” in which there is little deviation into the stories and interpretation we have about our life and conditioned experience. The function of the coach is to continually reveal centerless awareness in ways that allow their clients to become more and more familiar with this space. When clients identify with their personal experience or begin to construct that they are resting or not resting in awareness, the coach observes this deviation into the dualistic mind.

I know many therapists who work with the nondual, who weave the nondual into their therapy in a very skillful way, but this is different from unfolding a session at the 100% results or acausal level. In fact, very few coaches unfold their sessions at a purely acausal level because no matter what people say, this isn’t what they want. In the same way that we say we don’t want to suffer, but nonetheless continue year after year with energizing the very experience that we complain about. It’s demanding on a client to function purely at the results level. When therapists and coaches sense that “coming purely from the nondual” is too much for their clients they shift into a causal paradigm and begin to look into their client’s personal stories. Sometimes this shift is a skillful means, but it can also come from a fear of losing clients.

Another significant difference between nondual therapy and nondual coaching is that therapists (and this includes nondual therapists) have a professional obligation to help people who come to them in need of support, even if this means referring people to other mental health professionals. From a nondual perspective “picking and choosing” clients can’t happen. The process of engaging with a nondual teacher arises through a self-selecting mechanism that goes beyond personal preferences or professional obligations.

 

Question: From what you are saying, from the nondual perspective, it is better to work with a nondual coach?

Peter: I haven’t said that. In the course of any session with a therapist or coach, most people can only rest in awareness for a few minutes at a time. The advantage of working with a licensed psychotherapist is that they have received many years of training and supervision in the art of caring for people’s emotional and mental wellbeing. Nondual therapists pace their introduction to centerless awareness to the intrinsic capacities of their clients. They also aren’t newcomers to the block. Many have spent 20, 30 or 40 years exploring nondual awareness. And there is an essential guarantee that psychotherapists treat their clients respectfully and practice in a way that clients needn’t be concerned about any relational intrusions or ethical transgressions. This is important to most people.

Coaching as a professional intervention is much younger than psychotherapy. While there are professional associations that aim to uphold the standards of their members, no professional training or license is needed to set up shop as a coach. In general, coaching focuses on the future, on creating and leveraging opportunities and on achieving specified outcomes.

It is misleading to think of nondual coaching as a specific form, for instance, of life coaching. Nondual awareness can be integrated into life coaching, career coaching, sports coaching, health or even financial counseling. Within this framework the coach takes on the future orientation of their clients, but also shows how none of our planning for a better future is needed if we rest in nondual awareness in the present moment. They may also show that the best thing to do to “secure the best future” is to presence awareness whenever this is possible. Nonetheless, a life coach who is using the nondual will continue to return to their clients’ agendas.

Nowadays, the term “nondual coaching” refers to the specific action of introducing people to the nature of mind. At its essence, nondual coaching is the same as “mind-to-mind” transmission in Zen or pointing out instructions in Mahamudra or Dzogchen. People work with a nondual coach with the very specific intention of discovering, resting and acting from centerless awareness. Of course, we know that this intention presupposes that presencing awareness isn’t happening in this moment. And this is precisely the type of assumption that a coach points out.

In the Natural Awakening: Advanced Nondual Training we don’t explicitly differentiate between nondual therapy and nondual coaching. We offer a process that’s equally applicable to both; that can be used by both coaches and therapists. If, for example, someone feels that a particular life event—a trauma or their upbringing—is an obstacle to presencing awareness, then the initial tack may seem to be therapeutic. On the other hand, if someone is seeking to improve their living circumstances—their financial wellbeing, finding a career that’s more consistent with their values, etc.—the initial conversation may look like life coaching. But very quickly the conversation will transform into an inquiry into what’s missing in the here and now.

Nondual coaching and nondual therapy share a focus on “working in the here and now,” and both approaches use nondual dialogue, or unfindability inquiry to dissolve our constructions that anything is wrong or missing in the present moment. Whether the approach is more like therapy or coaching is determined, in part, by where people are coming from in terms of being located in a past or future concern, and whether the perceived obstacles to fulfillment are emotional or situational.

The outcomes of both nondual therapy and nondual coaching are the same. The endpoint can’t be different because the result—the embodied presencing of nondual awareness—goes beyond dualistic ideas of sameness and difference.

 

Question: So what would you recommend for a beginner?

Peter: For a real beginner I’d recommend gaining more familiarity with nondual awareness itself. At some point a particular direction will come to you, or it may not.

 

Question: I’m at the point where I’m familiar with this state. I rest here often, and I’m beginning to support others in terms of discovering how to be “here.” What would you recommend to me in terms of perhaps training as a psychologist, or beginning to tell people that I’m a nondual coach?

Peter: You don’t need to think about that right now. That question just gives you something to think about. The question of a direction will become obvious. This isn’t about becoming a therapist, a coach, or anything else. This is about being here, complete in this moment, and sharing this space through whatever structures and labels present themselves in the moment.

If you are to become a nondual coach, you don’t need to tell anyone about who you are. It will become obvious to other people that you can contribute to them in this way. People will start to talk about you as a nondual coach. If there is anything you “need” to do from your side, you won’t be doing nondual coaching or nondual therapy.

Copyright © Peter Fenner, 2011

 

Peter Fenner, Ph.D. is a spiritual leader in the adaption and transmission of Asian nondual wisdom. Pioneer in the development of nondual therapy, he created the Radiant Mind Course® and the Natural Awakening: Advanced Nondual Training. Peter runs courses, trainings, retreats and satsang telecalls and offers individual coaching sessions. His students and clients include Buddhist psychotherapists, psychologists, coaches, Zen masters, Sufi masters, Vipassana and Mindfulness teachers, Yoga teachers, psychiatrists, medical doctors, hospice workers, students of Tibetan Buddhism, followers of Advaita, artists and spiritual seekers worldwide.

Peter was a celibate monk in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition for 9 years and has a Ph.D. in the philosophical psychology of Mahayana Buddhism. Over a period of 40 years Peter Fenner has distilled the essence of traditions like Zen, Dzogchen and the Buddhist Middle Way, and adapted them to suit creatively our post-modern culture. He is the Director of Education of Timeless Wisdom.

The Radiant Mind Course (www.radiantmind.net) is taught in North America, Australia, and Europe, as well as the Natural Awakening Training, (www.nondualtraining.com.) Peter also offers retreats on 5 continents. He has presented his work at leading universities and institutions including Columbia, Stanford, CIIS and Naropa.

Peter Fenner has written extensively on Buddhist nondual traditions. His books and CDs include:

Stay in touch with Peter Fenner

 

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Transmitting Nonduality, the Ultimate Medicine http://www.radiantmind.net/transmitting-nonduality-sharing-the-ultimate-medicine/ http://www.radiantmind.net/transmitting-nonduality-sharing-the-ultimate-medicine/#comments Mon, 09 May 2011 09:41:15 +0000 http://www.nondualtraining.com/?p=1613 Nondual transmission, sharing the Ultimate Medicine

Nondual awareness—what is also called “buddhamind,” “suchness,” “just this,” “original wisdom” and many other names—is the most precious space that a person can realize. To rest and live in this space is the ultimate medicine because here there is no sense of lack or deficiency. No matter how things are; no matter what sensations are arising in the body, no matter what is being thought, or where we are in terms of health or material resources, nothing more is needed . We live from a space that can’t be enhanced or improved because “here” no one needs anything.

Nondual awareness is the most precious resource available to every human being and for humanity at large; especially as we negotiate our way through this critical phase of human history. There’s no question that the most efficient way to demand less from our delicate environment is to discover the space of authentic self-sufficiency, and live more thoroughly from a place where we’re nourished and fulfilled by awareness itself.

Every day, some people awake in a selfless recognition of their fundamental nature — a sphere of awareness through which life moves—without this being shown to them by a teacher. There are innumerable cases of spontaneous realization throughout human history. But in the majority of cases people come to this recognition through a connection with an Advaita master, Zen practice, the instructions of a Dzogchen lama, working with Western non-aligned teachers, nondual therapists, or timeless texts that directly point to awareness itself.

But don’t I need to be realized before sharing nondual awareness?

Some people feel that it’s impossible to learn how to cultivate and transmit nondual awareness. They hold that it arises without any causes. At one level this is true. Nothing can bring “this” into being, because “nothing” is being created. “This” is always, already here. Still, the wisdom of the “pristine self-sufficient purity of this moment” has also been consciously transmitted, at least from the time when the Buddha held up a flower and the great Kashyapa received a direct transmission of a contentless wisdom revealing the nature of consciousness itself.

Nondual awareness has been consciously revealed in the minds of hundreds of thousands of people through self inquiry, koans, clear seeing or vipashyana, pointing out events, and visionary meetings (darshan). These methods first entered the West 50 years or so ago. Today, half a century later, a significant number of Westerners are maturing as authentic agents for nondual transmission.

While the mind-to-mind transmission of pure awareness goes beyond all agency and contrivance, it’s possible to see how transmission happens, and use a broad palette of tools and sensitivities to awaken this in others. If someone has a clear recognition of the centerless space of nondual awareness and a natural impulse to share at this level, it’s definitely possible to refine the capacity for nondual transmission and extend the reach of the field in which this happens.

Many forms of nondual inquiry

There are many forms of nondual inquiry. Indian Mahayana, Zen, Advaita and Dzogchen all have their preferred methods. Some approaches are confrontational, others are gentle. Some are incremental, others are sudden. Some methods lend themselves to group entrainment, others are more suited to a one-on-one, dokusan-type of exchange. Some approaches build on a foundation of contemplative serenity, others cut through intellectualization in swift, robust dialogues.

Bringing your first-hand experience to the Nondual Training

The Nondual Training brings together a community of new and seasoned teachers, therapists or coaches who have a breadth and wealth of experience in nondual transmission and psychospiritual expertise, that is unparalleled. Together we share and explore the ins and outs of nondual inquiry and transmission. As a group we draw on more than 500 years of first-hand practical experience and accumulated wisdom derived from a very wide range of nondual lineages.

I know that some teachers strongly caution against stepping outside of a particular lineage of transmission, fearing that sharing the path with practitioners from other traditions, can dilute the integrity and authenticity of their teaching. My experience is quite the opposite. People who are clear and confident in presencing nondual awareness know that nothing can threaten this space because there’s nothing here: no beliefs, practices or values that can be distorted or destroyed.

In this case exposure to a variety of ways of sharing nonduality only serves to enrich, empower and bring clarity to our own unique way of embodying and sharing the nondual.

Demystifying transmission

The process of sharing our skills and expertise reveals the structures of effective transmission. We demystify events such as pointing-out instructions and Zen dokusan. The framework of the Training introduces a language and set of subtle distinctions through which participants share and understand the function and relevance of different ways for delivering the same contentless wisdom. These distinctions continues to be enriched as the Training unfolds. A set of core distinctions is offered in a comprehensive Manual that’s been specially written for the Training.

See a detailed description of the structure of the Natural Awakening Nondual Training

 

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Presencing Awareness http://www.radiantmind.net/presencing-awareness-peter-fenner-interviewed-by-tami-simon/ http://www.radiantmind.net/presencing-awareness-peter-fenner-interviewed-by-tami-simon/#comments Mon, 09 May 2011 08:43:39 +0000 http://www.nondualtraining.com/?p=664 Peter fenner interviewed by Tami Simon

Listen to the audio recording of this interview of Peter Fenner by Tami Simon or click this link to download it on you computer.

 

Tami Simon: […]  You mention people using the phrase “increasing awareness.” I hear that all the time: “The purpose of meditation is to expand awareness.” But really the person must be saying something different.

Peter Fenner: Sure. I think that what people are saying is that what’s expanding are the horizons of their conditioned experience. For example, if people are meditating, they’re opening themselves up to this perhaps infinite interior reality composed of thoughts, subtle feelings and sensations, meditative states. So people are expanding what’s in the field of awareness, but I don’t see that they are expanding awareness itself.

TS: That’s a really good point. Now, one of the things you talk about in your book Radiant Mind, that I’ve never heard anybody else introduce is this idea that we can track, in a certain way, how deeply we know, and can rest in unconditioned awareness by using these three different—I guess I might call them “measurements,” but you can correct me here if I’m misrepresenting anything. You talk about purity, depth, and duration. Would you say these are three qualities? How would you describe it? That we start relating, being as unconditioned awareness, that we can look at the purity, depth, and duration? Can you talk a bit about that, Peter?

Peter Fenner: Sure. Firstly, in a way, we can view this from how it is when we’re resting within awareness itself, or we can talk about this from how it is from the side of our conditioned existence. So when we’re resting within awareness itself, those three dimensions or parameters don’t apply, because awareness itself is even beyond notions of purity and impurity. There’s nothing that can be pure or impure. There’s nothing to prolong or nothing to shorten, so even the notion of duration doesn’t apply, because within awareness itself, it’s atemporal; we can’t measure time. Within awareness itself, there’s no deepening; we can’t have a more shallow or a deeper resting in this state when we’re viewing it from within awareness itself, but when we step back and see how resting in awareness plays out within our conditioned existence, then I feel that we can usefully make those distinctions, those three parameters.

For example, purity is just the way that sometimes, when people are resting in awareness, they still create that it’s some type of subtle experience. It’s what I call “experientializing the state.” People can say, “Wow, this is really blissful!” or “This is a really . . .” They can feel the palpability of the field, so they overlay onto the nothing of awareness some subtle fabric. That’s what I mean by introducing an impurity into the experience.

Then, with depth, to me that’s really important to acknowledge, because by depth, I mean the extent to which we can integrate the present thing of unconditioned awareness into our life. Because, at least in my experience, what happens is that I’m resting in awareness, and then something comes along that’s outside of my preferences, and then I’m triggered into a reaction of attraction and aversion, so then I lose the resting, because I become identified with what’s happening in my experience. I feel that this can be deepened. I think that this makes the difference, for example, between me and the great masters. Great masters are able to just include anything and everything within the field of awareness, without their being triggered into aversive or attractive reactions.

TS: So to see if I understand what you’re saying: you’re describing that, as a person, we visit or we touch or we rest for periods of time in unconditioned awareness. Would you say that?

Peter Fenner: Exactly! Exactly, but also I’m noting that when we are resting in awareness, while the awareness is unconditioned, our capacity to rest in awareness is conditioned. It’s conditioned by the ambient circumstances in the moment. For example, we have to be relatively free of physical pain. We have to be in, for most people, an environment that’s relatively settled. And our mind needs to be reasonably settled. If we’re in a really intense situation, it can be difficult to presence awareness.

TS: OK, I’m with you. And I think that, in terms of these three dimensions—depth, duration, and purity—I think duration seems pretty obvious to people: how long am I resting in unconditioned awareness before I start thinking about something or, as you say, pay attention to the pain in my back, or something like that. So duration seems obvious. Depth and purity, I’m not as clear on.

Peter Fenner: OK, so firstly, I’ll talk a little bit about purity. By purity, I’m really meaning that, when we’re resting in awareness in a pure way, there’s a clear recognition that this, as awareness, is not a thing. It’s no thing. It’s not a phenomenon. It has no structure to it. It has no directionality. We can’t talk about it—we can’t qualify it in any way, because there’s nothing to qualify, nothing to put any labels on.

What can happen is that, when people are resting in awareness, there can be a tendency to make the no thing into something. Why? Because often, really nice experiences come along in the slipstream of the presencing of awareness, things like clarity, bliss, feelings of intimacy and deep connection, and so then people can feel, “Ah! Those things, those secondary phenomena, are qualities of awareness itself!”[…]

Download the PDF transcription of this interview or listen to its recording.

Copyright © Peter Fenner, 2011

 

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Entering into Natural Meditation http://www.radiantmind.net/entering-into-natural-meditation/ http://www.radiantmind.net/entering-into-natural-meditation/#comments Sat, 07 May 2011 22:34:53 +0000 http://www.nondualtraining.com/?p=2005 Peter’s Interview with Vince Horn of Buddhist Geeks audio show

To listen to the interview click here: Entering into Natural Meditation (22 minutes)

Read a partial transcription

Peter: […] I was able to present Buddhist teachings on emptiness and really open it up in a way that people could have a direct taste of the unconditional dimension, nature of mind, so…

Vince: Yeah that seems like a primary thing that you point to in your work.

Peter: What I point to in my work, is this. When I say this, I am pointing to this at both the conditioned level, how we are in our bodied existence for example, sitting here together in this studio but also pointing to a dimension, which goes beyond the finite, which goes beyond the conditioned reality. So pointing to this as pure awareness we could say or in the Zen tradition is no mind or emptiness, different words are used in different traditions but for me they’re all pointing to same this timeless, unconditioned reality.

Vince: And I had a chance to go to one of your events several months ago. And the first thing you did is to engage the audience by asking “What is awareness?”, and you are asking people to give their answers and then you are kind of engaging in a dialogue about awareness and continuing to ask further questions. I want to know if you could say a little bit about that method of teaching, what that’s about?

Peter: Well, what I find dialogue very effective and silence in dialogue and weaving of those together to be a very powerful way for moving beyond just being identified with what’s happening at the feeling, thinking sensory level and move into present scene what’s often called the nondual. So yes, I have in a way adapted the type of deconstructive enquiry that you get in the Madhyamika tradition of Mahayana Buddhism and I have tried to adapt that so it can work in a conversational setting. So, in the Madhyamika the enquiry is driven by what’s called “unfindability analysis,” which means that when we look for something that particularly our souls but that could be other things we can’t find a substantial reality behind the word behind the concept. So I have adapted that so we can use unfindability enquiry and we can employ it in conversational context .

Vince: And what do you find people discover in that process?

Peter: Well in a way they discover no-thing or no-thingness, they discover emptiness, they discover something that we can’t think about. They discover something that has no identifying characteristics we can’t say even that had “exists or doesn’t exists” so we encounter, lets say, the mystery of being.  But, without any need to try to understand it. So we go beyond the need to know, we go beyond the need to be doing and then we engage with we enter this reality right now in a way that we are complete nothing more needs to happen we don’t need to know anything more

Vince: Does that stick for people often?

Peter: Then it comes and goes, so in the context of a cost, people may presence the non-duals. Presence pure awareness. Ten or fifteen minutes. Both when they’re open and engaged with other people and also in a contemplative mode or contemplative mood. Then, people work at embodying the experience. Bringing it into their daily life.

Vince: So I understand the deconstructive dialogue is just one component of how you work with people, and what they’d be doing with you…

Peter: It’s a major component, the work that we do in a workshop setting. The dialogues that people have with me. But, in a nine-month course, they also do a lot of work with each other. So they’re working at developing the skills in supporting each other. In seeing through the sense of being an individual, a discrete person. And seeing through, into this selflessness, of themselves. So people support each other, in that way.

Vince: Gotcha. In your program, do you do any interior, formal meditation, the way that we think about it typically?

Peter: No. The meditation falls out of the process. Natural meditation emerges when people find that there’s nothing more that they have to think about. So, when the energy of trying to understand, or trying to get somewhere. Trying to pursue a goal. When that energy dissipates, then people enter into a state of natural contemplation. That can either be very interiorized, and very deep and very blissful, or in other circumstances it can be aware, open and connected with other people.

Vince: Wow, that’s really interesting. That you don’t have any more formal sitting practices, given your background.

Peter: I invite people to do just sitting, but often I introduce it in a way that people discover that they’re already meditating. So it’s a very flexible practice in the way that I introduce it. In just sitting, we simply sit and, in a sense, the practice is complete. As soon as we’re sitting because we’re not practicing by looking for some reference point in terms of what we should or shouldn’t be doing. So the practice consists of doing whatever we’re doing. We can’t not be doing what we’re doing, so the practice is always complete.

Vince: Interesting. And do you find, with an emphasis on that, that you are able to sidestep or… I’m not sure of the wording, but there are some obstacles to traditional practices that have stronger goals or stronger techniques.

Peter: Well, I think the primary thing in my approach is that we’re not looking for obstacles. If you look for obstacles, they’re there. They arise. It’s very easy to create. That something is an obstacle. Something is in the way of me being in that state of real completion in the moment. So we work at what sometimes is called the fruition or the result level, meaning that we try to be in that state of feeling complete, being at the end of the path. Being at that point where there’s nowhere further to go. There’s no going backwards, there’s no going forwards. So, in a way, the work introduces that possibility and invites people just to be in that way.

Vince: This is something that I always wonder when I think about that kind of approach, because my own personal experience has been almost the opposite way in. And yet, I feel like they’re banging my head against the wall enough. I started to relax. But I’m wondering, do you ever find people running into the issue of feeling that they’re complete, but in some ways, fooling themselves? Or, in some ways, a slight delusion about what that means?

Peter: It depends upon how seriously you take your thinking. You can think, “this is an illusion. I’m not really at that place of fulfillment. I’m not presencing the non-dual.” If you take that thought seriously, then you’re not in that place, because you’re still thinking dualistically. In terms of being on a path and arriving at a goal. Being there and not being there. But it’s possible for that thought just to move through awareness, and it just moves and flows through without identification, without taking it seriously. So, in that case, anything can arise, without producing any disturbance. Because if we’re presencing pure awareness, we can feel, we can see that there’s nothing that can be disturbed. Awareness that self can’t be disturbed by anything. Which is why it’s often described as being in-perturb-able, indestructible.

Vince: That sounds like it still takes some level of sincerity to not be fooled, in particular, by thoughts. It sounds like there’s still a sense of sincerity, or a sense of remembering, or coming back, and a discipline of some sort. But it sounds like a discipline that’s not really trying to get somewhere.  Is that an accurate way of talking about things?

Peter: I wouldn’t describe it like that, because nothing is needed. So in a way again that’s the invitation to be in the space in which we don’t need anything. That we could just be with this, be with whatever is, exactly as it is, without needing things to be different. So there’s no discipline involved in that because that would be a doing. But there is I guess a sense of just becoming more and more familiar with this space and then just tasting it and acknowledging that yes when we’re in this space there is nothing more that we need to do. So then a deep resting just naturally occurs.

Vince: Sounds nice.  I’m wondering if you could talk a little bit more about the kind of  innovations that you’ve stumbled across and that you’ve put into practice and how that relates to Western people in particular.

Peter: I think one of the things I’ve done is to take people’s aspirations and make them real. So as Buddhists we have a lot of aspirations and its very easy to think that, “Ah yes emptiness, that’s really great, or having a taste of nirvana, or touching the nature of mind. That’s really great but really it’s beyond me.  Yes, they are great masters who can abide in those states but no, for me its really going to require a lot of practice, many many years and then maybe I’ll have a glimpse.”

So I feel that in a way we shortchange ourselves through thinking in that way and that it’s much, much simpler than we often believe. And so part of the process in a way is going beyond those type of fixed beliefs and saying okay. So yes, the teachings are telling me that I can’t know reality as such, that I can’t know pure consciousness that’s beyond the mind. Okay. I can’t know it so I will let go of that need to know.  It’s in a way we don’t believe that we cannot know the nature of consciousness itself. We keep telling ourselves that we can know because we’ve been conditioned that, theoretically at least, we can know everything, there’s nothing beyond the reach of the mind.  And so it just takes time and touching the mind itself and realizing that there’s no object of knowledge here, there’s nothing to know.  That’s why we can’t know the nature of mind, it has no structure. It’s content-less.  So if something is content-less we have no subject matter.  There’s nothing to see, nothing to taste, nothing to know.  So that, that becomes self evident when we confront that 20, 50, 100 times. And then in someway then we become convinced.

Vince: And then what happens?

Peter: And then we just… we’re here in the way that we are now in which everything is arising.  We’re fully cognizant of each other, appreciating each other, fully taking in past present & future and also aware of awareness itself.  And aware that there’s no one who is aware of awareness. So if we’re looking for who is aware of the fact that there’s awareness happening at the moment we can’t find who is aware.

Vince: So, I’d be interested just in closing to ask you what kinds of things might you offer to people who listen to a show called “Buddhist Geeks?”

Peter: hmmm.

Vince: (laughs) Because you clearly have delineated yourself in some ways from more traditional kind of approaches.  I’d be interested in what you’d have to offer.

Peter: What I would invite people to do is to relax firstly, not take these spiritual endeavor, not take them so seriously.  So just to relax, to begin just to accept themselves, accept things as they are, not to create some grandiose goal in the future of achieving full enlightenment. But to back off from that a little and to say “okay look just to taste Nirvana, just to have like a 5 minute resting in that state of pure awareness, that would be great.”

Then I can develop it from there.  So that is within my reach. That is possible. So then to engage in not just the work that I’ve developed but a lot of teachings that are available now in the non-dual tradition that make available the presenting of awareness, just allowing us to be with what is, without any struggle existing beyond pleasure and pain.

 

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