The Healing Power of Nondual Presence
Radiant Mind programs use the principles and practices of nondual presence to help us discover total freedom in the midst of our conditioned existence. When we live in the radiant mind we experience ourselves as unique human beings. At the same time we rest in a unified expanse of unconditioned-bliss-awareness.
Radiant mind heals our mind, body and spirit. It creates harmony and union between:
- spiritual experience and the practical concerns of daily living
- ourselves and others
- our mind and body
- thoughts and emotions
- humanity and nature
Ultimately all conflict arises as a difference between “what we experience” and “what we want.” Whenever these differ we suffer. When the difference is dissolved we experience peace and freedom. Radiant Mind bridges and resolves the fundamental problem of human existence: the presence of unfulfilled needs and desires.
Radiant Mind combines the most advanced principles of Asian contemplative traditions and the finely-honed skills of psychotherapy. We blend the liberating power of nondual wisdom with the attention and intimacy that we find in Western traditions of counseling and therapy.
The inspiration for our work
Radiant Mind programs are inspired by the example of masters and sages from nondual spiritual traditions. These traditions are mainly found in India and Asia. They include various traditions of Mahayana Buddhism: Zen, Dzogchen, Mahamudra and Madhyamaka. Outside of Buddhism, nonduality is found in the Advaita form of Hinduism and Chinese Taoism.
The masters in these traditions show that what we all strive for—a state of real and lasting fulfillment—is achievable. Furthermore, through their teachings and relationships they provide a model for how to manage our own evolution and make a powerful healing contribution to others.
Radiant Mind uses the embodied presence of nondual masters as a model for creating a new therapeutic paradigm. This paradigm is based on the healing power of the unconditioned mind, rather than on giving advice, making recommendations, or proffering interpretations. This is not to say these have no place in Radiant Mind. They do. But they aren’t the most essential ingredient. The most essential ingredient is the introduction and cultivation of an experience of the unconditioned mind.
The unconditioned mind
Radiant Mind extends the wisdom of nondual spirituality directly into the therapeutic arena. It offers people a direct experience of the natural freedom of being. In contrast to dualistic therapies, which assume that our inner or outer reality must change in order for us to achieve real fulfillment, nondual therapies dissolve our habitual tendency to construe that something is wrong or missing.
The experience of the unconditioned mind takes us outside the cycle of reactive responses and emotions by connecting us with the nature of our mind as pure, unstructured awareness. We are at home with ourselves in a totally natural and uncontrived way. When we rest in this experience, we connect intimately with everything within and around us, yet we’re beyond being disturbed in any way. In the Vajrayana tradition of Buddhism this experience is called invincibility, or indestructibility.
The most powerful healing agent there is
The unconditioned mind is the most powerful healing agent in existence. Nothing will ever surpass it. No amount of research or innovation will ever discover anything as powerful as the unconditioned mind. Why? Because when we rest in the unconditioned mind nothing—absolutely nothing—is missing. It doesn’t matter if we’ve just lost a million dollars, or are suffering a terminal illness and only have a few weeks to live. If we are rooted in the unconditioned mind, nothing is missing. There is nothing more we need. If a life-saving drug comes along, well and good. But if it doesn’t, it makes no difference. If we suddenly recover our lost wealth, well and good. But, if we are resting in the unconditioned mind, we don’t need a cent of it. We are complete and content with exactly what we have.
The ultimate medicine
In Buddhism the experience of the unconditioned mind is called the “ultimate medicine.” The ultimate medicine is universally healing. Every mind touched by the experience of its unconditioned nature moves closer to the experience of real freedom and liberation. Sometimes the experience may gently encourage us to acknowledge our higher potential. In other instances it may produce a radical reorientation of our experience of reality.
The more time we spend resting in our ultimate nature, the more familiar we become with the experience. When opportunities arise to let go our preoccupations and daily concerns, we find ourselves moving effortlessly and without resistance into a more open and accepting way of being.
There are different types of nondual spirituality. The form we offer is inspired by Mahayana Buddhism. In this tradition the experience of the unconditioned mind is cultivated in the midst of our everyday existence. It isn’t an experience of being “spaced-out”, “up in the clouds” or disconnected from other people. The wisdom of Mahayana Buddhism deeply penetrates the complexities of our human drama and permeates the structure of all of our relationships. At the very same time that this insight lets us transcend the slightest traces ofhuman suffering it expands our capacity to identify and release other people’s suffering.
In Radiant Mind the structure of our personality reveals the transpersonal nature of being itself. In Radiant Mind there is absolutely no effort, struggle, or need to escape who we are, since this is our unique expression of transcendence. Every aspect and dimension of our experience is an exquisite expression of freedom and transcendence. In this way, Radiant Mind closes the traditional rift between physical embodiment and spiritual transcendence. This integrated approach removes the possibility of producing spiritual experiences which put us at risk.
Impossible to create deficiency
The experience of the unconditioned mind heals us in two different ways. First, it relieves us of the need to “fix things up” by offering us a profound experience of clarity and contentment—an experience of being in total harmony with ourselves and the world. In Buddhism this is called “going beyond loss or gain.” In this state of consciousness everything is present exactly as it is, but we find it impossible to construe that anything is missing. We’ve moved beyond the familiar cycle of having problems and finding solutions. There’s nothing to remove and nothing to hang onto. The experience is “priceless,” not because we’re attached to its value, but because nothing can increase or enhance our fulfilment
Reconditioning our thoughts
The other way in which the experience of the unconditioned mind heals is by restructuring our thought-patterns so that we become more available to the experience of the happiness and freedom. The experience attenuates our need to have fixed ideas about ourselves and others. We become less reactive and defensive—and hence better able to release our fears and insecurities. In this way, the effects of the experience percolate through the layers of our conditioning long after we’ve finished resting in the experience itself.
The Yoga Tradition of Buddhism describes this process as the “transformation of the structural foundations of our being.” Through contact with an unstained stream of pure being, the energies and mechanisms that condition our present and future existence lose their power to distort our experience and thereby to cause suffering. Other nondual traditions describe how the experience of the unconditioned mind infuses the conditioned mind like a sweet perfume or a soothing breeze.
It’s impossible to predict in advance how this healing will unfold. It occurs at its own pace and rhythm, sometimes smooth and gentle, at other times rough or abrupt. Sometimes we might even think we are moving backwards, returning to an earlier stage of our development with which we felt complete. The unconditioned mind doesn’t discriminate in terms of “how” healing occurs—it doesn’t generate a plan or strategy because it exists beyond such conceptual formulations. The psychological pathways and physical events through which healing occurs can’t be controlled in a mechanical way. Each of us is infinitely complex and our path to full spiritual evolution is unique and often mysterious.
Healing is very much a function of staying open and accepting reality with equanimity and trust.
If you would like to look more deeply into nondual presence we recommend the book edited by John Prendergast, Peter Fenner and Sheila Kystal, The Sacred Mirror, Paragon House, 2003
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Whether it is called enlightenment, pure awareness, or "unconditioned awareness," there exists an awakened state of pure liberation that is at the heart of every contemplative tradition. According to Peter Fenner, this experience of boundless consciousness does not have to exist separately from our day-to-day, "conditioned" existence...