Radiant Mind » Nondual ecology 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 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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