I revised this and think it might be ready, but I’m open to any critique you have.
I have learned something valuable from the Spiritual Coffee Shop group. For awhile, I have expressed the belief that I’ve used thoughts mostly to build walls, separate myself from others. There is some truth to that, but I know that thoughts are neither good nor bad. I said they don’t solve psychological problems. Again, that’s partially true. But sometimes, in speaking, I might “overplay my hand,” or exaggerate.
It helps me to listen to the responses, hear what I’m missing. What Walter Ceccini and Priyam Saini said is also true: When you are quiet and open, often in meditation, a solution will appear to you. It comes from a place beyond thought, but it often manifests through thought.
Krishnamurti said that we’re most ourselves when we’re totally lost in what we’re doing. But I asked Rupert about that, and he said, “It depends.” I’m paraphrasing, but my understanding of his answer was that it depends on whether we’re connected to our source, the True Self, when we act. So returning to the source, or as Holger always reminds us, just being that source, will fix our thinking: our thinking will rise out of that source, the true self. Obviously, first, we have to discover that source, that True Self.
I had read Ramana Maharshi and Nisargadatta off and on for about 50 years, but there was always a gap. Their reality seemed so distant from mine. Though they talked about the “I,” I could never find that first foothold to realizing it. Awareness was too veiled or clouded (whatever metaphor you want to use to describe the separation) until I found Rupert. It helped that he comes from a Western culture, knows the resistances and barriers we have. He can carefully help us find our balance, take us to the threshold. I do believe that, sometimes, you need help from someone more advanced.
Sometimes, when I try to speak about the true Self and my connection to it, my language skills collapse. We must use metaphors as a concession to the separate self, which only experiences the physical world. The true self is beyond language, and really, language is almost entirely metaphor: words refer to things in the physical world. If we use the words God, or soul, or awareness, the word is still a representation for the actual “being” or the experience.
Just as language is metaphorical, in a way, our physical selves are representations. They are expressions of the true Self. That Self finds a different expression, a different manifestation, in each of us. In some, it expresses more clearly, more completely; in others, it’s more veiled, harder to detect. Some appear to be completely cut off from it.
I’ve found that language and thoughts can be illuminating. I also know they can be deceptive and lead us away from the True Self. Even in a Zoom meeting, we can detect authenticity, sincerity, and true awareness. We usually know what the individual represents, what’s beneath the surface. Of course, the physical plane can be deceptive; we can be fooled. But for the most part, I feel I’ve gotten to know the people on the Zoom calls, and I consider many of them my friends.
Many on the calls are in the field of psychology. Some are in grad school. Some have expressed frustration that the non-dual perspective isn’t accepted in academia. I experienced that in grad school in English: You couldn’t talk about “spirituality” as it applied to poetry. I think it’s because the Humanities have a materialist perspective just like the sciences. Part of this comes from a Marxist (or old leftwing) bias (“religion is the opiate of the masses”), and part of it is that the industrial and tech revolutions forced the Humanities to compete with the sciences for credibility and money. But even if you can’t overcome the myopic academic paradigm, I’m hoping your True Self will be evident in your practice. Your patients will see it shining through and respond to it.
Compelling point about how the humanities have a materialist view as well as the “hard” sciences.
To restate your explanations for its presence: “Part of this comes from a Marxist (or old leftwing) bias (“religion is the opiate of the masses”), and part of it is that the industrial and tech revolutions forced the Humanities to compete with the sciences for credibility and money.”
I agree with both those reasons and I’d like to take that solid platform to speculate about a third.
In the humanities I experienced in undergrad, I believe, a student not adhering to materialism stirs many feelings of guilt!
There is no doubt that gross material inequity in the world is, and has been, a scourge. But speaking of non-materialist thinking is in no way condoning gross material inequity. Yet I feel that there is a thought in the humanities which says “religion and superstitious non-materalist pseudoscience (to speak of your two reasons sited above), has historically supported gross inequality. And should therefore be shunned.”
This is, of course, is not the case for any mildly sensitive study of the core concepts presented in the perennial philosophy shared by many cultures, or non-duality as we may present it.
If this over-clocked thought exists in the humanities, I’d like to ask this question. Could its origins be in a “personal” guilt trip and not in the true heartbreak accompanying thousands of years of inequity? Could we be using our personal sense of guilt to ignore the behemoth of transpersonal guilt waiting to be processed by the collective unconscious? A guilt which can only be processed when we begin dropping our sense of being a separate individual me…
True heartbreak over historic inequity would be my suggestion to the humanities. A heartbreak which is far vaster than the pain of the individual’s guilt. One that is best expressed in transpersonal non-materialist non-dual phrasing.
To clarify what I think the problem here is…
Non-duality so reveals the core mechanism of guilt, that its presence in the humanities threatens a defense mechanism: the compartmentalized suppression of a deluge of transpersonal collective-consciousness guilt… into the simple everyday guilt of the “me.”
Processing transpersonal guilt, via realizing one’s all too real connection to the entire consciousness of humanity (a non-materialist realization), would turn academic departments into therapy retreats overnight. The profit-based gears of these institutions would grind to a halt within a semester!
These are my initial written thoughts on the subject. Extremely hard to language this in the sensitive guilt trip environment of the humanities, paradoxically enough.
Matt, thanks for this reply. What you describe sounds like such a massive cultural shift, I just can’t imagine it happening. I’ve kind of given up hope regarding this kind of shift, just as I’ve given up hope of saving this thin outer veneer of the planet from our decadence and greed. At this point in my life, if I can just love more people, shift from the mind to the heart, live more in the true self, give up my anger, need for validation, my separate self— I believe that’s the best path for the time I have left.
I do think there’s great beauty on the physical plane to celebrate.
Peace and love,
Bill, I enjoyed your essay. I think your insights are excellent. I was raised in the philosophy of dialectical materialism, as propounded by Marx and Lenin (building on Georg W.F. Hegel). It is a fine philosophy to express clearly how we naturally view the world when our essential consciousness is suppressed or overlooked. But nothing in it inspires one to real progress toward the peace and happiness that is missing so long as full consciousness is not part of our life. The lack of any spiritual content is in my view the reason that the lofty goals of socialism (“From each according to his ability, to each according to his work”) and communism (“from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs”) have never been achieved by any known society or revolution. (See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/From_each_according_to_his_ability,_to_each_according_to_his_needs .)
David, you always give me much to ponder. I minored in philosophy as an undergraduate. But I often reached the limits of my intelligence in that field just as I did in math (calculus). I remember spending over an hour bogged down in a single page of Kant.
I did appreciate Hegel, and I understand how Marx used his concepts. In a way I can see the duality of “thesis” (the physical plane) and “antithesis” (the spiritual plane) being “synthesized” in nonduality.
Rupert believes that it would change the world if we could overcome the faulty materialist western viewpoint. I don’t know, but it seems like too great a sea change to imagine.
My brother is a Sufi and thinks we’re at the end of the Kali Yuga. Great disruption will be followed by a new golden age (I think). But as I mentioned to Matt, I hope to just give myself up to this nondual reality, recognize more beauty around me. I give up on changing the world, except to the extent that changing myself affects/effects that (since I am the world).
I am realizing that this group is part of my path and growth. It’s my sangha. I appreciate you all!
Peace and love,
Thank-you Bill, I enjoyed this essay. I also count the members of this group my friends. These are strange times and yet we find strangers become fast friends when we find common ground. It is wonderful that we can turn to our friends for such rich discussion and, while references to teachers/gurus happen, we often find the most illuminating gems coming from these 2D Zoom rectangles.