Feeding the starving child

On Tue, Mar 15, 2022 at 10:58am, JAS wrote:

Dear Holger,
I’m writing to offer (to the GardenOfFriends.com website) this commentary from Jeff Foster.
It’s a bit long, but in regards to our group’s recent discussions about the Ukrainians, etc., it is (maybe) pointing in the right direction.

Love & peace,

Excerpt from
Jeff Foster
_Life Without a Centre

Nonduality And Compassion


Somebody recently asked me:

“Jeff, in your latest piece of writing you talked about seeing a starving African girl on the TV, and that it was simply an appearance of Oneness. But how can it be Oneness? I mean, it’s okay for you to say that, you’re not starving, after all. But she is. Couldn’t “Oneness” just be a concept you’re using to push away or deny the reality of living in this world? A way for you to cope with the harsh realities of existence and suffering?”

This is a great question. Of course, this “Oneness” could so easily remain on a purely intellectual/conceptual level. It could so easily disintegrate into a belief used by an individual to block out or deny suffering: “There is only Oneness! Nothing exists! Nothing matters! There are no starving children in Africa! My mother didn’t die of cancer! Pain doesn’t hurt! I don’t need to eat, because there is no body! I didn’t punch you in the face just then, there is nobody here punching! And nobody to punch!”

Yes, this could so easily be taken on as a life-denying philosophy. But of course this is not what I am suggesting. For me, Oneness – or at least what the word ‘Oneness’ points to – is a living reality, not just a belief… although ultimately of course it’s just a word, and cannot capture the aliveness of everything. For me, Oneness is not a new religion or belief system, not a new ideology for the individual to cling to, but a clear seeing of life as it actually is, beyond our concepts about life, beyond our ideologies and religions, beyond all our second-hand knowledge.

You see, Oneness is not a dead thing. Oneness could include moving to feed that starving child. It denies nothing. It includes all possibilities. Well of course it does, it is everything. How could it deny any aspect of itself? It moves to feed that child, or not.

It is everything, it appears as everything, and yet it is no-thing in particular. Nothing and everything at the same time. It appears as wars, genocides, flowers, trees, cups of coffee, cars beeping their horns, everything. It appears as saints and sinners, starving children and overweight millionaires. It also appears as apparent individuals who can apparently do something about starving children.

Part of this freedom is that there appears to be free will.

I’m not talking about “coping” with reality and suffering. I’m not talking about using Advaita concepts to “cope” with life. Oneness IS reality, and it IS the appearance of suffering in the world. Oneness could involve moving to feed that starving child, if that is possible. Or not. I don’t know. I’m not telling you how to live. I’m just interested in reality beyond our ideas of it. Beyond even these ideas.

Reality is always already beyond our concepts about it. The mind will never catch up.

Jennifer Eugene

By Jennifer Eugene

Hello World...


  1. Thank-you Jennifer, this article is certainly worth reading. Allow me to “think out loud” not for anyone’s benefit but my own. Typing this helps me to better absorb what Foster is saying.

    I avoid the urge to “cherry pick” a line from here, to collect a “gem” that confirms my existing concepts.
    What arises instead is to walk out the door and see what life brings. To not only feel compassion but BE compassion in every action and interaction with apparent others.

    Each of us, placed in our unique roles, has an opportunity to realize consciousness moves through our body-mind expressions, to allow what the Bhudda called “right action” or a “skillful response” to arise. Of course some will counter this with “there is no doer”. It’s true… however as Foster points out, we have (the gift of) the appearance of free will. Today I walk out the door knowing I am not the doer but employed by consciousness to express the “Ananda” that I am. Who wouldn’t, having this clear understanding, address suffering in others?

    Peace 🙏

    1. “Events happen, deeds are done,
      but there is no individual doer thereof.”

      … or no personal doer;
      but there is a doer.

      Interesting that it says “Do not judge by appearances” John 7:24

  2. I am thankful for this important question, which arises often concerning nonduality among newcomers. The question is well worded. And Jeff responds very clearly about the need to distinguish between relative, everyday reality and the “higher” (more complete) understanding associated with full consciousness.

    In the everyday world, it is important to live with virtue (ethics). It says so right at the beginning of the Eightfold Way in the Yoga Sutras, in the “yama” and “niyama” prescriptions for relative life which are generally accepted both by Buddhism and by the six Vedic philosophies.

    We must not apply higher understanding inappropriately to the relative, everyday world. In the everyday world there are starving children, and we should see this as a problem arising from income inequality and social injustice, which are both results of living a selfish, ego-driven life, which in turn is the result of living in ignorance of our true nature as Awareness, which brings peace and happiness. This statement applies to whoever is in power in society, whether it is government, wealthy people, or a voting population.

    Jeff writes, “Hunger does not appear here — and there is gratitude for that, of course. At the moment, I cannot experience her hunger.”

    This seems to come from his own ego, a selfishness that celebrates my own freedom from hunger instead of compassion for those others who are hungry. It is the only flaw I see in an otherwise good explanation.

    Of course, the higher explanation that Jeff states is that everything we observe, including what we judge as good or bad, arises from and in pure Awareness. On the level of that Awareness, there is no want, no judgement, no good or bad, and no person. We can live on that level of life, and come to see that the ever-changing relative, including all of its ethical values, are appearances within never-changing Awareness. This insight, stabilized in the transformation known as self-realization, brings peace and happiness to life without any compromise in relative ethics or morality. But it never means that hunger does not exist or should be allowed to exist. Transformed people can more truthfully view hunger than can those still under the illusion that it is okay to allow others to suffer.

    1. The “flaw I see”…

      Mind tries hard to make sense and to change circumstances;
      to what degree does “being aware of Source/Consciousness/God” determine the quality of our life experience?

      To what degree are our observations and conclusion faulty…
      The instructions in the big dusty book is: don’t judge by appearances.

      Like Mooji says: we need to discern between Self and mind, and take the potential pain and turmoil for a moment…

  3. This child is apparently not starving. However, some puzzling things are happening in her life, some very good and some not so good. One good thing is that her extended family is taking good care of her. As for the difficulties, perhaps you can see them in her face if you look closely.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *