Sunday, November 25, 2007

Stuart + Greg = Better Than Just Goode

File under: Gurubusting

Another in the Gp heroes column is reader/contributor Stuart Resnick. His riff on Greg Goode's book excerpt brings yet another shaft of clarity to bear on the whole nondual "problem":
Thanks for providing this taste of Greg's teaching. It speaks to what I've felt in response to various satsang groups, as well as to some books like McKenna's Spiritual Enlightenmet: The Damnedest Thing.

That is: doesn't the idea of "non-duality" suggest that we can deeply question any type of opposities or distinctions we believe in and cling to? And in fact, the popularity of some satsang teachers, and of McKenna, seems connected to their ability to skillfully and elegantly call into question dualities like Good vs Evil or Spiritual vs Mundane or Self vs World.

And yet sometimes there are other dualities that remain unexamined in these teachings. That'd be stuff like "I'm awakened and you're not" or "I'm experiencing True Nature and you're not" or "That wonderful merged feeling I had during satsang was my True Nature, but the ordinary experience of washing the dishes is something else."

I think that's what Greg's post is pointing to here. Say someone gets a special experience in a satsang, but not at other times. That experience is something that comes and goes, so why call something that's coming and going "non-dual"??

That thing we point to with names like "non-dual" or "true nature"... it does not need to be equated with some special experience. It does not need to be thought of as a thing that we can get.
Indeed, anyone getting anything is rendered illusory by its very getting gotten... or something like that.

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5 Comments:

At 11/26/2007 4:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Stuart wrote:

"And yet sometimes there are other dualities that remain unexamined in these teachings.

That'd be stuff like "I'm awakened and you're not" or "I'm experiencing True Nature and you're not" or "That wonderful merged feeling I had during satsang was my True Nature, but the ordinary experience of washing the dishes is something else."

Its a variation on 'We are all enlightened, but some are more enlightened than others'

Which affects whether someone sits onstage at a satsang or down on the floor.

 
At 11/27/2007 11:39 AM, Blogger Stuart said...

anony wrote...
Its a variation on 'We are all enlightened, but some are more enlightened than others'

Which affects whether someone sits onstage at a satsang or down on the floor.


It's subtle. If a teacher gives his time and effort to offer a teaching that helps people, I honestly don't mind a set-up that shows him/her respect. Let the guru sit on a special seat and wear that fancy hat, why not.

In some cases, I've gotten the sense that the teacher is in on the joke. That the teacher knows that his special position is just a thin costume he's wearing, underneath which we're all equal. The costume itself is just a tool to help the teaching process.

In other cases, I get the sense that the teacher has fallen for his own hype. In the years I was with Muktananda, he presenting himself as more perfected than ordinary folk. My best guess is that he wasn't adopting this stance as a teaching device, but that he really believed it.

It's subtle because I can never prove which teacher is skillfully using his position, and which has been duped by power and status. It's like poker: you don't see anyone else's cards, but somehow sometimes you get these powerful intuitions that you gotta go with.

I can't, at least yet, explain with much coherence what it is that makes me feel a particular teacher is attached to his own claims of specialness. It's like pornography: I know it when I see it.

Stuart
http://stuart-randomthoughts.blogspot.com/

 
At 11/27/2007 9:15 PM, Blogger gregory said...

and just as a teacher puts himself in the role of teacher, the guys sitting on the floor put themselves in the role of follower or seeker....

(this assumes that there are individuals who choose things, and if that is so, will all the victims of shady teachers please take responsibility for what has befallen them)

if one has been around the spiritual block over many years on will have certain understandings about the nature of the game, maybe even of the nature of the Self, but it doesn't seem possible to say to a young, idealistic person with an undefinable longing that, hey, you are That, don't bother with all this seeking crap...

and a new person like that, maybe meets a nithyananda or an amma, or even joe satsang-giver, and is blown away by the experience, don't you think they sort of have to go through the whole program? to get to the point of it all, to stop seeking?

if i beat on teachers, i have to also beat on students (often the scarier of the two) and on the whole drama of the noble spiritual quest.... as laughable as it may be, it is tough to go up against the poetry of rumi or hafiz, or the traditions of sufism, buddhism, yogic practices.... becauase, you know, there IS something more than you can see, feel touch, or analyze....

so how to get in touch with that?

 
At 11/28/2007 9:19 AM, Anonymous hard at work said...

If a teacher gives his time and effort to offer a teaching that helps people, I honestly don't mind a set-up that shows him/her respect.

As an aside, I think a lot of people do mind, though... of course if you wanted to be better at football you'd give your coach respect, but is your primary motivation to be better at football, or is it to be homecoming king? That and i've sat in halls where people "forget" to turn off their cell phones--so much for "mindfulness"--that's a basic level of disrespect to their equals, let alone teachers.

It's culture-wide, which creates a really nasty shadow-side where people let this clowns parade around like enlightened little peacock emperors. I think that maybe a lot of gurus sense this about the States.

That wonderful merged feeling I had during satsang was my True Nature

Well that's the primary problem, it was a feeling, so it was an experience...

But that synthesizes into my point: is it about your practice or about the teaching or just about a little sadomasochistic relationship? Anyone can set up a dynamic where we wave a magic wand and things happen, courtesy of the power relations. If all you want is a guy in a silly hat or a cheap form of therapy, it's real easy... But are you getting just a bunch of platitudes and injunctions, or are you getting pragmatic advice? Are you benefiting from your practice? Are you even following the advice, and are you examining it to see if it is worthwhile?

 
At 11/28/2007 2:54 PM, Blogger Stuart said...

gregory said...
victims of shady teachers please take responsibility for what has befallen them

Though I spent lots of time and resources with a shady teacher... I was an adult at the time who voluntarily entered the ashram etc, so I'd hardly call myself a "victim." To say that something "has befallen" me makes it sound passive, when in fact I actively sought what I got, for better or worse.

and a new person like that, maybe meets a nithyananda or an amma, or even joe satsang-giver, and is blown away by the experience, don't you think they sort of have to go through the whole program? to get to the point of it all, to stop seeking?

Here's what I think you're saying, please correct me if I'm wrong. the "point of it all" is awaken to this moment with clarity and compassion. Lots of people in the spirituality/satsang world are doing something different than this. They're following some teacher, from whom they get an idea about some magical something they should chase.

And you're suggesting that we shouldn't say anything to such followers, since they have to go through a whole "program" before they emerge from the treadmill and awaken to truth. Or even if we do say something to them, it'll be a waste of time.

To this I say: I have no idea what particular program any person needs to go through. If they seem to be suffering where they're at, I may offer some words in an attempt to help, knowing of course that I don't know whether it'll really help or not, I'm just trying.

A very big part of the reason I'd do this is: when I left my parents' house at 18, there was a while when I wasn't really acting like a responsible adult. Learning from my own mistakes helped me to eventually make that transition... but also there was advice I got from older friends that helped me out. Maybe I didn't recognize it at the time, but in retrospect I do.

It's exactly the same in the "spiritual" realm, that for a while I was a blind follower, and through that experience I learned to move on and believe in myself, and there were wiser people who prodded and encouraged me in this growth process, and I appreciate it, at least in retrospect.

I'd metaphorically compare it to having a friend who's a drunk. Do I keep my mouth completely shut, thinking that he needs to go through a particular process of hitting bottom on his own? I don't think so. Encouraging him to find a way out of his suffering may be a difficult and uncertain undertaking. Sometimes you try to help people, and you never, ever know whether it's done any good. I don't believe that's sufficient reason to stop trying to help.

Stuart
http://stuart-randomthoughts.blogspot.com/

 

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