Q. 391 – Dissociation

Q: Does the psychological concept of dissociation have any role in advaita? In other words, the subjective experience of being detached, depersonalized, or wholly uninvolved in any given situation–is this the same as what advaita might call “awareness” or “just happening?” If not, how are they actually different?

A (Dennis): Who-we-really-are is not the mind; we are the Consciousness in which the mind arises. However, it is the mind of the person that realizes this in what is termed ‘enlightenment’ or (better) Self-knowledge. A mind that is not balanced and controlled/disciplined is most unlikely ever to be able to attain this Self-knowledge; it will be more interested in avoiding fear, satisfying desires etc. A mind that is unbalanced/disturbed etc is even less likely to be capable of assimilating the teaching of Advaita. As far as I understand the term ‘dissociation’, it refers to just such a mind – one in which the functions of the mind are out of balance, with some parts functioning normally and some not at all. So, no, it is not the same.

Good question, though!

25 thoughts on “Q. 391 – Dissociation

  1. Dennis,

    May I ask what you mean by controlled/disciplined as you mention above?

  2. Hi Anon,

    I was referring to the prerequisites as identified by Shankara – the ‘fourfold’ qualifications’, incorporating the ‘six-fold discipline’. You can read all about these in the two serializations that are going on at present, specifically the chapter ‘We have to be qualified to gain self-knowledge’ at http://www.advaita.org.uk/discourses/venugopal/venugopal11.html#qualified and the chapter ‘Eligibility for self-enquiry’ at http://www.advaita.org.uk/discourses/bapat/bapat02#eligibility.

  3. Dennis,

    Just wondering how you respond or reconcile what you linked to above to the Dzogchen point of view of ‘attainment’.
    This quote is from Longchenpa’s ‘The Great Perfection’, along with its commentary;


    If secret rigpa, the actual buddha-dynamic, eludes us,
    to attain release by any purposeful action is no option.
    “Everything is impermanent and bound to perish”—
    how can a tight mesh of body, speech, and mind
    reach out to touch its indestructible core?
    In the event of failure to intuit intrinsic rigpa, which is pure being there is
    no chance that we can attain release in this lifetime by any deliberate physical,
    verbal, or mental act. Religious practice becomes a tense constraining
    mesh constricting and veiling rigpa, and although some small satisfaction
    may follow, the product is conditioned and thus certain to fade away, perishing
    like an earthen pot. Such practice can never attain to the indestructible
    reality of pure being. Whatever is deliberately created is conditioned and transient, whereas its opposite, the uncreated, is imperishable. Since it
    is indestructible, pure being can only be seen by nondeliberate, unintended
    relaxation into the natural state; goal-oriented action is a mesh of constraint
    leading us closer to buddhahood by not so much as a hair’s breadth.
    Such ambition may well be regarded as a futile samsaric trap.

  4. Action cannot bring about enlightenment. Neither I nor Shankara have ever suggested otherwise. Indeed, I have specifically stated that it cannot many times. What the ‘fourfold qualifications’ do is prepare the mind so that self-knowledge may follow from listening to the teacher and asking questions.

    Not sure what aspects of the links led you to think otherwise. Words are notoriously prone to mislead! For example ‘relaxation into the natural state’ could easily be seen as an action, even if it is ‘non-deliberate’.

  5. Yes, I understand and agree that action cannot bring about enlightenment or real awakening. But, this business about preparing the mind doesn’t sit right with me. Preparation, according to what your links suggest, is a practice of control and discipline of the mind in order that a future experience should take place. It is activity based in duality and according to Dzogchen, will never yield enlightenment or real awakening. This is why I asked you how do you reconcile this to Dzogchen?

    I don’t think I’m misconstruing what the links suggest, but if I am, please show me. The implication is to do something to get something. I’m willing to overlook terminology and not be pedantic, but this seems like a big stretch to me.

    The key word in the Dzogchen quote is ‘unintended’. Unintended relaxation is not a purposeful action. It is a spontaneous moment of awakening to intrinsic rigpa, pure awareness, the matrix of all experience and the true nature of mind, non-duality in your terms.

  6. Some time ago, I wrote an article differentiating experience and knowledge (https://www.advaita-vision.org/q-381-knowledge-belief-and-experience/). This may not have convinced you of anything but should at least have made clear that I insist that ‘enlightenment’ has nothing to do with experience.

    I agree that the practices mentioned above are ‘actions’, and cannot of themselves lead to enlightenment. The point is that ‘enlightenment’ is something that occurs in the mind, so that the quality of the mind does affect the capability of that mind. The enlightenment ‘event’ is not an experience in the usual sense of the word. Rather it is a paradigm shift of understanding. And I agree that it occurs in duality.

    Subsequently, the mind still experiences duality. The difference is that there is now the knowledge that this duality is only an appearance and that the reality is that there is only Consciousness.

    It seems that you want to go ‘further’ and somehow ‘become’ (?) pure awareness or something? But, if there IS only non-dual Consciousess, then (of course) we already ARE that Consciousness – there is nothing to ‘become’ at all. What is missing prior to enlightenment is the understanding that this is the case. Surely any ‘going further’ would itself be only an experience.

  7. Dennis,

    My original question to you was ‘how do you respond or reconcile what you linked to above to the Dzogchen point of view of ‘attainment’, I don’t believe you have addressed what I asked specifically.

    I used the word ‘attainment’. I purposely put the marks around the word to show that this is just a figure of speech and open to interpretations. Just as you use the word enlightenment, which I don’t really think is a good choice, but we have to use words to talk about this.

    Your last paragraph about me wanting to go further misses my point. I have already agreed with you concerning pure awareness, rigpa, consciousness. We don’t become, we ‘be’, ‘are’.

    Dzogchen specifically points out that mind training is a purposeful activity that takes you away from ‘being’ what you are. So how do you reconcile my quote with your links?

  8. Apologies, Anon, for not being clear.

    I don’t know anything about Dzogchen but the extract you give doesn’t seem to contradict anything I have said except that there does seem to be some implication that there is something to attain.

    He says that “there is no chance that we can attain release in this lifetime by any deliberate physical, verbal, or mental act.” I agree. But we can’t ‘attain’ it by “nondeliberate, unintended relaxation into the natural state” either. We are ALREADY free. This must be so if reality is non-dual, as I pointed out in the last comment. As Gaudapada said, no one has ever been born; there is no one to attain liberation.

    So the only way to make sense of this is to admit that it is ignorance that prevents our seeing this. And the only remedy for ignorance is knowledge, which has to occur in the mind. A mind that is constantly in fear or desire or state other than stillness is never going to see this. Hence the need for mental preparation.

  9. I agree that the use of the word ‘attain’ is problematic if you are holding a view that we are already free. The problem is with the words used to discuss this. If there was nothing to understand about anything, Advaita would not mention any kind of preparatory practice. The practice that Advaita suggests is a way to control the mind so it can ‘attain’ Self Knowledge. But, if I follow your words that there is nothing to attain, then why mention Self Knowledge or any other ‘goal’? Advaita sets up the carrot.

    This is unavoidable because of the nature of mind and its dualistic content. You are suggesting that mind can lead itself to the infinite and non-dual through control and discipline. How can that be? Mind can only know duality. It can only theorize non-duality because it can only look at opposites which are reflections. Mind can’t free itself from this activity because all of its activities are conditioned. It can only loosen its belief in its own activities which helps it to intuit non-duality and begin to relax the activity of grasping. But even this intuiting is conditioned because it is a mental state. There really is no ignorance or knowledge. This can only be understood from the standpoint of Being which is not the same as the content of mind. The content of mind is not seen as any problem from the Dzogchen view. There is nothing to be done with it. The only way to ‘see’ this is from being present in the moment, each moment. No mental process can ever reveal this. Then, what is pointed to is now lived as the natural state and that allows the mind to function as it was meant to, without creating question and answer problems that don’t exist, and the sense of someone who is experiencing this natural state. None of this is ‘attained’. No one is liberated, and life in its myriad forms flows eternally. All this is spontaneous.

  10. It is very interesting how the words with which we are familiar, and the way in which they have been used in what we have heard and read, can lead to failures in communication. No wonder politics is such a minefield!

    I don’t actually think we are saying anything different when the words are sifted and we come down to the basics.

    My understanding is that Dzogchen is a non-dual teaching. That being so, the bottom-line understanding of it and Advaita must be the same. Reality is non-dual. Let us agree to call this non-dual reality ‘X’. The you, I, the world, anything that you can think or perceive must be X. It must always have been X; it is X now, and always will be X. Therefore, we must already be ‘experiencing’ or ‘living’ X. There is nothing other than X. We don’t have to ‘do’ anything’. We don’t have to practice; we don’t have to listen to teachers; we don’t have to ‘relax into the moment’ etc.

    So what is the problem? The problem is that we think there is a problem. We experience a dualistic world so we conclude that reality is dual. We suffer and we want to be happy etc. If we could just see that all of this is a mistake, that things are not like that; that we are creating all of these apparent problems by wrong thinking…

    The purpose of any non-dual teaching is to get the mind to realise how things really are and stop being deluded by how they appear to be. Advaita does this one way; Dzogchen does it in a slightly different way. The end result is the same.

    What I cannot accept is that it is anything other than the mind that is involved here. If you speak of ‘seeing’, or even ‘being’, this is still the mind. The body would not do either of these things without a mind! Yes, both body and mind are X in reality, but is not X that needs to realise X.

  11. Yes, if we are talking philosophically, we are talking about the same thing. There is no problem in reality, only in our thinking. Thinking about factual information doesn’t introduce a problem or a separate sense of self. Thinking about ideas, does introduce a problem. The ideas or concepts of Advaita or any other school of thought/belief, etc., introduces duality into the mind. It introduces the idea of Self Knowledge, God, Buddha nature, even Reality/Truth. If we are going to be fully honest and see that the conceptualization is the mistake, creating the ‘problem’/duality from itself, we begin to loosen this ‘identification’ with conceptualization. But this means giving up any attempts to unite, correct, or attain anything including Atman/Brahman, Buddha nature, God, or what have you.

    If you come to this point, you begin to see things in a different way. The ‘problem’ is easily recognized and doesn’t take root. You live in the present moment without any control or need to do anything whatsoever about what arises. This is more than an intellectual understanding, it is also physical. Things happen in your body that you have no control over. Your breath and heartbeat have nothing to do with mind. It’s only the conceptualization of thought that prevents direct experience of what is. What is is non-conceptual and not defined. This is why words are useless. Mind is only a reflection, it is essentially empty and absent of any reality in itself.

    Are we still on the same page?

  12. I agree with much of what you say… but not all.

    I disagree with “Thinking about factual information doesn’t introduce a problem or a separate sense of self.” I would say that ANY thinking is necessarily dualistic and therefore likely to be a problem. The notion that thinking – which is essentially putting names to forms (whether objects outside or in the mind) – is at the root of our problems is fundamental to Advaita. You put it: “conceptualization is the mistake, creating the ‘problem’/duality from itself”. So we definitely agree here! Unfortunately, the mind has to use concepts and percepts to function in the world. So realising the problem is part of the solution. But we cannot thereby abandon the mind!

    You say: “you live in the present moment without any control or need to do anything whatsoever about what arises”. This is neither realistic nor necessary. When you are hungry, you have to eat (eventually). What is important from the ‘spiritual’ point of view is to recognise that this is merely the body functioning in the world and that ‘I am not the body’.

    “It’s only the conceptualization of thought that prevents direct experience of what is.” Nothing prevents experience of what is. We always ONLY experience what is. What it is, is Consciousness. There is only Consciousness. But the mind does not realize this. And it is THAT which is the problem.

    Wrong concepts make us see the world awry. The teaching is required to correct those misconceptions and bring about that recognition. Then we still see the world as dualistic but know that it is really non-dual. We do not thereby ‘attain’ anything; we simply recognise the truth of what is already the case.

  13. Needing to eat is an impulse that is not dualistic. So, we get up and find something to eat. There is no problem with this. You eat and your done eating. OTOH, if you are hungry and imagine that it is only the body that is eating or wants to eat, this is conceptual because you introduce the idea of an observer. This observer is the activity of conceptualization which separates from the observed. This same observer is the one that says there is only consciousness. The body does not say this. It is a mental process of reflection. This is not the same thing as being consciousness.

    I am not suggesting that this observer somehow becomes consciousness and observes everything that is called experience. I am suggesting that this observer is only a conceptualization itself. Thinking itself has to see it has no chance of understanding what consciousness is. It simply cannot do it and this is the basis for loosening conceptualization itself. All models and their construction must be abandoned. It is all conditioned thinking and dualistic, even the idea of non-dual. It is simply not what we think. The idea of problem is a magical illusion in Dzogchen terms, with no permanence. Even this concept, magical illusion, is not adhered to as the observer itself is part of this illusion. The words (concepts) must be abandoned as having any validity. This is what keeps us chasing the illusory. Each of us must come to this point.

  14. “This observer is the activity of conceptualization which separates from the observed.”

    “. . . observer itself is part of this illusion. The words (concepts) must be abandoned as having any validity. This is what keeps us chasing the illusory. EACH OF US must come to this point.”

    Wow, you don’t see the contradictory, and yet sanctimonious, mental masturbation in that. Truly impressive.

  15. Anon.: ‘The ideas or concepts of Advaita or any other school of thought/belief, etc., introduce duality into the mind…“It’s only the conceptualization of thought that prevents direct experience of what is.”’

    That is, in my opinion, like putting the cart ahead of the horse. Thinking, or conceptualization for that matter, is a function of the mind, and mind is consubstantial with duality – and it is there not to confound or mislead people, on the contrary, to address all issues and problems in the right manner, that is, intelligently. The (individual) mind is subservient to intelligence – which is transpersonal – and intelligence (nous) is subservient to vision, apprehension, ‘what is’ (pick your word) and unites with it. The particular vision or insight, which is wordless, then puts/invests the insight with words (‘reveals’) – whence the concepts and ‘explanation’ of that which, in itself, is unexplainable, unutterable.
    If we can think intelligently about life, knowledge, etc., it is because we are ‘standing on the shoulders of giants’ – Lao Tze, Shankara, Plato, Longchempa, Tsongkhapa, and so many others.

    That is why I said at the beginning that placing conceptualization ahead of ‘what is’ is putting the cart ahead of the horse. Conceptualization/thinking cannot do any harm to what is, logically and ontologically, prior to itself! IOW, first, the vision or intuition, then the verbalization, ‘theorizing’, etc. Unfortunately, vision into reality is not directly transmissible from one individual to another, despite what is taught by some type of Tantra (and called Saktipata).

  16. Martin said: “If we can think intelligently about life, knowledge, etc., it is because we are ‘standing on the shoulders of giants’ – Lao Tze, Shankara, Plato, Longchempa, Tsongkhapa, and so many others.”

    I think this is the problem in a nutshell. We create a fiction out of all these philosophies/models. They are ultimately useless because they set up ideas of ‘how to live, think, and act’. Models of behavior and thought that we try to adapt to and thereby create a fiction of our lives. This has nothing to do with what is, only with what was. It is the set up of authority and what society/culture has taught us.

    • Anon.:
      “I think this is the problem in a nutshell. We create a fiction out of all these philosophies/models. They are ultimately useless because they set up ideas of ‘how to live, think, and act’.”

      No one lives in a vacuum (unless lost in a desert island). It is true that one may take the decision of doing away with all dogmas, teachings, and philosophies previously pursued considering them valueless. These teachings, however, have necessarily left some mark in the mind, and it can arguably be said that they were a kind of preparation for future insights. Clearly, Anon., you have been influenced by Buddhism and Dzogchen and have understood what non-duality comports. Can you deny the logic of this?

      [‘By relaxing and being present, the 4 Perfections and The View, can be triggered, even easily in some cases, not after years of study or struggle.’ On the other hand, ‘mennagde, the essential series of “secret instructions” or Upadesha, comprises special teachings and methods based on the experiences of masters, with the aim of helping the practitioner progress up to complete realization’.]

      The last part of that quotation (an ‘encumbrance’?) may not make Dzogchen palatable to our tastes, yours and mine. Is it or not similar to the usually long preparation and study of Advaita Vedanta? We can all agree at least that ‘there are many ways to skin a cat’.

      As I wrote previously, Advaita is not just a unitive state; it is non-duality… there are no concepts in paramartha… Once Self-knowledge or realization has been established, what is seen is no different but is now known to be non-dual… ‘. Can you speak against this?

      From my blog: ‘No-knowledge’ is another term for your true nature, or ‘no-mind’. All knowledge is a collection of memories stuck to the stillness of our essential nature. Exactly no-knowledge enables to see that the true nature of thinking and feeling, the true nature of ‘ourselves’ is simplicity. It is the simplicity of pure, concept less Consciousness.’ (Philip Renard)

  17. Anon, you have created a fictional model yourself. You seem to assert that you have ‘stepped into the stream’ and shed all your conceptual models and societal conditionings, and live in just ‘what is’.

    But what does that actually mean? From your other comments, it seems that that translates into just another form of individualism, which says that ‘I’ just respond to life as it comes, doing what needs to be done for me and my loved ones, and what happens to come into my circle of ‘what is’ experience. So if there is a moment of suffering in front of me, then I may indeed respond to that; or I may not. And ‘I’ put my head in the sand with respect to the lifestyle and civilisation that I live in and benefit from, that comes as part and parcel of a fundamentally corrupt and destructive system.

    Just because you don’t see (or choose not to see) the system and its social (rather than just psychological conditioning) does not make it hypothetical, or not here and now. If you believe that these issues are not ‘here and now’ purely because it is not in your experience, then you are putting forward a solipsistic view.

    Nisargadatta put it well:
    “A man who knows that he is neither body nor mind cannot be selfish, for he has nothing to be selfish for. Or you may say he is equally “selfish” on behalf of everybody he meets; everybody’s welfare is his own.”

    So non-duality at its heart can either translate into a Vivekananda who constantly extolled people to go out and act in the world to reduce suffering or a Ramana Maharshi who gave up all possessions (and societal benefits) to live by what came to him by chance. JK, Gandhi arguably exemplified the former; UG, the Ch’an hermit monks in China, the latter.

    You are either a part of society and accept its benefits, and therefore must act on its flaws; or you renounce all participation in society (which btw is what Shankara and Gaudapada believed most jnanis would do). Otherwise this is all just armchair jnana.

    This is not trying to set up some model for behaviour. It is a logical sequitur to non-duality.

    • Venkat,

      The short answer is yes, this is all armchair jnana. The comparative mind never finds a suitable answer to its questions. You are playing with all kinds of ideas. This is who you are.

  18. A very interesting interview with Galen Strawson, by BLVR


    Quote below towards the end.of interview-

    BLVR: Well, maybe there’s one more interesting question left in the debate. If living the fact can be done, with hard work, should it be done? In other words, if someone accepts the conclusion of the basic argument, that DMR is impossible, would you recommend that he try to live according to this belief?

    GS: It might take years of spiritual discipline to get to “living the fact” (though actually one can get quite a way by ordinary secular reflection). But let’s suppose you could achieve it immediately, just by pressing a button. You’re asking, Should you press that button?

    Well, it might be blissful…but I think it might take you out of the range of normal human relations. You wouldn’t mind that consequence once you were there. I’m sure you’d be absolutely clear that it was right to be where you were once you were there. But it might be frightening to contemplate trying to get there, leaving behind all this thick human comforting mess. It might seem bleak from this side, sad, ruling out truly personal relations. I’m not sure it can accommodate romantic love as we ordinarily conceive it. But it would not touch a capacity for compassion, and it would not eliminate reactive attitudes like gratitude, it would just change them deeply from within. It would turn them from moral to aesthetic attitudes. Which, in the end, is all they can properly be.

    • Thanks for the link Guru. Interesting article, which I wouldn’t’t disagree with.

      The key though is to act without taking ownership of the actions – or attributing ownership to others’ actions. i.e. act to resolve suffering, but without concern for the outcome, or condemnation for the actor who is inflicting suffering.

      Bhagavad Gita is about Arjuna who wished to escape from action, when he realised that to fight for justice would require him killing his family and comrades. Consequently he had the conceit that he was ready to become a sannyasin and to simply pursue knowledge. Krishna recognised his immaturity, that he was not yet ready to truly renounce the world, and so urges him to act, for the sake of the world, and without considering himself a ‘doer’ or at least without concern for the fruits of his action.

      12.3: Those however who meditate in every way on the Immutable, the Indefinable, the Unmanifest, which is all-pervading, incomprehensible, changeless, immovable and constant –
      12.4: By fully controlling all the organs and always being even-minded, they, engaged in the welfare of all beings, attain Me alone.

      The issue today is that we all believe we have knowledge – because it isn’t that hard to understand it – as Arjuna demonstrated. However until we are ready to give up the world, as Shankara and Gaudapada said, we continue to be part of the world, and therefore must act – act as if you have free will, whilst deepening your understanding free will does not exist and that you are not the doer. And that is the advice Krishna gives to Arjuna.


  19. Martin,

    No doubt, my influences have been Buddhism, Dzogchen, and more importantly, JK & UG, with whom I had a lot of contact with. I have also met Zen masters and Tibetan lamas, and some westerners who taught their own brand of philosophy. This is the world around me, influencing everything I think and believe. This has been going on for thousands of years and we are born into the world of experience, the world where these philosophies and beliefs become inseparable from who we are. We are taught everything we know and we experience only what we know through mind. In fact, I don’t think it is possible to experience anything other than what we already know. All the altered states of mind, the great insights, the unity, the oneness, the silence are all experiences that are known and have been introduced to us through the various cultures of mankind. There is no getting away from this. There is no freedom from this or another state that is not another experience of what we already know. It is all a projection. This also means that these people I’ve met that I’ve been influenced by are also projections and can’t possibly change this state of affairs for anyone. Someone like UG, would be the first to tell you this, that what you seek does not exist, except in your imagination.

    There is no way that any of us can know the ‘truth’ of Advaita or Dzogchen, or UG’s ‘calamity’ from the point of view of the experiential mind which is all we have at our disposal. All the practices that are taught cannot walk you into this because they are all mental exercises that attempt to control and lead the mind into what cannot be known by the mind. I am not against any of these philosophies and what they point to. You can adhere to any practice or way that is most appealing to you. I’ve done it and have had extraordinary experiences and insights. But they gave me no lasting experience of unity, non-duality, or Self Realization. It is just more experience and not what these philosophies are really pointing at. There is simply no way to experience what they are talking about. We are not even experiencing our life directly without the interpretation of thought. If you are being honest about yourself, you will see the truth of this. You can repeat the words and practices of these paths till you are blue in the face and nothing much will change. The same experiencer is still with us. As UG might say, the only way the experiencer stops is when you ARE blue in the face. I hope you see the humor in this.

    It doesn’t matter what we call anything. It’s arbitrary. But, as long as we keep naming these things, we don’t have any chance of understanding anything. We are completely deceived. No mind, no knowledge, true nature, pure consciousness, all are unknowns and cannot be experienced. Why play with these words? They are not going to lead you anywhere except into more experience and more words. We need to stop, not advance.

  20. Evidently, you are disenchanted (‘I’ve done it and have had extraordinary experiences and insights. But they gave me no lasting experience of unity, non-duality, or Self Realization’), but instead of acknowledging your failure (so far), you go into denial – of everything under the sun (all philosophies, experiences… except those of JK and UG). Why only what JK and UG say or write is valid? This is not reasonable. Others here have told you that very similar, if not identical, insights can be found in AV and other non-dual paths… You hold tight to your THEORY that ‘it is not possible to experience anything other than what we already know.’ Also that “All the altered states of mind, the great insights, the unity, the oneness, the silence are all experiences that are known and have been introduced to us through the various cultures of mankind.”

    Again, all this is not only unreasonable, but not true. An *insight* is not a passing experience, least of all the experience or insight of unity and/or oneness. Why do you refuse to acknowledge at least something of what I (and Dennis, Charles, Ramesam, and Venkat) have written, namely, that non-duality, no-mind are not just possibilities, but actualities, given that there are those who, through time immemorial, have experienced or, rather, known that they are true (in their minds and bodies, as you like to say)? You should be able to see your contradiction or contradictions, and I am not accusing or blaming you in any way, but trying to get something more positive or reasonable from you other than straight denials, one after another. In fact, you have done that on occasion:

    Anon.: “I have already agreed with you concerning pure awareness, rigpa, consciousness. We don’t become, we ‘be’, ‘are’.”

    “… what is paramount to understand is … “. You usually depreciate understanding as being purely in the mind.

    I hope that some of these endless (not pointless) discussions are helpful to someone…

  21. Martin,

    Disenchantment is not a negative condition and it is not denial. For me it is part of an operative intelligence that a human being has. The mind is not evil and thought is not necessarily your enemy, it is just limited in its scope of understanding. If you introduce the world of ideas, conceptual thinking, into the explanation of who or what we are, we only remain in the world of ideas, spinning a web of deception about reality. It is not through these ideas or words that we begin to see. It is through the physical processes of the body that we begin to approach what we are, which cannot be fixed or located in time and space. The physical processes that occur from the moment you wake up in the morning are primary and prior to the thoughts and control mechanisms of the mind. The blood rushing, heart beating, skin feeling the contact with the bed.

    I live on a river. The first thing I hear each morning are the boats going up and down and across the water. Before I know it’s a boat, the vibration of the sound is there. Everything else is an interpretation of that sensation, of the mind. There is no problem associated with the sights, sounds, feelings, and thoughts that arise. That is all that there is. There is no Buddha there, no non-duality. Those are all the left-over ideas of what mankind has thought that we have been exposed to. Those ideas are the deception, not the solution. Those ideas are what creates separation and conflict with what is.

    Why do I hold up UG so highly, you ask? He’s my guy, so to speak. I don’t think he’s the only ‘my guy’ that exists, but he’s the only ‘my guy’ that I have ever met who walked the walk and talked the talk. The point being that he was a living force of nature that had a great impact on me. In the same way that you hear about people coming into contact with Ramana and the effect that they felt, I knew from the very first time I heard about him, that this was my guy. I cannot even begin to describe what it was like to be around him. Those who have met ‘their guy’ will know what I mean. It’s not like reading a book or thinking about the nature of reality. You are turned inside out and upside down. Nothing remains hidden.

    Dzogchen, for me, is probably the most poetic way of describing reality that I have come across. Of course, it is all metaphorical, as is every other way of describing what cannot be described, including Advaita, Buddhism, Ch’an, and the Jesus story. UG was not in opposition to any of it. He would acknowledge some descriptions as the natural state when they were read to him. Dzogchen is probably closest to what UG alluded to, but UG insisted that all descriptions would bind you further to your illusions. This includes the illusion of understanding. When the Buddha sat before all his students, he held up a flower. Only Mahakasyapa smiled, showing recognition of its significance. The transmission took place in that moment and the mantle was passed on.

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