The Book of Undoing

Details of a new book by Fred Davis (Awakening Clarity website)


This book has arisen from Direct Pointing sessions that I’ve had with clients around the world.  These deceptively simple inquiries and dialogues work.  Men and women who have studied Nonduality for decades, both in and out of structured traditions, without experiencing even the first authentic glimpse of themselves have come to recognize their true nature during these talks.  Some of them have been glimpses, and others remain ongoing.  Still others, who were confounded by oscillation when we began to talk, have moved from there into stable Nondual awareness.  And of course there are a few people who’ve reported no change at all; such is the way of it.

I will be using the term “awakening,” but we should be clear that this is simply languaging to speak about a topic that is extremely difficult–impossible, actually–to communicate.  Silence is really the best medium for this message, but a blank book is unlikely to be very helpful, so we’ll plow on ahead using the best words that we can find.  The core of all Nondual teachings is the experiential discovery of our shared true nature.  We could further say that just beyond the core of Nonduality lies an incredibly sharp and skillful vocabulary, which grows sharper daily as more and more teachers  emerge, and the teachers we have grow in experience.

Every teacher represents a unique set of hard and soft conditioning (nature and nurture), and thus each views the singular landscape in a slightly or radically different way.  So too will their experience, understandings, and presentations be distinct.  While this can cause some element of confusion, particularly early on, it also births a wonderfully diverse set of approaches.  We need all we can get, because it is the languaging of the teacher that is most widely and easily communicated, and therefore most apt to lead us from that place just beyond the heart, and into the heart itself.

It is the peculiar nature of Nondual teachings that we can only hear who and what we can hear.  We could fill a stadium with awake beings, yet you or I might only be able to really resonate with a few of them.  This doesn’t mean the rest of these folks are wrong or deluded, it simply means they’re someone else’s teachers.  If we are sincere in our own approach to the teachings, we may be sure that we will find a teacher or teaching that we will resonate with perfectly.  We can’t fail to; that’s just how it works.

This teaching, my teaching, so to speak, starts from a position that is not new, yet which remains fairly radical.  I presume that clients don’t need to wake up, because they are always already awake.  Awakeness is not something you experience, it’s what you are.  By the same token, I presume that there’s no need for you to come out of oscillation and into stability, because you are always already still.  Stillness is not something you experience, once again it’s what you are.  Having understood the absolute truth of these things, we then embrace the relative nature of them.  In other words, knowing all of this, I then go about the business of waking people up, or pulling them out of oscillation!  It’s just one of many paradoxes we’ll encounter.  If you’ve no stomach for paradox, you won’t stay with Nonduality very long.

Here’s another paradox right away.  While making no suggestion whatsoever that there is any independent entity either writing this book, reading this book, or doing anything else, I notice that there are nonetheless lots of seemingly independent human units running around this planet, even if the planet itself and everything on it are merely apparent objects.  Our experience of these things is as real as anything else, so we can’t just blow them off with some sort of high-minded philosophy.  Thus in the same way we would reach for a hammer to pound a nail for the sake of the larger purpose of building a house, we’re going to use these human tools to help us, at least in viewpoint, move beyond them.  So go ahead and catalog the observation that when I speak about you, or me, or anyone else, I am making a relative reference as opposed to absolute statement.  This kind of initial set-up may seem silly at first, but in truth it sets the tone for what is to come.

I began doing spontaneous Nondual inquiry with others locally here in South Carolina in the autumn of 2010.  It wasn’t a plan.  I had no idea it was even going to happen until it started happening.  To my astonishment,  a couple of people who’d never so much as heard the word “Nonduality” quickly and easily came to recognize their true nature.  My wife, whose awakening preceded my own, came to a much deeper understanding as she and I talked casually.  Something about my message was growing sharper, because I’d been talking to all of these people for years without this sort of pronounced acceleration.  These were people for whom I’d been something of a spiritual mentor for quite some time, so they all trusted me implicitly, which helped a lot.  There was no skepticism on anyone’s part, and no fear of either failure or success, just an innocent openness; a full willingness to see where our conversations led.  This is the most fertile spiritual ground, so we all got lucky, so to speak.

These early successes gave me a great deal of confidence in myself as a teacher.  Ultimately, having people awaken either in our presence, or as the (apparent) direct result of our teaching, is the only telling vote that counts concerning the combination of our voice’s authenticity, and our ability to effectively communicate the teaching, meaning to competently point toward that which we all are.  Positive results are the only acceptable measurement.  Good looks, charm, and charisma may be magnetic, but in and of themselves they’re not freeing.  How about that waking up thing?  Is that happening, or not?  As students of this path, we have to decide what we really want, and pick a teacher accordingly.  Not that we can’t have more than one teacher, but my point is made.

In the summer of 2011 I started the Awakening Clarity website.  That began to bring my still-uneven teaching to the attention of a broader audience.  Others visited me in person–and lo and behold, most of them woke up.  I never knew who was more amazed, me or them.  Every time was as fresh for me as it was them.  It’s still that way.  Each time someone I’m talking to wakes up, I somehow get a little clearer too,  and a little more confident in my approach.  This teaching is constantly evolving.  This work excites me like nothing else I do, or have ever done.

A pattern of inquiry began to emerge; a method of teaching began to take shape.  I starting trying new things–really I should say that they started on their own–and then I hogged the credit!  But I wanted to stretch and find out what worked most consistently–that was the only criteria.  Every client is different, and every day is different.  Yesterday’s perfect presentation may fall on deaf ears today–even with the same person.  Not only do we never step in the same river twice, but the us that is doing the stepping is no more constant an entity than the river.  We look constant, but in fact these bodies are always changing, and we adapt our story about that body to match the already extant conditions.

I live in South Carolina, which is not noted for being a particularly progressive place.  I am chiefly regarded as a fool by people who used to be my friends.  Okay.  At any rate, I soon ran out of local victims, but it wasn’t long before Skype allowed me to easily go global, which still amazes me.  It’s such a wonderful tool for our community!  I experienced immediate success.  Not every time with every person, of course, but consistently.  Right from go I had more hits than misses.  My approach now had that solid consistency that I’d been after all along.

In line with all of that, in the summer of 2012, a year after the start of the website, I wrote my first book, Beyond Recovery: Non-Duality and the Twelve Steps, which was published by the good folks at Non-Duality Press.  That book was designed to be a bridge book that introduces this Nondual path in a structured format for people who may have little background in this field.  It addresses people who are in, or have gone through recovery, which is a well trodden path toward finding these teachings.  I should add, however, that it’s been read by a good many folks who have no connection whatsoever to recovery, and they report they got a lot out of it.  I’ve since had successful Direct Pointing sessions with a number of them.

I recorded some of the inquiries I’d been using in that book, along with some I’d been using privately for my own illumination.  These organic inquiries represent the very heart of the experiential aspect of my teaching.  The roots of some of them are again featured here, though there have certainly been changes to how I see them, and how I use them.  In the last few year they’ve been spontaneously honed in the heat of many one-on-one meetings with a wide range of people from vastly different cultures.

I repeat a couple of stories I told in that earlier book here, so readers of that volume will have to bear with me.  I often share different aspects of my past or current experience to either drive home a salient point, or to simply share my humanity with an empathetic story.  It helps to keep me off the teacher pedestal–whether established in an egoic movement by me, or perhaps by my clients.  Anyway, my story is my story, and I’m afraid it can’t change it in order to be more entertaining.  I will confess, however, that there were a great many years where I did just that!  I made my history a custom menu aimed at garnering approval.  Not anymore.

The bulk of this book is structured as if it is a live Direct Pointing session, as if it is a transcript of an actual conversation I’ve had on Skype.  In fact it’s a composite I’ve formulated to try and make the awkward transition from intimate, spontaneous spoken dialogue that would have benefit of both voice modulation and body language to the flat printed page as smooth as possible.  I have had people wake up within just a very few minutes of beginning a session, and others who took well over an hour.  The example I’m using here is of someone who’s receiving the teaching at a deep level, and coming to the Understanding pretty quickly.  You’re already intimately familiar with what blocks us, so my idea is to show the other side.

It’s written in that this client comes to see the truth several times before they see it for more than a few seconds.  That happens frequently, and clients will drift in and out of clarity during a session.  Not always, but often.  And it makes sense to use that movement as a literary device here, because it allows me to use more pointers in the dialogue.  It will also illuminate places where people tend to have breakthroughs.  With a little luck the reader may have one of their own.

There is a big bang awakening for some, and not for others.  Big bangs are the exception, not the rule, which is why we tend to find them more often in books than we do in our lives.  In this book we’re going with a series of small bangs.  Notice, however, that this apparently gradual process is really a series of sudden breakthroughs.  Here they are stretched out over a Direct Pointing session; call it 90 minutes.  In life they may be stretched out over weeks, or months, or even years.  Embodiment is certainly going to take years.  The Understanding almost always becomes clear and stable in this graduated manner.  Even Ramana Maharshi took years to assimilate clarity before he began to speak and teach.  Another device, for the sake of smoother dialogue flow, I’m giving the client the rather androgynous name of Brook.

Very often people will want to talk to me at least a second time, and I have some clients I talk to every month.  I call these follow-up meetings Clarity Sessions.  A lot of what happens in those meetings is that I will help clients again come to present clarity, help them revisit and reestablish their beachhead in reality.  Sometimes that happens just by chatting.  Please recall that my descriptions here and elsewhere are languaging about something that can’t be put into words.  I present here two variations on Clarity Sessions, one longer and one shorter, but each one of those meetings in real life is completely unique, and unlike the Direct Pointing sessions, which have an underlying structure.

Some clients will snap right back into cloudiness shortly after their Direct Pointing session–in an hour, a day, a week.  By the same token, some don’t.  Awakeness does what it does, as it does it, when it does it, for its own ends.  I don’t understand it either.  Regardless of how it plays out after a session, even if the client were to completely forget that time of clarity– the latent conscious awakeness we all harbor now knows what it is, and it knows it’s awake.

While Nondual awakening leaves a mark that can never be completely unseen, apparent clouds can, and in most cases does return to provide a thicker or thinner cover over the ever-shining brightness behind it.  But if you have ever had a good glimpse, then awareness has stirred, and things are just not the same after such an event, regardless of the amount of cloud cover.  The Gateless Gate may need to be breached again–I remind you that this only languaging the incommunicable–but that tends to get easier and easier as we go.  The more often we reach to touch the light, the more often we can touch it, and the longer the light stays on.

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© 2013 Fred Davis


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The Book of Undoing

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