With his sweeping and insightful overviews and direct understanding of the “real world” hinted at in non-duality, author John Greer broadens the ring of transmission of the non-dual message in his engaging and revealing new book “SEEING, KNOWING, BEING…A GUIDE TO SACRED AWAKENINGS.” In what is more than just another scholarly and therapeutic read about the concept of non-duality, Greer serves up a feast of lived and well understood truths spiced and salted to taste with plenty of delicious metaphors that will feed and nourish our deeper understanding of reality.
A consumate spiritual chef, Dr. Greer’s style is open, inclusive and approachable, providing a grand sampling of spiritual cuisine for those of us who are hungry. He invites us to a feast of our shared cultural histories and divergent religious beliefs to demonstrate how we’ve lost the ability to connect and to find what we are missing. Greer says: “the time is ripe for a return to spirituality” and notes “the fact that so many people today have the opportunity to experience the shallowness of material success firsthand.” He then proceeds in a flowing 264 pages, to dish up treats for the whole family of man that beautifully combine flavors from traditional and contemporary sages that delight even as they enlighten. He sets the table well, introducing us first to the nature of the dual in “Part One – Exile” and then he artfully moves us on into the main course – “Part Two – the Return”. (Readers get to serve themselves their own desert!)
I’ll confine my review to just a few tidbits that I found tasty, and, skipping here and there, mixing flavors with an unschooled hand, offer you a few bites to delight in: (for the whole treat, please see more details below)
“This book is about the return to wholeness, going back to the source from which all manifestation evolves. The return entails a perceptual shift from the dualistic reality of our conventional world to the non-dual, where boundaries no longer divide what is in our everyday experience… concepts create in our minds a world of seemingly separate objects and events, which we then organize and make sense of (using)… the framework of space and time in the dynamics of cause and effect.”
“When the dualistic…is applied to the spiritual realm, the deepest feelings and concerns of humanity often find substance in the concept of God. Concepts shape our deepest yearning and intuition into an image of God that is separate from us… (whereas) non-duality abides no contrast or comparison, no distinction between this and that, and no sequence of before and after… Beneath the surface play of phenomena, there is a formless, undifferentiated realm invisible to the naked eye; devoid of all parts, there remains only the unceasing flow and energy of life.”
“In Southeast Asia, villagers employ a simple device to catch wild monkeys. They make a hole in an empty coconut shell, just big enough for a monkey to get its hands through. Then they fill the shell with candy and secure it to a tree. Eventually, one of the curious animals is attracted to the smell of the sweets and, reaching its small hand inside, eagerly grabs the tantalizing prize. But when the monkey tries to pull its hand out of the coconut shell, it cannot – the hand grasping the loot is too large to pass back through the hole. When the villager appears, the monkey could easily escape simply by releasing its hold on the candy but, paralyzed by desire, it cannot. Such a tableau offers a classic parallel to our human inability to let go.”
“The mind acts like a prism, separating what is originally one into the manifold aspects of existence”.
“The solution lies in our relationship to the events (of life). We change the way we see, rather than what we are seeing.”
“In contrast to exoteric forms of religion, and their emphasis on afterlife reward for virtuous living, the esoteric practices see virtuous living as the foundation of all that happens now. They find a direct connection between our behavior toward others in the unfolding clarity of our spiritual insight.”
“The world we know is a product of our perception, and it is by shifting our focus – from the map to the territory, from the figure to the ground – that we find our way home.”
“Though it is impossible to produce realization by our own efforts through any particular practice, each of these (three) approaches acts to weaken the grip of conceptualization… Those methods that employ symbolism work to soften and stretch… Forms of concentration meditation generally function to still the mind, enabling us to transcend thought and temporarily be non-dual… Investigation or inquiry is designed to probe the conceptual divisions making it possible for us to intuitively see non-duality.”
“Accounts of spiritual awakening vary widely, and across all traditions certain essentials are unchanged – including the challenging truth that we cannot make the crossing from duality to wholeness in the vessel of our own ego: the self cannot transcend the self. While there are, unfortunately, some forms of “liberation” offered in the spiritual marketplace that actually serve to aggrandize the self or promise it eternal survival, true enlightenment shatters the ego shell so that the light of the absolute can dispel the darkness.”
“Enlightenment is simply what is. As the distinction between subject and object fades away, one does not see the truth, one becomes it. What is left is unity that abides no divisions. All opposites are reconciled – the lamb and the lion lie down together… Life unfolds as it will, and realization will play out on its own schedule and in its own way… There is only what is, timeless and undivided. There is neither one who follows the path nor any path to follow. What has always been continues to be, but we struggle less and less against it”
“Accustomed as we are to seeing life from the perspective of the separate self, we may think that life without it will be robbed of all its richness. Nonetheless, when the truth of selflessness is seen and experienced, the meaning and beauty of life do not vanish into some nihilistic abyss. It is a matter of transcendence rather than disappearance, and it generates the ability to see the same reality in a profoundly different way. Instead of identifying with the figure, we see that in truth we are the ground as well!”… These mystical teachings are, in effect, directing your attention to the ground and away from the figure.
“As long as we resist what is, pitting self against other and part versus whole, we will never find true freedom.”
“Though we in the West live in a society where individual choice is considered the essence of freedom, and we agonize continually over many of the decisions that confront us, it is life that makes choices, not the individual self.”
“When there is nothing we can do, nothing to gain or lose, we are able for the first time to truly relax, to let go of our frenetic efforts and melt into the ecstasy and transience of being.”
“In truth, consciousness is indivisible from the organic flow of life, rising and falling with each and every object we perceive. It is not separate from what is, but a fundamental element of life, without which nothing else would exist.”
“The witness is just another construct, another product of our mind. And our sense of its reality is maintained by thoughts we have of it while something is being observed – in the exact same way we experience our sense of self.
“Everything is created by everything – unity is the doer, the doing, and the thing done –all seamlessly fused into the ephemeral display of sensations on which we impose our conceptual maps. In the absence of conceptual … arbitrary divisions … there are no things, no entities, no objects to be found.”
“There is only what is, but now life has remembered itself and consciously embodies the paradox of its own creation. Life lives life, and knows it… When you awaken to your true nature, your oneness with life, you watch all the activities of your body /mind occur spontaneously, knowing them to be the manifestations of life. You are something incomprehensibly vast and something very, very small, and seeing this unfathomable truth play out in each and everything you do is something that cannot be explained.”
“We have gone backstage and seen behind the masks of reality… When you realize what you are you see what is. The commentary of the mind no longer obscures the intuitive wisdom of the heart. There is seeing, knowing, and being, but it but it is not from the finite perspective of yourself, your ego. In awakened awareness, life beholds the wonder of its own being – and you are that.”
Author John Greer has spent nearly 20 years inquiring deeply into the sacred texts and teachings of the world’s traditions, spurred by his own spiritual search. He is a dedicated practitioner of meditation and has taught insight meditation for over a decade. John Greer holds a PhD in education from Pennsylvania State University, and in three decades as a professor at the University of Memphis published numerous articles, co-authored several books on education and special education, and was a recipient of the University’s highest award for distinguished teaching. He lives in Memphis, TN.
To learn more about John Greer or to order his book, please see www.SeeingKnowingBeing.com