Thursday, December 13, 2018

Radical Nonduality- Tony Parsons, Jim Newman etc. 1 The good and the bad.

I've been listening to some talks and videos from Tony Parsons, Jim Newman, and lesser acolytes such as Richard Sylvester etc. lately. For some reason these radical non-duality (Neo-Advaita in some people's lexicon) popped up into my awareness.

Overall, I like the simplicity and directness of their approach. I also like their uncompromising attitude towards the duality of self and the non-duality of things as they really are. Just this. The hopelessness of the "I" projections and all its plans etc, and even its very existence.

However, there's a couple of ugly flaws in this 'non teaching', which probably serve to deepen confusion in some of their 'non-listeners', as is obvious with a few that have been attending for over 10 years with nothing to show. Obviously, the bodies talking at the front of the room are happy for such a comment, since they do confess that they have nothing to give, teach or impart for the hopeless individuals that attend.

The Good

- Direct, uncompromising teaching in contemporary language
- No cultural baggage
- Humour and laughs included, which is genuine and warm.
- No hope for the seeker, individual or self-improvement junkie
- Returns again and again to 'just this' as the end and reality of everything
- Great communication of how it is seen from 'their' end
- Good explanation of nonduality in simple, understandable terms
- Excellent attack on the "I am" and leaves no room for the "I" to escape

The Bad

- Confusing use of some common words such as 'awareness'. Tony seems to only refer to this as pointing to self-awareness that arises with the individual. It seems he doesn't want to acknowledge that there's any awareness outside of the individual's seeming self-awareness (ie the individual being aware of itself versus the world as a duality). This seems ridiculous since it implies that the loss of the self/me entails a loss of awareness, or that awareness doesn't exist apart from the individual's perceived awareness.. so there's no awareness of objects in the room for instance. No awareness full-stop. (?!)

- One sided use of the word 'knowing' and 'know'. To know can mean intellectually know or comprehend concepts, but it can also mean to become aware of, or conscious of as a function. I can know mathematics, but I can also know that there's a screen in front of my face. This knowing or being conscious of isn't the same as amassing conceptual knowledge, it is just a registering in consciousness which requires no effort. However, TP and JN don't acknowledge this use of the word and slap it down at any opportunity. They seem to be equating it only with thinking, conceptualizing. Nothing can be known, registered etc.

- The insistence that the individual can do nothing at all and that nobody can do anything to alleviate their cause. This is 99% true, except for the fact that one's actual, undeniable reality can be investigated, looked at, inquired on. Perhaps that too is a non-event. However, from the point of view of the individual, that still remains a valid action to take; Looking at that which is already here right now. If the pointer or suggestion arises to investigate one's own apparent consciousness or beingness, isn't this worthy of mentioning, instead of the blanket there's no-one here who can do anything, the individual (you) are in a hopeless situation, so don't bother.. this will either happen or not. Of course, the whole "you can do nothing!" tip may be a teaching device or aid to 'giving up', which may or may not be useful for some, especially those hooked on the personal responsibility game. However, this isn't intimated in any way during these meetings, but enforced as a belief that the listener either accepts or rejects (since their own person experience won't tally with this, at least not in the beginning stages). 

- Vague suggestions of 'this' and 'things' being both unreal and real, with no further explanation on what those words actually mean. Yes, this is meant to be a mind-stopper. But, his confuses most of the listeners into a dumb silence. By unreal, it seems they are referring to the conceptual story that is built up in the mind, in which the 'me' takes ownership and personal claim for. It could also refer to completely unreal concepts, such as unicorns flying past. By real, it seems they are referring to just this "spacious aliveness" present. Again, the word 'awareness' is shunned in place of "spacious aliveness" or "empty fullness". OK.

- Idiotic explanations and poo-pooing of time-tested tools such as self-inquiry, contemplative investigation, or pointers such being 'aware of being aware'. Tony points out that 'being aware of being aware' implies a duality or two awarenesses, and so rubbishes this approach for example as ineffectual. But for the life of me, I can't fathom what is so difficult about looking at the fact that one seems to be aware right now. Or that there can be a movement here and now to become aware of the fact that one IS aware and conscious (versus asleep). Besides, in addition to Tony's philosophizing, is there anything more dualistic than a guy sitting in front of an audience talking about how the 'me' is an energy contraction in the body?

- Confusion over the word/concept "I am". I think most people having spent some time within the Nonduality teachings understand the difference between the concept "I am", which equates to a separate entity 'me' that appears temporarily, versus "I am" pointing to the wordless presence in which the concept appears and which appears on waking from sleep- the beingness. For some reason, Tony & friends only acknowledge the conceptual "I am". In one talk he seems to be criticizing: "teachers who teach people to be in the "I am" state - (pointing to his head and laughing) I mean most people are in the 'I am' state anyway.." -- This is false. "Most people" have no idea about the nature of their existence or "I am" state, being totally absorbed in external objects. Most people are NOT in the "I am" state, but identified with the conceptual "I am" and in the mind identified state of being an individual. If they were only in the 'I am' state they would be residing as just the beingness or existence that's happening now, and have no need to attend satsangs etc.

Overall, these talks are great value (and freely given), and worth taking the time to enjoy if one is so inclined, but just be wary of some potholes in the road when travelling along.

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