THE NONDUALISTIC COMMUNICATION:
NOTHING TO GET, NOTHING TO DEFEND
by Jeff Foster - November 2008
“…a sense sublime
of something far more deeply interfused,
whose dwelling is the light of setting suns,
and the round ocean, and the living air…”
This is not a teaching. It’s not even a communication from one person to another.
It is a sharing, from nobody to nobody, from Source to Source, of something so intimate, so present, so damn alive that words cannot even begin to touch it.
From the moment I started talking about this, I knew that not a single word I said about it could ever be true.
The wonder and the grace of this: nobody can own it. It cannot be held, cannot be possessed, cannot be grasped in any way. Although I’ve been writing and talking about this for a few years now, I have never, ever had the sense that it has anything to do with me, with the character called Jeff. Never felt that I was in any way special.
In fact, that’s exactly what fell away: the specialness of Jeff. Yes, that was the shocking realisation: this had nothing to do with anything I’d ever done, or not done. Nothing to do with a separate “me”, a separate self. Nothing to do with effort or attainment or adding anything to the seeker.
No, no. The seeker is destroyed, once and for all.
And so of course, there is nothing – and will never be anything - to defend here. There is no need to make any claims or promises about “my” communication of this message (and I’ve never, ever, seen it as “mine”.) No need to compare and contrast Life Without A Centre with any other teaching or non-teaching. No need to condemn teachers who aren’t quite as ‘nondualistic’ or ‘awakened’ as me. (Whatever the hell any of that means.)
No. This speaks for itself, and doesn’t need me to defend it. It’s not a teaching; it is simply an expression of the inexpressible, a putting-into-words of that which is totally beyond words.
I don’t own it. And even if I could own it, I wouldn’t want to. It’s too precious.
And with that I think, comes a certain humility. If there is any “hallmark” of liberation (or whatever you want to call it) perhaps it’s that. I can only speak from experience. You see, Jeff is constantly humbled by the wonder of what is, by the grace of this divine, purposeless, priceless play. And he knows that his words are always and forever equal to the barking of a dog or the miaowing of a cat. They are simply part of the song of being, the divine dance of nothing and everything which reveals itself in and as everything and nothing, which sings and shines from the toothbrush as I brush my teeth in the morning, from the fish and chips that I munch on the beach, from the cold autumn breeze as it lovingly caresses my cheek, from the dog shit that I step in on the way home, ruining my new shoes, for a while, anyway.
Life happens, but there is nobody there to whom it happens. And when there is nobody there, there is nobody there who could ever become defensive, possessive or even smug about their own understanding or expression of this.
There is nobody there who could ever believe their own bullshit anymore.
Nobody there who could possibly care about what the world thinks, or doesn’t think, of them.
Yes, nothing to defend – that goes right to the heart of this message.
To the individual, this freedom, this grace, will always seem out of reach. The moment you have an individual, you have separation, and the moment you have separation you have the longing to end that separation, to heal the divide, to come home. It’s the wave longing to return to the ocean. And of course on some level the wave knows that it was never for one moment separate from the ocean - that the sense of being a wave is merely a temporary contraction of the whole.
The little wave is inherently a seeker, and he runs around the world like a headless chicken, trying to find something which of course he never lost in the first place. And he never lost this because he never had it. He always was it. The wave was always, always, a perfect expression of that which cannot be expressed. You – the character, the person, the individual – were always the divine expression, expressing itself perfectly, completely, and exhausting itself in that expression, leaving no trace, no residue.
And the cosmic joke? Even the individual’s endless and exhausting search to come home – even that was always the divine expression. It was always Oneness seeking itself.
Well, of course it was. There is only Oneness.
And so when the search collapses, what goes along with it is the sense of being an individual separate from the whole, the sense of being a little wave in a big ocean. It’s not an intellectual thing. It’s a collapse into Intimacy. Totally beyond the intellect. Totally beyond words.
But here’s the rub: it’s not something that you could ever have, or do.
Because you are looking for this in all the wrong places, and all your doing is directed towards a future that will never arrive. You are looking for this within the world. That is to say, you are looking for it within your world. And there is no other.
You see, the character and the character’s world are inseparable. Once you have a character, you immediately have a world in which that character functions. A world in which that character lives and breathes and sees himself. An angry character sees an angry world. A depressed character sees a depressing world. A spiritual seeker sees a world full of things to look for, a world full of teachers and teachings and the hope and promise of salvation.
The seeker only ever sees his own world.
And within that world, the seeker hears about awakening or liberation or whatever you want to call it. And he begins to look for it within his world.
Anything is possible within the seeker’s world. Within the seeker’s world there are a million different spiritual paths and processes and practices and goals. A million things to do, a million things on offer. Within the seeker’s world, you can look for enlightenment, you can wait for liberation, you can anticipate some sort of energetic transformation. Within the seeker’s world, you can go to meetings and hear about future events that might or might not happen to you. You can believe that “there is no person” or “there is nothing to get” or that one day separation will fall away. It’s a world full of belief. It’s a world full of second-hand concepts passed down by well meaning people who really believe what they tell you.
But what the word ‘nonduality’ points to has nothing to do with any of that. It allows it, embraces it fully, but really what we are pointing to has nothing to do with that whole seeking game. It’s not something that the seeker could ever find in his world, because what we are pointing to is the dissolution of the seeker and, along with it, his world. It’s a falling away of seeker and world, and a plunge into something much more mysterious, vibrant, and alive than the second-hand concepts ever promised – and that’s not something that could be found within the world!
And that plunge, well the moment we talk about it, we are into the language of seeker and world. But of course that’s the only language we have. All teachings function within this realm of seeker and world (taken together, we could call this the “dream world”). Even these words, and the words expressed in the meetings, function within the dream world, and that is why, as I said before, I know that the moment I speak about this, it’s simply not true. The moment I speak about this, I’ve made it into something, something in the dream world, something for the seeker to hold onto and attempt to understand. I’ve turned it into something foryou to get in the future.
In a sense, if you want to talk about nonduality you’re doomed from the beginning. That’s part of the humility too: the seeing that you will never be able to express this. And that even the idea of a perfect nondualistic communication (if that was even possible) is still totally and completely within the dream world.
In this dream world, everything is in perfect balance. A depressed character is met with a depressing world. A fearful character is met with a terrifying world. A seeker is always met with teachers who will cater to the seeking, feed the seeking.
In fact, the teacher needs the student as much as the student needs the teacher. The student functions in the teacher’s world in the same way as the teacher functions in the student’s world. He meets a need. Because of course, a teacher cannot know himself as a teacher unless he, in some way, uses the students to create and maintain that identification. And so he clings to them as tightly as they cling to him. In the dream world, in your quest to be a person, to be a somebody rather than a nobody, in your attempt to make your life work, you always meet your own reflection.
And the teachers promise you so much! They promise a future event called enlightenment, or awakening, or liberation, or some sort of shift or change in perception that you can or cannot obtain.
But in the falling away of the self-contraction and along with it, the contracted world space in which all teachers and teachings operate, the grace is revealed, and it has nothing to do with any sort of future event, or spiritual experience, or shift in perception, or transformation of consciousness, or anything else that was promised by the dream teachers. And it’s shockingly ordinary. It’s drinking a cup of tea. It’s eating fish and chips. Except now, nobody drinks the tea, and nobody eats the fish and chips. Drinking tea just happens. Eating fish and chips just happens. Tea drinks itself. Fish and chips eat themselves. That’s about as close as we can get in language.
It’s totally beyond anything you expected. And it’s not something new that appears - it’s a revelation of something that was already there, apparently hidden but really always in plain view. This ordinary life has always been longing to reveal its secrets. The fish and chips and the cup of tea (and yes, even the dog shit on the pavement) were always the Beloved trying to calling us home.
This is not an intellectual realisation. If it were that simple, it would just be a matter of changing your thoughts, for example from “this isn’t it” to “this is it”, or from “I’m not awake” to “I am awake”. Within the dream world, of course, changing thoughts can be a wonderful thing. If you’re going to have a dream, it’s probably better to have a happy dream. If you’re going to have a dream, why not think positively instead of negatively! Why not think you’re awake instead of asleep! Within the dream world, the individual can do a million different things to their thoughts, and thoughts in turn can create a million different experiences. But what we’re talking about here is totally beyond all of that. It cannot be captured by any thought-created formula. In fact, “there is no person” and “there is a person” both miss the point. “There is choice” and “there is no choice” both miss the point. Within the dream world, these pairs of opposites arise together and fall away together. But they cannot take you to where you really want to go: your own absence.
Beyond the opposites of the self-contraction, this grace, this wonder constantly shines, and in fact it is only because of this grace that the self-contraction can appear to operate at all. Being plays every role, even the role of the one who appears to be ignorant of Being. It’s all Being. That is the revelation. For no-one.
The person was always imprisoned by their world, without ever realising it (and then they imagined that freedom could be found within that world!). In the falling away of person and world, there is no person to be imprisoned, of course. There is just what is. Just nothing being everything. Just this – and even that is saying too much.
All we can really do is try to point back to this as clearly and as honestly as possible, using words to go beyond words. And in the dream world the arguments go on: “My teacher/teaching is better than yours! Teacher X is completely dualistic, she gives people a spiritual practice, which means that she still sees separate people! Teacher Y teaches purely from the intellect! Teacher Z still uses the word “I", he couldn’t possibly be liberated!” (You wouldn’t believehow often I hear comments like this!).
And in the dream world, some of these arguments may have some validity. But they all completely miss the point: nobody can teach this. Nobody owns this freedom. There are no enlightened people, no awakened people. No person has ever reached liberation. Because there are no people at all. The person is the mirage.
Nobody owns this freedom. And that’s the beauty of this, that’s the joy of it: what we’re talking about is totally free, constantly available, always and forever offering itself unconditionally. And when this message is really heard, when the seeking dissolves and the self-contraction heals, what these words are pointing to are revealed in absolute clarity, and the my-teaching-or-teacher-is-better-than-yoursgame that gets so very serious and tedious is seen to be what it always was: an intellectual game, a battle of egos, a distraction from what, for this character anyway, has always been at the very core this message: unconditional love, and the revelation and expression of that.
And all the while, beyond the futile attempts of the character to communicate this message and defend their communication, this intimacy which is beyond measure and yet totally so ordinary lies quietly in the background, whispering so very softly that all is well, and that, of course, there is “nothing to defend… nothing to defend…”