There is nowhere to go...

Guy Smith (24, UK) puts many aspects of daily life in the picture when writing about non-duality in his book 'This is Unimaginable and Unavoidable' (Non-Duality Press).
He does so passionately and using an unusual form: notices, little poems, rhymes, e-mails. And there's enough to be found to make one smile (for instance when it's about sex).
A second book is writing itself, as he puts it and a novel will surely be written. However, today a good deal of his time is spent in answering questions about realisation.

Personal problems and interest in non-duality

A: As you said, non-duality as a subject doesn't easily slot into normal conversation. To me it seems as if there are the people who want clarity about this, whether it takes (a long) time or not and others who are not interested. In the latter group there are the people who find relief in their religion and those who seem contented with life as it is (Ambitious or easy going, yet they are not interested in a 'you' that one could identify with).
Back to the first group: In one of the notices in your book it says: ...For the simple fact that you who are reading this are to some degree dissatisfied and fearful (unless you are not, in which case you probably aren't reading this, because it has no function for you)...
It often seems as if personal problems trigger interest in non-duality. On the other hand some teachers say that realization requires more or less stable personalities, people who can cope with life. Please comment.

G:The kind of personality is actually irrelevant. What is seen and known is that personality - any personality - is such a tiny, frail little thing... always on the verge of just dropping off. It's just a thought... or a dream... so incredibly transient. Personality, in its nature, is terribly unstable... just prod it a little bit and suddenly it can get terribly upset - very defensive - because there is always, in some way, a recognition that personality is a fraud... and so it needs a lot of self-promotion to maintain itself. Any sense of structure is like that, any sense of stability in fact: because nothing is stable, nothing is structural - there is only boundless oneness.

But, within this hypothetical array of little terribly unstable senses of stabilities, these various seeming personalities, there is no one more eligible for realization than another. You see it's totally beyond the personality... beyond any specifics. There is only oneness. Oneness is gleamingly self-evident everywhere, all the time, totally unavoidable - so it can certainly leap up anywhere, anyhow.

On the one hand one might posit that a comparatively stable personality, whatever that might be, is more eligible for realisation, on the grounds that there may be less defensiveness, less desperate needy clinging to the idea of being an agentive power. But then you could equally argue that a stable personality is less eligible on the grounds that it is much more convinced in its own self - more sure and more happy in its self-belief - and you might also argue that the unstable character is more eligible on the grounds that it is more tenuous... teetering on the brink, or that the misery it may experience in its failures to be really convincing perpetuate an enquiry into the nature of existence that the more stable personality may have no interest in!

Oneness is self-evident,
which is more certain than 'scientific proof'

So thought can hypothesize anything really - and be just as convincing from any angle. It's just got nothing to do with thought and nothing to do with personality (which is solely thought). This isn't something known from scientific research, surveys or whatever (which would be totally impossible by the way, since the variables are so immensely just couldn't with even an iota of certainty formulate in any way realistic categories - of '90% stable' or '87.3% stable when the whether is good' or 'more stable than the average urban-dwelling baboon'). But scientific surveys aren't needed: this is self-evident. If there is only oneness, which there only is, then it can be seen anywhere, anyhow, at anytime, with personality present, or without it. Personality and ego are oneness. And personality, in its stability or instability, never realizes oneness... oneness realizes oneness...and sees its presence in all there is, including stability.
Wow! That's a longer answer than virtually any of those passages from 'my' book!

What words tell

A: And yet, the only possible way to communicate this is to describe it. At the same time this seems like a fallacy because the words remind one of various structures such as: timelessness, spacelessness. As you said above: 'I am' and 'personality and ego are oneness'. These may become more or less empty words or notions. Sometimes it seems to me as if realisation does not lie within the realm of words, so as if 'the fewer words the better' or 'the simpler the better' because realisation is only natural...

G: It is definitely true that words consist in specifics and therefore convey a reality that is split up into lots of separate things - which is the very nature of duality. So actually, it is irrelevant whether more or less words are used: use but one word and this is illusion. So why not use tons of the things? Or not? It really doesn't matter - the reality is the same. And in fact, the lovely thing here is that it is clear that there is absolutely no choice in this matter... it all just bubbles out... one word or fifty million. No one is in charge here. And I am very clear that this is the actual secret to communicating potently (as opposed to 'the fewer words the better', for example). This writing here is going on with absolutely zero sense of anyone or anything being in charge of this... it just roars out without any sense of responsibility and all the fear and caginess of that... just like the uninhibited little child sprinting around the playing field, without a handbrake in sight. And this roaring, fiery, vigorously unedited motion, feel or quality is at least as liable to communicate 'aliveness minus the imprisoning concept of self', as the semantics of the words - what the words say.

Without formulating them into structures...

A: Could you say that this new awareness has reminded you somehow of (anything in) young childhood (the unconditioned mind) and could you say living now is more harmonious, more true to life or one's real nature?

G: I wouldn't use the word 'harmonious' because it suggests multiplicity: multiple elements fitting together in a certain comfortable or attractive or positive way. I find myself preferring words like 'silky' and 'syrupy' to describe the way this perception of oneness kind of 'feels'. It is clear that the sense of being a finite individual existing in a structural reality is a comparatively bitty, heavy and tiresome experiencing: not only is the mass of ideas engendered a laborious effort in itself, but the seeking prompted by this illusion too - all that scrambling to own or become more of the illusory structure... more money, more prestige, more friends, a more beautiful and intelligent lover, more consciousness, more kundalini, more more more. More oneness even!

So certainly this is, in a way, an infinitely more silky living... because when there is the believing that what thought projects is reality, there is the falling for one particular script, story, as one imaginary period of time and space, then the break down of this, as it becomes clear that it isn't accurate (as all thought is inaccurate), and then the frantic subsisting in of a new story, a new thought-system. So this is a jumpy, jolting experiencing... whereas with nondual seeing there is just this vast array of teeming sensations glinting away... without the formulating of them into structures going on. Little stories can and do balloon up within this... playing along with, for example, being a body plopped in front of a computer screen, writing an email to Amigo, but all the time this is known as actually a fiction... an illusion... a magic trick!

Baby, child, teenager and the adult getting trapped in narrative

You ask if this reminds me of my young childhood in any way, and I would definitely say that it could. When I see a real tiny baby now, it seems so radiantly obvious that there isn't the comprehensive structuralising of reality going on there yet - the immobile limbs just waving there in mid-air, eyes both unfocused and yet very bright... it seems clear that there is more the seeing of just unstructured sensation, aliveness, colour - as compared with the adult.
Even with the older child, running around in the playground or whatever, there is a sense of relation. The child runs round, flailing arms and legs all over the place, laughing, screaming, sobbing, whatever... and gradually a kind of crippling, disabling process creeps in. As this sense of self becomes more pronounced and closed, one gets more and more obsessed by it, and more and more regimented, dictated by the fearful need to conform to it. In teenagers this manifests as 'being cool'. This means having, sustaining, and projecting an image that slots in with the doctrine of cool - and this vastly cuts down the options for being... it is such a limited, imprisoning conceit.

A constant battle to be liked

A: Tony Parsons once spoke of realisation as a fusion of clarity and love (in advaita: jnana - bhakti). After awakening and perhaps a period of adjusting to the new awareness, what can you say about this?

G: I must admit, I am finding it difficult to answer this question. Sitting here now, it is just so radiantly, glisteningly clear that there is no one and nothing... just this glorious 'this', there seems to be a total refusal to engage in any concepts - all of which must be erroneous. But this is an interview, and interviews involve words, and words are always vastly inaccurate!
Let me just try and conjure some sort of response. 'Clarity' and 'love' are very good words for describing this. This is just awash with love - there is only this love - and seeing and knowing this there is, in this case, such an absolute relaxing into that seeing... all wrestling with concepts... of 'awakening' and 'after awakening' and 'adjusting' and 'new awareness' and 'Tony Parsons' and 'realisation' and 'fusion' and even 'clarity' and 'love'... all of these seems like such an unnecessary lie... just besides the point, unreal, a waste of energy! I'm sorry - I'm not at all insulting the question - it's a good question - it's just that, this moment, what is presenting itself most arrestingly is, the absolute irrelevance of concept, how vastly inaccurate it is, and also - how this is really just a wonderful bath or pool or sloshing of brilliant love!

As it happens... the cogs are starting to turn! Some thoughts... a response to the word 'adjusting'. There was a period of dark, electric mischief: the realisation of utter freedom permitting and in this case prompting obscene acts never before contemplated by a mind previously preoccupied with trying to please everyone - a constant battle to be liked. The newfound mischief wasn't really vicious though - it was more like extreme feelings of affection expressing as prodding my friends in the ribs in various shapes and forms!

There was also a period when the sense of separation periodically reemerged - namely on waking up in the mornings. There would follow a discomfort and rejection of this suffocating feeling... and then the memory and realisation that this very sense of separation, like everything there can be, is purely and utterly oneness: and then the sense of separation and the rejection of it were known as oneness... and then it would tend to happen that the structure would give in, love would come gushing in through smashed windows and wash the walls and ceiling and floor into oblivion: just love...

This body has also experienced some digestive problems that I get a strong sense is somehow related to adjustment to nondual seeing (though I could be wrong). The sense is that the body was totally happy when it was imagined that life was a material, heavy, solid presence: it knew how to operate in this sense. But with this newish seeing that there is no matter and no body and nothing... seems to have thrown the apparent body into some sort of confusion! It's very gentle - I think this organism's got off very lightly in this regard: I hear there have been very severe and painful cases.

There is no doubt that, within the mistaken world of concept, it would not be inaccurate to say that 'adjusting' has definitely been a reality of sorts. It's hard to put my finger on the specifics though... the basic, overwhelming, absolute thing being - the simple seeing that all there can ever be is presence. All the rest seems to pale into insignificance somewhat... though it can be delightful to watch too... all these little meltings and softenings tingling away...

I think that's all I can say really. I have heard other voices get very deep into the woods with this kind of thing... spouting out all manner of concrete accounts, theories and even doctrines. I won't make that mistake. Specifics, such as 'adjusting', are limitlessly subtle and variable, and as such, it is always a lie to pretend they can ever be understood or organised: let alone rendered as generalisations - religions.

Nothing can help you to get any closer to what is already only the case!

A: Can you tell us about 'the path' you took before realisation was obvious?

G: I am reluctant to talk about any path, because then the tendency is for thought to get hold of this and think 'maybe such and such an activity has something to do with this awakening?' Realisation is the knowing that there is only oneness... so there can be no question of leading up to it... getting closer to it.... no path to it.
In the apparent year before liberation there was some reading and listening to expressions, which dismissed utterly the possibility of path... expressions that simply nip all hope in the bud. This is it! There's nowhere to go! Nothing can help you get any closer to what is already only the case!
So there would be this traveling to these meetings... and fantasies would come up about being on a really special, exciting, esoteric adventure - being involved in something terribly rarified and superior. And of course, with this was the hope that 'when I get there - there will be this wonderful epiphany...some majestic blossoming... all the exact kind of riches thought dreams up and longs for!' And then I'd hear 'there is only needn't have come here' - and there would be this painful disappointment... at not having found what I wanted: the sense of being let down.
This really is the only kind of message that gets to the heart of the matter. It rips the dream to shreds. Any sense of path, progress, improvement, direction, motion - can only be pure dream. It is the sense that there is a divisible reality of multiple separate things: better and worse; here and there; enlightened and asleep. So really, I followed no path before realisation... and whenever I believed I was going somewhere, this delusion was abruptly dispelled by the message: 'there is nowhere to go'.

It is just a meaningless basking in the sun

A: We have a theme for this Amigo that is: the meaning of life and/or living life... please comment.

G: It is very clear that life has no meaning. Here is life. Here it is. How can it be said that it serves any purpose? Here it is. That's all that can be said. Within this appearance of sensation there are certainly the manifestations of these thoughts that crave meaning, purpose, direction. But these cravings always spring from a delusion that sees separation and a longing to recapture the former glories of being everything, tasted in infancy and before. And when this seeing reveals itself again - it is clear that there can be no question of any meaning to it: because it isn't going anywhere; it can't do anything; it can't get anywhere: this is just unmoving love.
One might say that 'love' is the meaning of life. But love isn't really any meaning. Love is the breakdown of all struggles to make any make sense of is just a meaningless basking in the sun! It is just relief and joy. This word 'point' is very revealing. One asks, 'what is the point of life?' This is the reducing of life down to a single idea, a goal, a drive. But liberation reveals that there is nothing like such imaginary 'points'... this is an absolutely open, indivisible oneness... and spaciousness: there can be no question of points or focusing on points... reality just isn't that.
When it is known that there isn't anything separate... anything of any form... just a supple, rich, pulsing presence...this can be really lovely just life springing up... so sensitive and gentle and vivid too. That's it. But thought always messes this up: creating the sense of a 'lovely pulsing state' somewhere in the future.
Words are really quite hopeless! But good entertainment!

Guy's website:

[interview: JZ]