Challenging Eckhart: Practice is necessary, as is clock time

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Challenging Eckhart: Practice is necessary, as is clock time

Post by innerhike » Wed Jun 20, 2007 11:49 am

Dear friends,

Some of the issues I have with the teachers of non-duality such as Eckhart, Papaji, Gangaji, Adyashanti, Krishnamurti, etc. are as follows:

1. They say "You are already That which you seek, therefore no amount of seeking or doing will take you there."

2. Another thing they say is that "Time is not necessary in this quest. Time is just a delay, a ploy of the ego to keep you entrapped in your story. You can do it right now."

3. Finally, the piece that gets me is when they say "No teacher is necessary. There is no path, no map, and no teaching that is going to take you to what you already are at this time."

I say these statements at a practical level represent a lie for most seekers or people. Intellectually these arguments are sound and for a few moments people can experientially tune into the reality that these statements are pointing to, however few can stay in this place permanently.

I believe that it does take time and practice to stabilize in peace, to integrate the temporary openings or brief awakenings that one experiences. I submit to you that this is what Eckhart was doing in his "lost" years, as was Jesus. The Buddha did not come to enlightenment suddenly without practice. And as Ramana Maharshi said it can be safely assumed that those who reach enlightenment in this lifetime are ones who have completed their spiritual work/practice in previous lifetimes. I offer no proof to back these assertions, they are just something to ignite discussion.

All of these teachers of non-duality are acting as teachers. Their followers are taking their sweet time to wake up. And even just poring over the words of Eckhart is a practice. And Eckhart has been sharing all kinds of practices that require clock time in his books and talks.

Let's not throw the baby out with the bath water.

I have very simple advice for seekers of inner peace:

Practice got you to point of difficulty, and practice will take you back to ease. Do not look for instant enlightenment, it is no different than puppy love. A strong regular practice under the guidance of a teacher that you can trust is worth millions of books such as Power of Now.

I do not have a guru or teacher, but I spend time around various teachers, and I have a daily practice which to me is like an oasis in the middle of the Sahara Desert. While I deeply love Eckhart and revere him as one of my heroes, I will not hesitate to share these ideas with people who are trying to live what Eckhart is sharing.

No matter what horizons one reaches, there may be even further horizons that are yet to be scaled.

It is fine to have an absolute answer for everything ("I am the Self" or some such non-dual B.S.) but can you really be in the Now 24 x 7? In my case I can't without a practice, and frankly I have come across only a handful of people who can. This is not an answer for everyone, but it is certainly something that is different that the gospel being preached by the ambassadors of non-duality.

Few can surrender the ego instantly. Practice, time and teachers do help with surrender. Enough said!

Your criticisms and responses are solicited. Happy Day to you!

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Post by aanwezigheid » Wed Jun 20, 2007 12:18 pm

Two things I want to share :):

I understand what you mean that the theory can sometimes look a little to theoretical and not so practical. Yet I think that people like Eckhart, Adyashanti, ... just formulate it in this way to motivate people. They actually offer people another perspective on life and that is maybe the reason why it is popular by people who have experienced that the old way of life just doesn't work that good for them. At the same time I sometimes experience what they say when they state that there is no time and that there is only Now and that there are indeed different routes to the same goal when I succeed in staying present.

At the end of your post you somehow askes if I could stay in the Now 24/24, 7/7. :arrow: A big No :D . I don't see this enlightenment state as a goal, also because my ego is sometimes afraid of this completely unattached state. I just do my best and try to notice what pops in my head as much as possible.

You know, I actually compare it with a new way of living. I used to life stressed out and now I still have moments that I feel like that. Fortunately, it is less intense and I'm not dependent on my mind to snap out of it (which was just avoiding it). Sometimes I remember myself that I started this practice because of my lack of self-confidence and other things that I wanted to improve in my life, but these goals are actually slowly fainting... Setting goals is also working with time and yes, I can actually say that I'm happier than 6 months ago. I used to get attacked by an unseen enemy, but now I can recognize him, and that is at least a start. A start for what? Well, we will say where it brings us :wink:. It woudl be foolish of me to look in the future because I can totally not control it.

It is a way of living without too much worries and despite the fact that people want all kind of things, like a car, house, wife, money,.... I believe that the ultimate goal is living without worries. That is what happines means to me.

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Post by Dongle » Wed Jun 20, 2007 12:52 pm

Thank you for sharing this Aanwezigheid,

Today, it has put things a back into perspective for me, I can often get caught in an all or nothing perspective that leaves me confused and frustrated. I forget to notice the small ways that my life has changed over the last 8 months or so. :)

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Post by eseward » Wed Jun 20, 2007 2:31 pm

I agree, innerhike. I have a daily practice even after many years. It works for me. :)

And I have some trouble with very non-dual treachers and those things you mentioned: even though they're true statements, most folks aren't in that experience and don't know how to get there, and some folks take those things way too far, to the point of uselessness IMO. Of course you don't need a boat once you've crossed the lake.

There is a problem, though, with folks thinking they need to add something to themselves in order to live in freedom and happiness; they actually need to remove something (their identifications) and let the rest unfold.
aanwezigheid wrote:I used to get attacked by an unseen enemy, but now I can recognize him, and that is at least a start.
Beautifully said IMO, aanwezigheid. :)

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Post by kiki » Wed Jun 20, 2007 2:37 pm

eseward wrote:There is a problem, though, with folks thinking they need to add something to themselves in order to live in freedom and happiness; they actually need to remove something (their identifications) and let the rest unfold.
I absolutely agree with the above quote. Too often remaining with a teacher results in a dependence upon their teaching, a focusing on the finger pointing to the moon rather than the moon itself. There creeps in a subtle "looking for more" rather than a complete resting in what is without the aid of anything else.

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Post by JD » Wed Jun 20, 2007 6:54 pm

That's a very thought-provoking post, innerhike (and that's not meant as an insult). :D

I've often grappled with the same paradoxes and am nowhere near an answer.

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Post by eyogateacher » Wed Jun 20, 2007 7:15 pm

Teachings of ET , Ramana , J Krishnamurthy , Papaji , Nisargadatta Maharj etc are not for ordinary people but for "highly mature" people who have been through various teachers and done various practices .
All teachings and practices are to keep the body stable , energetic and the mind calm and one pointed and in the world of "forms" they are very real and are needed . Being a Yoga Teacher myself I can say that daily practice of Yoga and Pranayama or TAi Chi etc can keep u highly energised and positive and keep ur mind calm and prepares u very much for "receiving in a better manner " the teachings of these great masters .But the practices by itself
cant help u realize the oneness of urself with the universe .

So putting it in simple words : All forms of Practices ( Yoga , Pranayama , Tai Chi , Meditation etc ) are to prepare ur body and mind so that u are in a better frame of "mind" to "receive ,digest and internalize " the teachings of these great masters .

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To Do or Not To Do. That is the question

Post by Ned » Wed Jun 20, 2007 8:29 pm

When Eckhart is speaking he always mentions that if anyone is looking for techniques to practice at his retreat, he or she will be very disappointed. I'm always surprised that he says that because I've found many techniques explained in his talks and books that I practice that yield great results.

There can be a good argument made for why techniques won't get you enlightened (i.e. there's nothing to do to be who you already are). Perhaps techniques won't get your enlightenment...but they sure make my daily life in this illusory world richer and more enjoyable.

I find myself straddling both positions: I practice techniques in time while believing that I'm whole and complete Now. I do while knowing there's nothing to do. The mind objects to such inconsistencies in thinking. Tough.


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Reason why I created this discussion thread

Post by innerhike » Wed Jun 20, 2007 10:25 pm

Dear Friends,

I am very glad to see the initial replies to my message. I thank you for your time and sharing with regards to this topic. And JD I am glad you found this thought provoking. In India they have an idea that it takes a thorn to remove a thorn, so yes a little bit of thinking on these matters might ultimately help us reduce our thinking, paradoxically, :-)

Again, I would like to make it clear that I am deeply in love with Eckhart and many of the teachers of non-duality including Nisargadatta Maharaj, Ramana Maharshi, Papaji and Gangaji. To me they are my heroes, and my altar consists not of photos of God, but photos of these beings. In this perfect universe, where I have imagined or created imperfection in my mind, these beings have shown me the way to drop this imperfection and simply relax into the inherent beauty and perfection of the universe.

In my own journey I have stayed away from groups and teachers for over a decade and just in the last year have started going back to satsang groups. I wanted to find a way to be in peace on my own, without the presence of teachers and fellow seekers. In the early 90s Papaji once wrote me a letter that pretty much caused me to move away from him and all teachers, and only see them as inspirations. But even this has recently shifted.

I am happy to report that the method of taking away things, concepts, practices, etc. did actually work for me. I have come to respect the simplicity of simply being even more than the exalted states of consciousness I experienced in the early 90s in the presence of various spiritual masters around the planet.

So as you can see, I am not a proponent of techniques and teachers. However, I have come to see in my journey that there is no one way or approach that is supreme. That this is an on-going journey, deeper into peace, and that different techniques work at different times. That techniques are not bad, that teachers and groups are not bad, and that they don't hold us back from "full freedom". To me anything that these teachers said was the gospel, and up to a point that helped me get focused and draw some real value from them. However, over time I have come to see that all teachers including Eckhart have limitations, and that even they are dynamic beings who are still "growing". Perhaps the best teachers will point you to the teacher within, and while doing so be honest that they are still "growing".

I also disagree with those (such as Eckhart) who believe that we are on the cusp of a major shift in human consciousness. Or that this new wave of people interested in non-dual awareness all over the world represents a major turning point of some sort. This is different than what Nisargadatta or Ramana have stated in their conversations with seekers. The real non-duality teachers have no concept of "shift in human consciousness" nor are they concerned about any of the story line in the world.

I believe that the non-dual spirituality "kiddies" all over the world who are into Eckhart, Ganagaji, Adyashanti, etc. would do well to recognize that there are established traditions in all of the world religions and cultures where people have summitted to the same or greater heights. In all of the world's religions there is a path that is the direct path to God or self-realization. Sufis in Islam, Zen in Buddhism, Dzogchen in Tibetan Buddhism, Advaita in Hinduism, the tradition of the Desert Monks in Christianity, all of these speak of thousands of years of experience and techniques that have yielded excellent results for many, many seekers. We cannot throw out all of this accumulated wisdom and then wonder why Eckhart's books or talks are so hard to practice or live up to.

Also I believe it is possible that it is subtle ego-trip that Eckhart is on when he talks of a shift in human consciousness at this time. People in all kinds of belief systems and religions like to feel good about themselves by thinking that they are just on the cusp of a major shift in human consciousness. This has been going on for ages now. It's like the bumper sticker "Jesus is coming, look busy". Eckhart's bumper sticker might read "Major shift is coming, don't do anything." :-)

Anyway, all I am saying is don't ignore the great traditions of the world and teachers of the past. People have created techniques in various cultures for good reasons and these techniques have stood the test of time. If you are having a hard time realizing the benefit of these non-dual teachers, go out and hook up with some of the ancient paths and techniques. They have more structure and structure ain't bad.

Krishnamurti railed against structure, and I rail against Krishnamurti for not offering his disciples anything meaty (even though I am vegetarian) that they could chew on. People went to listen to his lectures for decades and then what happened?

I see the role of lineages, convents, and monasteries as very important even as we experiment with this idea of no-path, no-tradition, "you are already That". Ramana Maharshi and Nisargadatta Maharaj would both engage in devotional practices at multiple times during each day, and they respected lineages and traditions that had been practiced for millenia. Ramana especially makes it clear that non-duality and self-inquiry is only for a rare number of seekers and for the rest of humanity all kinds of practices that bring people to their Heart, and reduce their ego, are necessary. For Catholics and Christians he would recommend reading from scriptures and telling beads, for Hindus he would encourage doing japa (repitition of mantra) and so on.

Some people can give us glimpses into what is possible, but they may not be able to offer us a map to get there. Just because they cannot offer a map, does not mean it is not available. (I can already hear the non-dual seeker's response: "well, we are not going anywhere, so why would we need a map?")

Thank you again dear friends for allowing me to share this non-sense.

With love,


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Post by snake » Fri Jun 22, 2007 10:22 am

very well put,by the lack of replies it seems you have hit home:)

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Post by suraj » Fri Jun 22, 2007 12:06 pm

Why bother about something which ET says ('shift in consciousness') with which you don't agree. Why should we agree with everything he says ? It doesn't matter to me at all whether there is a shift happening in humanity. I am concerned with only 'I' . Changing yourself is changing the whole world.

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Post by Webwanderer » Fri Jun 22, 2007 1:08 pm

When I was a young boy I had training wheels on my bike. It wasn't long until they were no longer any help, in fact they were holding me back. :wink:

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Post by Ives » Fri Jun 22, 2007 2:14 pm

For me the whole thing can be summarised by a comment Eckhart makes in one of his talks, when he says: “The state that I am talking about can be experienced now”.

The paths that give you lots of techniques also give you the feeling that you have to get good at those techniques through practice and that in time you will arrive. This simply strengthens the mind and the ego and is therefore counter-productive. I know this from personal experience.
Better than nothing, yes, but it just keeps you searching until eventually you get discouraged and give up.

Eckhart is not saying ‘you don't need to do anything’. He is saying surrender to the now, say ‘yes’ to what is. That’s something you either do right now or you don't, it is not something to practice or believe in.
And that has made all the difference.

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Post by aanwezigheid » Fri Jun 22, 2007 4:49 pm

Webwanderer wrote:When I was a young boy I had training wheels on my bike. It wasn't long until they were no longer any help, in fact they were holding me back. :wink:
Lately I'm becoming also aware of this... There comes indeed a point where the 'whole technique' becomes somehow integrated :).

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the three points , original post.

Post by proudlybeing » Fri Jun 22, 2007 5:32 pm

hi all, I would just like to say that on the three points that innerhike mentions in the original post, I can see the wisdom in E.Ts words on all three of these subjects, simply because my experience has been different to many others.

1. For me, I was not seeking anything, I just have always felt what is,
i knew nothing about E.T or any other teachings of spirituallity at all, in fact to be honest i have deliberatly avoided it, (as my father is very spiritual and i found it somewhat disturbing, he often said to me that I am an 'old soul', I didn't understand what he meant until recently. ).

2. Time is of no significance in my experience with this, I will however give this considerable more thought, however, again i am only speaking for me, as I have lived this concept for quite a long time without the understanding that E.T has provided me with.

3 No teacher is necessary, I have had no teachers, no spirituallity, no mentors, no yoga, meditation or anything that is recommended to achieve this state, it just was , but i had no idea what it was , it was only when someone (a psycologist) who i had spent some time with me, who had been reading T.p.o.n recognised all of the traits of this concept in me , and suggested that i read this book, that it all made sense to me. sure, now the teachings of E.T and others will help me to understand even more who and why I am as I am, but i do feel that I had this 'state of being' long before i ever picked up t.p.o.n..

Of course have no idea if my 'being ' is more or less intense than others who have followed the teachings of E.T or others, but i will explore this as much as possible, and see if some of these practices can intensify the experience. The one thing that i can say without reservation, is that since i first read t.p.o.n the feeling of peace and connectedness is extreemly profound. freedom is within P.B
My heart (and being) felt thanks to the force(es) than bring me to share this site and journey with you all.

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