Discussing spirituality with "non-spiritual" people

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Narayan
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Discussing spirituality with "non-spiritual" people

Post by Narayan » Thu Jul 10, 2008 9:33 pm

I recently discussed Tolle and spirituality in general with a lot of people. There are some interesting discussions coming up when we see a lot of different perspectives, sometimes also frustrating ones, when it comes to describing experiences or discussing about importance of spirituality.

Also I noticed how badly any topic on spirituality or even on personal growth is recieved on social media sites on the internet, such as http://www.digg.com. In one perspective, being in a spiritual state (see Adyashanti for instance) is seen like being on (natural) drugs. If you can't get out there, you are screwed. That's surely one of the hardest perspective to encounter when talking about spirituality.

I had an interesting discussion today about the role spirituality and awakening should play in our life. The one position was, that it is one factor of many and it is necessary or at least advisable to function in society, to balance it. For instance balance mind, body, finances, social life and spirit. If you dive into only one, you get out of balance. Therefore it is not wise nor advisable to abide in this state of being (enlightenment). Basically then it is like an addiction, you get too much of it and lose sight of other things in life.

When saying that spirituality and awakening is about the source of all things and realizing this is a thing that influences all, I got the reply that you could say that to everything, for instance a mathematic professor would explain everything with math, as the overarching and ever present principle (in contrast to being). Or something elso like physics, psychology, or even darwins world-view of men's function is there for survival and reproduction.

These all were not my ideas, of course. I'm confronted with them mostly in a gentle and constructive way :) I'm curious on how you discuss the topic with people who are not really in the topic. And how you'd reply to the above.
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Re: Discussing spirituality with "non-spiritual" people

Post by Sighclone » Fri Jul 11, 2008 7:14 am

narayan -

You are such a great social being! I respect you for that and encourage it. I do not discuss nonduality with anyone, really. During my first blush with unity consciousness, I was so pumped up that I bought about ten copies of PON and ANE and started sending them around to old friends. They were generally kind and patient with me, but, for most, it just did not resonate. So I dropped it.

If an individual has only read about 'the perennial philosophy' or Zen or satori or enlightenment, and kind of understood it intellectually, they are not likely to understand it beyond casual cocktial conversation. What Tolle talks about, and what we discuss here is really about an individual's conception of personal identity. It is one thing to describe the universe in mathematical terms, or chemical terms, or quantum mechanical terms, and quite another to talk about being a person for 29 years and then becoming something called 'the present moment.' Getting labelled 'pleasant, but a little bit loony' is a risk here. It is a very personal experience, related to consciousness, awareness and perception, not an academic discipline like psychology or math. How do you use math to describe eternity as "no time?" How do you describe "felt oneness with Being" by physical chemistry? All those disciplines are dualistic. But not Tolle, or Adya or Ramana or Buddha.

Namaste, Andy
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Re: Discussing spirituality with "non-spiritual" people

Post by James » Fri Jul 11, 2008 9:14 am

Well said Andy...
Narayan, I am sure your intentions are noble, you have a lot of creative energy and talent, I saw your web blog, it's well done. Like you and Andy, I went through a phase of being very passionate about wanting to share truth with others, that is a pretty normal thing to do. It was so profound and beautiful, I thought everyone would want to hear about it, right? Yeah right... :) I found out that was not the case.

Most are not ready to fully awaken, and that is OK. People are like flowers that will bloom when they are ready in due time, no amount of coaxing will make them bloom faster. In my experience, the best we can do is be a blessing to others by quietly remaining in Presence. Nearly everyone can feel that on some level or another. Presence is really what makes all things bloom.

Even though I was taught to keep the most profound realizations secret, silent and sacred. I had to find that out for myself through trial and error. The exceptions to this are speaking to those on the same or similar path, and even then less said is better, otherwise I find it goes from the heart to the head.

I host a local silent E.T. group, (see his website for details if interested). The idea is to experience Presence with others, free of mind/ego interactions. Although there is a place for discussion groups, many are drawn to that and enjoy it. In fact discussion groups are far more popular than silent groups, in terms of numbers in attendance; from what I have seen in my area. More people want to talk, and are bored by silence.

So to each their own. I suppose you will need to find what is right for you. Perhaps it will be a compromise approach, such as a blend of silence and discussion, rather than all or nothing. There is also a place for a balanced life of spirituality with other aspects of living, for most people that works best. Also developing a functional ego is desirable for most people and we can respect that in others. But those of us that are "caught in the tigers mouth" of truth, (I assume you feel that way based on your prior posts), we don't really have a lot of choices in the matter. It is pretty much an all or nothing surrender to the divine. For us dabbling in truth just won't suffice. We either heed the call, or we suffer from the resistance to our true nature, that is now ready to fully bloom.

After awakening there are potentially different functions of service in the outer realm. Tolle describes that in A New Earth page 306 - The Frequency Holders.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

THE FREQUENCY-HOLDERS

"The outward movement into form does not express itself with equal intensity in all people.

Some feel a strong urge to build, create, become involved, achieve, make an impact upon the world.

If they are unconscious, their ego will, of course, take over and use the energy of the outgoing cycle for its own purposes.

This, however, also greatly reduces the flow of creative energy available to them and increasingly they need to rely on "efforting" to get what they want.

If they are conscious, those people in whom the outward movement is strong will be highly creative.

Others, after the natural expansion that comes with growing up has run its course, lead an outwardly unremarkable, seemingly more passive and relatively uneventful existence.

They are more inward looking by nature, and for them the outward movement into form is minimal.

They would rather return home than go out.

They have no desire to get strongly involved in or change the world.

If they have any ambitions, they usually don't go beyond finding something to do that gives them a degree of independence.

Some of them find it hard to fit into this world. Some are lucky enough to find a protective niche where they can lead a relatively sheltered life, a job that provides them with a regular income or a small business of their own.

Some may feel drawn toward living in a spiritual community or monastery. Others may become dropouts and live on the margins of a society they feel they have little in common with.

Some turn to drugs because they find living in this world too painful.

Others eventually become healers or spiritual teachers, that is to say, teachers of Being.

In past ages, they would probably have been called contemplatives.

There is no place for them, it seems, in our contemporary civilization. On the arising new earth, however, their role is just as vital as that of the creators, the doers, the reformers.

Their function is to anchor the frequency of the new consciousness on this planet. I call them the frequency-holders.

They are here to generate consciousness through the activities of daily life, through their interactions with others as well as through "just being."

In this way, they endow the seemingly insignificant with profound meaning.

Their task is to bring spacious stillness into this world by being absolutely present in whatever they do."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Warm Regards
James

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Re: Discussing spirituality with "non-spiritual" people

Post by HermitLoon » Fri Jul 11, 2008 2:17 pm

Yes James :)
Now I find it easier to just "be" with people and discuss whatever they are interested in - and often I just alertly listen. Some sense a "spiritual" presence and inquire and then things just "flow" from there.
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Re: Discussing spirituality with "non-spiritual" people

Post by James » Fri Jul 11, 2008 3:12 pm

I know what you mean HL. When talking to others not on this path, sometimes someone senses something and will inquire. And if we remain in Presence and not follow the mind, something profound to say comes out of Presence; and is just the right thing for the moment, and not too much. Perhaps it is just a hint of truth, or a little word of wisdom without getting too deep.

Narayan
If someone that is called to do so, and has the capacity and skills to teach this way of life; it will be made very clear to them, and doors will open easily without struggle or efforting. And students will be drawn to them. Often in the early stages of awakening there is a strong desire to go out and teach or write a book etc., before one is fully grounded in Presence. Although surrendering to the divine is a moment to moment thing, (it only occurs this moment, it happens Now); but for most of us there is a gradual growing in Presence. Spontaneous awakenings are much less common.

If you feel you want to teach truth, wait a few months or a year and see how you feel then, your perspective may change. It may seem like most people that have awakened become teachers, gurus or writers. But they probably represent only a small percentage of the people that have awakened, they are just the ones that are more conspicuous. The average person that has awakened lives an ordinary life, and mostly goes unnoticed. They find their fulfillment from within, and probably don't want much attention drawn to them.

From what I have heard from Tolle, Adyashanti and other teachers, being a teacher of Truth is difficult, and is an occupation that is preferably avoided. They say it would be easier to live outside the spotlight. After writing Power of Now, Tolle planned to retire and live a life of seclusion; but that was not what Grace had in store for him. He teaches because he is called to do so. But I am sure it has its own fulfillment and joy too.

And yes as Andy said, most people will think you are mad if you tell them how you are living, in surrender to Grace. Adyashanti refers to himself and others on this path of awakening, as "Fruit Loops". So welcome to the Fruit Loop society. :)

James
"Awareness is already present, already here, already now; before you try to be more.... In that recognition there's no effort, there's just acknowledgment"..."Awareness is not something you can understand, it's something you are."

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Re: Discussing spirituality with "non-spiritual" people

Post by the key master » Fri Jul 11, 2008 9:15 pm

I'm not exactly surrounded by a spiritual demographic, with majority of my friends being 23-29. Every day I'm confronted with the ugliness of materialism, the self-absorbed thought perpetuated by vanity, and mind projection into future so that what is now not only goes unappreciated, it's seemingly unperceived. Many with religious backgrounds remain steadfast in their ideology, and label nondualism as an ideology. I have no stake in their beliefs. People love to be right, and hate to be wrong. Nondualists cannot convert others. If no stake in outcome exists, nondualists cannot win debates because why debate? I will discuss, but I can no longer debate spirituality. Try keeping a discussion regarding spirituality out of the debate arena with any religious person. I have tried, I have failed.

As James stated, remaining present is vital. I've had several spiritual discussions spawned through moments of presence, when a natural curiousity overtakes another, and these discussions are quite fruitful. However, not one discussion arising simply for the sake of me wanting another to see my perspective has gone unresisted. So, I learned that wanting, or having a stake in others' beliefs, backfires like the normal force, equal and opposite.

Great discussion guys,
jason

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Re: Discussing spirituality with "non-spiritual" people

Post by Narayan » Sat Jul 12, 2008 12:48 am

Just a quick note: Mainly I am not teaching, I am dialoging and discussing. And the other person as well as me likes it. I am surprised to say that I have very open and willingly people around me, I don't think that this is a coincidence here. Some people are not interested, then I don't talk about it. I had to talk about it with very close friends, since they recognized some changes on the surface.

Also, I spontaneously got in contact with a very present new friend, just amazing how the law of attraction worked here literally. That was almost like falling in love instantely (not on a romantic level of course, but as Beings). So I'm enjoying talking with people who are open enough to hear it - I know I would like to hear about Tolle, if I would not already know. Of course, that is not true for everyone, but I notice it then :). Sometimes it is possible to transport something on a more subtle level then, just like genuine kindness (and therefore also recieving from giving).
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Re: Discussing spirituality with "non-spiritual" people

Post by steve247 » Sat Jul 12, 2008 2:06 pm

As others have said, I think the best way to go is to just be present with people and let things take their course. If people are ready to listen and begin their spiritaul quest, they will enquire and the conversation will flow naturally. Anything said will then be much more powerful than if you were to preach. The state of presence has a power to it that will encourage those that are ready to start asking questions and begin their search for truth. I felt "the power of now" when I first heard Eckhart speak, as I think many do.

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Re: Discussing spirituality with "non-spiritual" people

Post by steve247 » Sat Jul 12, 2008 2:15 pm

Having said that though, I do believe there is a time when we can be more proactive in our approach, eg. if someone is really suffering and you feel you can help. Knowing when to do this will arise form being present with that person.

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Re: Discussing spirituality with "non-spiritual" people

Post by Craig » Thu Jul 24, 2008 4:44 am

Narayan wrote:I recently discussed Tolle and spirituality in general with a lot of people. There are some interesting discussions coming up when we see a lot of different perspectives, sometimes also frustrating ones, when it comes to describing experiences or discussing about importance of spirituality.

Also I noticed how badly any topic on spirituality or even on personal growth is recieved on social media sites on the internet, such as http://www.digg.com. In one perspective, being in a spiritual state (see Adyashanti for instance) is seen like being on (natural) drugs. If you can't get out there, you are screwed. That's surely one of the hardest perspective to encounter when talking about spirituality.
I think the equation of spiritual and drugs arises from the fact that most people assume that non-dual teachings are based upon mystical experiences. In other words, spirituality involves altered states of consciousness, which is really no different than taking a drug to produce a particular effect in our consciousness. Bertrand Russell even made a theological argument that a mystic is like a drunk, and therefore cannot be trusted as reliable- so the idea has been around for quite some time.

The other thing is that, from the perspective of most people's "normal" state of consciousness, those who have awakened seem to be in a pretty whacked-out state. And let's face it- if you were a non-spiritual person or even someone who was religious and followed the belief systems of your religion, and someone started telling you about "oneness with everything", "loving what is", "being non-resistant to what is", and knowing that "there is no self", you'd probably think they were pretty deluded.
I had an interesting discussion today about the role spirituality and awakening should play in our life. The one position was, that it is one factor of many and it is necessary or at least advisable to function in society, to balance it. For instance balance mind, body, finances, social life and spirit. If you dive into only one, you get out of balance. Therefore it is not wise nor advisable to abide in this state of being (enlightenment). Basically then it is like an addiction, you get too much of it and lose sight of other things in life.
Of course, the interesting thing about this comment is that it is made within the context of our normal consciousness, which is to say, egoic consciousness. And, from that perspective, there seems to be truth or wisdom in this advice, because we know that people who spend too much time focusing on one thing cause harm in life. Remember that from the perspective of normal consciousness, non-dual spirituality can only ever exist on the level of belief that a person holds. Therefore, if it's just a belief, there's no sense getting too caught up in it.

When we look at this comment though, we can notice something interesting: it's a belief. It's a thought that we have about things- we have a thought in our heads that there needs to be balance. We all know the relationship between thoughts and reality, or thoughts and truth. Most importantly of all, if we are living the Truth, then thoughts about being "balanced" will probably seem silly and irrelevant.
When saying that spirituality and awakening is about the source of all things and realizing this is a thing that influences all, I got the reply that you could say that to everything, for instance a mathematic professor would explain everything with math, as the overarching and ever present principle (in contrast to being). Or something elso like physics, psychology, or even darwins world-view of men's function is there for survival and reproduction.

These all were not my ideas, of course. I'm confronted with them mostly in a gentle and constructive way :) I'm curious on how you discuss the topic with people who are not really in the topic. And how you'd reply to the above.
One could say that, yes. But the lived reality of non-dual teachings is far more inclusive than what is described here. To claim that all things can be explained with math is essentially a reductionism, reducing all things to math. And the same goes for physics, psychology, and any other method of human epistemology. Non-duality, in contrast, is all inclusive. All forms, howsoever they may appear, are part of the same oneness or whatever you want to call it- including the non-dual teachings themselves. Nor does it deny the apparent differences in the various forms. It just states that none of the forms are ultimately real, because they pass away, and that all of these different forms are just manifestations of that same oneness.
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Re: Discussing spirituality with "non-spiritual" people

Post by Vpopov81 » Sat Jul 26, 2008 12:06 pm

Its even worse when you go to spiritual groups and think you will find like minded people but find only those seeking self enhancement and who dont have an understanding of their own of the teachings. Lao Tsu says those who know don't talk about it. Those who talk about it don't know.

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Re: Discussing spirituality with "non-spiritual" people

Post by Onceler » Sat Jul 26, 2008 1:36 pm

I recently had an interesting discussion with close friends over dinner at a beach house. Rather than overtly discussiong non-dual philosphy and specific teachers, I couched the ideas into a frame of reference we all came from and were actively involved in; specifically the Christian concept of God's will and the need to surrender to it. I simply said that I believed reality was God and I was an agent of God; I can change what I can and surrender/accept to all the rest.

This is not a popular modern idea apparently, a casual observer may have presumed I was advocating eating our young, even in Christian circles where there is historical background--such as the words of Christ...Anyway there was a heated debate, fueled by several glasses of wine on my part...and then we let it drop and had a pleasent week, although there were several snide comments about "God's will" thereafter.

I found several things; I am not a good communicater of this stuff, especially after drinking, that there is a persistant and pervasive egoic/American need to have the "freedom" to live an autonomous life and control our destiny as much as possible. Also, that there is a confusion between surrender and action. They assumed that surrender meant to roll over and do nothing in your life and simply accept whatever results passivity brings.

Anyway, while I can talk individually with certain friends about non-dual themes, it doesn't seem to make a good group discussion, unless you are one of those evangelical non-dualist (how far away are we from non-dual mega-churches?)
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Re: Discussing spirituality with "non-spiritual" people

Post by Webwanderer » Sat Jul 26, 2008 6:32 pm

Onceler wrote:Anyway, while I can talk individually with certain friends about non-dual themes, it doesn't seem to make a good group discussion
Agreed. Generally speaking, ad hoc group discussions too often turn into competions for the spiritual high ground. That's probably also one of the reasons Tolle recommends silence during and after listening to his talks.

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