Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Sparks Before the Explosion: Special Guest Teaching by Jerry Katz

WELCOME to the eighty-first post of Awakening Clarity and another Guest Teaching, of which this is number twelve.  One of the goals of this site is to provide an Internet resource of current Nonduality, sort of a Who’s Who of contemporary teachers, along with a sample of their version of What’s What.  It’s a good way to discover who you are drawn to; who you connect and resonate with.  This series has proven to be very popular with readers around the world.  My experience is that establishing a strong connection with one or more teachers can have a dramatic effect on your apparent progress.  Awakeness had been functioning (while the bodymind kept right on dysfunctioning) for years, but it was my direct contact with Adyashanti several times in early 2010 that really accelerated things.  You only need a teacher if you do, but if you do, then you really do!  I did.

JERRY KATZ has done more work to introduce more people to Nonduality than anyone I know.  Way back in 1997, the same year I went online, and which in Internet time is roughly a thousand years, Jerry saw the power the Internet could wield in spreading this teaching, and foresaw the popularity it would have if it reached a broader public.  He was right in both cases.  Here is the result of an interesting test I just ran.  It turned out precisely as I thought it would.  I did a Google Image search for “Internet Nonduality”.  Google immediately combed its gazillion fields of gigabytes and the first photo they came up with was of Jerry Katz.  (He’s standing with Scott Kiloby, last week’s Guest Teacher, who calls him “the forefather of modern, Internet Nonduality.”)  If someone was running commercials for Internet Nonduality, part of the voice-over would have to say, “This program, either directly or indirectly, was brought to you by Jerry Katz.”

JERRY KATZ is the founder of, which was the first Internet blog in our field.   It is a treasure trove of information.  It is also the home base of Nondual Highlights.  Nonduality doesn’t have an official daily newspaper, but its unofficial daily newsletter is Nondual Highlights, which has three regular editors, hosts occasional guest editors, and goes out around the world six days a week. I read it every morning and so do countless others.  If you have a little free time on your hands, you can read the 3,000 or so back issues that are available to you.  For free. Jerry is also the editor of the excellent book, One: Essential Writings on Nonduality.  This book is like an enjoyable survey course of Nonduality, only this survey course might "finish you up" as well as start you off.  At the Science and Nonduality Conference Europe conference this summer Jerry will be, among other things, hosting a panel called "Taking Nonduality Seriously," featuring Tim Freke, David Ellzey and everyone's favorite maha-guru Puppetji!

MY FIRST INTRODUCTION to Jerry was years ago.  I came to a more Advaitic Nonduality after twenty years of studying Zen.  Right away I noticed that there was some guy out there who was consistently reading and reviewing most of the books that I ended up buying.  He became like a lamplighter, and I’d follow his reviews: “What does Jerry Katz have to say about this title?”  Years later, when I finally came out of the Nondual hermit-closet myself, he was one of the first people I met here, in cyberspace.  We often use these words lightly, but I don’t mean them lightly here: Jerry Katz is a true gentleman and a scholar.  He’s been very kind and supportive of both me and this website.  He has a kind word to say about everybody, and no unkind word to say about anyone.

THERE ARE QUIET GIANTS walking among us, my friends; people who will be seen by those who chronicle this era of this teaching, to have had an enormous impact by bringing this growing sweetness to our very doorsteps.  They have primarily worked in the background, selflessly bringing forth, vetting and illuminating the real heart of Nonduality.  With the creation of these resources, the swelling ranks of seekers, satsang teachers and Nondual scholars have been able to draw from sources of historical and spiritual authority that are made not only available, but accessible to the Western mind.  And thus, perhaps, we will not screw up this opportunity to gift the world with authentic teachings of genuine freedom.  I’m old enough to remember: it was not always this way.  In South Carolina in 1982 I had my choice of the half dozen Eastern-oriented books that could be found in the entire capitol city. Thank God I was a bookseller with longer reach!

MY FRIEND and mentor, Greg Goode, and our mutual friend, Dennis Waite, come to mind right away, among those who should populate that list of quiet giants.  And no one more belongs on that short list, or deserves to be placed any higher on it, than my friend, and our Guest Teacher for this week, Jerry Katz. The impact this small group of people have had has literally changed the world; for let us not think that Nonduality is some isolated, passive teaching without its own permeating effects.  Much of what we have available to us today is the result of the Herculean effort put out by these men.  We owe them all a very large, loud, and heartfelt Thank you!

IT COULD BE SAID that Jerry Katz has been a transparent being since birth.  The light of awakeness has been knocking to speak through him for all of his life, as he’ll share with us here.  When Jerry began writing the short bio I asked for it turned into a long and revealing letter, which we’ve both agreed to use as his first post here.   It’s a fascinating look at a key player in the recent history of Nonduality, a glimpse at the beginnings of the Internet revolution, and a profound teaching at the same time.  It is an honor to host it on Awakening Clarity.  Thank you for everything, Jerry.

AND NOW. . .

The Sparks Before the Explosion

Jerry Katz

I WAS BORN in Paterson, New Jersey in 1949, and have always been fascinated with existing and being aware. I have also been quietly stunned by those moments in life when something was suddenly realized about the fundamental quality of existence. Everyone has similar experiences; however they are valued differently by each person.

MY FIRST EXPERIENCE with being aware was at the age of two when I became aware that I was experiencing a moment. I told myself that I would always remember that moment, as I could feel it impressing itself as a memory. I remember saying to myself, "This is my first memory." I don't know where I got those words from at that age, but they arose silently. Perhaps it was the burning out of all past life memories and the moment of transition into the current life.

THAT MOMENT wasn't spiritual.  It wasn't viewed in relation to something I read by Tony Parsons. It was 1952. It was a simple fascination with being aware. I didn't write anyone on an email list afterward. I didn't build a teaching on it. No one said I was parroting someone else's experience so that I might fit into some nonduality scene. It was simply an experience of being aware. If someone had asked me, "Who is aware?" the response, if I had had the words, would have been awareness itself. There was nothing else. Such is everyone's knowing but it is a knowing within "a sea of troubles" called life.

ANOTHER MILESTONE in awareness came at the age of seven when I was playing with toy cars on the hardwood floor of my bedroom. Suddenly I sat up straight and spontaneously spoke out loud, "I am I am and I am I am." Maybe I had been watching too much Popeye ("Iyam what Iyam.") This utterance was accompanied by a shift in how I perceived the world. At that moment my parents were getting dressed up to go out and when I saw them they looked funny and I started to laugh. Perhaps I was startled by the sudden contrast between the reality of I Am-ness and the act of dressing up to please oneself and others. As I grew up I was never interested in clothes or material things. However I also could not say I was interested in I Am-ness or awareness as interests one could pursue.

OTHER EXPERIENCES happened in childhood that I call initiations into the I Am. One serial experience consisted of three visitations by two men. These visitations happened when I was waking up from sleep.  I looked up and saw them standing at the foot of my bed. The man on the left would stand tall with a severe look and a bald head. He uttered a mantra which went through me and frightened me. The man on the right was clearly from India with a swarthy complexion and a full head of black curly hair. He never looked at me, rather he beheld the other man while appearing mildly amused in some way. In later years I would recognize the first man as Swami Nityananda and I believe the second was Sai Baba. These men truly frightened me. I now feel their purpose was to impress the knowing of I Am. 

ANOTHER EXPERIENCE that happened when I was around 12 was an out of the body experience in which I saw that my body was in deep sleep and my chest moving up and down with each breath. However, my awareness was separate from my body. I immediately realized that I was that awareness. The awareness, not the breathing body, was what I was. It was obvious.

THAT AWARENESS was present in what appeared to be a black sky full of stars. What I learned is that each one was I Am itself. For when I focused upon a random "star" it opened like a tunnel and sucked me in. Knowing I needed to be associated with my body, I pulled out of the star's force and returned to the body.

TO GO FURTHER, my impression is that each "star" is I Am itself and yet each "star" is unique. I have heard from Adyashanti that each star is a past life, but I can’t know for sure.  That teaching is his and not mine. For me, each star is I Am. Of course that's true for each life. When you realize your nature as I Am, all your past lives achieve that realization. That means they are not past, but current lives. They achieve that realization now. Adyashanti has also said that his past lives exist now. Therefore we might bring our interest to the details of current and past lives or to the I Am nature of this current life and know that it is not different than the I Am nature of any life or anyone's life past, present, or future.

THIS OUT-OF-THE-BODY experience was both an initiation into the I Am and also a revelation that my nature was awareness itself. However, it wouldn't be until my immersion into the teachings of nonduality that I would discern the difference between I Am and awareness itself.

I COULD ALSO SAY that while one could be initiated into the I Am, there is no initiation into the awareness revelation. It is revealed as what you are. There is no one to be initiated. Initiations into your essentially as I Am are felt. The seeing that you are awareness is not felt or impressed upon you, but is more like awe-air-ness, more like your nature as air, more like a release than the acceptance of the hot brand of I Am.

I HAD SECONDARY psychic/spiritual experiences, as well. At the age of 13 or 14, I was daydreaming in class in the 8th grade while the teacher reviewed the anatomy of the brain. I was staring out the window when she pointed to the pineal gland and announced, "This is the pineal gland. It doesn't do anything."

I IMMEDIATELY came out of my daydream and knew she was wrong. The pineal gland did something though I had no idea what. Seven years later I was a student at the University of New Mexico when I was given the opportunity to conduct a minor research project on the pineal gland. It was the first research into the pineal at that university. I became fascinated with melatonin and told my science colleagues that I believed the pineal and melatonin had miraculous properties, though I was speaking mostly from intuition and therefore was ignored and probably mocked.

MY ENTHUSIASM for melatonin and the pineal resulted in other research on the pineal at UNM. Eventually Rick Strassman was attracted to the University of New Mexico because he wanted to research DMT and the pineal. He wrote about his findings in a book called The Spirit Molecule. I've communicated with Rick and we stand on common ground as far as our early intuitions of pineal gland function.

BECAUSE I WAS not afraid to value the knowing of I Am and because I was not afraid to follow my intuitions about the pineal gland, it was no problem for me to take a leadership role in shaping a new way of disseminating the teaching of nonduality. As intimidating as nonduality was before I popularized it, for me it was all about the experience and inner knowing of the individual, regardless of his or her stature in the spiritual community.

BECAUSE I KNEW my own nature as I Am and as awareness itself, I figured anyone could. Therefore there was no reason to tether a nonduality community to some specific guru or tradition. All that was necessary to build a nonduality community was people who knew about I Am or awareness. Prior to the Internet it was be difficult to bring together people to talk about nonduality itself. Even with the Internet it wasn't easy. In 1998 it was difficult to start an email forum. It was bold to suggest starting any email forum, let alone one on nonduality. 

A FEW OF US were talking about nonduality on a kundalini forum and we were advised that our discussion was off topic. It was Dr. Harsh "Harsha" Luthar ( who suggested that we start an alternative email forum. And it was Ed "Lobster" Jason who found out how to start an email group, as it was not common knowledge. The first nonduality forum was called the I Am list. The very first postings may be read at, however you have to join the group to read them.

BESIDES HARSHA AND LOBSTER, the earliest members included Gene Poole, Greg Goode, David Hodges, Jan Barendrecht, Bruce Morgan. Greg Goode is known to many, but the others all keep low profiles. They are part of the hidden nonduality scene, people who will probably never write books, do interviews, or speak at nonduality conferences. Even at another layer there is a further hidden group, and layers below that. The people that we hear about are those who want to hold a high profile for whatever reason. It's part of their personality and calling.

I CAME TO BE identified with nonduality when there were leadership troubles in the I Am list. I started a new forum that I called Nondualism and many of the people from the I Am list joined. Later I changed the name to Nonduality Salon. Soon Harsha started his own forum called HarshaSatsangh. At that point it was clear that nonduality discussion forums would survive. Many other groups were begun. I used to encourage the formation of new groups and invited people to advertise them on Nonduality Salon. I was never concerned about losing members from my group. In fact, the more I encouraged people to start and join other groups, the bigger Nonduality Salon grew. I was only interested in making the teachings of nonduality available to whoever wanted access to them. Once I had seen that nonduality could be disseminated throughout the Internet and throughout the world without the impress of a dominating teacher or tradition, I felt that my work had been done. That happened in less than two years.

FROM THAT POINT, all I have done is "hang out" in the nonduality scene. People have approached me to run ads on my website, At first I didn't want to run any ads. But the publisher of WiseFool Press, Jed McKenna's books, insisted he be allowed to advertise. He made me feel I was being selfish by not accepting his ad. At the time I was paying about $30 a month for a company to host my search engine. I let WiseFool Press pay that fee for me and in return I ran their ad. What followed were other requests to run ads.

TOPICS OF MONEY and the business of nonduality are important to talk about. I'll be moderating a panel discussion on those topics at this year's Science and Nonduality Conference in Doorn, The Netherlands, this coming May 29-June 3

SOMETHING ELSE I'm doing that's important to me is the holding of monthly meetings in Halifax, Nova Scotia. We arrange our meetings through MeetUps, an online service that makes it easy to organize in-person meetings on virtually any interest. Throughout the world there are about 200 Advaita/nonduality groups. Our MeetUp website is My partners in this effort are Chani Siddhu, James Traverse, and Dustin LindenSmith. You'll notice in this lengthy bio that I've mentioned many names that most people have never heard of. They're all worth knowing and interviewing. I actually have interviewed many of them for my Nonduality Street series, which can be accessed at

I'VE SPOKEN ABOUT a few highlights and milestones in my life as they pertain to nonduality and nondual consciousness. It's only a story meant to entertain, inspire, motivate, and perhaps educate. And why?  Because it seems worth doing for some reason. Is anything done? Is there a doer? Those questions are the Cheerios in the breakfast bowl of the Big Indifference.

IN THE PURSUIT of nonduality, there is no particular experience anyone has to have. There is no experience anyone is missing. There is no person, by virtue of any experience he or she has had, or any gift of communications he or she bears, who has the right to tether you to their values and teaching. The world of nonduality is full of misdirection and redirection. You are led astray and then pointed back to where your senses are straight. A teacher says one thing to you and later contradicts it. Teachings are full of ambiguity. But at the same time you can find redirection to what is known as truth. If this sounds like a game of pretending we are lost so that we might experience finding ourselves, it could certainly be case. It's sometimes a brutal game and everyone's tough as nails.


Special Notes

It seems I've developed cubital tunnel syndrome (a.k.a. High Tech Elbow) from living on the computer for the past 8 1/2 months.  As a result, I'm sometimes going to have to skip a week, and at some time it will probably go bi-weekly, though I don't want that to happen just yet--if my body will hold out.  I have a couple of pieces partially finished already in backlog that I'll be getting out as soon as possible.  Remember that Friday is the new post day.  I'm going to try very hard to get a post out next week.

I'm quite interested in hosting guest writers for later in the spring and summer.  Hopefully Jerry is going to write some more for us, and the rest of you please consider this an open invitation.  I'm also looking for a volunteer.  If you're a decent typist and want to learn more about Nonduality in a hands-on way, let me know.  For anyone interested in either notion, please drop me a line at

There is a great line-up of teachers booked to appear here: Jeff Foster, Dennis Waite, Suzanne Foxton, Rick Linchitz, Louis Brawley, Vicki Woodyard, Bentinho Massaro...a bunch!  Awakening Clarity has a lot of friends around the world, and we'll help you meet some of them too!

Let me welcome Réunion as the 77th member country of the Awakening Clarity family.

And lastly, if you'll hit the Google 1 button I just installed this week, that would be great. I believe that'll make Awakening Clarity easier to find on Google, which is a big deal.  Since I'm not a Facebook guy, I'll be grateful to anyone who'll hang our link on their page.  It's good to be with you.  Namaste! Fred