Thursday, February 28, 2013

Living Here: Guest Teaching by James Waite


Most of you will be familiar with this issue's guest teacher, James Waite, from his regular contributions here.  I met James sometime back, and we've Skyped a number of times to share how the unfolding of consciously Being was unfolding for each of us.  We woke up, so to speak, about the same time, back in 2006, and although that awakeness has worked differently through each of us, we've also noticed a lot of commonality.  James, of course, is the creator and editor of the excellent He is also the author of Fading In the Light.  His post for us today is a rather personal one about what I think is James' favorite topic--love. He tells me this article has been the genesis of a new, as-yet-untitled book he's hard at work on.  Perhaps we have a First Chapter Preview in the making!

For this issue's First Chapter Preview, courtesy of our friends at Non-Duality Press, we have a very special book about a very special person, Only That: The Life and Teaching of Sailor Bob Adamson, by Kaylani Lawri.  I read this book shortly after it came out and loved it.  It's a perfect blend of biography and wisdom, the story about Sailor Bob Adamson along with a sizable sampling of his teaching. And it's a wonderfully enjoyable read, which can be unusual in our community's offerings, I think.  Too often we are too dry; I'm guilty of it myself.  But Kalyani really does a great job here.

And by the way, Kaylani, Peter, and Bob have pulled together to produce a new book and a new DVD set for 2013.   Here are some links to them. The book is titled, appropriately enough, A Sprinkling of Jewels.  The DVD is called, in true Sailor Bob-speak, Just This...Nothing Else.  

Because so much material comes in front of me I'm aware that I end up sounding too much like a Nondual promoter.  It's really just enthusiasm.  I love this teaching, the people who follow and teach it, and especially the people who brought it to me. Sailor Bob was one of the latter.  His is a special clarity, I swear it is.  There's just something about Bob's work that cuts right through all the crap.  He's was a student of Nisargadatta's, and has been presenting us with the truth for decades.  And he remains a humble, compassionate man.  After his original guest teaching here,  Bob kindly sent me a beautiful email.  It stopped my heart to see his name in my inbox, and the content brought me to tears.  That letter is now framed and hanging on my study wall.  I'm pleased and proud to present him here again, in a little bit different way.

But before we go much further, let me catch you up with some thoughts that have arisen here since we last talked.
Meeting Truth

I've mentioned the Meeting Truth website here several times before.  It's great new resource for our community.  They're continuing to make changes to help smooth the interface between teachers and clients.  I'm now booking Skype sessions through them, and next week, if all goes as planned, I'll be offering online meetings at a very affordable rate.  For the moment, check out the new updated page that tells you about Direct Pointing sessions.

Processing the Process

This past Sunday morning I got a flurry from client-friends, one right after the other, like they'd hatched a secret plan or something.  It dawned on me in a new sort of way that all of these people are in different stages of awakening.  A couple are scratching the surface, a couple are still finding their feet in a new stability, and the rest are somewhere in between.  I've been almost exactly where every single one of them is today.  The apparent process of awakening is something you could damn near graph.

Yet the experience of that process is different for every every one of my friends, and for every human being.  The awakeness remains colored by the human package, by that bundle of DNA and conditioning.  It may be coming through loud and clear, but it's still coming through a person.  The absolute is coming to know itself through itself.  That which is limitless comes to know itself through that which is limited.  It'll make your head ache if you try to work all this out.  Why bother?
My point here is not about the metaphysics of all this so much as it is about the mechanics. It's important that we realize that every so-called awakening is like a snow flake.  It's an event within an event, by which I mean that the person is an event to begin with, a happening, not a happened, a verbness, not a noun.  And within that human movie, one of the scenes is of an awakening.  Since every awakening scene has a different "backdrop and background," they'll all play out differently, both in appearance, and substance.  The truth they all point to is the same, but awakening is not truth itself, it is an experience of truth by truth through a human.  
Projection as Path

I had a conversation this week with a client who'd gotten a little glimpse recently as she read was reading a Nondual book.  She felt absorbed, as she put it.  The author mentioned that a lot of people experience fear at that point.  Immediately my friend prepared for fear.  In her mind she was almost supposed to feel fear.  She check in for it, and fortunately--surprisingly--it didn't arise for her, but often fear or other effects will fill in simply from the projection that they should.  Or, conversely, if the longed for or dreaded confirmation doesn't show, we may cook up the idea that, "My experience must not have been deep enough," and we're right back on the wheel.

This is the same way that we latch onto ideas of what awakening is supposed to look like for us.  Let me tell you straight up: You don't know how awakening is supposed to show up for you until it does.  Then you'll know.  Years ago I remember reading a teacher's critique of some of the student awakenings reported by an early American Zen master.  The teacher said, (I am paraphrasing from misty memory), "You know, if all of those students ate a hamburger, their experience would not be so nearly identical as their reports of these supposedly 'singular' awakenings.  What's going on here?"

The teacher gave the mystery some though and came up with the common denominator: the Zen master.  All the students were reporting like experiences in the same way peas might report on conditions within a common pod.  "This is the way it is."  Their experiences and descriptions were heavily colored by their expectations, by what, in their immediate vicinity, had gone before.  It's not up to me to judge the authenticity of any of that, but it sure does point to the role projection can play in our spirituality.
 The Two Faces of Projection

Projection, we might say, comes in two forms.  It may be held as a prepackaged set of conditions (specific confirmations, like experiences, the grand spiritual display, et al.), in what we could term a, 'enhancing-positive' projection.  Or at the other extreme, projection may be held in skepticism (prove me wrong against my arrogant will), in what we might say is a 'detracting-negative' form. Either is the death of clarity. You can have your personal projection, or you can have impersonal Nonduality, but you can't have both at the same time; they are mutually exclusive.  The skeptic already has what he wants: safety. Likewise the enhancer has his narrative.  At this stage we have to be willing to move beyond the desire for either safety or story.

Openness  is the key to initially experiencing clarity.  It is the key to becoming grounded in clarity.  It is the key to truly abiding within clarity.  Openness is the offspring of humility; it is the child of a bare "I don't know."  There's no straight path to any of this.  But our willingness to bring our current conditioning into inquiry is surely the straightest path I know.  We can always ask, of every thought, "Is it true?"

And now...



James Waite

Our average living (if not “normal”) is guided by emotions and intellect,
by pleasure and pain, by the habitual self…
what’s it like to let the love inherent in our natural well-being
guide us in daily aware living?

About 30 years ago,
at a time when I was poised to begin a decades long search for the truth, I went to my new company dentist for a final check-up before I embarked on what was to be the first leg of my spiritual “journey.” I was nearing 40, newly remarried, and leaving the trajectory of a life and “successful” career which today I’d characterize as a life direction that was endlessly seeking and therefore, never finding. The misfired launch and arc of my life on the planet then was filled with a deep sense of missing; it was an altogether misguided and mistaken venture driven by a complex set of missed-understandings. So when that day in 1985 finally dawned, and the first of a series of relaunches got underway, I was, above all my confusion and concerns, deeply relieved.

Relieved from the pain of success--that is, the pain of always needing to be successful and never…quite…achieving it. Finally, after a long struggle, I was beginning to embrace the joy of failing! And to vaguely grasp a Zen truth I came to see only much later: “Failure is the means to success.”

Certainly, my life story to date was one of failed relationships, failed businesses and, above all, failed expectations (my own and others).  Happiness had eluded me successfully, and I was finally compelled to step out of my traditional search mode into a New Beginning…somewhere in Europe.

This desperate need for dramatic change was fueled by my search for answers to some newly emerging Really Big Questions…RBQ’s like “what is going on here?” and “what is the real truth here?” RBQ’s that followed me everywhere close as my elbow; wherever I went in Italy, England, France and Greece, these questions were there; whatever I did traveling, writing and working, these questions were there. Indeed, I was relentlessly driven by this mysterious inner urging to find answers that not only would, but must, make sense and bring rest to my life. Answers which I thought I’d find there--anywhere but here.
The peace of a refugee

I rode my bike to the dentist the day I resigned (we’d already planned to take a year off to live somewhere cheaply in Europe, and had just given our respective corporate bosses due notice; we’d sold off our Toronto house, cars and most of our possessions, stored a few “irreplaceable” things and were now, like refugees, reduced to two suitcases) The new, young dentist was probing around my mouth, his assistant was smiling sweetly, and he was dictating to her a long series of future treatments when I announced that in four short weeks I was leaving it all and moving to Europe. Stunned and dismayed, he stopped, stood back and silently pondered. Then, stooping back over me, prodding with his tools and his tongue, he said: “You’re an executive with a really great job! I don’t get it…why would you leave it all now?” His fear and condemnation hovered like the question, a few inches from my face. The blue eyes looked stern, the breath shallow, and the mouth, firm and fixed, as he worked away. And you know, I wanted, but didn’t have, a reasonable answer to his question at the time; all I knew was that I had to – absolutely had to - move on. And I knew that, for him and for most of humanity, no reason would ever be reason enough to justify my bailing out. All I could say then was “I don’t know why really, all I know is I’ve been looking down too long.” He stalled, then stopped the probing, fell silent, stood up and back, handed his tool firmly to his assistant with instructions to carry on, and promptly left the room deeply puzzled and it seemed, shaken. Perhaps he was wondering what lay ahead for him as he began his long career in dentistry.
 A willingness to wonder

That little story has served its purpose, so let’s leave it there and fast forward to 2013, to the real relevance that we know is always and only, here and now.

The morning fog is lifting; the washing machine is humming, the fire is flickering and my tea is warming as I tune in to the theme of this moment – wonder. I’m constantly filled with wonder at how life can move us – if we’re willing to listen and be moved, often painfully – to see through to the bottom of things. Of course, the willingness to see is all!  If we’re really willing (but not willful) life takes us by the hand, like Dante’s Virgil, and leads us through our minds’ ideas and ideals about it, to the at times rocky, but always sublime, shore of reality. It’s amazing how spirit moves us from initial glimpses of reality to seeing the thing itself. It’s a wonder we ever wake up, but we do, thanks to grace! And that seeing of what is, is the first and essential aspect of awakening; what seems to follow is the expression of, and the living in, being.
Wisdom in Being

Wisdom-in-being is not about achieving or acquiring, or even “knowing,” anything. Indeed, we discover that what we think we know produces and shapes what we humans call our “experience”. And once we really groc that we’re living a mind-manufactured pseudo-reality, the veil is lifted--often, as in my case, in a flash--and we can never go back. We abandon all knowledge as partial, incomplete, limited and limiting, in favor of living life fully and spontaneously in the unknown truth of this moment as it is. And that not-knowing is essential to aware living; that being free of a “Me” who experiences only what it's already conditioned and programmed to know, opens us up wonderfully wide.

We are free to live daily in affectionate awareness; to practically purr with the joy of pure, spontaneous, me-less experiencing. To dwell in an underlying peace that always remains--like the deep, rhythmic drone notes in Indian music--while life swirls and hurls whatever it may. There’s voluptuousness, a profound sensuality and aliveness that is the very nature of self and life. And of course, throughout this entire engagement, there’s practical, functional knowing and doing – dishes still get washed, body and relationships all get attended to, and I can conduct my business and find my way to the airport on time…usually! Still, there’s practically no reasoning going on in my head these days. In aware living, there’s no need to have a plan or agenda or even think much – no operational need to have a reason for doing what life does beautifully all by itself (with or without my co-operation.) So the being bit seems to be all about not doing, not impeding the flow of where life wants to go. In truth, we feel our way, moving from next to next, as it presents itself. And that can be a little perplexing at times!
Living in unfamiliar terrain

In the interest of clarity, let’s turn to a recurring metaphor in my writing--the bicycle. Everyday, aware living is indeed, like riding the 10 speed bike I had back in the day: it--like our life--goes up, down and over smooth and bumpy highways and byways, suddenly twisting, then again, gradually turning; occasionally it takes us to glimpses of new vistas, but mostly, normally, we travel around this world in sensually familiar, if not routine and rhythmic, ways. That’s also part of the regular grind in daily aware living. In truth, some days may be unremarkable, but they’re always dense with experiencing. And other times--who’s to know when?--we get thrown almost over the handle-bars! The regular flow gets re-directed, we come to a surprisingly steep dive in the road and we’re hard pressed to hang on for the ride! When that happens--when the winds suddenly make waves on the surface of our being--there’s almost always, a continuing willingness to let go of control, of gripping the handle bar. That action is not a reaction; it’s founded on a very simple recognition that there actually is no personal entity called James or Jane, to have control over life and its mysterious happenings. I say “almost” here because in fact we never know what may happen, and, in any event, we need not guess what this provident restaurant called Life is going to serve up today! In fact, we live more and more in harmony as we rest in a being that leans into now--into whatever’s going down!
We get what we need

I lived the first 38 years of my life pedaling around familiar terrain within sight of the hospital I was born in. Early marriage, family, career, cars and houses – you know it! – the whole imported dream that turns into a nightmare! Of course, these nightmares are exactly what we need to wake us up! And we’d all be suffering that dream today, if not for the sheer potency of (unimagined) reality to bring us to our knees. In truth, life has its own very subtle yet powerful demands which, sooner or later, must be faced. In my case, my imagined life took me on a long ride away from home, then brought me back with a steep drop down the back of Mount Ego, at speed and with no brakes! Suffice it to say that I fell into Grace; that in losing all control over what I wanted, I came into contact with what I needed. That contact is what we could call communion-with-Self.
Self – an introduction

Never, in those wildest dream-days, could I imagine that today I’d be sitting here in Berkeley writing this AC article about Natural Well-Being founded on the simple recognition of who we are and what this is. But before we explore that, I’d like to tell you one more short story about something that I saw recently in the New York Times that amazed me enough to remember a few relevant details (but not enough to copy it for any future, fuller, reference). The article was about a major, world-wide study done by teams of social scientists at well known universities on the structure and functioning of humans in society. This extensive study took 6 or 7 years to fully conduct, and it involved the in-depth investigation of all humanity--across almost all the languages, nationalities and cultures in the world. Its findings had many things to say about the human condition, but the most important thing it had to say for me--and one which the sages of all times and places have said for centuries, and which you also intuitively “know”--is that all mankind has one basic and common characteristic: “goodness.” (I use the term “goodness” in quotes, because there were other words in other languages that, according to the study authors, came closer to describing this common human factor, but the term “goodness” was felt to be the best word to express this quality in English.)

“Of course!” I sighed to myself in recognition. Intuitively, we all know our own, and therefore, “others'” innate goodness. We know that is our nature; we--all people, everywhere, at all times --operate from their inbred sense of goodness. (By one calculation, over 105 billion people have come and gone on this planet--that’s a lot of goodness breeding goodness, albeit painfully!) Call it whatever you like, in whatever language you like, all this goodness is real and happening, here, now and always. It’s essentially who we are and what this is--love.

Natural Well-Being is Love

So we don’t need to look far and wide for this love, this goodness; we are it. It’s our nature, and when we recognize and honor this “goodness” in our self, we immediately apprehend it in another. We see into the core of our being, our “existence” and know not only our human dimension in time and space, but also our divine dimension as timeless and infinite. Our residing here is easy, natural and normal; and this being in love is realized and celebrated in simple, everyday aware living!

Living here is our nature.

©2013 James Waite
All rights reserved.  Used by permission.


James Waite's website:

Fading in the Light on Amazon, print or e-book:

Free e-book, Real, Whole, Here and Happy!:

James on Non-Duality America:

On non-duality magazine:

With Jerry Katz on Nonduality Street (audio interview):

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