Thursday, March 8, 2012

The Direct Path, A User Guide: Guest Teaching by Greg Goode

WELCOME to the eighth installment of Awakening Clarity's Guest Teaching Series.  One week at a time we're building what is effectively becoming the Who's Who of contemporary Nonduality.  We offer a short profile of the author and lots of helpful links, along with a hearty sample of their teaching.  

GREG GOODE is with us for the second time.  He is a master of both awareness and emptiness teachings, as well as having a doctorate in Western philosophy.  He is one of the foremost authorities in the world on the Direct Path, and he explains that path nicely in this piece.  I have a fairly detailed introduction of Greg in his January 6 post, so I'm going to take my space here to talk more about his new book, which is the source of today's teaching.  I will, however, take just a moment to say that he is one of my closest mentors as well as being a dear and trusted friend.  I love this man, and deeply respect his work.

JUST AS A DIAMOND is carefully cut and faceted to bring out the full luster and beauty of the gem, SO I hope to do here with this lead.  For let us make no mistake about it, this book is a rare gem, and I suspect that it's just like an heirloom engagement ring: Its light gathering powers will far outlast its owner, or in this case, its apparent creator.

I'VE BROUGHT GREG BACK again so soon because has a new book that I want to bring to the attention of as broad an audience as possible. The Direct Path: A User Guide, Greg tells us, could be thought of as "the missing manual" for his other book, Standing as Awareness, which was the background for his first Guest Teaching here.  We could think of the books as two pillars framing the gate to freedom that is the Direct Path.  If you do your part, I assure you these teachings can and will do theirs.  In his first teaching here Greg told us what awareness really is, as well as sharing some of the apparent effects of our taking our stand in reality as reality.  Greg suggested we take this position right-here-right-now, which is the only out-of-time, out-of-space 'moment' in which it can be embraced.

SRI ATMANANDA KRISHNA MENON, the founder of the Direct Path, has told us very clearly: "Time is the generic form of thoughts; space is the generic form of objects."  The sooner we come to truly understanding what he's saying there, be it through a passing glimpse, or abiding within it, the happier and freer we'll be.  Awakening is by no means a personal event, but don't let that fool you into thinking the hosting body-mind doesn't benefit; it certainly does.  Suffering is reduced in all who ever see their true nature, even if that seeing is apparently brief.  Suffering is completely eliminated, I hear tell, in a smaller number of others.  Personal suffering, I can reliably state, will begin to fade as we close the gap between "what we see and what we be."

"THAT'S GREAT!" YOU MAY SAY.  "But just how do I get there?"  That's precisely what this book addresses. However, it's not so much moving the "I" over there, so to speak, as it is getting the "I" out of here!  That, I would say, is the Direct Path's specialty, but some instruction and experimentation is in order.  Buddha's holding up a single flower in what's known as his "Flower Sermon" may have been enough to free Mahakasyapa and kick off the field of Zen, but the rest of us are going to require a bit more detail! A User Guide provides a great deal of detail, both instructional and experimental.  The set up for it that we find is this post is also detailed, and so this post is a long one, but it's well worth your time and effort. Let's talk for just a minute about time and effort.

ALL OF US HAVE HEARD from time to time that "there's nothing to do and no one to do it."  Seen from the absolute viewpoint--in other words, when we are standing as awareness--this is unequivocally true.  And seen from the standpoint of a teaching strategy, it can be quite helpful for some people.  It helped Greg.  Yet let's be clear that no teaching, whether it's Greg Goode's, or anyone else's is either actually true, or fit for all ears. All teachings point, and they point to those who have ears for that teaching at that time. They can't even know who that is!  Most teachers necessarily have to teach to groups for the simple sake of productivity. So, right from the get-go there is a devil's trade-off of efficacy for efficiency.

IF "NOTHING TO DO and no one to do it" works for you, that's great.  I'm no detractor of anything that works.  Yet if we look at the numbers, the nothing-to-do teaching, while being fundamentally true and occasionally effective, simply doesn't work very often.  Of course the only question that matters here is, "Has it worked for you?"  In my experience, the no-one-to-do-it revelation is most often something that's seen in reflection, in hindsight; it is something that is seen from the post-awaking position, and then misapplied to the pre-awakening position.  And it just doesn't fly.  I've talked over and over again about the hazards of trying to transfer insights from one apparent state to the other.  It might be good to note that even reading this post is in itself a subtle sadhana.  It's my sense, and my experience, that "doing nothing" is most often a decision by ego to simply go unconscious.  It was for me, and that was within the apparent post-awakening state.  It took heavy depression, and Adyashanti's The End of Your World to bring me back into clarity.

I'VE SAID ALL THAT to say this: the great majority of what is said or written about in Nonduality today is either theory-in-conversation (satsang), or pointers-for-practice (instruction on conventional inquiry or meditation). It is the nature of the human beast that it is able to overcome all of this initially great material once we have been exposed to it often enough.  I saw the very same thing happen in recovery circles when I was getting sober. I'm not saying these teachings are wrong; they're most certainly not.  I am saying that in a world that is overloaded with Nondual information, these tried and true methods are these days quite frequently not enough.  

HOW DO WE KNOW THAT?  It's obvious to all that a whole lot more people take up this path than successfully 'complete' it.  The yardstick must always be awakening, and we are not yet being swarmed by folks who are either abiding, or reasonably stabilized in Nondual awareness. Part of the reason is that we don't necessarily become more awake the longer we stay on this path.  To the contrary, we may well go deeper and deeper asleep within an attractive lifestyle choice, while all the while harboring the sure feeling of progressively "getting it".  This new book of Greg's is a wonderful exception to all of this.  In fact, let me just go ahead and say it:

THE DIRECT PATH: A USER'S GUIDE is for all those people who want to wake up badly enough that they're actually willing to do something about it themselves. Teachers are great, and they'll get you to the riverside, but if you don't jump in yourself you'll never actually get wet.

THE BOOK HAS 40 experiments in it to help you move down the path regardless of where you're starting from.  Call them koans; call A User Guide itself a whole book of contemporary koans, not totally dissimilar to the Blue Cliff Record, or the Mumonkan.  This is deep inquiry offered up for practice in easy, bite-size bits you can nibble at your own speed.  Start at the beginning or start where it interests you and go from there.  Approach them openly, do the work, and just like koans, allow the questions themselves to crack your shell.  You can't do it.  The experiments can, and you can do the experiments.  

THE WHOLE THRUST of A User Guide is to get you to take action.  When a thing is seen experientially, and not just theoretically, it affects the mind in a different way, and the myth of separation will begin to fade of it's own accord, whether slowly or radically.  You really cannot directly challenge your mind's view of I-you-world and expect change.  The mind cannot transcend the mind.  But you can use the mind as a tool to transcend the mind.  That's exactly what this book does.  It's hands-on, it's practical, and most importantly, it works!

AND NOW . . . 

The Direct Path: A User Guide


Greg Goode

MY NEW BOOK is a set of experiential tips and experiments for the Direct Path.  What I mean by the “Direct Path” is the set of self-inquiry teachings attributed by Nitya Tripta to Shri Atmananda Krishna Menon and later elaborated upon by Jean Klein, John Levy, Alexander Smit, Philip Renard, Francis Lucille and Rupert Spira.  The book can also be considered a user guide or “missing manual” to my own Standing as Awareness.

CONSISTING OF A SERIES OF EXPERIMENTS, with explanatory text, its purpose is to deeply investigate many different aspects of experience, including sensation, perception, bodily feeling and motion, waking and sleeping, emotion, attention, thought, rationality, and the sense of being a single, global, unlimited witness of all that arises.  What we discover in every case is that there are actually no independent objects experienced at any time.  There is never any separation or otherness, but simply love, openness, clarity, sweetness, awareness – in short, your true nature itself.  This approach is often called a “tattvopadesha,” a sequential, logically connected presentation of the teaching from beginning to end. 

IN EVERYDAY TERMS, the goal of inquiry in the Direct Path is to integrate the head and the heart in unity.  In this unity, knowledge and love are flipsides on a 45 rpm record of infinite thinness.  Knowledge is love distilled by clarity.  Love is knowledge pervaded by sweetness.  In this clarity there is no cold intellectualizing or blind sentimentality.

LOVE ITSELF IS TRANSFORMATIONAL.  If one doesn’t fall in love with anything along the way, not even a little bit, then it will be hard for experience to feel sweet.  What kinds of things can one fall in love with?  Candidates include awareness, the teaching, the teacher, a book, Being, the universe, God, Krishna, Jesus, Buddha, or anything that represents the goal of your inquiry. 

IN PRACTICAL TERMS, love and knowledge enhance each other.  Love provides sweetness and ease to knowledge.  Knowledge accelerates and broadens the focus of love.  They meet in reality.

LOVE HELPS YOUR UNDERSTANDING like this:  when you do devotional or bhakti-yoga activities, your heart opens and the realizations in your inquiry are smoother and easier.  There are fewer sticking points along the way, and it seems like less “work.”  All experience becomes more savory and fragrant.

INQUIRY OPENS YOUR HEART and broadens your love like this:  when you do inquiry, something uncanny happens to the object of your love.  It stops seeming like a distinct object whether gross or subtle.  It is not experienced as different from you, and it begins to spread out and become everything.  You no longer have to look in one particular direction to find your beloved.  Your beloved and its sweetness are everywhere you turn.



THE DIRECT PATH is a route of nondual inquiry that leads to the recognition of yourself as awareness, beauty and love.  It is not a goal of the Direct Path to transform you into a person to whom only pleasant things happen.  Instead of this phenomenal goal, the Direct Path has a deeper, more radical goal.  The Direct Path reveals awareness to be the very nature of the person.  Awareness is prior to the person, so it can’t be possessed by the person.  Nondual inquiry seeks to discover and clarify this nature.  In doing so, it subjects the very perspective of the person to deep and radical scrutiny. 


SOMETIMES NONDUAL PATHS are described as freeing one from suffering.  They succeed admirably at this, but not by giving you more favorable experiences.  Nondual inquiry does not work by retaining the person but eradicating the suffering.  It is much more thorough than that.  What happens through nondual inquiry is that you come experientially to realize the truth of yourself as awareness, brilliant clarity and global love, in which there is neither suffering nor personhood.

PEOPLE OFTEN WONDER whether there is any contradiction between nondual inquiry and conventional therapies.  Because nondual inquiry does not seek to improve the person, it has no quarrel with conventional therapies.  The goals are different.  Modalities such as psychiatry and psychotherapy seek to improve the person through techniques that engender a healthy, flourishing person.  Psychiatry may even prescribe medicine.  Improving the person is a broad goal also shared by medicine, dentistry, physical fitness, exercise and education.  Because a person can participate in more than one activity in life, nondual inquiry does not see itself as having an either/or relationship with these other activities.  One can combine nondual inquiry with any of these activities.  Of course, nondualism submits the notion of the “person” to radical scrutiny, but this does not mean that one must stop going to the dentist.  One can very well participate in these other activities without taking their goals and models as literal, objective truths.  In many cases, each activity helps the other.

THE VARIOUS THERAPIES have various goals, corresponding with the needs of the person.  A person may want to do nondual inquiry, but may be blocked by severe physical or mental pain.  In such a case, the “direct path” to the relief from that pain is not nondual inquiry at all, but physical or mental therapy.  And just as a person does not expect nondual inquiry to alleviate a toothache, one would not expect dental therapy to be the key to realizing the truth of the self.  It is much more “direct” to follow the most efficient route to the goal at hand, while allowing the goals to assist each other.


THE MAIN PROBLEM that self-inquiry addresses is what Nitya Tripta’s Notes on Spiritual Discourses of Shri Atmananda calls “wrong identification.”  In other words, we take ourselves to be something we’re not.  We think, feel and act as though we are a body or a mind or a combination of both, whereas the truth is that we are awareness.  It normally seems as though we are some sort of particular object, whereas we are actually the witnessing awareness to which these objects appear.  We are not the objects seen, but the seeingness itself.

TRADITIONAL ADVAITA-VEDANTA gives this wrong identification the unwieldy name, “mutual superimposition of the self and the non-self.”  In mutual superimposition, we mix up the subject and objects.  We take one thing as another.  Awareness is the subject but we treat it as an object, such as when we think that awareness can be seen or localized or personalized.  On the other hand, we treat (some) objects as though they are the subject, such as when we think that a body or mind can see or apprehend. 

IT IS INEVITABLE that this mix-up leads to suffering.  Even though we are awareness, if we take ourselves as some kind of object like a body or mind, then we feel limited, impermanent and vulnerable.  We feel we can disappear like other objects.  Our pleasures, passions and possessions are temporary and doomed to vanish or fade away.  Our lives as humans seem all too short.  We seem bound to suffer bad fortune, guilt, shame, cruelty, pain, poverty, disease and death.  These things are naturally expected to happen to objects.  So if we are an object, it is inevitable to think that these things will happen to us. 

BUT AWARENESS, our true nature, isn’t limited, personal, impermanent or temporary.  It is THAT to which objects (even universes) appear.  It is THAT in which they arise and fall.  The person is an object, so the person comes and goes.  Awareness can’t come and go since it is THAT to which coming-and-going appears!  There is no fear or suffering here.

YOUR INVESTIGATION into your direct experience will reveal that all these objects aren’t really objects anyway, but that they have been awareness all along.  Thus, all the issues of identification and all the issues of the subject vs. objects – all of it will collapse into sweetness and clarity.



THE SOLUTION to wrong identification is “right identification". Right identification is basically “no identification.”  As awareness we don’t need to think that we are anything at all.  The very need for thinking we are something drops away.  The result is just being, as opposed to being something

OF COURSE, when one begins nondual inquiry, one usually goes through a stage in which one does explicitly identify with awareness.  It seems like a new identification in place of the old one.  This is quite natural, and it can even seem like putting on a new and strange new suit of clothes.  But this sense of strangeness diminishes; nondual teachings give us lots of different kinds of pointers that allow us to discover how being awareness is not new or strange at all, but perfectly natural.  You get to the point where there is direct, intuitive, nonconceptual experience of being awareness.  When this is deeply and directly seen, it cuts through identification with objects.  It short-circuits the mutual superimposition and wrong identifications. 

ONCE YOU KNOW YOURSELF as awareness, there is no need to take yourself as anything else.  The sense of explicitly identifying with anything, even with awareness, drops away.  Standing as awareness, being awareness will be your reality.  Even if it seemed odd when you first encountered nondual teachings, it’s perfectly natural.  Standing as awareness isn’t even anything you do.  It is your natural state, and when this is directly seen, the world of experience will lovingly and smilingly confirm your stand at every moment. 



THERE ARE MANY WAYS that Direct Path teachers point to your nature as awareness.  The primary tool is direct investigation into your experience.  This is a general category which can have many entry points.  Besides standing as awareness, they include:

  • Investigating the world, body and mind; the result is that they are revealed as awareness and not as objects at all
  •  Investigating deep sleep and sleeping knowingly
  • Investigating the witness aspect of experience
  • Cultivating the intense feeling that you are not the doer or enjoyer
  • Cultivating the conviction that knowledge and happiness are your nature

WESTERN DIRECT PATH TEACHERS place more emphasis on the body, science, love and psychological factors than one finds in traditional Advaita-Vedanta teachings.  This is a natural consequence of the teaching making its way from one culture to another.  In Western gatherings and teaching sessions you will see activities such as yoga, perceptual exercises, body-sensing – all of which help one realize that the body is not the container of awareness or the source of sentience, but a set of objects like any other objects appearing in awareness.  And in Western gatherings you’ll hear questions on what realization is like, how to gauge one's progress, the place of emotions such as jealousy and anger, free will versus determinism, realization and how to live life, knowing versus feeling, and how realization affects romantic, professional and family relationships.

ALL OF THESE ISSUES and questions are entry-ways into knowing your own nature and finding fulfillment.


"DIRECT" IS USUALLY INTERPRETED to mean “not progressive.”  In other words, you don’t have to perfect anything or become anything new.  You already are whatever you would seek to become. 

OF COURSE, this isn’t different from many other types of nondual teaching.  Most nondual teachings agree that “the seeker is the sought” and that there’s no need and no possibility to become something else.  But the Direct Path means something else by “direct” as well.  “Direct” means “unmediated” and refers to the direct presence and clarity of your experience, which is not interpreted through intellectual or emotional filters.  What seems to be a filtering or mediating process isn’t that way at all.  Instead, what seems to filter or operate on experience is actually already direct experience itself, direct experience masquerading as something else.

WHAT IS THE DIRECT EXPERIENCE? Let’s start with indirect experience.  This is experience in which one thing is experienced by means of another thing.  Examples would be experiencing Bali via reading the National Geographic, experiencing Las Vegas via seeing James Bond in Diamonds are Forever, experiencing fire through smoke, or experiencing an apple via our perceptions of it, such as taste, smell, texture, etc. 

DIRECT EXPERIENCE, on the other hand, is the experience of something that is not interpreted or mediated by something else.  In experiencing the “apple,” we directly experience a red color, a crisp texture, a tangy flavor, etc.  The experience of Bali is the same – what is given directly to experience is sensations, thoughts and feelings.  We call them “Bali.”  The label is an interpretation.  And yet we’ll come to find out that direct experience is actually simpler than this.  We discover that in direct experience there are actually no objects at all, and nothing pointing to any objects.  This is beautifully simple.  And just how we make this discovery is the purpose of The Direct Path: A User Guide. 

ALL THE VARIOUS experiments, contemplations and visualizations that you’ll encounter here are not ways to become awareness, or to gain an intellectual understanding that you are awareness.  Rather, they are simply ways to explore the consequences of being awareness.  You can think of these activities not so much as goal-oriented, but as exploration, celebration or beautiful music. 


MY METHODOLOGY involves several different approaches. 
  • Standing as awareness, knowingly occupying and inhabiting your true identity, and experiencing the resulting confirmation of your stand.
  • Simple remembrance that the body, mind and world are awareness as well.  When we conceptualize them as independent objects, of course, they seem to come and go.  And even then, if they come and go, the coming and going is taking place within awareness, which is the common factor.  Body, mind and world are inseparable from awareness and are never experiences without awareness already being front and center in the picture.  This can be experienced at any time if you just stop and try to find an object, any object that is apart from awareness. 
  • Abiding in the simple sweetness of being awareness, which is limitless and borderless.  This is also something that is available at any time if you stop and notice.  The stopping and noticing, of course, won’t be there all the time, but the beautiful truth they indicate is always the case.
  • The method primarily proceeds through what Advaita-Vedanta calls “tattvopadesha.”

TATTVOPADESHA is an experiential, logically-connected presentation of the teaching from beginning to end.  It proceeds from the very concrete to the very subtle.  It starts with the simplest and most seemingly obvious experience of separation, e.g., the experience of objects in the world that seem to be other than your self.  You will see how these objects are nothing other than awareness.  The tattvopadesha continues with more and more subtle elements of experience until we arrive at pure consciousness.  Items we will examine include a vast range of experience, and we will proceed in order from the more concrete to the more abstract.  You don’t have to memorize this list and may not even need to explore everything on it.  But the sorts of experiences we’ll look into include the following:

  • Physical objects, which are usually taken to be the textbook definition of reality.
  • The senses, which are thought to be the neutral and transparent gateways to the world of physical reality.
  • The body, including the brain, which is usually thought to be the container of the mind. 
  • The mind, which is usually thought to be the container of consciousness.
  • Events, which are sort of like states of affairs, but with change and movement.
  • Mental states, including emotional and meditative states, which all too often are experienced as more real than the ground we walk on.
  • Subtle abstract objects such as cause and effect, identity and difference, time and space, subject and object.  These subtle objects are often thought to provide a structure or organization to consciousness.  We will see how consciousness cannot possibly be structured or organized by anything. 
  • Witnessing awareness, which starts out seeming like a big mind, complete with individuality, memory and psychological reactivity.  But as our investigation continues, witnessing awareness comes to be understood as not possessing any personal, mental or psychological characteristics at all.  Instead, it is realized that witnessing awareness is global clarity, and is what all characteristics appear to.
  • Pure consciousness, which is consciousness without the witnessing aspect.

AT EACH STAGE we will have the chance to try experiments that make clear what we already know:  what seems to be something other than awareness is awareness all the way and all the time.  This is your happiness.


THINGS SEEM TO EXIST on their own, without depending on awareness in any way.  Things seem to exist objectively.  No matter how concrete or abstract something is, it seems to exist in this way.  The Great Wall of China, differential calculus and moral correctness may not all be physical, but they seem to really exist independently from the mind and independently from awareness.

WE THINK OF THE OBJECTIVE as that which exists on its own and which can be discovered and verified by separate “subjective” perceivers.  The very notion of objectivity brings in several dualisms at once, such as between subjective and objective, between awareness and object, between separate containers of awareness, between inside and outside the container, and between “right” and “wrong” or “accurate” and “inaccurate.”  Many other dualisms also depend on the notion of objectivity.




WHEN WE INVESTIGATE objectivity and discover that it is not to be found, we do not fall into its opposite.  We do not fall into subjectivity or solipsism.  Instead, we become free from this pair of opposites.  Nondual experience is neither objective nor subjective.  Rather, what happens is freedom from the very structures that permit this distinction.  We become free of its network of limiting assumptions, perceptions and feelings, along with the images of entrapment, containment and separation from people and objects.

ANOTHER DUALISM is the one between fact and value or intellect and emotion.  The first member of each pair is usually accorded greater status than the second member, so the notion of objectivity often entails the dualism of ranking as well.  When we try to “be objective” about something, we try to describe it as it is, impartially, grasped purely as it is in itself, without being swayed by emotion or evaluation.  We feel we should see things from what is sometimes called the “View from Nowhere” or the “God’s-eye View.”  Being able to perceive and judge this way is usually valued much more highly than letting any individual, personal, emotional or evaluative factors operate.  The idea is that the object or situation pre-exists, and sentience or awareness is able to transparently and neutrally make contact with the object, thereby conveying true and accurate information about it.  Any other way of grasping the object would be “subjective,” which is usually de-valued.

WHEN WE FEEL that things exist objectively, it almost feels as if things are self-powered, persisting under their own steam.  When we perceive things, it seems that things are casting themselves toward us, meeting our perception.  There seems to be a kind of magnetism drawing our perceptual and conceptual energies toward things, which seem to be really there, but on the other side of a gap.  Things seem to be on the far side of the gap, and we seem to be on the near side.  Things seem to be “out there,” and we seem to be “in here.”  To bridge the gap (which is usually thought to coincide with the surface of the skin), we must rely on perception and cognition.  And we suspect that we can be wrong about things.  We know that we must depend on perception and cognition, which can always be mistaken. 

BECAUSE WE SEEM to be “in here,” we feel like we’re enclosed in separate bubbles of sentience, one per person.  So we also feel separated from other people.  To bridge this gap, we need communication, which can also be mistaken.

THE STRONG SENSE of these gaps causes great anxiety and suffering.  The feeling that we are cut off, along with the ever-present possibility of being wrong about everything and everyone, creates alienation from the world, from other people and even from ourselves. 

BUT OUR INVESTIGATION will reveal in the most direct way that objectivity is false.  We will see that no matter what kind of object is involved, objectivity is simply never our experience.  The belief in objectivity and separation is simply unfounded.  When this is deeply understood, the misleading sense of objectivity will be understood as false and will eventually vanish.  The entire structure that seems to keep us separate collapses, along with all suffering.

WITHOUT THE SENSE OF OBJECTIVITY there will be no sense of separation.  All of the related dualisms and their attendant feelings of being split simply fall away.  You will no longer seem to be separate from the world, other people or your own thoughts and feelings.  You won’t feel divided between thinking versus feeling.  There will be no “out there” or “in here.”  You will not feel like a thinker or feeler or doer.  You will realize your identity as the wholeness of all that is.  This wholeness is experienced as love, peace and sweetness.

Copyright 2012, Greg Goode, Nonduality Press
Used by permission


Greg's website:

Greg's website on emptiness teachings, which he co-edits:

To view or buy any of Greg's material at Non-Duality Press:

To view or buy either of Greg's books on Barnes & Noble:

To view or buy The Direct Path: A User Guide on Amazon:

To view or buy Nondualism in Western Philosophy on Greg's website:

To view or buy Standing As Awareness on Amazon:

To view or buy Illuminations on Amazon:

To watch an interview with Greg on Buddha at the Gas Pump:

To watch an interview for Conscious TV by Chris Hebard:

To watch a series of You Tube videos of Greg, by Roger Ingraham:


First, let me welcome Estonia as the 71st nation to join us here on Awakening Clarity.  

Second, I want to remind readers that there has been a glitch, and automatic email has not been going out, thus I've simply removed the option from the site. I'm afraid you'll have to come see us if you want to know what's happening here.  The good news is that I'm always glad to see you.  Namaste!  F.