Thursday, November 22, 2012

The Fruits of Non-Duality: Guest Teaching by Richard Bates


We're glad to have you join us for the 31st edition of our Guest Teacher Series.  We have a fascinating double header this week featuring Richard Bates, a full time locksmith and part time writer who's written a terrific main post for us, and whose book, The World Is My Mirror, is our First Chapter Preview.  Do forgive the pun, but I think of Richard as the locksmith who unlocked the Gateless Gate!  More on Richard in just a little bit.

A few weeks back I told you about a new website and a new concept, Meeting Truth, and I promised to make a report to you once I'd talked to the organizers.   Here it is.  Last week I spent an hour or so Skyping with Jeannie and Paul McGilliviray.  I thoroughly enjoyed the visit and found them to be both thoroughly charming and genuinely committed; I like that combination.

Jeannie and Paul own Remote New Media, a website design company located in the lush countryside of Shropshire, England.  They've both been involved in Nonduality for a number of years, and now they've decided to take real action to make it a part of their daily lives.  I will tell you from my own experiences with Awakening Clarity and my book that nothing so changes the internal Nondual game as entrenched involvement outside.  When you get out of your living room and out into the world with this thing, when you really become an agent of change, the pool of possibilities spills out onto a whole new floodplain.

Jeannie and Paul are wisely playing to their strengths: web design.  It's a good looking, easy-to-navigate site, and they're meeting a real need: centralized booking for Nondual events that's win-win-win-win.  Besides the broadening it's doing for my new friends, it also benefits administrators, facilitators, venues, and seekers.  Venues can find teachers, teachers can find venues, and seekers can go to one place to see lots of offering for meetings, retreats, intensives, and webinars.  And part-time, or volunteer admin people can maybe catch a break!  With a little luck, this is just the genesis of a major new hub for a Nondual community that's becoming more sophisticated as it becomes more populated. 

I also promised to review The Consciousness Chronicles, directed by Nick Day, and emanating from the Center for Consciousness Studies at the University of Arizona.  It's on the bottom of the News & Events page. It's easily a series that I will watch again, probably many 'agains.'  All of it is good; some of it is wonderful.

Now to our Guest Teaching Series.  This is one of the freshest posts you'll ever read; it's a genuine pleasure to host it. When I asked Richard Bates for a short bio, he sent us this, which I love: 

Richard Bates was anxious and unhappy for most of his life. Sometimes it was a mild irritation and sometimes it took over his total being. Studying for a degree in psychology and subsequent personal therapy seemed to ease his neurosis for a while, but self-obsession and vulnerability—especially around other people—were always close by.

A chance encounter with an instructor at his local gym, started a journey he didn’t even know was available or, for that matter, thought he needed.  A battle with so-called reality and many words from ancient and contemporary texts, destroyed the illusion of an independent, permanent self.

He lives happily in the world with his wife and two children, runs his own small business as a locksmith, and if he had to sum up what non-duality means for him it would be the elimination of anxiety through the recognition of impermanence and inseparability.

For Richard, life is to be lived— not feared.

And now...

Richard Bates

Just thought I would start by saying that I’m a practical man: I mend people’s locks and break into their houses when they lose keys. I use tools regularly to create mortices or wooden pockets for locks to fit into. I pick up a screwdriver to twist that screw and secure that strike plate.

However, when the job’s done, the tool goes back into the box to sit with all the other ones; I don’t carry them with me when I’m having a beer or enjoying someone’s company.

Non-duality’s tools are no different: they appear useful for a while whilst seeking but they don’t need to be carried constantly. We can become obsessed with the teachings themselves and absorb just as many spiritual concepts into ourselves as the more mundane ones we have been brought up with and are probably trying to get rid of.

Putting the spiritual book down along with the teachings is like putting the tools back into the box, satisfied that your life’s a little easier now, like when the shelf is holding books once again or the dripping tap has stopped.

The fruits of the non-dual enquiry are the only thing that interest me; I couldn’t give a damn about how lovely someone else’s words are, or how still and peaceful they look sitting at the front of a room in a meeting. 

Non-duality will crack you open; it will break your barrier, your boundary from the so-called outside world of separate things.

It is this felt sense of isolation that non-duality exposes--nothing else. It was the contracted, twisted entity I called myself that caused so much anxiety and fear for me. What follows is an investigation to see if we can accept or reject the common-sense view that most people share. The thing is if we can reject it can we also be brave enough to leave ourselves empty--empty in the sense that we don’t build a spiritual structure to replace the one that caused us so much grief and misery.
This, I feel is the challenge. This is what sorts out the men from the boys. Not knowing, where the mind is not building a new structure that tries to predict and feel comfortable with a new set of concepts, is what remains when the separate world is seen through.

I can confirm, being unstructured in terms of a separately existing me brings with it a noticing of the awesome power of life itself. In other words, the aliveness that is here right now and not at some time in the future that never arrives.

Aliveness is the present sounds, the present sights. It is the taste of coffee and sensation of holding hands. It is the smell of rain and the thought of tomorrow. And as all this play is appearing, it is possible to see that the senses aren’t actually attached to a separate individual. There is no need for an entity called ‘me’ to be the experiencer; there’s just experiencing; there’s just aliveness being alive.
The world is not something that is being transmitted to you. It’s not something to be discovered and understood. The world of so-called objects is a constant reminder of the eternal, the infinite--wholeness and inseparability. That’s all there is.

Look, the next time you’ve got 5 minutes, do this. Wherever you are, focus upon hearing, sounds or noises.  I’ll do this as well:

I’m typing on my keyboard. I can hear the tap-tap sound when my fingers strike the keys. It seems as if the noise is coming from the keyboard.  You could say that the keyboard is manufacturing the sound and offering it to the ears. So, it seems there is a distance between the sound and the you or me that hears.

But look closer. In your experience, which is all you have and have ever known, can a sound be disconnected and free floating. Has a sound ever appeared in your absence? Do you think it could? Go on—challenge the mind. Put it under pressure. Face up to it and don’t turn your back.

A sound is not a separate phenomenon, because when a sound is present so are you. The sound is a reminder that you are here, you are present. It makes no difference whether the sound is a crying baby or  Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of The Moon: there’s a knowing; there’s aliveness. It’s only thought that says sound is independent and made from fluctuating air pressure. Your actual direct experience is that you’ve been reminded of your alive presence.

This is more intimate than intimate—closer than close. This is non-duality. There are never two things. 

What ceases is the belief in the fantasy stories that the mind creates about the world. Nothing is gained in liberation; it’s the bullshit that stops. In a sense, nothing is realised. Nothing new is happening now. It’s just that you’ve stopped this frantic journey you’ve been on all your life and taken a breather. Whilst resting, there’s just a noticing that you can’t have  a world existing on the other side of a boundary which we commonly call our bodies. You’ve realised that separation is a dream, a fantasy.

You only have to challenge thought, and it’ll be terribly embarrassed at its jiggery-pokery. I liken it to having a young dog, a puppy. You’ll know that letting them off the lead at this young age keeps you pretty fit. You’ll try and grab it, get really close, and whoosh, there it goes again, annoying another dog or chasing a child’s football. With patience and practise, when it’s time to leave the park, one whistle and Fido comes running. It was fun to watch it playing, but now it’s time to go home.
This is what is realised: thought creates only the idea of a separate you and a separate world, because if you follow-up this idea with real thorough investigation, you never see a world; you only ever see yourself. 

It can only be like this. You have rumbled the mind’s fairy story of two things— you and a world of separate objects. The mind has been tamed. It’s on a secure leash.
This is why I have called my book: The World is My Mirror, because whatever appears: a cup, a dog, an itchy elbow, a thought about tonight’s menu or a smelly sock, there you are. You do not have to look in a bathroom mirror to see yourself; you are always seeing yourself.  Yourself is timeless, alive and infinite.

It is the learnt idea that you are the image in the bathroom mirror that causes suffering. It causes suffering because it creates the notion of you living on a planet in an enormous universe that predates you. It gives you a solidity you don’t possess. If you believe you are a contained something with a clear boundary then thoughts of non-existence create a hellish confusion for you.

What I’m saying can also be applied if you follow the materialist view of the world that claims matter as the substance of the universe. If it is, then whatever you are appears because everything else appears. You can’t be a separate body doing its own thing apart from the universe as a whole. Everything can be broken down to parts and pieces; even a thought needs something to be thought about.

Above all else, I realised that my character, this Richard Bates thing is not permanent. It has no long lasting existence. It has a use for communication purposes whilst the heart beats and the brain thinks.

It has appeared through experience and the culture I find myself in. I have 21st century thoughts about motor cars, mobile telephones and movies. I can’t separate a Richard Bates from the language I use and the concepts created. This is what will surely die when the body gets tired and sick.
We don’t have to get rid of this impermanent idea of self; it is useful and necessary. I like myself every last bit of it. Do I think it has independent existence, something that will continue in the absence of context? No.


This is relief on the grandest scale you can imagine. It is as if aliveness gets turned right up; you are operating on full power. Your impermanence is liberating, not scary. Let the universe create something else whilst you are pushing up the daisies.

The sense of self is just thatanother sense. Stop taking life too personally. It’ll way you down and creates conflict and confusion.

What dies in liberation is not the character with her likes and dislikes and memories of the past. What dies is you as a separate something doing its own thing in a corner somewhere. You appear for a short while, similar to a cloud or a puddle. Don’t get attached to the puddle and give it a name. On a sunny day, let the puddle join the cloud for a while with a few friends. He might return as a puddle down a farm track or end up in someone’s tummy mixed with a single malt.


Embrace impermanence and you’ve given yourself a great big hug.

It may be incredibly useful to be exposed to awareness teachings and go to retreats and meetings. But there must surely come a time when even these are considered as tools, something that just does its job. Realising impermanence gets rid of before and after and looking for something called enlightenment. Enlightenment is realising what you’re not, not what you are.

Thinking you know what you are will keep you on that journey for a very long time. You’ve travelled far enough. Have a rest.

It turns out the Buddha was barking up the right Bodhi Tree all those years ago. Just don’t let that little out-of-control puppy we talked about earlier cock his leg and dampen things down for you.
Impermanence destroys everything.

Phew. What a load off.


So, perhaps you can get a sense that I’m just an ordinary practical guy that stumbled upon non-duality. The Richard Bates that was obsessed with himself as an entity with an individual existence was shown to be fantasy rather than fact. I can confirm that the character is alive and well and embracing the only moment there ever is--this one. He still mends locks and his moods come and go.

The fruits of non-duality are like the fruits that are produced from using certain tools for certain jobs. My hammer and chisels cut away the timber in doors to accept a mortice lock to make my customers feel secure whilst asleep and in their beds--it keeps the burglar away. The fruits of non-duality lock-out the ignorance of a long lasting separate entity that has a life of its own in the same secure manner.

The world does mirror you. But you only need the tiniest of glimpses to feel secure. Secure in the sense that life is not here to hurt you; it’s here to reflect you.

Shine on you crazy diamond!

© 2012 Richard Bates


Richard's blog at Nonduality Press:

Richard's book at Non-Duality Press:

Richard's book on Amazon:

Housekeeping Notes:

Let me welcome Côte d’Ivoire, Mauritius and Mongolia as the 110th, 111th, and 112th countries to join the Awakening Clarity family.  They join thousands of readers around the world.


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