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GREG GOODE
Interview with non duality magazine. July 2011
Greg Goode is the author of Standing as Awareness and the forthcoming The Direct Path:  A User Guide, both from Non-Duality Press.  He is currently working on a book on emptiness.  Greg's approach to nonduality is experiential, open, down-to-earth and non-dogmatic.  He has a Ph.D. in Philosophy and has studied deeply in both Western and Eastern approaches.  Eastern influences include: Shankara, Gaudapada, Nagarjuna, Chandrakirti, Tsong-Khapa, Honen Shonin, Shinran Shonin, and Sri Atmananda, Francis Lucille, and the Ven, Chin-Kung, Western influences include: Protagoras, Heraclitus, Gorgias, Sextus Empiricus, George Berkeley, David Hume, G.W.F. Hegel, Ludwig Wittgenstein, W.V.O. Quine, Nelson Goodman, Brand Blanshard, Jacques Derrida, Wilfrid Sellars, Michel Foucault, Pierre Bourdieu, Richard Lanham and Richard Rorty.
 
He also serves as the technical consultant for the scholarly journal, Philosophical Practice, the journal of the American Philosophical Practitioners Association.

For the last 15 years, Greg has hosted Nondual Dinners in New York City. 
As editor of Non duality magazine, I have been meeting up with Greg the past 6 months for these non dual dinners. At these meetings there are discussions about nirvikalpa samadhi, traditional advaita vis a vis contemporary advaita, teaching methods, meditation, the direct path of Sri Atmananda Krishna Menon, Nisagadatta, Zen, Chan, Theravada and Pureland Buddhism, Sufi mysticism, Gnostic Christianity, Yoga, Taoism, Tai chi, Qi gung, Feng shui, and much more. Some of which follows in the interview below.
NDM: In the preface of your book, "Standing as Awareness", you say that “by standing as awareness, you experience the world quite directly, without having to perfect anything or become anything."
 
However, Shankara said that there are certain prerequisites and qualifications for someone to be able to do this as outlined in his Vivekachudamani.  Do you also feel that someone has to have these prerequisites to do the direct path?

Greg Goode:  To stand as awareness is not a goal-seeking activity.  It’s more like a loving openness to awareness, a falling in love with awareness and wanting to delve into its deepest secrets.  Not for any discernable reason either.  It’s like immersing yourself in the question “What would awareness do?”  You come to discover that awareness doesn’t act or do anything.  And at the same time, nothing is left undone.  This confirms the experiential nonduality of your experiences in various nondual investigations.

So – is the direct path for everyone?  No.  No path is.  People are different so paths are different.  There’s no “one-size fits all” teaching.

What about the qualifications you mention from Advaita Vedanta?  Called in Sanskrit the Sadhnana Chatustaya (fourfold preparatory process), it includes discrimination of the unchanging from the changing, dispassion or non-clinging to the fruits of one’s actions, a set of behavior traits (including discipline, concentration, faith, forbearance, and the toleration of hardships), and finally a yearning for liberation from the limitations of life and death.  You could look at them broadly as a set of behavioral traits that foster adaptive and life skills.  Plus that yearning for liberation.

 

 

Chinmaya

 

Other paths, such as Kabbala and the emptiness teachings from Madhyamika Buddhism have their “pre-requisites” as well. 

When I took the Chinmaya Mission Advaita Vedanta classes years ago, our teacher explained that once upon a time in India, these Hindu qualifications could be treated as actual barrier-to-entry-style pre-requisites.  The family Hindu guru would teach Hinduism, but he might not admit anyone to the study of the “higher” teachings (Vedanta) unless that person manifested these four qualities in their life, or at least the strong promise of these qualities.  In this way, the four qualities did act as pre-requisites.

Nowadays, of course, the teachings of Vedanta have slipped away from this kind of social control.  People encounter Vedantic or Advaitic teachings on the Internet in text, audio, video and chat form, as well as in books available for overnight delivery.  People hop from one teaching to another, and create mixtures and combos of anything they like. 

In a way, the four qualities are still with us, but they play a different role now.  They are not an absolute or necessary condition.  But they do tend to exert a clever “invisible hand” effect on the aspirant.  It all depends on the aspirant’s goals for the teaching.  To the extent that a person expects a phenomenal or practical goal from the teachings, the invisible hand will pull them at least partly away from the teachings to some other pursuit that handles their life-issue more squarely.  And they can combine the other pursuits with the direct path as well.  There is no rule that says that one of these must be done first.  

Some people desire liberation as a means to other ends, and it is here that the invisible hand operates.  Some of the goals I have heard people assert for the direct path (at least at first) include solving dental and surgical issues, healing from neurological, bacterial and viral disorders, curing candida and chronic fatigue syndrome, keeping themselves (or even their spouse) from cheating, getting better grades in school and better prices when they sell their houses, and increasing the personal traits of courage, concentration, intelligence, will power, discipline, fame, and the ability to write well!

  The direct path doesn’t set out to accomplish these practical goals.  A skillful teacher can assist a student, pointing out other resources and remaining available however they can.  But as long as the student really desires to accomplish one of these other goals and uses the direct path as a means to these ends, then the invisible hand will do its work. 

A person can mix and match or go back and forth between the direct path and their other pursuits.  And a caring, experienced teacher is supportive of the student.  In the days of yesteryear, the Chinese Ch’an student might say, “Master, I want to learn better calligraphy.”  The teacher would say, “Ah, go see Master Han in the East.” 

Or “I want to become more flexible for k’ung fu.”  The teacher would say, “Ah, go see Master Yun in the South.”  But if the student said, “I want to learn the secret of life and death,” the teacher would say “Go to the kitchen and wash the dishes.” 

It’s the same way today.  If a person desires not to improve phenomenality but to be totally free of it, then the direct path can be a perfect fit. 
 

 

NDM: Ananda Wood (a disciple of Sri Atmananda) said something very interesting about the timing of someone taking this direct path. He said,

"An early jump is harder to make, and it means that the sadhaka’s (students) character is still impure; so even having jumped into the truth, she or he keeps falling back unsteadily, overwhelmed by egotistical samskaras. Then work remains, to keep returning back to truth, until the samskaras are eradicated and there is a final establishment in the sahaja state. A later jump can be easier, with a character so purified that little or no work remains to achieve establishment. But there are pitfalls of preparing personality for a late jump, because a sadhaka may get enamoured of the relative advances that have been achieved, like a prisoner who falls in love with golden chains and thus remains imprisoned."

What are your thoughts on this and how does someone know when its the right time to take this jump? Should this decision be made by the teacher/guru or by the student? 

Greg Goode: One can't guarantee foreknowledge of when to jump into the truth.  There is no way to figure all this out in advance, so as to pinpoint just the right time.  And guidance doesn't always work either.  Imagine someone telling you, "Doooon't jump yet, it's too soon for you!"  That will only make you want to jump even more!

When it gets down to it, people come when they come.  And the path takes all comers; it's generous enough to allow you to work the samskaras and other issues while you're already on the road. 

What would I do?  There are people who wanted to do the direct path, and according to their expressed wishes and a bit of conversation, it turns out that they don't want liberation in the first place, but something "human, all too human."  So I have referred them in other directions, or to other people or pursuits,.  I can never remove the student's ability to make their own decision. 
 

 

Sri Atmananda

 
  NDM: So if someone truly does want liberation and this direct path process begins, what can they expect to get into? How long can they expect this to go on for?  Do you meet with them in person? Is it one to one or in a large group setting like a direct path workshop of some kind?

Greg Goode: They can expect to get into lots of experiential investigation, since no aspect of experience is sidelined.  We investigate the seeming objective reality of the world, body and mind.  Love, sweetness, openness, generosity, compassion are all fostered.  How long does it take?  As long as it takes, I can't predict.  One extremely intelligent and experienced person required over a year to deeply contemplate just one question.  But there is no hurry, since we begin by being awareness, so there's no feeling of having the train leave without you!

I have met with people in person at my Manhattan office, but for the last year I've been writing.  But I plan to start personal consultations again, and maybe group meetings.  People are opening up more to the structure of "classes," which were sort of taboo about a decade ago.  This works well.   And then there are many digital formats that I have yet to explore....

NDM: Why were group classes considered taboo?

Greg Goode: Why the taboo?  There has been a thought that books and classes use the mind too much, whereas satsang takes you directly to the Self without detour or any extraneous filtration.  A class would be a menu and satsang would be the meal.  A class would be speaking about the Truth, whereas the satsang teacher speaks the Truth.

A class would be speaking about the Truth, whereas the satsang teacher speaks the Truth.

 
This is an idea that one finds in Western versions of Advaitic teachings.  In India, teaching with texts in class settings has worked well for centuries.  They even call it satsang too!
 
There are some other ironies here too.  A Western-style satsang is textual as well when you look more deeply.  The teacher's words are textual, in being signs.  Long looks into each others' eyes are textual, and so are hugs.  There are silences between written words just as between spoken words.  Both formats are equally direct or indirect.  They both communicate with signs.

NDM: Is it the right time to break some of these taboos?

Greg Goode: Yes it's time to break these taboos!  

NDM: Yes, speaking of satsang, these days some western teachers say that there is no path. There is nothing that you need to do. Meditation, methods, techniques only reinforce the separateness of the seeker.   Is it better to give up the search and do nothing than to keep going at it with methods?

Greg Goode: You ask whether it is better to give up the search and do nothing, or keep trying methods. This is well-covered territory.

There are thousand-year-old traditions that offer methods, and maybe a tradition 40-50 years old that says that the old way just makes the problem worse. If the question is what to do, then a very practical approach would be to not worry about going into lots of fine points about these different approaches. For the person who really wants to know, why not try both and see what happens?

NDM: Getting back to the direct path. One of Sri Atmananda's methods was an enquiry of an everyday experience that is accessible to all of us. He regarded deep sleep as a ‘key to the ultimate’ and said that if a student is ready and able to seriously contemplate and investigate deep sleep, then this alone is enough without the need of having to experience or to spend years cultivating nirvikalpa samadhi.

If this is true, then what is the point of yoga and nirvikalpa samadhi? Isn't the ultimate goal of yoga, liberation, brought on by having experienced nirvikalpa samadhi?

Would you say there is a difference with deep sleep and nirvikalpa samadhi?

Greg Goode: Each tradition will naturally give pride of place to its own activities. The yogic tradition, which crosses paths with traditional Advaita-Vedanta in places, says that there is "light" during nirvikalpa samadhi and "dark" during deep sleep. Deep sleep is thought to be a dark covering over the Atman, which is the true Self.

But in the direct path, any object or state is a temporary appearance to witnessing awareness. So What about those moments when no objects are arising, and there is just objectless awareness? This is exactly what deep sleep and nirvikalpa samadhi are. One is in the middle of the night. The other is in the middle of a meditation session. For the person doing self-inquiry, deep sleep is more accessible!

The value of these moments is this -- you experience that you are not any object in the world, body or mind. Why not? Because you are present as "I" in the absence of all objects. This provides experiential proof that you are the awareness in which objects arise.

So from the perspective of the Self, would not this dark covering or veil of sorts of the state of deep sleep also be considered an attribute or object of sorts? Isn't the self nirguna?

NDM: Did this idea or investigation of deep sleep also stem from yoga nidra (conscious awareness of the deep sleep state) mentioned in the mandukya Upanishads?

In Sri Atmanandas book on discourses he says,

"Deep mental activity generates heat, which keeps off deep sleep. Cold in its intensity wakes you up. Deep sleep brings on a sense of happiness and peace with it. This experience we get only in the absence of all mental activity. When we direct our mind to this happiness aspect of deep sleep, we feel a sensation of gentle coolness, which wards off all sense of negation in sleep. So we get to our real nature by relaxing our mind from all forms of activity, and at the same time not losing sight of the happiness and peace experienced in deep sleep. This positive aspect saves us from the probable shroud of negation and slumber. We should not allow the mind to be active and at the same time we should see that it does not become inactive. In other words: ‘Sleep knowingly.’ Thus, deep sleep can be utilized directly for establishing oneself in the real centre."

"Sleep knowingly" sounds like he is talking about the practice of yoga nidra mentioned in the Mandukya Upanishad. 

Greg Goode: I can't speak to yoga Nidra, but I think one of Jean Klein's students teaches it.  There could very well be a connection.

NDM: Who is this student? 

Greg Goode: Richard Miller.

 

NDM:  What are you thoughts on the Tripura Rahasya? This book talks about the three states and the mystery beyond these three states: the dream state, the awakened state and the deep sleep state. 

Greg Goode: In a nutshell, the direct path is the only path I know of that treats deep sleep the way it does. Traditional Advaita Vedanta (of which the Tripura Rahasya is an expression) treats deep sleep as a very subtle covering, but a covering nonetheless. The direct path treats deep sleep as your nature - witnessing awareness with no objects.

These approaches differ, but there are reasons relating to the assumptions in the two sets of teachings.

Back to the Tripura Rahasya. This work is seeking to posit the mind as the site of awakening - traditional Advaita Vedanta speaks of the "akhanda akara vritti," which is said to be the mental modification that causes awakening. Awakening is definitely said to happen in the mind,being a modification of the mind. So the mind must be active for this to happen.

The direct path is different - awakening is spoken of inspirationally and rhetorically - but it is not seen as a true biographical event, especially one that requires explanation. An awakening event, like any event, would be a phenomenal event. But as such it is a mere appearance in awareness, so it can't be a real, functioning portal through which you transcend phenomenality. From the beginning there was no such need.

This is why according to the direct path, none of the dramatic stories you hear, including the one in this interview, can be taken seriously as events, or need to be. So there is no need to postulate a locale where the event takes place. There's no place there! So there's no true
awakening event. Instead, all is wakefulness!

This is why in the direct path, deep sleep is not seen as a covering of the mind, but as an interval during which you are present even though the mind is not. One of the exercises in the direct path is to contemplate how every experience is like deep sleep.

 

Another way to look at your question is the way Hui Neng responded to the challenge that was set for him. Hui Neng, who became the Sixth Zen Patriarch, answered a question about a dusty mirror. The question was how to respond to this stanza:

The body is the bodhi tree,
The mind is like a clear mirror.
At all times we must strive to polish it,
And must not let the dust collect.

Hui Neng's answer was:

Bodhi originally has no tree,
The mirror-like mind has no stand.
Buddha-nature is always clean and pure;
Where is there room for dust to alight?

NDM: Do you see any distinction with a jnani and a jivan mukta? 

Greg Goode: The direct path, Sri Atmananda, etc., don't draw a distinction between them. 

 

Hui Neng

 
 

Sri Swami Sivananda

 

 

NDM: What about the stages of jnana outlined here:
 
Can these be circumvented by the direct path and end up with the same kinds of outcome?

For example, he says "The fourth stage is Sattvapatti. This stage will destroy all Vasanas to the root. The fifth stage is Asamsakti. There is perfect non-attachment to the objects of the world."

Greg: There is no direct mapping between Swami Sivananda's seven stages of jnana and the direct path.  This is part of why the direct path is "direct." 

You can think of them as different routes to the same destination. 

Here are some other differences that might help explain the layers built into Swami Sivananda's approach. 

His work is informed by traditional yoga.   He and his student Swami Vishnu-Devananda were monks and sincere hatha yogis. 

Swami Sivananda has the traditional yogic recommendations for food and sex.  For example, forbids many foods that Sri Atmananda doesn't forbid in his published works, including highly seasoned dishes, hot curries, chutneys, chiles, sour dishes, tamarind, mustard, oil, salt, and heavy vegetables. 

Swami Sivananda says that giving up salt helps develop will-power. 

And he also says that sexual abstinence, en in the innermost reaches of the mind, is "foundation on which the pedestal of Moksha stands."

Although Sri Atmananda (the founder of the direct path that we're talking about here) was a strict vegetarian and didn't forbid eating vegetables, he didn't make all these other recommendations.  But Swami Sivananda says that garlic and onions are worse than meat.

These many recommendations are some of the hallmarks of a progressive path.  And they work to make the body and mind more sattvic, which can give you the peace of mind to do your self-inquiry.  Even those on the direct path can benefit from some of these things.  They can easily become hang-ups, and the direct path makes no iron-clad, logically necessary, objective rules for these sorts of observances. 

There is no need for any two paths to correspond to each other, step-by-step.  Do they lead to freedom?  That's a more relevant question.  I think it is a loving and generous thing to let these two go where they will and meet at the end. 

NDM: In page 12 of your book, "Standing as Awareness", you have a tea cup experiment that sounds identical in the way a visual artist is often naturally inclined to look at the world of objects through the non verbal, non conceptual right side of the brain.
 
Have you found that a typical left brain oriented type, like a lawyer, stock broker or an accountant has a much more difficult time doing this particular exercise? 

Greg Goode: This is a very interesting question.  Using this left-brain/right-brain categorization, I'd say that analytic left-brainers are very good at the teacup-type experiment.  Why?   Because this experiment doesn't just use visualization of how things can be (which is where intuitive right-brainers excel), but also inference and generalization (where left-brainers excel).  The teacup experiment is like using Occam's razor.  We are accounting for all of our experience, but using fewer tools and assumptions.  We realize that color and form can account 100% for the experience of the cup.  So we don't need to assume a true, independent cup existing "out there."  Analytic left brainers do quite well with this.  Their realizations can be sharp, dramatic and irreversible.
 

 

 
Insertion of an electrode during deep brain stimulation for Parkinson's disease.
 
NDM: On page 25 of your book, "Standing as Awareness" you say that arising are inert. What are your thoughts on neuroscience that appears to have proven in various ways, (such as stimulating certain parts of the brain with electrodes to activate memories), that long term memory is stored /located in the hippocampus which then creates associations with certain properties of these memories, such as sight, sound, smell and so on.

Greg Goode: The neuroscientist's vocabulary is a great working model that allows folks to get things done.  But in self-inquiry, we look for what accords with our direct experience.   Do we directly experience a memory to reside in a hippocampus?  Do we directly experience both the memory and the cells, and then see the memory lodged inside the cells like a bug in a rug?  I wrote an extended blog entry on this topic here:
http://greggoode.stillnessspeaks.com/ssblog/awareness_and_brain

NDM: What about triggers for these memories? Are you saying that the thoughts, feelings sensations that arise are not triggered in any way by a previous thought, reflex, instinct, conditioning and so on and that these are acausal?  They just arise for no apparent reason at all.
 

Greg Goode: The psychologist's machinery is fine too, with its pathways and causes and effects.  It also helps get certain kinds of things done.  But in self-inquiry we explore what our direct experience tells us.  Your question boils down to this:
 
Does one arising cause another arising?  Do we have any direct experience of anything like this? 
 
Let's take a look with direct experience.   Say you have a chain of arisings like this:
 
Arising 1.  Thought of your mother-in-law.
Arising 2.  Feeling of anxiety.
 
Let's say the pair of (1)-(2) have occurred many times.  It seems like (1) caused (2).  Let's say you really think you've found it!  Here's what happens in your direct experience: 
 
Arising 1.  Thought of your mother-in-law.
Arising 2.  Feeling of anxiety.
Arising 3.  Conclusion  "Aha!  (1) caused (2)."
 
But notice you haven't come any closer to finding a cause.  You have just added another arising to the list.  I wrote an extended blog entry on this too:
 
NDM: Can you please tell me what brought on the "witness collapsing" in your case?  Why do you think this happened?
 
Greg Goode: Well, what I mean by the collapse of the witness is the total dissolution of the gestalt of objectivity and subjectivity.  The total cessation of the sense of seen-ness and seer-ness, the falling away of the impression that anything appears at all.  
 
What I'm not referring to by "collapse" would include the temporary loosening of the subject/object dichotomy, as in "zone" moments, "sunset" moments, orgasms, or expansive, oceanic feelings.  That happens to everyone.  The person always returns from these moments, so that's not what I'm talking about.

In my case, what led to this collapse was enabled by a very solid establishment in the higher witness.  And at the same time a wonderfully sweet, loving immersion to the very question of the witness itself.  The witness was very sweet and non-entitified, but it didn't seem 100% nondual.  I had no stake in this question -- it was like being drawn to light.  The inquiry into this was like a lizard lying on a warm rock.  And it came to a peaceful, joyful conclusion.
 
This inquiry is not necessary, because the collapse will happen on its own. 

NDM: Why do you think this doesn't always happen to those who know that they are awareness, but still seem to look at the world in a dualistic way?

Greg Goode: When this doesn't happen for people, why is that?  The main reason is that the witness isn't established yet.  The collapse can come only after the witness is established.  Before this point, it means that there are some subtle objects, functions or structures that are still felt to exist objectively.  These things can include causality, memory, time, space, reference and other things.   They can even seem like they go into the makeup of the witness itself.  It can get very subtle and slippery.  For example, does the witness remember all its arisings?  Does it set forth one pattern of arisings rather than another?  Does it cause at least some arisings to arise? 
 
When the witness is felt to be doing these things, then there is something seemingly going on "within" or "behind" the witness.  So the witness isn't yet clarified or pure.  At this point there will still be a kind of clinging and grasping and preferring for some kinds of experience over others. 
 
But when these subtle objects have been seen as nothing more than inert, unstructured arisings in awareness, this is the onset of the higher witness.   The collapse is natural after this.  

NDM: How long were you established as the witness before it collapsed? 

Greg Goode: About a year and a half.

 

 

 

NDM: Did you also establish this witness through the Direct path or other means? Meditation and so on?  
 
Greg Goode: Actually, no.  It began with a wide variety of paths that the modern seeker has access to, including orthodox Christianity, Western and Eastern mysticism. meditation, karma yoga, raja yoga, bhakti yoga and jnana yoga, and traditional Advaita-Vedanta.  This was before I knew anything about "nonduality."  I was interested in one thing primarily, and my mind went to this whenever I wasn't at work or otherwise occupied: 

     "Where does one's identity reside?   What makes me what/who I am?  Is it something in the body, mind, or subtle regions?"

As a result of all these paths, I narrowed down for myself just where (if anywhere) my identity would be.  I had deeply considered all the physical and mental and intuitive and subtle processes I could think of, using all these paths as guides.  I even investigated various reincarnation teachings, since they seemed to have definite notions of where the identity goes between lifetimes in the same lifestream.  I was being open to everything.  But nothing seemed like anything to do with "me."  There was only one possibility that felt right, that felt "where I am."  And that had to do with the choosing and deciding process.  Maybe my identity would be the chooser, or maybe lodged deep inside the choosing process.

So I investigated this very deeply.  I was richly curious about this.  I didn't do it as a disciplined practice - it was more like a wonderful secret mystery that was summoning me.  I felt like I was being called home in some strange way. 

Then I encountered the book "Consciousness Speaks" by Ramesh Balskar.  This was in 1996.  The book was very clear about there being no real doer or doership.  I had never looked at it just like that.  It clicked in just the right way, since I had already discarded every other possibility for what would make me "me."  So the house of cards of my identity (anyone's identity) came tumbling down.  There was no phenomenal candidate left that could possibly house identity.  I understood myself and the world to be appearances or arisings in awareness that is neither personal nor interpersonal. 

For me this was the end of entitification.  But not the end of subtle dualities.  After all, there was still the distinction between awareness and appearance, and still the subtle impression of a series of appearances going by as a serial stream. 

So I then looked into this issue.  It was a very sweet inquiry.  When I encountered Sri Atmananda's teachings, I learned that there was a name for this - "the witness."

 
NDM: When this witness collapsed was there an energetic component to this at all? Anything unusual occur?

Greg Goode: It happened suddenly. It happened when I deeply realized that all separation between self and other, all objectivity, was a set-up. Even the witness. It was like a benevolent con job.

The witness is inherently unstable. Yes, it does allow you to see through the false claims of separation that everything else has. But it accomplishes this by reinscribing in a very subtle way the very same separation.

When I saw this, the con job was revealed. It was as though the "gaps" between seer and seen became consciousness.

In a flash, the structure of the witness and its arisings became dismantled. There was an energetic occurrence, like a flow of sparkles or heat flowing up form my fingers through the heart area and out of the top of my head.

This flow lasted for about 90 minutes and then settled down and vanished. But the separation has never returned. The other dualities that go along with the witness-gestalt have never returned either, such as the feeling of "this ... this ... this" or the sense of coming and going, or the feeling that anything is being seen. None of it ever returned.

NDM: Didn't Atmananda say that just being stabilized as the witness is enough for moksha?  What about residual samskaras? Can one escape samsara with samskaras or still acting on certain types of negative vasanas?

Greg Goode: Yes, Sri Atmananda has said several times that the witness is enough for moksha. Because of possible copyright considerations, I won't quote Sri Atmananda, but See Atmananda's NOTES, Sections 125, 205, 884, 906, 913, and 1283.

NDM: Would you say that when the witness collapses, this is the end of the journey or is there more to this?

Greg Goode: When the witness collapses, one is free from language, reference and the dualistic assumptions required for "pointing." You might experience things as objectless love and radiance. But again, those very words are from a particular vocabulary that might or might not assemble itself for you. You won't have any sense that language hooks on to anything. In this realization there is freedom from the very path itself. I call this freedom "joyful irony" and talk about it a lot in my new book. In this freedom, you will find yourself using language without believing language. Your freedom is non-referential.

Because of this, you won't be able to find a governing spiritual standard that dictates "you are finished" or "you still have development ahead of you."

You are free. The love and radiance may incline you towards further spiritual activities. Or not. Some people report a kind of stabilization, where the mind and body re-attune themselves with what has been realized. Some folks are drawn to yoga. Some to art. Some to other paths. But there is now a difference. Instead of doing these activities from an anguished and demanding sense that "my suffering better go away," you will flow freely with them, like music, poetry or celebration. It is all very sweet and wonderful, and it's not controlled by any rules.

NDM: Do you think that someone could have the same outcome as you did, by just taking the direct path, without having gone the traditional route of practicing orthodox Christianity, karma yoga, raja yoga, bhakti yoga, meditation, traditional advaita, Western and Eastern mysticism and many years of investigations and so on?

Greg Goode: You could look at all that stuff as preparation for the "pre-requisites" if you like.  You ask about "the same outcome" - this depends on what outcome you mean.  Do you include in the outcome the sympathy for Christianity and traditional Advaita-Vedanta that I feel?  Is that part of the outcome you mean?  That might be just my biography, since other people differ, thinking that these orthodox, traditional paths are counterproductive and steeped in useless religion. 

But if by "outcome" you mean, can people find peace with the help of the direct path without the circuitous route I went through?  Then definitely.  Why not?

 

 
 

NDM: Many people have these glimpses of oneness that you referred to earlier on. For example this Hollywood actor talks about his glimpse, how fleeting it was and wanting it back.  (see video on right)

What would you suggest to someone like him?  Would he be a suitable candidate for the direct path? 

Greg Goode: In that video, Jim Carrey is talking about something that is well known in nondual circles - the "flip-flop."  You have this sense of spaciousness, then you lose it.  The direct path is extremely good at handling this issue.  It has the subtle tools of "higher reasoning" that allow you to distinguish the truth of your nature from near misses.  The direct path makes it easy to see that the truth is not a sense of expanded spaciousness that comes and goes, but rather the infinite clarity to which this sense appears. 
 

 
 

Greg Goode

 
NDM: Can you please tell me about the new book you are working on?

Greg Goode: My new book, due this Fall from Non-Duality Press, will be called something like The Direct Path:  A User Guide and will be like one of O'Reilly's "Missing Manuals." It's a practical guide for people working on self-inquiry but who feel stuck at various points along the way. For example, sticking points could include  

  • Why do I "have" the witness then lose it? 
  • How can everything be awareness?
  • Can't there be something outside
    awareness that I can't experience? 
  • Physical pain yanks me out of my "not the body" insight.
  • What does consciousness has in store for me? 
  • Why is my state not as deep or constant as that of some others?
  • Why do different teachings say different things? Can they be
    reconciled?

These and many more subtle issues are treated in detail, with experiments that show in the most direct way that your only experience is always and already the sweetness of awareness. And that even this is way too much to say!


For more info visit  www.heartofnow.com