Issue 189—June 2016   -  Backnumbers at






Next Greville Street Meeting –Sunday August 7th








On Harding

Oliver Burkeman


The Diune – reply

Jim Dodds


Reply to Quantum Notes

Mark Beardmore



George Elliot


Awareness & Consciousness

Colin Drake


Letters to Carl – No. 23

George Schloss


Freedom – No and Yes

Alan Mann


Thank you for your responses to recent articles and to this month’s contributors. As a result of the cancellation of our travel plans, Greville street meetings continue as usual from 7th August and the short term programme is as follows;

7th August – What do we mean by Reality/reality Margaret Gracey  (Following our last meeting with Dave Knowles’s commentary on The Fabric of Reality)

4th September – The Holographic Universe – Garry Booth

2nd October – Post Modernism and why it matters – Peter Melser



Oliver Burkeman on Harding

Oliver Burkeman writes a regular column in The Guardian entitled ‘This column will change your life’. On 10 April 2010 the subject of his column was: Will the man with no head blow your mind? The article opens with the statement: Totally off-the-planet, but delightfully down-to-earth: Douglas Harding's memoir could be the most ridiculous or wisest thing you've ever read…

(There is wide understanding of the Harding message in what are regarded as spiritual disciplines or paths and to some extent in certain areas of philosophy. However, Douglas claimed his method was a matter of everyday fact and experience and subject to rigorous scientific enquiry. Consequently I am always on the lookout for evidence of understanding in what can be described as secular manifestations. We’ve recently had Sam Harris, Susan Blackmore, Wren-Lewis and now Oliver Burkeman. I  planned to include the Burkeman article in this issue and Oliver Burkeman was happy for me to do so but the copyright is held by the Guardian who were also happy provided I coughed up £80.  I told them I would direct you to the article on their website. The link is:


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In reply to Jim Clatfelter’s essay on the “diune.” From Jim Dodds

 This concept that the Diune is a better way to look at the ultimate reality than non-duality inevitably fails because its essence is separation. Separation is false. Yes, we live in an everyday reality that has ups and downs, pleasures and pains, and all the polarized and yet complementary dyads anyone could ever imagine. And that is the nature of how things work. All processes proceed from one state to another. But the ultimate reality is not process. There’s nothing going on. Yin and Yang both arise out of the Tao, which is not-two. There is no coming or going. I’m sure Douglas Harding would agree that headlessness is actually just as much looking in as looking out. They’re both the same and the appearance of identity is really only a playful vector and a temporary one in an endless, beginningless glory that has no measure.

(I wrote to Jim (D)  in reply to this message as his comment about ‘nothing going on’ triggered my question about this and similar statements which we’ve covered in the past. I now add his further comment below. Alan)

The last line of my “contribution” is really the essence of what I’m saying, which of course, can never be said—as to say this is to deny that—but anyhow...

   Every measurement is a lie...

The one who tries to understand is an illusion, just like the idea that the sun rises. Every dyad is just like a single magnet, with a North and South pole, which are inseparable, not a pair but a process, and not truly even an object. Quantum theory shows us that, in the deepest sense, there are neither objects nor events. Everything blends graciously across space and time, which doesn’t even allow any straight lines, according to Albert Einstein, and what this illusory person continues to maintain is a fictional wall to separate this brain from the knowledge that the illimitable power of the entire cosmos is engaged in creating and destroying itself, over and over and over, and this one is doing its part, which of course is not a part, but the process itself, standing in its own shadow. What else has the power to pull off such a trick.

Jim Dodds

Reminder of the Diune definition from the last issue:

John David Miller writes: I prefer John Heron's term 'diune' to the term 'non-dual.' Is anyone familiar with his book 'Participatory Spirituality: A Farewell to Authoritarian Religion'?


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Reply to Quantum Notes from Alan Mann by Mark Beardmore.

(This is a response to my piece in the last issue. Alan)

While my view may be seen as contrarian, I would like it to be taken as more

supportive. In the following I refer to my book “The EDI Hypothesis: Towards a Theory of Energetic Dimensional Intelligence, a pre-publication copy of which is

available to view here:

Bohm's ideas are looked at in some depth, as EDI (Energetic Dimensional Intelligence) proposes something similar but different. Similar in that the human mind cannot see the 'hidden' variables', but different in that Reality lies entirely outside of human conceptual abilities. Aka the Dao that can be spoken etc. Instead it recognises that ability of humans to build models, conceptions that attempt to point in the direction of Reality (big 'R') with models that describe the indescribable as little 'r' realities. Rather than attempting just a material 'reality', it includes the immaterial and 'subjective' experience as well. As such it has no problem with seeing reality as a whole, and thus does not see 'action at a distance' as a problem. Further, while it sees this Reality as Infinite, it does not propose Infinite Realities, as if this were the case they would all be part of said Reality, the ultimate 'one without a second'. Infinite Realities is a purely conceptual construct, and cannot exist in a Wholistic Reality, as an Infinity of Realities would mean there were , one, two three four... ad infinitum Realities, and not one simple whole Infinite Reality. This does not preclude infinite Dimensions within that Infinite Reality which is itself one whole and complete within itself.

EDI is also wary of the creation of a self outside of a purely linguistic convention to allow apparently differing aspects of reality (small 'r') modelling. In EDI there is no self, no personality outside of the psycho-physiological processes that produce such. So in EDI the self is co-dependent upon there being a 'being' there to both manifest and perceive it. This has been stated since ancient times by beings such as the Buddha, and more recently by modern mystics/seers such as Bernadette Roberts ( and Steven Norquist ( & website and exercises here: The experience of 'emptiness', that is the emptiness of any inherent self in anything that humans experience, variously known as shunyata (Sunyata: Sanskrit; Pali: suññata), points to this fundamental Reality, that has only its own beingness and is empty of any inherent selfhood. The experience of emptiness that humans have, in EDI’s view, is the very seeing through the thoughts that construct the 'self' and a contacting and connecting with the Infinite Intelligence that just is.

So when Zohar talks of concepts such as a 'God' and 'himself', she is model building at the reality small 'r' level, and not pointing to the selfless, all that is, Reality beyond conception. Rather she has fallen into the trap of trying to explain other small 'r' realities, that is their machinations have such mundane things as selves, gods and consciousness (what ever that concept actually refers to seems always up for debate), rather than attempting to point directly at big 'R' Reality. Admittedly, while EDI does attempt this, in the end it remains that the Dao that can be spoken is not and never will be, the True Dao. In EDI, the simple 'reality' small 'r' model states that Reality is infinite and has three aspects of Infinite Energy, Infinite Dimension, and Infinite Intelligence. While it has no need of any gods, it does not preclude the possibility of their existence, and is truly self-less. 

Mark Beardmore


George Elliot– Daniel Deronda – page 162

He was forgetting everything else in a half-speculative, half-involuntary identification of himself with the objects he was looking at, thinking how far it might be possible habitually to shift his centre till his own personality would be no less outside him than the landscape – when the sense of something moving on the bank opposite him where it was bordered by a line of willow bushes, made him turn his glance thitherward.

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Awareness and Consciousness, Or Vice-Versa! 

I recently had an email exchange on the subject where my correspondent (indicated by XXXX) stated that Awareness and Consciousness are not synonymous, whereas I regard them to be different words for the same presence, in fact for The Absolute Reality. He cited Adyashanti who he said had come to the conclusion that they were actually different and argued that Nisargadatta also maintained this. Here is my reply:

 Dear XXXX, Thanks for that, I am glad that you find my pointers to be useful. The following is an attempt to put my position clearly, not to denigrate yours in any way, for we are both elucidating on the same subject (equally validly) in the way that we can each understand and that appeals to our own particular mind.

I find that attempts to distinguish between Awareness (or awareness, the limited ‘form’ applying to perception by any thing) and Consciousness (or consciousness, i.e. ‘I am conscious of’) to be artificial and not helpful. I actually regard them as being the same, just different words for describing The (same ‘facet’ of  the) Absolute. If one reads ‘I Am That’, or any of Nisargadatta’s works, and attempts to find consistency in his use of them, as being different and each having a consistent meaning, then confusion is the only result. For it depends on who he is talking to, the context and the translation. So when reading him you have to be aware (or conscious of the fact) that he often uses them as being synonymous and also he does not make the distinction clear between Awareness and awareness, or Consciousness and consciousness, that is the unlimited and limited (to a thing) versions of the one presence.

So when I say “Awareness is a faculty, or property, of Consciousness” this is purely conventional in that (by definition) Consciousness is aware. I could equally well say that  “Consciousness is a faculty, or property, of Awareness” in that Awareness is (by definition) conscious, or Awareness requires Consciousness. I did then go on to say:

In absolute terms Awareness denotes Consciousness at rest, aware of all movements (cosmic energy, manifestations) occurring in It. For, to be aware of all movements in any environment requires that the subject be still, in this case that the subjective presence, Consciousness, be still.  

Not only that, but all movement arises in (and from) stillness, exists in (a substratum of) stillness, can be seen relative to this stillness, and subsides back into stillness. This implies that everything (Consciousness in motion, or motion in Consciousness) arises, abides, is espied and subsides in Awareness (Consciousness at rest). Or you could equally well say that that everything  (Cosmic Energy consisting of vibrations, or motion, in Consciousness) arises, abides, is spied and subsides in Consciousness at rest. 

Summing up the only differences I make are to use Awareness when describing Consciousness at rest – The Absolute, for motion is ephemeral (the ever changing) and stillness is constant (the never changing); and starting each term with a capital when referring to This and with a small letter when referring to its limited form associated with any ‘thing’[1].

Thanks again for your input for it has forced me to put my 'position' clearly, in my own head, so that it could be transferred to paper, or not as the case may be; in this case to digital media. In all of this there are as many ways of seeing, and saying, as there are minds; so any particular exposition will only appeal to certain minds - it truly is a case of 'different strokes for different folks'. Love, Colin

 To back up his assertion (my correspondent) explained he relied on Nisargadatta, hence my comments above, and Adyashanti. Yet here is an exchange that occurred on FaceBook this morning, posted by GJ who does not regard Awareness to be The Absolute, which starts off by quoting Adya himself. My comments are in italics:

"Yes, we go to this timeless background of consciousness and awareness. Absolutely. Very liberating isn't it? Very, very freeing; very profound and very beautiful.

And yet, if taken in and of itself, we've just switched sides of illusion. We've gone from form and time, to formlessness and timelessness, and we say: 'Well, this one's more true,' because it's more comfortable, it feels better, basically.

This is from the point of view of a separate being.

But the truth is only when these two collapse together - that this world of form IS the timeless, so what we call form is emptiness, it is consciousness, that's what it is. Then, there's no stance anymore, is there? There is no sense of 'I have to remain as awareness'.

This is because one realises that all is Awareness including oneself. So there is no need to remain as Awareness because one is That.

We only have to remain as awareness if we don't really know that this wall is awareness, that your car is awareness - once we know that, then we're finally free, are we not?"                                                         Adyashanti

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 Colin Drake I thought you did not regard Awareness to be The Absolute. Would you then agree that it is a 'facet' (or property) of That?

GJ  Awareness depends on That, but That is unconditional to awareness. Adya is referring exactly to the trap if identification with a 'stance' of awareness as absolute - (to my understanding)

Colin Drake But he is saying that everything is Awareness...

What do you mean by 'That is unconditional to Awareness'? The word means 'not subject to any conditions' but awareness is not a condition ...

GJ Awareness is conditional to its source.

 Colin Drake Awareness is the source, being Consciousness at rest. All movement arises in (and from) stillness, exists in (a substratum of) stillness, can be seen relative to this stillness, and subsides back into stillness. This implies that everything (Consciousness in motion, or motion in Consciousness) arises, abides, is spied and subsides in Awareness (Consciousness at rest).

 GJ This is true, from the relative perspective of stillness.

 Note that Adyashanti himself says that ‘the world of form is consciousness’ and that ‘your car is awareness’; also he says ‘this timeless background of consciousness and awareness’, both of which to me seems to be saying that awareness and consciousness are synonymous.


In the above discussion Adya uses ‘awareness’ and ‘consciousness’, rather than ‘Awareness’ and ‘Consciousness’ which are actually being referred to. This is common in many writings (including some of mine!) and one has to look at the context to determine whether the ‘unlimited’ or the ‘limited’ form is being referred to. This also applies to the following statement by Max Planck (1858-1974) who won the Nobel Prize for physics in 1918:

I regard consciousness as fundamental. I regard that matter derives from consciousness. We cannot get behind consciousness. Everything that we talk about, everything we regard as existing, postulates consciousness. There is no matter as such. All matter exists by virtue of a force which brings the particles of an atom together by vibration and holds this minute solar system of an atom together. We must assume behind this force is the existence of a conscious and intelligent mind [Awareness], which is the matrix of all matter.

 This is rather an old fashioned and anthropocentric way (by use of the word ‘mind’) of saying that ‘all is Consciousness’.

Finally here is a statement by David Bohm who, through his experiments on plasma, discovered that ‘electrons stopped behaving like individuals and started behaving  as if they were part of a larger interconnected whole … resulting in entire oceans of particles each behaving as if it knew what untold trillions of others were doing.’[2] From which he concluded that:

Consciousness is present in … all matter which is perhaps why plasmas possess some of the traits of living things. Life and intelligence are present not only in all matter but in ‘energy’, ‘space’, ‘time’, ‘the entire fabric of the whole universe’ and everything else we mistakenly view as separate things.[3]

[1] I must admit to not always having been consistent in this, especially in my earlier writings. Generally whenever I use(d) the terms ‘C(c)onsciousness’ and ‘A(a)wareness’ I am referring to the unlimited ‘version’, except in the phrase ‘awareness of Awareness’ which denotes the mind becoming aware of the presence of Awareness.

[2] M. Talbot, The Holographic Universe’, 1996, London, p.38

[3] Ibid, p.50

Colin Drake

Colin’s Latest Book: Dear Fellow Explorers, I am delighted to anounce my latest book 'Enlightenment Is For All' based on articles and replies to questions since my last. As usual it is available in all formats from and in Kindle from Amazon.



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Letters to Carl – Letter 23October 6, 2004 – by George Schloss

This is the twenty third of the Schloss letters I am serializing in the NOWletter.  All the letters are archived at the link below where individual letters or the complete volumes can be downloaded as PDF files.. Hardcopies of the books from LULU.

Letter 23 – October 6, 2004

Good talking to you yesterday and encouraging, too, since in my solitude it’s sometimes hard not to feel I’m operating in a deadening vacuum rather than a fruitful void. (I know I’ve used something like that image before just as I’ve been presumptuous enough to call upon Meister Eckhart and his “if there were no one here I’d preach it to the poor-box” as my model, but since it’s appropriate or, at least, appropriate to the Subject if not to me, why not?) In any case, though it wasn’t my intention when I started on this recent series, I want to stick with Niebuhr as an occasion for a few more comments. Not, as I indicated earlier, that I particularly want to single him out—I’m sure we could arrive at equally cogent conclusions using any number of sinners: a Tillich, for instance, or, for that matter, at the other end of the spectrum, a Nishitani or even a Dogen (and we may yet)—or even because he’s been that important to my intellectual life but for no reason other than, as Mallory said of Everest, because it’s there. Not that Niebuhr or rather Niebuhr’s position represents a so-called peak experience—far from it—any more than you or I can stand in for a Hilary or his interchangeable and trusted Tscherpa guide whose name, fittingly enough as we approach the Age of Anonymity, escapes me at the moment. It just so happens, however, that a few weeks back I caught a couple of Niebuhr’s books hanging around the house more or less unread these thirty years or so, so, out of a renewed curiosity, I picked them up and found to my delight that, given the unique perspective provided by the experiments, they triggered all sorts of helpful and clarifying associations, some of which, though not all complimentary by any means, I offer forthwith. Which is in no way to suggest that despite our disagreements with him—or, shall we say, our taking exception to his variations on, I won’t say “our” but, the theme?—we don’t have points of view coincident not only with his but with virtually the whole run of philosophers and theologians from Plato and Aquinas in the West on the one hand, and seers and sages like Sankara and Nagarjuna, on the other, right on down to our own Ken Wilber, for example, whom we’ve also talked about and one of whose books you were kind enough to send me. But since my concern at the moment is, thanks to Niebuhr, this notion of faith  (his) as distinct from our certainty and why I’m convinced we’re entitled to this certainty as regards present realities interpreted, not in the light of the past, of what Hegel calls “reflective” history, but in light of the surpassing Presence now available, courtesy of the experiments, instantly on contact to whomever comes calling, I’ll limit my remarks to that. I should also point out in all fairness that, had Niebuhr ever heard of Headlessness and especially this notion of “instantly on contact” (Zen’s sudden enlightenment) and, of course, as only a slightly older contemporary of Douglas he could have, I suspect it would only have reinforced his adamant if mistaken animus regarding what he called mysticism, surprising because, deriving from “mystes”—closed or sealed lips—the word refers not to that which, as he insists, cannot be known (since, again courtesy of the experiments if nothing else, we know now it eminently can be) but that which, because the nature of language itself sets up an unavoidable duality (for every hot a cold and so on), cannot be spoken. I’ve often thought that, if it didn’t conjure up such cornball and tacky associations, we might even refer to the experiments as “mysticism for the masses, “ except, as Douglas rightly insists, other than to begin where mysticism ends, Headlessness has nothing to do with mysticism. All of which, I suppose, is like saying “If I had the ham I’d have some ham and eggs if I had the eggs.” Still, if the experiments don’t, won’t or can’t qualify as ecstasy and advise going elsewhere for the ex-ceptional thrill of taking the first step towards getting out of one’s self, they sure as hell beat anything else I know of by way of en-stasy, of getting into one’s Self and presumably, because unavoidably, settling in and staying there for the long haul. One other point which I believe I touched on some time back but which warrants clarification, since to ears accustomed to English it may very well sound like gobbledegook. I refer to the Hindu designations of shruti and smirti, which I can never get straight other than that the one—I think it’s the shruti—represents the inspired writings which speak by the authority of their own voice and would include, on our side of the pond, the Old and New Testaments and the Koran and, on the other, the Tao, The Gita, The Upanishads and so on, but all of which claim, in Sankara’s words, to be inspired by “direct perception,” as distinct from the smirti, the commentaries and interpretations, the socalled secondary sources, which, in effect, if we want to be charitable, might even include what we’re doing now. With this caveat, that, again thanks to the experiments, we’re now enjoined, indeed required, to kick every category up or, if you prefer, down a notch. Thus, as with a crucifixion that was once myth before it converted to history and has now, in turn, been revealed to be God’s own honest and literal way of life, so the canonical books that once qualified as shruti, can now suffer their graceful demotion to hearsay rather than the perception without intermediary of looksee, and as a result herald the new dispensation as visibly as space-travel has superseded the horse and buggy, which dispensation, incidentally, Douglas noted as long as ten years ago, when, if I remember correctly, he began indicating the rainbow presence of the various traditions in his diagrams, but always situated on the far, the observed, side which, of course, is, where they belong.


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Freedom -- No and Yes
As a contribution to the long standing argument on the LookForYourself (LFY) conference about free-will I offered this bit of doggerel as an example of my compatibilist perspective.

I have written several pages
On the subject of free will.
I went on and on for ages
It made me feel quite ill.

I thought my curiosity
Has lasted far too long
It's leading to verbosity
There’s no need to prolong.

I've got to find a simple way
To make it short and quick
And then I heard an angel say
"The pea and thimble trick!"

She marked the thimbles A, B, C
And placed them on the ground
Gave me a wink and hid the pea
Then shuffled them around.

Now I am bound and must comply
I have agreed to play
No free will there -- tell LFY
The rules I must obey.

However, when it's time to act
Reveal the hidden pea
No previous habit, cause or fact
Makes me decide on C.


Alan Mann


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