Standing as Awareness Revised Edition by Greg Goode (Author)

Inspired by Sri Atmananda (Krishna Menon), the Direct Path is a “pathless path.” It simply articulates the being of you and the world as loving, open, clear awareness. If this truth is realized as your experience, then nothing need be done. The path disappears, and life is lived in sweetness and celebration! But if there are still questions or doubts, the Direct Path contains unique and powerful resources that stabilize this truth as your everyday reality. This is a revised edition of the book, expanded to add chapters on the Direct Path in addition to its selection of dialogs from a decade of “Nondual Dinner” gatherings. The first three chapters unfold the basics of the Direct Path, such as standing as awareness, being in love with awareness, and exploring awareness. Included are several experiments that help establish your everyday experience as awareness always and already. The dialogs cover questions such as the desire for enlightenment experiences, the relationship between the brain and awareness, the question of “nondually-correct” language, the belief in physical and mental objects, the idea of having a sage’s experience, and more.

Greg Goode is the author of highly regarded books in the contemplative spiritual field. He holds a doctorate in Philosophy from the University of Rochester. Greg grew up in multicultural Southern California. He lived in Panama for three years during his service with the U.S. Army, and lived in Germany for a year during graduate school. Greg currently lives in New York City with his wife May.

Look Inside

Progressive and Direct-Path Teachings – Greg Goode

Discusses how direct-path teachings differ from progressive-path teachings, and characterizes nondual realization as “seeing the cover come off” and recognizing what was underneath as having been present all along.Truth with non-dual teacher, Greg Goode

Greg Goode: The Fragrance of Sentience.

Greg Goode and Chris Hebard talk about, “The Fragrance of Sentience”.


Coming from the Advaitic/Awareness Teachings? Special Pointers by Greg Goode

When I began to study the emptiness teachings in earnest, I had already been familiar with the advaitic awareness-style teachings for many years. By “awareness-style teachings” I mean the teachings for which global, non-phenomenal awareness or Brahman is a foundational element. These teachings would include traditional Shankaracharyan Advaita-Vedanta, as well as the teachings coming from Ramana Maharshi, Nisargadatta Maharaj, Ranjit Maharaj, Krishna Menon (Sri Atmananda) and others. I was familiar with all of these.

So when I began to study the emptiness teachings, I found it altogether natural to equate the “emptiness” in the new teaching with the “awareness” mentioned in my earlier teachings. This actually caused confusion on my part, and made it much harder to understand what even the very best emptiness teachers were talking about.

So I thought I would put together these pointers in case they might help spare you the confusion I experienced!

In the awareness teachings you often see lists of names for the un-nameable. Sometines they are capitalized, sometimes not: awareness, consciousness, the un-nameable, reality, truth, being, clarity, God, love, knowledge, thisness, oneness, the singularity, I, the I-principle, and sometimes even emptiness or “emptyfullness.” They are all used more or less synonymously to point to the single reality that is beyond pointing, but which is what the self and everything is made out of.

If you are used to these teachings and then attend a class or pick up a book on emptiness, it will be almost inevitable for you to perform a mental substitution as you take in the new teachings. You’ll hear “emptiness” and say to yourself, “awareness.”

It took me a while to understand this, but the emptiness teachings do not think of themselves as a version of the awareness teachings. When the emptiness teachings say, “emptiness” they do not mean “awareness” at all. They are not referring to anything beyond phenomena, which baffled me at first. Instead, the emptiness teachings refer to something more like the impermanence of phenomena, or the contingency, non-objectivity, or relationality of phenomena.

The Truth?
If you begin studying the emptiness teachings after spending time with the awareness teachings, you may start to wonder, “OK, so which teaching is true? They seem so different. Either there is global awareness or there isn’t.” How are such questions answered from within the awareness teachings themselves? Depending on the variety of awareness teaching, the reaction to questions like these might very well assert that they are a non-issue: these questions, like any mentations, may be said to be nothing more than arisings in global awareness. Therefore, the questions can’t possibly be relevant. Notice that when the questions are viewed in this way, the effect is not a move toward the question but a move away from the question. This move-away amounts to a statement that already assumes the teaching to be true.

The emptiness teachings, however, tackle such questions more critically and profoundly. Emptiness teachings do not take themselves for granted as true. Instead, they submit themselves to their own investigation. Emptiness teachings entail a radical critique of the notions of objective truth and independence. This is part of how one realizes that emptiness is empty. The teachings look at themselves. Nagarjuna is able to say, “If I had a position, no doubt fault could be found with it. Since I have no position, that problem does not arise.” The teachings allow one to investigate how this can be. The self-examining reflexive process becomes part of the teachings, and brings deep peace about questions such as “Which teaching is true?”

There are similarities between the two teachings which made me at first think they were identical with each other. For example, here are some similarities:

In the awareness teachings, realizing that you are this very same awareness that constitutes the entire world is the goal, or at least one way to describe it. In the emptiness teachings, realizing that you and all phenomena are empty is the goal. And in both cases, realizing the goal leads to peace, freedom and happiness.

Awareness and emptiness are both valorized, key terms in their respective teachings. The terms even sound a little bit alike.

According to both teachings, persons and other phenomena do not exist objectively. Whether it is a body, a material substance, a thought or a concept, it is held by both teachings not to exist in an independent way.

Not all awareness teachings are the same in this respect, but in the traditional Advaita Vedanta teachings as well as in the Atmanandan direct-path teachings, self-inquiry includes focused inferential activities such as logical analysis along the way to realization. And the emptiness teachings have this focused inferential, analytic feature as well.

Both sets of teachings originated in ancient India. In fact, Gautama, who later became Shakyamuni Buddha and the founder of Buddhism, was raised in the Vedic Hindu tradition, which gave rise to the Vedantic teachings. It’s sort of like Jesus being Jewish. (By the way, the West has teachings that are surprisingly similar to Buddhist emptiness teachings, for example the teachings of Sextus Empiricus, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Jacques Derrida and Richard Rorty, which developed independently.)


Where to study the teachings
Awareness teachings. Awareness teachings are very easy to find these days. There are satsangs, retreats, workshops, conferences, FaceBook, Google+, portal sites, networks of friends, and many personal websites. And, of course, there are quite a few books and some publishers specializing in these teachings.

Emptiness teachings. As I write this in January 2012, emptiness teachings are much harder to come by. One must usually attend teachings at a Buddhist dharma center, and then not all dharma centers have classes in emptiness. Tibetan and Chinese Buddhist centers may have emptiness classes, but sometimes these classes are given only in the Tibetan or Chinese languages. There are some classes in Madhyamika or Buddhist philosophy taught in colleges and universities. And sometimes professors will offer public, non-academic seminars. As for writings, when one includes the Western varieties of what we’re calling emptiness teachings (which include various kinds of non-essentialist areas of culture), then there are writings that number in the thousands. Depending on the author (whether Eastern or Western), the reading can be quite challenging.

Essence/No Essence
Awareness teachings. In the awareness teachings, awareness is said to be the essence of all things. In fact, “things” aren’t really things at all; there is awareness only. The sum and subsance of everything is awareness. Nondual inquiry often proceeds in a reductive fashion, where one looks at the world, body and mind, and experiences in different ways that there can’t be any separate or distinct reality to any of it. Everything consists of awareness only.

Emptiness teachings. In the emptiness teachings, there are no essences. Things are said to be empty, but they aren’t said to be made out of emptiness. Physical things are composed of various pieces and parts and constituents, all of which are empty. Emptiness is not a substance of any kind. Rather, it is a name for how things exist — in an interdependent fashion.

Self/No Self

Awareness teachings. In the awareness teachings, awareness=I and I=awareness. Awareness is the Self.

Emptiness teachings. In the emptiness teachings, I am said to be empty, but I am not made of emptiness. When the emptiness teachings say that there is no self, they are negating the idea of a partless, seamless, unified, independently existing essence that is supposed to be the basis of identity through time and space. That kind of self cannot be found anywhere, no matter how closely one looks. But the empty self is said to exist. This is the self that is a convenient, informal designation. It’s a placeholder, a bit of shorthand to refer to a constantly changing psychophysical complex. And underneath this complex there is no fundamental substance or nature. (Some Mahayana Buddhist teachings, such as the Tathagatagarbha and the Dharmakaya doctrines, come very close to affirming a Vedantic-like, Atman-like Self. But the emptiness teachings from Nagarjuna, Chandrakirti and Tsong-kha-pa do not affirm anything like this. The congruent Western emptiness teachings do not posit any essential, Atman-like self either.)

Awareness teachings. In the awareness teachings, it is sometimes said that appearances depend on awareness. But it is never said that awareness depends on appearances. Awareness stands on its own, never depending on anything else. Ultimately there IS nothing else. Any dependence is unilateral only.

Emptiness teachings. In the emptiness teachings, dependencies are bilateral. Not only do things depend on emptiness; emptiness depends on things as well. The fact that emptiness depends on things is why emptiness is empty: it is not free-floating or independent. Emptiness depends on its base of designation (such as the cup), as well as upon cognition and verbal convention. It depends on being labelled as such.

Awareness teachings. In the awareness teachings, there are never said to be many global awarenesses. The nondualist slogan says, “Not two.”

Emptiness teachings. In the emptiness teachings, there are many emptinesses, not one large general emptiness. Each thing has its own emptiness, its own absence of inherent existence. The cup is one thing; the saucer is another things. The emptiness of the cup is one thing; the emptiness of the saucer is another thing.

Awareness teachings. In the awareness teachings, awareness is totally beyond time. It is never created and never destroyed.

Emptiness teachings. In the emptiness teachings, each thing’s emptiness lasts only as long as the thing itself. So the emptiness of the cup comes and goes with the cup.

Awareness teachings. In the awareness teachings, nonduality is related to the insight that experience itself, the self and the world are essentially nothing but awareness, and there aren’t two or more awarenesses. Nonduality here has a lot to do with singularity.

Emptiness teachings. In the emptiness teachings, nonduality refers not to singularity but to the lack of dualistic extremes. Emptiness avoids both extremes: essentialism (the claim that things exist inherently) and nihilism (the claim that things are utterly void and without any kind of existence). Whereas awareness teachings say, “One” or “Not two,” the emptiness teachings say, “Not even one,” or “Neither one nor other than one.”

Awareness teachings. In the awareness teachings, realization of the nature of the Self is something that happens once per lifetime. Depending on the teaching, there might be several different stages to this realization, but regardless of the process, it is not something that can be repeated (or needs to be). In fact, it is often said that from the standpoint of “after” realization (note the quotation marks), nothing ever happened. Who could it have happened to? Oftentimes, depending on the particular awareness teaching, there is not a lot to say about the process or the person who undergoes the process.

Emptiness teachings. In the emptiness teachings there is a lot to say. Whether before or after realization, it is not regarded as unwarranted to speak of the conventionally existent person. The conventionally existent person is an informal designation based upon the essenceless, fluctuating assembly of psychophysical parts. In the spirit of this informal designation, the person exists (conventionally). This person is the one who suffers, meditates on emptiness and does other practices, and who realizes the emptiness of the self. It is all conventional, including the Buddhist teachings themselves.

Another difference is that the realization of emptiness can happen many times. Each realization, even a tiny one, promotes lightness, vibrancy and openness of heart. There can be more than one because to realize emptiness is to realize the interdepenence of what one thought was fixed and independent. Since there are many ways for things to depend on each other, there are many different ways these interdependencies can be seen and realized. Each realization strengthens one’s insight.

Some Mahayana Buddhist teachings distinguish between inferential realization of emptiness, which happens through the mediation of a concept, and direct realization of emptiness, which happens unmediated by concepts. One’s first direct realization of emptiness, according to these teachings, eliminates a significant part of one’s afflictive emotions forever. But this direct realization can be repeated many times (even over lifetimes of rebirths according to some Mahayana teachings), so that compassion is increased and the lingering roots of ignorance can be eradicated. The point here is not so much exactly what happens according to certain teachings, but rather that realizing emptiness is something that can happen many times. It even happens after one’s own suffering has come to an end. Why continue if one’s suffering has ceased? This is related to the Bodhisattva ideal, according to which one devotes one’s energies to the eradication of others’ suffering.

Talking about realization
Awareness teachings. In the awareness teachings, it is quite common to talk about one’s own realization or other aspects of one’s spiritual state. Often this is part of a teacher’s teachings. “I did it; you can too.”

Emptiness teachings. In the emptiness teachings, this is rarely heard, if ever. Buddhist teachers may talk about the realization of someone in the past, and you might hear how difficult and earth-shattering this realization is. But people tend not to talk about their own case. At least I have never heard it. In over 15 years of studying these teachings, working with teachers, visiting temples and monasteries, and reading thousands pages of emptiness teachings, I can’t recall even one time that someone said, “Back when I directly realized emptiness….”

1. How Is Emptiness Nondual? 2. Emptiness in Buddhism 3. What Does Emptiness Mean?

How Is Emptiness Nondual?

The most common connotation of “nonduality” is “oneness” or “singularity.” Many teachings state that everything is actually awareness; those teachings are nondual in the “oneness” sense in which there are no two things.

But there is another sense of “nonduality.” Instead of nonduality as “oneness,” it’s nonduality as “free from dualistic extremes.” This entails freedom from the pairs of metaphysical dualisms such as essentialism/nihilism, existence/non-existence, reification/annihilation, presence/absence, or intrinsicality/voidness, etc. These pairs are dualisms in this sense: if you experience things in the world in terms of one side of the pair, you will experience things in the world in terms of the other side as well. If some things seem like they truly exist, then other things will seem like they truly don’t exist. You will experience your own self to truly exist, and fear that one day you will truly not exist. Emptiness teachings show how none of these pairs make sense, and free you from experiencing yourself and the world in terms of these opposites. Emptiness teachings are nondual in this sense.

For those who encounter emptiness teachings after they’ve become familiar with awareness teachings, it’s very tempting to misread the emptiness teachings by substituting terms. That is, it’s very easy to misread the emptiness teachings by seeing “emptiness” on the page and thinking to yourself, “awareness, consciousness, I know what they’re talking about.”

Early in my own study I began with this substitution in mind. With this misreading, I found a lot in the emptiness teachings to be quite INcomprehensible! So I started again, laying aside the notion that “emptiness” and “awareness” were equivalent. I tried to let the emptiness teachings speak for themselves. I came to find that they have a subtle beauty and power, a flavor quite different from the awareness teachings. Emptiness teachings do not speak of emptiness as a true nature that underlies or supports things. Rather, it speaks of selves and things as essenceless and free.

Emptiness in Buddhism

According to Buddhist teachings, freedom from suffering dawns when we realize that we ourselves, as well as all things, are empty.

In Buddhism, suffering is said to come from conceiving that we and the world have fixed, independent and unchangeable natures that exist on their own without help from anything else. We expect that there is a true way that self and world truly are and ought to be. These expectations are unrealistic and prevent us from granting things the freedom to come and go and change. We like pleasant things to abide permanently, and unpleasant things to never occur. We experience suffering when we actually encounter comings, goings and change. Suffering often takes the form of anger, indignation, existential anxiety, and even a sense that, as they say in TV sitcoms, “something is wrong with this picture.”

But when we deeply realize that we and the world are empty, we no longer have unrealistic expectations. We find peace and freedom in the midst of flux.
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What Does Emptiness Mean?

What are things empty of? According to the Buddhist teachings, things are empty of inherent existence.

Being empty of inherent existence means that there is no essential, fixed or independent way in which things exist. Things have no essential nature. There is no way things truly are, in and of themselves. We will investigate the notion of inherent existence in more detail below.

Different Buddhist schools or tenet systems have different ways of characterizing emptiness; they have different ways of helping students reduce suffering. My characterization of emptiness adheres somewhat to the Tibetan Gelug-ba school of Prasangika or “Consequentialist” Madhyamika. This is not the only tenet system in Buddhism that discusses emptiness. There are other schools with slightly different interpretations of the emptiness teachings. I prefer the Tibetan Prasangika interpretation for pragmatic reasons. It has a greater number of publically available supports for studying and meditating on emptiness than I have seen in other Buddhist schools. The term “Prasangika” is Sanskrit for “consequence.” The “consequence” designation comes from this school’s method of debate and refutation, which follows Nagarjuna’s style in his Treatise.

Source: Emptiness Teachings by Greg Goode

Emptiness Teachings :Why Emptiness? ~ Greg Goode

Why Emptiness?

Emptiness is another kind of nondual teaching. Emptiness teachings demonstrate that the “I,” as well as everthing else, lacks inherent existence. The notion of lacking inherent existence has several senses. In one sense, empty things lack essence, which means that there is no intrinsic quality that makes a thing what it is. In another sense, empty things lack independence, which means that a thing does not exist on its own, apart from conditions, relations or cognition. A great deal of what one studies in the emptiness teachings demonstrates the relations between these two senses, and heightens one’s sensitivity to their ramifications.

Emptiness teachings are found mainly in Buddhism, but there are some surprising parallels in the work of Western thinkers such as Heraclitus of Ephesus (c. 535–475 BCE) Protagoras of Abdera (480-411 BCE), Gorgias of Leontini, Sicily (485-380 BCE), Pyrrho of Elis (c. 360-270 BCE), Sextus Empiricus (c. 160-210 AD), Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BCE), Marcus Fabius Quintilianus (c. 35-100 AD), Michel de Montaigne, Thomas Hobbes, David Hume, Martin Heidegger, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Hans-Georg Gadamer, Paul Ricoeur, Jacques Derrida, W.V.O. Quine, Wilfred Sellars, Thomas Kuhn, Paul Feyerabend, Donald Davidson, Richard Rorty, Nelson Goodman, Richard Lanham, John D. Caputo, Richard Bernstein and many others.

According to Buddhism, when emptiness is realized, peace ensues. One’s experience is transformed so that the self, other beings and the world no longer seem like intrinsically compartmentalized objects, distinct and separate from each other. The self and all things are experienced as free.

If the selflessness of phenomena is analyzed
and if this analysis is cultivated,
It causes the effect of attaining nirvana.
Through no other cause does one come to peace.
(The Samadhiraja Sutra)

One who is in harmony with emptiness
is in harmony with all things.
(Nagarjuna, Treatise on the Middle Way 24.14)

Greg Goode: Dialogs ~ 1. The Enlightenment Event 2. The Social Construction of Enlightenment

The Enlightenment Event

Q: I read about the life-changing enlightenment events that people write about – and I haven’t had one. Does this mean I’m not “done” yet?

A: What is it that you’d like to be “done” with?

Q: Suffering. I don’t want to suffer any more.

A: How do you visualize this non-suffering?

Q: Like not having any problems anymore.

A: Life without death? Health without disease? They contain each other. You can’t hold a one-ended stick. The famous stories we read are not about life without birth, illness, death, or unpleasantness. How can there be life without its ups and downs? Ramana Maharshi, Nisargadatta Maharaj, Ramakrishna, Suzuki Roshi were all struck with cancer. Many teachers and expositors of profound nondual teachings have had family problems, financial problems,health problems, emotional problems.

Q: OK, then what *are* they talking about? Nisargadatta had cancer, but he’s also famous for saying “In my world, nothing goes wrong.” It makes me want the same thing.

A: Good point! Depends upon where you, the interpreter, place the “I”. If you place the “I” at Nisargadatta, then there was a body, with cancer and pain. If Nisargadatta (or any person) is the center of that world, then there is a lot wrong in it.

But if you place the “I” at That which witnesses what occurs, then there is nothing wrong. Nothing happening at all. And nothing missing. It isn’t personal. This “I” is the being of Nisargadatta, you, me, all else. This is where the “I” has always been. It is pure and untouched, and always available.

Q: I want to see this “I”.

A: You can’t see it – it sees you. Awareness sees you. Just like you see your arm, Awareness sees the body/mind you take as yourself. Just like your own seeming passage from waking to deep sleep and back to waking. In deep sleep, there is no evidence that the world or the body is present. That is, the body can’t be said to be there. Yet there’s no sense that “you” are ever missing. Your true “I” does not depend on phenomenal activity to be present. Actually, your true I is not really “present” as in the opposite of “absent.” Rather, it is Presence itself.

Q: But some people seem to know this, and others don’t.

A: There’s no need for this to be known by a person. There is actually no possibility that this can be comprehended or held by a person. Personal grokking is just another coming-and-going experience, like a mood or a runny nose.

Q: I still want to know….

A: If you seek this experience, then do what many others have done — inquire deeply into the supposed makeup of a person. Into the makeup of of life, death, of that which you consider yourself. Of that which would supposedly benefit by “knowing.” Be as intensely motivated to look into these matters as you would be to gasp for air after being held under water. Look everywhere, don’t stop if it gets rough. The search is sweet, but it is not comfortable or reassuring to the assembly labeled as the person. Be unafraid of what might come up.

But be aware that there’s nothing in it for “you.” You won’t have a feeling of pride or accomplishment. And to refer back to our earlier conversation about IT being comprehended by a person – there’s no need, and no possibility that this happen. If it seems like you “got it,” then you haven’t got it.

Q: I must admit that I want to have a story like the ones I read about…

A: Kind of like wanting to be a member of an elite club? If you look closely at your reasons for desiring this, does it have to do with wanting recognition or wanting to be treated in a certain way?

Q: Well, I know it sounds stupid, but yes.

A: This has to do with the marketing and the social construction of these teachings. Have you noticed the contexts where these stories are trotted out? If in a book or website, it is most often in the “advertising” part of the presentation, and not in the actual teaching itself. If there is understanding, why does it matter if it came in one large piece or many small pieces? You can get just as wet in a long mist as you can in a short storm. But storms sell better. Many of them are manufactured for that very reason, just like in movie studios.

Q: But even you have such a story!

A: I know, and it’s in the advertising part of the website, not in any of the serious teachings. It’s another case of social construction. The events in that story took place many years before they gelled as a “set-piece” narrative. The gelling happened only in a social context, which is how “nothing” becomes “something.” When I was doing inquiry, it was on my own. None of my friends at the time were into anything like that. My only companions were books. I wasn’t part of a spiritual social context in which a premium is placed on certain stories, and where there is lots of comparison of people and states.

And then, many years after the events, someone asked me on an internet list what I attended to as a practice. I said “nothing,” and to make linguistic sense in a public context as to “why not,” I related those events. To me they had nothing more to do with “things as is” than anything else did. But I had learned enough in the intervening years about these stories to see what made sense to people. So this is what I spoke. It soon became regarded as a fixed thing, as an “enlightenment event,” and people began to regard me differently. I came to find out that people consume these stories with even more fascination than they consume nondual teachings!

But to desire a story like this for one’s own is the result of a misunderstanding.

Q: What kind of misunderstanding

A: It constructs a subtle personal agenda, which pretty much precludes insight. It’s like trying to become sexually aroused by comparing one’s state with others’ states. It just doesn’t work like that. The same for “being done.” In any of the great descriptions of enlightenment, your freedom is freedom from agendas. It’s not about being a person who has a story to tell. That makes no sense. Rather, it’s that you, as you truly are, are free from the assumptions and limitations of personhood. The person is never free of story. But you, as your true nature, are prior to story. This is freedom.

This freedom is now. It never becomes achieved, because from the get-go it is never unaccomplished. There is no need to “see” this or “know” this or “possess” this. Rather, it possesses you. Even now. No separate experience proves or establishes this. No separate experience can overturn it.

On the other hand, experiences themselves come and go. Any experience, no matter how much it’s immortalized in books and spiritual stories, has no meaning apart from the reference point of a person. It has no more significance than the person has. And of course the person comes and goes as well. Not only in birth and death, but the coming and going is in each moment. Even in everyday terms, there’s no evidence that “your” person is there at all. When you walk, you don’t witness yourself walking, like seeing a DVD. And if you see a movie of “yourself” walking, it’s not “you,” it’s a body on a screen. You never experience yourself doing anything. There’s just walking, and sitting, and eating, and loving, etc., for all of experience.

Even to “know” this or to “realize” this is another experience. Enlightenment never pertains to a person in the first place. Enlightenment is not “in” the now. It is this now-ness, this freedom itself. It can’t be bottled up and put on a shelf, confined to one person rather than another, or transmitted. It’s already across the board. It’s now wherever you point, un-interrupted, without gaps.

It’s not that “everyone is already enlightened.” Rather, people and things are appearances in light.

If you find yourself wanting some experience to confirm this, you are actually changing the subject. It is not this now-ness that you are addressing, but some ordinary human need. Human needs are addressed by human endeavors. Just like eating addresses hunger and community addresses loneliness. The needs that express themselves through a search for an “enlightenment experience” are not well addressed through nondual inquiry. But these needs are very efficiently satisfied if you gain clarity on the needs themselves and pursue the most direct route.

The Social Construction of Enlightenment

Q: I must admit, when I think of being enlightened, I don’t imagine myself at work on the midnight shift at the local 7-11!

A: The “enlightenment” concept is socially constructed. No one imagines being enlightened on a desert island. No one imagines that other people would be totally oblivious, treating you the same old way as before. The way the term works, it functions like currency in social contexts, especially where comparative interpersonal assessments come into play. It is the ultimate “arriving” and being seen as arriving.

The term’s vagueness allows it to be filled-in with whatever the heart desires, and most of the visualizations tend to be social. Of course this is largely due to social precedent. When you think of others to whom the “E” term has been applied, you notice that they well known personages surrounded by others. The social trappings tend to get internalized, buried into the very notion itself. So when we test the concept against ourselves, these social elements are already in the picture.

Even the classic “climbing the mountain” metaphor has its social elements. Enlightenment is cast as the ultimate ascent up Mount Everest. When “done,” you set your flag on top, kick back and rest forever. The sub-zero cold doesn’t bother you, and you no longer need food. But wait! You’re not alone! You enjoy the view with other luminaries, everyone pumped up by the endorphin-rush of the climb. Often, part of the package is imagining being seen by others who haven’t gotten so far up the mountain.

There certainly are teachings that construct an enlightenment package like this. But you can learn a lot by noticing the context. That is, take a close look at just where and when the enlightenment-talk occurs. If you’re reading a book or website, it is most often in the “advertising” portion. But the more deeply you get into the teachings themselves, the less you hear about “enlightenment.” Its socially-constructed nature is taken advantage of to interest you in the rest.

I have a friend who spent five years, six days a week with a famous American teacher. This teacher uses the “Enlightenment” term more often than anyone else on the planet. In public talks and popular books, that is! But in the teacher’s school and communities, “enlightenment” is never heard in the day-to-day, month-to-month, year-to-year teachings. So one day after about five years, my friend asked the organization’s second-in-command whether anyone had become enlightened while working with this teacher. The second-in-command answered “Enlightened? No. Only the Teacher Himself.”

It’s a sizzle used to sell a steak.

— Dr. Greg Goode —
Greg has been a philosophical counselor since 1996 and has extensive experience with online consultation. After studying Psychology at California State University. Greg studied philosophy at the Universität zu Köln in Cologne, Germany, and received his M.A. and Ph.D. in Philosophy from the University of Rochester. His areas of specialization were decision theory, the philosophy of mind, and the philosophy of George Berkeley. His doctoral dissertation was on the question, “Is it ever rational to be impatient?”
Consultation, Healing, and Nondual Inquiry
As a philosophical counselor, Greg is nationally certified by the American Philosophical Practitioners Association, trained by Prof. Lou Marinoff, author of the well-known Plato Not Prozac!; and by California State University, Fullerton’s J. Michael Russell — a true pioneer in the philosophical consultation movement.
Nondual inquiry includes the powerful teachings of Western Philosophy, Advaita Vedanta and Mahayana Buddhism. Greg studied Philosophy with Lewis White Beck, William T. Bluhm, Richard Feldman, Henry Kyburg, Richard Taylor, Colin M. Turbayne and Paul Weirich at the University of Rochester. He studied Advaita Vedanta through the Chinmaya Mission, the Arsha Vidya Gurukulam, and Francis Lucille. He studied the Mahayana teachings of Pure Land Buddhism through Jodo-Shinshu, and studied Chinese Middle-Way Buddhism through the lineage of Master Wen Zhu and the pre-eminent scholar of Chinese Buddhism, Master Yin-Shun of Taiwan, P.R.C., author of The Way to Buddhahood.
Greg has also been influenced by the teachings of many teachers he has never met, both Western and Eastern, ancient and modern. The Western teachers include Protagoras, Heraclitus, Gorgias, Sextus Empiricus, George Berkeley, David Hume, Immanuel Kant, 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. Eastern teachers include Shankara, Gaudapada, Nagarjuna, Chandrakirti, Tsong-Khapa, Honen Shonin, Shinran Shonin, Sri Atmananda, Shunryu Suzuki, Thich-Thien-Tam and Chin-Kung.
Publication Activities
Greg serves as Technical Consultant for Philosophical Practice, the Journal of the American Philosophical Practitioners Association. He has written Standing as Awareness, published by Nonduality Press, and many popular articles on spiritual, therapeutic and philosophical topics, including
“Another Kind of Self-Inquiry,”
“Free Will and Freedom,”
“Is Spiritual Practice Necessary?,”
“Nondualism, Yogas and Personality Characteristics.”
Greg is well-known innovator for having combined the ancient “direct-path” method of self-inquiry with modern electronic media. He has been a member of the International Society for Mental Health Online, which studies the techniques and effectiveness of online consultation. He create the Nondual Phil forum and since the mid-1990’s he has been a moderator and active contributor on philosophical and spiritual Internet lists, including the Nonduality Salon, Advaitin, Advaita-L, Dharma-Direct, DirectApproach, EndOfTheRopeRanch, AdvaitaToZen, HarshaSatsangh, and TheRoomOfThis.

Presuppositions about Enlightenment; Forms of Samadhi – Greg Goode

Discusses how enlightenment is not an experienced object, and isn’t transmitted by contact with other people. Also discusses various kinds of samadhi, which are easier in the direct path.

The Direct Path: A User Guide ~ Greg Goode

Have you ever done non=dual inquiry and said to yourself, “I understand it intellectually but I don’t feel it. It’s not my experience!” If so, The Direct Path could be for you. This book is the “missing manual” to the Direct Path.

For the first time in print, Direct-Path inquiry is presented from beginning to end and beyond, in a “user-friendly” way. The core of the book is a set of 40 experiments designed to help dissolve the most common non-dual sticking points from simple to subtle. The experiments cover the world, the body, the mind, abstract objects and witnessing awareness. You are taken step by step from the simple perception of a physical object all the way to the collapse of the witness into pure consciousness. Your “take-away” is that there’s no experiential doubt that you and all things are awareness, openness and love. Also included are three tables of contents, illustrations, an index, and a section on teaching and the notion of a “post-nondual realization.” This book can be utilized on its own or as a companion volume to the author’s Standing as Awareness.

Click here to browse inside.

Progressive and Direct-Path Teachings – Greg Goode

Discusses how direct-path teachings differ from progressive-path teachings, and characterizes nondual realization as “seeing the cover come off” and recognizing what was underneath as having been present all along.Truth with non-dual teacher, Greg Goode. — Filmed by Roger Ingraham

Emptiness and Joyful Freedom by Greg Goode (Author) , Tomas Sander (Author) [Updated Dec 9, 2013]

The pinnacle of Buddhism’s understanding of reality is the emptiness of all things. Exploring reality towards the realization of emptiness is shockingly radical. It uncovers an exhilarating freedom with nowhere to stand, while engendering a loving joy that engages the world.

This path-breaking book employs the emptiness teachings in a fresh, innovative way. Goode and Sander don’t rely solely on historical models and meditations. Instead, they have created over eighty original meditations on the emptiness of the self, issues in everyday life, and spiritual paths. These meditations are guided both by Buddhist insights and cutting-edge Western tools of inquiry, such as positive psychology, neuroscience, linguistic philosophy, deconstruction, and scepticism. The result is a set of liberating and usable tools for Buddhists and non-Buddhists alike.

Greg Goode is a long-time student of Advaita-Vedanta, Buddhism and the Direct Path. He is the author of many articles on these topics, as well as the books entitled Nondualism in Western Philosophy, Standing as Awareness, and The Direct Path: A User Guide. Greg holds a doctorate in philosophy, and serves on the editorial board of the peer-reviewed journal Practical Philosophy: Journal of the American Practical Philosophers Association.

Tomas Sander is a spiritual practitioner and teacher in New York. He has studied in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition and his approach is also influenced by the insights of positive psychology. Tomas grew up in Germany, holds a doctorate in mathematics and works as a research scientist at a computer company. He has published articles in the areas of mathematics, computer science and positive psychology.

Click here to browse inside.

All Words Point to Consciousness – Greg Goode

Discusses how the meaning of words isn’t dictated by objects or by social convention, but point to awareness only. Non-dual teacher, Greg Goode.

“Who Am I?” – Greg Goode

Discusses how self inquiry is like a treasure hunt. Also discusses how all perception is always done by awareness, and how everything experienced is always already awareness. Non-dual teacher, Greg Goode.

Greg Goode – Buddha at the Gas Pump Interview

Greg is a teacher of nondualism well known for a breadth of expression and a sense of humor. Inspired by Sri Atmananda Krishna Menon, Greg is one of the pioneers, along with Jean Klein and Francis Lucille, of “direct-path” style nondualism, a very intuitive, holistic and immediate form of Advaita. It was through contemplation on the teachings of Sri Atmananda that Greg’s own search came to its peaceful conclusion.

Having studied Western philosophy at the Universität zu Köln in Cologne, Germany, Greg received his M.A. and Ph.D. in Philosophy from the University of Rochester. He studied Advaita Vedanta through the Chinmaya Mission, the Mahayana teachings of Pure Land Buddhism through Jodo-Shinshu, and studied Madhyamika Buddhism through the lineage of the pre-eminent scholar of Chinese Buddhism, Master Yin-Shun of Taiwan, P.R.C., author of The Way to Buddhahood.

Greg is the technical consultant for Philosophical Practice, the Journal of the American Philosophical Practitioners Association. He is also the author of Nondualism in Western Philosophy, Standing as Awareness, the forthcoming The Direct Path: a User Guide, and the forthcoming Emptiness and Joyful Freedom.

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