Saturday, January 10, 2009

Book Review: Everyday Enlightenment

Gathered and edited by Australian filmmaker and cinematographer Sally Bongers, Everyday Enlightenment: Seven Stories of Awakening (Non-Duality Press, $12.95) is a laudable collection of essays from people for whom "the self image" has fallen away.

The seven contributors--for reasons not made clear, we are only given their initials--hail from Europe, the U.K., Australia, and the United States. They include a man brought up as a Muslim, a forty-nine year old female artist in Amsterdam, a fifty-eight year old strategic consultant in Melbourne, an accountant from Chicago, and a sixty-nine year old man from New Orleans.

The artist recounts the way in which she came to see that she is not her thoughts, body, or feelings, but a kind of "is-ness." She goes on to say: "'Is' is alive. 'Is' is aware. 'Is' is consciousness, pure consciousness, pure awareness. The sea is alive. It's aware. Douglas Harding used to talk about an 'ether', you know, the glassy ether, or glassy essence. It's just aware presence."

A Chicago accountant expounds on how awareness "was always there as a background thing that was completely ignored. It has no meaning, doesn't mean anything at all to the mind. That's why, when it's pointed to, it can't be found with the mind...There may be intellectual understanding or frustration but usually there is just an ignoring of it and going on with one's story."

And a former Regent College student notes that being in the presence of a self-realized teacher or speaker has its own kind of magic and energy: "When I heard Tony Parsons speak, I instinctively knew what he was saying made absolute sense to me. There was no question about it. And I was blown away by it. It wasn't so much that it made sense in my mind, it 's like I knew at some level, somehow I knew it already."

The understanding in a couple of the people appears not to be solid. Their "story" is still very strong with them, and they make telling, erroneous statements, e.g., "You need [techniques/practices] early but you don't need them after, I think." Of course, you need them neither before nor after.

Still, as Jeff Foster points out in his appealing Foreword, this book is such a welcomed one because it brings "awakening right back down to earth, and emphasizes its ordinariness, an emphasis that seems to be missing in a lot of the current spiritual literature."

Everyday Enlightenment can be ordered either from Amazon or directly from the publisher at:


Chris said...

Hello, I was searching an article on Everyday Enlightenment from a long day.Thanks god at last I got it in your blog, thanks dear for posting it.

Chris Hebard

javamate said...

A long time ago I've read a book about 'Tao' and to me it's the same thing that one might call 'Awareness'. Point is, of cours, that neither 'Tao' nor 'Awareness' are 'things'. The way the writer described 'Tao' is the same way I would describe 'Awareness', by eliminating all that it's not. Very simple. And if you finally realize that you have to eliminate every-thing to be left with Awareness (or 'Tao') your search has come to an end.

You realize that, indeed, Awareness has always been there, but your mind could not find it, 'cause your mind works with (and can only imagine) 'things'...

Thanks for writing this blog.