Posts Tagged Buddhism

The Fatal Flaw: The Problem with Eastern Spiritual Philosophy – Part 1 of 3


It’s time to move on from what is simply false in Eastern philosophy (Buddhism, Advaita/nonduality, and some Taoism). Jesus said the truth will set you free and the whole purpose of this blog is to identify the false, so that the ineffable truth of being and life can shine forth.

1. The basic tenant of Eastern spiritual philosophy is that we are not our thoughts and feelings. We are, therefore, not who we “think” we are. So far, so good.

2. Our thoughts and feelings change, but, as these philosophies point out, there is a part of us that doesn’t change. This part is that presence that observes our passing thoughts and feelings. We are, they say, this changeless entity. Now we’re getting on some shaky ground, but let’s continue.

3. This presence, which is our true self is separate from the body/mind. It is neither born nor will it ever die. It is eternal consciousness. Here the philosophies collapse. I will try to show this below.

My experience shows that Point 1 is partly correct. Clearly, we are not our thoughts. Our thoughts, do, indeed, change. One day we “think” we love our wife/husband, then something happens and then we discover to our shame and disbelief that we now are not the one who loves this wife/husband. Life has changed completely. But we can also observe that some of our thoughts change constantly, other thoughts change only occasionally, and still others are nearly constant in our life. Within this array of change, we can detect patterns of thought and feeling. These patterns suggest an individuality that is, in fact, real. For example, I know that I love to explore issues, that with all my heart and soul I stand up for those who have been victims of unjustice, I love the music of Brahms and Mozart, etc.

Our Eastern Philosopher will say that my seemingly consistent thoughts/feelings are merely an outcome of my conditioning. They are “mere” appearances on the utterly changeless and characterless ground of being. They will further assert that this is not a theory, but the the outcome of direct experience, it is therefore not an issue of philosophy, but of direct experience. I can respond that the same is true for me. I am able to employ the power of presence, that power that is central to Eastern spiritual tradition (EST), to detect and identify these patterns. I can, therefore, make the same experiential claim. It is something I can directly observe.

But more importantly, I can also experience what is pointed to in EST and assert that the ESTer is drawing a decisive line of separation between “presence” and thought/feeling/experience, in which it is posited that one’s true identity is exclusively on one side of the experiential dimension. Our ESTer posits that Reality is the ground of experience and sensed experience (thoughts/feelings/observations) itself is mere appearance. All objects (thoughts/feelings/sensed objects) are passing and insubstantial. It is highly ironic that a philosophy that eschews separation so depends on this division, that this Maginot Line of separation is posited between one’s true identity and what is mere passing appearance. I can see the mere passing appearance of that tree just outside my window. I can look away and the tree is no longer in view (the tree ceases to exist!), but when I look back – what do I see??? – it’s remarkable, but it appears to be that same tree. Yes, the direction of sunlight might have changed a bit, but I am very sure that it’s the same true – perhaps five seconds older.

Now before moving on, let’s take a deep breath. What is the EST person really doing? Is it not possible that by labeling all sensed objects (thoughts/feelings) as mere passing appearance, he is negating his own role in this sensed life? Consider that possibility. Is this any different from the substance abuser who is also seeking to avoid the challenges of life through booze and drugs? Is this any different from the depressed person who lifts himself out of the anguish of his psychological being by adopting a zealous faith-based attitude on this life? Is this any different from the religious fanatic who believes that this life is just a preparation for the real life that begins at death and he can avoid all of the messiness and unpredictability of everyday life and dream of living an eternity in heaven?

I do not seek to judge the ESTer, but it is possible to detect a pattern in human history that revolves around the negation of everyday life – because life can be challenging, it can be complex, it calls on us to make tough decisions, it brings to light all of the empty faith-based beliefs we might cling to out of fear of the unknown. This is what life is. Wake up to its fantastic messiness. Life calls on us to be challenged. Anyone who has parented a little baby into adulthood knows this is true. Anyone in touch with their heart senses the vapid emptiness of EST.

Welcome to the challenge of your life. Make the best of it, for time is passing.

This is just part one of a three part series. Tomorrow I will comment on Point 2.

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The Failure of “Spiritualism”


I am not an Advaitist. I am not a Buddhist. I am not anything, but myself, committed to what is true and freeing myself of what I can SEE as false. That is the challenge of our lives.

This is what you must know; people are addicted to feeling good. In comes in every form and flavor. That is the work of ego, working in service to our primal Wound. “If we fail to strive for safety – happiness – feeling good – then how will I ever be secure, happy, and feel good?” This is the perennial question of the ego. This is its obsession.

See that security – happiness – feeling good are all concepts. They are not real. They are projections of the mind. They are the false. As long as you insist on pursuing them, you will waste your life on goals that are unreal. You will live as Don Quixote, living a life that is filled with madness chasing after windmills.

The grave danger in Buddhist and nonduality teachings is how the mind bends them to achieve the goals of the deficient self. How does it do this? It does this by negating the authentic self! In this role, spiritualism is no different from any other authority in our lives that seek to mold us in ITS vision and kill our own.

Awareness shows us what is true and what is false. Usually, what is false are the beliefs we cling to that make us feel safe. But any belief that we cling to, that is not based in the truth of actual seeing can and often will undermine our well being. Beliefs are limits. They are ideas that we have absorbed from authorities in our lives. Coming alive to who we truly our asks us to question and explore our most deeply held beliefs.

Life is not designed to be easy. Only an ego loves the easy – the easy money, the easy sex, the easy this, the easy that. Life is designed to be active – alive. When we “rest in awareness” as the only goal of life, we have sacrificed our individuality. We have zoned out in the life of total “acceptance”. The only problem with that “belief” is the one thing we fail to accept becomes ourselves! Can you see that? Zoning out in belief is the same thing as zoning out with drugs – only more challenging and thus a bigger accomplishment of the ego. That’s why doctrine based spiritualism is thought to be better than drug abuse. Is it?

Zoning out is not a problem. Often the body/mind needs to zone out. We live in an exhausting time and zoning out is a pleasure we would be foolish to deny ourselves, but it is not our ultimate identity. When that happens, as it often does in meditative philosophies, we fail in the challenge of living.

Wake up to your aliveness. Wake up to your senses. Wake up to your mind – the mind that is embedded in what is real and is motivated to drop what it discovers is false. For example, I know that cars are contributing to the environmental deterioration of the planet, so I’ve decided to do all of my local errands by bike or foot. That’s what I do. If I think that makes me better than others, then I have converted what I have seen as true within awareness to be an action of ego. I see all of that and act accordingly. I see that income inequality breeds racism and classism, so I support political agendas that encourage people to live as sisters and brothers economically and socially. I know that my body depends on nature, so I can SEE that we are all connected and that when one part of our world suffers, we all suffer. I see that this as true. I see that when we pursue security through weapons, walled communities, unfair laws, racism, sexism, that we inspire division and this is life out of balance. So when I observe those tendencies in myself, I can see where I am contributing to the division and hardship of the world. Seeing it is the first and most decisive step we can make in our own liberation.

We Are All Related

We Are All Related

This is the challenge of living.

And before I conclude this post, let’s talk a minute about humor. Ultimately, this is the most liberating emotion of all. Grave seriousness is a very dependable red flag of the ego. Take yourself lightly in nearly all matters and you will truly see what is false in you. When you become overly serious (one of my “issues”) check out the status of your ego and get a good laugh out of your grandiosity. I can assure you probably look pretty funny to others – or even worse an authority for others to follow.

If you choose to follow, as many spiritual traditions urge us to do, then know yourself as a follower. If you choose to be yourself, that you become a light unto yourself.  That light can free others of their own darkness.

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The Failure of "Spiritualism"


I am not an Advaitist. I am not a Buddhist. I am not anything, but myself, committed to what is true and freeing myself of what I can SEE as false. That is the challenge of our lives.

This is what you must know; people are addicted to feeling good. In comes in every form and flavor. That is the work of ego, working in service to our primal Wound. “If we fail to strive for safety – happiness – feeling good – then how will I ever be secure, happy, and feel good?” This is the perennial question of the ego. This is its obsession.

See that security – happiness – feeling good are all concepts. They are not real. They are projections of the mind. They are the false. As long as you insist on pursuing them, you will waste your life on goals that are unreal. You will live as Don Quixote, living a life that is filled with madness chasing after windmills.

The grave danger in Buddhist and nonduality teachings is how the mind bends them to achieve the goals of the deficient self. How does it do this? It does this by negating the authentic self! In this role, spiritualism is no different from any other authority in our lives that seek to mold us in ITS vision and kill our own.

Awareness shows us what is true and what is false. Usually, what is false are the beliefs we cling to that make us feel safe. But any belief that we cling to, that is not based in the truth of actual seeing can and often will undermine our well being. Beliefs are limits. They are ideas that we have absorbed from authorities in our lives. Coming alive to who we truly our asks us to question and explore our most deeply held beliefs.

Life is not designed to be easy. Only an ego loves the easy – the easy money, the easy sex, the easy this, the easy that. Life is designed to be active – alive. When we “rest in awareness” as the only goal of life, we have sacrificed our individuality. We have zoned out in the life of total “acceptance”. The only problem with that “belief” is the one thing we fail to accept becomes ourselves! Can you see that? Zoning out in belief is the same thing as zoning out with drugs – only more challenging and thus a bigger accomplishment of the ego. That’s why doctrine based spiritualism is thought to be better than drug abuse. Is it?

Zoning out is not a problem. Often the body/mind needs to zone out. We live in an exhausting time and zoning out is a pleasure we would be foolish to deny ourselves, but it is not our ultimate identity. When that happens, as it often does in meditative philosophies, we fail in the challenge of living.

Wake up to your aliveness. Wake up to your senses. Wake up to your mind – the mind that is embedded in what is real and is motivated to drop what it discovers is false. For example, I know that cars are contributing to the environmental deterioration of the planet, so I’ve decided to do all of my local errands by bike or foot. That’s what I do. If I think that makes me better than others, then I have converted what I have seen as true within awareness to be an action of ego. I see all of that and act accordingly. I see that income inequality breeds racism and classism, so I support political agendas that encourage people to live as sisters and brothers economically and socially. I know that my body depends on nature, so I can SEE that we are all connected and that when one part of our world suffers, we all suffer. I see that this as true. I see that when we pursue security through weapons, walled communities, unfair laws, racism, sexism, that we inspire division and this is life out of balance. So when I observe those tendencies in myself, I can see where I am contributing to the division and hardship of the world. Seeing it is the first and most decisive step we can make in our own liberation.

We Are All Related

We Are All Related

This is the challenge of living.

And before I conclude this post, let’s talk a minute about humor. Ultimately, this is the most liberating emotion of all. Grave seriousness is a very dependable red flag of the ego. Take yourself lightly in nearly all matters and you will truly see what is false in you. When you become overly serious (one of my “issues”) check out the status of your ego and get a good laugh out of your grandiosity. I can assure you probably look pretty funny to others – or even worse an authority for others to follow.

If you choose to follow, as many spiritual traditions urge us to do, then know yourself as a follower. If you choose to be yourself, that you become a light unto yourself.  That light can free others of their own darkness.

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Dieting and Waking Up


Late this January I noticed that I was having trouble putting on one of my favorite pairs of pants. My girth had become just little wider than the pants would allow.

As many of you know, that’s a wake up call. We have crossed the Rubicon. We can continue on our current trajectory and just get fat, get breathless, get unhealthy, but eat to our heart’s content or we can take an action that doesn’t really appeal to our carnal senses; go on a diet.

I chose to diet. So far I’ve lost 15 pounds. It hasn’t been fun. I often crave for just a couple of slices of brie (yeah – I got that upper middle class food preferences) and sometimes I really want a huge corn beef sandwich, but I know that I need to be disciplined. I got to be tough if I’m serious about losing weight.

Spiritual awakening is no different. It requires us to get touch with our lazy ass selves. We need to stop living on our own bullshit. At some point we got to get real and see the truth. If we love our brothers and sisters, if we love the planet, we need to go on a thought diet. We have to stop indulging our ignorant selves.

The Sleep of Reason by Goya

The Sleep of Reason by Goya

Waking up is realizing just how ignorant we are (ME included!!!). I beg others to show me where I have been blind and ignorant. This is authentic Buddhism. This is the loving message of the Buddha in REAL LIFE. It’s not about listening to ethereal flute music in a bamboo garden full of dancing pansies.

I’m sorry to be so blunt. I wish it were different. But we either chose to stop this life of malls, of useless self-indulgence and start getting ruthless with our insecure sorry asses, or life itself will take far harsher action. That just how nature operates. She gets rid of the cancer to allow for new growth. Right now We are that cancer.

But the good news is that this ignorant self is just a mirage. We give it such importance, such primacy. Start doing a diet of the self. Find out what’s true, what’s really true. For starters, investigate all of your concepts. Start with your concept of what you need to make you happy. See that it’s just a concept. See it for yourself. Then graduate to bigger concepts or you’re really a warrior of the spirit, explore the concept of YOU. The YOU you believe yourselves to be is, itself, a concept. What are YOU really???? Are you your body? Are you your thoughts? Are you your feelings? See that all of that changes, but the REAL YOU does not change. The you that sees, that YOU is not a concept. It is always there for (ironically) YOU.

The Call

The Call

No one can hold your hand in this journey. Only YOU can do it You You You.

Life CALLS on YOU. Heed her mighty, caressing, and beautiful call. Here’s a small section of my book Liberation from the Lie:

Forget self-help, forget meditation, forget Buddhism—forget it all. They are all distant provinces in the land of thought.


When we cling to these secondhand, borrowed notions, they become desperate thoughts imported from the fields of fear.


When we seek answers from external sources, we turn our back on ourselves. Cease seeking and find yourself. Find yourself without needing to seek.
If we stop seeking, what is HERE?


What is here is Life. Each of us is the light that shines on it and makes Life possible. That is the ultimate act of love. Love IS.


Life is ALWAYS there, and it is there for only one person—YOU.


Life never forsakes us, but we so aggressively forsake it. We forsake it for dreams that are always just past the next moment, just a little farther along the road of meditation and self-infatuation and self-rejection. We run from Life, thinking that there is always something better, something looming in the distance, that if we could only touch it, we could then possess it.


Life cannot be possessed. Instead, be possessed by Life!


When we feel trapped and hopeless, it is there—LIFE … LIFE with all of its potential, its mystery, its opportunity to connect—with its opportunity to TOUCH you and for YOU to touch IT.


Dance with Life … DANCE with all your HEART … dance with Life that is vast and Life that is small. For there is something out there that is indeed looming, and that thing is DEATH—your death, the death of your parents, the death of your husband or wife, the death of your children, the death of all that you hold dear.


Know death, and through knowing it—its inevitably, its HERE and NOW—see that every moment is dear. it is your love and understanding that make it so. Do not let Life down with your seeking for something better. There is something out there. You don’t need to seek it, for it will surely find you.


In that gap between now and the now that ends all nows, dance with all your heart. Life is your partner, Life is your center. Let it touch and caress you with its carelessness, with its ripe abundance.


It’s time to leave the shore and dive in. Be as life.


Life IS. Love IS. But they are lonely without YOU. Life needs YOU and only YOU. You exist for it and it exists utterly for you. Life made you for itself.


Do not let Life down. It’s NOW or never. Cowards run from Life seeking something better. They run and they run.


It’s time to walk away from that race, where winners only die, exhausted and spent after Life has passed them by.


Be brave and let Life TOUCH you. Be brave, and reach out in the smallest way and touch IT.


And … don’t feel bad if you just need to give up, for that too is life … LOVE knows that, and LIFE knows that sometimes you need to lower your head and go no further.


But in that lowering, in that heavy-heartedness, in that mourning, all beauty still unfolds before you. This beauty is so very patient. She waits for YOU, she waits only for you, because she loves you and only you. She knows your pain and your sadness. All the patience you may lack, she possesses in limitless abundance. She waits at your doorway, waiting for you to open your eyes, to open your heart, to let the LIGHT in.


She will always be there to invite you to the dance. She will be THERE and HERE and EVERYWHERE. She is outside and she is inside … She IS you, if you only knew that.


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What Makes Liberation from the Lie Unique?


What makes Liberation from the Lie unique?

I wrote Liberation from the Lie because of the overall failure of nearly every other approach to awakening. I asked myself these questions:

  • Why was awakening to the truth of presence so difficult?
  • Why do most of us struggle with depression, seeking, and persistent stress?
  • What is missing from the teachings of Buddhism, nonduality, and even psychological therapy?

While everyone’s path is subtly different, there is much more we have in common than what sets us apart. My own ‘intellectual’ breakthrough came as a result of reading Morris Berman’s Wandering God. The evidence presented by Professor Berman clearly showed that depression, restless seeking, and persistent anxiety are not endemic to the human condition. They are, in fact, relatively recent developments that are tied to how we are raised and socialized.

I integrated what I learned from Wandering God with my direct experience working with traditional Navajo healers and my extensive immersion in the philosophies of Buddhism and Nonduality.

The result was a comprehensive approach to understanding and a direct path to self awakening that is Liberation from the Lie.

What sets Liberation apart from every other book available to the reader is the remarkable and life changing realization of the Wound and the ensuing Fear-Selves. On account of our primal Wound, we naturally developed an array of Fear-Selves. It became clear to me that the person suffering from persistent depression and anxiety, the person endlessly seeking spiritual awakening, and even those of us struggling to make sense of our lives were, in fact, forms of the Fear-Self. They were not the authentic person.

This was the life-changing insight and this is what makes Liberation from the Lie unique. This book presents a comprehensive explanation why conventional forms of therapy and spiritual practice cannot work for most of us. As long as we believe we are a Fear-Self, we will spend the rest of our lives spinning our wheels believing that we are making “progress” when we are sustaining a deeper belief in a person that is false. The seeker, the stressed-out person, the depressed person, none of these are our authentic identities. As long as we continue “working” on these artifacts of the Wound, no enduring transformation will result.

This book presents an easy to understand pathway to understanding how these false-selves evolved in us and what keeps them going. Until we understand the immensely powerful role they play in our lives, we will continue living under the trance of the false authority.

This is both the truth and the way out.

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Finding Balance in a Universe of Change


Finding Balance in a World of Change

There are two sources of identification. When we are identified with lack, which the vast majority of us are, we are identified with the changes in our life; changes in thought, feeling, emotion, circumstances, and experience. The alternative identification is with that which is aware of all change; that part of us that has never changed and never will. The luminous screen of identification is the source of everything and it is always and must be balanced in all circumstance without exception.

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The Navajo 3 Levels of Life


This story was told to me by a traditional Navajo healer.

He said that there are three levels of reality. The first is the sensed world – everything we see, hear, touch, taste, and touch. It is 100% sacred. The second level is our psychological world. It consists of our hopes and fears and any opinions we have related to our hopes and fears. This world is the source of 100% of our suffering. Finally there is the Ceremonial World, where it is all one.

We can see that this means that karma, the belief in an afterlife, a belief in a personal god, each belongs to the psychological world of our hopes and fears. The sensed world is sacred. In its form of pure connection – it is the Ceremonial World

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