The work of Greg Goode was recently described as ‘a massive turning point’ by a member of the No-Facebook page. So I decided to take a look…Very recently I have said on this blog that I only believe that true non-dualism is achievable during meditation, well I was wrong based on Greg Goode’s view of things which have made the pieces slot nicely into place in my mind. Watching these videos has certainly developed my understanding of how non-dualism looks in everyday life as opposed to meditation.
Gregs work is based on self-enquiry, In the videos he talks about both the traditional devotional, progressive path and the direct path to enlightenment. The direct path is not attached to a particular teaching and is about contemplatative self enquiry although many practitioners may embrace the wisdom of a number of teachings to add depth of understanding. According to Goode, the direct path works well for people who have tried the devotional progressive path, this contradicts John Sherman (see recent post) but agrees with Douglas Harding another advocate of self enquiry and experiment who also embraced many other teachings within his work.
One of the fundamental points made here by Goode relate to non-dualism and the primacy of consciousness, which may seem obvious. It is only when it is understood, and really understood that all feelings, desires and life situations, are arising objects within consciousness that non-dualism is realised. Once achieved (and this unsuitable wording turns it into another arising object and therefore dual and not non-dual.) Individual Consciousness becomes benevolent to what arises within the life of the ‘I’. In my mind taking this further makes individual consciousness an arising of a benevolent universal consciousness (God consciousness if one prefers).
An interesting experiment on one of these videos is one that locates ones own feeling of ‘I’. When I pin-pointed my own ‘I’ it was actually outside of my body- just in front of my forehead. I don’t think it matters where this ‘I’ is located as the exercise makes the ‘I’ into another arising object, but it is interesting all the same. Our body is an arising object of consciousness also, so the ‘point’ being inside it is irrelevant. Different states of awareness that arise will shift it anyhow even if one is unaware of this at the time.
It is through various forms of self enquiry where I have found my own peace. And now I can see where consciousness has primacy over my ‘I’ and were it does not. (dualism/ non-dualism). Everyone arrives at their destination in different ways although reports of individuals becoming enlightened always appear to be broadly the same. It has been very valuable for me to read the story as told by others, like Greg, awareness of light has played a big initial part in my own story; light is after all the nature of us along with all apparent objects. As Greg puts it: “There is no experience of enlightenment, for nothing is separate from experience. Rather, experience itself is light. Enlightenment is not just about ‘Light’ also is the feeling of oneness, lack of limitations, bliss and expansion along with the “I” that experiences it….Gregs ‘enlightenment’ is described later in the post. Light need not be part of everyone’s experience here, although a sense of an illuminated ‘I’ may be more common in the unmistakable ah-ha moment that occurs when one ‘sees’ oneself for the first time.
Greg’s has published 2 books relevant to this article, ‘direct path’ and ‘Standing as awareness’ the works are centred around the concept of the direct path, and much like Douglas Harding or John Sherman the purpose is to feel the direct experience of you. Greg’s work is based on the teachings of Yes, Sri Atmananda Krishna Menon, who died in 1959. According to Greg the point of the ‘Direct Path’ is to alleviate suffering by uniting the head and the heart in peace, to see ones true nature as awareness and no longer experiencing duality at any time. Personally I am not a fan of too much ‘method’ however these experiments are fun. A method can be a good starting point…
Greg’s own story has similarities to mine, in childhood when he was about ten years old, he and his friends would throw rocks at each other. This led to a kind of self-inquiry, although he did not realise this at the time… Smack! As a rock hit Greg’s head. He realized that the rock had not hit ‘him’ just his head. As he got older Greg thought a lot about this. According to Greg Goode “There was no place a rock could land that I thought was truly me. In fact, whatever “X” could named was not me, because it was “My X.” But where was the “I”? It’s not as though I didn’t have a strong sense of it.
I suspect many children may think this way, certainly as a young child I had a similar feeling and pondered for hours on the ‘who am I’ concept myself. While psychologists may dismiss this childhood awareness as a pre-personal (pre-ego) state as opposed to the transpersonal state associated with enlightenment. It is never the less a question I asked in a previous post in the journey to un-enlightenment here it occurred to me that some adults spend a lifetime trying to ‘find themselves’ when they were born with the very answer that they were looking for. Gregs story appears to resonate with mine in this respect.
Before becoming enlightened Greg described himself as feeling a deep sense of loneliness, alienation, lack of fulfilment, and a strong yearning from the heart and mind to know “What is it all about? What is the purpose of life? What happens after? What are all these mystical truths that are spoken of? Where is fulfilment to be found? He tried many different paths, from Ayn Rand’s icy “Rational Selfishness”, the strictness and ecstasy of Born-Again Pentecostal Christianity. Years later, this all settled down to an intense inquiry. “What is the core of me?” After a few years, the question refined itself. “Is that the me?” “But where is it?”
Greg’s answer came one day while he was reading a book about consciousness, and when the answer came, it didn’t come as a conceptual statement like “It is ABC.” Rather, it came by way of the world and the body imploding into a brilliant light, and the willing, phenomenal self-thinning out, disappearing in a blaze of the same light. No separation was experienced; no time or space was experienced, yet I knew myself as the seeing itself. All “thoughts” and other mentation’s were deeply experienced as spontaneous arisings in awareness, happening around no fixed point or location. And it wasn’t personal. Not only the entity “Greg,” but all apparent personal entities dissolved.
Out of nowhere, lightness, sweetness, brightness, and a fluidity of the world became qualities of everything, and became one with all experiences. My long-standing question had vanished along with what I had believed was “me.” There arose resiliency, joy, and an untouchable happiness.
This experience uncovered the realization that without the conceptual structures that make things seem real, there is no presumption of a separate centre. This is a sense of peace far beyond what happens when we get what we dream about. Indeed, the world, body, and mind appear as sensations, feelings and thoughts. These appearances are all arisings in awareness. The person does not see these arisings. Rather, the person is made up out of these arisings, including the supposed act of seeing. If these arisings are investigated, it can be seen that they do not reach outside themselves. They cannot point to each other, touch each other or contain each other. It is only memory that suggests that there has ever been another arising. But memory itself is nothing more than an arising. It cannot truly point backwards or forwards to anything, for during this apparent pointing, there are no objects to be pointed to. What is left? Awareness, our true nature. The person is never free, as awareness, we are never bound
Greg Goode’s title, ‘The direct path’ is an experiential guide to nondual inquiry from beginning to end, and beyond. The core of the book is a set of forty 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 is a section on teaching and the notion of a “post-nondual realization.”
These are the type of experiments that can be found in the book: Towards the beginning of the book, you look deeply for an orange. What is your direct experience? Is the orange really over there, separate from you? Towards the middle of the book, you look deeply for the mind, and parts of the mind that are usually regarded as separate and hidden. So in one experiment you look for the subconscious. What is your direct experience of the subconscious? Later you look for subtle objects such as causality and even witnessing awareness. What is your direct experience of these things? In every case what happens is that you make a discovery. Your direct experience is nothing other than awareness itself. And it doesn’t even end there…
About Greg Goode. Greg has been a philosophical counsellor since 1996. After studying Psychology at California State University, Greg studied philosophy in Cologne, Germany, and received his M.A. and Ph.D. in Philosophy from the University of Rochester
Resources and further reading:
Play list of 18 videos