Friday, October 31, 2008

Book Review: One: Essential Writings on Nonduality, 2007

This slim volume collecting excerpts from some of the world's well known sacred texts and enlightened writers makes a simple point, that awakening to our true nature is not a process or experience bound by culture or theology.

Most of One's selections are quite short, ranging from 5-10 pages, and are served with up with introductions setting time, place, and context. If the title and the introduction hadn't already clued you in, it very quickly becomes obvious that sages of ancient India to the script writers of the popular film series The Matrix all have an identical message to convey, that conventional reality is only surface reality, the mind like a movie screen on which fleeting images of light are projected. What lies below, the real reality, can never be described, is approached through humility and abandonment of all conception and striving, and leads to loss of self, the dissolution of I into God, the union of subject and object – enlightenment, rapture, nonduality.

While the religious writings (including selections from Hinduism, Buddhism,Taosim, Native American animism, mystical Judaism, Christianity and Islam) are interesting enough, it's the book's latter half that has the most direct appeal to the modern reader. In it, writers working in such diverse fields as the arts, psychotherapy, and education present perspectives of their professions informed by nonduality.

Most of the selections should be fairly comprehensible to anyone with a decent secondary education. The introductions go a long way in helping explain concepts and expressions used in traditions the typical Western reader may not be familiar with, for example in Hinduism or Buddhism. Ironically for a collection issued in the US, I found one of the densest and least penetrable texts to be of a Christian enlightenment experience.

This is a wonderful book for a new spiritual seeker, or an old one who hasn't been exposed to the well-trod paths winding through other corners of the world. Reading it may help us recall that, despite differences in language or ideology, our quest for awakening is after all is a quest to be fully human.

One: Essential Writings on Nonduality
Jerry Katz, ed
Sentient Publications, 2007


1 comment:

  1. Thank you for the review of One, by a Vine reviewer on, no less! Congratulations on that. Just started exploring your blog. The movie reviews are valuable. Hard to find stuff like that. I would like to feature some things from your blog in our letter, The Nonduality Highlights, if you don't mind. if interested, please write me: jerry at Thank you.
    -Jerry Katz