Everywhere you go on Facebook, the neo-Advaita and Zen-like postings and gurus are still going strong, emphasizing being in the Now, which is a concept, emptiness (also referred to as Void), no separate self (whatever that means), and that self and Self are merely concepts, but nowness is not.
Wherever I go and post anything about the experience of small self or Big Self, God and the divine, I am in conflict with those who extol “ordinary mind” which is absent self, ego, or I-ness.
These neos, and neo-like posters, and they are legion, can be very caustic, like John Troy or Robert Salzman, or avoid dialogue between the “Selfers,” like me, and current Tantric and devotional Advaita teachers like David Spero, or Jan Esmann, and the older generation of shakti-gurus like Muktananda.
Recently, Stephen Bodian, who Robert Salzman cites as supporting his own ordinary mind and newness teachings, posted on his FB page about empty mind and staying in the now.
I commented asking if he wanted to start a dialogue between the selfers, like myself, who after 20-30 years of abiding in the now, empty mind, the void, or have dwelled in the witness state for long periods, and then have experienced something new, explosively: the arising of a sense of self as a personal, body-mind, and also the experience of the divine, of God as Other, who appears to me, the small self, and in a sense destroys the small self by infusing it with the divine, with bliss, love, surrender, with ecstasies and energies.
You see, the selfers feel the emptiness gets filled with somethingness, presence, energies and aliveness. This led Muktananda to say, “I have come alive” (from nonbeing, emptiness, the unmanifest state.
Stephen’s response was, “I have no comment Ed. Thanks for sharing your view.") Then someone else added two comments about those who are Bhaktas, and start or finish their paths with somethingness rather than emptiness, such as Nisargadatta and Shankara. Stephen sort of sarcastically replied with a “show me” response to the other commenter, Stuart Sovatsky.
Then Stephen commented he had not expected his post to result in a philosophical debate.
I responded it is more than a philosophical debate, we are talking about two fundamentally different approaches to spirituality, that of Jnana and emptiness, the Now, and that of the Self, of fullness, bliss and ecstasy, love and surrender. We are talking of spiritual experiences, not of philosophical concepts.
With that, Stephen Bodian took the thread down. He does not want to dialogue.
John Troy and Salzman on the other hand are far more belligerent, just frankly denying the Self exists, and that anyone who perceives a self is deluded and narcissistic BECAUSE THEY DO NOT EXPERIENCE A SELF. They have a storyline from which they do not deviate. Self does not exist separate from objects in nowness. In nowness there is only oneness.
Yet, in these emptiness people, you will find very little expression of love or even talk of affect at all except as objects that arise and pass away. As Sasaki Roshi told me, “There is no love in Zen.” You will also find little about love in the neos. It is all about the joy of being in the present. There is no talk in them of surrender or service or of passionate love.
So, the next time you puruse a neo FB guru of the neo Advaita Nowness persuasion, see what part love, surrender, devotion, and the divine play in their worldview. Very little. Non-dualists have a hard time dealing with love that is dualistic, and may talk about some ideal sense of love, like love without some quality they think love should not have, like neediness or erotic desire, but you can feel in them the lack of juice. They are kind of dried up and angry because they really don’t accept their own humanity.
I think the neo fad has passed its peak. Some of the FB neo gurus are even talking about the fad passing. Thank God!! Now we can get back to God and bliss, rather than just peacefulness and self-acceptance.