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Sunday, March 21, 2004  
Waking Down in Mutuality

I went to Portland this weekend for four days of activities with Saniel Bonder, the main/founding teacher for Waking Down in Mutuality.

It is difficult to talk concisely and clearly about as it is still quite new for me.

Some of the main impressions are: (a) The words and intentions are very familiar to me and close to my own. (b) The experience/process may still be quite different from what I have experienced before. (c) It can help deepen/embody other practices (spiritual and other). (d) It is something I would like to pursue (investigate/immerse myself in).

Some of the words/intentions that are close to my own:
(a) Enlightenment/awakening must be fully embodied and lived in everyday life, especially in real/authentic relationships.
(b) Awakening is only the beginning - the real work is in bringing it fully into our lives.
(c) Reality is a seamless whole (no separations), beyond and including/embracing all polarities.
(d) Going deep into the dual/transdual (relative/absolute) polarity. Deeply exploring and familiarizing oneself with differentiation (including individualization) on the one hand, and the seamless whole on the other, and exploring the dance of the relationships between the two. Deeply exploring the dance between the relative and absolute, and how to express/live it in life's many situations.
(e) The profound wisdom in matter and the processes of matter (in the body/Universe).
(f) Egotism and altruism is one. When we realize that the Universe is a seamless whole, our own happiness and fulfillment is dependent on living in a way that contributes to the happiness of others.
(g) Evolutionary perspective. Any spiritual practice must be appropriate to the people using it, and contemporary westerners have a different psychology than that of easterners centuries back. (i) The mind is of course the same, but the configuration of the psyche, as well as the social demands/pressures, are different. (ii) There is also seemingly an evolution in how mind is expressed, from a dreamlike state (pre-human), a partly awake and tribally oriented state, to the contemporary partly awake western state seeking individualization (obviously not the end if the process is allowed to continue). A more fully awake state has been available for millennia, has been expressed by individuals in many different traditions, and is in each case expressed through a pattern that matches the psychological configuration and social situation at the time.

And some that were a little different:
(a) Equalizing pressure. We are always equalizing/diffusing pressure, on all levels. Hungry > eat. Mind/body split > yoga/spiritual practice. Experience of individual/universe boundary > spiritual practice. We experience a need to equalize pressure, choose different strategies to do so, and can refine these strategies (to spend less effort, and so it works for everyone). This is very similar to Non-Violent Communication (NVC). The most obvious difference (which may be mostly on a terminology level) is that the pressures are in NVC identified as needs. In both cases there are two main aspects: (i) A differentiation between pressures (needs) and the strategies to equalize (meet) them. (ii) And an emphasis on choosing strategies to do so in a more efficient way. Or more precisely, to choose, develop and differentiate strategies and skills that will meet our own needs as well as that of others in a more satisfying way.
(b) The process unfolds from a chackra on the right side of the heart (pacemaker area). If this is indeed the case (and I have no reason to doubt it), it explains why the words are similar/identical to that of other approaches, while the experience may be quite different (more naturally embodied).

Some of my initial concerns:
(a) It springs out of Indian traditions, which I tend to avoid as they often seek transcendence. In this case, that is not true. They are very much focused on embodiment.
(b) Overgeneralizations. This is my main problem with the Waking Down process, and it has several aspects. (i) Saniel seems to speak from his own experience. This is from a more dualistic Indian spiritual tradition where they embrace one end of the polarity - the absolute - and apparently try to ignore the other - the relative (embodiment, fully lived human life etc). This is understandable and OK in itself, but he then overgeneralize and applies these statements to all eastern traditions. Many, if not most, of them (such as the Buddhists, Daoist, and tantric) strongly focus on embodiment, fully lived realization, relationships, living a full human life in realization etc. It seems quite imbalanced (is he trying to work through own wounds?) (ii) I also realize that while the words and intentions are similar between Waking Down and other (trans dual) Eastern traditions, the lived experience may be different (due to different processes). This does warrant some distinction, but not the way he is doing it.
(c) Saniel did not work with a teacher after his awakening, something that is recommended in most traditions to help the person clarify, refine and avoid pitfalls.

The real test of any path is the people, and in this case - they seem to have a very healthy approach (open, balanced, investigative, good sense of humor).

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