March 6, 2010
I had a wonderful time last weekend attending a non-dualism conference in Fort Walden Beach in the Florida pan-handle.
Non-dualism? What does THAT mean? And why would I attend a four day conference on it? Well, the answer to the LAST question is the same basic answer I give for ANY trip… to have fun and meet AWESOME people… which of COURSE, I did! I always do! I had decided to go rather on the spur of the moment at the invitation of a friend, but it was a perfect fit!
Okay… so what is non-dualism? The Center for Non-dualism defines it as “… the orientation that there is one absolute reality without a second, and that each of us, although an individual person, is one with that reality, just as a wave is not separate from the ocean.” They would invite you to learn more at www.CenterForNonDualism.org
Buddhism is non-dualistic. For me it is about resisting the temptation to label things. In the West we tend to want to separate things… good or bad, right or wrong, us or them, me or you, the ocean or the wave. Non-dualism is about acceptance. Things just ARE. What may seem “good” today might turn out to be “bad” tomorrow… or vice versa. What is “good” to me may be “bad” to someone else. So “good” or “bad” is a judgment call, and the “Truth” of the judgment depends on your point of view. I try to hold judgment and to just accept things as they are. Period. “It is what it is.” Separateness is an illusion.
The theme for this conference was “Transcending Fear”. There were a dozen or so speakers during the four day conference that talked about different aspects of fear. Since “fear of public speaking” seems to be a common fear, everyone had an easy “tie-in”! I found all of the talks very interesting. And of course I met AWESOME people! It was one of the HAPPIEST groups of people I’ve ever spent time with… not to mention kind and gentle! Definitely my kind of people!
Most of the people at the non-dualism conference seem to be coming to the table from a yoga, meditation and Hinduism point of view. There was daily yoga practice and many guided meditations throughout each day. One night we had practiced an hour of “Om-ing”. About 70 people sat in a circle and chanted “om”. It was very powerful! The next night we had a “drumming circle” where the same number of people chose instruments and had fun making noise and dancing. I am sure the wait staff at the Ramada Hotel thought we were all NUTS, but so be it! It was fun! The optional dip in the hot tub afterwards was also memorable… good conversations!
The Center For Non-Dualism was founded by a group of friends who were interested in non-dualism and wanted to have an alternative to Sunday church. Apparently they felt as isolated in Florida for their “alternative” views as I and my Unitarian Universalist friends feel in North Carolina for ours! One of the Center’s three Board of Directors is Swami Jnaneshvara Bharati. He is interesting, to say the least! There was also a Dutch woman named Rukmini who is on the path to be a Swami (or the female equivalent). The two of them and a handful of friends were heading off to India a day or two after the conference for a period of study and travel. I am sure they are having a great time! Perhaps I will be able to join them on one of their trips to India in the future… India IS on my “bucket list”! I’ve already marked my calendar for next year’s non-dualism conference!
As always… Life’s a TRIP!