Excerpt for Nondual Therapy: The Psychology of Awakening by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

Nondual Therapy: The Psychology of Awakening

Copyright 2018 Georgi Y. Johnson

Published by VeReCreations at Smashwords

ISBN 978-1-912517-01-5

E-book Edition License Notes

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Table of Contents



Chapter One: Introduction

Chapter Two: The Living Psyche



The Dark Night

True Nature


Chapter Three: Networks of Light


Mirror Neurons

Autonomic Nerve System

Chapter Four: Software of Suffering

Negation: The First Illusion

No Time, No Space

Chapter Five: Nondual Qualities

Qualities are Misconceived

Qualities are Evolutionary

Qualities are Eternal and Infinite

Qualities are Sensory

Qualities are Inseparable from Conscious Awareness

Qualities Attract Balance & Harmony

Chapter Six Duality & Form

Horizontal Flows

Vertical Flows

Psychospiritual Geography: Summary

Chapter Seven: Contractions in the Psyche

Contractions Deny Time and Space

Contractions Claim Autonomy

Either-Or Programming

Contractions can be Anesthetic

Contractions are Living Energy Caught in the Past

Contractions are Old Friends

Contractions are a Protection Mechanism

Conscious Awareness Effects Contractions


Chapter Eight: Trauma

Life in the Trauma Vortex

Collective Trauma

Nondual Therapy & Trauma

Trauma & Spiritual Awakening


Foreword to the Compendium

1. Suffering, Resistance & Choice



Choice: Nondual Quality


2. Birth, Death & Life



Life: Nondual Quality


3. Past Future & Now



Now: Nondual Quality


4. Inside, Outside & Here



Here: Nondual Quality


5. Head, Heart & Body



Body: Nondual Quality


6. Pleasure, Pain & Bliss



Bliss: Nondual Quality


7. Stress, Depression & Relaxation



Relaxation: Nondual Quality


8. War, Surrender & Peace



Peace: Nondual Quality


9. Fear, Anger & Compassion



Compassion: Nondual Quality


10. Despair, Hope & Need



Need: Nondual Quality


11. Expectation, Disappointment & Curiosity



Curiosity: Nondual Quality


12. Sadness, Negativity & Happiness



Happiness: Nondual Quality


13. Slavery, Liberation & Freedom



Freedom: Nondual Quality


14. Acceptance, Rejection & Belonging



Belonging: Nondual Quality


15 Superior, Inferior & Equal



Equality: Nondual Quality


16. Illegitimacy, Injustice & Esteem



Esteem: Nondual Quality


17. Boredom, Addiction & Passion



Passion: Nondual Quality


18. Hate, Sacrifice & Love



Love: Nondual Quality


19. Loneliness, Intimacy & Connection



Connection: Nondual Quality


20. Jealousy, Idolatry & Humility



Humility: Nondual Quality


21. Betrayal, Loyalty & Trust



Trust: Nondual Quality


22. Shame, Disgust & Purity



Purity: Nondual Quality


23. Guilt, Accusation & Innocence



Innocence: Nondual Quality


24. Possession, Abandonment & Care



Care: Nondual Quality


25. Grief, Preservation & Joy



Joy: Nondual Quality


26. Loss, Gain & Fulfillment



Fulfillment: Nondual Quality


27. Greed, Poverty & Gratitude



Gratitude: Nondual Quality


28. Good, Evil & Discernment



Discernment: Nondual Quality


29. Abuse, Victimhood & Power



Power: Nondual Quality


30. Control, Submission & Helplessness



Helplessness: Nondual Quality


31. Lies, Honesty & Truth



Truth: Nondual Quality


32. Sanity, Insanity & Insight



Insight: Nondual Quality


33. Stupidity, Smartness & Genius



Genius: Nondual Quality


34. Mother, Father & Child



Child: Nondual Quality


35. Silence, Stillness & Emptiness






Chapter 1: Beyond Frontiers

Quality Whiplash

Dread Attacks

Chapter 2. I Am Here: Mind, Heart & Body

Consciousness & Mind

Awareness: Felt Sense

Emptiness: Sensation & Body

Chapter 3: I Am That

Chapter 4: Therapeutic Techniques

All the Way Home

Sentient Geography

Less is More

Sensory Experience

Releasing Pronouns

Inquiry & Paradox

True Nature as Resource


Index of 99 Nondual Qualities & Contractions

About the Author


This book is dedicated with gratitude to my mother, Pauline Ashby, through whom I manifest, and whose love, care, humor and wisdom are a support and inspiration.

The legs, for example, of that chair – how miraculous their tubularity, how supernatural their polished smoothness! I spent several minutes – or was it several centuries? – not merely gazing at those bamboo legs, but actually being them – or rather being myself in them; or, to be still more accurate (for "I" was not involved in the case, nor in a certain sense were "they") being my Not-self in the Not-self which was the chair.”

Aldous Huxley


The place where we sit, deep inside ourselves, will determine the fabric of our reality. It will affect our attitude to what’s seen, our feelings and our thoughts. Just the chair of our perception will determine our point of view and our experience, flooding the horizons with its atmospheres.

Where do you sit when you look out on the world? Is it on a throne of authority, or on a prayer stool of humility? Do you sit in stillness, or are you comfortable on the chair of friendliness and belonging? Are you struggling to remain on the same chair, or do you sometimes switch chairs without noticing? Perhaps at work, it’s the bar-stool and in the bar, it’s on the seat of wisdom. Perhaps with your parents you’re in a high-chair (with a finger on the eject button) and with the partner you enjoy the driver’s seat? Could it be that we’re switching chairs all the time without knowing it? Perhaps a deeper freedom can be found in the one that can switch the chair of perception according to need?

This book was born to meet the need for a shift in our conception of human freedom in form. It’s based on a fundamental world view which is shared by increasing numbers of people from all walks of life across the world. This world view is a result of a wave of collective awakening to timeless wisdom: that consciousness is primary, undivided and unconstrained both in time and space. While each of us is different, we are not separate. Rather, we are all unique expressions of a collective evolution.

When we allow the premise of unity – that it’s the same life, consciousness and Source that moves through all different forms – questions remain which are inherently psychological: Why do we feel separate? Why do we suffer? What can we do to experience wisdom and unity? How can we be unconditionally happy?

Thus, the second premise of this book: that our feelings, emotions and states of being are energetically alive, and that they affect the nature of thoughts and our physical health. That is, the way we feel has a causal impact on our health and our state of mind. Emotional suffering, therefore, begs for deeper insight, it should not be ignored. Right now, our shared repertoire of feelings and emotions is impoverished. There are a greater variety of feelings expressed through emojis on our smartphones than in the literature of psychology. Guilt and shame, for example, are conventionally treated as synonymous. But do they feel the same? Are love, peace and freedom just interchangeable words?

When we refine the exploration of feelings and emotions, an infinite scope of sensitivity emerges. This opening of the Felt Sense of living experience has the power to unlock thought patterns that have been conditioned by a limited emotional vocabulary. When our feelings change, the way we conceive reality is also transformed.

In general, where we suffer, there is a sense of contraction or freeze. This freeze creates stress. When the stress is ignored, the contracted energy becomes depressed. Yet it’s still there, creating bottlenecks and restraints in the flow of vitality through the body, psyche and mind.

But what has frozen? Where there was freedom, now there is contraction. What has contracted? Thus, Nonduality introduces the principle of our True Nature – the qualities of consciousness that we share and recognize, such as love, peace, joy and freedom.

Our premise is that contractions are frozen forms of those qualities. For example, when we surround a contraction of hatred with unconditional love, a melting occurs which de-contracts the energy.

Out of these insights, a methodology has emerged which is both diagnostic and therapeutic. At first, this work was the result of shared exploration with my partner, Bart ten Berge. Bart has treated thousands over the past thirty years and has a breadth of experience and impact in his therapeutic work which is transformational. At first, we were our own laboratory. We used ourselves as living guinea pigs – researching both the nature of contraction in the psyche and of Nondual Qualities.

The circle expanded to include advanced groups of meditators, colleagues and students. Everyone has brought insight, and in this way, the field of Nondual Therapy has evolved significantly beyond the subtle denial of suffering through a monastic attempt to stay ‘Nondual’. The agenda of personal perfection fell away to be replaced by a living celebration of all forms of expression and receptivity. This has truly been a shared, evolutionary project, proving the insight that when teacher and student disappear, learning is happening. For all this, we are grateful.

This book is intended as a support for diagnosis, self-exploration and therapy. We hope that it will be a companion in those moments where it’s needed as well as an inspiration. The methodology is in no way intended as a dogma, but rather as a tool to open new possibilities of depth psychology, including the subtle, unconscious and transpersonal aspects of human experience.

We are all expressions of a deeper need which has tremendous intelligence, and our individual purpose is to allow that evolutionary unfolding to be experienced through us. We bless you on your journey through these pages, with the wind at your back and the sun on your face. Every moment released into freedom – even at the most intimate layers of experience – is having a direct positive impact on the well-being of all of us. Thank you for being here, and for allowing the time and space for freedom to manifest through human form.

One's whole being vibrates like strings brushed by an invisible wind.”




Let’s meet purely with presence

and be wholly here to one another

knowing that, in essence, we are the same

knowing that, in being, we are one.”


Chapter One: Introduction

We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.”


What would it be like to live each moment with vitality, belonging, joy and curiosity? What if we could easily access unlimited resources of peace, love and freedom? Imagine the freedom to switch perspectives or points of view, easily moving between one seat of experience and another. We can find ourselves at the seat of insight, or in the chair of universal care; we can move to the launchpad of passion, or fall into the couch of relaxation. Rather than burning in a chair of jealousy, being strapped to a seat of fear, or bound to the stark discomfort of greed, we can get up and switch perspectives. Perhaps, if we uncovered this freedom, we would choose to sit where we suffer least, where even the passage of time and the confines of space are impermanent, where it’s possible to serve the wellbeing of the whole, of which we are a unique expression?

This book is inspired by the lived experience of the qualities of our true nature, which are always available, and are especially experienced when we release our minds, hearts and bodies from conditioning. The qualities of true nature, called here Nondual Qualities, are places we sit to become channels to natural and universal wellbeing. These qualities are never far away, in fact, they’re deeply close to home – nurturing, sustaining and empowering us moment by moment, with each breath we take and every step we make.

The realization of full human potential involves the evolution of mind. Where there is individual perspective, there is always a dynamic play between individuality and unity. The very concept of individuality is a mental one. In this way, our development presently expresses a crisis of individuality. The mind asks: Who am I? What am I? Where am I? These questions demand sensory answers, which means they are answered by our sense of being alive. From then on, the mind stops dictating experience and begins to follow it. It works as a receiver, reflector and describer of that which is experienced as its own Source – a dimension of experience which precedes all mental functioning. Whereas the mind sees a conflict of opposites, experience allows both sides of a pair. In duality, each side depends on the other in order to be itself.

Nonduality is a broad term which literally means ‘not two’. While the term Nonduality can be associated with the ancient Indian wisdom of Advaita, the wisdom of inherent one-ness is found through mystical strains across all cultures of the world. In Western terms, Nonduality is based on the insight that the manifestation occurs through the play of pairs: we have male and female, up and down, left and right. Even when we look at ideals like harmony, symmetry and balance, we witness the play of two. Nonduality doesn’t exclude this natural duality but indicates the one out of which the two are born, and the one in which the dance of duality occurs. Nonduality is not a negation of duality, but rather the Source and facilitator of all manifestation. In the words of Nondual teacher Jeff Foster: “The non-duality we speak of is not the opposite of anything… To see what is being spoken of, we must go beyond our ordinary way of thinking and seeing.”

Our search to make sense of experience and to find form within physical life is driven by a passion which is universal and at the same time unique. Attempting to contain this tension, our mental conditioning has twisted natural forms of duality into a competition of false opposites: it’s ‘Me Versus You’, ‘Author Versus Reader’, ‘Speaker Versus Listener’, ‘Black Versus White’, ‘Good Versus Bad’, ‘Light Versus Darkness’. This competition between complementary phenomena is illusory. Our right hand is not born to compete against our left hand any more than the in-breath is superior to the out-breath. Competition is conflict, and where we conflict within ourselves, we lose our sense of wellbeing.

Moment by moment, there is potential for compassion, collaboration and celebration, yet part of our evolution is enslaved in a contraction around competition and collaboration. Both are born of evolution and are needed in the liberation of the individual within unity. Yet the energy of competition generates an addiction to conflict in which we grasp towards what we consider desirable and attempt to negate the opposite. For example, we want the pleasure but not the pain, or we want the gain but not the loss. This grasping enslaves us to conflict, which reflects throughout the psyche as energetic contraction. Caught in a hall of mirrors, we invest our vitality in imagined appearances and disconnect from the Source of all duality which is inherently Nondual. One could not become two without the one that feeds, sustains and outlives the dance of two. Two are always formed of the one, which means that all duality is formed of Nonduality.

Therapy is about healing, which is the compassionate movement needed to return to naturalness and wholeness. Nondual Therapy is a process which supports the release of energetic contractions in the psyche back to the Source qualities out of which they were formed.

The process unveils a living, holistic individuality that is dynamically attuned to the needs of the whole. Released of the agenda of personal survival, the individual begins to manifest through the field of possibilities born in each moment, expressing core qualities which are precious and unique, yet which originate from the same inseparable Nondual Source of us all.

Nondual Therapy is not about achieving a status, or becoming a new, improved person. Rather, it’s about undoing the web of personality to allow the flow of pure Nondual Qualities through and beyond all forms of the psyche, whether they be broken, twisted or imperfect. Rather than trying to fix the personality, it sees individuality as a precious manifestation of Source in motion – a flow of unique moments of experience that can be celebrated as part of the evolutionary dance of the whole.

Words struggle to express the suffering of being disconnected from life: the decrease in vitality, inspiration, pleasure and joy; the feeling of being caught in a treadmill of obligation and fear, out of which the only release is the greater fear of death itself. One of the great mercies in this kind of suffering, is that often, we are hardly aware of the pain we’re in. Thus, the cliché: “It’s better to let sleeping dogs lie.” Yet sleeping dogs do awaken, and sometimes with a cry of pain. To put it simply, problems don’t go away just because we ignore them. This includes the big problems of who, what and where we are.

It’s a tragic paradox that we deny life out of fear of losing that life, yet this is the underlying dynamic that governs much of the human psyche. Controlled by a collective agenda to avoid suffering, we find we are tragically creating more suffering. It seems that suffering is needed as an inseparable part of the evolution of the whole, and as an indispensable part of healing – from the shock and pain of the divisions that are inherent to creation, to the reunion of the manifold within unity. In so many ways, suffering – when allowed – looks like love. Our cry of suffering is the cry for reunion: it is the calling towards home and the awakening of our True Nature. When we repress that call of suffering – which is the precise music of our healing – we also repress the love.

Suffering takes many forms. From one perspective, all experience is composed of suffering. This is because experience is a contraction of our pure nature.

Out of seamless unity, pure stillness or the omnipresence of silence, a need emerges which is a subtle form of primal experience. Experience is a disturbance, a contraction within the whole. In the Jewish Lurianic Kabbalah, creation is described as a process of contraction (‘tzimtzum’ in Hebrew) in which the infinite contracts to allow the concurrent manifestation of the finite. This contraction of primordial light reveals 'vacant space' or emptiness which is the facilitator of all form. This principle of contraction is found through the qualities of our True Nature. For example, care contracts as possession and abandonment; or purity contracts as shame and disgust. (Section II of this book details 35 examples)

Contraction is uncomfortable, but it’s also awakening. This awakening of consciousness reaffirms that this movement, this contraction, is a living aspect that belongs within consciousness. Even if the feeling is of ‘nothing’, our resting in awareness with that ‘nothing’ will cause it to expand and differentiate. Perhaps it has a subtle vibration of disappointment in it, or annoyance. Even no feeling is feeling when we stay present as awareness.

Each time we refuse to feel a feeling (that is already happening); each repressed emotion; each moment we distract ourselves to avoid inner discomfort; wherever we pretend to be something we’re not to get accepted as what we are; we lose power. This denial blankets the direct sense of self with illusion. It disconnects us from the joy of life and forms a wall, behind which we’re isolated and afraid of the future. Much of this is unprocessed, as our sensory system becomes normalized in a state of half-closure, demanding the stimulation of danger, violence, catastrophe or crisis to get the sense of vitality back.

Take some space to check in on what’s happening inside you at this moment. That glance towards the inner world is the most important movement we can make: a movement that can transform reality. At first, it can appear that there is ‘nothing’ there. Perhaps there’s a feeling of tightness around the chest, or a restlessness in the solar-plexus. Perhaps there are mites of despair; a subtle groan of frustration; or a deeper undernote of longing. Perhaps there’s an urge to scream, but for who or what, we never knew, so we never screamed. Often, there is just a sense of numbness. What’s going on in this moment in your inner world?

We are conditioned to view the psyche as somehow static: as a fixed thing. We stop making that movement inside, because it seems redundant. “Oh yes, it’s me. Nothing changed.” There could even be a sense of annoyance, because we already “know” everything that’s here on the inside. It can seem pointless or irritating, almost as if we’re allergic to the experience of how it is to be alive in any moment. We often don’t want to feel what’s here on the inside, because it could be horrible, and we anticipate defeat in finding what we secretly expect: that we’re made of bad, shallow stuff. It can seem senseless to look inside: the mind will not be able to do anything with it.

Why is this direction switch – from the conscious gaze outside the psyche, to the conscious gaze inside ourselves – so important? Why does it make a difference? First, this switch in attention is a game-changer, because the inner world is not static. It’s not a fixed configuration, but a flow of living, pulsating, visceral energy. When our consciousness moves towards it, it comes to life. Movement is accelerated and the subliminal consciousness within the energetic form of the psyche awakens with the promise of reunion with the consciousness moving towards it. When consciousness meets consciousness, it’s a reunion. Vitality is released.

This movement of vitality will express itself as the first layers in which we are not free – where our energy is in contraction. That first layer is precisely that sense of annoyance on turning inside, or that sense of restriction, or the feeling of pointlessness. These feelings are the murmurings of the psyche as she is being awakened by the presence of our consciousness. It can be as if a child has been neglected in a room for hours, and has fallen asleep, giving up all hope his mother would come. And then, there is this consciousness at the door, gazing at the child. The child begins to stir, expressing the inner abandonment in which he had fallen asleep: “There is no one here for me. No one is ever coming. There is nothing.” He could even turn his face to the wall.

Stay a while with consciousness attending to the Felt Sense of the inner world. Don’t try to search, organize or analyze. Just stay a little longer, feeling through the areas of density and space. Notice where there’s a feeling of relaxation and space, and where there’s stress. Perhaps there are areas where there are no sensations at all. The more we attend to the inner landscape, the more we might notice the effects of our presence. What was a density of energy could now be a stream. Where there was a rough impasse, there could now be a forest of feeling. Where there had been a sense of obstruction, there could now be a sharp physical pain somewhere in the physical body. Where we met an old melancholy, we are suddenly racing with our thoughts after something apparently random. It’s all part of the puzzle and all relevant. These are the living effects of turning our attention inside. The inner world is not a fixed entity at all, it’s radically alive.

Therapists know that their ability to support a process often depends on their own degree of resilience and liberation – on the ability to contain the process of another without getting triggered by personal issues. So, with a grounded methodology for working with recognizable emotions, energetic contractions and psychological issues, this work is for both therapists and their clients, as a support in creating space for healing to occur.

This book aims to give an overview of the human psyche – in naturalness and in the common areas of contraction. You will learn to recognize how contractions are formed in dualistic pairs, often according to our struggle to contain suffering. Each contraction into psychological duality is formed out of a Nondual Quality that has frozen in manifestation. For example, in the energetic contraction of shame and disgust, there is a call towards that which was frozen: unconditional purity. In this, Nondual Therapy offers a navigational map for the liberation of vitality from the treadmill of suffering. With the critical movement inside, suffering can be transformed to a journey of curiosity, wonder, insight and celebration.

The Dalai Lama has said that the purpose of our lives is to be happy. The purpose of these pages is to open pathways to the happiness which we always were, always are and always will be, at the core of every moment of physical manifestation.


Chapter Two: The Living Psyche

If only a world-wide consciousness could arise that all division and fission are due to the splitting of opposites in the psyche, then we should know where to begin.”


All therapeutic encounters, of any kind, draw on the perennial resource of Nondual Qualities, even when this is an unconscious process. Therefore, all types of therapy, conducted with integrity, are helpful. Therapy involves connection beyond the isolation of the Separate Self. It draws on the healing elixir of awareness, through the art of silence and listening. Conflicts are received, seen and shared, and this has an immediate healing effect.

Before therapy has even begun, the individual has allowed the Nondual Quality of Helplessness, which means they have reached beyond the belief in absolute separation into the wisdom of interdependency and compassion. Resources are passing through the energetic borders of the Separate Self. Therapy involves service, which is also a powerful dissembler of the idea of the ultimately separate individual. A therapeutic process also optimally moves towards shared insight into the unfolding process. These qualities are fundamental to all therapeutic encounters. Nondual Therapy is an evolution of conventional therapeutic models, but differs in that it unhooks hypnotic forms of conditioning found in our collective state of mind.

The general field of psychology evolved out of both philosophy and biology. Discussions of these two subjects date back to the early Greek thinkers, including Aristotle and Socrates. The word psychology is derived from the Greek word psyche, meaning ‘soul’. While the therapeutic field of psychology has twisted and turned through many streams, the core of the science is found at its origin: the cultivation of a deeper, more alive and integrated feeling of connection with the depths of ourselves, the area the ancient Greeks called “soul”. Yet today, many conventional schools of psychological thought relegate the soul as a spiritual concept, operating out of the belief that consciousness is generated in the brain and is limited as a local phenomenon to an individual body. There is an assumed split between ‘Spiritual’ and ‘Human’. This means that the vastness of our True Nature as a living resource is moved to a default position. Nondual Qualities like love and peace are at best fleeting impressions. Consciousness is viewed as functional, not foundational to healing, and healing stops when the personality is again conformed to the consensus of social norms – the collective state of mind.

Conventional therapy tends to presuppose that there is nothing beyond the individual personality. It assumes a back wall to the personality, beyond which there is an abyss, which threatens to rob the personality of both Source and resource. In addition, traditional psychology tends to see the body as an adjunct to the process, rather than acknowledging the holistic inseparability of body, heart and mind. In this, the conditioned mind is invested with the authority and burden of control over feelings, emotions and the physical body, and of course, it inevitably fails. The mind is not the creator of life, it’s just one living expression.

With Nondual Therapy, we turn this approach on its head, prioritizing direct experience in the here and now before the agendas of thought. It recognizes the dimension of emptiness (conventionally labelled the black box, unconscious, or subconscious) for its restorative power. It also describes the ‘Bardo’ phenomena depicted in Buddhism as the experiential dimension between physical incarnations. Found in the emptiness, this is the realm of our core fears – the shadow sides, or inner demons, which directly affect and form our experience of being alive.

Nondual Therapy acknowledges our True Nature as the origin, Source and resting place of all forms of personality. Our True Nature is characterized through recognizable Source qualities, or Nondual Qualities. These qualities are not endpoints, but are like diamonds reflecting the pure, formless Source prior to being. As Nondual therapist and spiritual teacher John Prendacost puts it: “Such openings into a vast shared spaciousness bring a sense of deep peace, great freedom and quiet joy. Clients often report a sense of coming home and of being connected to the whole of life, at least temporarily.”

Although known thought patterns and states of suffering can feel like home, clients report a new depth of home coming, which can be more intimate even than the family home. Through disinvesting belief from the personal story, Nondual Therapy addresses the feeling atmospheres around the stories, thoughts and behavioral patterns. When we begin to feel a feeling, it’s not a matter of “been there, done that, what’s next?”; it’s rather a sinking into the ability to remain in experience, and to explore the wonder and refinement of inner sentience. All experience beneath the threshold of the thinking mind opens potential pathways back to the qualities of our True Nature and to increasing ease, peace and freedom.

Below are some of the structures of the psyche referred to in Nondual Therapy. It’s important to note that each layer of the psyche is alive, and is interdependently rooted in the rest. There is also a holographic principle at play in which each moment of experience – no matter how trivial – has the potential to express the whole. That is, when a structure of Ego takes a hit, it resonates through the layers of Personality and into the Dark Night, and vice versa.


Ego structures can be both positive and negative, as they move through competing opposites and are born from deeper conflict. Ego is always formed through imagination. Each self-image has a continuum of fear at its core, as the egoic reflection is primarily used to ‘check in’ on the threat of rejection and as such, is driven by a sense of incompletion and fault.

Ego depends on comparison with others, as well as competition and it therefore arises as a defensive measure where there is trouble between one psyche and another. Ego claims to want to belong, yet through presenting an image based on pretense, it divides us from ourselves and others. Often, this creates a whiplash of self-pity as the feeling of being unseen by others and unappreciated in the world can intensify where structures of ego are strong.

Ego structures move through the dualistic reflex of grasping and aversion to select what we want to be and how we want to be seen from the outside, while keeping a wary eye on what we don’t want to be and how we must never be seen. Because of this, structures of ego often present the opposite of what is felt at a deeper layer. Someone with a trauma around humiliation, for example, could present as arrogant, or proud. Someone who is insecure could present as blindly confident. Someone struggling with helplessness will display constant proofs of control. Fear will “put on a brave face.” Pain will laugh rather than cry. Betrayal, will pretend loyalty to every contract. Rejection will pretend to be unconditionally accepting. To fortify against the risk of exposure, ego structures tend to exaggerate, expressing with absolutist language, such as: everyone, all the time, no one, never.

Ego forms out of the belief in separation; a sense of condemnation; and a seemingly endless sense of lack. It’s a cover-up of the imperfect Personality, which seems to be needed, as the Personality is believed to be the essence of who we are. Ego has the dual agenda of creating the best possible self-image, while avoiding worst-case scenarios. The energy of ego is dense, and it can be sensed as a kind of ungrounded, dissatisfied heaviness.

As it has an energetic presence and effect, Ego is not confined to individuals but also can emerge as a field around groups of people. Where the energetic field of Ego is strong in the collective field, it tends to awaken structures of Ego within individuals.

Ego can mask generations of trauma and is rooted in our worst fears. For example, one client said his worst fear was to be condemned unfairly for something that he’s not guilty of. What he was describing was an Ego in crisis, which paradoxically occurred precisely when he was most successful. Logic would require the opposite, yet it was precisely this appearance of success from the outside that aroused his deeper sense of illegitimacy. The structure of ego – seeking social acceptance through success – was a survival mechanism to evade a trauma inherited in the Personality. In this case, the ancestral trauma was unearthed in the experience of Jewish persecution where there was too much attention from the environment. Beneath the Ego that sought success as safety was a survival strategy within the Personality to avoid attention to stay safe. Ego is bound up with both the psychology and biology of survival. It’s not a narcissistic urge to be blithely dismissed, but a form of contraction born to protect and survive. Its nervous structure reaches deep through the Personality and into the Dark Night of the Soul.

Ego is not something we need to get rid of. On the contrary, where ego starts to play up, we should have a tender curiosity. Ego shows we are vulnerable, perhaps even terrified. Take some time to ponder your own Ego tendencies. What is your greatest and oldest fear, a fear that feels almost too shameful to admit? How do you present yourself to others, when that fear is touched? What is the pain beneath it?


In our healing practice, it’s been repeatedly affirmed that the greatest suffering of all is the suffering of the Separate Self. In terms of spiritual psychology this is the belief that the Personality is absolute: a fixed form and endpoint as to who and what we are. Yet the Personality can be more precisely experienced as a combination of inherited and learned patterns of reactivity. The Personality reflects Nondual Qualities through different patterns of contraction in duality. It’s an instrument, but not the origin of the music.

These Nondual Qualities are always here, regardless of differentiation through form or through contractions or trauma. They are not formed in the Personality and are therefore impersonal or transpersonal. They never get lost and they’re never injured. All that happens is that they become condensed and clouded through energetic contraction – at the border between ourselves and others. These gardens of suffering divide us from the qualities of our True Nature within ourselves and from the qualities of True Nature outside of ourselves. They consolidate through inheritance and the repetition of habit. Yet at any moment, we can draw on these qualities as resources.

Often, it’s when the structure of Personality breaks down that the qualities of our True Nature are revealed. As Leonard Cohen wrote: “There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.”

Structures of separate identity and personality gain god-like status and yet like many gods, become impossible to find or define when the search is on. There is nothing stable in the Personality that can be found, held, kept or trusted. The psyche appears as a series of evolving patterns. At most, the nature of our Personality depends on the opinion or attitude of the beholder. That opinion or attitude depends on the beholder’s Personality, so we’re caught in a perennial wheel of illusion about who and what we are.

At its roots (even though its roots are with our ancestors), Personality is composed of a series of fundamentally narcissistic actions and reactions, drowning in the terror of its own impermanence while clinging to any available tent-peg of identity to preserve itself. In the dimension of Personality, fear is the slave master and anger the guard. Indeed, as it is inherently unstable, insecure and transient, the Personality is fundamentally condemned as a fixed form. Every form of Separate Self is sitting on death row.

The sense of condemnation arising from the deep inner dread of impermanence is inherent to beliefs in the absolute nature of personhood, and this breeds its own state of victimhood. In this, we become disempowered, disenfranchised, devitalized and full of self-pity. We blame outer authorities, our parents, the world or any external ‘other’ for our suffering. We can even become perpetrators, revenging on the environment for the great injustice of who we are. All this extra suffering – of humiliation, abuse, cruelty and war - when the fatal error has been in believing that the self is separate, and that the Personality is a fixation of who we are.

There has been a lot written about how to become free of the slavery of Ego and Personality. Yet the art is not to get free of Personality, but to liberate the Personality itself. Beneath the thinking, conditioned mind, there is the resting position of pure being. We can be nobody, nothing and nowhere, resting as what Advaita has called I AM. This pure being has qualities as it shines like a sun through layers of form, which always include patterns of Personality and behavior. It creates a natural invitation of contracted forms to unfold. This occurs through experiential pathways of innocence, purity, freedom and other Nondual Qualities described in this book.

Personality is directly and energetically linked to the Source of being. It spontaneously emanates through time and space. When we liberate the Personality to allow this purity of personal manifestation, then what happens is we release the areas where Personality is contracted or traumatized. Contractions still happen, according to protective need, but they are not grasped. If we use a physical metaphor: when we withdraw our hand from a fire it is reflexive and for the good of the whole. Yet a psychological contraction is shocked – the metaphorical hand stays up in the air, even when the feet have moved away from the fire and even when the fire is out.

This is a common misconception. Spiritual seekers often expect that an awakened state of consciousness will forever free them of Personality. This is not true: the Personality will continuously emanate and take form through thought, communion and communication, regardless of whether we believe it as absolute. Belief structures initially reflect where the Personality is most contracted, stalled in time and limited in space. Later, they gain an autonomy through patterns of habit, dictating distortions on perception which confirm the belief. Denial of the inheritance of the Personality is a structure of belief.

We really don’t need to hold onto concepts of who, what and where we are. Rather, it’s imperative that we uncover ourselves as the Source at the core of all experience. This reunion comes through the experiential trail of Nondual Qualities, or qualities of our True Nature. The deeper we rest back at the source of awareness, the more we recognize these qualities as permeating all experience. Within this profound intimacy with the deeper layers of ourselves, the sense of reunion abounds.

In this, we have seen people with the most horrific life experiences undergo the suffering of total collapse of personhood only to find themselves suddenly and unconditionally free. This is an awakening and freedom that can never be lost, which allows all forms of Personality to emanate and disappear as needed. It’s a freedom in which even the deepest suffering cannot block the way home. It’s a healing process that turns a despairing wandering through the Dark Night of the Soul into a curiosity, excitement and fulfillment in all experience, even when it’s painful.

Others with less fundamental breakages can find it harder get free of the reflexive habits of personal identification. This doesn’t mean that psychological breakage is necessary for spiritual awakening. But at the same time, it certainly need not be an obstacle. As spiritual psychologist Steve Taylor writes: “Spiritual experiences are overwhelmingly positive experiences. They are experiences of rapture, in which we perceive reality at a heightened intensity, feel a powerful sense of inner well-being, experience a sense of oneness with our surroundings and become aware of a force of benevolence and harmony which pervades the cosmos… It seems almost paradoxical, then, that these experiences are frequently induced by states of intense despair, depression, or mental turmoil.”

The deeper intelligence of the life force in us will invite the exact experience needed for our liberation, and in this, both therapist and client follow the lead of life, moment by moment, month by month, in allowing the unfolding of Source potential. Sometimes, living intelligence can seem brutal, but that is only when we still believe the separate Personality is at the core of who we are.

The tyranny of the belief in the absolute nature of Personality cannot be over-estimated. The person is inherently empty with no separate existence from the Source. It’s a transient effect of the environment and of the evolutionary process through degrees of trauma and resilience which we inherit with our genes. Much of our Personality structure is formed by feedback from other Personality structures. That is, we believe we are that which the world says we are, or even, what we imagine the world says we are.

Of itself, the Personality has little vitality, and there is nothing there to hold onto, even when we want to. Its apparent vitality is life itself which is sourced at a causal layer to all forms of Personality. In practice, when we try to grasp towards the love that moves through the Personality, we’re left with neither love nor freedom but with the energy of grasping and aversion – the Source of every contraction. This energy of grasping – like a hungry ghost – is not a pleasant backdrop to the experience of a lifetime.

Much of the Personality is based on an investment of belief in man-made artifacts, because here, we feel in control. We let the street lamps blind us to the moon and stars, and let the roads they light up become the flat territory of the soul. We want the paper to express on, but don’t notice the living trees. We want to be ‘someone’ but we deny the heredity of our ancestry. We seek creativity without destruction; experience without suffering; gain without loss; relaxation without physical sensation; and arrival without agreeing to being here. It’s no wonder we despair.

Yet, to strive to negate our own Personality is as futile as attempting to negate the living manifestation of any form. The belief that awakening depends on negation is akin to the belief that existential peace depends on war, that silence depends on noise, or that space depends on objects. It’s an absurdity.

All energetic forms are alive, including our most anesthetized contractions and the denser structures of ego. This means that when they are dying, we can experience ourselves as dying. When they are wounded, they bleed, and we bleed with them. In a wider sense, we could say that where we suffer, the Source of all life, the celestial sources of the universe suffer through us. We are never separate, just as no contraction is separate from the whole.

Yet the fundamental concept of Personality does need revision. When we accept that Personality is just an effect, then we can begin to fall deeper into the cause beneath all effects. We need to let go of its autocracy of Personality and to expand beyond it, but we should never expect it to cease to be. We will carry its changing moods and atmospheres as well as its inherited evolutionary process at least for the rest of this lifetime. But it need no longer be either a burden or a slave master. Indeed, the Personality we fight to defend is often not here, we are far more in bliss, freedom and belonging than we acknowledge, it’s just that the mind projects it there as an artifice of permanence, to evade its own limitations of relativity.

A large part of the tendencies within the Personality are inherited from our parents, together with our DNA. The subject of family trauma has gained renewed popularity out of recent scientific evidence of gene alteration through epigenetics.

Epigenetics is the study of changes in organisms caused by the modification of gene expression rather than alteration of the genetic code itself. It began in 2013 when scientists discovered that certain odors with a traumatic history would trigger a stress response in mice of succeeding generations. Science later revealed the traumas of World War II were showing up in the genes of holocaust descendants. “Instead of numbers tattooed on their forearms, they may have been marked epigenetically with a chemical coating upon their chromosomes, which would represent a kind of biological memory,” wrote Natan Kellermann, in the Israel Journal of Psychiatry and Related Sciences in 2013.

In 2016, scientists from Tel Aviv University addressed the open question: can this genetic damage be corrected? Yes, they answered, there is a high chance that healing the trauma in the grandchild, will remove the epigenetic tag, meaning it’s no longer passed on. When we successfully release a cycle of trauma, the traumatic tendencies will not be passed on, but resilience to that trauma will. “We don’t know exactly why this happens, but it might be a form of biological forward-planning,” said Prof. Adam Klosin, who co-authored a paper in 2017 that suggested changes in the environment can impact genes for up to fourteen generations.

What our increased ability to delve into the mysteries of epigenetics is showing us is that the very form of our personalities, as sculpted by patterns of stress, resistance, trauma and resilience, is inseparable from our ancestors. That is, our worst and most inherited fear is probably not ours at all, but a feature of our heredity. With this in mind, the burden of shame at imperfection or the incrimination of unwanted feeling contractions can be vastly reduced. Not only did our Personality not start with us, we have the power to liberate it of afflictions, so that they’re not passed on to our children. Our suffering is not a curse, but an opportunity for service.

According to expert in family trauma, Mark Wolynn: “These traumas are important, because they lead us on a hero’s journey. We enter the path through introspection, through looking at what’s uncomfortable, by being able to tolerate what’s uncomfortable, and then by journeying in to what’s uncomfortable and emerging on the other side in a more expansive place, using what was contracting us as the source of our expansion. Many of us don’t realize that the trauma we are born to heal is also the seed of our expansion.”

The fundamental concept of a fixed Personality is illusory, as it excludes possibility of change, evolution and healing. Personality is rather a patterning of stress signals, emotional responses and thought habits. When we believe our Personality is fixed, definitive and unchangeable, we contract the living opportunity of form and transformation. Personality comes to life where there is life; it shines through the light of the qualities of our True Nature; and it transforms through degrees of mastery in bringing those qualities into manifestation through the often-discordant wilderness of the human story.

The more we can relax into the qualities of our True Nature, the less the Personality is a problem. If we let it, it will heal itself according to an ingenuity that is beyond our understanding. Liberation into the freedom of Nonduality is not a movement into conformity, but a release into a Source unity out of which there is a free manifestation of the splendid individuality of any given moment. Nondual Therapy has the power to accelerate this unfolding.

The Dark Night

Between the inherited and conditioned structures of Personality and the qualities of our True Nature, there is a rift. This rift in form is often referred to as the Dark Night of the Soul. It’s a region of pure emptiness, alive with all omnipresent resources, yet it can be experienced as hell itself. In the words of Joseph Campbell, “The dark night of the soul comes just before revelation.”

The Dark Night is the dimension of the most denied aspects of our psyche. When we throw stuff, memories, situations or emotions “away”, this is the “away” we are throwing them into. Jung has described this space as the unconscious (prior to the experience of Opus Mundi or One World), where the shadows of the psyche lurk, seeking energetic reunion with the whole through their reintegration into conscious awareness. This can be the dimension of trauma (separated parts of ourselves) that demands integration. It’s the rift in which we can meet our worst nightmares – and liberate them into freedom. Yet there can be tremendous resistance to going beneath the layer of Personality. “People will do anything,” writes Carl Jung, “no matter how absurd, to avoid facing their own souls.”

Because of the threats anticipated in the Dark Night, rings of existential states shield us off from this realm. These core states are also inherited and tend to be carried collectively in the atmospheres of a family, home or nation. These states include boredom – that drives us away from direct experience to seek egoic distraction in the ‘outer’ world; states of ‘nothing’ – not an empty nothing, but a thick, resistant, ‘nothing’ of energetic denial; states of depression (which can become chronic, as pressure to integrate the whole increases); and states of negativity (in the form of attitudes). Many aspects of Personality are crafted by these states that aim to shield us from the Dark Night.

The Dark Night is where we fall with our consciousness when the known patterns of Personality break down. It’s like an ocean under an infinite sky. But the ocean seems toxic, and the sky seems filled with a dense mist of suffering. The mist will be characterized by a denied part of an energetic contraction: such as betrayal, abandonment, grief, negativity or abuse. These atmospheres become the sky of experience and we breathe them in and out as if they were the baseline of consciousness. The denied parts of experience become like formless gods in this foggy wilderness, and the suffering can seem uncontainable and absolute.

Being in the Dark Night can feel like bleeding out. As if we had an open wound, the energetic pain of broken personhood flows through and out of us. Physical posture and gait will often reflect this energetic phenomenon of bleeding to death. Yet at a certain stage the bleeding will stop, possibly transforming to an endless flow of quality, out of a stillness that is beyond the conditions formally laid down by the stress patterns of Personality.

Compassion, mercy and grace are all needed through these periods of intense suffering, as well as the assurance that it will pass. Attempts to distract from the pain simply defer it, replacing it with the dread of sudden reappearance. In doing this, the therapist has a deep responsibility to escort the pain rather than encouraging denial or distraction. In the words of Bart ten Berge, we need to support our client in “enduring the unendurable.” The part of frozen Personality that has died needed to die. We would do well to allow space for grief, regret and even the affirmation of its passing.

As Ram Dass writes: “The dark night of the soul is when you have lost the flavor of life but have not yet gained the fullness of divinity. So it is that we must weather that dark time, the period of transformation when what is familiar has been taken away and the new richness is not yet ours.”

A feature of the Dark Night of the Soul is the stubborn continuance of the belief in the Separate Self. This suffering is all about ‘Me’. Therefore, time in the Dark Night can be supported by attitudes that undercut the concept of the separate “I”, such as gratitude, humility, service and compassion. These are like beacons of light that pass through the illusion of the Separate Self. Gratitude spreads a feeling of loving acknowledgment outwards, beyond the individual. Humility surrenders personal agenda to a greater whole. Service opens a flow of energy for the benefit of the whole. Compassion acknowledges interdependence, and that suffering is not an isolated, private phenomenon. These spiritual signposts can light the way between the suffering residues of Personality and the inner core of our True Nature. In the words of John of the Cross: “In the dark night of the soul, bright flows the river of God.”

A prevalent characteristic of the Dark Night is the denial of the Nondual Quality of helplessness. We are born helpless, we die helpless, and in the space between, a core helplessness underlies all experience, including the experience of control. Denial of our inherent helplessness isolates us from universal resources and the support of others. It freezes our receptivity, meaning that it’s painful to receive love, support, care and nurture. Without helplessness, we are unable to call for help, or receive it, and without that receptive invitation, our wider universe is unable to respond.

Allowance of our inherent helplessness means we begin to unfold the contracted state, revealing the chorus of need in its precise configuration to the infinite resource of all we are. Whether through prayer or reaching out to our fellow human, the admission of helplessness loosens the belief in the invincible separate Personality. The tired, old barrier of the Separate Self is crumbling.

In the words of Nondual Therapist John Welwood: “Out of our love for another person, we become more willing to let our old identities wither and fall away, and enter a dark night of the soul, so that we may stand naked once more in the presence of the great mystery that lies at the core of our being. This is how love ripens us - by warming us from within, inspiring us to break out of our shell, and lighting our way through the dark passage to new birth.”

True Nature

True Nature shines with our deeper purpose, which is to shine. It shines through Nondual Qualities, many of which are described in Section II of this book. From this point, inward, we are out of the normative limitations of physical time and space. True Nature is often sensed where consciousness is free from identity, or when there is a fracture in conventional patterns or habits of the Personality. The process of the Dark Night is about the falling away of all that has obscured the prevalence of our True Nature. In the words of Nondual teacher Adyashanti: “Enlightenment is a destructive process. It has nothing to do with becoming better or being happier. Enlightenment is the crumbling away of untruth. It's seeing through the facade of pretense. It's the complete eradication of everything we imagined to be true.”

The movement into freedom fundamentally involves an unfolding of contracted parts of the psyche into the intimacy of pure awareness in which all experience occurs. All knowledge and our very perception of reality depends on experience, and experience arises in a consciousness which is here before, behind and beyond all experience. Consciousness is not a separate thing, but is collective and continuous. Even when it becomes obscured through us, the consciousness of others is still perceiving. In the same way, the qualities of consciousness are not separable. Where we can’t find happiness within our own psyche, for example, we can allow the experience of it outside of the psyche: in others, in animals, or in the elements. Conscious awareness offers a magical invitation towards the unfolding of contractions in the psyche into the pure experience of our True Nature, which will always puncture the illusion of separation.

Sometimes called essential being, True Nature is at once boundless and intimate, shared and individual. The clarity of certain Nondual Qualities, such as freedom, peace, gratitude, happiness or esteem, can vary from one psyche to another. This is connected to subtler forms of evolution, and can pass through family lines. Here, we’re not talking about Inherited Trauma but more about inherited evolutionary themes.

In addition to the prevalence of certain qualities in certain individuals, each Nondual Quality can express through the full spectrum of resonance. For example, the peace of the ocean can be subtly different from the peace of sisterly love, which can differ again from the peace of a cathedral. Is there a different quality to love through the female aspect and love through the male?

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