How this thing unfolds: Questions & Answers

phoneMany have joined the facebook group – and a lot of good, thoughtful questions have been asked and answered. Most have been about the argument put forth in the book, but some have been directed at me, personally. Here are two of them:

Goran, I find it curious that you publicize your work very assertively, either through your articles or the book – at several different groups or facebook pages. In the past, one of the articles you advertised the most was the one about your awakening.

What I find intriguing is that the wish to promote your work and ideas would seemingly come from either an egoistical sense of self (wanting to be seen as a guru) or from a more selfless place (wishing to help other beings dissolving the root of suffering and delusion). The thing is that these both seem to promote the existence of people who are out there needing guidance.

Please note that I am using the word “seem” very often. I know that life goes on. There never has been any self – seeing though this idea doesn’t make the manifestation/appearance vanish. But I would assume someone who is free from dualistic points-of-view to be, at least, a little more discreet.

This is not a judgement or an evaluation. I do appreciate your work deeply, it has been helping me lately and, as a matter of fact, I was the first one to review your book at amazon, giving it 5 stars. Still, this curiosity remains. I hope I’m not offending you in any way. It is just an honest – exceedingly straightforward, perhaps – inquiry.

This is not a fundamental question, but in a way connects to some others I have for some time now, and these ones may be of more interest: how does your teaching perform in terms of eliminating suffering? And how is the identity issue answered (“who am I” kind of thing)?

I love talking, discussing, reading and writing about this stuff. And if I make some money doing it, I won’t need to spend as much time on my day job – which would then free up time that I could spend doing this instead.

Ideally, I could make so much money off this book that I could be working full time writing more books, helping out, answering questions, writing blog posts, etc – which would arguably be better for everyone.

So, that’s what I’m trying to do; to sell more books (and to do it ‘assertively’ is simply my style) so that I can provide for my family while helping others. That’s my motivation.

I’m not interested in people seeing me as a guru. But even if I did, would that change anything? An awakening entails that you no longer experience yourself as a subject – not necessarily that the expressions of the dreamstate must unfold in an ego-less fashion. Granted, a true awakening seems to have a profound effect on the conditioning—there’s something about experiencing yourself as no-thingness that seemingly makes a deep impact on the psychological makeup of the character—but old conditioning doesn’t vanish in an instant – and, as far as I can tell, might still operate for years after an awakening.

Anyway, I want to do what I love, and if I can, make some money while doing it.

Now, that is to answer your question on one level. On another level, all of the above is merely something that comes up when I’m asked about it. That is, that’s simply what I say if I were to make up a reason as to why I do what I do. Because in truth, I do what I do simply because that is what’s happening right now – that is the way this thing unfolds, and there’s no difference between myself and that. It’s the way in which reality manifests. Or, you could say I do it because I feel like it – whatever level of explanation you prefer.

Here’s what I’ll say to the identity issue: After an awakening you no longer feel like you’re a subject in a body – instead, you feel like you’re the entire field of experiencing, which as such is now revealed to be merely fleeting wisps of dream stuff made out of no-thingness.

How does that relate to the end of suffering? If there’s suffering, that too is also made out of this no-thingness that you now know yourself to be – which means that you no longer suffer, as suffering is now recognized to be what you are – and suffering can’t suffer!


What is life to you now? Yes, a very general question, but that’s intentional. Answer it just the way it comes out. Is it the same as it has always been?

Life for me is very different now once I shifted into non-dual awareness. First of all, the raw sensate field that makes up experience as such is ‘taken in’ differently. It no longer feels that I’m an experiencer, experiencing experiences – but that there’s only experiencing; an outpouring of phenomenality that is completely non-dual, without any sense of division into an observer and something observed.

Secondly, this shift in perception has a psychological impact. That is, the aspect of the phenomenality that’s usually denoted as ‘mind’ or ‘the thinking process’ has changed, and is still changing, since the shift. Framed within the universe-model (wherein it’s the characters themselves that are doing the perceiving) I would say that this radical shift in experiencing changes your psychological makeup.

For instance, when you feel like you’re this field of no-thingness, which is what takes the form of the phenomenal world, you’re not really bothered as much of what’s going on in it, as much as you’re in awe of the presence and the outpouring of the field itself. That is not to say that I’m not enjoying the storyline that’s unfolding within it – I do. But I can seemingly shift the attention between the storyline and the outpouring, sort of like how you can shift the way you look at the heads or the vase in this example: Figure-Ground(perception)

In regular life then, how the storyline unfolds now from my perspective, is best described here: Life: how to live it.

That is, life simply unfolds just like it always has – but the intention aspect of the outpouring has largely fallen away. Whereas it before was a stream punctuated by lots of intentions, there’s now, after the shift, only a free flow.

Further reading:

7 Responses to How this thing unfolds: Questions & Answers

  1. Doug Boldon says:

    Love it, thank you.

  2. Goran. Hello there! I appreciate you writing about this whole shebang of awakening and I have a question. You reference your perceptual state as that of the no-thingness and you express that you no longer operative as a subject in relationship with objects–but rather you are verbing your way through life as the SEEING in the Seer/seeing/seen triad.

    My question comes from paragraphs like this: “For instance, when you feel like you’re this field of no-thingness, which is what takes the form of the phenomenal world, you’re not really bothered as much of what’s going on in it, as much as you’re in awe of the presence and the outpouring of the field itself. That is not to say that I’m not enjoying the storyline that’s unfolding within it – I do. But I can seemingly shift the attention between the storyline and the outpouring, sort of like how you can shift the way you look at the heads or the vase in this example: Figure-Ground(perception)”

    You see, you must reference an “I” who enjoying the seeing…you fall into the truth that there is also a transpersonal “me” ness post awakening that is ‘experiencing” the perceptual field–not as subject in the old way (finite, constricted, blinkered) but as SUBJECT I AM–able to be both the seeing and the seen and the seer. It’s fluidity of awareness/perception vs the former state of seeming solidity/personhood.

    By the way, I use the vase illusion all the time in my own writings to explain how this perceptual shift happens in awakening, where identity is seen as the black background that gives rise the white foreground…which is an artifact of the background, vs real in it’s own right.

    Lori Ann

    • Göran Backlund says:

      Hi Lori,

      I don’t see the need to land in a new “transpersonal me-ness”-model. I mean, language is just a way of talking, it isn’t a depiction of reality.

      I wrote this to someone critizicing me for saying that ‘I’ am ‘enlightened’, and I think it could shed some light on how I view language and the use of words like ‘me’ and ‘I’:

      “Any reference to a person is like a reference to Gandalf – everybody understands that Gandalf doesn’t really exist, yet we can talk about him. We can tell the story of how he helped the Hobbits and fought the Orcs and everybody understands that we aren’t really talking about something that actually happened outside the screen. We’re simply describing how a particular storyline unfolds, not making any reference to an objectively existing space-time reality.

      If I say “I took a walk and had some ice cream,” I don’t mean to imply that there exist some space-time entity with perceptual capabilities and cognitive faculties doing all that – I’m merely describing a flux of sensations, framing it within a particular model. Likewise, when I say that “I’m enlightened”, I’m simply saying that a shift occurred in the way experiencing happens.

      If we simply abandon this idea that language could ever depict reality, we’re suddenly free to use it in any way we want. Only if we believe that language could accurately or inaccurately depict reality would we ever concern ourselves with speaking ‘correct non-dual lingo’ – otherwise we’re free to use words like ‘enlightened’, because we know that we aren’t trying to depict reality in words – we’re merely trying to invoke an intuitive sense of what the the word could point to in direct experience. ”

      So I don’t think it’s necessary to create a “transpersonal me-ness, post awakening”-model – we can just use ordinary everyday talk like “you” and “me” without discrediting anything we say about truth stuff.

  3. Nancy Sutton says:

    I enjoy contemplating the print book… hope it will ‘unfold’ soon 😉

  4. Mira Prabhu says:

    Goran: Your response to the person with the clearly genuine question is interesting to me because I write about this form of freedom too — though I have not awakened completely. It points me to a “theory” that literally changed my life: that of Absolute and Relative, the Two Truths. Without this theory, I think I might have made a hash of understanding my current path, which is Ramana’s Direct Path of Atma-Vichara. I hear so many people with genuine misunderstandings about how the awakened should behave (or not). For me studying these truths has been the answer. We are the Divine in human form (to put it in my way) and we have to do whatever we need to do as the flow of the cosmos dictates. Thank you for this post, Goran. I don’t see a “reblog” feature here or I would like to use it. Is there a reason for this? Om Arunachala.

    • Göran Backlund says:

      Hi Mira,

      I haven’t heard about it before, but I’ll look into these Two Truths theory. Sounds interesting. I’ll also check on the possibility of adding a reblog feature. Thanks.

  5. Valdi Sabev says:

    “No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house.”

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