Listening from the Heart of Silence (excerpts)

Edited by John Prendergast, Ph.D. and Kenneth Bradford, Ph.D.

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Chapter: Mystery, Mind, and Meaning

By Dorothy S. Hunt

Absent of qualities, yet intimate with a blade of grass,
this Mystery swallows opposites in a single gulp.
Thoughts are useless here.

Tears were streaming down the face of my client as she described her pain and disillusionment with life. At one point in her litany of reasons for self-hatred, she sobbed, “Sometimes I want to kill myself.” At that moment, deeply present to her without any thought of what should happen next, I called her by name and unexpectedly said, “I have a very important question to ask you. It is a serious question and an important one.” Her tears stopped, and she was suddenly present. I continued, “The question is: Who is the ‘I,’ and who is the ‘myself’?” Immediately she seemed to be operating from a completely different dimension of her being, and without thinking, she responded, “The ‘I’ is the perpetrator, and the ‘myself’ is the victim; and neither one of those is who I really am!”

Something released her from her trance of self-judgment, and she sat deeply and profoundly experiencing the mystery of herself beyond opposites. From that vantage point, she could not relate in words who or what she was, but both of us were aware of the shift. Truth had revealed itself spontaneously, illuminating the roles the “I” and the “myself” were playing in that moment. The Mystery that was aware, clearly seeing that “neither of those is who I really am,” was beyond both.

Wisdom moves spontaneously from Mystery and not a “me”

To call this mysterious movement either dual or nondual is to try to define it conceptually in time, but neither the Mystery nor its movements are concepts. Something moved spontaneously in that moment during the functioning called psychotherapy. It moved as compassion that meets suffering with what actually has the capacity to transform it, and the wisdom that knows how. Both my invitation and my client’s immediate clarity arose from beyond our thinking minds.

In speaking about nondual wisdom in a book such as this, I would caution the reader not to imagine that it is something that can be learned the way one may have learned about diagnoses or treatment options in the practice of psychotherapy. Neither is it expounding teachings from spiritual traditions or philosophies that claim to teach nonduality. Nor is it labeling states of mind by thoughts of mind and imagining we “understand” the Mystery that is “not one, not two.”

Nondual wisdom, if it can be said to be anything at all as it pertains to psychotherapy, is the spontaneous movement of life responding to itself or expressing itself from true seeing and true listening in the moment. It moves from Totality and not from conditioned thought. It is fresh, new, and “on the mark.” In referring to this mysterious movement operating (or not) in psychotherapy, I have no knowledge or clinical skills to impart to your mind. Neither have I a desire to add to the mind’s collection of information. The mind, in its pursuit of knowledge, has no choice but to compile, interpret, weigh, criticize, compare, judge, and fix conclusions. That is what minds do, which is perfectly fine, but as long as that is the primary way we take in the world we do not see and we do not listen from our wholeness. . . .