A non-dual approach to the concept of authenticity

I announced the upcoming Spring Clearing, and our discussion circled around the concept of “becoming more of ourselves” as central to liberation.

This discussion hinged on the following quote from Gabor Maté: “When authenticity threatens attachment, attachment trumps authenticity.”

The quote can be a hard pill to swallow, and is central to Gabor Maté’s thesis on what ails us as a people and what to do about it. I do think that the quest of taking in the sobering reality of the places we’ve been trained to abandon ourselves is important. HOWEVER — the tantra gives us a new way to move through the sense of loss that arises — and to enter the paradox. We discussed the loss of authenticity from a non-dual perspective, which holds that Consciousness is infinitely free, and dances into and out of form, as YOU.

According to the teachings, we are none other than that consciousness that is infinitely free, and thus, we are infinitely free. But we engage in the world of form, as form. As such, we dance in the paradox of bondage and liberation. The theme of bondage and liberations laces through the entirety of the dharma’s philosophical discussion.

As form, we are in the dance of Self-Revelation and Self-Forgetting. So, from a tantric perspective, we consider that it’s not just that we are somehow forced into inauthentic expressions. We (as consciousness, in the world of form and in the complexity of relationships) choose one expression, and suppress others.

As consciousness dancing in and out of form, we encounter circumstances that appear to demand obedience, and we act as if we are obedient. And forget that we are acting.

We, as consciousness dancing in and out of form, find circumstances in which it seems as if we should be good students. So we act as if we were good students. And forget that we are acting.

We, as consciousness dancing in and out of form, find circumstances that appear overwhelming, and we act as if we are depressed. And forget that we are acting… and so on…

So – in our project of individuation, which the Dharma calls us to, we can practice entering into clearings. We can invent new ways of being in which habits of being that are no longer helpful can be cleared. In clearing we are not trying to get rid of anything, we are reabsorbing old ways of being – drawing them closer to Self-energy, to Source – and allowing new ways to emerge.

In clearing we are not trying to “recover” some authenticity that was lost – but to acknowledge the power that we had in constraining ourselves, so that we can consciously create a new field of options. We are trying to remember that we were whole even while we were constrained, and that the pain of closing ourselves down to survive circumstances can be healed through allowing it to come to light. We can only find compassion for the parts of ourselves that participated in authoring the constraint if we are not controlled by those parts, however.

So, to widen our Self-understanding, beyond the limitations that past holds over us, we get to sculpt a new kind of being-ness. This is what we’ll be doing in the Spring Clearing.

It takes a unique human to engage in this kind of discussion, and to enter into the very personal project of individuation/actualization/transformation — whatever you like to call it! — that the Dharma beckons us towards. If this sounds appealing to you, I encourage you to come along on the upcoming Spring Clearing. We cannot do this alone!



  • The Dharma of Normalization and Śaivism’s Three Roots of Suffering
    The fields of psychology and the dharma are radically different, but we occasionally find some precious gems of overlap. In psychology, it actually doesn't matter all that much what ...
  • The cusp of summer and my obsession with spring…
    Here in Northern California, we are at the tail end of the incredible phase of everything-bursting-raucously-into-blossom. As summer draws nearer and the verdant green turns rapidly gold, I find myself cherishing these last few ...
  • The One Gift that Keeps on Giving
    It’s Mother’s Day and here's the only flower you need. This symbol is the gift that keeps on giving -- read on to see why! I am well aware that while Mother’s Day is a cause for great celebration for some, it brings up some very sticky feelings for ...


Sunday Sessions