John Rowan, in loving memory

Dr. John Rowan (1925 – 2018)


I have been meaning to write this for some time now. Dr. John Rowan has had a huge impact on my life, so much so that I am still integrating certain insights. He passed on in May 2018 and, I feel, it is time for me to let him go.

<deep sigh>
So, here we go:

A humble man, a great man, an academic, an enlightened being, a mystic, a Kali Ma devotee, my mentor at Rushmore University and a man that brought a massive amount of clarity, wisdom, and sobriety into my professional as well as private life.
Always alert, aware, funny and ready to surprise with a joke, gesture or deep insight.

He dedicated ten years to the Centuar, Subtle, Causal and Nondual stages of the Wilber map, respectively. Forty years! I cannot even begin to imagine how much perseverance and determination one must possess to walk down this road of slow but thorough personal and spiritual development.

No doubt, he would have laughed at such meaningless labels, but in my opinion, he was one of the partyakabuddhas (a solitary Buddha), a follower of the Theravada or Sutrayana path (as opposed to the tantric and mahamudra/dzogchen paths that also lead to the Non-dual).

At the Akademija TCT (ATCT, our three-year private school for transpersonal consultants) we enjoyed his loving presence five years in a row, learning from his vast academic and empirical knowledge. During those visits I benefited immensely from his audience; I drove him around, ate with him, and translated his words at the ATCT seminars.
It was he that introduced me to the Wilber map in general and the Non-dual in particular during my Ph.D. studies at Rushmore (and later on in person as well), changing my perception and pretty much everything else, completely…
…right after he thoroughly dismantled my ego-fueled academic papers and inspired me to begin to write from my Heart.

In-person, we have always had more or less meaningful talks about Wilber map, mystical and magical experiences, humanistic and transpersonal psychotherapy, and life in general.

He was able to shift levels of awareness with the greatest of ease. Being or living at the Authentic level by choice, he could switch to the Causal or even to the Non-dual level at the moment’s notice.

He embraced the personal and the transpersonal levels with equal grace. No denial of personal and mundane things and no adoration of spiritual things. 

His presence was calm and yet strong, simple yet clear.

He was one of a few people (if not the only one) that really, really understood me… and neither wanted nor needed anything from me.

And he was so graceful in person! I can still recall a situation when I took him to dinner in Ljubljana. It was an early evening, and it was already dark. I didn’t really know how to get to the place and I just drove around, trying to find a way. It must have been obvious I didn’t have the slightest clue where we were. Dr. Rowan, however, just sat there in my car and silently tolerated my aimless driving.
After 20 minutes or so he looked at me, smiled and said: “You don’t live here, do you?”
🙂 🙂

I particularly remember one more event: one rainy Sunday in the morning I went to his hotel in Ljubljana to take him to our seminar at ATCT.
He was waiting for me, meditating (he did not approve of being late!). When I entered his room, he stood up and looked at me with clear beaming eyes. I could sense lightness and clarity around him and in the room.
I asked how was his morning thus far and he smiled and said that he just had his breakfast.

I came closer to him, looked into his eyes, put my left hand gently on his right shoulder and said smiling and with respect: “Now the Buddha is not hungry anymore.” And the Living Buddha, in all his modesty, lowered his eyes.

I miss him so much!

I was told that when the citadel shattered, he was at peace, transitioning out of his worn-out 93 years old body gracefully, depriving Great Britain and indeed the whole world of the rare Living Presence of an Arhat…

His legacy still lives on in his 20 books, numerous recorded interviews, and lucid poetry.

As far as this individual here is concerned, well, Dr. John Rowan’s spirit lives on in my integral approach to life and psychotherapy, in my (more or less unsuccessful) attempt to embrace the personal with equal vigor as the transpersonal…

…his spirit thrives on in our school ATCT, and in the lasting gratitude for his immense contribution to me, my students at ATCT, my loved ones, and my family…

…so long, my dear John Rowan, thank you for your silent lucidity and see you around.

His web site is still available, lots of info there:

Thich Nhat Hanh on compassion

The Buddhist Master, Thich Nhat Hanh:

“Dear friends, dear people, I know that you suffer a lot. I have not understood enough of your difficulties and suffering. It is not our intention to make you suffer more. It is the opposite. So please, tell us about your suffering, your difficulties. I am eager to learn, to understand.”



Samo Edina

Kamala - LotusDanes se odpravljam na Pohorje, kjer bomo imeli tridnevni Intenziv Razsvetljenja (IR) in en dan integracije (več info o IR >> odpre se nova stran).

V svojem življenju večinoma počnem stvari, ki tako ali drugače doprinesejo k dobrobiti in Življenju drugih: humanistična psihoterapija, seminarji na naši šoli Akademiji TCT, seanse hipnoterapije in regresije, reiki, konsultacije in coaching glede osebnega in transpersonalnega napredka, delavnice NVC-ja oz nenasilne komunikacije, individualne seanse uporabe metod Dialoškega Jaza, Lila večere na katerih rad podelim skrivnosti o Tantri in moji Kaliki itd…itd…

Tudi v zasebnem življenju je moj fokus več ali manj na osebnem in nadosebnem oz transpersonalnem razvoju in napredku. Rad meditiram, stanje Enosti oz t.i. Kavzalni nivo je dom. It is easy to Be. Vse, kar sem in kar znam, zelo rad delim z mojo hčerkico in nekaterimi prijatelji…AMPAK…

…AMPAK daleč daleč daleč daleč najpomembneje v mojem obstoju pa je ravno to, kar se bo dogajalo na Intenzivu prihodnje štiri dni: nudenje podpore in pomoči tistim, ki želijo poglobiti svojo zavedanje in direktno spoznati svojo pravo in dokončno Naravo.

Trenutno mi je to najpomembneje: biti zavesten svoje dokončne narave (Kavzal ali Nedualno, po Wilberju) in pomagati drugim, da postanejo tudi oni zavestni tega. Globljega ali višjega smisla v mojem življenju ne vidim.

Vodenje Intenziva Razsvetljenja je Everest aktivnosti tega posameznika, ki sedaj to piše. Vse ostalo je samo pot do tega.

Samo Edini obstaja in to je Ona.


Q & A: Wilber map, the Nondual level

In this Blog I will try to convey what is “becoming” the natural state of awareness, especially in last few years (that is, since late 2011).

I say that I will try, and that’s for a reason: it is simply impossible to convey in words what can only be experienced. The Nondual level is so far beyond even the Causal experiences that any attempt at defining it is, in the end, futile.

So, let me open the Q & A section of this Blog with a nice story:

“Once upon a time, there were three Sufis who agreed to meet and discuss the highest Nondual attainment. Well, they met alright, sat down and looked at each other and then they laughed their asses off for three days straight and left.”

It is pointless to try to explain it all or to get it just right. I might just as well refrain from the sharing now and be done with it and just laugh and laugh… But I won’t. Let’s play.

Q: What is the Nondual level of awareness?

A: It is not a level, it is not a state and it can not be attained, at least not as we can understand the attainment of the other transpersonal levels of awareness (the Subtle and Causal levels).

I don’t really know how to explain it, but the matter of fact (for me) is that the nondual (Buddhist nondual in this case, not the Vedanta one) is the natural “reality” where there is no center, no God, no actor and no agency. Complete freedom, peace, way beyond even the freedom of the Causal Self.

Wilber says that the Nondual is like a paper on which all other levels of human awareness are written on. It is the natural ground reality, as it were.
I tend to agree.

Q: What’s with the Vedanta nondual?

A: Vedanta nondual is actually the Causal transpersonal level. As far as I can understand all of this, the Vedanta teachings (Upanishads, and even Tantras) proclaim in one voice that the Brahman is the ground reality and that He is the non-differentiated awareness, the “I am presence” which is, well, everything. It is the Source and River at the same time, and the Witness and phenomena that It witnesses. Hence the term advaita (not-dual).

And that’s the Vedanta nondual. Where advaita stops, Buddhist nondual starts, according to my experiences.

The Theravada Buddhists scriptures, for example, state that the  journey towards enlightenment begins only when first anatta insight manifests. And the anatta insight itself is already far beyond the Causal Self and Causal level (Vedanta teachings). And I am not speaking here in terms of hierarchy.

Q: It is said that Ramana Maharshi was all about nondual. What is your take on that?

A: No, Sri Ramana Maharshi never said anything about Buddhist states of consciousness. He was all about Vedanta teachings, the jnana path.

We can see this from His own statement; for Him, the highest possible attainment is the so called Sahaja Nirbikalpa Samadhi, which He describes like this:

“In yoga the term samādhi refers to some kind of trance and there are various kinds of samādhi. But the samādhi I speak of is different. It is sahaja samādhi. From here you have samadhana [steadiness] and you remain calm and composed even while you are active. You realize that you are moved by the deeper real Self within. You have no worries, no anxieties, no cares, for you come to realize that there is nothing belonging to you. You know that everything is done by something with which you are in conscious union.”

“You know that everything is done by something you are in conscious union”, He says. Well, this can not possibly be the nondual Buddha is said to have attained and was sharing.

What Sri Ramana Maharshi shares is perfect Causal transpersonal attainment.

The nondual discussed here, however,  is the anatta and sunyata, which is described in the scriptures like this:

“Then, Bāhiya, you should train yourself thus:
In reference to the seen, there will be only the seen.
In reference to the heard, only the heard.
In reference to the sensed, only the sensed.
In reference to the cognized, only the cognized.
That is how you should train yourself. When for you there will be only the seen in reference to the seen, only the heard in reference to the heard, only the sensed in reference to the sensed, only the cognized in reference to the cognized, then, Bāhiya, there is no you in connection with that.
When there is no you in connection with that, there is no you there.
When there is no you there, you are neither here nor yonder nor between the two.
This, just this, is the end of suffering.”
(Dawsonne 2010, Udana 1.10)

No Self, no center, nothing to be at-one-with. Anatta or an-atma. Non-self.

Q: OK, so what is the nondual really, and how to attain it?

A: As I already said, this can not be attained, not in a sense our minds are used to work. Action – reaction, this simply does not apply here.

Maybe this will add some light to our discussion (a quote from my upcoming book, After anatta):

“It is simply impossible to keep any trace of any kind of identity (whether from the Centuar, Subtle or even from the Causal stage) when really moving on to the Buddhist Nondual, i.e. anatta and sunyata. No way. Even the slightest trace of identity implicates and indeed induces duality, albeit unperceivable.

If we consider Vedanta Advaita (monism, non-separateness), there are no problems with some kind of ultimate or causal identity or entity or inherent quality still present. No problems there.

But as soon as we move on to the Buddhist Nondual, namely anatta and sunyata, then every single trace of identity, entity and inherent quality (even the higher Causal notions of the unmanifested Being or Brahman) must be left behind, entirely and unconditionally.”

So, what I am talking about here is the so called “Identity collapse”. And I am not speaking about the ego or Authentic self, I am speaking about “collapsing” the I am presence, the Causal self, the Witness as well.

Q: How do you understand the famous “Mu” answer to the question whether a dog has the Buddha nature?

A: Excellent question, it fits right into our discussion. Thank you.

It is said that illustrious Zen master, Joshu was asked a question: “Does a dog have the Buddha nature?” and the master answered: Mu (which means, no).

My understanding is that Buddha nature can not be pinned down, there is nothing inherent about it, it is no-where and no-one. There is no center, no Self, no God (if you believe in him), no agency and no actor. Anatta.

I have observed that most people I met are convinced that Buddha nature is something they can identify with. Well, according to my anatta and sunyata insights, there is no question about any kind of identity when we come to the Buddhist nondual.

Hence, not even a dog has anything there as a Self or Center. Anatta, an-atma, non-self. No-soul.

Q: Ken Wilber has written a lot about the nondual. What’s your opinion on his contribution?

A: In my honest opinion and with all due respect, Mr Wilber is not speaking about the Buddhist nondual in his books OR if he is, he is very very vague about it. Granted, he must have had a lot of experiences along the transpersonal line of things, but as far as I can understand his words, he is always speaking about the Causal level even when using the words that may convey the Buddhist nondual.

As a matter of fact, there is a huge difference between the Vedanta Causal and Buddhist nondual. If that wasn’t the case, why would the hystorical Buddha offer completely new map of human awareness not elaborated on in Vedanta?
Why wasn’t he satisfied with Upanishads and Tantras which in one voice proclaim the superiority of Brahma or Shiva (supreme being)?

Of course, these are only my speculations, but nevertheless interesting to take into consideration.

Q: How is it when you are in nondual?

A: Anything I say about it is just a joke. 🙂
Words lose their meaning when we come to the Buddhist nondual, in my opinion.

How about this:
there is no one here, there, anywhere, no center, no actor, no cause and no effect. All that “remains” is just what has always been, unfolding, manifesting and disappearing on its own, not touching anything and yet intimately interconnected.

Hahahah. As I said, it is pointless to try to convey this.

Let me finish by quoting this (again from my upcoming book, After anatta):

“The Buddha said “Monks, when the gods with Indra, with Brahmā and with Pajāpati seek a monk who is thus liberated in mind, they do not find [anything of which they could say], “The tathāgata’s consciousness is dependent on this.” Why is that? A tathāgata, I say, is untraceable even here and now.”

This does not mean the tathagata’s consciousness is ‘independently existing’ but it is like drawing on water – utterly traceless and self-releasing. When you try to draw on water, the picture does not land, does not lead to ‘growth’, does not lead to grasping or infatuation.”

Drawing on water – explaining the Buddhist nondual state – trying to catch the Buddha nature.
LOL (laughing out loud)

Related Blogs on the Buddhist nondual:


Question about the Nondual level?
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From beyond: the nirodha-samāpatti

“…niroda-samapatti or ‘attainment of extinction’ , also called saññā-vedayita-nirodha, ‘extinction of feeling and perception’, is the temporary suspension of all consciousness and mental activity, following immediately upon the semi-conscious state called ‘sphere of neither-perception-nor-non-perception’ (s. jhāna, 8).
The absolutely necessary pre-conditions to its attainment are said to be perfect mastery of all the 8 absorptions (jhāna), as well as the previous attainment of Anāgāmī or Arahantship…”

(Nyanatiloka 1998)

After entering the Nondual more or less at will for almost one year or so, profound anatta insight has manifested as I have shared above (Blog on anatta >>). A month and a half after that insight, a thought about experiencing nirodha-samāpatti arose.

And it happened soon after that:

while lying in my bed, with closed eyes (no visual input) “entering” into Nondual and on to anatta using the entry of thoughts and feelings (just thoughts/feelings cognized, no observer or witness), it happened; slowly body awareness turned off, feelings of so called tiredness just dissipated and thoughts vanished one by one. And consciousness manifested as thoughts/feelings just gently and slowly faded itself down to a complete stop. Total silence or stillness and swoon-like absence of everything and anything. Beyond perception and non-perception. No saying; can’t really adequately describe it, I admit (please, also see the Appendix 6.3.).

I don’t know how long this state lasted, but afterwards everything instigated itself it seems or whatever, everything became active again, thoughts, feelings and bodily sensations. Eyes were closed still, so visual cortex was inactive throughout the event.

It was like a natural thing, an element of arising and ceasing of events. Only this time, there was no event, no perception and no not-perception. It was total absence of anything and everything. I cannot remember what was going on while in this state, as there was no I to remember anything and nothing at all was happening in that state.

Now silent joy is arising here as I share this; nothing overly special or extraordinarily mystical about it; just naturally unfolding events or non-events. Now, however, I realize that there is literally nothing which I could possibly base my existence or awareness on. Everything is impermanent, arising and fading away, by itself, independently liberated and interdependent at the same time and empty of inherent qualities.

So why am I sharing this?

In his detailed book on Buddhist sadhana Daniel Ingram shares on the topic:

“I mention this attainment because it is one more of those things that is found today but has often been relegated to the realm of myth and legend or has been forgotten entirely. It is not that Nirodha is necessary but it definitely is a good and useful thing to be able to attain. In fact, I have not yet spoken with anyone who had attained it who didn’t consider it among the absolute King Daddy of meditation attainments other than arahatship, as the depth of its afterglow never fails to impress and amaze. Hopefully, mentioning it will raise the standard to which people feel they can reasonably aspire, which is basically the whole goal of this book.”
(Ingram, p. 356, 2007)

Daniel’s words resonate with my reality very much.

From my upcoming book, After anatta

Next, sunyata >>

Gone, gone beyond: anatta

Thus far I have shared on the Blog transpersonal insights (i.e. sabikalpa and nirbikalpa samadhi) into Absolute reality as per Vedanta awareness teachings.
There is more to be realized, however.
In the realm of so called Emptiness teachings or teachings of the kind Buddha, there is no self, no center, no agency, no God involved in the natural ground Reality: anatta or an-atma.

From my upcoming book, After anatta:

“…After three days of enjoying almost constant personal audience with Dr John Rowan or “the living Buddha”, as I lovingly refer to him, I was sitting on a bench in a park, sun was shining, and it was a warm, lovely autumn day. I was browsing through a book on integral psychotherapy and transpersonal identity development (Forman 2010), and it all started while reading the information about the Nondual.

But before sharing the anatta insight, certain notions are worth mentioning, I think.

In Kashmir Shivaism, ancient guidelines about obstacles to ultimate reality are outlined, so called malas or impurities (Forman 2010, p.158):
– anava mala (belief that any given person occupies particular space, i.e. I am here not there, and certainly not everywhere),
– mayiya mala (belief that there are other objects outside of us, i.e. John is out there, not here where I am located). Basically that is the root perception of a false ego, the illusory center of reference, according to my current understanding.

By the time I got through reading this, Nondual was already present (only seeing the seen, hearing the sound etc…), it seems the first two malas were recognized as false straight away: with the Kindle reader in hands, boundaries just vanished, and the little ego and also the well established and stable Causal realization was gone, gone beyond and what remained was seeing only images, hearing only sounds. It, the “I am Presence” (Causal Self) became only what five aggregates or skandhas, according to Buddhism (Form, Sensation, Perception, Mental Formation and Consciousness) were offering from moment to moment, arising and ceasing.

It is important to note that I was at that point still able to switch back to the “I am” presence, perceiving the well known impersonal presence of the “True self”. For years I entered that state, hence falling back to the “I am” presence was happening so easily, I guess.

It was different this time, however: I realized with the aha! moment that the “I am” presence in the centre of my consciousness is exactly the same as the arising and ceasing manifestation which  was being intimately experienced. The seen, sensed, cognized AS the “I am” presence – only that “I am” presence was not there anymore.

What instigated the further insight, it seems, was comprehension of the third mala (or impurity) from Kasmir Shivaism:
– karma mala – belief that a person must perform an action, do something to remedy any given situation, say “I need to meditate to get enlightened”.

It happened a few moments after I read those words (obviously I was using the entry of mental formations and consciousness), everything just became crystal clear, no switching back to “I am” presence, for there was no one here, there, anywhere to switch to!

And I am not talking only about the little false ego (which, in my opinion, may also be called the Authentic Self from Centuar or Authentic level); I am talking about the “I am” presence, The Witness Itself.

For years, I was grateful to abide as a Witness, Omnipresent and liberated, as it were, relatively free from mental/emotional/physical impressions, laughing at the drama I was continually witnessing. But now, the “I am” presence itself, or the One Witness was gone! Even the Pure abstract potential or the so called Unmanifested “I am” (higher Causal level) was nowhere to be found! It seems that after years of entering samādhi at will, I was allowed to move on.

Only there isn’t anyone to give the permission or anyone to be allowed to move on or do anything else. No one is here, it never was, and it cannot and does not exist, because events are unfolding on their own. No center needed. Phenomena are free, separated from every other phenomenon, not touching and yet interconnected but liberating as they come and go!

Gone (leaving little ego behind), gone (beyond the Causal Self), gone beyond (leaving even the lure of the Nondual behind).”

Next, niroda-samapatti >>