Trump in conversation with masters of non-duality

Like the rest of the rational world, I have followed the recent political career of Donald Trump with some bemusement. As I was falling asleep last night, I had a wild idea. What if Donald were in conversation with an imagined, idealised amalgamated version of all the masters of non-duality who I admire so much (Krishnamurti, Nisargadatta, Toni Packer)? What might they tell him?

So here it is. Donald Trump in conversation with the Amalgamated Masters of Non-Duality.

Donald: When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best…They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people…

It’s coming from more than Mexico. It’s coming from all over South and Latin America, and it’s coming probably — probably — from the Middle East. But we don’t know. Because we have no protection and we have no competence, we don’t know what’s happening. And it’s got to stop and it’s got to stop fast.

Amalgamated Masters: Donald. Do you sense that the threat you feel about Mexicans comes from a deep and subtle feeling of fear? And that the fear itself arises from a feeling of being cut off from the world, of being an isolated, vulnerable ego, desperate to protect itself through lashing out? Can you watch the sense of division from which you are operating and see whether a more open, spacious response to “the other” is at all possible?

Your hostility towards Mexicans (and, it seems, towards virtually the whole Hispanic world and perhaps the rest of human society) stems from the illusion that you are a person, limited in space and time, who has been born and who will die. Can you realise instead that you are pure awareness itself? That you are unlimited peace and love illuminating the cosmos? That the divisiveness you feel is simply a movie playing in your mind, an illusory overlay to the simple truth of Being?

Yet, Donald, you are no different from the rest of human society. You are a symbol of the divisiveness and fear that pervades the human mind. The world is made up of people like you: fearful, hostile, acquisitive. It will require much patient investigation into the inner workings of our minds before we can become truly inwardly free of our limited egos. And so, actually Donald, you are like a beautiful jewel, pointing out to us the nature of our own minds and hearts.

🙂 I could go on and on. But enough, as a fun activity and a pointer!



A man who moves with the earth will necessarily experience days and nights. He who stays with the sun will know no darkness. My world is not yours. As I see it, you all are on a stage performing. There is no reality about your comings and goings. And your problems are so unreal! Nisargadatta Maharaj

When I first read these words, they seemed so unkind, even cruel. But as I stayed with them, the deeper reality within them began to unfold in my mind.

We are playing roles all our waking lives. We get attached to these roles—I am a friend, a colleague, a lover, a daughter—and our emotions are hooked onto them as well.

But ultimately, these roles are empty of essence. And paradoxically, because these roles seem attached to me, they might cramp open action and compassion.

Can we move with the sun, free and unattached, yet loving and compassionate towards all? Holding this possibility in our minds, we live our days, mindful of the ephemeral nature of our roles.


I look at my sagging bookshelves, overflowing with well-thumbed volumes, many of them great works of fiction. Their power lies in their narrative force, their easy ability to beguile us into their worlds.

It strikes me that we too, living in the “real” world, base our lives upon the power of narratives. These narratives tell us who we are, who others are, what should happen to us, how we are to be fulfilled. When these inner stories come up and clash against the world, we feel pain, anger, guilt, sorrow. When the stories are confirmed by the world, we feel fulfilment and momentary peace: until the inner stories begin again.

Why do these inner stories have such power?

The answer, I think, lies in their ability to locate us in an uncertain world.

But this location is problematic. No narrative seems to define me satisfactorily. The very attempt at self definition is fraught with sorrow and painful effort and all the social emotions that we know so well.

The attempt at self-definition is also the root of violence, for when I define myself, I define you, necessarily, as other than me. The stronger my inner narrative, the more alien you and others are. When I see you as alien , I lash out at you.

Meditation, living in the present: these are words for the ability, however transient, to live in peace without an inner story. To attend to each moment on its own terms. To see the beauty and fragility of the universe without hungering for the anchor of permanence.

Can we share with each other, in this limited online world, both our narratives and our urge towards freedom?


The other


Meditation is about how we deeply perceive the world around us.

Consider a friend who is with you at a party. On the surface, she seems vivacious, cheerful. But we can become sensitively attuned to the movement of her mind. Subtle anxiety in a social situation; pleasure at the attention she might receive; evaluation of her peers and other friends; worry because of her work situation and her brother’s health. Somehow, in the perception of the person, even without intimately knowing her life history, the meditative mind must be aware of the potential currents in her.

Now suppose we can understand the emotional currents of all those we encounter in daily living in a similar fashion. Suppose we can become exquisitely sensitive to the bodies and minds of others. In this awareness, we see that their existence is not different from ours, as our daily life is merely a reflection of theirs.

We can extend this depth of awareness to the non-human world as well, to fully understand that human meanings and purposes are not the measure of the universe.

Awareness of this kind is not about analyzing others. It is about a swift insight into the lack of a boundary between selves.

Meditation is awareness of real life, not of imaginary fantasy worlds of bliss and ecstasy.




When I wake up in the morning, I am immediately conscious of being myself, quite unique and distinct from everything else.

I am obviously separate from the bed I sleep on. I feel very separate from the birdcall outside my window and the sounds of traffic on the distant highway.

Extending further, I feel separate from my friends, my partner, my parents. In theory, I could feel separate from people outside “my” culture, “my” nationality, “my” religion. I can, in effect, feel divided from the rest of the world.

What emotions does the feeling of separation engender? I want to control everything in the world, and I am upset and angry if the rest of creation does not follow my wishes. As control is seldom possible, I seem to be setting myself up for frustration.

When I feel separate, I also look to “others” to fulfil me and give me happiness and pleasure. I depend on the other to complete me, having divided myself in the first place. This dependence keeps me on edge, keeps me hunting for what is in effect a fleeting sense of happiness and peace.

In all this complex chaos, it is important for us humans to explore the sense of being separate in the first place. The premise of meditation is that the sense of being a distinct individual is itself imaginary, a construct.

Watching the sense of the separate “me” closely, unswervingly, during the day, giving all our energy to observing its activities, might be the key to deconstructing the self.







Meaning making


Humans are deep meaning-making machines. At every instant of our lives, we seem to be processing our environments, both social and physical, and interpreting them in meaning-rich ways.

I look around me and try to find love, engagement in work, spiritual fulfillment, an identity in a complex shifting world.

While this is beautiful and “natural,” I think we must also ask deep questions of the meaning-making process. This is often difficult to do, as our emotions are so deeply rooted in the meanings we make of the world. However, if I persist with my questions, some interesting perspectives arise.

For instance: how can I be sure that a meaning that seems solid and real is not just my own invention? If I look at the social institutions that mean so much to me—religion, family, community, nation—I can quickly see that these institutions vary tremendously through the world. So in some sense, humans have “invented” meanings that may simply not exist otherwise.

Since life is so fleeting and transitory, I am convinced that there is something (or Someone) Out There who is permanent, beyond change, all knowing and all powerful. But the fact may be that the Universe is fleeting and transitory; that may be its beauty, power and creativity. Is permanence simply my invention, my belief?

My point is not to tear meanings down but to question them to reveal their limits.

Many mystics across the ages have insisted that when the human ego, with all its rich meaning making capacity, ends, then a totally different kind of perspective on life, one not bound up with human pettiness, emerges. It is this possibility, as well as the conflicts in human society that are born out of specific attitudes, that keeps me interested in questioning our frameworks of belief.



We ought also to consider the necessity of scepticism and doubt. Doubt not what others are saying only, but doubt one’s own experiences, one’s own thoughts, one’s own attitudes and values, why we do certain things in life, why we believe. We should have a rational doubt, scepticism, because doubt cleanses the mind, it freshens the mind, it breaks down the old habits, the old conclusions, the arcane concepts. So doubt, scepticism, are necessary, not only what the speaker is saying but also doubt your behaviour, your attitudes and so on. Krishnamurti

I feel there is great joy and energy in doubting.

By doubt I mean the ability to question with an open mind and the freedom not to be bound by conclusions and ideologies. Of course, doubt itself should, I think, be gentle, tentative and inclusive. Sometimes doubt can be as aggressive as faith and belief can be, which I think defeats the energy of discovery.

The seed of doubt, the most profound doubt I think I can bring to bear upon my life, is doubting the nature of my identity. I face the day with a seemingly solid identity: I am, indubitably, myself; I am, indubitably, male; I “belong” to a particular nation, a particular community, and so the circle grows wider and wider.

Rather than assert the opposites of these identities, I can bring what Zen Buddhists call the attitude of Great Doubt to daily life. Am I who I think I am? At a visceral level, how is the sense of “me” manifesting in my mind and body at a moment to moment level? Can I watch the solidity of that sense dissolve away and leave me empty of essence and therefore whole?

This visceral, non-analytical, non-verbal doubt, which consists of an attitude of inner questioning, also has profound social implications. I can bring this doubt to shine upon my social, political and religious identities, and watch them dissolve into processes, empty of essence, rather than being solid blocks of meaning that I must now defend with my emotions and my actions.

Doubt seems the beginning of the most exciting journey of all.