Spirituality and Grokking


People grok daily, often without even realizing it.

What I know to be true is very simple: all life is a manifesting of a dynamic nondual Aliveness called by many names: God, YHVH, Brahman, Allah, Mother, Shakti, Kali, Tao, etc. This isn’t something I thought through rationally, it is something I know intuitively. It is something I grok.

The word grok comes from Robert A. Heinlein’s 1961 novel Stranger in a Strange Land. To grok something is to know it intuitively. You either grok something or you don’t. Most people don’t grok nondual Aliveness. The reason for this is simple: They don’t like the implication that comes with nonduality.

For example: If a Jew groks nonduality, the idea of chosen and unchosen peoples collapses. If a Christian groks nonduality, the idea of being saved or damned collapses. If a Muslim groks nonduality the idea of true believer and infidel collapses. If a Hindu groks nonduality, the idea of Brahmin and Dalit (highest and lowest caste) collapses. If a Buddhist groks nonduality, the idea of enlightened and not enlightened collapses. In other words, nonduality is a subversive idea that eliminates privilege and superiority. And because it does it is often ignored.

For example, St. Paul seems to have grokked nonduality when he wrote in his Letter to the Galatians, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus,” (Galatians 3:28). Yet the Church he established maintained these divisions for centuries and, at least in the case of Jew and Greek, and male and female, continues to do so to this very day. While Jesus was correct when he said, “the Truth will set you free” (John 8:31), he would have been more accurate if he had added, “which is why most of you will deny it.”

The freedom from privilege and superiority that nonduality offers is known intuitively in the immediacy of the moment before the biases of race, ethnicity, nationality, religion, and the rest take hold of you. You need to grok nonduality as the way things are before habits of mind force you to pledge allegiance to the way things aren’t.

Sadly, there is no methodology for grokking. It simply happens when you look at reality without the distorting lens of isms and ideologies. Yet it happens all the time. Only it happens so quickly that you rarely, if ever, notice it happening. You see the truth, but before you can admit to what you see, your eyes cloud over with the cataracts of social and religious conditioning.

So, what can you do? While there is no official yoga for grokking, I suggest you follow this guided meditation by Vietnamese Zen Master Thich Nhat Hahn:

If you are a poet, you will see clearly that there is a cloud floating in this sheet of paper. Without a cloud, there will be no rain; without rain, the trees cannot grow; and without trees, we cannot make paper. The cloud is essential for the paper to exist. If the cloud is not here, the sheet of paper cannot be here either. So we can say that the cloud and the paper inter-are ….

If we look into this sheet of paper even more deeply, we can see the sunshine in it. If the sunshine is not there, the forest cannot grow. In fact, nothing can grow. Even we cannot grow without sunshine. And so, we know that the sunshine is also in this sheet of paper. The paper and the sunshine inter-are. And if we continue to look, we can see the logger who cut the tree and brought it to the mill to be transformed into paper. And we see the wheat. We know the logger cannot exist without his daily bread, and therefore the wheat that became his bread is also in this sheet of paper. And the logger’s father and mother are in it too… So we can say that everything is in here with this sheet of paper. You cannot point out one thing that is not here-time, space, the earth, the rain, the minerals in the soil, the sunshine, the cloud, the river, the heat. Everything co-exists with this sheet of paper ….This sheet of paper is, because everything else is.

Just look and see what is so and you will grok nonduality and know that everything is because everything else is as well.

Want more from Rabbi Rami? Read: “Spirituality and Aliveness.”

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