About Seeing, Knowing, Being

Seeing, Knowing, Being
A Guide to Sacred Awakenings
by John Greer

From ancient Taoist sages and Sufi mystics to Christian
contemplatives and contemporary Zen masters, John Greer explores the profound truth behind all the world’s mystic traditions: Living a spiritual life has nothing to do with fixing ourselves. It is simply a matter of awakening to what we already are. The real work of self-discovery—and the answer to our suffering, emptiness, and loss of meaning—is learning to see in a different way. “The mystical adventure is all in the seeing,” says Greer. “From departure to arrival, nothing changes but our eyes.”

But the process isn’t that simple. In this all-embracing work that is destined to become a classic, Greer artfully traces the steps and stages of the delicate process of awakening. He shows how we can move from society’s hand-me-down version of reality to the wonder of our true nature—from conceptual, habitual patterns of thinking to knowing the truth by being.

Like a master artist who captures an image and stirs something deep inside of us, Greer also highlights over one hundred evocative metaphors, as varied and colorful as the sages themselves, to kindle your imagination and spark your intuition—to shift your perspective and shake you into an awareness that no amount of explanation can.

What Greer shows, with great wisdom and compassion, is that when you put aside the map of the mind, you can follow the compass of your heart. You can move through the details of life—going to work, raising a family, throwing out the garbage—and still experience the wonders and oneness of life with deep reverence, gratitude, and joy.

Read more about Seeing, Knowing, Being.


Published by True Compass Press ● ISBN: 978-0-615-52183-1
5½” x  8½” ● 264 pages ● $14.95
Available at your favorite neighborhood or online bookseller starting March 2012

See the Table of Contents
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Meaning and Nonduality

In a world that places such emphasis on meaning and purpose, the teachings of non-duality challenge all spiritual seekers who attempt to unravel their paradoxical wisdom. When we hear that our lives have no significance, we can easily start to see life bleakly and nihilistically, as meaningless altogether. When we read in the Tao Te Ching that “the world is sacred. It can’t be improved,” our cherished ideas of progress, improvement, and making a difference immediately come into question. We must understand, however, that our qualms arise because we are looking at all of this from the perspective of the doer in a world of divisions. Without the ego that reigns in this reality, there would be no fear of a meaningless life.

Does a flower have meaning? Standing naked and fragile for the short span of its existence, the flower makes no pretence of playing a role or making a contribution. When we look at its delicate form and catch the light scent it unreservedly shares, we don’t ask what purpose it serves; the question of meaning does not arise. The flower is perfect as it is and need make no apologies. Alan Watts argued that only words and concepts have meaning, because they point to something other than themselves; they are symbols, significant only as a conduit for communication. This is not the case with life. As Watts would say, the flower doesn’t have meaning. It is meaning. Catholic monk Wayne Teasdale would add, however, that the unfolding of a seed to the perfection of a blossom, and its subsequent decay, reveal a deep truth about all life. There is nothing haphazard in the process of nature, and according to Teasdale, the comprehensive purpose reflected in a flower suggests a similar truth embodied in our own spiritual pilgrimage to the source and origin of all that is. As he makes clear, this purpose is not of the parts but of the whole—“the divine drawing all things to itself first by the interconnectedness of everything, then through its cosmic symbolism, and finally through the communion and union of the mystical journey itself.”

People go round and round looking for meaning, never realizing that the seeker is the sought. Meaning is found in being, nowhere else. As long as there is one who is chasing it, the chase will never end. Like the flower, we are meaning. We cannot find it in objects or accumulate it through accomplishments. We can only be it. For this reason, Jesus declared that those things hidden from the wise and learned have been revealed to little children—and watching young children at play shows us just what he meant. They are so fully intent on what they are doing, so caught up in what Zen calls the “isness” of being, that the question of meaning never occurs to them. With the innocence that precedes the appearance of the ego, they are the truth so often repeated: life is in the living. When as adults we can return to this oneness, with the wisdom gained from having thought it lost, we will have closed the circle of life.

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