Thought divides knowing into a knower and the known, loving into a lover and the beloved, and perceiving into a perceiver and the perceived. As such, it is thought alone that abstracts a subject and an object from the seamless, unnamable intimacy of pure Knowing or Experiencing.

Non-duality And Psychological Fear Are Incompatible

Could the reading of your book have triggered this deep fear?

Hello Rupert, 

I recently had a strong experience of quite unsettling fear during a quiet retreat time away. I have practiced Zen meditation (for 10 years) and sometimes wander into Non-Duality literature for additional pointers as the two traditions teachings overlap somewhat. 

I had recently started reading your book The Transparency of Things when a fear arose in the early hours of sleep along with a strong energy around the head area which made sleep impossible. 

At first it was very difficult to contain and allow the sensation of fear to be there and eventually I just stopped trying to keep it at bay and it dispersed. 

I stopped reading your book at this point and also meditating to allow things to settle. 

The retreat is now over and I’m feeling good and spacious and wanted to ask you if it could have been the reading of your book that triggered this deep fear?

Meditation can keep me awake but usually I don’t associate it with this degree of fear. 

I had a similar experience two years ago and at the time had been reading a Tony Parsons book.

Is the non-duality teaching ‘a bit much’ for me perhaps? I am not so keen on picking up the book again although I probably will!

Any thoughts? 

Many thanks,



Dear Neil, 

Thank you for your email. 

Reading my book would not have triggered the fear you refer to. Reading such a book that comes from Presence stimulates as it were the Presence in us. There is a sort of recognition, sometimes called transmission. Presence in us wakes up, as it were, to its own Being. 

It may be that as a result of this, the feeling of being a separate entity is threatened. In other words, the apparent entity in us feels that its hideout has been discovered and that, as a result, its days are numbered. This is the fear you describe. 

As you quite rightly describe, this sense of fear does not need to be contained. In fact it thrives on containment, resistance. If it is allowed to be as it is, without resistance or attitude, welcomed for what it is, that is, a mildly uncomfortable bodily sensation with a story attached to it, it will, as you rightly describe, disperse.

You were quite right to stop reading and allow things to settle. Next time the fear arises, it will not be so overwhelming. You are prepared for it.

Treat it as an old friend. Welcome it. You know that it cannot destroy you, that is, that you are not going to disappear. With this knowledge the fear is disarmed for it thrives on the belief that the entity around which it revolves is real.

Simply take your stand knowingly as the presence of Awareness that you intimately know yourself to be and allow this fear to roll through you like a thunder storm. Open your being to it, which means simply to see that as this Awareness you are already wide open. Allow this fear to take its full shape within you and then let it flow through you, leaving you untouched, in its own time.

It is not that non-duality is too much for you. On the contrary, your description shows that you are ready for it. It is rather that non-duality is to much for your fear. Fear and the knowledge of non-duality are incompatible. It is up to you which one you will choose, but I suspect that the choice has already been made in your heart!

With love,