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An Extraordinary Absence: Liberation in the Midst of a Very Ordinary Life Paperback – October 1, 2009


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 222 pages
  • Publisher: Non-Duality Press (October 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0956309100
  • ISBN-13: 978-0956309105
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.5 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #523,270 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Jeff Foster studied Astrophysics at Cambridge University. In his mid-twenties, after a long period of depression and illness, he became addicted to the idea of 'spiritual enlightenment' and embarked on an intensive spiritual quest for the ultimate truth of existence.

The spiritual search came crashing down with the clear recognition of the non-dual nature of everything, and the discovery of the extraordinary in the ordinary. In the clarity of this seeing, life became what it always was: intimate, open, loving and spontaneous, and Jeff was left with a deep understanding of the root illusion behind all human suffering, and a love of the present moment.

He presently holds meetings, retreats and private one-to-one sessions around the world, gently but directly pointing people back to the deep acceptance inherent in the present moment. He helps people discover who they really are, beyond all thoughts and judgments about themselves, even in the midst of the stress and struggle of modern day living and intimate relationships.

Jeff's teaching style is direct and uncompromising and yet full of humanity, humor and compassion. He believes that freedom is everybody's birthright. He belongs to no tradition or lineage, and makes his teaching accessible to all.

Jeff was voted #51 in Watkins Mind Body Spirit's 2012 list of the world's 100 Most Spiritually Influential Living People.

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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I found this book exceptional.
D. Duarte
If you are a spiritual seeker, especially a frustrated one, I cannot recommend this book highly enough!
No Seeker
That void is full, it is bursting with life. ... And in that, all the concepts in the world dissolve."
Jerry Katz

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

31 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Jerry Katz on November 27, 2009
Format: Paperback
Jeff Foster is a young and gifted confessor or sharer of what is. Jeff's words are full of space. This book is incredibly effective in getting "you" to see there has never been a "you." There's only this.

I like the writing styles: Question and answer; confessions of what is; some writing structured as poems; and a fourth kind of writing that is set off by its own font, a courier typewriter style font, that gives a sense of "happening now." This fourth kind of writing appears throughout the book under the heading "this"; here's an example:

"Silence. I have no answer for her. This is empty of questions and answers. I am a child, I know nothing about nonduality. All I know is car horns, the whiff of aftershaves, the blowing of noses and aching of feet. This is where I live. Right here, not in some other dimension. The mouth opens to speak, even though I have no idea what to say."

An Extraordinary Absence is a book of beauty but it's not pretty. Jeff talks about pain, including his own extreme physical and emotional pain. He writes about the spectrum of humanity from "A little red-faced toddler in blue dungarees" to a man with terminal cancer:

"He is losing control of his bowels ... I don't tell him there's no suffering, I don't say `I'm enlightened and you're not,' I don't even mention nonduality, [...]

The Foreword by Kriben Pillay and the Introduction by Philip Pegler are themselves worthwhile documents on nonduality. Especially Kriben, a writer, observer, researcher, and publisher of nondualia since the mid-90s, makes strong statements:

"Much of the current nondual scene is ... engaged in layered deceptions..."

It is essential that nonduality constantly check and undo itself.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Book Lover on October 18, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I got it around a week ago and it is one of my favorites of the growing list of advaita books. Cuts right to the core, simple, readable, and enjoyable! the end of seeking, just be

He uses examples from his own life and tells of his "awakening" and how he saw things differently, like seeing his father for the first time not as "his" but as just another character in the play.

Enjoy!!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By No Seeker on April 13, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you are a spiritual seeker, especially a frustrated one, I cannot recommend this book highly enough!

I received, "An Extraordinary Absence" yesterday and finished it today. I had been a seeker (mostly as a Zen Buddhist) since about 1988. I have read many books on Buddhism and spirituality and while they all had some value, none of them came so close to putting Truth into words. The other books were also like band-aids; temporary things to make you feel better, but nothing that so drastically changed your core beliefs and permanently affected how you live life.

It's been only a month since I first heard Jeff talk on the internet and I just finished his book today, but he has already changed me in a fundamental and wonderful way. I cannot imagine how many more years of useless seeking he has saved me.

*** These are the words I needed to hear since I began my search ***

and they are words that no one else has said. If this had been my first book on spirituality, maybe I could have saved two decades of futility. Then again, maybe I needed to really understand how futile my search was in order to be ready to hear these new words.

Jeff does not give any practices, things to believe, or recipes for success. This isn't a self-help or feel-good book. His message is clear and his simple words hit you like a sledgehammer; they are powerful and my life has already changed for the better because of them.

One message is that this moment never seems to be enough. This causes us to suffer. Often we create a new identity as a "spiritual seeker" who will one day attain enlightenment - THEN that will be enough. In truth, life, as it is, is more than enough already.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Forrest on September 5, 2010
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Awakening is not even an accurate phrase. I read the book like a novel, scarcely wanting to lay it down. It is the clearest and most moving story of the disappearance of the illusory "me" and the opening to the full presence of life I have ever read. I highly recommend to anyone on the spiritual search who is ready to lay the burden down.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By San Francisco guy on February 19, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
"The Tao that can be spoken is not the eternal Tao." So it goes with non-dualistic writings. The question then becomes, "how well does it point?" It's been my limited experience (Parsons, Wheeler, Foster) that non-dualistic writers pretty much say the same stuff over and over. I'm not sure there's any other way to approach the subject. An Extraordinary Absence goes from "ho-hum" to "very, very good." The questions and answers at least provide slightly different perspectives. Parsons' approach can be more humorous, but he can also get very annoying. (However, the first section in As It Is is outstanding.) Wheeler is too rah-rah for my taste. So over all I'd put Foster on top of these three, anyway.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By ClariTee on April 5, 2010
Format: Paperback
This book delivers a clear and uncompromising nondual message, expressed with compassion and a wonderful sense of grounded-ness that seems to be missing from other books of this type.I am eternally grateful, nearly to the point of speechlessness,for the ability of some 'people' to be able to put this message into words.....
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