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Haunted Universe: The True Knowledge of Enlightenment, Revised Edition Paperback – May 14, 2010
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About the Author
In 2002 Steven Norquist experienced that final and irrevocable event known as Awakening. The effects of this experience and the nature of its power were described by Steven a year later in his essay entitled, "What is Enlightenment, no, I mean really, like what is it?" This challenging essay found wide circulation on the internet where it was praised, debated and understood to be a profoundly clear and direct modern explanation of Enlightenment. In 2010, having lived in the Awakening for 8 years, Steven now offers "Haunted Universe - The True Knowledge of Enlightenment" a dark work that awakens the emptiness within that we all sense, but fear to acknowledge.
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Norquist's aphorisms point toward the 'selfless' quality of the manifestations of existence. The universe is 'haunted' in the sense that no one is home. Or, as the Buddhists sometimes say, "nothing exists from its own side." When we intuitively grasp this state-of-affairs, it can feel very disorienting. And it's not a good idea to resolve our disorientation right away. For the French phenomenologists, this sense of pervasive disorientation, or "uncanniness," was a sign that the student is developing a working, intuitive grasp of the way things actually are.
Philosophies which point to the horrifying, uncanny, or free-fall aspect of existence have always been subversive. But I don't think they are dangerous for that reason. The opposite, in fact. This might be a bit of a panache, but please remember that idealistic philosophies which appeal to ideas of progress and purity are most frequently associated with political violence and genocidal governments. (cf. Emmanuel Levinas, "Totality and Infinity.")
In any event, this sense of uncanniness or horror is not the opposite of compassion. In fact, compassion grows organically out of the wreckage of the ego. (In the context of nondual philosophy, "the ego" refers to the unexamined assumption of independent existence; an assumption which is vulnerable to some very unfortunate strivings.) If the universe is actually haunted and echoing because no one is home, then liberation from the ego already exists. The universe is not actually populated with phantasmagoric 'egos,' or 'selves,' which demand, like the monster in the attic, to be fed money, power, status or property. This truth is liberating and scary. Liberating, because it frees energy that was caught up in idealizing our own self-images, and those of others. Scary, because it can mean big changes. Norquist says himself, in an earlier essay, that when he first really felt these truths, some of his usual activities fell away. These activities, it turned out, were mainly in the service of his ego or self-image. When that's all done with, what next? Disillusionment, then openness. Free-fall, then compassion, without a person who needs to be thought of as "compassionate."
A word of warning to the eco-conscious reader: this book really does have just one sentence per page, ala Stuart Schwartz' "The Great Undoing." This might offend. Personally, I made it do double-duty as a notebook.
Jay Jennifer Matthews
"Radically Condensed Instructions for Being Just as You Are"
Steven Norquist's experience of "enlightenment" is, to this reader, very similar to the "enlightenment" found in reading some obscure book like HG Wells' "Mind At The End of Its Tether" or "After Auschwitz" by Richard L. Rubinstein. Everyone needs to eat the nitty gritty of phenomenological despair and perceptual vastations now and then. The idea of the "forbidden book" that "destroys our illusions"--as if one book could actually do that or even approach doing that--is the idea that drives cosmic horror.
The author is versatile, that's for sure, in his choice of symbolism, and all of it adds up to a kind of gnostic nihilism:
"You will become the Dragon.
You will seek your cave and your rest until your life
fades into the oblivion that it emerged from.
You will feel yourself in the ability to buy in,
the inability to see meaning in anything.
You will become very bored with the world.
Most , if not all, of what you enjoy will be gone."
"Affirmation of being is the work of Satan;
only in annihilation can there be final rest."
The impression one gets is a tremendous, atom splitting, mind boggling, multiversal, psychogenic wax on the perceptual lens of the writer that filters perception into meaningless, depressive indivisibles, continents of unreal despair. Even as a person of deep faith and not really agreeing with 2 percent of it, I found this book thoroughly enjoyable.