A Brief History of Waking Down in Mutuality. Part 1. Background.  
Saniel Bonder
Linda Groves-Bonder
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Saniel and Linda Bonder are the founding teachers of Waking Down in Mutuality, a spiritual path born of Saniel's awakening experience in 1992. Unique and gifted teachers in their own their right, they are particularly powerful as a team. As one veteran member of Integral Institute likes to say, "What's the most difficult test for enlightened awareness? Ask the spouse." As husband and wife living, working, and teaching together, Saniel and Linda are living testament to the profound effects of submitting one's understanding to the loving, critical gaze of another human soul, in trust, and in mutuality.

Many traditional forms of esoteric spirituality emphasize the importance of "waking up" to the transcendent Consciousness Principle of existence. The nature of this Consciousness Principle is timeless, unchanging, absolute, and therefore radically free of the slings and arrows of relative existence. Awakening to this principle is of fundamental importance to any truly transformative spiritual path, and the same is true for Waking Down. But as the names implies, after "waking up" to the transcendent, one must "wake down" to the immanent. To fail to embrace the relative world as a perfect, transparent, radiant expression of the absolute Consciousness Principle is to recoil from the ultimate spiritual understanding: that form and emptiness are not two (nondual).

In this dialogue, Saniel, Linda, and Ken explore the genesis of Waking Down and some of the more important influences on its creation. Of significant importance is the fact that Saniel was a devoted student of Adi Da for nearly twenty years, and although Saniel's awakening came independently several months after deciding to leave that community, the time he spent with Da could be considered formative in many ways. As Ken elaborates, Da does appear to have a great deal of enlightened awareness, but it's equally true that he appears to inhabit that realization with a relative personality that is quite dysfunctional in certain ways. Of course, "dysfunction" per se isn't the problem—everyone has what Saniel and Linda call "broken zones." But the fact that Da can't see, or won't acknowledge, that he too has broken zones means that the manifestation and expression of those relative shadow elements is equated with the manifestation and expression of absolute realization. This, to say the least, can be quite problematic.

The Path of Mutuality was in many ways a response to the problems inherent in the one-way kind of student-teacher relationship that develops whenever a teacher becomes not just a trusted guide, but the ultimate authority in all things. Although a student's recognition of the greater wisdom and experience of a teacher creates an entirely natural and appropriate kind of functional teaching hierarchy, there are healthy and unhealthy ways to inhabit that relationship. Saniel and Linda are extraordinarily committed to exploring the healthy, vibrant, nourishing forms of student-teacher relationships as an essential aspect of their work, including empowering individuals to become teachers in their own right.

Ken comments that part of what's so fantastic about the work that people like Saniel and Linda are doing is that we are collectively discovering what "dharma in the West" really looks like. He goes on to explain that for the first generation of Western teachers, the cultural disjuncture between their Eastern training and Western heritage was so intense that perhaps 70% of them crashed and burned, to one degree or another. But with every successive generation of teachers exploring the nature of spirituality in the modern and postmodern world, the shear factor decreases, and a new form of Spirit's own unfolding is discovered.

Saniel and Linda will be joining us at Integral Spiritual Center's inaugural gathering this June, and we couldn't be happier. We invite you to listen in on this charming, thoughtful dialogue and find out why we are so pleased they will be in attendance....
transmission time: 36 minutes
keywords: Waking Down in Mutuality, Zen, Vedanta, Kashmir Shaivism, Lower-Right Quadrant (social systems, institutions), Adi Da, Trungpa Rinpoche, Baker Roshi, Osel Tenzin, psychotherapy, boomeritis, Western shamanism, growth hierarchy vs. dominator hierarchy, bhava, Patrick Sweeney, Martin Buber, Ramana Maharshi, Terry Patten, bipedal monkey, ascending and descending spiritual currents, Big Mind, Integral Spiritual Center, "What Is Integral?," David Deida, Fr. Thomas Keating, Swami Durgananda, Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, A Theory of Everything.
most memorable moment: "It points to this irony of the great evolutionary and liberating accelerators—realizations and transmissions of human beings—being brokered through the forms that have come from the old world, which are often the most reactionary, conservative to an extreme, monarchic and feudal formats."

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