What Do We Have to Give Up to Wake Up? 
An Interview with Saniel Bonder 
The Teacher Who Is Democratizing Enlightenment 
By Laurel Airica 



After decades of spiritual research and practice, Harvard-educated author/teacher Saniel Bonder broke with tradition and guru to blaze his own trail to Nirvana ? at the same time widening the pathway for everyone else. 

Now Bonder and others who have awakened with his assistance use his teachings ? and their catalytic transmission of “Being force” ? to enable people around the country to rapidly attain and embody an enlightened state of consciousness. Awareness Magazine interviewed Bonder to gain a better sense of how it is that he can assist others to achieve the long sought but usually elusive prize of awakened consciousness. 

Awareness Magazine: First of all, what does it actually mean to be enlightened? 

Bonder: Just weeks after my own passage through the definitive awakening that has reshaped my life — this was over eight years ago — a woman friend complained about my excited babbling, saying, “Self-realization, awakening, enlightenment ? all these terms are just too grandiose for me.” So I replied, “Fine. Let’s just call it ‘coagulation.’” And that’s still how I feel about it. 

Something very fundamental happens to the whole being of anyone who gets seriously involved in my work or that of people close to me. This we can guarantee. The simplest way I can describe it is that fundamental separateness, confusion and incompleteness just disappear ? in an instant or perhaps over a short period of time. There is a sense of landing simultaneously in and AS Infinite Being in your own body, your personhood. The quality of integration is astonishing. It’s as if you turned a corner you’ve been working to get around your whole life ? only to walk straight into your Self! 

You attract refugees from many traditions. What do people find in your work that they may not have found elsewhere? 

Some of the things I hear about are mutuality; accountable and accessible teachers; a genuinely unconditional and consistent YES!!! to their deepest aspirations. Equally unconditional acceptance and allowance of all their “stuff” — the shadow parts of the being that so many schools treat like the plague. Initiations and realizations that prove to be self-sustaining. A sense that they themselves really MATTER, that they are really as important, as Divine, as real, as precious, as any of the teachers and the books and all the trappings of the process. More important, in fact. They find an actually aspirant-centered approach. 

How are you able to accelerate the awakening process in others? What is it that you have or do that makes this possible? 

Well, I try really hard to walk my talk, and so do the teachers I’ve trained. We radiate a particular kind of integrative, radical, whole body awakeness, 24/7, regardless of what we are doing in our ordinary personhood. And we find ways, such as what we call “gazing” meditation, to bring this potent awakening force field to others in ways they can readily utilize. I also keep my ear to the ground as best I can to hear the next subtle shifts in the rhythm of Being that will serve us all best. And so do many of my friends. 

What does one have to give up to wake up? 

That depends entirely on the individual. One thing that you wind up letting go of is what I call “governing sentimentalities,” which are whole-being belief systems. More than mere thoughts, they are cellular patternings that prove, over time, to be inaccurate representations of how things really are. 

What about the notion of ‘killing the ego,’ surrendering the personal sense of self, and living an abstinent life? 

My work is not about killing the ego or any other natural aspect of our human existence. It’s about uncovering the transcendental or impersonal self-nature and allowing the personhood — and that imperson-hood — to surrender into one another so to speak. You have to experience it to get what I mean. And you very likely will if you are seriously drawn to this work.

Enlightenment is often thought of as a final goal and attainment. But you write a lot about what takes place afterwards.

One of the key suggestions I am making is that fundamental, non-separate awakeness of Infinite Being can and really must be the foundation ? not the never-found goal ? of the most auspicious, sacred life. When this awakeness is established, an extraordinary exposure to all the faults, wounds, and crevices of the psyche takes place in a person who is inclined to permit it. It’s a tumbling into the very parts of the self that you thought you would be immune to ever having to experience again! 

I affectionately and respectfully call this passage the “Wakedown Shakedown.” Being just rushes in to reintegrate all the cutoff parts as directly and fully as possible. This liberates previously bound qualities of energy and attention. In that kind of process, enlightenment or awakening is just the beginning of the changes, purifications, and healings. 

Do you think busy westerners are capable of achieving the extraordinary levels of consciousness and compassion that avatars like Mother Meera, Ammachi and Sai Baba exemplify? 

I do. But the people you reference appear to have been destined from birth for very specialized spiritual destinies and functions. Find out what kind of God-Person YOU have the special capacity to become. Be that kind of being. And then see what happens to life as you have known it. 

Saniel Bonder and his wife and partner, Linda Groves-Bonder, will be explaining their teachings ? and radiating the energy that is democratizing the awakening process ? at an evening satsang at Earth Trust in Malibu on Friday, May 4th. They will also be conducting their Human Sun Seminar at the Temescal Canyon Conference and Retreat Center in Pacific Palisades on Saturday and Sunday, May 5 and 6. For information and reservations, call (888) 741-5000 or (310) 395-7177 (and visit www.sanielbonder.com ). Bonder’s book, Waking Down: A Breakthrough Way of Self-Realization in the Sanctuary of Mutuality, is available at local bookstores.

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