The Teachings of David Waldman
By Ana Callan
David Waldman is a mystery. He embodies the wonderful, wild, incredible mystery that he says life is. Being empty, he is free to meet life fresh, greeting each new now with the wonder and openheartedness of a child. All of the passions of life—love, joy, fury, even grief sometimes—course through him, like a river inside the chalice of his body. But the trick to this miraculous mystery—and these nondual teachings—is that there is no inside or out. Being free of the weights that normally bog down the human experience, the so-called barriers of separation have dissolved and life, David’s life, is an unknowable quantity.
What can be known is the tremendous grace of his being and the privilege it has been to sit in satsang with him. What can be seen clearly is how, through the unflinching clarity and truth of his teachings, people’s differences, resistances, quibbles have fallen away, how each person’s particular issues eventually become nonissues, melting into the love we had forgotten we are.
As one woman sang to us at a recent retreat, I give myself to love, because love is what I’m after. David Waldman has given himself to love for the love of all of us. He is a living testament to surrender. But to say he has surrendered to love is also to say he has surrendered to his master, Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi, who is love itself. These nondual teachings are those of Ramana, who sat in a cave on the holy mountain Arunachula for almost 20 years. His way was silence. To sit with David, for those of us who have the rare fortune, is to bathe in that source from which we all have come. He brings us back to our true soil, our native home.
In the lineage from mountain to master to messenger, through the grace of these teachings, David shares the key that cracks open the padlocked hearts of so many. He leads people directly through their particular fires with uncompromising vigilance, an unswerving commitment to truth, and toward ultimate freedom.
“There is nothing you have to do”: These were the first seven words I heard David speak at satsang back in 2001, and they were magic. They kept me coming back. I was in agonizing pain after a near-fatal accident and there was truly nothing I could do with my mangled body and head, so I laid on the floor, helpless but to imbibe.
Before I met David, I had prayed for my old life back. But I have learned now, through facing the shadowy places I had no idea I’d spent my lifetime avoiding, that that life was merely a wisp of what is possible and true in a human existence. I can honestly say that losing my life has led me to find it all over again, fresh, my ghosts all faced, hugged, and vanished. I shall be grateful forever for the apparent “horror” that led me, literally, to David’s feet.
But it is not only me who has prospered under David’s guiding grace. Nowhere else have I witnessed a community so devoted to truth, or one in which so many are so consistently breaking free.
There is one choice and one choice only, David says, and that is where we place our attention. We can rest in the ever-present silence or get caught up in the world of “me” and “other.” And if your attention is wholly on love, then love, as David puts it, will turn its attention to you.
Now life is guided by the heart’s true expression, not the mind’s grocery list of shoulds. It is liberated and unpredictable, sometimes wild, always joyful, once the attention remains on love.
Ramana came out of his cave on the mountain and offered to the world the notion of nonduality. He said that the self alone exists. He came out to tell us we are not separate, individual, lonely, craving islands, but we are all one, which is to say totality. Which is to say we are all love.
So much of what David offers, of course, is not in the words themselves. Ramana’s teaching is all about silence, but in the transmission of these satsangs, the truth can be imbibed. Not by the mind, not by the intellect, but by the heart. Not the bodily organ heart, but by the spacious heart that holds and feeds us all.
“What is your priority?” is a question David frequently poses. If it is love, if it is truth, if it is freedom—and these are all interchangeable—then you have come to the right page. I know of no other being who can so lovingly, devotedly, tenderly, faithfully guide you home. David Waldman is a poem. His satsangs are like the finest poetry, rare, rhythmic, profound, and true. Please join us at our regular gatherings and retreats and see for yourself.
Ana Callan is an award-winning poet and novelist. She offers spiritual transformation workshops through writing throughout the United States. Her website is anacallan.com. David Waldman has recently moved to the Mount Shasta area with his wife, Faith, and is offering satsang and retreats. For more information about David Waldman, please see his website at www.davidwaldman.org