The Open Path

Recognizing Nondual Awareness


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Interest in nondual awareness as the essence of spiritual awakening, free from the obligations and cultural references of a particular religion, is rapidly expanding throughout the Western world. Those who have sought out and followed spiritual paths, such as Buddhism, Hinduism, Sufism, Kabbalism, etc., have often found themselves coming up against a kind of ceiling in their longing for spiritual awakening. This can be a result of the religion’s cultural context or a belief system that may not see awakening as something within the reach of adherents.

So, many serious spiritual students have turned to nonsectarian teachers to further their practice. These readers will find The Open Path to be an excellent guide to the realization of the silent ground of all being and to the expression of that realization in the diverse conditions of their lives.

The book includes very helpful exercises and practices that foster a sense of equanimity and natural insight, as well as methods and teachings from many sources: Sufism, psychology, meditation traditions, and Eastern as well as Western nondual teachers.


Praise for The Open Path


A study of religious adherence by the Pew Research Global Attitudes Project found that 16 per cent of people worldwide have no religious affiliation. ‘Spiritual but not Religious’ (SBNR) is a phenomenon now widespread over the world. Disenchantment with orthodox organized religions, issues concerning rights for women and gays, and intolerance towards other religions seem to be driving people to become SBNR. Despite criticism from representatives of organized religions, SBNR is here to stay.

One way of reconciling the obvious differences in religions is through Sri Ramakrishna. His statement ‘jato mat, tato path; as many faiths, so many paths’ would be a solution to the multifaceted problems of religious diversity. However, many would not accept Sri Ramakrishna’s teachings because of cultural bias. Another solution would be to identify and associate with the impersonal Reality, hidden almost in all religions and forms of worship. It is this aspect of spirituality, shorn of externals, that most SBNR people are moving towards.

Elias Amidon, affectionately known as Pir Elias, is the spiritual director of the Sufi Way International, a non-sectarian mystical order in the lineage of Sufi Inayat Khan. His personal study of Sufism, Theravada Buddhism, Native American teachings, Zen, and Christianity is reflected in The Open Path.

Understanding the concept of an impersonal God and progressing towards it is the ultimate Goal. However, terms such as non-dual awareness, Buddha nature, unconditioned mind, ground of one’s being, and so on confuse aspirants on the path. Hence, Elias draws upon his considerable experiences and forms a series of exercises to show the way. His introductory remarks—on the distinction between the Unconditioned and Conditioned, and the paradox between the dualistic subject-object arrangements of thought and language—are great aids in correctly accessing the book. The spiritual exercises that Elias prescribes after each chapter are a further help in understanding the path.

The initial chapters on awareness and Self-enquiry are well written and seem to come from personal experience. The chapter on ‘Nonduality and Prayer’ is more rooted in Sufi mystic poetry—this chapter could have included a wider selection culled from the Upanishads, Psalms, and the Buddhist Gathas. The chapter on the ‘Art of Awakening’ is a treatise on perception, which the author rightly describes as a living art. The chapter ‘The Ocean of Kindness’ is a real treasure the author keeps for the end. Diving into Tao, Zen, and Tibetan Buddhism Elias succinctly brings out the ideas of non- dual action, equanimity, and unconditional kindness.

The Open Path will definitely supplement a seeker’s collection of books on non-duality and may also be a guide towards the mysticism hidden in orthodox organized religions.

—Swami Shrutisiddhananda, Ramakrishna Mission, Delhi

Among many mysteries explored here: spontaneous prayer, kindness, emptiness, starting from where you are, the freedom of the universe, awakening, is one that Elias Amidon barely mentions—friendship. Moving through this book feels to me like a continuously opening friendship.

—Coleman Barks author of The Essential Rumi

The Open Path is a powerful evocation of nondual awareness by a great teacher and friend to the world.

—Roshi Joan Halifax, founding abbot, Upaya Zen Center

The Open Path integrates hitherto hidden jewels and fragrances of Sufi mastery with more classical sources of nondual teaching. The result is not only that we receive fuller and more precise instruction but that we get to experience Elias Amidon’s lucidity as a living sage and powerful lineage holder.

—James O’Dea, former president of the Institute of Noetic Sciences
and author of Cultivating Peace

It is rare and wonderful when a man, who has been such a force of good in our world, opens to us his inward path. For those who would explore the teachings of nonduality, Elias Amidon will be gratefully recognized as a valuable resource and guide.

—Joanna Macy, author of Active Hope

Elias Amidon is a gifted teacher and writer. We are blessed that he has assembled his lucid and powerful transmission with such coherence and depth in this book. His capacity for tapping the essence of the world’s nondual traditions and sharing this in a thoroughly experiential way is unique. I am certain that immersing yourself in his vision and the exercises he recommends will bring you profound benefits.

—Peter Fenner, Ph.D., founder of Timeless Wisdom

Drawing on the Pathways of the great traditions, Elias Amidon guides us to Open Awareness of the Oneness of Being, with his wide Heart and clarity of experience. The Open Path will be read with joy by any reader who wishes to uncover their True Nature.

—Pir Shabda Kahn, musician and spiritual leader of the Sufi Ruhaniat International

Elias Amidon’s The Open Path is an unerring guide to serve people who yearn for a spirituality that transcends religion and frees the soul from the shackles of false beliefs. Pir Elias helps the mind understand the soul and warms the heart to embrace and be embraced by the cosmic inner beloved.

—Rabbi Zalman Schachter Shalomi, co-author of A Hidden Light

Each of the great religions has a gateway into nondual reality. Elias Amidon’s lucidly clear and evocative presentation of The Open Path makes evident that the Sufis are among the gatekeepers.

—Keith Dowman, Dzogchen teacher and translator, author of Natural Perfection

Elias Amidon offers us a lucid and practical gift: how to open our hearts to awareness, to what is real. This is a loving and helpful offering that will unquestionably serve those who read it. It is truly a beautiful book.

—Roshi Pat Enkyo O’Hara, Abbot of the Village Zendo, Manhattan

In this lucid and graceful manual, Elias Amidon reveals a path open to all who seek. Seekers become finders. This book is a little treasure to be read again and again!

—William Ury, Co-author of Getting to Yes, and co-founder of Abraham’s Path

This is one of the clearest and most practical books I have ever read on the subtleties of recognizing nondual awareness. Elias Amidon’s heartfelt clarity carries the signature of someone who has walked the journey himself and discovered there is no road.

—Roger Housden, author of Chasing Rumi


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Elias, who describes himself as an inclusivist, has studied various forms of spirituality for decades, and he has been teaching Open Path programmes (which used material from this book) for years. This book brings together Elias’s wisdom, along with that of ancient and contemporary teachers. It is a valuable resource for those of us who are ready for the end of “the seeker.”

The book provides clear, step-by-step, nonsectarian assistance as non-dual awareness is introduced, patterns of self-concept are faced, and the freshness of this realisation is revealed in one’s life. The book’s style is clear, and unpretentious, and exercises are offered along the way to help us realise for ourselves.

As the author points out, non-doing is actually a kind of non-practice. Fundamentally you are not doing anything, just persisting in your natural quiet attention. You are clear-headed. You have no goal. Nothing has to change or get better. You are no longer looking for anything. There is no one looking. It is just this welcoming, open attitude. It is alert and accepts whatever comes. Thoughts arise. Feelings and sensations arise. You let them be. You are simply not interested in pursuing them. They vanish. All thoughts, emotions, and sensations dissolve naturally into open awareness.

You recognise you are not a “you,” but simply awareness aware of what is happening.

The book does not attach itself to any particular religion or non dual lineage. From the world at large, those writings that point to awareness from whatever tradition, are used appropriately. It reminds you of the passage, “He who calls on me by whatever name, is mine and dear to me.”

It becomes obvious that this writer has explored this path, “opened” it up, and made it available.

—Life Positive

Awareness is a difficult concept to understand. The Open Path: Recognizing Nondual Awareness explores this concept of awareness and takes it to another level, explaining the nature of nondual awareness and how to invite this realization into one’s being, and better understanding the complex world around us. The Open Path is a strong addition to metaphysical spirituality and psychology collections, recommended.

—Midwest Book Review

No matter what your core beliefs are, whether you believe in a higher power, God, Brahman (the absolute, ultimate reality), atman (soul, spirit, essence, eternal consciousness), that there is no separate self, or you are not aligned with any particular spiritual tradition or religion, in The Open Path: Recognizing Nondual Awareness, author Elias Amidon, offers readers insight into and pointers for recognizing pure awareness and living a selfless life. The Open Path includes:

  • Insight and pointers to the recognition and realization of pure awareness.
  • Recognizing and releasing attachments, identification with and fixations to: thoughts, beliefs, opinions, likes/dislikes, stories, the illusion of a separate self (ego, imaginary self) which creates unnecessary separation and suffering.
  • The recognition that by openly embracing the oneness of existence, of being, of life, the veil of separation vanishes and the suffering and conflict that was once there as a result of seeing separateness in everything—disappears.
  • Guided instruction, inquiry, exercises, meditation and prayer.

The more selfless you become, the less unnecessary suffering you will create, project and perpetuate in your life. The Open Path provides the insight and tools—pointers to pure awareness, that can be used to help identify and release the thoughts, notions, and beliefs that mask it and that create unnecessary suffering. 

This book is an eye opener, especially if you are not familiar with nonduality (Advaita) or Sufism. I highly recommend it; because, not only can we all become more selfless in our lives and stop creating and projecting unnecessary suffering, but there is also so much unnecessary suffering in the world as a result of selfishness, separation, greed and the desire for power that negatively impacts our lives, our families, communities and that ultimately spreads throughout the world, that can only change when we become selfless through recognizing and releasing the mental barriers and notions that come from a conditioned mind and by living life from pure awareness, which can be realized with the insight and tools Elias has provided us with by way of this wonderful guidebook: The Open Path: Recognizing Nondual Awareness.

—Pamela J. Wells, Selfless Being

I had the honor recently of reading a book by an author I had not previously encountered. The book is The Open Path, Recognizing Non dual Awareness by Elias Amidon. What a pleasant surprise to discover such a well written book in a genre I thought I had pretty well exhausted.

If I try to distill down to a couple of words a description of this book, the words would be “gentle” and “clarity.” These may not be big action words, but when we are considering the field of Awareness, that which is subtle beyond measure, a book such as this is striking.

Though feeling like one is riding a gentle breeze, this book has the depth and understanding to point very clearly into what is beyond words. At first glance the book does not strike one as particularly hard hitting, but this turns out to be deceptive. Gentleness and clarity do not lack power, and continued reading allows one to see the depth of the insight.

A wonderful aspect of the book is that it does not tag itself to any particular religion or non dual lineage. From the world at large, those writings that point to Awareness from whatever tradition, are used well, and delicately. It reminds me of the passage, “He who calls on me by whatever name, is mine and dear to me.”

From a good deal of reading in the field on non duality, one can state confidently that doing “self inquiry” is a common and oft repeated instruction. However, it is seldom that one runs across a book that gathers and expounds on the self inquiry process. Elias Amidon makes it clear that “self Inquiry” is not a single note, but has many contours and edges. He lays them out in a very clear terms. It becomes obvious that this writer has explored this path, “opened” it up, and made it available.

It is obvious that this author comes from the standpoint of Awareness. With gentleness and clarity, this book carries power that points to a deep understanding. It is obvious that years of working with the process of opening are behind this book.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone on the path to discovering that which already is.

—Maury Lee, Kindred Magazine

about the author

Elias Amidon

Elias Amidon is the spiritual director (Pir) of the Sufi Way International. He has been an initiate of the Sufi Way for the past forty-two years. Pir Elias has also studied with Qadiri Sufis in Morocco, Theravaden Buddhist teachers in Thailand, Native American teachers of the Assemblies of the Morning Star, Christian monks in Syria, Zen teachers of the White Plum Sangha, and contemporary teachers in the Dzogchen tradition.

From child to elder, Pir Elias has lived a multifaceted, engaged life. The son of an artist and a social activist, he has worked as a schoolteacher, carpenter, architect, professor, writer, anthologist, environmental educator, peace activist, wilderness quest guide, and spiritual teacher. He helped develop several schools, including the Boulder Institute for Nature and the Human Spirit, the graduate program in Environmental Leadership at Naropa University, and the Open Path. He has a Bachelors degree in literature from Antioch College and has written six books.

Pir Elias has been leading programs in Sufism for over three decades, and Open Path programs for the past six years. He resides in Boulder, Colorado but continues to travel widely, both teaching Open Path programs and engaging in citizen diplomacy.

His website is