Guides Training

2015 Open Path Guides Training


The purpose of the Open Path Guides Training is to help develop skills and sensitivity in trainees for introducing students to direct experience of nondual awareness, and to work through the many “un-learning” processes with students that aid realization. All of the subjects explored in the book The Open Path: Recognizing Nondual Awareness will be part of the Guides Training — the book — and the Open Path Training itself — will constitute our curriculum. In addition, we will make use of selected texts from nondual teachings and scriptures of different traditions whenever appropriate. I have also appended to this document a long list of subjects that I expect we will address during the Guides Training.

The emphasis of the training is experiential. You learn best by doing. While trainees will not be asked to lead whole group sessions during the Open Path Training (there may be a few exceptions to this), you will be asked to facilitate small group work during the seminars, take an active role during (and after) class time engaging in discussions and responding to questions (I’ll call on you), conduct individual calls with students during the semesters, and lead telephone sessions with other trainees. In addition, it is highly recommended, encouraged, almost required, that you develop ways to lead independent gatherings during the Guides Training in which you can explore your own style of nondual transmission. These gatherings might be formal programs you create that are dedicated to this kind of work, or they might simply be 3-4 people in your living room who share the explicit intention of opening to realization in this way.

Participation in the Guides Training is invitational. Selection is based on my sense of your potential to lead this kind of work in the future, either within the Sufi Way/Open Path or on your own, or to integrate it into programs you are already offering.

There will be 12-14 trainees (total) for the two concurrent trainings in the UK and Germany in 2015. This number is dependent upon the numbers of registrants we have.


Since the number of trainees is limited, I ask each of you to commit yourself to deepening your own realization and ease with this material during the Guides Training (and throughout your life!). You will need to devote time and energy to this. You will need to make it a priority in your life. You will need to come to enjoy sitting quietly, doing nothing; or reading nondual texts; or listening to nondual teachers; or working with others to reveal the home-ground of open awareness. You will need to live this work intimately throughout the moments of your life.


•   Attendance: Trainees will attend all seminars of the Open Path training they are connected with, and take part in all whole group conference calls.

•   Pre- and Post-Seminar Sessions: Trainees will arrange to arrive early to each seminar and leave late, in order to attend a 3-hour pre-seminar trainee session on the first morning of the seminar, and a 3-hour post-seminar session on the final afternoon of the seminar.

•   Individual Calls: Trainees will take on 3-4 students each semester with whom they conduct two individual calls each during the semester (8 calls total for 4 students). Trainees are responsible for scheduling these calls with students. On the second semester, trainees will have a new group of students for the individual calls.

•   Facilitating Small Groups: During each seminar trainees will facilitate small break-out groups to practice inquiry, introduce and guide exercises, and debrief these sessions.

•   Trainee Calls: Approximately three times each semester, trainees from both trainings (UK, Germany, and possibly a couple of other US trainees) will join a group conference call with Elias to focus on a particular curriculum subject, or to discuss issues arising in their work with individuals, or any other aspect of the training. In addition, trainees will have the opportunity to lead a conference call (offering a talk, pointing-out, guided meditation, or inquiry, etc.) with the entire group of trainees (all countries) and receive constructive feedback.

•   Calls with Elias: Trainees may arrange individual calls with Elias if necessary. However, bringing up your issues on the group trainees calls will benefit everyone.


Since The Open Path book is the spine of the trainings, you will be expected to know thoroughly the material it contains. Another book I’d like you to become intimately familiar with is Keith Dowman’s translation of Longchenpa’s “Precious Treasury” called Spaciousness (Vajra Publications, 2013, Kathmandu) – about 100 pages long. In addition — if it is published in time — we will make use of Peter Fenner’s forthcoming book Natural Awakening, which is the manual he wrote for his teacher trainings. You will also receive a number of suggestions for other readings, and occasional scanned passages of texts sent to you by email. In addition, you will be given links to audio and video resources of contemporary nondual teachers on the web, and encouraged to experience them in person if possible. Exposure to different styles and traditions of nondual teachings can greatly benefit your work.


All trainees are asked to pay the full tuition of the Open Path Training they are part of (plus travel and accommodation costs at the seminars), plus a fee of $1,000 (US) for the Guides Training. If this amount is difficult for you to cover all at once, we can make arrangements for you to pay these tuition fees in installments over a period of time.


UK Training
Seminar I: February 5-8
Seminar II: June 25-28
Seminar III: October 22-25

Germany Training
Seminar I: February 12-15
Seminar II: July 2-5
Seminar III: October 29-Nov 1

Themes We Will Explore During the Guides Training

This is not a complete list of curriculum subjects for the Guides Training, but it should give you some idea of the scope of our work together during the training.

The Open Path
•   as a model;
•   the field of nondual awakening in its religious/historical/contemporary contexts;
•   The Open Path book: its structure, process, limitations, how we can make use of it.

•   presencing “the nondual space” as the crucial element in our offerings;
•   inviting this presencing to be central to your life;
•   the art of awakening: continuous opening; gliding;
•   nothing to be done; effortlessness;
•   no pressure; you are already complete; what we are seeking
     (and offering) is already so.

•   differences in setting: formal and informal venues;
•   taking your seat; being a teacher teaching nothing, teaching what is
       already so; awareness as the root teacher;
•   self-consciousness; being at ease with the projections of others;
•   noticing your biases and spiritual assumptions;
•   releasing your needs, ambitions, and desires for outcomes;
•   beginning a session; what is happening here?
•   methods for calming the mind, reducing belief in thoughts and in the
       truth of our feelings;
•   distinguishing pure contentless awareness; delineating the unconditioned
       from the conditioned as a pedagogical necessity;
•   the art of pointing out; returning to the main point;
•   your touchstone: what is happening now?
•   pure listening;
•   becoming comfortable with paradox and with contradicting yourself;
•   the art of guided meditations;
•   inventing exercises;
•   silence as your partner;
•   fielding questions: what is being asked? where is it coming from?
•   reading body signs;
•   seeing your students as buddha nature pretending not to be;
•   caring for the atmosphere;
•   using poetry; movement; silence; music;
•   bringing things back when they get heady or reified;
•   staying in the here and now.

•   introducing the recognition of fixations and biases;
•   positive, negative, pure listening;
•   processes of inquiry; coming up empty-handed (unfindability);
•   the art of questioning; paying attention; caring and not caring;
•   knowing when to back off, and when not to;
•   working with the One Rule;
•   the four ranges of expression: affirmation, negation, inclusion, non-definition;
•   avoiding assertions; attuning to the edge of discovery;
•   the invitation into not-knowing;
•   conditioning the next moment: what we do or think we tend to
       keep doing or thinking;
•   recognizing identification and attachment; calling students on it vs. a light touch;
•   dealing with the questions: this is too abstract; where is God? where is love?
       what about my feelings? isn’t this spiritual bypassing?
•   working with the presumptions of will and choice;
•   working with obstacles: doing, knowing, making meaning, etc.
•   softening the atmosphere; making it okay to relax.

•   the question of losing it;
•   introducing and encouraging the art of awakening;
•   “gliding:” the resolution of disidentification and spontaneity;
•   body awareness and edgelessness;
•   relaxing, and releasing the distinction of inside and outside;
•   the seeming contradiction of action and non-action; “non-doing;”
•   nonduality and ethics; carefree dignity;
•   letting be;
•   defensiveness and intimacy;
•   trust;
•   following beauty;
•   the functions of gratitude, praise, reverence, and awe;
•   the subtlety of non-religious “religion;”
•   humility and unknowing;
•   beyond self and non-self;
•   the way of abiding: absence, openness, spontaneity, and unity.