A SAND Dialogue: Non-Duality & The Emergent Universe

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Our favorite conference geared towards spirituality, tech, science, philosophy and beyond is fast approaching: SAND, which stands for Science and Non-Duality. If you‘ve been reading us for awhile, you know that I have a soft spot for this gem of an event and have been covering it for years, long before we relaunched the site with our new focus on spirituality and wellness earlier this year.


We’ve always been prolific on covering events and festivals in the San Francisco Bay Area (and frankly, around the globe), but we only added a section dedicated to Spiritual Events earlier this year. And, even though we have always had a mind/body section, today we have six dedicated sections to Spirituality.

Why the change? Spirituality not just touches everything we do and who we are, but it transforms who we are and how we show up in the world….with ourselves and with others.

If you’ve been on a spiritual path for awhile, you know that there are no shortage of spiritual events and they seem to be cropping up everywhere. So, with the onslaught of events and festivals, what makes the SAND Conference so special?

Non-Duality & Beyond

SAND brings the smartest and most creative minds together for a very special long weekend in San Jose, California. Here, you venture into an immersive experience where leading scientists, philosophers and spiritual teachers gather to explore a new understanding of who we really are, both as individuals and as a society.

As I wrote in my SAND 2015 recap, the event covers everything from experiential classes on sound, art, meditation, Qigong, yoga, mindfulness and tantra, to lectures that range from the convergence of Quantum Physics to consciousness and everything in between.

And, you’ll find the quirky and unexpected as well, like when Music is Medicine (aka “MiM”) did a performance for us in the courtyard during SAND 2016 (read our article from last year). This shamanic duo were brought into an electronic-organic trance-fusion by sound healing interplanetary medicine-makers…yes really. Their spectacular ritualistic and operatic performances aim to stimulate the archetypes of our souls.


The other thing that makes this event so special and different from other events you may have attended is the pure authenticity and love that extends from founders Maurizio and Zaya Benazzo, a husband wife team who are among other things, connected by “I Am That” by Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj.

SAND: Authenticity at its Best

I have always felt welcome, embraced and non-judged which as basic as it may sound, isn’t trivial when you have self doubts about where you are on your spiritual path. Some events you attend have more of a heirarchical system and frankly, attitude.

There’s no place for either on our spiritual journey, for each lifetime we pass through in our earthly bodies leaves wounds and emotional scars that need to be healed. When we’re placed in a position of comparing ourselves to others who we believe (perceive) are much further along in their spiritual growth than we are, it only makes that healing process take longer. non-duality

As a society and within our immediate communities, we need to be there for each other, encouraging, promoting, and moving each other forward with support and love, all while being as present as we can.

I feel that way at SAND. Life is not a competition about who is smarter, more creative, prettier, or stronger — this is the mind and ego talking and working, which when in that place, stops us from being the light that we are designed to be….the same light we need to shine to help others on their path.

When I first attended the SAND Conference back in 2012, I was surely on a spiritual journey I thought.

Let’s face it — I had meditated in remote parts of the world, attended Oneness in the South Pacific, which included silence and fasting (whoah, both ripped me wide open), certainly wasn’t new to yoga and had traveled far and wide to spiritual destinations like India, Fiji, Japan, Sedona, Guatemala, Bali, Hawaii and countless others. And yet, here I was meeting people at SAND who had a quieter mind than I seemed to have and I envied (ego again) their sense of peace and serenity.

I wanted to serve (more and more) and how could I do so with a cluttered mind?

The world surrenders to a silent mind, after all. This I knew.

A couple of years later, SAND team member Nick Day and I had a near all night conversation about purpose, non-duality and self-judgment among other things. And, a year later, Gino Yu and Bruce Damer guided me through some exercises that turned my life upside down and blew my mind.

The World Surrenders to a Silent Mind

And yet, I had so much to learn, especially about “unlearning.”

Unlearning can be fun and I’d argue very freeing once you decide to surrender. SAND and the conversations I’ve had there have helped me surrender. You see, the beauty of this magical event is that its not just about our concept of what spirituality is or how and where it merges with science, technology, medicine and philosophy, or even how it merges with the rest of our lives.

Its about all of our truths, being authentic and present along the way while we present our truths to others and they present their truths to us. This leads to acceptance of ourselves and embracing the real joy of humanity, which exists among all of us.


Its when the ego gets out of the way that we can do our real healing work. Speakers at SAND address this and hundreds of other things that come up in our path of trying to make sense of it all.

“SAND allows you to explore the unfathomable complexity of Life, to the unimaginable future yet to come!”

As SAND so well points out on their site, this year’s theme of The Emergent Universe covers the “cosmos from the perspective of emergence, so that we may listen to what science and the timeless wisdom traditions can tell us, and surrender to the awe which emerges when the mind gives up.”

SAND 2017 Speakers

While similar to TED in that the attendees are as interesting and passionate as the speakers, the SAND speaker line-up is off the charts. Why? Non-duality isn’t the only topic discussed, but how non-duality weaves itself into so many disciplines without us even realizing it.

From visionaries like Deepak Chopra, who has now produced more than 70 books, Adyashanti, author of The Way of Liberation, Falling into Grace, True Meditation, and The End of Your World and Jey Tsong Khapa Professor of Indo-Tibetan Buddhist Studies at Columbia University Robert A.F. Thurman to Kabir Helminski, who has translated the works of Rumi, Episcopal priest, writer, internationally known retreat leader Cynthia BourgeaultFrancis Lucille, renowned Advaita Vedanta (non-duality) spiritual teacher and Rupert Spira, Spiritual Teacher and author of two books, one of which centers on peace, happiness and presence.

While many speakers have a strong spiritual or non-dual bent, you’ll also hear from folks like Jude Currivan, Ph.D., a cosmologist, futurist, planetary healer and author, Tim Freke, a pioneering philosopher and author of 35 books, University of California at Berkeley‘s professor of mathematics Edward Frenkel, and Julie Brown Yau, Ph.D., who is a certified NARM practitioner, and a dream pattern analyst whose work helps to address developmental and shock trauma.

Diverse right? Diversity of disciplines, minds, approaches, cultures, life experiences, and orientation are all necessary for the conversation to be unified and for us to ultimately realize an important truth: we are all in fact connected. And, we are all in fact, one.

And, it doesn’t stop there. This year’s speaker line-up is so interesting, you’ll be hard pressed not to want to learn from their wisdom, most of which is as ancient as it comes.


Photo credit: SAND Conference

SAND is a not-for-profit organization which has a spiritually rich community that is directed from a place of heart and purpose. I truly love this non-duality event and encourage you to support them if you can. You can donate any amount on their site to further their cause and mission.

The Details:

Want to attend? You should get a ticket even if you’re on the fence — you won’t regret it. It’s being held at the Dolce Hayes Mansion in San Jose, CA from Wednesday October 18 – Sunday October 22, 2017. To get a special 10% discount off the already low registration, use: WEBlOG17.

Hope to see you there all!

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