Dr. Robert Saltzman, Ph.D.

The Ten Thousand Things

When I imagine speaking to a person who for the first time opens the pages of this book, I think of telling that person something like this: “You are about to read an authentic and incredibly lucid account of what it is like to live in this world as an awakened being while simultaneously functioning as a personality with all of the usual habits and peculiarities of an individual self.” Robert’s way of describing his understanding of human existence from the point of view of an awakened personality is a revelation.

His book is a fresh look at the questions that occur to anyone who thinks deeply about these matters, questions about free will, self-determination, destiny, choice, and who are we anyway. I believe this is a “breakthrough book.” Robert’s style of writing about such ephemeral and difficult subjects as awareness and consciousness is honest, concise, and accurate. His ability to describe his experiences of living in a reality quite different from conventional ways of thinking is brilliantly unusual.

On first encountering Robert Saltzman’s work, I am reminded of the same feelings of discovery, delight, and excitement that I remember from meeting Alan Watts’ “The Wisdom of Insecurity”, Krishnamurti’s “Freedom from the Known,” and Chögyam Trungpa’s “Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism.” His clarity of mind shines brightly through every sentence in this book. His skill at making clear the most difficult ramifications and subtleties of awakened consciousness is so free of conventional cluttered thinking, so free of habitual phrases, so free of the taint of religious dogma and the conventional ways of speaking of such difficult matters, that this book stands out for me as an entirely fresh and illuminated exposition of awakened consciousness: an awakened understanding of what it is to be human.
---Dr. Robert K. Hall



I consider Robert a unique, honest, and important voice whose work continues to challenge me in ways I deeply appreciate. I resonate very much with the heart of his message which, as I hear it, is about the questioning of beliefs, escapes, false comforts and magical thinking; the willingness to live without authorities, final answers or certainties; the recognition of being this ever-changing and uncontrollable flow of present experiencing without knowing what it is; and the encouragement to put aside all authorities and look for ourselves. Robert describes his expression not as spiritual teaching, and not as some Absolute Truth, but simply how he sees things, a humility that I find rare and admirable. He encourages all of us to relax and be as we are, to let go of self-improvement and the search for spiritual transcendence, to discover our own truth instead of looking to others, and to be here with the unvarnished simplicity of what is. I love the way he points to simply being the ever-changing stream of experiencing here-now without needing to come to metaphysical conclusions, and that he offers no final resolution, no grand explanation of how the universe works. His photographs beautifully complement the text. A truly original and much-needed book that I very highly recommend.
---Joan Tollifson

The candor, lucidity and lack of jargon in Robert’s writing are deeply refreshing. I also relish his way with words. He knows how to write. He also knows how to take astonishingly fine photographs, and these are featured throughout the book.
It’s been said that this book will become a classic, which is a pretty good achievement for someone who isn’t claiming to be a teacher and has nothing to gain by its sale. (The book sells for the production price.) He is not peddling enlightenment. He is simply sharing how it feels to be free from all the spiritual fantasies that obscure our seamless engagement with this miraculous thing called life, right now. Most of us are looking for something that “floats our boat.” But the wise know that the boat is always leaking because its very fabric is a loose weave of lies that create the illusion of a solid-state separate entity called “me.” The wise know that the boat has to sink in order for an authentic, awakened engagement with the everyday actuality of our life to flower. Robert's book is, in my opinion, a rare gem – if what you are after is the bedrock savage wisdom that liberates, entirely. If you're ready for it, this book will sink your boat beautifully.
---Miriam Louisa Simmons

This is clearly the most profound and transcendental work I have ever encountered. All my so-called "spiritual" beliefs were turned upside down with a careful reading and rereading of this work which was, for me at least, truly life-changing.
---Don Wolfe

Robert is a living legend. He is among the last few of his generation who truly lives the awakened life with all the human foibles and yet remains steadfastly grounded in the only reality there is--the aliveness of what is.
---Muniandy Ramachandran


Simply, a superb book. Worth buying a physical copy for the exquisite photographs alone. But the words amount to a clear, concise and wonderfully poetic pointing to the true nature of 'what is' and the process of awakening to the truth of what is not. This is not a book about non-duality as such. Dr. Saltzman offers a brilliant demolition of what passes for advaita these days, and cuts straight to the chase concerning what really happens when the drama of 'becoming' ends. Time and again, the author holds a mirror up to the reader, asking only that we see what is being experienced from moment to moment and realise that no 'myself' stands apart from events and phenomena as the 'experiencer' of those occurrences.

One of the remarkable things about the book is that, unlike the majority of modern 'non-duality' writers, Robert (who refuses to hitch a ride on the non-duality bandwagon and stands firmly and without compromise on his own ground) makes no claims that are unverifiable in our own experience. From his own vantage point, he simply points out what can be known, and quite rightly remains sceptical about what can't possibly be known - ie. that which could be bracketed under 'belief' rather than 'knowing'.

It's not only a riveting read. It's a life-changer. At least it has been for me. At least the equal of other books that have brought about a profound shift in my life: Nisargadatta's I Am That, the works of Joan Tollifson/Darryl Bailey/Eknath Easwaran/Jack Kornfield, Ramana's teachings. I recommend it whole-heartedly. A masterpiece.
--John W.

Incredibly refreshing and to the point. Prepare to be shocked. I found that many of my precious, life-long notions about life, spirituality and what it means to be human were rocked to their core and I'm still feeling a bit shaky. But oh, to taste the world without all of that baggage that I thought was protecting me - and from what? I woke up in the middle of the night last night in my not-uncommon cold sweat of confusion and anxiety, but suddenly the thought came to me: understanding any of this is impossible, controlling any of this is impossible, and there is no security. What a relief! If that sounds crazy but intriguing, this book is for you.
--- Russell Graves

If you like it straight up, this is it! You won't find any rose-colored glasses, spiritual pacifiers, or Advaita speak here. These candid conversations make up a mountain of common sense in today's sea of superstitions and beliefs. Robert’s words may be compared with the recorded conversations of Buddha, Ramana Maharshi, Krishnamurti, and Alan Watts.
---John Troy

There is no need to praise the content of this book. Even the most casual browser will quickly observe the clarity of the author’s thinking and the elegance with which he describes his experience of living. Yet, despite the simplicity with which he presents himself, Robert Saltzman finds his views repeatedly challenged, and it is the genius of this book that Saltzman has found a way to elaborate on his life through his deeply respectful response to his challengers and his appreciation of those who share his views. It’s the form of the book that enables this: a series of exchanges not unlike the Socratic dialogues of Plato except that here we are not asked to follow the logic of an argument, but rather to observe our own experience in the light of a straightforward description of life. In chapter after chapter, we circle around a plain and unobstructed vision, magnified by chapter headings in the form of Saltzman’s remarkable photographs, which he uses in the place of epigraphs. In this way we are constantly reminded that wisdom lies not in the pithy saying, but rather in looking at the world around us.
---Jack Hirschfeld

This is an amazing book, the kind one goes back to again and again. The deep wisdom in its pages emerges in a beautiful, clear way. The simplicity of Robert’s expression feels like a gift for those who are willing to wake up to reality. The writing is direct and naked of dogma, providing an honest, generous and sometimes brutally brilliant account of the adventure of being human in the here and now. Images at the start of each chapter set the tone for the words to come, a visual experience I enjoyed throughout the book. The Ten Thousand Things is a book not to be missed.
---Elena Ascencio Ibáñez

Quoting Robert: "My words are not spiritual teaching at all, but a pointing to the uncertainty of conjecture, and the foolishness of credulity vis-à-vis anything to do with spirituality. In the face of impermanence, the vanity of claiming "self-realisation", or, even worse, claiming to be able to teach it, seems unmistakable. After all, today's "self-realisation" might be tomorrow's "what the hell was I thinking?"
The Buddha, amongst others, famously said, 'Be a light unto yourself', and if that's a message that makes sense to you as it does to me, there's an obvious irony in quoting from any source other than your own direct, immediate experience. However, if I were the sort of person who likes to underline pertinent passages in books I read, my copy of The Ten Thousand Things would be heavily marked. (Not that I agree with absolutely everything he says, but then I guess he wouldn't want me to!) In the often vague and woolly world of 'spiritual' (dreadful word) writings, Robert Saltzman makes the case for 'Kill the Buddha!' in a really clear, radical and uncompromising manner. He is never going to accept something on someone else's say-so, whether that someone be Nisargadatta, Ramana Maharshi, Jesus or the Buddha, and he will have no truck with what he describes as 'magical thinking', where we gullible seekers blithely swallow ideas such as those often found in modern non-dualist circles: that consciousness isn't generated by the brain, for example, or that 'everything is consciousness'.
'You know nothing about ultimate matters,' he tells a questioner, 'and no one else does either.' And: 'No one knows what really exists, or even what "really exists" means or entails.'
He talks about 'attaining enlightenment' or 'realising your "self"' as 'the carrots of fantasy' - a fairy tale that tempts the seeker into thinking that, when the day comes, 'I will be special. I will be different from ordinary people. I will not suffer as they do, and as I do now.' However, he is far from being a nihilist or a materialist. 'I'm not a materialist,' he writes.'I'm an "I-don't-know-ist."'
To quote again from this beautiful and challenging book: 'You do not have to believe anything in order to be alive. Like the stars in the sky, this aliveness is present whether noticed or not, and when the contraction called "myself" relaxes sufficiently, the aliveness feels obvious and indisputable. That relaxation of the clenched "myself" feels like having been roused from a dream to find oneself alive and aware ... What is, simply is, and cannot become anything. Each moment feels fresh, different from any other, and entirely unspeakable. The future never arrives. Enlightenment is a non-issue - not worth thinking about. One simply experiences what living human beings experience from moment to moment, and that's it. And that is sufficient.
---Ian Budgerigar

Find The Ten Thousand Things on Amazon as an ebook, in paper (various editions),
or as an audiobook read by the author from New Sarum Press.

The new illustrated edition, just out, is available here:

For other countries, add '/dp/1739724941' to the country-specific Amazon address.


Sample Chapters (enjoy):

The Ten Thousand Things, Chapter 1

Chapter 1, audio, read by the author

The Ten Thousand Things, Chapter 2

The Ten Thousand Things, Chapter 3

The Ten Thousand Things, Chapter 5

The Ten Thousand Things, Chapter 20