|Dr. Robert Puff|
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#1767 - Wednesday, April 14, 2004 - Editor: Jerry
This issue features a little NONDUALITY 101
Nonduality From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
Nonduality is the nature of reality according to
teachings (generally originating in Asia) such as
Advaita, Buddhism and Dzogchen, and probably
Taoism as well. Western philosophy includes an
(unrelated) intellectual tradition of nondualism,
known more commonly as monism.
While attitudes towards the experience of duality
and self may vary, nondual traditions converge on
the view that experience does not imply an "I".
In the Buddhist canon, the Diamond Sutra presents
an accessible nondual view of "self" and
"beings", while the Heart Sutra asserts shunyata
the "emptiness" of all "things". The fullest
philosophical exposition is the Madhyamaka; by
contrast many laconic pronouncements are
delivered as koans. Advanced views and practices
are found in the Mahamudra and Maha Ati, which
emphasize the vividness and spaciousness of
"Not Two and Not One"
Mahayana Buddhism, in particular, tempers the
view of nonduality (wisdom) with respect for the
experience of duality (compassion) ordinary
dualistic experience, populated with selves and
others (sentient beings), is tended with care,
always "now". This approach is itself regarded as
a means to disperse the confusions of duality
(i.e. as a path). In the Hinayana, that respect
is expressed cautiously as non-harming, while in
the Vajrayana, it is expressed boldly as
enjoyment (especially in tantra).
Dzogchen is a relatively esoteric (to date)
tradition concerned with the "natural state", and
emphasizing direct experience. It is independent,
yet closely allied with the Buddhism of Tibet,
particularly the Nyingma lineage and the Maha Ati
teachings. In Dzogchen, the primordial state, the
state of nondual awareness, is called rigpa.
Advaita (Sanskrit a, not; dvaita, two) is a
nondual tradition with Advaita Vedanta as its
philosophical arm. Probably the best known
advaitist of modern times is Ramana Maharshi,
according to whom the jnani (one who has realised
the Self) sees no individual ego, and does not
regard himself (or anyone else) as a "doer" of
actions. The state of nondual awareness is called
The Taoist's wu wei (Chinese wu, not; wei, doing)
is a term with various translations (e.g.
inaction, non-action, nothing doing, without ado)
and interpretations designed to distinguish it
from passivity. From a nondual perspective, it
refers to activity that does not imply an "I".
Nonduality in Carlos Castaneda
Carlos Castaneda's writings describing the
shamanism of Toltec naguals are a rich but
troubled source of nondual themes. Their
authenticity as ethnography is a matter of much
controversy. As well, Carlos' self-portrait as a
confused apprentice is not merely a literary
device. Nevertheless, the narratives contain
numerous assaults on the idea of an individual
self, and propose a worldview of emanations
powered by an abstract Intent. Yet Carlos never
seems to acknowledge the nondual implications in
his stories: "Naturally, he heard the inner
voice, but he believed it to be his own feelings
he was feeling and his own thoughts he was
thinking." (Castaneda, 1987, chap. 1).
Dzogchen Practice in Everyday Life
by HH Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche
The everyday practice of dzogchen is simply to
develop a complete carefree acceptance, an
openness to all situations without limit.
We should realise openness as the playground of
our emotions and relate to people without
artificiality, manipulation or strategy.
We should experience everything totally, never
withdrawing into ourselves as a marmot hides in
its hole. This practice releases tremendous
energy which is usually constricted by the
process of maintaining fixed reference points.
Referentiality is the process by which we retreat
from the direct experience of everyday life.
Being present in the moment may initially trigger
fear. But by welcoming the sensation of fear with
complete openness, we cut through the barriers
created by habitual emotional patterns.
When we engage in the practice of discovering
space, we should develop the feeling of opening
ourselves out completely to the entire universe.
We should open ourselves with absolute simplicity
and nakedness of mind. This is the powerful and
ordinary practice of dropping the mask of
We shouldn't make a division in our meditation
between perception and field of perception. We
shouldn't become like a cat watching a mouse. We
should realise that the purpose of meditation is
not to go "deeply into ourselves" or withdraw
from the world. Practice should be free and
non-conceptual, unconstrained by introspection
and concentration. Vast unoriginated self-luminous wisdom space is
the ground of being - the beginning and the end
of confusion. The presence of awareness in the
primordial state has no bias toward enlightenment
or on-enlightenment. This ground of being which
is known as pure or original mind is the source
from which all phenomena arise. It is known as
the great mother, as the womb of potentiality in
which all things arise and dissolve in natural
self-perfectedness and absolute spontaneity.
All aspects of phenomena are completely clear and
lucid. The whole universe is open and
unobstructed - everything is mutually
Seeing all things as naked, clear and free from
obscurations, there is nothing to attain or
realise. The nature of phenomena appears
naturally and is naturally present in
time-transcending awareness. Everything is
naturally perfect just as it is. All phenomena
appear in their uniqueness as part of the
continually changing pattern. These patterns are
vibrant with meaning and significance at every
moment; yet there is no significance to attach to
such meanings beyond the moment in which they
This is the dance of the five elements in which
matter is a symbol of energy and energy a symbol
of emptiness. We are a symbol of our own
enlightenment. With no effort or practice
whatsoever, liberation or enlightenment is
The everyday practice of dzogchen is just
everyday life itself. Since the undeveloped state
does not exist, there is no need to behave in any
special way or attempt to attain anything above
and beyond what you actually are. There should be
no feeling of striving to reach some "amazing
goal" or "advanced state."
To strive for such a state is a neurosis which
only conditions us and serves to obstruct the
free flow of Mind. We should also avoid thinking
of ourselves as worthless persons - we are
naturally free and unconditioned. We are
intrinsically enlightened and lack nothing.
When engaging in meditation practice, we should
feel it to be as natural as eating, breathing and
defecating. It should not become a specialised or
formal event, bloated with seriousness and
solemnity. We should realise that meditation
transcends effort, practice, aims, goals and the
duality of liberation and non-liberation.
Meditation is always ideal; there is no need to
correct anything. Since everything that arises is
simply the play of mind as such, there is no
unsatisfactory meditation and no need to judge
thoughts as good or bad.
Therefore we should simply sit. Simply stay in
your own place, in your own condition just as it
is. Forgetting self-conscious feelings, we do not
have to think "I am meditating." Our practice
should be without effort, without strain, without
attempts to control or force and without trying
to become "peaceful."
If we find that we are disturbing ourselves in
any of these ways, we stop meditating and simply
rest or relax for a while. Then we resume our
meditation. If we have "interesting experiences"
either during or after meditation, we should
avoid making anything special of them. To spend
time thinking about experiences is simply a
distraction and an attempt to become unnatural.
These experiences are simply signs of practice
and should be regarded as transient events. We
should not attempt to re-experience them because
to do so only serves to distort the natural
spontaneity of mind.
All phenomena are completely new and fresh,
absolutely unique and entirely free from all
concepts of past, present and future. They are
experienced in timelessness.
The continual stream of new discovery, revelation
and inspiration which arises at every moment is
the manifestation of our clarity. We should learn
to see everyday life as mandala - the luminous
fringes of experience which radiate spontaneously
from the empty nature of our being. The aspects
of our mandala are the day-to-day objects of our
life experience moving in the dance or play of
the universe. By this symbolism the inner teacher
reveals the profound and ultimate significance of
being. Therefore we should be natural and
spontaneous, accepting and learning from
everything. This enables us to see the ironic and
amusing side of events that usually irritate us.
In meditation we can see through the illusion of
past, present and future - our experience becomes
the continuity of nowness. The past is only an
unreliable memory held in the present. The future
is only a projection of our present conceptions.
The present itself vanishes as soon as we try to
grasp it. So why bother with attempting to
establish an illusion of solid ground?
We should free ourselves from our past memories
and preconceptions of meditation. Each moment of
meditation is completely unique and full of
potentiality. In such moments, we will be
incapable of judging our meditation in terms of
past experience, dry theory or hollow rhetoric.
Simply plunging directly into meditation in the
moment now, with our whole being, free from
hesitation, boredom or excitement, is
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|Dr. Robert Puff|