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Clarifying the nondual perspective
by Jerry Katz
People speak of nonduality from three different perspectives:
-- the perspective of mystical unity
-- the perspective of consciousness
-- the perspective of the absolute
From the perspective of mystical unity, there is attachment to altered states of consciousness and different spiritual experiences. When the consciousness underlying them is known, then nonduality is addressed from the perspective of consciousness itself. It is a place from which profound inquiry can be conducted. It is the perspective giving rise to such books and articles as
the 4 agreements
the 7 initiations
the 2 questions that can change your life
the 12 signs of your wakening divinity
the 5 steps to enlightenment
the 10 rules for women who run with the wolves:
the 4 noble truths
the 30 pieces of advice from the heart
the 5 people you meet in heaven
7000 books beginning with the title "the 7 steps to..."
and of course the 10 rules for men who run with the tv remote control.
It's enough to make the perspective from consciousness look desperate, which is a good thing, because it is a stage of growth and refinement through ongoing inquiry. In its most refined state, the perspective from consciousness is an attachment to or an identification with consciousness itself. It's as good as anyone can do under their own power of intention and will.
What's called enlightenment describes the perspective of the absolute. From this perspective people talk about doing nothing and being nothing, and about there being no one. Now books are not named for lists. Nor are they named for phases, such as After the Ecstasy, the Dry Cleaning, or whatever the guy did after the ecstasy. Lists and phases are from the perspective of consciousness. From the absolute you have some of the gitas, sutras, confessions. There is no move to change or exert force. There is no full teaching given. There is simply confession of the state.
The perspective from the absolute cannot be gained because it is not anywhere, not another state or play thing. It isn't raw or fresh. It has no qualities. To call it "the perspective from the absolute" is a "perspective of consciousness" thing that I'm doing.
The greatest danger or mistake for anyone studying nonduality or anyone relating to another from a nondual place, is to try to mesh the gears of these two perspectives. The perspective of consciousness is all about gears (not to mention gear boxes) in the forms of practices and stages of growth. The perspective from the absolute is gearless. Using the machinery of consiousness to achieve the absolute is like trying to hook up a gear from a cloud to move the sky.
So what does anyone do? Through the practice of inquiry there is the look into what this "anyone" is. Recommending and teaching inquiry is an act from the perspective of consciousness, but it doesn't mean the one recommending it is resident or stabilized at the perspective or level of consciousness. That one may reside at the perspective or level of the absolute. Or they may reside at any other level while having at their disposal information about nonduality and the practice of inquiry. There are con artists in every field that exists, especially the spiritual. It's up to you, the reader, to know yourself. You may be drawn to a guru and you may not. But if you feel you "should" have a guru or teacher, or that you "should" understand the teaching of this one or that one, then you may not want to get any more than lightly involved in exploring that.
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