What is Nonduality
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Nondual Highlights Issue #2123 Sunday, April 24, 2005
if I have no aims except to find out?
I was not aware of my awareness, and suddenly I became conscious that I am. Where and how did this consciousness arise on me? That was my inquiry, going back to that state when the presence of phenomena was not there. That is, original knowledge of the original Self. So, I went back, tracing this original Self, and I reached a stage where I wanted to know what my state was before this consciousness arose. That is the destination which I have reached. Brahman, Isvara, God, all these are names given to the consciousness when it is conscious of itself. If you have properly understood this knowledge, what will be your position at the moment of death? It will be watching what is happening. This consciousness is no longer conscious of itself. That state cannot be described. It is called the Supreme Absolute, but that is only a name for communication purposes.
This line of enquiry started when I noticed that from the moment one wakes up until one falls asleep, one is very busy doing something or other. What is it that compels us to do these things? Because of what does this go on? The I came to the conclusion that it is my beingness, the fact that I am conscious of existing, which is working throughout the day. That was how my enquiry started.
In the body the indwelling principle is the consciousness. Abiding in the consciousness, it became all manifestation. Now transcendence of the consciousness has also occurred. With the appearance of consciousness, the Absolute knows it is, "I Am". This is the experience. There are other experiences now, in this time factor, but experiences are gradually dropping off, including this primary experience: IAm". It is only the consciousness that is going to disappear, the Absolute is always there.
What a fall! The perfect state, caught up in these experiences, and trying to derive certain benefits out of the experiences.
Is it spontaneous?
Yes. Whatever experiences were happening in this field of knowingness, the Ultimate principle got caught up in that. It accepted some experience as itself. Accepting experiences as the truth, it gets more and more involved.
- excerpt from Consciousness and the Absolute: Talks of Nisargadatta Maharaj, posted to JustThis
For the Self is everything.
When the seeker knows this,
He falls silent.
He no longer thinks,
"I am this, I am not that."
Such thoughts melt away.
-Ashtavakra Gita 18:9, from The Heart of Awareness: A Translation of the Ashtavakra Gita," by Thomas Byrom, 1990, posted to MillionPaths
Ordinary men hate solitude.
But the Master makes use of it, embracing his aloneness,
realizing he is one with the whole universe.
Lao Tzu, posted to truevision
SILENCE AMIDST NOISE
It is one of our pet ideas that if we could somehow run away from the world to the solitary Himalayan heights, to some mountain caves or hermitages, we will be able to solve the problem of the quiet mind. The panacea is "solitude" and it is believed that it can be found only away from our work schedules, from our daily chores, away from the people we are used to. How can we do anything about the mind unless we are able to somehow escape from intrusions by others who keep spoiling the meditation time by visiting and chatting? Thus thinking, we seek nature's quiet spots. The desire to be alone, to keep off company, is for the purpose of tackling the mind free from outside disturbance.
There some others like Paul Brunton who look upon changes from one's ordinary life as, "a strategic retreat from the world". Having launched upon a feverish pursuit of work, used to looking with dismay at an empty page in the engagement diary or even a gap of few minutes, these retreats to scenic spots are regarded as a balancing factor. Time would then be available to learn about the subtlety and vagaries of the mind, its whims and fancies, since the normal run does not provide any leisure for such meditation or reflection. This is their attitude and hope that "far from the madding crowd" an understanding of the mind would come. Na´ve it may be but a common belief. One can well understand the love of "lonely" spots in the conviction that then it is possible to be "alone". True, nature's fascination can be under-rated. It has its own magic, its own charm which goes to the very pore of one's bones. By all means if one's circumstances permit it, if karma is kind in this regard, one can resort to such places, where the mind is easily harmonious and restful. But then, it does not need argument to show that such changes in environment or circumstances may not be possible for all or at times of one's choice. Often, carefully laid plans break. Some one or the other, some totally unexpected event or the other would put a spanner in the works. Instead of the joy of the much looked forward to. Disappointment would stare one in the face.
Do we need to regret this? Can we afford to place the all important need for a silent mind in the hands of some outer circumstance such as a suitable environment away from work. In overrating the importance of solitude perhaps we have not understood what solitude really means. Looking at it fundamentally, the underlying assumption behind the linking of the mind's quietness with a place with soothing surroundings only may be an error. "Solitude" says Ramana, "is in the mind of man". It means making the mind still. This can be done in a crowd also. "Solitude cannot efface one's thoughts. Practice does it. The same practice can be made here too". Solitude per se cannot bring about a cessation of thoughts. What is required is positive effort to bring it about.
This position is consistent with Ramana's teachings that circumstances are pre-ordained and not of our making while at the same time the freedom to get back to the natural silence of the pure mind is unfettered. The opportunity of discovering the silent mind is open to all. It does not really matter if outer circumstances, like pursuit of one's sadhana (method of spiritual discipline) in a conducive environment, is available or not. If the sun of a favourable fortune shines, by all means let one make hay. If, however, the situation is dark let it not deter. One can see the stark reality of what Ramana says. The obligation to practice the quest, to search within for the source of the mind cannot be excused away, even if the circumstances are not to one's liking. For, practice alone can rid the mind of its trappings, of its addiction to thought.
Hunting the "I" with the twin invincible weapons provided by Ramana, one has to dive within. Entering as a pearl diver would with breath and mind control, persisting beyond the lulls of the mind, one arrives at the source of the mind only to be lost in the vastness of the mind's space. When the mind is not crowded with thoughts it becomes free and spacious. It is like removing furniture from the room which is cluttered with it. Then, the very act of removing furniture makes it spacious. Space was not created. It was there before. The furniture had cramped it. When the mind is freed from noise within, a deep and vibrant peace would prevail.
- excerpt from The Silent Mind, By A. R. Natarajan, posted to RamanaMaharshi
NEVER FORGET HOW SWIFTLY this life will be over, like a flash of summer lightning or the wave of a hand. Now that you have the opportunity to practice dharma, do not waste a single moment on anything else.
- Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, from Tricycle, Fall 1997
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