What is Nonduality
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#2175 - Thursday, June 16, 2005 - Editor: Jerry Katz
This issue features an autobiographical statement
by Guy Smith, author of This Is
Unimaginable and Unavoidable. It was reviewed in issue
http://www.nonduality.com/hl2148.htm Excerpts may be read and the book may be ordered at http://www.non-dualitybooks.com/Unimaginable.htm
This autobiography is exclusive to the Highlights and is not included in the book. Thanks to Guy and to publisher Julian Noyce for permission to reprint.
Biography is of value in this context in so far as it can generate a sense of intimacy between me
the (apparent) narrator and you the (apparent) reader. And intimacy is of value in this context
because this context is, first, (attempted) communication, and that which can receive and complete
communication ("you") tends to be motivated and attracted by intimacy (due to memories, conscious
and / or unconscious of intensely, sensually pleasurable infant intimacy). And intimacy is also of
value in this context because this context is, second, (attempted) communication of nondualistic
perception - and intimacy comprises a softening, blurring and enlightening of the sense of
dualistic separation, as compared to the 'normal' adult perception of rigid duality. At the same
time, biography is actually a compromising of nondualistic truth: the truth is, there is no 'Guy',
no 'Guy's life' and definitely no 'Guy's enlightenment'. Therefore, it is helpful (in terms of
attempting to perceive the nondualistic nature of reality) to read the following knowing it to be
'just a story', which is 'fiction'. A story is unavoidably an infinitely reduced and unrecognisably
altered (mis)representation of reality, as narrative consists in structures of limited symbols
(words), whereas reality is really a boundless, limitless, timeless formlessness, and is therefore
inexpressible. (To complicate matters, it is clear that 'narrative' is of course in no way separate
to 'timeless formlessness'; it is only that; there is only that. What narrative is, is formless
oneness casting the illusion of structured, divisible reality - of 'separate people', 'individual
lives', 'different places', 'different points in time' and so on. This is wholly illusory, as there
is actually only ever 'this', which is indivisible presence).
The Apparition of Duality (1981-2004)
Although all appearances are absolutely singular, unique, one can identify certain similarities
amongst this infinitude of differences. The apparition of dualistic perception tends to happen as
follows. There is formless nothingness. There is the presence of sensation. The first (false,
dualistic) sense of form, formation, involves the emergence of senses of 'mother' and 'me'. This
can be called 'infancy' and 'intimacy'. As it consists of the most fuzzy, syrupy undefined of
definitions, it is the most satisfying of dualistic perceptions - and so it becomes the most longed
for and sought after of appearances (and is most successfully recreated in sexual intimacy).
Infancy is stored and storied in my remembering as the sense of a vast, shadowy, languid-moving
presence, jutting and towering above, and senses of homeliness, safety, comfort, closeness, and
This infancy and intimacy disappears by degrees in exact proportion to which the illusion of form
and formation asserts and solidifies itself. When 'vast, shadowy safe-guarder' is reconstituted as
'mother' and 'that which is safe-guarded' as 'me', reality is perceived as being a structural
'thing' made up of lots of separate, distinct 'things': 'objects', 'living things', 'processes',
'places', 'times', 'lives'. As such, there is an inevitable sense of bereavement: once I was
everything a lovely sensual oneness but now I am but this tiny body, this limited set of thoughts,
this limited array of feelings and not only have I lost Everything (and gained almost nothing), but
this tiny little thing that I am is set apart and against this 'vast universe', this 'real world
out there', and therefore cast in a state of perpetual labour, struggle, exertion. Not
surprisingly, then, that which can be (mis)labelled 'Guy the child' may be characterised as
constituting much winging and weeping: ostensibly about, say, being tired from walking seemingly
long distances ('my knees are bending' I would say with anatomical naivety!), and more
existentially about this tiresome sense of reality being a thing of form.
The emergence of the sense of agency, and therefore of responsibility and accountability is an
additional misery. If this body gets smacked for drawing a sad face on a frosty window, the message
is that something, 'someone', 'in here' must be 'guilty', 'to blame', 'responsible' for it.
Perpetuating feelings of 'guilt', 'shame', 'regret', 'self-loathing', 'self-chastising', 'denial',
'rationalisation', 'self-defensiveness', 'self-promotion', 'resentment', 'blame', 'accusation',
'wrath', 'vengeance', 'vindication', 'triumph' - 'agency' is perhaps the most destructive
illusion-manifestation there can be. The truth is, there is no agency. That which gets mislabelled
'choice' is purely the spontaneous favouring of one thought over another: where is there any
'chooser' in this?
Adolescence tends to be characterised by senses of gloomy resignation and sometimes futility, born
of the realisation that I am totally on my own now; there really is no way back to the lost
intimacies of my infancy. With the apparent 'adolescent Guy' there was acute fearfulness of social
interaction (the agentive sense that everyone was blaming me and condemning me for everything),
consequent avoidance of society (lunching with relief and shame in toilet cubicles on extreme
occasions), aching loneliness, at missing out on the satisfying intimacies of social contact (my
catholic conditioning prohibiting even the sensual solace of masturbation!), frustration at the
compulsiveness of all of this, exasperation, desperation, despair, futility and occasional suicidal
urges. It was all a magnificent tragedy and satisfying in its own way - up to a point.
'Studentdom' (and again, that which gets called 'my experience' seems to be largely synonymous with
that which gets called 'what is typical' here), was characterised by a more diverse experiencing
ranging from ecstatic jubilation to grinding dread. Sometimes I was petrified of socialising; at
other times I totally revelled in it, experiencing care, openness, solidarity, affection, passion,
intoxication, being stoned, kissing, touching, having sex, and being in love - each a magical, lush
syrupy incarnation of intimacy.
The Disappearance of Apparent Duality (March 2002-April 2004)
It is not surprising that my first conscious glimpse of nondualistic reality happened within the
honeymoon of my first love-relationship. Waking up one morning the sense of a material room of
material objects gave way to a boundless indivisible presence, for what was both two hours and
eternity. Description can only misrepresent this, as description describes specifics, where as this
is limitless, but one might story it as 'a mass of vibrant, vibrating golden energy' or 'all form
melting as some passionate, sensual syrup' or 'crystal-clear, perfectly pure, infinitely fresh
emptiness'. The radiant timelessness also provoked the staging of another aesthetically pleasing
appearance - comprising the remembering (and because of the cessation of all sense of time it
really was a re-membering) of a forgotten childhood incident in which I ask my father doubtfully
whether I really have existed for only a few years, he replies 'yes', and the response is a certain
knowing that this is not so - the pungent taste of an infinite ancientness and freshness that I am.
There were countless similar experiences subsequently. In between these was much frustration,
turmoil and struggle to recapture and sustain this oneness. This included, eventually, receiving
textual and oral 'nondualistic expressions', by Tony Parsons and Roger Linden in particular.
Engaged in this, there were many instances of ecstatic bliss, but also very tender, sensitised,
painful senses of disappointment and violation. It is a violation of self to be told that you are
nothing and you can't do anything and that you won't get anything out of spending all this money
and time trekking up to London.
By autumn 2003, frustrated by this message there was a sort of grim, almost bitter resolve to just
'get on with my life' - 'since, like they say, there is no point in listening about nonduality; it
is already the case'.
Later, in the winter, when this 'getting on with my life' just wouldn't happen (glimpses of the
heightened sensitivity of unstructured awareness had helped me to receive first-class honours in
English at Bristol Uni, and yet I spent the entire year after graduation without a job, not looking
for one, dreading the imagined grind of having one) I would take long baths in pitch blackness, in
the early hours, sort of 'burrowing' into the blackness, somehow trying to annihilate everything.
The idea was that this would 'get me' oneness.
And in the spring, it all just clicked. I would sit outside on the grass in the sunshine reading
Tony Parsons's lovely book All There Is, experiencing this as little shocks or shots of golden
energy to the heart (note that this is a very poeticised, imprecise account!). There were periods
when the sense of structural collapse (the collapse of 'me being a person located inside this body,
walking around in an external world') was dizzying and overbalancing too much liberation somehow.
Part of this was the vaporization of all sense of guilt and blameworthiness: it was known that
there is absolutely no agency - just spontaneous occurrence.
One day, near the end of April, I went to Bristol's Citizen's Advice Bureau about some confusing
Council Tax documents and was lead to believe that I might soon be in financial dire straits. I
left feeling clear and empty nothing was impacting anywhere. But when I got home, there was a
fierce clenching in my stomach, and I phoned Roger about this. He said very little - he just
recommended I notice the clenching and not do anything about it - and immediately it began to
uncoil and open. For a day or two this uncoiling, rising and dissipating continued, accompanied by
the feeling of tender bruising.
And then, and ever since, there has been absolute clarity - that all there is is oneness. For a
couple of months there were frequent uncomfortable senses of separation on waking up in the
morning. Then it would be remembered that this 'uncomfortable sense of separation' is nothing but
oneness, and funnily enough - the sense of structure usually proceeded to melt away.
Now (May 2005)
There is a general sense or quality that might be described as 'settled well-being', 'relaxed,
rounded content', and 'assuredness' that tends to be present often. There is some social
awkwardness to do with seeing the misconceived premises on which so much common conversation is
based, and not feeling able or willing (sometimes) to participate in this, play along with this.
There is awareness of a number of uncomfortable emotional and behavioural tendencies that are
hangovers from false beliefs of the past - mild shyness, for example. There is also a current
uncomfortable heightened sensitivity to the illusion of social power-relations - I mean the endless
instances of casting and being cast in different roles, in different narratives, with all the
limitations, imprisonments and frustrations of this. There is an impassioned yet calm concern with
dissipating dreamy beliefs about being a limited person, revealing this liberation that is, in
order that there be more happiness, understanding and constructive, intelligent operating within
the appearance of life. This is not, however, anything to do with nonduality; nothing has anything
to do with nondualty; this is purely what might be cautiously called something like 'a particular
response to a particular caring human emotion here'. There is a tendency to 'go with' a certain
'ease' or 'softness' or 'suppleness' that is felt, in terms of 'decision-making'. Currently, there
is a strong, clear sense of 'how my time is to be spent now and during the next few months', though
equally there is a readiness, a receptivity, for other possibilities, other projects. There is the
writing of a novel involved in exploration of intimacy as the crudest, fuzziest dualistic
perception, which is partly a function of a desire to express nonduality outside of the established
"nondualistic community". Several other reasonably clearly envisioned writing projects are also
lining up. However, like I say, I am wide open to and indeed keen to be involved in anything and
everything to do with this. If there is interest, if there are requests, it is highly likely that
this expression will present itself orally, possibly (and possibly not) sometime soon.
~ ~ ~
Ordering info and excerpts: http://www.non-dualitybooks.com/Unimaginable.htm
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