What is Nonduality
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This issue features a selection from Nirmala's new book, Nothing Personal: Seeing Beyond the Illusion of a Separate Self. You may read more about the book here: http://www.endless-satsang.com/index_files/Page543.htm
2241 -- http://nonduality.com/hl2241.htm -- I should have mentioned that
the haiga was by Ion Codrescu (
The real job of any teacher is to make themselves irrelevant. Once the spirit of curiosity has been fully awakened, you are free from the need of any teacher because your willingness to question takes you to the source of Truth. Then, there is no difference between a teacher and a student; neither has more Truth than the other. After awakening, your teachers are no longer the exclusive source of the truth.
Curiosity is the willingness to look and ask questions: Who am I? What is always present? What is feeling pain? What is feeling bliss? What is curious? Where does curiosity come from? After asking such questions, the next step is to rest in what you have discovered. Once you have asked the question, the Truth reveals itself, and you just rest in the truth of your being. You surrender to what is seen. Resting is just another word for surrendering to the truth of who you are.
Without also resting, questioning by itself can actually become a way of keeping the Truth at arms length after it is seen by rushing to ask more questions rather than surrendering to what is being seen in that moment. Questioning has both the power to take you to the Truth and the power to take you right past it by keeping you from looking at it for very long.
Neelam tells a story about a lifelong seeker who had looked everywhere for Truth. Then, one blessed day, he comes across the house of God. He rushes up the stairs, reaches for the doorknob, and suddenly stops, as he realizes that if he opens the door, the story of his life will end: there will be nothing left for him to seek. He will lose his identity as a seeker. So, he pulls back his hand, slips off his shoes so that no one inside the house will hear him leave, and starts back down the path. Now his spiritual seeking has been greatly simplified -- he knows he can go anywhere except to that house. Resting is being willing to open the door and surrender to what has been discovered.
* * *
Resting is a recognition of the Absolute Truth, this spacious perfection we're all dancing in, which is, in fact, who we are. In this culture, which is so action-oriented, we need permission to rest; we need to hear that freedom and perfection are already here and that we don't have to do anything to achieve them. What a revelation it is to discover this! We never think of looking in stillness, in the here-and-now, to find the Truth; we are always so busy looking outside ourselves with the mind.
Once the Absolute is seen through resting, a subtle grasping to hold on to that often arises, which is only natural. Who wouldn't want to hang out where everything is seen in its utter perfection? Discovering this perfection is such a relief. However, whenever we fixate anywhere, even in the Absolute, the life drains out of life, like living in a memory. This is why it is not uncommon for people to have an awakening and then feel disillusioned six months later. The Truth hasn't stayed fresh and alive.
This is where curiosity, the other half of resting, comes in. Curiosity keeps whatever quality of the Mystery you are experiencing from getting stale. If you are experiencing peace, for instance, asking, Who or what is experiencing peace? or Where does this peace come from? will keep it fresh and alive. Without this curiosity, the mind will take something like peace and say, "Oh yeah, more peace -- how boring."
Curiosity keeps you from landing in the Absolute and hiding there. It keeps you paying attention -- noticing -- what is true now in this moment. Papaji used the word "vigilance" for this, although no word really captures it. What is called for is both vigilance and curiosity but also, somewhat paradoxically, surrender. When, by grace, the Truth is revealed, the question always is, Will you surrender to it? You have to be willing to give your whole life to the Truth, not just admire it or hide in it. Surrendering to it means being willing to step into and take on the perspective of Emptiness, where there is no such thing as "me" or any thing else apart from it.
Then, what a wonderful surprise it is to discover that from the perspective of the Absolute Emptiness everything matters. Everything is unutterably precious. The Absolute has an incredible love for the human and for this world, with all its messiness, confusion, and imperfections. It is surprising how much it cares, although it is an impersonal caring. If everything is unspeakably precious, what does that mean? How would that be expressed in the world? It's obviously not through grasping, which no longer makes sense. What would you push away? What would you try to hang on to? Everything is equally precious.
The spiritual life is not about getting to the Absolute. It's not a one-way ticket out of town, away from your problems and the messiness of this world. It's a round-trip ticket: you get to come back and live this life as the Absolute. What could that mean? This is where curiosity comes in because the answer to that can only be revealed in each new moment.
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