What is Nonduality
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#2479 - Tuesday, May
23, 2006 - Editor: Jerry Katz
In this issue Praveen comments on the video, The Holographic Universe - Beyond Matter, which was
mentioned in a couple of recent Highlights. The video can be seen at http://snipurl.com/qv00 . A
response is given to Praveen.
Then Mee responds to Praveen's comments.
This series of Highlights in which I respond to people's questions about nonduality is part of an
attempt to carefully and slowly explain the two-sided nature of nonduality. On one side, we can
practice inquiry and attain an understanding of Self. On the other side that understanding is gone
and what is left is reality. Since there is no bridge between the two sides, a gap exists in which
both the enlightened and un-enlightened fall all day long. The gap eats everyone.
Hi, I saw this video [ http://snipurl.com/qv00 ] and would like to comment.
I agree with the first part of the video. My physical world is nothing but perceptions in my brain.
If i had a seperate set of senses, or even if the my brain perceives the signals from the current
senses differently, then my external world will be 'actually different'. My world is like this
because i am like this. That is clear enough for me.
But then, i have difficulty understanding from the point onwards (after ~16 minutes in the video)
where the question is asked "Who is it that sees, hears, perceives...Who is the being that says - I
am me" etc. Do you have to take it to an extra level and say that it is actually the soul that
perceives and it is the absolute being? Is it not just guess work to say that these perceptions are
given to soul by a higher superior creator?
Also i don't understand the concepts like 'There is only God/awareness, Nothing is seperate from
God/Awareness, non-duality...'. Now i recognize that there is awareness (which happens rarely for
me), but that is very private and personal to me.
Is it not just possible that the brain or the brain/body (psychosomatic) is itself the perceiver.
Is it not possible that we are just giant biological computers and nothing more. For me, the 'sence
of I' is created by thoughts and imaginations working on the memory and interpreting the
perceptions. When there is bare awareness of the senses or perceptions, there is no 'I'. Even when
the perceptions are minimum (like when you sit in a quiet dark room), there is strong sense of I
when i am caught up in thoughts and imaginations.
Has anyone really 'experienced' this non-duality or this unity with God/awareness/other beings?
Please share your experience and thoughts. Thank you in advance.
Response to Praveen
You wrote as follows: [quote] Where the question is asked, "Who is it that sees, hears,
perceives...Who is the being that says - I am me" etc. Do you have to take it to an extra level and
say that it is actually the soul that perceives and it is the absolute being? Is it not just guess
work to say that these perceptions are given to soul by a higher superior creator? [end of quote]
The task is not to assign an extra level or to engage in guess work regarding a superior creator.
When we do such a thing we are inventing reality. Rather, the task is to consider, address, or
attend to the question: "Who is it that sees, hears, perceives, etc. ... ." In the video the "who"
is called the soul.
They could have given "soul" any other name, such as the Self. Whatever we call it, the only way to
know the "soul" is by getting into the question about who it is that sees, hears, perceives, etc.
And we can do that. We just have to go to a good satsang, do inquiry, practice as Ramana or
Nisargadatta have instructed, or simply surrender to the flow of existence. We can do practices in
order to understand that we are this soul. No need to invent anything.
Next the video talks about Allah as being the creator of the soul and all perceptions. We have to
remember that this video was produced and written not for people who read the nonduality lists, but
for people who have a spiritual sensitivity and awareness which is more comfortable with terms such
as "soul" and "create".
We might want to replace those words. In the language of online nonduality, soul could be the Self.
Instead of "create" we're more at home with "arises". Instead of saying Allah creates the soul,
nondualists might say something like, "The awareness of Self arises out of the Absolute and is not
separate from the Absolute." In the video, Ibn 'Arabi is quoted: "The substance of these beings
which Allah created is but nothingness." Whether we say beings or soul arose from Allah or that
Allah created them, isn't as important as seeing what is being said.
Ibn 'Arabi is pointing to what Allah, the Absolute, or nonduality is. He can only point because
there is no smooth transition from the understanding of soul to the understanding of Allah as
creator of soul.
There is no bridge. Rather than a bridge which leads us from soul to Allah or nonduality, there is
instant goneness of soul and then presence as what is called Allah, the Absolute, Brahman, or
nonduality, whatever we choose to call it.
Take a piece of bubble pack, that plastic stuff used to cushion packages when you mail them out.
We're going to pretend the bubble is one of us. As we press on one of the bubbles, the bubble
flattens out, stretches and becomes thinner. In the same way we become "stretched out" and thinner
and more transparent to reality as we grow spiritually and see into the illusion of life. We may
become so "thin" that we are one with soul completely. However we still do not know Allah.
There is no smooth transition from the state of being thinner to the state in which there is no
bubble at all, Instead there is a sudden POP. And with the pop the bubble is gone. The thinness is
gone. The soul is gone. The individual is gone. Gone-ness has happened and it is sudden. (The
thinning of the bubble itself could be gradual.)
When the bubble pops and everything is gone, including the soul, what is there? Only Allah or
nonduality, or, as you noted in your letter, "'There is only God/awareness, Nothing is seperate
from God/Awareness, non-duality...'."
Also keep in mind that there is still life going on. There is still "bubble-ness." For example, if
your finger gets infected, and a minute later you become enlightened (the bubble pops), well, the
finger is still infected. You will still want to go to the doctor. It is all Allah, right?
And on to your last question: "Has anyone really 'experienced' this non-duality or this unity with
God/awareness/other beings?" Unity can be experienced in mystical states of consciousness or in the
everyday unbroken recognition that there is only presence. That kind of unity can be achieved
through intention and practice. Or it can happen spontaneously.
However, there is no experience of Allah or nonduality, for when the bubble pops there is no
bubble. There is no person, hence no experiencer. Have people experienced the popping of the
bubble? Yes, we can read autobiographies, including those of a number of online participants. I
don't know if they would say they are experiencing such conditions as nonduality or unity with God.
Things like experiencing, feelings of unity, recognition of soul nature, are all contained in the
bubble and the bubble is gone. There is only Allah, nonduality, the Absolute or any other name we
wish to give it.
Namaste Praveen, i believe we have a silent witness that is the observer. i also believe our human
condition is really a fragile tent that houses an enormous spirit. we are part of everything and
everything is a part of us.
the dust that i plant my vegtables in could be someones ancestors. the nutrients that break down
for eons are the very sustenance that feeds the plant that i eat that will enrich the soil when my
human form passes away.
but what to do with that form while we are here. is it any wonder why most people searching for
those answers are in roughly the same age group? you ever go to a coffee shop after dark and wander
observedly around the place and notice the groups of people? how they congregrate ?
each person has their own reasons they like or dislike so and so, yet the silent witness ;which is
the Spirit: picks and chooses subtly what it is we need for nourishment to get us to a place it can
my place of being is that i believe we are born into blessedness not orginating from sin.
over a lifetime this equates to a feeling of different responsibilities towards self and others.
i have known my silent witness for a very long time. i was gravely ill as a child and had two
occasions during adulthood that brought me even closer to it.
the first was respiratory arrest and an out of body experience that did not feel unnatural only
hard to describe. the second event was being hit by lightening and being priviledged to witness
another dimension to our "time".
the other single important event in my life has been attending the dying and speaking to people who
have been in and out of comas.
they brought reality to some of what i have experienced as "woo-woo" stuff that i had no
explanation for and set me upon a path to find out who else has had these experiences.
i have since encountered a variety of people of all age levels and economic and cultural levels
that have experienced these things thru letting go of the sense of I. even if only briefly.
i used to believe that ego was what I was and was to be abandoned with relish.
i am now of the opinion that ego if emptied could begin to function as it is intended, in harmony
with the spirit that resides in all of us that we are part of.
you've seen it- someone you meet with that *something* in their eye and smile.
a feeling where you just have to reach out and touch them. this is God in formlessness reaching out
to experience itself. this is only my opinion based on my experiences. as i grow older and more
disciplined and let go more, more will be revealed. man is a going concern, never static ,always in
flux. i look at a drop of water caught in a rainstorm, and instead of bemoaning the fact i have so
little, i can rejoice that a piece of the ocean is within my grasp.
The Divine is in everything , shake the net and see if the mirror image does not bounce off the
that pearl may be 90 yrs old and in the face of a crabby man/woman, or in the smile of a 5 yr old,
it could be contained in the wonder and awe of a newborn as it realizes that their fingers move
when they want them to.
you never know where the Divine will show up, could be the look of frustration of a young woman
trying to contain two toddlers when you stop and hold a door for her and relief and a thank you
lights her lips.
who is really saying thank you? the woman? or the Divine in her recognizing the Divine in you ,just
for a moment ; nourishing both of your souls that knew of each other but I was in the way ?
Response to mee
This is a beautiful response which I hear coming from the soul, the Self, the Divine.
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