What is Nonduality
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The following is a chapter from The Divine Universe, by Swami Abhayananda. The book is available for free at http://www.swami-abhayananda.com/id34.html. Several of Swami's highly regarded books are available for free at http://www.swami-abhayananda.com/id1.html.
THE PHILOSOPHY OF NONDUALISM
Spiritual Nondualism 1 is the philosophy, substantiated by the vision of all the mystics who ever lived, which holds that the soul or self of man is identical with the transcendent Spirit that is God. Spirit is a word which is not very much in favor these days, as it has been sorely misused in the past; but it is a necessary word, as there is a need for a non-sectarian verbal symbol to represent the essence of our reality as experienced by the visionaries of the subtle. Spirit represents the Divine in both Its transcendent and Its immanent aspects. As the transcendent Godhead, Spirit is incognizable and inconceivable by the mind of man. It is neither mind nor matter, but a subtler reality that is eternal, omniscient, and omnipresent; and which experiences Itself as pure consciousness and bliss. The transcendent Godhead manifests Itself as the Spirit immanent in man and the universe, appearing as the consciousness of self in man, as well as the Divine Energy that goes to make up all the material forms of this universe. There is but one Being, one Spirit, who constitutes both the Eternal and the temporal reality. Just as the Suns rays are identical with the Sun, all that emanates from the Spirit is identical with the Spirit. In other words, our true identity is Spirit, and nothing other than Spirit. This identity may be known directly, by the grace of God, when the soul is drawn to that unitive interior vision.
Nondualism means that there is no difference between the source and the manifestation, no difference between the essence of one thing and another, no difference between you and God. No difference. The Sanskrit word used by the Upanishadic sages to designate this philosophy is advaita, which is made up of a, not, and dvaita, two; meaning literally, not two. Spiritual Nondualism is the philosophy that you are essentially identical with the one Spiritthat One who has been called Brahman, Shiva, Allah, Yahveh, Hari, Adonai, Karim, God, and innumerable other names throughout history. The Upanishadic seers, recognizing this identity in their visions, have called that one Spirit the atman; the Self, as it is realized to be the one Self of all. Now, this vision belongs to no one religion. Though the philosophy of Nondualism was originally elucidated in the Upanishads, today, it is universally recognized by the mystics (the seers) of every religious tradition as the Perennial Philosophy, because it arises again and again throughout history as the one recurring view of mystical philosophers and seers from widely divergent cultures and traditions. It has been and continues to be repeatedly verified through direct experience by all those who have made the ascent in consciousness to the supreme Self.
Here are a few snippets of quotations from some well known seers representing that perennial philosophy:
He who is beyond all predicates appears as the relative universe; He appears as all sentient and insentient beings.
-- Rig Veda
Even by the mind this truth is to be learned: there are not many, but only One.
It is not what is thought that we should wish to know; we should know the thinker. He is my Self! This one should know. He is my Self! This one should know.
The pure man sees the One as one and the many as one. So long as he sees the Unity, he is God; when he sees the distinctions, he is man.
-- Chuang Tze
He who knows that he is, himself, the Lord of all, and is ever the same in all, immortal though experiencing the field of mortality, he knows the truth of existence.
The best of men choose to know the One above all else; it is the famous Eternal within mortal man.
What, then, is the heart of the highest truth, the core of knowledge, the wisdom supreme? It is I am the Self, the formless One; by my very nature, I am pervading all. That one God who shines within everything, who is formless like the cloudless sky, is the pure, stainless Self of all. Without any doubt, that is who I am.
God is high above place and time He is contained by nothing, but transcends all. But, though transcending what He has made, nonetheless, He fills the universe with Himself.
-- Philo Judaeus
There is one Divine Reality, divided as higher and lower; generating Itself, nourishing Itself, seeking Itself, finding Itself. It is both Mother and Father, a Unity, being the Root of the entire circle of existence.
-- Simon Magus
I and the Father are one.
The one Divine Mind, in Its mentation, thinks Itself; the object of Its thought is nothing external; Thinker and thought are one, unchangeably the same.
All that is He contains within Himself like thoughts: the world, Himself, the All. In the All there is nothing which is not God. Adore this teaching, my child, and hold it sacred.
-- Hermes Trismegistus
The Reality is One; though, owing to illusions It appears to be multiple names and forms, attributes and changes, It always remains unchanged. [It is] like gold, which while remaining one, is formed into various ornaments. You are that One, that Brahman. Meditate on that in your mind.
-- Shankara, Vivekachudamani
Just as the light of the Sun and the Sun are not absolutely different, so also the soul and the supreme Self are not different.
-- Shankara, Vedanta Sutras
The entire universe is truly the Self. There exists nothing at all other than the Self. The enlightened person sees everything in the world as his own Self, just as one views earthenware jars and pots as nothing but clay.
-- Shankara, Atma Bodha
When the mystery of the oneness of the soul and the Divine is revealed to you, you will understand that you are not other than God. For when you know yourself, your sense of a limited identity vanishes, and you know that you and God are one and the same.
-- Ibn Arabi
My Me is God, nor do I recognize any other Me except my God Himself.
-- Catherine of
As the soul becomes more pure and bare and poor, and possesses less of created things, and is emptied of all things that are not God, it receives God more purely, and is more completely in Him; and it truly becomes one with God, and it looks into God and God into it, face to face as it were; two images transformed into one. Some simple people think that they will see God as if He were standing there and they here. It is not so. God and I, we are one. By the living God, it is true that there is no distinction!
-- Meister Eckhart
When I clutched at His skirt, I found His hand in my sleeve. I am the one I love; He whom I love is I.
He to whom all things are One, and who draws all things into One, and sets all things in One, and desires but One, may soon be stable in heart and be fully pacified in God.
-- Thomas á Kempis
The world in which we live is a play of Chiti Shakti, the self-luminous universal Consciousness. For a man who sees this, the world is nothing but a play of Gods energy. Chiti plays in the external world and yet stays ever the same. In Her unity, She is supreme Shiva, supreme Consciousness, absolutely alone. In this mode, She is called the transcendent supreme Shiva, the formless, attributeless Absolute of the Vedantins. She has two aspects: the supremely pure transcendent aspect, which is above the world, and the immanent aspect, in which, by Her own desire, She becomes the universe within Her own being.
-- Swami Muktananda
All of the above statements were written by mystics who had directly experienced the oneness of which they spoke. Nondualism is above all a philosophy based on direct experience; without that direct vision, the philosophy itself is of little value. That direct experience confers on its recipient the blissful knowledge of the Divine Self in its fullness. It is referred to as Self-realization, God-realization, yoga, or simply enlightenment. It occurs only rarely, by the grace of the Spirit, and usually in association with a regimen of introspective meditation or contemplation. And, because that direct experience is limited to a select few, the philosophy of Nondualism has never been accepted as a major cultural worldview by the greater populace, but continues to live on perennially as the spiritual philosophy of an elite spiritual intelligentsia. The main opposition to its broader aceptance comes from the blind exponents of materialism and the unillumined partisans of various sectarian religious faiths.
The Divine Universe, by Swami Abhayananda. The book is available for free at http://www.swami-abhayananda.com/id34.html.
Several of Swami's highly regarded books are available for free at http://www.swami-abhayananda.com/id1.html.
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