Nonduality: The Varieties of Expression


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Nonduality Highlights: Issue #3197, Saturday, June 14, 2008, Editor: Mark

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When personal identification vanishes, all that then remains is a
sense of presence without the person, which gets translated into a
feeling of life as total freedom.

- Ramesh Balsekar, posted to ANetofJewels



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I have heard that on one occasion the Blessed One was staying at
Varanasi in the Game Refuge at Isipatana. There he addressed the
group of five monks:

'The body, monks, is not self. If the body were the self, this body
would not lend itself to dis-ease. It would be possible (to say) with
regard to the body, "Let my body be thus. Let my body not be thus."
But precisely because the body is not self, the body lends itself to
dis-ease. And it is not possible (to say) with regard to the
body, "Let my body be thus. Let my body not be thus."

'Feeling is not self.... Perception is not self.... Mental processes
are not self...

'Consciousness is not self. If consciousness were the self, this
consciousness would not lend itself to dis-ease. It would be possible
(to say) with regard to consciousness, "Let my consciousness be thus.
Let my consciousness not be thus." But precisely because
consciousness is not self, consciousness lends itself to dis-ease.
And it is not possible (to say) with regard to consciousness, "Let my
consciousness be thus. Let my consciousness not be thus."

'How do you construe thus, monks--Is the body constant or
inconstant?' 'Inconstant, Lord.' 'And is that which is inconstant
easeful or stressful?' 'Stressful, Lord.' 'And is it fitting to
regard what is inconstant, stressful, subject to change as: "This is
mine. This is my self. This is what I am"?' 'No, Lord.'

'...Is feeling constant or inconstant?... Is perception constant or
inconstant?.... Are mental processes constant or inconstant?...

'Is consciousness constant or inconstant?' 'Inconstant, Lord.' 'And
is that which is inconstant easeful or stressful?' 'Stressful,
Lord.' 'And is it fitting to regard what is inconstant, stressful,
subject to change as: "This is mine. This is my self. This is what I
am"?' 'No, Lord.'

'Thus, monks, any body whatsoever--past, future, or present; internal
or external; blatant or subtle, common or sublime, far or near: every
body--is to be seen as it actually is with right discernment
as: "This is not mine. This is not my self. This is not what I am."

'Any feeling whatsoever... Any perception whatsoever.... Any mental
processes whatsoever...

'Any consciousness whatsoever--past, future, or present; internal or
external; blatant or subtle, common or sublime, far or near: every
consciousness--is to be seen as it actually is with right discernment
as: "This is not mine. This is not my self. This is not what I am."

'Seeing thus, the instructed Noble disciple grows disenchanted with
the body, disenchanted with feeling, disenchanted with perception,
disenchanted with mental processes, and disenchanted with
consciousness. Disenchanted, he becomes dispassionate. Through
dispassion, he is released. With release, there is the
knowledge, "Released." He discerns that, "Birth is depleted, the holy
life fulfilled, the task done. There is nothing further for this
world."'

That is what the Blessed Onesaid. Glad at heart, the group of five
monks delighted at his words. And while this explanation was being
given, the hearts of the group of five monks, through no clinging
(not being sustained), were released from the mental effluents.

- The Sermon on the Not-Self Characteristic (Anattalakkhana Sutta,
Samyutta Nikaya XXII, 59)



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All my thoughts, hopes and fears about the future have changed
radically since I fell asleep one night in October 1985 and woke next
morning without a self. I don't know what happened to it, but it
never returned... I experience this Empty-ness as a boundless arena
in which life continually manifests and plays, rising and falling,
constantly changing, always transient and therefore ever-new.

-Ann Faraday in "Towards a No-Self Psychology."



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John Wren-Lewis was deliberately poisoned by a thief on a Thailand
bus in 1983, and went into a coma. "What I knew was that I'd emerged
from something quite unlike any previous experience of sleep or
dreaming. It was a kind of blackness, yet the absolute opposite of
blankness, for it was the most alive state I've ever known -
intensely happy, yet also absolutely peaceful, since it seemed to be
utterly complete in itself, leaving nothing to be desired... For that
dazzling darkness behind me did indeed transform my perception of the
outside world, and here, too, I'm driven to religious or mystical
language in trying to do the experience justice. The peeling paint on
the hospital walls, the ancient sheets on the bed, the smell from the
nearby toilet, the other patients chattering or coughing, the nurses
and the indifferent curry they brought me for supper, my own somewhat
traumatized middle-aged body, even my racing, bewildered mind - all
were imbued with that sense of utter nothing-to-be-desired
completeness, because "not I, but the Shining Darkness within me,"
was perceiving them."

- from "Aftereffects of Near-Death Experiences" in The Journal of
Transpersonal Psychology, 1994, Vol. 26, No. 2.



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The personal self was gone, yet here was a body and a mind that still
existed empty of anyone who occupied them. The experience of living
without a personal identity, without an experience of being somebody,
an "I" or a "me," is exceedingly difficult to describe, but it is
absolutely unmistakable. It can't be confused with having a bad day
or coming down with the flu or feeling upset or angry or spaced
out... The mind, body, and emotions no longer referred to anyone -
there was no one who thought, no one who felt, no one who perceived.
Yet the mind, body, and emotions continued to function unimpaired;
apparently they did not need an "I" to keep doing what they always
did. Thinking, feeling, perceiving, speaking, all continued as
before, functioning with a smoothness that gave no indication of the
emptiness behind them.

Suzanne Segal, from "Collision with the Infinite"

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