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#3382 - Monday, December 15, 2008 - Editor: Gloria Lee

Nonduality Highlights

One last letter in response to "this isn't about not duality, it's about nonduality".  

I had weeks of unread NDhighlights and by grace, I saw this recent one from you with your invitation for feedback.  This particular inquiry is one that I have been into and written about for many years ... and indeed, the realization of not dividing against the dual is what I immediately recognized and appreciated in Adya when I met him around 10 years ago. He embodies this lack of division in a very integrated way and I feel it is revealed in his humanity and everything he says. I have observed many advaita teachers understandably interpreted in such a way that students end up polarized against (and therefore also towards) the dual therefore sabotaging the realization of their own aspirations (aspirations which I feel on their own are beautiful, the breath of the Creative Will,  and innate to Self coming to Know Self).  It is only when we think that what we are aspiring towards is other than what we are, that we create a division and go against the very essence of That moving towards, revealing, and evermore manifesting itSelf), and in their efforts, they end up doing what I have called "advaitic tail-chasing". ;-)  It is a dynamic of which I am very aware, watch and come to understand within myself, and as a teacher, I have felt called to bring light to. You can see through all of this how I felt close to the subject and drawn to answer the invitation you gave us.  :-) 


In the context Adya said "this isn't about not duality, it's about nonduality",  I sense he was addressing the difference between being That and experientially separating oneself from That through the efforts or subtle agendas and beliefs sometimes hidden in aspiration. He was highlighting and speaking from nondual awareness where all is evident in and as itSelf acting spontaneously and without preconception or through the sense of separation innate in self-consciousness.  He was pointing to how in this awareness, for example, one is surrendered, not that one surrenders; there is a spontaneous willingness, not that one decides to do something; there is breath of being rather then an agenda for a certain outcome that presupposes that the outcome is other than that which is moving towards it.  He was pointing to a subtle taking of the reins that can get in the way or "gunk things up"; where "self is working contrary to itself ", where there is a belief that what is here and now is somehow not "it".  When we believe that what is here is not "it", we tend to resist it and where we are. In doing so, we immediately perpetuate the dualism and sense of separation that gave birth to the belief and that we seek to move away from, and we are not (consciously and perceptually) relaxed in and as undivided presence of being.   

Adya illuminates nondual awareness in distinction and relation to the tendency to divide against the dual (which I think he is referring to as "not duality"), in those who conceptually aspire towards nonduality.  I sense that his use of  " not duality" in this context is referring to the dynamic of this division and the effort made in dismissing the dual, or unconsciously polarizing against, and then therefore also towards it.   I sense his phrase "not duality"  refers to the separation that can be inherent in aspiring towards the nondual when one thinks that they are other than that towards which they aspire.  One of the ways I so deeply resonate with Adya is that he does not create a division against the dual (thereby creating more duality, as I have seen so many teachers and aspirants inadvertently do), and recognizes that the nondual includes the dual.  

Thank you for opening up this line of inquiry and inviting feedback, Gloria.  What meaning did you find in Adya's phrase, "...this isn't about not duality, it's about nonduality."?  

Love and namaste,  

Ellen Davis  

Thank you, Ellen, for clearly illuminating so many aspects presented in Adya's talk.  Looking at "not duality" as being against duality, a way of resisting what is here, helps to explain how such an approach does not work. Taking a position against duality is usually rooted in already grasping onto a belief or concept, even deeper realizations may be misused when held onto rigidly. Also, I like the way you describe surrender as "one is surrendered, not that one surrenders". Sometimes surrender is only seen in bhakti terms like being devoted to someone or some ideal. Here, it is a surrendering to life itself, a letting go of personal will, even if there is no such thing! The way Adya described surrender as letting go of expectations, just continually letting go... really put nonduality at the center of life, as a way of being.  

So it isn't about making definitions, it's about a way of living. "Duality" isn't some thing I see or actually find out there. It's something I am imagining, I am creating the separation, however illusory it may be ultimately. We are tilting at windmills. And yet how easy it is to takes memories and ephemeral arisings as material with which to construct a little me identity. As you put it, Ellen: "He was highlighting and speaking from nondual awareness where all is evident in and as itSelf acting spontaneously and without preconception or through the sense of separation innate in self-consciousness." So important to see how the sense of separation arises, how it does arise through self-consciousness. My friend, Bob O'Hearn spoke to this issue the other day: "Self-consciousness is rarely inspected to the point of recognizing that it is a function, not an identity." Truly seeing this, as it happens, is a way of both letting go and accepting, so that it spontaneously liberates, as Dzogchen says.  

Thank you, Ellen, and to all who wrote, Gloria


Living Wisdom

How to make our lives an embodiment of wisdom and compassion is the greatest challenge spiritual seekers face. The truths we have come to understand need to find their visible expression in our lives. Our every thought, word, or action holds the possibility of being a living expression of clarity and love. It is not enough to be a possessor of wisdom. To believe ourselves to be custodians of truth is to become its opposite, is a direct path to becoming stale, self-righteous, or rigid. Ideas and memories do not hold liberating or healing power.

There is no such state as enlightened retirement, where we can live on the bounty of past attainments. Wisdom is alive only as long as it is lived, understanding is liberating only as long as it is applied. A bulging portfolio of spiritual experiences matters little if it does not have the power to sustain us through the inevitable moments of grief, loss, and change. Knowledge and achievements matter little if we do not yet know how to touch the heart of another and be touched.

-- Christina Feldman and Jack Kornfield, Stories of the Spirit, Stories of the Heart

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