Nonduality: The Varieties of Expression



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After Awareness: The End of the Path

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#3385 - Thursday, December 18, 2008 - Editor: Jerry Katz

The Nonduality Highlights -      

Who Am I?
When the vision of Reality comes,
the veil of ignorance is completely removed.
when our false perception is corrected,
misery ends.....
The treasure I have found
cannot be described in words,
I am one with Brahman.


posted by Orva Schrock to    

James Corrigan  

Taking up a challenge that Jerry laid down a while ago in one of his
blog posts, I have come up with the following 'elevator speeches' on
what nonduality means. The problem is, I cannot see how to do it with
just one version, since different folks are, well, different :)

Here they are:

What is Nonduality?
Simple Answer:

Nonduality is the state or condition of not being separate and distinct
while appearing to be so. It is the condition which allows us to say
that there is no true separation between ourselves and anyone else or
anything else in the world, for instance. When we say things like
"We are all one," or "God is in all things," we are
asserting that the condition we call `reality' is a nonduality.

Nondualism is the systematic description of Nonduality, or the
systematic practice of Nonduality.

More Complicated Answer:
Nonduality is the state that one arrives at when all distinctions and
relations between `things' are removed. Nonduality is thus a
simple wholeness, rather than an "all in one" whole. It is very
difficult to clearly contemplate such a simple wholeness, because by
thinking about it and `conceptualizing' it, we have lost the
simple wholeness that is the real Nonduality that we were trying to

Nondualism according to this understanding is an error.

The `As True As You Are Going to Get' Answer:
Nonduality is ineffable.

Nondualism according to this understanding must be an apophatic*
performance. In order to say that Nonduality is ineffable, we first
posit 'Nonduality', making `Nonduality' a creature of reason and
thus positively identifying `Nonduality' as some thing that can
be reasoned about, and then in the same breath we take away this
assertion by adding that this `what' of which we speak is
ineffable and thus beyond the reach of reason. The point is that
Nonduality is not nothing, because then we would not even speak of
`it'; but it is not something either, because if it were it
could not be Nonduality; yet it is all things and no thing itself. Thus
the name "Nonduality" is used to indicate a denial of multiplicity, yet
the mind, seeing this denial may assume that it means 'one' as that is
the opposite of multiplicity and in reasoning the mind is locked into
certain forms of thought, amongst them the form of contradictories. But
the name "Nonduality," while it denies multiplicity, also denies its
contradiction and subsumes both. These words are an apophatic
performance. If you can `see' their meaning, you do not need any
more definitions.

* Apophasis - the Greek designation for language that 'speaks away' or
'unsays' what it first affirms.

An Introduction to Awareness

On Defining Nonduality  


That makes a good explanation to me.  While I enjoy all the various 
discussions of nonduality, I never expected to find any final definition of it 
because, as you have pointed out, it is possible to simply "see" what it is if  one
has experienced this moment of seeing it. 
And, as happened to me, it quite clearly required no prior knowledge on my 
part and happened regardless of any of the particulars of my life or my 
person.  The experience was devoid of any sense of personhood.  It was  also one
that required no level of education, literacy, or religious  beliefs.  The
experience was the explanation for itself.
So why keep discussing it?  In my case, it interests me and I have not 
learned to stay in a state of awareness, which does appear to require some  effort.
 We have more distractions than perhaps any group of people in  history.  I
don't mean the distractions of doing some work; one can do a  lot of physical
work on auto-pilot.  But a life of constant interruption  from ringing phones,
time in traffic, blaring TV sets and a variety of other  ambient noises and
demands, all competing for our attention, can easily turn us  away from
awareness, crowd it out.
And then there is the issue that perhaps we don't really want to be aware  at
all times.  There is definitely a certain draw to carnal pleasures  or
thrills of the body and the mind.  It seems to be a somewhat normal  state that
people wish to secure at least a certain amount of material comfort  for
themselves and this takes energy in most cases.  Being social  animals, we also have to
invest energy in others in order to supply our needs  for companionship and
mutual cooperation, since few of us can meet all of our  needs on our own.
Also, one may be willing to accept more modesty in life than they are 
willing to impose on their families.  Thus, even parents who are neither  greedy nor
selfish may be tempted to behave this way in the belief that it  will benefit
their spouses, children or other members of their family or  social groups
which they are aligned with.  There's no shortage of  "reasons" to behave in
ways that are somewhat less than enlightened. 
In fact, a great deal of evil is done under the guise of "helping" others, 
so that's obviously an easy trap to fall into as well.  While  nonduality may
be apophatic, putting the lessons of it into practice does  require some
rational rigor and ethical framework as guidelines  to living an enlightened life. 
As long as we are human, we have to deal  with both our nonduality and our
duality on physical as well as spiritual  planes.
If there is a way around this, I have yet to see it.

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