Nonduality: The Varieties of Expression

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Nonduality Highlights: Issue #3626, Sunday, August 916 2009, Editor: Mark


Understanding confusion means becoming free of it.

- Nisargadatta Maharaj, posted to ANetofJewels


I had a teacher when I was in college. Great guy! He taught many classes but I took some class on Greek literature. What I was doing in a Greek literature class I'll never know. But I loved it. Mostly because I liked the teacher. And I liked what we studied. But from the very beginning he'd have us do this very challenging thing. He would have us read these Greek plays, know the Greek epics are monstrous and difficult. And he'd have us read huge sections, 200 pages or a whole play and he'd go 'Okay now tell me exactly what that was about and do it in 1 hand-written page. No fair cheating by using the back of the page.' And of course we all did what we did which was insisted it was impossible. How could you possibly put down such complicated literature? And what it's saying an what its aiming at, the underlying theme and the point, how could you possibly do that in one handwritten page, it's impossible.

He'd say, "Nonsense! You can do it."

And so the first pages we did, almost all of us cheated, we like turned in front and back even though he said we couldn't do it. Eh, he'll let us. You know front and half of the back. Every time he's hand it back. He's say simply, "Do you want a real grade or do you want to have a fail? This isn't good enough, come back tomorrow. One side of 1 page, I wasn't joking. I wasn't kidding. You can do it, give it another shot."

I'll tell you some thing, this taught me a very very valuable lesson. It taught me what it means to get clear about something. That it's actually possible. To summarize something or say something very succinctly. But I had to really digest what I was reading. I had to understand it completely. Otherwise there was no possibility I was going to have to write, you ever notice what you write about something, the longer you write, shows you the less you know about it? The longer it takes you to explain something, the less you actually know about it. And this was proven in this class amazingly clearly. But I realized It wasn't about learning how to write very concisely. That was a very minor thing. It was actually I had to understand what was being said.

Now this was very useful spiritually as well, cause it taught me there's a difference between looking at something and LOOKING at something. There's a difference between understanding and UNDERSTANDING. There's a difference between looking into yourself at what's happening and really looking into yourself at what's happening. And I would never have known the difference unless I was forced to know the difference by this teacher. It is possible and how to do it. He didn't tell us how to do it, he just said, "Do it." And we all figured it out. But it had alot of spillover effect. It taught many of us how to get clear. It taught us to not be lazy. To not take (accept) unclarity. 'Oh, I'm a little fuzzy on this point.' Wasn't good enough. Came in very very handy. When I learned that and took it into the spiritual, into the inner seeing, I realized it was completely different. All I had to do was to commit to it. That what seems internally hazy, foggy or not so clear is often unclear because we are not actually committing to seeing it clearly.

So I just share that with you because I think it's very important to, I know this is sort of a hip modern phrase but its very important to empower people so that all of us realize the gifts and the abilities that we actually have. That we do have these abilities to look into ourselves very clearly. To look at something very simply until it becomes very clear. And if there's a question to actually know what it is.

-Adyashanti, Mount Madonna Retreat 5-29 to 6-3 2007, day 1


Question: How has srishti (creation) come about? Some say it is predestined. Others say it the Lord's leela or sport. What is the truth?

Sri Ramana Maharshi: Various accounts are given in books. But is there creation? Only if there is creation do we have to explain how it came about. We may not know about all these theories but we certainly know that we exist. Why not know the '`I'' and then see if there is a creation?

Question: In the Vedanta of Sri Sankaracharya the principle of the creation of the world has been accepted for the sake of beginners, but for the advanced the principle of non-creation is put forward. What is your view on this matter?

Maharshi: "There is no dissolution or creation, no one in bondage, nor anyone pursuing spiritual practices. There is no one desiring liberation nor anyone liberated. This is the absolute truth." This sloka (verse) appears in the second chapter of Gaudapada's Karika. One who is established in the Self sees this by his knowledge of reality.

Question: Is not the Self the cause of this world we see around us?

Maharshi: Self itself appears as the world of diverse names and forms. However, Self does not act as the efficient cause (nimitta karana), creating, sustaining and destroying it. Do not ask `Why does the confusion of Self, not knowing the truth that it itself appears as the world arise?' If instead you enquire `To whom does this confusion occur?', it will be discovered that no such confusion ever existed for Self.

Questioner: You seem to be an exponent of ajata doctrine of advaita Vedanta.

Maharshi: I do not teach only the ajata doctrine. I approve of all schools. The same truth has to be expressed in different ways to suit the capacity of the hearer.

The Ajata doctrine says, `Nothing exists except the one reality. There is no bir

To such as find it difficult to grasp this truth and who ask, `How can we ignore this solid world we see all around us?', the dream experience is pointed out and they are told, `All that you see depends on the seer. Apart from the seer, there is no seen.' This is called the drishti-srishti vada or the argument that one first creates out of one's mind and then sees what one's mind itself has created. Some people cannot grasp even this and they continue to argue in the following terms:

`The dream experience is so short, while the world always exists. The dream experience was limited to me. But the world is felt and seen not only by me, but by so many others. We cannot call such a world non-existent.'

When people argue in this way they can be given a srishti-drishti theory, for example, `God first created such and such a thing, out of such and such an element, and then something else was created, and so on.' That alone will satisfy this class. Their minds are otherwise not satisfied and they ask themselves, `How can all geography, all maps, all sciences, stars, planets and the rules governing or relating to them and all knowledge be totally untrue?' To such it is best to say, `Yes, God created all this and so you see it.'

Question: But all these cannot be true. Only one doctrine can be true.

Sri Ramana Maharshi: All these theories are only to suit the capacity of the learner. The absolute can only be one.

The Vedanta says that the cosmos springs into view simultaneously with the seer and that there is no detailed process of creation. This is said to be yugapat-srishti (instantaneous creation). It is quite similar to the creations in dream where the experiencer springs up simultaneously with the objects of experience. When this is told, some people are not satisfied for they are deeply rooted in objective knowledge. They seek to find out how there can be sudden creation. They argue that an effect must be preceded by a cause. In short, they desire an explanation for the existence of the world which they see around them. Then the srutis (scriptures) try to satisfy their curiosity by theories of creation.

This method of dealing with the subject of creation is called krama-srishti (gradual creation). But the true seeker can content with yugapat-srishti, instantaneous creation.

There may be any number of theories of creation. All of them extend outwardly. There will be no limit to them because time and space are unlimited. They are however only in the mind. If you see the mind, time and space are transcended and the Self is realised.

Creation is explained scientifically or logically to one's own satisfaction. But is there any finality about it? Such explanations are called krama-srishti (gradual creation). On the other hand, drishti-srishti (simultaneous creation) is yugapat-srishti. Without the seer there are no objects seen. Find the seer and the creation is comprised in him. Why look outward and go on explaining the phenomena which are endless?

Where are you now? Are you in the world or is the world within you? You must admit that the world is not perceived in your sleep although you cannot deny your existence then. The world appears when you wake up. So where is it? Clearly the world is your thought. Thoughts are your projections. The "I" is first created and then the world. The world is created by the "I" which in its turn rises up from the Self. The riddle of the creation of the world is thus solved if you solve the creation of the "I". So I say, find your Self.

Again, does the world come and ask you `Why do "I" exist? How was "I" created?' It is you who ask the question. The questioner must establish the relationship between the world and himself. He must admit that the world is his own imagination. Who imagines it? Let him again find the "I" and then the Self. Moreover, all the scientific and theological explanations do not harmonise. The diversities in such theories clearly show the uselessness of seeking such explanations. Such explanations are purely mental and intellectual and nothing more. Still, all of them are true according to the standpoint of the individual. There is no creation in the state of realisation. When one sees the world, one does not see oneself. When one sees the Self, the world is not seen. So see the Self and realise that there has been no creation.

Question: "Brahman is real. The world is illusion" is the stock phrase of Sri Sankaracharya. Yet others say, "The world is reality." Which is true?

Sri Ramana Maharshi: Both statements are true. They refer to different stags of development and are spoken from different points of view. The aspirant starts with the definition, that which is real exists always. Then he eliminates the world as unreal because it is changing. The seeker ultimately reaches the Self and there finds unity as the prevailing note. Then, that which was originally rejected as being unreal is found to be a part of the unity. Being absorbed in the reality, the world also is real. There is only being in Self-realisation, and nothing but being.

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