Nonduality: What is Nonduality

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#3643 - Wednesday, September 2, 2009 - Editor: Gloria Lee

The Nonduality Highlights -  

Take someone who doesn't keep score,
who's not looking to be richer, or afraid of losing,
who has not the slightest interest even
in his own personality: He's free.

   - Rumi
                   posted to Along Way  


To Sum It Up: Don't Cling

There's no school that says "Cling." Liberation is about cutting, or dissolving, or letting go of, or seeing through—choose your image—the attachment to anything. The description of the mind of no-clinging may be different in the different schools, but the experience of the mind of no-clinging is the same. How could it be different?

–Joseph Goldstein, from "How Amazing! An Interview with Joseph Goldstein"

  A reminder: The study led by Rupert Spira has just begun, and it promises to be very interesting. Rupert is focusing on "what is our actual experience" rather than a by-the-book discussion. Drop by, you may like it.   Open Awareness Study Group is run by the Mumonkan Centre - a non dual teaching centre.

This a non dual study group.

Open Awareness Study Group is a collection of interested people who have come together to discuss non-dual teachings and writings of non-dual teachers. The group is maintained by Rob Matthews of the Mumonkan Centre, Spain. He invites session leaders to introduce texts or teachings and invites participants to ask questions.

At present Rupert Spira is the session leader and he will be so until Nov 30th. In December Greg Goode will take over for one month.

join at:

 Excerpts from emails at OAStudyGroup  

Re: the 'me' concept

I started 'seeking for the truth' to what we are about two years ago, as I felt we are more than what conventional religion says and ideas of the self are. I have been trying to practice meditation and do some reading about spirituality, self-realization, etc, with the result that I understand the concept of open awareness, consciousness, etc, without actually coming to an experiential realization. What I fail to understand is WHY we have the 'I-thought' or the concept of self. Are our brains programmed that way, or is it conditioning? I mean to say, what makes my awareness be the idea of 'me' and not someone else, i.e, why is it stuck to MY body, feelings, thoughts, emotions if its actually an open awareness? Suppose a baby is without human interaction but somehow manages to grow up, would he/she still have a 'me' concept? If so, where would that come from?

I guess this must be a very basic question for those who are not so new to this, but its one of the big ones for me. I'll leave my other thoughts for later...

Thanks, Chandi
.............   Hi, Chandi...

I can't resist responding to your beautiful which there is no "easy" answer. When I was busy seeking, my brain worked overtime trying to understand the whys and wherefores.

The truth is, no one really knows for certain, scientifically speaking, why we have a self-concept, why our brains function the way they do. My feeling, in cause/effect language, is that it's part "conditioned response", and part "organic". Babies learn most of the "me concept" from human interaction, but there is still an individuality, if only present in the form that would, say, motivate a wild human to move from point A to point B to obtain food. In other words, there is still some form of me/not me feeling present. In an unconditioned human, there would perhaps be much less of the conceptual identification (I am good, bad, lost, found, always hungry, too tired, in the rat race, etc.) which tends to cause us such misery and dissatisfaction.

Our brains are set up "dualistically", though, in that they conclude by comparing; our language, too. The brain is unaccustomed to being quiet, as I'm sure you've discovered in meditation, and wants to compulsively name and establish cause and effect for everything.

I can assure you that the exclusively "me" or "I" feeling, the one separate and in some kind of opposition to "everything else" does go away, to be replaced in daily life by an individuality that is experienced as a necessary and fascinating "pole" of the Open Entirety, like dark is necessary to experience light, or inside to outside. There is no more being stuck in some small sense of self, because the Whole Thing is functioning, processing, living in you. The idea that there is some "Open Awareness" apart from exactly what you are experiencing right now idea. In other words, when you are walking through the living room in the dark and (ouch!) hit your little toe on the coffee table, that's God, or Awareness, or Consciousness happening all at once, stubbing Its toe and possibly emitting a swear word. :)

So what you are experiencing, doing, the "me" feeling, all that, is never, ever apart from open awareness. As a matter of fact (as I'm sure you intellectually understand), there is no actual subject and object. The things "out there" that you assume are apart from the "me feeling" are actually creating, intimately, the "me feeling", in the same way you need the contact of something against your skin to experience "touch". The world creates itself through you, by feeling you, being you. It's nothing you can rid yourself of. It is, actually, where it's at. In its purest form--once you realize that you are not aware OF things, but more AS things, the frantic need to assert a self dissolves, and a sort of innocent, mostly delighted face of the universe emerges.

Open awareness is what you are "doing" in your questioning and seeking for causes right now. You could also be peopling, birding, oceaning, starring, and sitting exactly in the middle of all this seeming activity AS the activity (which you are).

Don't give up!
..........   Hi,
I too can't resist adding something, not necessarily an answer, but a[another]
side to the question.
I think the 'me', the dualistic subject-object polarization, and more general,
any belief or concept, are simplifications. That is, attempts to simplify the
The moment I believe something or can identify some aspect of experience with a
[previous, thus dead] belief or a concept, I can merrily go on without any
further computational effort. Nothing wrong here, even. A chair is a 'chair',
and [when I remain with the concept] everything stops here, not accounting for
the uniqueness of that chair, the different shades of light/color or differences
in size. I immediately 'know' what to 'do' with it etc.
The 'me' is similar to this - it is a whole network of concepts, that simplifies
'my' reactions. Again, no problem with that, in itself. It's even helpful, in
the beginning.
The problem appears because all this has the corollary to 'die'[deaden]
experience, to 'freeze' it. And the 'me' then needs to be grown and defended and
it brings with it the polarities - and then alienation and suffering.
And - only then - I find I need to look for it, and then the good news is that's
never been real [but just a superimposition] :)

Dorin   ..........   That is why some say that it is better to know nothing ...
It is not so much that one can actually "know nothing" ... but more that what is
known doesn't form a part of a defence mechanism for the ego ... but not that
the ego is anything anyway ...
with warm regards


3) Feelings and consciousness

  Dear Jax,

There are a few things I would say in response to your comments:

1) Some expressions of the true nature of experience stick only to the
absolute truth and never move from it.

Other expressions, whilst still coming from the absolute truth, are willing
to tailor that truth to the question at hand and provisionally acknowledge
and in turn use the terms of the question/questioner in order to explore the
matter further and arrive at a clearer understanding.

You obviously subscribe to the former and refute the legitimacy of the
latter, but then contradict your position with statements such as, 'I wrote
the text below immediately after being fully immersed in this non-dual

The non-dual experience in which someone is immersed for a certain period of
time is certainly not the non-dual experience that I am referring to nor, I
would suggest, is it the experience that the Advaita, Zen etc. traditions
refer to. It is a state of mind that an apparent entity enters and leaves.

Of course I acknowledge, in a way that you seem to be unwilling to do, that
when one tries to express this understanding it is almost impossible to
avoid the inevitable dualisms of language. However, I trust that in our
discussions there will be enough maturity to tolerate this limitation of
language rather then getting hung up on every apparent contradiction.

2) For a teaching that truly comes from experience and not just from
intellectual understanding, there is great variety and flexibility in its
expressions. These may appear to include expressions that validate the
apparent entity, an apparent process, an apparent goal etc. However, what is
truly transmitted in such an answer is the deep understanding from which it
comes and even if it is couched in dualistic terms, the silence from which
it comes and which is its true import, will resonate with same silence in
the listener.

3) Although it is possible to express only the absolute understanding and
refuse any more relative formulations, doing so may equally be a refuge for
the ego, the sense of separation, 'just another ego-manoeuvre to avoid
suffering,' as you put it. It is for each of us to know in his or her own
heart where their words come from.

4) It would seem from your comments that you have not read The Transparency
of Things. I would suggest that you do so if you are interested in more than
simply an intellectual debate, as all the objections you raise are explored
in detail there.

With kind regards,


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