What is Nonduality
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This issue features some recently written definitions or explications of what nonduality is.
But first, in the news....
Mining giant slammed over sacred land
UK mining resources giant Vedanta was criticised today for planning to exploit an Indian forest held sacred by tribal people without their "informed consent," following an appeal to Avatar's director James Cameron for help.
attacked Vedanta's plans to mine vast deposits of bauxite in the
Niyamgiri Hills of eastern
The tribe believes the lush hills are the home of its god Niyam Raja and they depend on the land for their crops and livelihood.
Their plight chimes with the tribe in Cameron's hit movie Avatar, who seek to stop humans from mining under their sacred "home tree."
Survival International, a
group which campaigns on behalf of indigenous people, appealed
Monday to Cameron to help stop the mine going ahead in an
The opencast mine planned by India-focused Vedanta is intended to feed a nearby $US900 million ($1,030.77 million) alumina refinery already built by the company in the mineral-rich Orissa state.
Amnesty also said in a report the refinery, which is being fed with bauxite from other Indian states, is already causing air and water pollution that "threatens the health of local people."
So what does nondualism mean?
Hold an arbitary object in front of you, such as a pencil. Are you a pencil? The answer would seem blatantly obvious - of course not. Everything in your experience and understanding tells you that the idea is preposterous. When however you look further into exactly what a pencil is and what you are, deeply disturbing questions arise about the fundamental nature of everything.
I have explored this question and reached a startling conclusion. I am not the first to reach it, in fact countless millions have over millennia. It is no less shocking to any mind brought up in Western culture. There is no doubt in my awareness that everything I am aware of is actually one thing. All that is within awareness is one universal consciousness. This is at first impossible to grasp, meaningless twaddle to common experience, but there is one very good model by which you may understand - that of the dream.
Consider a dream. When you are having a particularly vivid dream, it seems very real at the time. It provokes real emotions that carry into consciousness. For example when you wake from a nightmare, you can wake up feeling terrified. And yet what was the whole experience made of? What were the true nature of the other people and objects in your dream? Clearly they were all simply your consciousness, as separate and physical as they may have felt.
In the same way, whilst apparently wide awake, what are you experiencing right now? On the most fundamental physical level, energy is simply changing form. It is YOUR MIND that is turning it into the experience that you call "your life". What you think is happening is actually far removed from true reality as much as the dreamworld is from the conscious world. This true reality is nondualism, the acceptance that all things are actually one universal consciousness.
As shocking as the implications are, to embrace this truth makes very little immediate impact on your life, any more than waking "reality" affects a dream. You still experience the dream until you wake. In the same way, knowing what you truly are does not stop you experiencing life. What you will get in time is relief, total peace of mind, that no life experience can take from you. If that is attractive, maybe you should explore further. For those who like logical/scientific argument, follow this link for an excellent beginner's explanation.
Understanding is of no importance when it comes to Non- Duality. The word Advaita (meaning Not Two, I use Advaita and Non-Duality interchangeably) points to something that is totally beyond understanding. It is a very interesting subject (and the equivalent of watching paint dry for many, if not most), but getting your teeth into it and understanding it and being able to discuss and describe it in an intellectual or intelligent manner is of no relevance what so ever. There are many who are claiming to be liberated and have an enormous intellectual grasp of the topic and clearly there is still a personal agenda, clearly they are still offering something to the individual. The language used is very similar to other uncompromising messages (e.g. there is no one, this is it etc) but there is still something on offer to the individual and the teacher- student game is played out, even though the teacher is claiming not to be one.
Non-duality or Advaita then becomes the last refuge of the individual who is under threat. It is fodder for the mind. It becomes the new, best concept in town as it were. There can be a certain clarity that it brings which eases the search for the individual in the sense that it is seen that there is nothing that can be done. That is not liberation however, understanding that there is no separate individual is not liberation as there is (apparently) a separate individual left who understands that. Understanding is seen as king when in fact it has nothing to do with what is in fact being sought. Understanding simply arises in being, is it just another apparent happening. It is of course married to ignorance or confusion. One is dependent on the other for existence.
What is being pointed to has no room for the concept of duality or non-duality/Advaita. It has no room, no space for concept. It is so immediately THIS and so simply and obviously what IS that the Duality - Non Duality debate has as much significance as a leaf scattering along cold concrete. Wholeness arises as confused message and wholeness arises as a clear message.
The juicy sweetness, the boundless freedom of everything, the unconditional love that is This is speaking to you always and is totally beyond understanding. It is already what is, already this. What is being sought is already what is. So simple, so open, so ordinary and also totally beyond any effort to describe its beauty.
WHAT???? NondualityDefinition #10,216.6: A word used to point towards Ultimate Truth, or Reality, or God, or whatever other name you want to use. The Nondual (or "Advaitic") approach differs radically from all other approaches in that it is not really an approach at all, but rather a direct confrontation with the raw nature of being itself. Refers to the ripping away of all obscuring beliefs, concepts, traditions, practices and dogmas, only to reveal the Wizard Herself, standing naked behind the curtain, exactly where She has always and already been: Ohh!
If we are riding on the same bus, and we both fall asleep and we both are sleeping without dreams, how is your sleep different from mine? Without stories, we are one, without stories, we are no one. Nonduality is the one, that is no one.
You ask what does 'nonduality' mean. I once tried
to ask for a definition of the word on some discussion
lists, and I received a variety of answers which
supplied diverse meanings.
Recently there was a
conference held in California
titled, 'Conference on Science and Nonduality.'
Again I would say that a variety of meanings
of the word nonduality was given by different
I can try to tell you
what the teachings of
Advaita/Vedanta say nonduality is, as that is
the tradition in which I study.
The word nondual (or in
Sanskrit advaita) means
that there are not really two things which have
absolute existence, or there is really only one
thing which exists absolutely despite all
appearances to the contrary.
That statement and the
premise itself may seem very strange
initially, as everything that one sees and experiences
is apparently different one thing from another.
There are certain
teachings (like Advaita/Vedanta)
that use logic and method to conduct an inquiry
into the nature of one's self and reality, which
enable the student to arrive at the direct recognition
that all that is seen, perceived and experienced in reality
has only one being. That being is your being. That
being is my being. Being only one, that being cannot
IMO it isn't easy to
arrive at this recognition without
very clear guidance, as all of our experiences seem to
point in an opposite direction. However, with good
guidance, and over time, one can come to recognize
that what is nondual is the only 'thing' which is
ultimately 'real.' That recognition is called
moksha or enlightenment in the tradition of
All of that being said, I
can only offer you my
understanding of what the word means. This understanding
is the one given by teachings themselves which are
so very ancient as most likely to be the oldest
teachings which use the word advaita/nondual (AFAIK).
However, these days the
word nondual has become
very popular, and it is used and understood
variously. Thus if you ask the question of
many people, you will most likely receive
many different answers according to each
Lots more descriptions here:
What is your definition of nonduality? Send it to us in a reply to this email!
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