What is Nonduality
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A nondual piece by Vicki Woodyard, a definition of nonduality, an un-definition of nonduality, and a review by Maren Springsteen of Greg Goode's new book, Standing As Awareness.
The Sky....Is it
Of course it is....its just a matter of where and when.
I just bought myself a crash helmet. Now that I have it on, I will no
longer be bothered by the fear of the sky falling. Its about time I got
practical about it. Up until now, I have worried myself sick about the
sky and its tenuous grip on reality. And the sky doesnt give a flip
about me; that much I know. It would think nothing of falling on just my
house, leaving everything else intact. That is how compassionate the sky is.
I encourage all of you to get a crash helmet. I suspect you have your
own fears involving the demise of your perfect little life. You may be
planning an outdoor wedding or just a barbecue. If the sky falls, it
will ruin the whole thing. No guru can prepare you for such an event.
For that, you need a helmet.
Gurus are always telling you not to worry, to just be happy. I believe
Meher Baba started that ridiculous belief. Obviously he never had the
sky fall on HIM. That would have changed his philosophy. Its hard to
believe in unity when the sky has taken out your skylights and blown out
all of your windows. And the insurance adjuster says the sky falling is
not an act of God. How dumb is that?
I used to study books about enlightenment until the sky fell on my
effing house and now there is no house at all. The sky gave me
enlightenment by taking away my house and the security it afforded. Big
mistake, Sky. Big mistake. Because today I am wearing a crash helmet and
you cant touch me anymore.
I am offering a special deal on crash helmets. One size fits all and the
only color they dont come in is Sky Blue. I dont want to give the sky
any free advertising. I also have a treehouse you can timeshare with any
or all of your buddies. If you have any brains at all, you will want to
order your helmet before the sky gets wind of this and takes us all out.
Re: definition of Advaita/nonduality.
Just as the Vedantic idea of Brahman always remains outside descriptive terminology,
so, too, nonduality is outside description, name or form. So Vedanta in its timeless
wisdom gives us Ishwara, The Divine manifest in name and form. The name and form
must always be a giant step short of the ultimate reality. But it is the best we can do.
In that spirit, I would say Advaita/nonduality is SatChitAnanda: pure Being, pure Con-
sciousness, pure Bliss.
You ask for a definition
Non-duality does not have a definition and can't have one, because it is a "pointer" to something that
must be perceived. Any definition you give it is unnecessary to anyone who has had the perception,
and will be totally unintelligible to anyone who has not.
What is an orgasm? And if that can't be stated by definition, then how could a mind boggling, Spiritual
Orgasm be stated by definition?
Its not really about a definition, its about stating a pointer to help reveal the perception of what the pointer
is pointing to.
That's the real issue.
Notes on Greg Goodes book Standing As Awareness, revised 2009 edition
by Maren Springsteen
This is one book I come back to again and again and treasure deeply when seemingly stuck. For those of you who, like me, come more from a Christian Mystical background, combined with classical Eastern teachings, finding common Truth in all of them, Id like to add a few notes that might prove helpful:
Firstly, do yourself a favor and definitely get the revised edition from 2009, those first three added chapters are just IT!
The remaining chapters,
derived from dialogues during many years of Non Duality dinners
Gregs outstanding book is based on Sri Atmanandas teaching, Atma Darshan, or by many called The Direct Path.
What might be unknown to those of us from a Christian background is that Sri Atmananda is nowadays widely regarded as one of the three most important sages of the 20th century, the other two being Ramana Maharshi and Nisargadatta.
Theres an aspect of devotion and sweetness in Gregs book that greatly appeals to me, the way he brilliantly explains the Atma Darshan in these first three chapters, shows it also as the gentlest, kindest spiritual path in many aspects, not at all as harsh as the Course in Miracles can be or other teachings that deconstruct the ego.
To the wary seeker who has been on a seeming path for a long time, this almost resting alertfulness is a fresh breeze as a practise that stands apart in that the practise itself is done with joy and ease, rather than dread and effort.
Having said that, and I hope Sri Atmananda will forgive me in this dream, I much prefer Gregs modern day language to the ancient document itself, which may have to do with English not being my first language, but I almost suspect that its even more the method and manner in which Greg shines his own clarity onto this material, dusting it off and presenting it original, fresh and ready for the 21st century.
Starting with the premise that we are that One, unchallenged Pure Awareness already, how much more direct can it get?
What is so very helpful regarding this gem of a book is how dear Greg explains in detail how to dissolve anything that seems to cause pain, physical or psychological, spiritual, back into its Source, untying that knot similarly to the forgiveness-practice in many devotional teachings.
Anything that appears in Awareness, such as dense objects, among them ones own body (a prime obstacle to many seekers), the outside world, or subtle appearances (mind/ego) such as thoughts or sensations, Greg helpfully bundles together and simply names arisings.
Heres an excerpt of Higher Reason, or in devotional teachings Grace, exploring experience:
On page 11, he writes:
You examine the gross and subtle worlds, as well as the body, senses and mind. You come to see that they are experiences as objects in witnessing awareness and cannot exist apart from witnessing awareness.
You then investigate the witness itself and come to see that it is an ever-so-subtle structure suprimposed upon awareness.
When this is realized, the witness gently and peacefully collapses into awareness itself, which is pure consciousness.
Higher reason establishes that pure consciousness is the truth of the world and your experience at every moment, and leaves you unshakably established in this truth.
(Many Eastern teachings would refer to this last sentence as the natural state as does Greg later on, too.)
On page 24, he goes:
When arisings occur, they appear to witnessing awareness in a serial stream. They arise, abide and subside, one after another. Sometimes there are gaps in between.
And through it all, awareness is present. You, as this awareness, are continuous and unborken even if no arisings are present.
On page 25: Your nature as awareness is presence itself.
Then, on page 27:
Higher Reason comes to realize that any candidate that seems as though it personalizes awareness is instead already internal to awareness as an arising.
Awareness is infinitely more subtle than space, and is whole, unbroken and continuous.
After explaining why arisings are inert and have no causal power (now my words: as they borrow any seeming presence only from what is prior to, and immanent always as Pure Awareness), Greg moves on to the biggie, at least in my own experience: the witnessing awareness.
To me, this is the knot and all-important factor that likely remains hidden and keeps one stuck, subject to pain in various ways, if not tackled directly.
One can undo, forgive arisings ad nauseum and, if enough patience persists, eventually will get to their collapse back into Pure Consciousness, but it can be a seemingly endless road and is not for those on fire that yearn for a faster way
Even with the loving intention to forgive whatever one sees outside oneself, for the most part, separation will ensue, as whatever object one forgives is experienced still as separate from oneself, not seen as part and parcel of the same, a stream of sense impression-projections, and very likely, more often than not, as a consequence one will feel subject to what ever is seen to be causing pain and tries rearrange the outside world in a hapless effort to make it go away, really only ever chasing shadows, obviously quite futile.
On page 33, Greg explains that:
Witnessing awareness collapes peacefully into pure consciousness when it is realized that the witness is just as dualistic as walking up to the Eiffel Tower and giving it a kick. The witness is much more subtle, but just as dualistic.
The witness was a structure consisting of a seer and a multiplicity of things seen. But it was realized that this structure wasnt verified by experience.
Whenever there occurs a seeming upset of any kind, it is usually normal human experience that focus is automatically outward, onto whatever is judged by dualistic, divisive ego/mind/witnessing awareness as causing pain, separate from oneself.
The object attention falls onto seems the culprit causing pain, when in fact, the running of separation rather than ones Natural State is what really calls pain into ones seeming experience.
Focusing outward only strengthens ego/mind/pain/body identity, and the knot between this and Pure Awareness is thestill dualisticwitness/observer.
Once attention is directed a tad more inward towards this aspect, which Quantum Physics verifies integrally as one with the observed, one has a chance for real inner freedom, as this knot is all that keeps One from experiencing Oneself, inclusive of All as Pure Awareness Itself, in no personal sense whatsoever, rather universal and infinite, beyond all dimensions, time and space.
In deep contemplation of dear Gregs lucid material, I have found it helpful to ask, when seemingly stuck:
To whom do these arisings occur?then realizing that it always is to witnessing awareness.
The first part of this answer, witnessing, is that aspect of superimposition that is still seen/felt as the snake and consists of nothing other than a belief in otherness, duality, separation, hiding as an appearance which makes it oftentimes so tough to distinguish its real nature.
The second part of this answer awareness turns the first part around, as it were, reveals the harmless rope and shows that this witnessing awareness, including its objects, is in quality the very same as Pure Awareness, which contains all, and embraces all back into Its Heart.
Finishing in Gregs own words on page 37:
You will see [t]hat you are awareness not only while taking your stand but that you are awareness all the time.
You will see that you were never anything else; you will see that theres nothing else to be made of.
You will stop believing and feeling as though you are something other than awareness. It is this simple
[A]wareness is present as your nature from the very beginning. Being it, you see as it.
You can visit Gregs beautiful website at www.heartofnow.com
2 Comments »
I like the way you mention Christianity alongside the Advaitic-style investigation in my book. Alongside that is, you didnt place either way in a position superior to the other. Indeed, its clear from your post that these approaches dont need to conflict with each other. And they neednt be reduced to each other either! Neither one owns the other.
This diversity is quite a good nondual teaching. It takes you from here to everywhere in an instant. Its not that there is one big truth that looks down on all points of view and encompasses them all within itself. The teaching is more subtle and more compassionate: once you recognize your own dearest spiritual path as a pointer and not the literal truth, then you naturally see this about all paths, not just yours. None of them seems more true or more false. This is an indescribably beautiful realization. When you no longer feel the compulsion to categorize points of view as true and false, then more and more labels are seen through; they lose their power to make you suffer. Absolutist categories such as exists/doesnt exist, good/bad, enlightened/not-enlightened lose their seriousness. Seeing through labels and points of view doesnt rob things of meaning. It doesnt drain the heart. Quite the contrary! Thought and language become richer, more meaningful, and light and playful. The heart opens outward in expansiveness and joy, no longer meeting barriers or borders.
So, Maren, Im so glad you mentioned all these things in one post!
Thank you for your enlightening comment of such incredible beauty, dearest Greg, and thank you for your generous heart!
Love from your Maren
~ ~ ~
Standing As Awareness is available through Amazon.com:
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