What is Nonduality
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#3981 - Friday, August 13, 2010 - Editor: Jerry Katz
The Nonduality Highlights
There is a word in Sanskrit,
means an initial statement, or premise.
If the premise, the initial statement, the pratigna, is incorrect,
then the conclusion one draws may be correct according
to one's initial premise, but not according to what actually is.
So let's look at what you say pointing is in nondual
teachings. You say it is an attempt to describe
an experience that is beyond description. But is
that really what pointing is?
You also mention merging with an experience.
First of all, and most importantly, nonduality is
not a new experience to be gained. Nonduality is
not an experience which you are not having right now.
You may think you are not having an experience of
nonduality, but you actually are.
It's possible that you may have an incorrect concept
in your mind about what nonduality actually is.
Nonduality isn't an experience which you can ever get out of,
so you don't need to merge with it. It isn't an experience
which comes and goes. You (as a separate person) don't merge
with a nondual experience.
You already are completely merged, and so too is everything.
The problem is you don't know that. You haven't
recognized your actual here and now experience
for what it is. You interpret your here and
now experience incorrectly.
So let's take a look at what the word 'pointing'
means in nondual teachings, as I understand the
word pointing and how it is used.
When one is trying to show a person something
in the world of duality, one can often
literally point to the object one is trying
to get the person to see.
Like if I want to help you to see a bird sitting
on a branch of a far away tree, I may point to
the tree, direct your attention to certain
branches, then to one particular branch,
and then to the bird. If I am able to communicate
to you clearly, and you can follow my pointing,
you will see the bird.
This is very similar in many ways to the manner in
which pointing works in nondual teachings, with one
very significant difference.
The difference is that the bird in the tree is an object
which can be cognized through the use of your sense organs.
What is being pointed out in nondual teachings is
not an object which can be cognized with your sense organs,
but rather the reality of what you already are.
How can something which isn't an object of
cognition be pointed to effectively? This
can be done because you are already here
to be known.
What you already are, is already 100% experienced,
but interpreted by your mind incorrectly.
How is the pointing done? The pointing is done
through words that point out certain things to you
about your here and now experience which you are
currently overlooking or interpreting incorrectly.
Along with directly pointing out certain things
about your here and now experience, certain examples
are given in the form of analogies or illustrations to
help you understand what's what.
All of this is done through words, which
are used in order to get your mind to
recognize certain things about yourself
and your experience which are already true.
Misconceptions which your mind has about the nature
of reality are knocked off, while at the same time,
other words are used as pointers to get you
to directly recognize certain things about yourself.
Thus, some of the words used in teaching, are used to
'knock off' misconceptions which your mind has about
the nature of yourself and everything else;
and then other words are used as direct pointers to
that which you already and ever are.
This one/two approach is also referred to as
'negation' and 'positive assertion.' Both
can be done through pointing.
What is not true is negated, while at the same time,
what is true is directly pointed out.
What is not true is that you are a separately
existing body/mind/sense organs individual,
and that everything you see and perceive is separate
from you, and has its own separate independent
What is true is that who you really are never
changes in any way, is not modified by the
experiences of the body/mind. And furthermore
all objects, which appear to exist separately,
actually have for their reality, this same you
which never changes.
There is a method to doing all that, and when the
pointing is effective, you recognize that the above
is true, although it may be quite a lot to wrap one's
head around initially.
Because we are experience oriented (in order to survive
and function within duality), we will naturally think and
assume that nonduality is a new experience to be gained,
because gaining experiences is what we are accustomed to
doing, and we are very good at it.
It is our orientation. So we need someone who
is skilled, with whom we feel a resonance, and
who knows how to use words effectively, to point
out to us directly that the actual truth of
our here and now experience is nondual, despite
what appears to be the contrary.
What would be good analogy for that?
One really good analogy is the dream.
When you are asleep and dreaming, everything
in the dream, appears to exist separately.
All objects, be they rocks, trees, the sun,
animals, you, as an individual character in
the dream, everything seems separate.
When you wake up in the morning, you know that
the actual substance of everything in the dream
was you alone.
It's really very similar here in this waking world.
Only when you 'wake up,' to the reality of the waking
world, everything still continues. Trees are trees,
rocks are rocks, there is a body, which senses,
feels, experiences duality, and is called
by a name, but now you have recognized that the
truth of the whole thing is your being alone.
This was always true, but you didn't know it.
So what needs to be recognized is that the substance
of this waking world is only one thing, and that one
thing is you. This is the truth whether you've recognized
it or not, but your direct experience doesn't change.
You just recognize what was always true. And you say,
"Oh, now I see it's always been like this. I just previously
thought it was different from the way it actually is."
You can go back and look at your memories of the
past, and see that what you now know is true,
was always true, but you previously misconstrued it.
Like when you recognize that what you thought was
a snake is actually a rope. In the past you thought
it was a snake. This misconception caused lots
of negative reactions in your psyche, but now you see
what was always true. There never was a snake,
but the trauma of thinking there was, was very intense.
The shape of the object (the rope) doesn't change when
you recognize the truth of it, just your understanding
and recognition of the reality of the object changes.
Anyway, big topic. Huge, in fact. But the important
thing to address in your initial statement, IMO, is that
the recognition of nonduality is not a merging. It's not
a new experience to be gained. It's rather a recognition
of what has always been true, but was previously
understood and interpreted incorrectly. And words,
used as direct pointers to the truth, can help you
recognize that, because you are here right now to be
recognized for what you actually are.
I don't think you should worry about your ego.
Ego gets a lot of bad rap in nondual circles,
and then we just end up with a negative
ego, a negative view of ourselves, which compounds
the problem we already have. You need an ego
to function in duality. For a person who is
emotionally mature in the recognition of the
truth of nonduality, the ego is an instrument, useful
for functioning in duality, but not the guy in charge.
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