What is Nonduality
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Hide message history“Quantum physics has basically revealed the fundamental unity of life. Surface diversity, but deeper levels (at the molecular level, atomic, sub-atomic, sub-nuclear, electroweak unified, etc.) culminates in the discovery of what’s called the Unified Field, fulfilling Einstein’s dream of revealing the fundamental unity at the basis of the universe."
Brand: “So you’re saying that the idea that things are separate and distinct from each other on a material level is illusory.”
Hagelin: “A sensory illusion. That’s correct. But you can go beyond the senses, and that’s what meditation traditionally is. Properly understood, it is a technique to pull the awareness from the outwardly directed senses powerfully within, to experience deeper levels of mind: simpler, quieter, more unified levels of the thinking process, and then slipping beyond thought (that’s where the transcendental comes in), beyond thought altogether to experience this universal unity at the basis of mind and matter.”
Brand: “So we can access neurologically in our own minds the unifying field of creativity from which all energy and matter has come—perhaps even the cosmos and universe itself—is that what you’re saying?”
Hagelin: “That’s right, and it’s not just philosophically interesting, but it’s practically important, because that meditative state is considered to be a fourth state of consciousness (that means not waking, dreaming or sleeping) in which the entire brain, as we’ve heard, is engaged, and that orderly, coherent style of functioning of the brain develops the full potential of human life. So truth be told, meditation, Transcendental Meditation, comes from the ancient wisdom of Yoga, and it’s designed, it’s engineered to develop the full potential of the brain. As a side benefit, stress, stress-related illness melts away.”
Brand: “John, do you reckon if through meditation we can achieve access to a fuller state of consciousness it may help us to bring about a global revolution where we found a society based on spiritual principles rather than material and economic ones?”
Hagelin: “It’s the ONLY way, because a society based on utilizing five percent of the innate potential of the brain is going to be more or less like the society that we have.”
Brand: “Yeah, idiots! We’re like monkeys, we’re just like stupid monkeys. But if we use more of the mind, we’ll become more sophisticated, we’ll build a Utopia, a blissful Utopia.”
Hagelin: "If the fundamental nature of life is unity—if we are all one at our core—but don’t see it… Bringing that unity from within to the surface of perception and understanding: that is a transformed world, that is a unified world, and a side effect of what we’re doing.”
Brand: “I see! So through this, we can achieve awareness of the unity that exists between all of us, that we are Unity. Distinction, nation, religion, creed, these are all illusions, we’re building our lives around illusion. If we know something to be true than we should build our culture, our societies, our faiths, our institutions around that truth and Unity will be an inevitable consequence of that.”
Throughout 2013, Russell Brand went on record several times for his support of some kind of significant, massive, spiritual revolution throughout the whole of global society. I cannot help but agree with many of the high-minded ideals that inform his vision of a new world order, even though I also don't disagree with the spirit of the technical questions administered to him by the likes of British journalist Jeremy Paxman last year.
In my own final analysis, I have no quibble with Brand on whether or not he can provide a detailed explanation of how this might work in a practical sense. I have no doubt that humankind will indeed figure out the "how." My main beef with Russell Brand's approach is that it presupposes that a whole bunch of bad actors are "doing something wrong" and that they need to be corrected by the guidance offered by someone as wise as him.
From a nondual perspective, of course we all know that this cannot possibly be true. There is no "other." The apparently bad actors everyone is so upset about are truly not fundamentally any different than us.
To assert that anything is "wrong," that anything "should be" any way other than it is, is of course fundamentally untrue. To actualize the revolution Brand speaks about so passionately, it is impossible to take as a primary supposition that anything is wrong with what is.
In what has become a somewhat similar vein, it has been to my and Jerry Katz's delight to observe the modest fuss and fervent discussion that has resulted from the latest edition of Jerry's radio show, in which he and I deconstructed the interview he had earlier conducted with Gurudatta Dattatreya. In that episode, Jerry and I tended to agree that the notion that anyone could take a position that they stand apart from the rest of our community here with some kind of supreme moral authority on the topic of the Absolute was, in the end, Absolute Farce:
That discussion does indeed appear to have ruffled some feathers, but I sincerely welcome that. These bloody talks about nonduality too often lend themselves to the excessively cerebral, or at least to the incredibly low-energy. To wit:
Lovely as some of the content of that interview may well be, I’d advise against listening to that one on your commute unless you’re driving one of those new models of Mercedes with enough driver aids to control the vehicle without your involvement, because you will be ASLEEP before you know it after listening to that. Thankfully that won’t happen when you listen to discussions about the Absolute with respect to our dear Gurudatta-ji, however.
Very honourable mentions also go to some inspired and impishly humorous spin-offs that appear to have resulted at least in some way from Jerry’s original interview. Such comedic nondual luminaries as Braying Jack Cass, Chickin Datta and Swami Erectananda have each provided their own unique insights to the discussion. My heartfelt thanks to all of them and a dozen others who have contributed meaningfully to this discussion through their comments and questions on our various social media channels. All in hand, these comment threads have led us to examine this business of the Absolute much more closely than we might have done before.
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