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The Self, Maya, and the Heart: The Fundamentals of Non-Dualism, page 5

Part II: Setting aside preconceptions and basic Western assumptions about the world


In order to be able to have some idea of what the concepts of Self, Maya, and Heart mean in relation to the philosophy of non-dualism, I've had to set aside several central preconceptions or basic views about life, myself and the world.

In the West we are brought up to believe, as Descartes, after locking himself in a secluded mountain chalet for two weeks, that "I think, therefore I am." This is to say that who I am completely depends upon my thoughts in relation to my body and the impressions I make about it in relation to each specific thing (or person) in a separate world. In other words in the West, the conditioning from birth is that "I am this body and the mind's thoughts, etc."

This means that I am conditioned to accept my self as always viewing the world in terms of judging, comparing, categorizing, separating, distinguishing, organizing everything as something separate from me. The whole way of thinking and perceiving in the West is one of collecting empirical data, so to speak, and analyzing it in relation to other things.

Thus, the whole idea of analyzing the analyzer, seeing the seer, hearing the hearer, or simply to put aside one's identity and attention to thoughts and things and abiding as the part that sees, in order to "enter into" a perspective that has no basis in thought related identity, seemed like an impossible task. It was a task that required believing such a view possible, that others had realized it, and to somehow discard all the "truths" or impressions I was brought up to take for granted, in order to suddenly discover that there is another point of view, which in itself may be even more valid than the one I had accepted without question before.

In the West, we have taken Descartes' idea to its fullest extent, as the basis for all scientific study, intellectual thought, even religious belief, where everything is considered and examined as being "apart". We take "dualism" as being obvious. Even analysis of the mind is done by considering the thought content, the emotions, the behavior, each to be categorized, codified, classified and so on. In fact, the inner mind to the Western mind is still what the non-dualist calls the out going mind. Even the Western Mystics and New Age spiritualists are categorizing planes and stages and levels of consciousness, which to the non-dualist are all experiences of the out going mind, having no relation to the Reality they try to convey. In their Reality, all this perceived world of inner thoughts, feelings and impressions and outer sensory experiences is only "Maya", a mirage, non-existent, like a reflection in a diamond. The diamond represents the ever present rock solid reality, unchanging, while the images, however real they may feel, because of their superimposition on the jewel are only that, images.

Thus, when I am forced to consider a whole new "way" (Tao) of perceiving, requiring the consideration of an "I" without a 'me' or 'mine', I find myself experiencing a pause, a space, as it were, between thoughts. The idea that one might be able to think and act with no sense of being the thinker, the actor, the doer - that one could simply abide as impartial egoless Being, free of thought, was a completely revolutionary idea. That all action occurs by itself perfectly, required, and still requires a sense of radical turnabout in all my preconceptions.


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Nonduality: The Varieties of Expression
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Jerry Katz
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The Clam Digger. Do you see the contorted figure or the fully shaped man?



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