What is Nonduality, Nondualism, or Advaita?

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Secondary Nondualism and Ultimate Nondualism of Adi Da
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The Rotten Root, by Drew Hempel


Essence of non-dualism in Shin Buddhism
Lankavatara Sutra
Lotus SutraThe Song of Ribhu
Seng T'san, the third Zen Patriarch: The Mind of Absolute Trust

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Wikipedia - Nondualism - This is a scattered, incomplete, and ever-changing look at nonduality. As such, it reflects the nature of responses to the question, "What is nonduality?" And it is very useful and worth accessing.

Encyclopædia Britannica Article

(Sanskrit: “Nondualism,” or “Monism”), most influential of the schools of Vedanta, an orthodox philosophy of India. While its followers find its main tenets already fully expressed in the Upanisads and systematized by the Vedanta-sutras, it has its historical beginning with the 7th-century thinker Gaudapada, author of the Ma n d ukya-karika, a commentary in verse form on the late Ma n d ukya Upanisad.

Gaudapada builds further on the Mahayana Buddhist philosophy of S unyava-da (“Emptiness”). He argues that there is no duality; the mind, awake or dreaming, moves through maya (“illusion”); and only nonduality (advaita) is the final truth. This truth is concealed by the ignorance of illusion. There is no becoming, either of a thing by itself or of a thing out of some other thing. There is ultimately no individual self or soul (jiva), only the
atman (all-soul), in which individuals may be temporarily delineated just as the space in a jar delineates a part of main space: when the jar is broken, the individual space becomes once more part of the main space.

The medieval Indian philosopher
Sankara, or Sankaracarya (Master Sankara, c. 700–750), builds further on Gaudapada's foundation, principally in his commentary on the Vedanta-sutras, the S ari-raka-mima msa-bha sya (“Commentary on the Study of the Self ”). Sankara in his philosophy does not start from the empirical world with logical analysis but, rather, directly from the absolute (Brahman). If interpreted correctly, he argues, the Upanisads teach the nature of Brahman. In making this argument, he develops a complete epistemology to account for the human error in taking the phenomenal world for real. Fundamental for Sankara is the tenet that the Brahman is real and the world is unreal. Any change, duality, or plurality is an illusion. The self is nothing but Brahman. Insight into this identity results in spiritual release. Brahman is outside time, space, and causality, which are simply forms of empirical experience. No distinction in Brahman or from Brahman is possible.

Sankara points to scriptural texts, either stating identity (“Thou art that”) or denying difference (“There is no duality here”), as declaring the true meaning of a Brahman without qualities (
nirguna ). Other texts that ascribe qualities (saguna) to Brahman refer not to the true nature of Brahman but to its personality as God (I svara).

Human perception of the unitary and infinite Brahman as the plural and infinite is due to human beings' innate habit of superimposition (adhya sa), by which a thou is ascribed to the I (I am tired; I am happy; I am perceiving). The habit stems from human ignorance (ajñana, avidya ), which can be avoided only by the realization of the identity of Brahman. Nevertheless, the empirical world is not totally unreal, for it is a misapprehension of the real Brahman. A rope is mistaken for a snake; there is only a rope and no snake, but, as long as it is thought of as a snake, it is one.

Sankara had many followers who continued and elaborated his work, notably the 9th-century philosopher Vacaspati Misra. The Advaita literature is extremely extensive, and its influence is still felt in modern Hindu thought.

"Advaita" Encyclopædia Britannica
http://www.britannica.com/eb/article?eu=3854&tocid=0&query=advaita[Accessed [December 30, 2001].

Sanskrit Atman, one of the most basic concepts in Hindu philosophy, describing that eternal core of the personality that survives after death and that transmigrates to a new life or is released from the bonds of existence. While in the early Vedic texts it occurred mostly as a reflexive pronoun (oneself), in the later Upanishads it comes more and more to the fore as a philosophic topic: atman is that which makes the other organs and faculties function and for which indeed they function; atman underlies all the activities of a person, as Brahman (the absolute) underlies the workings of the universe; to know it brings bliss; it is part of the universal Brahman, with which it can commune or even fuse. So fundamental was the atman deemed to be that certain circles identified it with Brahman. Of the various systems (darshans) of Hindu philosophy, the schools of Samkhya and Yoga (which use the term purusha to convey the idea of atman) and the orthodox school of Vedanta particularly concern themselves with the atman, though the interpretation varies in accordance with each system's general worldviews.

"atman" Encyclopædia Britannica
[Accessed December 30, 2001].


born 700? , Kaladi village?, India
died 750? , Kedarnath

also spelled Shankara , also called Sankaracarya philosopher and theologian, most renowned exponent of the Advaita Vedanta school of philosophy, from whose doctrines the main currents of modern Indian thought are derived. He wrote commentaries on the Brahma-sutra and the principal Upanisads, affirming his belief in one eternal unchanging reality (Brahman) and the illusion of plurality and differentiation.

There are at least 11 works that profess to be biographies of Sankara. All of them were composed several centuries later than the time of Sankara and are filled with legendary stories and incredible anecdotes, some of which are mutually conflicting. Today there are no materials with which to reconstruct his life with certainty. His date of birth is naturally a controversial problem. It has been customary to assign him the birth and death dates 788–820. But the dates 700–750, grounded in 20th-century scholarship, are more acceptable.

According to one tradition, Sankara was born into a pious Nambudiri Brahman family in a quiet village called Kaladi on the Curn a (or Purn a, Periyar) River, Kerala, southern India. He is said to have lost his father, Sivaguru, early in his life. He renounced the world and became a sannyasin (ascetic) against his mother's will. He studied under Govinda, who was a pupil of Gaudapada. Nothing certain is known about Govinda, but Gaudapada is notable as the author of an important Vedanta work, Ma n d ukya-karika, in which the influence of Mahayana Buddhism—a form of Buddhism aiming at the salvation of all beings and tending toward nondualistic or monistic thought—is evident and even extreme, especially in its last chapter.

A tradition says that Siva, one of the principal gods in Hinduism, was Sankara's family deity and that he was, by birth, a S akta, or worshipper of Sakti, the consort of Siva and female personification of divine energy. Later he came to be regarded as a worshipper of Siva or even an incarnation of Siva himself. His doctrine, however, is far removed from Saivism and S aktism. It is ascertained from his works that he had some faith in, or was favourable to, Vais navism, the worship of the god Vishnu. It is highly possible that he was familiar with Yoga (one of the classical systems of Indian philosophy, as well as
a technique to achieve salvation). One study has suggested that in the beginning he was an adherent of Yoga and later became an Advaitin (Nondualist).

Biographers narrate that Sankara first went to Ka s i (Varanasi), a city celebrated for learning and spirituality, and then travelled all over India, holding discussions with philosophers of different creeds. His heated debate with Man dana Misra, a philosopher of the Mima msa (Investigation) school, whose wife served as an umpire, is perhaps the most interesting episode in his biography and may reflect a historical fact; that is, keen conflict between Sankara, who regarded the knowledge of Brahman as the only means to final release, and followers of the Mima msa school, which emphasized the performance of ordained duty and the Vedic rituals.

Sankara was active in a politically chaotic age. He would not teach his doctrine to city dwellers. The power of Buddhism was still strong in the cities, though already declining, and Jainism, a nontheistic ascetic faith, prevailed among the merchants and manufacturers. Popular Hinduism occupied the minds of ordinary people, while city dwellers pursued ease and pleasure. There were also epicureans in cities. It was
difficult for Sankara to communicate Vedanta philosophy to these people. Consequently, Sankara propagated his teachings chiefly to sannyasins and intellectuals in the villages, and he gradually won the respect of Brahmans and feudal lords. He enthusiastically endeavoured to restore the orthodox Brahmanical tradition without paying attention to the bhakti (devotional) movement, which had made a deep impression on ordinary Hindus in his age.

It is very likely that Sankara had many pupils, but only four are known (from their writings): Padmapada, Suresvara, Totaka (or Trotaka), and Hastamalaka. Sankara is said to have founded four monasteries, at S r ngeri (south), Puri (east), Dvaraka (west), and Badarinatha (north), probably following the Buddhist monastery (vihara) system. Their foundation was one of the most significant factors in the development of his teachings into the leading philosophy of India.

More than 300 works—commentative, expository, and poetical—written in the Sanskrit language, are attributed to him. Most of them, however, cannot be regarded as authentic. His masterpiece is the Brahma-sutra-bha sya, the commentary on the Brahma-sutra, which is a fundamental text of the Vedanta school. The commentaries on the principal Upanisads that are attributed to Sankara are certainly all genuine, with the possible exception of the commentary on the Sveta svatara Upa ni sad. The commentary on the Ma n d ukya-karika was also composed by Sankara himself. It is very probable that he is the author of the Yoga-sutra-bha sya-vivarana, the exposition of Vyasa's commentary on the Yoga-sutra, a fundamental text of the Yoga school. The Upadesasahasri, which is a good introduction to Sankara's philosophy, is the only non-commentative work that is certainly authentic.

Sankara's style of writing is lucid and profound. Penetrating insight and analytical skill characterize his works. His approach to truth is psychological and religious rather than logical; for that reason, he is perhaps best considered to be a prominent religious teacher rather than a philosopher in the 20th-century sense. His works reveal that he was not only versed in the orthodox Brahmanical traditions but also was well acquainted with Mahayana Buddhism. He is often criticized as a “Buddhist in disguise” by his opponents because of the similarity between his doctrine and Buddhism. Despite this criticism, it should be noted that he made full use of his knowledge of Buddhism to attack Buddhist doctrines severely or to transmute them into his own Vedantic
nondualism, and he tried with great effort to “vedanticize” the Vedanta philosophy, which had been made extremely Buddhistic by his predecessors. The basic structure of his philosophy is more akin to Sa nkya, a philosophic system of nontheistic dualism, and the Yoga school than to Buddhism. It is said that Sankara died at Kedarnatha in the Himalayas. The Advaita Vedanta school founded by him has always been preeminent in the learned circles of India.

"Sankara" Encyclopædia Britannica
[Accessed December 30, 2001].

Sanskrit Brahman, in the Upanishads (Indian sacred writings), the supreme existence or absolute, the font of all things. The etymology of the Sanskrit is uncertain. Though a variety of views are expressed in the Upanishads, they concur in the definition of brahma as eternal, conscious, irreducible, infinite, omnipresent, spiritual source of the universe of finiteness and change. Marked differences in interpretation of brahma characterize the various subschools of Vedanta, the orthodox system of Hindu philosophy based on the writings of the Upanishads.

According to the Advaita (Nondualist) school of Vedanta, brahma is categorically different from anything phenomenal, and human perceptions of differentiation are illusively projected on this reality. The Bhedabheda (Dualist–Nondualist) school maintains that brahma is nondifferent from the world, which is its product, but different in that phenomenality imposes certain adventitious conditions (upadhis) on brahma. The Visis t advaita (Nonduality of the Qualified) school maintains that a relation between brahma and the world of soul and matter exists that is comparable to the relation between soul and body and that phenomenality is a glorious manifestation of brahma; the school identifies brahma with a personal god, Brahma, who is both transcendent and immanent. The Dvaita (Dualist) school refuses to accept the identity of brahma and world, maintaining the ontological separateness of the supreme, which it also identifies with a personal god.

In early Hindu mythology, brahma is personified as the creator god Brahma and placed in a triad of divine functions: Brahma the creator, Vishnu the preserver, and Siva the destroyer.

"brahma" Encyclopædia Britannica
[Accessed December 30, 2001].

Nirguna: (Sanskrit: “distinctionless”), concept of primary importance in the orthodox Hindu philosophy of Vedanta, raising the question of whether the supreme being, Brahman, is to be characterized as without qualities (nirguna) or as possessing qualities (saguna).

The Advaita (Nondualist) school of Vedanta assumes on the basis of selected passages of the Upanisads that Brahman is beyond all polarity and therefore cannot be characterized in the normal terms of human discursive thought. This being the case, Brahman cannot possess qualities that distinguish it from all other magnitudes, as Brahman is not a magnitude but is all.

The fundamental text of this tenet is the Brhadaranyaka Upanisad definition of Brahman as neti-neti (“not this! not that!” 2.3.6). The scriptural texts that ascribe qualities to Brahman, leading to the conception of a qualified Brahman (saguna) are, according to the Advaita school, merely preparatory aids to meditations. Others, notably the theistic schools of Vedanta (for example, Visis t advaita), argue that God (Brahman) is possessed of all perfections and that the scriptural passages denying qualities deny only imperfect ones.

"nirguna" Encyclopædia Britannica
[Accessed December 30, 2001].

editor's note: This web page presents only a portion of what's available on Advaita. See Encylopedia Britannica for further investigation. As of this writing, you can get a free two-week subscription.

from The Song of Ribhu: The English Translation of the Tamil Ribhu Gita. Translation by Dr. H. Ramamoorthy and Nome. Published by SAT, Society for Abidance in Truth, 2000.

"Advaita Vedanta, or the Teaching of Nonduality, is that which is expounded by Ribhu, Sri Dattatreya (the Avadhuta), Sri Ashtavakra, Sri Sankara, Sri Ramana Maharshi, and many other great sages. It reveals the utter absence of any differentiation between Atman (the Self) and Brahman. It is the revelation of Reality without even a trace of notional superimpositions. The entire Ribhu Gita gives an exposition -- a veritable scripture -- of Advaita Vedanta."

"ATMAN. The Self. The Self is one and universal, different from the body, sensory organs, senses, mind, intelligence, inner senses, and such others, remaining only as a witness to the activities of these and unsullied by them. The Self is of the nature of Being-Consciousness-Bliss, self-luminous, of the nature of Knowledge, needing no other knowledge to know it. The Self is without desire or hatred, fear or sorrow, quality or activity, form, change or blemish. It is immaculate, indivisible, all-pervasive, and infinite. The Self and Brahman are one."

"BRAHMAN. A Sanskrit word formed from the root brmh, which means growth, and the suffix man, which signifies an absence of limitation (in space or time). Thus, Brahman means that which is absolutely the greatest. Brahman, according to the Masters of Advaita, is said to be known through Vedic texts, primarily the Upanishads, which are considered a valid means of knowledge, as a direct perception.

"Brahman is the only Reality; it is beyond definition in words, the range of sensory perceptions, and the human mind. It is conceived to be boundless Being, ever existent, limitless in space and time, immutable, immaculate, devoid of qualities, attributes, name, or form. It is not subject to birth, continuation, growth, maturity, decay and dissolution, and has nothing similar to it and nothing different from it. It is also described as pure Knowledge.

"It is also regarded as both the efficient and material cause of the visible universe, the all-pervading spirit of the universe, the essence from which all beings are produced and into which they are absorbed. The entire phenomenal world of beings, qualities, actions, all manifestations, and so on, is said to be an illusory superimposition on the imperishable substratum, which is Brahman.

"The Upanishads also identify Brahman with the Universal Self. What Brahman, the only Reality, is and, more importantly, what Brahman, the only Reality, is not is discussed in the entire text of the Song of Ribhu."

From Encyclopedic Theosophical Library:

Advaita (Sanskrit) [from a not + dvaita dual from dvi two] Nondual; the Advaita or nondualistic form of Vedanta [from veda knowledge + anta end] expounded by Sankaracharya teaches the oneness of Brahman or the paramatman of the universe with the human spirit-soul or jivatman, and the identity of spirit and matter; also that the divine spirit of the universe is the all-efficient, all-productive cause of the periodic coming into being, continuance, and dissolutions of the universe; and that this divine cosmic spirit is the ultimate truth and sole reality -- hence the term advaita (without a second). All else is maya, in proportion to its distance from the divine source.

The greatest initiates and yogis since Sankaracharya's time are reputed to have come from the ranks of the Advaita-Vedantists. "Yet the root philosophy of both Adwaita and Buddhist scholars is identical, and both have the same respect for animal life, for both believe that every creature on earth, however small and humble, 'is an immortal portion of the immortal matter' -- for matter with them has quite another significance than it has with either Christian or materialist -- and that every creature is subject to Karma" (SD 1:636; cf 2:637).

Advaitin or Advaita-Vedantist Also Advaitee. An adherent of the Advaita philosophy.

Advaya (Sanskrit) [from a not + dvi two] Not two, without a second; unique. As a masculine noun, name of a buddha. As a neuter noun, nonduality, unity, identity -- especially as applied to Brahman -- with the universe, or of spirit and matter; hence ultimate truth.

from Encyclopedia of World Problems and Human Potential:

Nondualism: Literally the following of a philosophy of non-duality, practitioners follow the Upanishad tradition through the path of wisdom, jnana yoga, as founded by Badarayana and expounded by Sankara. They allow no duality between creator and created - all are reflections or manifestations of the one, which is not and cannot be an object of sense ("not this, not this") but which is the underlying reality or consciousness, the subject of which all else is the object ("thou art that"). It is through identification with the body and the bodily senses that the gross universe is seen as reality. In a state of ignorance, an idea (the world of manifest objects) is superimposed on true reality (Brahman). By the removal of ignorance - avidya - the Self, the vital principle, the Atman, comes to be seen as identical with the first principle, the all-pervading power, the Brahman.

Non-duality is not meant to imply simply one-ness; the distinction between what is and what is not is to be found in the permanence or changeableness of what is being considered. That which observes does not change with what is observed, the ultimate being perception or consciousness itself which is unchanging. Rationally it is clear that there can be no being beyond consciousness and that consciousness and real existence are inseparable. Consciousness and "is-ness" are Brahman. It is the deluded sense of separation from Brahman, of separate individuality, which is the cause of pleasure and pain; identification with Brahman is bliss.

Wisdom of the Vedas (Chatterji, J C, 1980);
Advaita Vedanta: a philosophical reconstruction (Deutsch, Eliot, 1969);
The Secret Teachings of the Vedas: the eastern answers to the mysteries of life (Knapp, Stephen, 1991);
The Integral Advaitism of Sri Aurobindo (Misra, Ram Shankas, 1957);
The Ten Principal Upanishads (Purohit, Swami Shree and Yeats, W B);
Methods of Knowledge According to Advaita Vedanta (Satprakashananda, Swami, 1975).

In the Sankrit language Advaita means "not two" and Vedanta means "the end of knowledge". So one could say that Advaita Vedanta is the non-dual experience at the end of knowledge, or beyond knowledge. However, in the non-dual state there can be no experiencer and experience and so the term arises, "The Mystery beyond the mind," simply because that That that is beyond the mind cannot be conceptualized much less described by the mind. This mystery refers to the cessation of the experience of duality, the removal of separation between any two objects, the lifting of the veil of illusoryness, the drowning of individualness in the eternal ocean of Love.

This Mystery is the Majesty of Saints like Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharishi of Tiruvannamalai, his disciple Sri H.W.L. Poonja of Lucknow, Ananda Mayi Ma of Haridwar, and Sri Nisargadatta of Bombay. By their words, their touch, their look, and mostly just by their presence these Saints enlighten their disciples.

Enlighten is a word that is a gossomer vessel overflowing with sticky concepts. For lack of a better word it is used but realize that any word, any concept, and any Saint is a finger pointing to Advaita Vedanta, the Mystery Beyond the Mind.

The Rig Veda, the oldest book on the planet, tries to describe the mystery by singing hundreds of thousands of hymns and yet it comes to the famous conclusion: Neti, Neti, meaning 'not this, not this'. Freedom, Enlightenment, Love, though the topic of Advaita Vedanta remains untouched by the wondering mind, and yet is the light by which the mind sees. Only when the mind stops does Consciousness behold Itself. Then 'Consciousness knows the Truth and the Truth sets itself Free'. You are this Truth, the Isness joyously radiating as the Light of this Moment.

from The Lotus Sutra translated by Burton Watson and The Threefold Lotus Sutra translated by Bunno Kato, et. al.

"The concept, often described in English as "nondualism," is extremely hard for the mind to grasp or visualize, since the mind engages constantly in the making of distinctions and nondualism represents the rejection or transcendence of all distinctions. The world perceived through the senses, the phenomenal world as we know it, was described in early Buddhism as "empty" because it was taught that all such phenomena arise from causes and conditions, are in a constant state of flux, and are destined to change and pass away in time. They are also held to be "empty" in the sense that they have no inherent or permanent characteristics by which they can be described, changing as they do from instant to instant. But in Mahayana thought it became customary to emphasize not the negative but rather the positive aspects or import of the doctrine of Emptiness. If all phenomena are characterized by the quality of Emptiness, then Emptiness must constitute the unchanging and abiding nature of existence, and therefore the absolute or unchanging world must be synonymous with the phenomenal one. Hence all mental and physical distinctions that we perceive or conceive of with our minds must be part of a single underlying unity. It is this concept of Emptiness or nonduality that leads the Mahayana texts to assert that samsara, the ordinary world of suffering and cyclical birth and death, is in the end identical with the world of nirvana, and that earthly desires are enlightenment." (p xv)

"Namu Amida Butsu"

"Namu Amida Butsu" sums up nonduality. "Namu" is the ego-self. "Amida" is the boundless light of Wisdom and life of Compassion that embraces without exclusion. "Butsu" is the Buddha, in whom we take refuge.

Together this is the Name-that-calls. Nonduality is realized when we discover how essential self-power derived from knowledge of the self and intellect is to Other power, yet that Other power is greater than the ego-self and its misuse of self-power.

Beyond good and evil, there is the greater Good. Beyond the limits of our passions, there is only the Name-that-calls.

This is the essence of non-dualism in Shin Buddhism. Thus the name of Jodo Shinshu is translated as "The True Essence of the Pure Land Way", the fulfillment of non-duality. Stephen H. Kawamoto

Seng T'san, the third Zen Patriarch: The Mind of Absolute Trust

The great way isn't difficult for those who are unattached to their preferences.

Let go of longing and aversion, and everything will be perfectly clear.

When you cling to a hairbreadth of distinction, heaven and earth are set apart.

If you want to realize the truth, don't be for or against.

The struggle between good and evil is the primal disease of the mind.

Not grasping the deeper meaning, you just trouble your minds serenity.

As vast as infinite space, it is perfect and lacks nothing.

But because you select and reject, you can't perceive its true nature.

Don't get entangled in the world; don't lose yourself in emptiness.

Be at peace in the oneness of things, and all errors will disappear by themselves.

If you don't live the Tao, you fall into assertion or denial.

Asserting that the world is real, you are blind to its deeper reality;

denying that the world is real, you are blind to the selflessness of all things.

The more you think about these matters, the farther you are from the truth.

Step aside from all thinking, and there is nowhere you can't go.

Returning to the root, you find the meaning;

chasing appearances, you lose there source.

At the moment of profound insight, you transcend both appearance and emptiness.

Don't keep searching for the truth; just let go of your opinions.

For the mind in harmony with the Tao, all selfishness disappears.

With not even a trace of self-doubt, you can trust the universe completely.

All at once you are free, with nothing left to hold on to.

All is empty, brilliant, perfect in its own being.

In the world of things as they are, there is no self, no non self.

If you want to describe its essence, the best you can say is "Not-two."

In this "Not-two" nothing is separate, and nothing in the world is excluded.

The enlightened of all times and places have entered into this truth.

In it there is no gain or loss; one instant is ten thousand years.

There is no here, no there; infinity is right before your eyes.

The tiny is as large as the vast when objective boundaries have vanished;

the vast is as small as the tiny when you don't have external limits.

Being is an aspect of non-being; non-being is no different from being.

Until you understand this truth, you won't see anything clearly.

One is all; all are one. When you realize this, what reason for holiness or wisdom?

The mind of absolute trust is beyond all thought, all striving,

is perfectly at peace, for in it there is no yesterday, no today, no tomorrow.

from The Lankavatara Sutra

What is meant by nonduality, Mahatmi?

It means that light and shade, long and short, black and white, can only be experienced in relation to each other; light is not independent of shade, nor black of white. There are no opposites, only relationships. In the same way, nirvana and the ordinary world of suffering are not two things but related to each other. There is no nirvana except where the world of suffering is; there is no world of suffering apart from nirvana. For existence is not mutually exclusive.

Nisargadatta Maharaj (from I Am That):
When you go beyond awareness, there is a state of non-duality, in which there is no cognition, only pure being. In the state of non-duality, all separation ceases.

Ken Wilber:
"Nonduality" means, as the Upanishads put it, "to be freed of the pairs." That is, the great liberation consists in being freed of the pairs of opposites, freed of duality-and finding instead the nondual One Taste that gives rise to both. This is liberation because we cease the impossible, painful dream of spending our entire lives trying to find an up without a down, an inside without an outside, a good without an evil, a pleasure without its inevitable pain.

To awaken to the absolute view is profound and transformative, but to awaken from all fixed points of view is the birth of true nonduality.
Enlightenment means the end of all division. It is not simply having an occasional experience of unity beyond all division, it is actually being undivided. This is what nonduality truly means. It means there is just One Self, without a difference or gap between the profound revelation of Oneness and the way it is perceived and lived every moment of life. Nonduality means that the inner revelation and the outer expression of the personality are one and the same. So few seem to be interested in the greater implication contained within profound spiritual experiences, because it is the contemplation of these implications which quickly brings to awareness the inner divisions existing within most seekers.

Richard Miller:
Advaita means, "not-two" and reveals the truth that all objects are expressions of unqualified Consciousness and always point back to Awareness, our true nature, the unfathomable Vast-ness-that-we-are. Consciousness and its objects are One, not two. This can never be conceptualized, only intuitively realized. Yana is the pathless "path" we traverse as our misperceptions of separation are healed. This path is not developmental. Separateness is not a case of something that exists becoming non-existent. Our 'self' never exists in the first place except conceptually. The path reveals the non-existence of the 'self' that always was nonexistent. Yoga is the means we utilize in realizing our non-separateness. We investigate all that we take ourself to be (body, senses and mind), and understand That, which we always are Be-ing-unqualified Presence. The body/mind is an expression of Consciousness, and we are That unqualified Consciousness. There is only Consciousness. Our yearning to understand comes from Consciousness. The path we traverse unfolds in Consciousness. The means that we utilize are the tools provided by Consciousness. And That, which we realize is Consciousness. Therefore, the emphasis of Advaitayana Yoga from the beginning, in the middle, and at the end is not on transformation but upon seeing, listening, understanding and welcoming all that is. From the non-dual perspective nothing needs to be changed in order for freedom to be ex-perienced. It takes effort to live our separateness. It takes no effort to be free. This is the final understanding of Advaitayana Yoga.

Bede Griffiths (1997):
"Advaita (nonduality) does not mean "one" in the sense of eliminating all differences. The differences are present in the one in a mysterious way. They are not separated anymore, and yet they are there."

Woven reflections of silence and stillness  

Bede Griffiths: A Life in Dialogue (on Christian Advaita)

by Judson Trapnell

The principle of nonduality is a key which opens Christian scriptural interpretation, theological reflection and spirituality toward the mystery’s intrinsic fullness and power.   

It becomes clear that the center of gravity of Bede’s vision is high, and that to meet the Gospel on its own ground a descent will be required. Bede’s faith was deeper than his gnosis, faith reaches lower than gnosis. Faith comprehends levels of unitive reality which are too dark for gnosis. Salvation (that is, divinization), according to the New Testament and the early patristic tradition, takes place in and through the body; it is sacramental. A Christian advaita must be grounded in the dark that is before and after knowing. There is a nonduality before intuition and knowledge. There is a baptismal nonduality of identity deeper than knowing, that precedes experience and knowledge. There is a eucharistic nonduality -expressed in surrender- that is fuller than knowing, and that succeeds mystical experience and knowledge. Bede's last years witness to this latter 'dark' advaita.   

In the “foolishness of God” which Paul proclaims, the nondual Absolute descends lower than we can know or feel. We can imagine a further incarnation of Bede’s advaitan vision, in which this prior dark and latter dark of a Christian advaita are recognized in their sacramental depth. Atman may be recognized in the baptismal rebirth—in the nondual identity that is received at the dawn of knowledge, in Christian initiation. Love and its consummation in the surrender of self may be understood as a eucharistic participation in the cross of Christ—in the actualization of the original nondual gift at the sunset of knowledge, in the loving gift of self which is surrender. Symbol, incarnated, becomes sacrament. Knowledge is fulfilled in body; knowledge is completed in act.   

What is most needed now, if we are to realize the depth and power of the Christ-mystery as the great event of nonduality, may be an understanding of the advaitan meaning of Incarnation. 

from Andrew Harvey, in "Dialogues With a Modern Mystic"
Andrew Harvey and Mark Matousek:

Advaita is not monism. Advaita means "not-two." We and the universe are not "one": then all distinctions would be destroyed. We are "not-two," intricately interrelated with everything, both separate, unique *and* united. The astonishment of this dance of "not-two" grows slowly as the mind and heart open in divine love and wisdom. Imagine that there was a heap of gold and a skillful smith. The smith made fir trees, geraniums, tables, human beings, lamps. Every object had a different shape, a different purpose and identity but was made of the same thing. Look at the sea. All waves are rising and falling differently, in different rhythms, with different volumes. Some catch the light some do not. You can see the separations between the waves but what you also see quite clearly is that all the waves are water. That is what the knowledge of "not-two" is like. Things retain the separateness which the senses give them, which we use to negotiate this reality, but the illumined mind knows that all things are Brahman, waves of one infinite sea of light. You know, in other words, that you and everything and the light that is at all times manifesting everything are "not-two," and "you" come to exist normally on all levels of the divine creation, and meet "yourself" in all states, events, conditions, beings. This is sahaja, spontaneous negotiation of and union with all dimensions at all moments. Nisargadatta Maharaj explains most lucidly the marvelous transitions to this state: "When the I am myself goes, the I am all comes. When the I am all goes, the I am comes. When even I am goes, Reality alone is and in it every am is preserved and glorified."

It is wonderful that this the most ultimate and holy of all possible experiences in this world, that of unity, of advaita, has to be enjoyed by everyone in their own profound solitude, at that diamond point of solitude at which everyone secretly joins and meets God and each other and all things. This final experience kept for this most sacred and secret moment and is too vast an precious to be ever completely communicated. This is the moment when the created one returns to the source of creation the moment at which all laws, dogmas and techniques that helped the mystic arrive at that diamond point vanish in the silence of return to origin.

Lex Hixon:
"Basically, non-duality is a continual correction of dualistic conceptions as they arise. It's a spontaneous process which, without judgment, playfully erases lines of division as they arise. You can't have a map without lines of division, certainly. Celebrating non-duality is pre-mapping or post-mapping. It doesn't negate mapping, because when you have a good map, there's the paper right behind it, giving it vividness and making it readable. How to get to this conscious state of being the paper? We have to be extremely careful about the language we use here. There are no energetics, no dynamics, no structures in non-duality. These come later. If our structural social forms are consciously rooted in the celebration of non-duality, they can be more energetic, more dynamic, more kind, more insightful."

Charlene Spretnak:

Karen Osborne Pope discusses 'Ecofeminist alternatives to interpreting the World'...

In a dualistic world view, you might have femininity/ nature/body/emotion/connectedness/receptivity/the-private-sphere -vs.- masculinity/culture/ mind(spirit)/reason/autonomy /aggressiveness/the-public-sphere.

Ecofeminist philosophers consider various alternative conceptualizations of a relational, interdependent understanding of reality.

Charlene Spretnak defines her philosophical radical nonduality as "the existence of unitive dimensions of being, a gestalt of a subtle, unitary field of form, motion, space, and time."

Rationalism denies organicism: if you think you can't feel The self as separate rejects the unitive notion of being "one with the universe" According to Spretnak, nonduality "mean(s) a dynamic system of relations wherein any particular manifestation functions simultaneously as a distinct part AND the unbroken whole. The parts are not derivative of the whole, nor vice versa. Each aspect constitutes the other. " Metaphors of a web or a net are often used by nondualists, but they seem to me not quite dynamic enough to convey subtle processes of wholeness and diversity, of nonduality and particularity.

Justin Stone:
T'ai Chi Chih and Non-Duality

"Advaita" in Sanskrit means "Non-Duality." This is a difficult concept for most people as we look about us and see multiple objects. But what we see are only transformations not permanent forms, whether we are speaking of a chair, a tree, or a human being. Each exists provisionally, but is certainly not lasting. One day the tree may become the chair and the human body will be eaten by worms. The "I" that observes all this may disappear and become another "I". To bank on permanence is to promote suffering. When we perform T'ai Chi Chih properly we feel the results. Since we are, essentially, a conflux of moving energies, stimulating and balancing the Intrinsic Energy (CHI) affects our whole being. The effects seem to be personal, but, in truth, they are widespread. Just as our Enlightenment is "Saving All Beings", so does the balancing of the Universal Energy affect both the outer and the inner. So many students have written me about how their lives have changed with the practice of T'ai Chi Chih! Those who truly practice note that their attitudes change--and others notice it, too. We do not heal symptoms; we become "whole". So, to practice regularly and sincerely is to promote the positive in this world; we reap the benefits. This is "Advaita" in action.

David R. Hawkins:
see <
http://www.uni-verse.net/Website/Powerforce.htm> for background information.

Non-duality: Historically, all observers who have reached a consciousness level over 600 have described the reality now suggested by advanced scientific theory. When the limitation of a fixed locus of perception is transcended, there is no longer an illusion of separation nor of space and time as we know them. All things exist simultaneously in the unmanifest, enfolded, implicit universe, expressing itself as the manifest, unfolded, explicit perception of form. These forms in reality have no intrinsic independent existence but are the product of perception (i.e., man is merely experiencing the content of his own mind.) On the level of non-duality there is observing but no observer, as subject and object are one. You-and-I becomes the One Self experiencing all as divine. At level 700 it can only be said that "All is;" the state is one of Being-ness; all is consciousness, which is life, which is infinite, which is God and which has no parts nor beginning or end. The physical body is a manifestation of the One Self which, in experiencing this dimension, had temporarily forgotten its reality, thus permitting the illusion of a three-dimensional world. The body is merely a means of communication; to identify one's self with the body as "I' is the fate of the unenlightened, who then erroneously deduce that they are mortal and subject to death. Death itself is an illusion based on the false identification with the body as "I." In non-duality, consciousness experiences itself as both manifest and unmanifest, yet there is no experiencer. In this Reality the only thing that has a beginning and an ending is the act of perception itself. In the illusory world, we are like the fool who believes that things come into existence when he opens his eyes and cease to exist when he closes them.

A Saddhu's Reminiscenses of Ramana Maharshi
By Saddhu Arunachala (A.W. Chadwick)

Now Advaita is not the same as is usually meant by Monism ,nor is it some catch-word to avoid difficulties.The word means , of course , Not-Two,but this is not the equivalent for One , though to the casual thinker it is not easy to see where the differences lies. But if we call it Monism then premising one we infer a whole series , one,two,three etc. Not such series actually exists , there is just Not-Two.

When we see things we see duality ; in one sense this duality is not unreal , it is only unreal in the sense that there is Not-Two. It is there in appearance but yet is imparmanent and fleeting.

This fleeting manifestation is called Maya , which is often taken to mean illusion, but actually means "that which is not," or which sets a limit to the limitless. In fact everything we sense (everything being in the mind , and the senses only the instrument of the mind. )

For as a matter of fact there is no illusion, only impermanence.

The Lama Yeshe Experience: Buddhist Ways of Thought
Question/Answer Lectures by Lama Thubten Yeshe
Compiled from various sources by Champa Legshe (Hans Taeger)

Non-Dual Awareness/Nirvana

Lama Yeshe: When you contemplate your own consciousness with intense awareness, leaving aside all thoughts of good and bad, you are automatically led to the experience of non-duality. How is this possible? Think of it like this: the clean clear blue sky is like consciousness, while the smoke and pollution pumped into the sky are like the unnatural, artificial concepts manufactured by ego-grasping ignorance. Now, even though we say the pollutants are contaminating the atmosphere, the sky itself never really becomes contaminated by the pollution. The sky and the pollution each retain their own characteristic nature. In other words, on a fundamental level the sky remains unaffected no matter how much toxic energy enters it. The proof of this is that when conditions change, the sky can become clear once again. In the same way, no matter how many problems maybe created by artificial ego concepts, they never affect the clean clear nature of our consciousness itself. From the relative point of view, our consciousness remains pure because its clear nature never becomes mixed with the nature of confusion.

From an ultimate point of view as well, our consciousness always remains clear and pure. The non-dual characteristic of the mind is never damaged by the dualistic concepts that arise in it. In this respect consciousness is pure, always was pure and will always remain pure. We can compare positive states of mind to water at rest and deluded states of mind to turbulent, boiling water. If we investigate the nature of the boiling water we will discover that, despite the turbulence, each individual droplet is still clear. The same is true of the mind: whether it is calm or boiled into turbulence by the overwhelming complexity of dualistic views, its basic nature remains clear and conscious.

The conclusion, then, is that we all have the capacity to move from the confused, polluted state of ego-conflict to the natural clean clear state of pure consciousness itself. We should never think that our mind has somehow become irreversibly contaminated. This is impossible. If we can train ourselves to identify and enter into the natural, unaffected state of our consciousness, we will eventually experience the freedom of non-dual awareness.


The essence of the Non-dual perception is the desire of a particular Me to identify itself with the Source and the Totality of Creation. In awakening to the Oneness, which is Enlightenment, Me may wish to negate its very own existence. Me wants deeply to dissolve its identity within the ocean of Existence. The personal wants to become the Impersonal, the Universal.

So the question arises: can Me really negate its own existence? Can it simply disappear in the experience of Wholeness? At this point one can see that Truth and Reality are subject to the interpretation of the individual Me with its unique psychology and desire to position itself in a way that suits its intelligence best. But one thing is clearly certain: for any proclamation of I am That to take place, the individual Me has got to be there to proclaim it. How could the Universal be expressed, without the existence of the particular? Me is the experiencer of all states and cannot cease to be present. When Me dissolves, one returns to the Original State, prior to consciousness.

Me is that which allows us to experience the I AM. The I AM which one experiences is not Me it is that which created Me. One can never become the Creator. It is true that Self-realization is a state of complete Oneness with the universal I AM, but Me which experiences this Oneness is not this I AM. Me can disidentify with the whole universe, but is not able to identify with its Creator. The Self-realized Me rests upon the Ultimate Subjectivity and experiences it through itself. Me cannot become the Ultimate, no matter how deeply it is awakened to the dimension of Pure Rest and Wholeness. Why? For the very simple reason that Me always, regardless of the State it is in, feels itself.

The philosophy of Non-duality traditionally was designed to negate the essential presence of Me in all states and levels of experience. The nature of Me, is from a certain perspective, much more subtle than all the inner states, for it is the Nearest. Me cannot simply disappear in any state, for without Me the experience of that very state vanishes. What I am is not eternal though it evolves eternally within the universal I AM. It is born and it dies. It dies, and is reborn into a new Me. Me expands infinitely into the vastness of the Universal Intelligence. It is the journey of the Spirit into the ultimate experience of love, beauty and happiness.

It is possible to call the Creation an illusion, the Creator -- emptiness, and the Soul - - non-existent. This would be the shortest way to the impersonal. Seemingly, the impersonal is reached by the impersonal and dissolves into the impersonal. This is the ideal of Non-duality. But in truth, to meet the impersonal face to face, the personal must be there to face it. Here, the ultimate duality serves its supreme purpose, and Me rests in full acceptance of its supreme dual existence and truth.

Non-duality, without the awakening to Me, represents the Wholeness of Perception in which Me refuses to see itself as a dynamic and alive center of identity behind the Perceived. When Me is awakened to itself for the first time, the new and true Non- dual vision of reality is apperceived. In this apperception, the Wholeness embraces its very experiencer, the unique Soul, the intimate heart of Me, as itself. This Me is an indivisible part of the Ultimate Seeing. The Non-dual Perception is not the end of Seeing. The evolution into the Seeing of Reality does not have an end. And this evolution can take place only through the Me, the mysterious perceiver of the Universal I AM. This Perceiver is not separated from the Wholeness. It is this part of the Totality through which the Now becomes the Seen.

Harold Stewart

www.horai.asn.au/index.htm (link no longer works)

The Buddha, from his Centre of All-Knowledge, or sarvatha-jnana, can contemplate all things simultaneously in the Eternal Present. The Metaphysical is only apparently opposed to the physical, for in reality it subsumes its contrary. To the outlook of an Enlightened One, Nirvana is Samsara and Samsara is Nirvana; but to the unenlightened, the nonduality of these opposites has not yet been realized and so such schematic devices and distinctive categories still have their uses as upaya, or skilful means for leading to that Realization. Just as Earth acts outwardly, whereas the influence of Heaven is from within, so in the natural world beauty is external, whilst it is the inmost quality of the Divine. Thus the lowest level of sensory beauty should be regarded as an aspect of Supernal Beauty. The spiritual is not in opposition to the sensory: it is the despiritualized secular world alone that is illusory and false.

This nonduality of Samsara and Nirvana is brought out by a famous passage in the Heart of Transcendental Wisdom Sutra, the Prajnaparamita-hrdaya-sutra (called Hannya Shingyo in Japanese): ‘Form is Void and Void is Form; what is Void that is Form, and what is Form that is Void; Form is no other than Void and Void is no other than Form’. This Mahayana view, which was theoretically developed in the Madhyamaka dialectic of Nagarjuna, has long been acclimatized in China and has provided the Metaphysical foundation for most schools of Japanese Buddhism.

Brief Definitions, Various Authors

Non duality is the _return or revival of Self_ gene poole

The 'Nondual' perspective does not _abolish_ "duality", it _resolves_ it instead.... gene poole

The nondual perspective is to me, the voluntary adoption of the attitude which allows surrender of personal identity. gene poole

I see nonduality not as a destination or goal, but rather a quite marvelous "effect" of living a life of freedom. melody anderson

Nonduality is the clear pool of awareness that remains once the 'white-water' of emotion (and emotional conflict) has ended. Melody Anderson

Defining nondualism is like adding legs to a snake. Dan Berkow

Nonduality can't be something that is used. It can't be employed at one time and not at another. Nonduality is what every moment of space-time-experience arises from and returns to. It is never absent from any moment of space-time-experience. It has no use, no value, from the usual perspectives of forming meaning and value. Dan Berkow

The very meaning of NonDualism is that God is not separate from creation, from All That Is but instead is identical with it. dave hodges

Nondualism: we're all the same. formerly shy

In the world of duality some entities are said to be "too good to be true." However, those who live in the nondualistic state of consciousness beyond "good and evil" are actually "too true to be 'good.'" karczewski

For me.... (nonduality) simply means.... being one with your duality. tg

nonduality=thoughtless reality. stan alari

Keep bumping into-I AM. This appears to be a limitation of the English language requiring a noun to put a verb in motion. Who is this I that I am? Non- duality would simply be: AM rusty

I have determined that nondualism is a point of view. It is one that I sometimes choose to see and sometimes not. It is not death and it is not nirvana. A point of view. All we need. And, on another hand, it is just a word. Slackeaux

Nonduality isn't about concepts; it is about getting rid of concepts, including a concept of absolute. Jan Barendrecht

nonduality could be called the journey to resolve the relation between you, the other sentient beings and the objects, for once and forever. Jan Barendrecht

In a nondual state there are no opposites. There is neither an awareness ofbeing passive nor an awareness of being active; awareness without content comes near. In a nondual state there is no contradiction or paradox; common language fails in its ability to describe events from a nondual perspective. The sense of "I am the doer" is permanently absent as is the sense of "I am not the doer"; what comes near is "things being done" as there is no "feeling" of I and there is no experiencer. Jan Barendrecht

From the nondual perspective there is nothing to seek and transformations will be secondary effects. From the perspective of "ego", only when seeking is forgotten one will recognize what was never lost; on gradual awakening transformations can be painful as one's focus seems to be shifting or at times seems to be absent. Jan Barendrecht

Considering the essence of Vedanta, the view that Atman is Brahman, in Western language this would boil down to: Nondualism is the view that immanence and transcendence are the same. Eventually with the explanation, "view" can become "fact", which is the nondual path. Jan Barendrecht

Nonduality as the common platform is the state where self is no more. This is what unites all methods, paths and the "self-styled". As a matter of fact, this is what (this) website is conveying already by its diversity. It is the idea of a bouquet of different flowers standing in one vase and sipping the same water. Jan Barendrecht

When I leave this digital domain and all the abstractions of thought and belief in this or that and wonder out amongst the giant oaks and beautiful maples, that is when I truly feel that everything is connected and I have a visceral experience of nonduality. Raven McCloud

Put in simple language, the unceasing "experience" of one's "real nature" is nondualism. There is neither an "in" nor an "out", an "up" or a "down", "on" or "off". -unknown list contributor

If duality might be compared to a (endlessly turning) wheel, nonduality might be more like an 'eel.' The more you try to grasp it, the faster it slips through your fingers and disappears. The solution is to remove both the grasper and the grasping from the equation. Then you ARE the eel, and nothing more need ever be said on the topic. Tim Gerchmez

Nonduality is the only state there really is, and is as natural as breathing. To me, there is not a single "danger" in all of existence. To look at anything on "the path" as "dangerous" is to invite constriction and fear, both of which can be "trip-ups" in their own right. A simple, strong reminder to be aware and mindful at all times is all that is needed. Tim Gerchmez

Nonduality is the natural state of reality, not a religion or cult or escape. Tim Gerchmez

"Make a coin with only one side. Show it to me. That's non-duality." She'Tara

Actually, in non-duality you are asked to see a coin having *no* sides. "Only one" is begging the question of another, ad absurdum. "Sides" is an arbitrary interpretation of the coin's suchness. The coin, as such and in itself, is being a whole coin, and has no "sides". Phil Burton

What if "nonduality" doesn't mean any Thing? If it "meant" some Thing then that Thing would be marked by comparison and contrast -- a whim of thought. Thinking about "nonduality" is just rampant word association -- there is just no object that corresponds to the mental notion. What one speaks of here in this discussion as "nonduality" is just an approach to the essence of Being-as-such -- a verbal dance around the Silence. Today there were many thoughts about "consciousness." Then suddenly thought came up short and stopped in its tracks. "Consciousness" refers to nothing but That which refers. It is just a rather pale cipher for the totality of lived perception. Thus, one says that All is Consciousness. Even a gray, overcast day is full of living color. Phil Burton

Nondualism: "The awareness in which I find myself and of which my awareness is a part, is the awareness of that which some of us call God or Brahman." That Thou Art. Max

if you believe that you have (or are) an enduring (immortal) soul then that is duality. If this belief is not held, that is nondual. When I look for my soul, all I can finally see is the whole of existence, the totality of the perceivable. I have no way of knowing where to draw a line so as to say "This side is me, that side is not me". So nonduality is not a belief, rather it is the absence of belief. Andrew Macnab

There is not a separate parameter being aware of existence - not even a subtle projection of an imense diffused rarefied awareness. Matter gets thinner and thinner and more intelligent, but when it gets to the point of perception itself -- it vanishes. Awareness is the content, without another....and i feel this is the meaning of non-duality. Ivan

Hmmm... A definition for "nonduality"? How can you define the undefinable? I think I'll go play. Spydir K

nonduality: that which remains when dueling dualists are done dancing dueling-dualing duets. James Traverse

Adwaita can only be realised on Moksha until then it is an impractible concept in a dualistic illusion. One still has to fight life's battles and complete one's karma no matter how non-dualistic one is. If one finds the place of duality in oneself one will find adwaita. Tony O'Clery

Nonduality for me doesn´t mean to have no feelings. Just the other way around to be total alive and authentic. Joanna

People imagine that non-duality means perfect bliss, yet my experience of non-duality was a paradoxical fusion of all opposites: ecstasy/agony, joy/sorrow, existence/nonexistence, form/formlessness, abundance/desolation. . . Non-duality isn't the absence of things we don't like, but the presence of everything on all-levels and no-levels simultaneously. All One equals alone equals all-one equals alone equals all-one in a never-ending cosmic spiral-loop.El Collie

In love, there is only love, and that is the nonduality. To me, nonduality means the state of perpetual motion, like a river, of love, through the absence of love, toward love's source, till it reaches the ocean of love. And back again. A never ending cycle. Sky

I see NONDUALITY as the Absolute REality. To me NONDUALITY is Awareness not aware of Itself. As long as I am aware of being conscious, I am not Absolute REality and so am only a Dreamer dreaming all this. (Or Consciousness writing the play.) The Dreamer dreaming is in Dualitly as far as I am concerned. The highest state of awareness seems to be Consciousness aware of itself or I AM. If I were in Nonduality, I would not be writing this. Anyway, it's all speculation and everything I say is just a story...I sound like I'm serious but I have to smile at my attempt to keep my story going. Do you watch Voyager? The doctor on the ship is hologram and knows he is not "real", an image only, but behaves as if her were real and all the crew members treat him as real. I feel like the doctor.
Mary Salequi

To me, nondualism means we no longer stand at dawn to shoot each other down with archaic emotional pistols. Mark Otter

Shakti is nonduality in drag... (okay, unadorned...) Mark Otter

NONDUALITY: nothing exists completely separate or independent of anything else. Christopher Chase

Nothing need vanish for one to realize that they *are* nonduality. It is a simple act of recognition. Nonduality, as pure being absolute, exists in every moment of awareness. In the simplest *and* the most complex of human experience, the Self shines the same, without effort or attachment to whatever is going on "around" it. Nonduality isn't a "place" our minds go to, it *is* the very essence of who we are. Jody

The meditation/contemplation practice of Advaita Vedanta is a process whereby we reject anything that is not the Self. We are told over and over again that the Self, or Atman is like *nothing* we can think of. We are also told that the Self is inside us. So if we look for something inside us that is like *nothing* we can think of, we should be able to find our way back to our Self, which is really just *us* (the Self) fettered by an idea of "me". Jody

Nondualism is the point between existence and non-existence. Similar to the concept of 'zero' Modesty Blaize

Nondualism is the the grasp by consciousness that there is senior existencebeyond dichotomy. Nonduality is the outershell of Time-Space existence. Nondualism is the ALL beyond and before the particle; it is the ONE and zero contained on both sides of polarity, the UNI before all form. Vanna Bonta

The doctrine of nonduality looks down on all effort towards realization. Nonduality doctrine is the very advanced stage of the spiritual quest, a stage beyond effort. But, while one remains identified with thoughts of nonduality and has not had experential glimpses of the truth, one would be better off investigating the various forms of subtle effort which lead to stillness of mind. Roger Isaacs

The greatest myth perpetuated by religions of all stripes is that we are somehow separate from God. In truth, we are not! The myth on this list is that we are dual and must discover the truth about non-duality. Therefore we keep telling each other how to do it and what we must do or not do to realize IT. Michael Read
Funny indeed - especially when finding out that the absence of separation isn't necessarily the same as unconditional happiness. Nonduality is easy - understanding that there is no separation. The joke is that unconditional happiness cannot be understood - not even experienced. Not preaching but laughing, Jan Barendrecht

Nonduality: Much ado about nothing. Ed Arrons

Nonduality is about the evolvement of thinking without boundaries... seeing the universe in all things, coming to understand the totality of all things and the deep interrelatedness of it all. Zenbob

Imagine that you are surrounded by all the images of good and bad in you and your life. People, places, things, beliefs, emotions, experiences, memories, etc. Now imagine that you are not affected by any of this and that none of this has anything to do with who you are. This is a non-dualistic view of life. This is also Enlightenment. This is how ultimate Peace and Serenity is discovered. How you can live in the Flow all the time. This is the True nature of the Universe, the Unified Field, God.
http://www.nondualism.com (link no longer works)

That condition of 'nonduality' cannot be an object of contemplation or discussion. As soon as something is discussed, contemplated, or argued for, it becomes that which is 'dual,' a concept or an idea. There may be many aspects of 'Truth' or living which are capable of being discussed in various forums, but in and of itself that condition cannot be immediately a topic. There is nothing particularly mysterious about this fact, which has been oft noted, but rarely accepted. Petros

Nondualism is a mind that no longer needs to analyze reality into its essential components. Reality presents itself as a seamless unity. It is the movements of mind that define conflicts and differences that need to be resolved. Nondualism is not a mind of negation. It is a mind that no longer makes positive assertions, having come to realize that such assertions are the underlying creative basis of manifold existence. It is a mind that, out of its compassion for those who suffer, chooses to come to rest. John Bird

Oral nondualism seems to be "talking the talk", an easy thing for most and a sneaky little trap when we can do it eloquently. Then there is the matter of "walking the walk". However i dont think nondualism is something that we do or not do. It isnt something that we can practice. There is no such thing as nondualistic activities as opposed to dualistic activities. Nonduality is simply the context of all manifestation. There is however enlightened duality. Matthew Files

...to get a taste of what nonduality is one has to have a silent base from daily meditation practice and a desire to know some how what it means to transcend the self to be come oneself by self observation, present moment practice. Other than this if there is no transformation and living from a selfless state, all the nonduality lingo is really in vain. The planet is doomed. People will marry and divorce on more frequent basis, Nihilist mind will take over, Chaos and the most primal instinct will run rampant, after all....Hell there is nothing to gain nor lose. Why don't we just have our selves a pleasent Babylonian Orgy. A C Crowley can be the bartender too. Alan Kuntz

Non-duality, in discussion, does become a belief system....and it contains all the elements of the cultural basket in which it is carried...in our case, the threads of western modalities on individuality, personal power and self-worth, hierarchy, authority, etc. Of its nature, non-duality as a state of mind, is concerned with none of those things.....it is simply the natural state of being which does not compare, evaluate, divide, intellectualize or even understand; it simply throbs to the rhythm of the universe, resonates with, not against....as a process of exploring that state of mind we find that resonating against points us toward resonance with....there are no oppositions...only the perception of opposition. Kristi Shelloner

The nondual perspective, as I see it, and I am flawed, is: being/becoming ...seeking/finding ... knocking/opening ... each a singular idea. When one 'tires' of 'endless' seeking; one finds. When one 'tires' of 'endless' knocking; one sees the door is open. Tim Harris

Nondualism speaks of the interval between yin and yang, and is residence in the 'neither this nor not this'. The interval is not a separate reality. It is reality. Jerry Katz

Nonduality isn't about that, and it isn't about a lot of things, and it isn't about nonduality at all. Jerry Katz

Nonduality includes the notion that words can be harmful indeed, that nothing is understood, could care less about manifestations of some conceptual infinite and nonduality is perfectly fine without transcendence of any sort. Nonduality is total embrace, and embraces every new concept, in order to remain nondual. This is sometimes referred to as love as well. --Mira (Mirror)

Scientific proof of non-duality?

Simple. Look at anything, anything at all, at the subatomic level and there is no difference! Under the most powerful microscopes everything looks the same. Whether it is a piece of orange, a piece of gold, a piece of air or a piece human being. The different arrangements of the subatomic particles determines what eventually a thing will look like!

It is like concrete buildings. They may look different but they are all made of sand, cement and stones.

Isn't it the same with non-dualism? If you look deep down, where everything is 'still' there is no dualism! Everything is [looks] the same?
--Jan Seeker

Think of Nonduality
What’s that?
Let me look into my dictionary
Wait a minute
There doesn’t appear to be such a word
So I look up Duality
Twofold: Mind and Spirit
Evil and Good
That means it is wholesome
Unlike Duality
Full, Wholesome, Unitary
This Ultimate
Is what?
I do not know
For how can I know
That which I cannot
That which has brought me here
To play the game of dualism
To understand
In order to Just Be It
Or Leave It
I still do not know.
--Rashmi Moorjani

Non-duality: means not two. Is the nature of unity. In such an experience, the individual transcends personal boundaries (ego) and merge with everything beyond themself via direct connection with the greater presence of Consciousness that lies not just within the individual, but also beyond. From such, there no longer appears to be a difference or distinction between the individual (subject/observer) and the experienced universe (object/observed). Observer and the observed become one and the same. The world beyond individuality is no longer separate, it is now part of them. Reality no longer appears to be relative, separated or fragmented, but rather an undivided boundless totality is realized as the larger, all encompasing Absolute Nature. --Spencer Perdriau

Non-dualist: Someone whose ideal is to entirely merge with Brahman, losing all sense of individuality. Brahman: The supreme Godhead, beyond all distinctions or forms; ultimate Reality [from brih.: that which expands]

One zen abbot said "things become very close" when asked what nonduality looked like and he was right. Nonduality is about vanishment of the seer, the observer, it's not more difficult (or not easier) than that. Some ppl have compared it with turning inside out and having everything happen inside one instead of outside like before and in that, there isn't even a witness to speak of. --Fireceremony

...the Non-Dual paradigm is simply when the world is Known as empty in nature and therefore part and parcel of Source..... it remains no longer felt as duality that is separated into God versus Man..... Source/Creation are not two....... --Ganga Karmokar

Here are three different definitions, having to do with the nature of all things:

- there are no two things, or even one
- everything is consciousness
- there is neither any absolute existence nor any absolute non-existence
--Greg Goode

The ego, body, mind mechanism is conciousness. Yah, it's the old you are what you seek definition. It's a no frills advaita, one might say. Nothing is left out, nobody is excluded and there is nothing to do. --Michael Read

Nondualism is the end of religious and spiritual searching and all thought systems because you see they don’t lead you into peace. You dis-identify from the childish mind and go into true self which is the silent witness before conceptual thought. Enlightenment is the result of anihilating the ego mind made self and becoming the holy ghost or still small voice. It is a place of complete integrity, peace, and joy. Any act of non-integrity causes mental thought energy which tries to recreate an ego and justify your action but a nondual person will be aware and improve integrity and disregard the mind’s attempt to recreate an ego. Make no mistake; there is no other path to enlightenment. -William Talada

"Nonduality is assuming the position that there is a position to assume.
However, there are no links to this position--(as) it is a virginal assumption."

Anna Ruiz

non-duality ..............................................................................?????
when words cease to be words...........
and the soundless sound sounds so sweet .............. narinder bhandari

Non duality is all that dual folk keep failing to define.Tbone J

it strikes me, friends, that it is all a matter of
"nondual attitude". simple non-identifying reveals ALL is in
fact nondual, one and indivisible; including following this
conversation - the typing, the reading, reader, writer and
observer included...

absence of particular identity, full harmony of thought,
speech and action moment-to-moment, regardless of
circumstances, is really a manifested nonduality.


Nonduality is realization of that which is timeless, which is time, which is awareness, which is synchronicity, which is movement, which is stillness. Tim Gerchmez

As a word nonduality just means "not two," and that can refer to a lot of different types of experiences and ways of understanding. In this particular case, the one I am most interested about, most concerned about, is subject-object nonduality, the nonduality between the self and the world. David Loy

Non Duality is the direct realisation of Oneness within the appearance of duality, the direct realisation that you are everything. The realisation comes when the appearance of a separate 'you' falls away, so in a way 'you' don't come to realise non duality as you already are it anyway. Since you already are what you are looking for, there is no practice that can 'take' you to there. Any practice is simply part of the game of separation as it re-enforces the sense of a separate 'you' that has somewhere else to go. What can happen tho is the falling away of concepts and the simple seeing of 'what is' -Andina

Vimalakirti was asked, “What is non-duality (Emptiness)?” He remained silent, implying that all words distort reality. -www.thereisnogap.com

Non-dual understanding provides the visceral answer to the age-old question “Who am I?” It is the perception of our true nature, and confirms what sages have been saying for eons: Who we truly are is neither mind nor body, both of which are transient and therefore illusory. Who we are, essentially, is consciousness or awareness. -James Braha

The statement of nonduality is that Consciousness is all there is. Advaita, the Sanskrit word for nonduality, means absence of both duality and nonduality. There is neither duality nor nonduality in Consciousness, since both are nothing but concepts. This means that Consciousness cannot be objectified---rather, it is transcendent to all objectification. Consciousness includes all existence, all absence of existence, and all that transcends both existence and non-existence. -Stanley Sobottka

Nonduality is no thought in no thought and no thought in thought. -Clara Llum

Jan Barendrecht

Nonduality is an ordinary fact of everyday life for some thirty years and the way how Buddhism describes it comes very close. The car is being driven, the walk is undertaken, this reply is being written and there is nobody pondering over what exactly to write. It is so simple and ordinary that anyone writing a book about it is considered suspect of either putting existing theory into "own' words or relating to experiences like samadhis. Sahaja samadhi isn't a samadhi in the ordinary sense as one "doesn't come out of it". What's more, as this wasn't an achievement but came naturally in the course of events, instead of following scriptures and lineage, it was just a matter of comparing the various existing expressions and selecting what comes nearest. Strictly speaking, ordinary language with "I", "me", "mine" and "you" means continuous lying as the meaning of these words is lost forever. But lies is what present day society is all about; who cares :) So it is obvious there is neither negation nor affirmation, neither I nor you, neither nothingness nor fullness; neither nirvana nor samsara. Or put simply: a painting of a mango won't satisfy one's appetite and the description of the mango on the painting doesn't stimulate the appetite for those, not knowing the taste of mangos. The real question of course is, without having met a picture of a mango, how would one describe the taste of nonduality? So it comes to no surprise that everyone raised in a 'system' will affirm that system, confirming the dictum "as you meditate, so you become". The Buddha was one of the few exceptions
Strictly speaking, nondualism is knowing one's real nature. Not knowing intellectually but by "experience" (for the lack of an appropriate expression). Although the transformations could be seen as "peeling the onion", leaving one's real nature without the slightest veil, there's more to it than just peeling the onion. Somewhere I came across the dictum "fear is the main weakness of the flesh". For an a-regenerate, the fear consists of loosing the body. For a regenerate, the fear is gone but there is a reaction, the "jump" to the Immovable. When transformations are completed, the "jump" consists of closing the eyes and ceasing to breathe. This means a transformation has to take place to accommodate the body-mind so that nothing happening to it will subjectively change anything or cause pain etc..
This bypasses the entire field of siddhis, as they are a mere spin-off. From the perspective of "peeling" however, siddhis wouldn't arise but from the perspective of transformations the siddhis can even be acquired (not recommended).
From the nondual perspective there is nothing to seek and transformations will be secondary effects. From the perspective of "ego", only when seeking is forgotten one will recognize what was never lost; on gradual awakening transformations can be painful as one's focus seems to be shifting or at times seems to be absent.
Non-duality isn't experienced. All experience has a beginning and an end; one's real nature hasn't. As this real nature doesn't depend on anything, no duality is required. There doesn't have to be a one - a symbol for infinity is zero (a one bent into a circle). Another "explanation" is that one's real nature is pure consciousness which is the basis for everything, so what one observes are but its manifestations. It is the analogy that seeing the moon reflected in thousand mirrors doesn't make a thousand moons.
If the word would have been singularity (condition of being one) instead of nonduality, would you have arrived at the idea of negation? The "official" meaning of nonduality is: "the interconnectedness of everything, which is founded in the singularity of the transcendental Reality". It is quite possible to arrive at the singularity by what is called a dualistic path; the Sufi Hallaj is an example. "Negate" (neti-neti, not this, not that) is a tool of the nondual path. There is ambiguity over the meaning of a nondualist; my proposal is to call a practitioner of the nondual path a nondualist and one "arrived" at the singularity a "singularist" or a "singularian". As it is a new word, no misunderstanding is possible.
Because of the Christian tradition, duality is accepted as a "norm" and as long as one experiences or can be the witness there is no contradiction. Even a small glimpse of oneness will change this. Desire for Oneness, Truth, Love, it sinks very deeply and does its work. It is an act of Grace that there is no escape from Oneness. Yet there are dualists, acknowledging the states of Self-realization and liberation, but giving a dual interpretation (Madhva philosophy) that is also based on Vedanta. In the Patanjali sutras nondualism isn't mentioned, although one "comes out" as a nondualist. Surrender could be called practical nondualism, because the "I" is put to inactivity. It is perceived as duality because the "I" still is present and when the "I" starts to loosen its grip, this dissolving "I" will experience Love. What is important, is if and how one's daily life is influenced, either by awareness of "I AM", or by surrender etc. Does this in turn influence meditation?
I hope this clears misunderstandings about samadhis and the impression they leave on the mind. It has become very obvious that Patanjali, describing liberation as a succession of transformations, is right; after each transformation, functioning is different from the 'before'. Rightly, Patanjali avoids the entire discussion of dualism - the non-dual state is natural and unavoidable, if one's progression allows it. So there is hope for everyone.
Even to me the sky always is looking different. The hue is never the same; it depends on the position of the sun, the convection in the upper atmosphere and the time of year to name a few variables.. Compared to the end of June, the sunlight now has a red-shift because of the lower angle of incidence. If you would be an empath, you would know how sensitive your animals are and how they are responding even when the eyes don't detect it. Interpretation is always dependent on the input from the limited senses and the knowledge in the mind. So one cannot deny the existence of sentient beings and objects; nonduality could be called the journey to resolve the relation between you, the other sentient beings and the objects, for once and forever.
The dictionary says: Religion, a system of thought, feeling, and action shared by a group that gives members an object of devotion; a code of ethics governing personal and social conduct; and a frame of reference relating individuals to their group and the universe. A nondualist doesn't have an object of devotion; this would be dualism. A code of ethics and a frame of reference, yes, but it serves as a reminder to: what is a nondualist? Someone following a nondual path, someone in a permanent nondual state or someone aspiring such a state? The question isn't theoretical; one code of ethics is to forsake the first nondual state (nirvana) until all sentient beings are enlightened. Remains the frame of reference - is it Self or is it Void? If the first group is called A-voiders, the second group will be named Voiders - sounds almost like the days of old with the debates between Advaitas and Buddhists (in these modern times, why not soccer games instead of debates?). Perhaps being is common to all.
Duality: change can only be observed when something else is changing differently - one event serving as the reference for another event. The passing of time will be innerly observed (felt) when one's ever changing mind (with moods) is the reference. From duality to nonduality: transformation of sentient being into unlimited being (called God, Love, Bliss, Void - depending on one's frame of reference). *
Nonduality: A change can only be observed when something is unchanging - all events are referenced to the unchanging. The experience of time passing by will cease when the unchanging becomes the "reference".

* The transformation also implies one's insight and knowledge will steadily change - illustrated nicely by the following excerpt:
The beauty of nondual states is the absence of concepts. It is an obstacle to think some concepts have to be mastered. Get rid of concepts - they are fetters. We all know the "expected" behavior of saints and yogis. It is the Eastern concept of saintliness. Now look how some are behaving in the West - all of a sudden, they are falling prey to what we call "temptations". Are they "lesser" saints and yogis because of it? No, they just couldn't live up anymore to their cultural concepts of "saintly" behavior. Everything "swept under the carpet" will break loose when it is least expected.
Nonduality comes from a time when scientists used to "attain" a nondual state (there are many). In a nondual state, there is no "I" in the form of experiencer or observer. It is a known fact that sense perception is possible without being conscious of it; retrieval is possible under hypnosis. In a nondual state, this "unconscious recorder" is the normal mode of perception - perceiving without experiencer. This development is often thought to be a side-effect of Kundalini and starts with things like over-active senses. The "I" is only basic for self-preservation of beings below a certain level of self-consciousness. When self-consciousness exceeds this level, the species will self-destruct unless the members "destroy" self (the "I"). Strange as it may seem, Self-realization is a "built-in" necessity for survival of the species. A nondual state could be called a state of "unconditional well-being" so "world" and "other" beings are treated very differently. Unless one "attains" nirvana at an early age, it is likely one will have a partner and offspring; many Indian saints, sages and even the Buddha had. When Buddhism was flowering, nirvana (with substratum remaining) was quite normal for householders.
If the word would have been singularity (condition of being one) instead of nonduality, would you have arrived at the idea of negation? The "official" meaning of nonduality is: "the interconnectedness of everything, which is founded in the singularity of the transcendental Reality". It is quite possible to arrive at the singularity by what is called a dualistic path; the Sufi Hallaj is an example. "Negate" (neti-neti, not this, not that) is a tool of the nondual path. There is ambiguity over the meaning of a nondualist; my proposal is to call a practitioner of the nondual path a nondualist and one "arrived" at the singularity a "singularist" or a "singularian". As it is a new word, no misunderstanding is possible.

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Rik Wallace

To be frank would be dishonest as I AM. I have nothing really to say about nonduality, so perhaps I'll humbly offer some perception-altering distractions in which you are free to find "wisdom" if you find such pursuits entertaining. A page on this site credited to the name "Harsha" contained the phrase "You are already Wide Awake!" So what. I am not a Sage. I am not even ordinary. I AM means nothing to me. If you find wisdom in these words, then why are you reading them? If you want my opinion, I will NOT give it to you, as your own are causing you enough problems as it is. However I will offer advice freely as I find it confusing and would rather dispense it. But for wisdom... sorry, you are on your own. What makes 'non-duality' so special? As if there were an option...'Here' is a word of advice. I have but one mission in life and that is to finish this sentence. Now that I have completed that one, I would like to be reincarnated as the next sentence. The greatest tradeoff of living life in full awareness is missing out on what you aren't paying attention to. The greatest pity is that you don't even notice. So if I spend every moment obsessed with worries, regrets, and distractions, do I not have Buddha nature? Aleister Crowley is known for quoting, "Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law." Now I am too. 'Non-violence' is indeed the supreme principle. Your demons cannot hurt you, because there are no demons. You are free to believe as you wish, so long as it is the truth. Why would you want to be a sage, when there are so many other valid career options? The perception that sages are more ordinary than the rest of us can lead to a profound sense of confusion. Have compassion for sages - they know not what they do. I would like to be remembered as someone long forgotten. I am you in another life. In my age I frequently forget details of my past, but they soon reappear, much to my dismay. Call it karma. Forgive me - I haven't had an original memory in several seconds. I can't seem to shake my attachment to this language thing. When I went blank a moment ago, I thought "Yes!" so I'm still typing in English. Dang. So, like, I'm reading this email, right?...and I'm thinking to this person "What an idiot! You have no clue!" And then I remember I'm proofreading what I wrote myself just a minute ago. Funny that it's so easy to forget who I'm criticizing from moment to moment, and I just chalk it up to self-consciousness. I need to have more compassion for myself... we're all one afterall. Everything is connected by utter randomness. Here'a controversial thought to ponder. This just goes to show what can happen when you place consideration of others' words above your own. Who is the voice in your head. The attainment of nondual awareness has already happened many times when you weren't looking. The only way my words are relevant to your search is that you know you are reading them. Deal with it. Let's face it - nonduality is a no-brainer. It takes no effort to experience. Everyone does it all the time without noticing. Yet it's all anyone yaps about. If you doubt me, shut up, smile, and just look for yourself. "So baby, like what are you doing when you're not paying attention?" Now. That has nothing to do with nonduality. Perhaps there is nothing more to this than you like to think'. Yes, my love, it is true I do not want to hear that my words have inspired you, that they have moved you, that they have given you meaning. Mere words cannot change they way you are, and they can give you nothing that you have not already. Please forget my words, and I will do what I must, my love, to help you forget me. Forget what was said. I grant you 'this'. Are you happy? Are you really happy? Your answer is of concern. If you are still reading, be assured, from the depths of my heart that I haven't noticed. I cannot help but to care enough about you not to. Love is indeed the supreme principle. Smile.

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Rony Mishal

On the one hand non-duality implies that there is no becoming, there is no continuity to I, there is nowhere that psychological patterns can hold. This is true and valid for Now. From non-duality the current events are seen for what they are and released from their psychlogical pattern forming impact through the nature of the seeing itself. But what happens with past patterns, especially the wounding ones? There is some problem here because they cannot be seen as "non-existing thought patterns" by the one that was hurt, because he is not here anymore. So the wound and the wounded are tied up, and it seems that there is no way out. I found it very helpful to look at past wounds as non-separate from the entity that was hurt - and do nothing. Not even naming what is happening. This is sometimes very emotional, but somehow I have found myself emerging out of this a bit cleaner and lighter.

Dr. Harsh K. Luthar

Whatever can be undermined is not Self-Existent and Real. Therefore, while Oneness and Non-Duality are useful concepts, there is no point in holding on to them as substantial. To one who Knows the Self, the question of detachment is moot. If dualism is sought to be rejected as a philosophy, it only proves and reinforces dualism. In order to reject something, there must be the rejecter, the process of rejecting, and that which is rejected. So Truly Great Sages emphasize a Deep Acceptance of Divine Love and Awareness. This Acceptance leads to Stillness and Silence. When All concepts, (including that of detachment, non-duality, rejecting duality, etc.) vanish, Reality is experienced as It is in Absolute Nakedness. It is only the inner core of One's Own Being. It Is What You Already Are. This is the ancient message of the Sages. We renew this Message by knowing the Reality of the Self that We Are. Self-awareness and Satsanga facilitate Self-Recognition and Realization.

Greg Goode

There's no way *not* to live non-duality -- everyone is being lived this way all the time, even if we think we're not. This is the teaching of non-duality. Non-duality is not something that we must make true. It can't NOT be so.

Here are some slice-of-life descriptions of experience that you might call mine, say in the last week. And how the being lived has a certain sweet fragrance that isn't an experience. Skye and I once had a few wonderful slice-of-life exchanges like this, and I still remember them clearly.

Working, commuting on a crowded, hot, muggy, humid subway. Teaching computers, having to talk 8 hours a day some weeks. Friends breaking up. Girlfriend with Chicken pox. Friends living with AIDS, some smiling, some not smiling. Married couple, husband cheating on wife, telling everyone about it, she in pain. My eating too much too late, waking up with a stomach ache. Riding my bike through the city, no breaks, no gears, fixed-gear track bike, Zen-like motion connected to everything going on around. Taking dance-skating lessons, loving it but not being very good or having much time to practice. Weekly meditation meeting/satsang. Helping a friend buy new wardrobe. Attending the Budha's Birthday celebration at a local Chan temple. Talking and corresponding with many people on the phone, in e-mail, in person, about non-duality. Going to the gym. Burning special Japanese incense. Not getting enough sleep. Paying bills. Reading Western philosophers who are similar to Nagarjuna in some respects. ....

The basic fragrance is an unbroken totally sweet miraculousness. Totally unaffected by the details of what happens. Things that happen are not really things at all, and do not happen by magic, or through a mechanistic scientific causal process. But a present miraculousness. Nothing left out.

It is not all pleasant, but it is all fine, perfect is-ness, because there's no other way for IS-ness to be. Good day, Fine! Bad day, Fine! No difference, no distance. The meditation and bike riding can be seen as metaphors for how everything is, smoothly connected and not separate from anything. Things that aren't pleasant aren't in any way more or less separate than things that are pleasant - the difference is the same as the color red versus green. None of it ever seems like an "I" or "you" is doing it, it's all very direct, clear, very here and immediate, "things as it is." There's no thought that things should be this way, or that they should be some other way. No thought ever of a Greg or any other entity striving or grasping or letting go of anything. No thought that anything needs to be maintained or chased after or watched or kept. No thought that this is separate from what-is. No thought that a gap exists or must be bridged. Everything taking care of itself, in a smooth, uninterrupted flow. And the flow isn't even a flow - it is just called a flow, the word arising in the context of this writing.

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Defining Nonduality

Gene Poole

As much as I appreciate the ongoing effort to correctly define and describe the 'nondual experience', I would point out that "there is an intelligence which intends to communicate with us", which itself appears as Maya.

One may say that it is the 'projector' of Self which is beckoning us to meaning; one may say that "I am that intelligence", etc. What one may say, is said to be limited by mind and language; yet, one is taught or instructed on how to say, how to see, how to Be.

In any event, as we record our experiences, there arises evidence that our 'awakening' is arranged; that we are indeed being prompted to 'understand' and to 'know'. In my view, the 'nondual experience' is had, upon the silent admission that there is indeed 'something' which begins a dialog or conversation with us, encouraging and teaching, leading us to grapple with the issues and illusions which are in effect, classroom materials for the aspiring student.

I point to the 'Guru-function', which 'masqeuerades' as 'Maya'. The nondual experience admits the Guru. Only later, could the student 'say' that 'there is no Guru' and refer to 'Maya' as meaningless data-display, sans interpretation.

That such may be said 'later', post-experience, may lead the (new) reader to assume that there is no 'parent'. This itself may be useful, leading to seeing no 'external or separate' parent or pedagogue, and thus pointing to self as parent. Self as parent ("none-other") will eventually fade as reality, leaving only the primary relationship of student/Guru. Even the concept of separation will fade, far beyond questions of 'separate/non-separate'. What I cannot deny is the leading, teaching, encouraging of 'not-me', that which is 'greater' and which is teaching me. I stand comfortably 'next to' that which I speak of; I am safe there; the only 'danger' comes from any tendency to identify as 'that'.

Parent/Guru/Pedagogue/Psychopomp/Hierophant does indeed act and influence. The inexpressability-factor comes into play here, and it is partly ego which is responsible for the difficulty of expression of this always-present but 'hidden in plain sight' 'Guide-On' intelligence. Ego would rather have 'inexpressibility' than to have to admit that there is 'something greater' at work and at large.

The pure and pristine and dispassionate expressions of the summarized or 'boiled-down' description of the 'nondual experience', is lacking the clue which is provided by the (very) _existence_ of the actual living human 'guru'. The human Guru exists as the clue to the reality of the Greater; even though the Guru says so, the student takes it for metaphor. The Guru's function is to teach us how to talk, and it does so by speaking in the way of the Guru.

Thus, to say 'inexpressible' is to bypass the final lesson, and thus skip the final test, leaving the entire issue to be a nebulae of speculation and thus contention. There is indeed a Master Voice which is teaching us how to talk; there is no problem, as long as one does not conclude and move on, thus creating an improper and unstable foundation for further movement. It is all process, with only the Guru-student relationship as the sole stable factor, the one that never goes away.

The Guru who is invisible, unheard, still exists, beyond denial, teaching us how to talk. To be able to talk without conclusion is the art of the 'true pedagogue', the one who beckons. Moving in that direction begins our allowance that the Guru may be seen and heard.

Dan Berkow

Fully nondual awareness isn't against anything. This is what Blake suggests when he advises to look directly at this instant as it is, these particulars. Intellect can be contrasted with emotion, experience with nonexperience. "Nondual Reality" is beyond any of these categories. It's nonexperience and nonbeing as much as experience and being - thus, unspeakable. It's not nonconceptual apart from conceptualization, nor nonconstructed reality apart from constructions. Beyond cognition, yet cognizing; beyond constructs, yet contructing! This is *its* nature - and certainly *it* is no-it, and thus it "has" no nature -- it's nature is no-nature!!

To say there is an intellectual grasp of it is silly, because the intellect cannot function in an intellectual way regarding nonduality. The intellect can recognize its limitations and focus on its "realm," allowing what is beyond itself to "be". In other words, the intellect can realize itself as constructed by something beyond itself and unknowable, used by That which it cannot use, know, or articulate.

Releasing conceptual identifications

I'm not an expert.
Because I'm not an
expert, there is no
knowledge I need to
Free from knowledge,
Being reveals itself
as such.

Advaita, "non-twoness"
the non-split,
non-dichotomous nature
of actual reality
is not a point of view.

Any point of view is opposed
by a differing point of view.

So advaita isn't a point of view.

To make "not-two" into a point of
view that can be accepted as
a conceptual arrangment that is
plausible would be to take
advaita for what it is not.

Thus, It isn't plausible or not plausible.

It isn't a conceptual arrangement of
facts and insights.

"Not this, not that" ...
it is by releasing onself
from anchoring concepts
with which one identifies
that one comes to the
nonconceptualizable Truth
that is "not-two".

Moller de le Rouviere

Based on my own experience allow me the following.

Non-duality is not created and sustained by thought. It may include thought when thought is present, but is based as an unfathomable, centreless sense of being, inherently not interested in objectifying itself as verbal definition and description. Not having its source in thought, no amount of thinking can reveal the truth of the non-fragmented disposition we refer to as non-duality.

We can say then that any thought we may believe we hold 'about' non-duality is of necessity an illusion. Such a thought is created and sustained by thought itself, which we have seen to be not the thing itself.

So whether we think about non-duality or not, or whether we believe that our thinking about non-duality has any reference whatsoever with the actual living reality of centreless being, is totally besides the point. It stands 'besides the point' as something categorically different to the genuine article. Thought is about, and 'about' is not the living reality of the thing itself.

This realisation, and by realisation I do not mean any form of mental clarity, intellectual argument, thought-created certainty, but rather the revelation as living reality, is not generally our disposition when we start out on the path of self-enquiry. We start out as thought constructs called 'I', conditioning, psychological problems and complexities, unresolved emotional issues, fear and so on. In other words we start out as seekers for freedom from our perceived problems. If we were all happy, fulfilled human be-ings, would we feel the need to enter into this absurdity called the spiritual path? We won't, because the path itself is a measure of our unhappiness and insanity. The free, sane person has no need for such absurdities as sitting quietly for hours practicing meditation, counting his breath, trying to become quiet, relax out of contracted states of emotion and thought, or try to appear clever by writing about all the highest truths obtained from books and scriptures.

So it is perfectly clear to me, and this much my practice has revealed to me, that despite all the very clever arguments my thinking could conjure up over the years relating to concepts of wholeness and the obvious non-dual quality of experience and so on, behind even these most clear and insightful thoughts, lurked the separate one. All these thoughts appeared to 'me'. So although profoundly clear about all the arguments presented by my own enquiry and intellectual endeavour (including deep insights during profoundly quiet times of meditative practice) about the non-dual 'nature' of myself, and everything else, over time it became clear to me that I was still separate and unwhole. The most reasonable deduction that could be made from this was that perhaps I was using the wrong instrument to reveal the wholeness to me.

It became clear to me that thought can ask questions it simply cannot answer. Also it can make statements about things it has absolutely no ability to get 'in touch' with. Or to become one with. My thoughts about non-duality were as empty as the religious mind's thoughts about metaphysical projections. It became clear then that although I could reasonably pin down a great many (if not all) of my problems to thought, thought itself had no ability to bring the answers which would be living reality rather than just another opposite thought pojected to counter the presumed 'cause' of the original problem.

This was a watershed realisation in my own practice. When it became clear that thought cannot answer the problems of'I' consciousness, and other such disturbances in the field of consciousness it has created. Any attempt by thought to bring freedom from these many disturbing aspects of being, was now seen as more of the same thing. Thought cannot wash away thought. It can only try to suppress it with some presumed 'higher thought', or counter a fondly held argument with some more refined argument. But in either case thought is still the active principle, and cannot relieve itself of itself by itself. And as it is with this thought with which we are so profoundly identified, no freedom is possible within thought.

But this is a profound insight. It has to reveal itself through meticulous introspection. So that it does not just become again the truth of another being taken by thought and projected as a liberating principle or delusiory opposite. In this way,( Dan), the wheel has to be re-invented each one for h/herself. There are as many paths as there are practitioners or enquirers. But what has to be revealed as a fundamental interim truth and reality by such enquiry, is that thought is not the thing. The talk about non-duality, the thinking about non-duality is false. Not because the thinking process itself is false, but because thought can only project its own version (mental creation) of these matters. And it becomes a double lie if we propagate these illusiory, conceptually created, projections as having anything whatsoever to do with the living reality of the non-fragmented being. This is what I have once described in a post on HarshaSatsangh as the Advaitist's dream.

And because very few know the way from here, partially because the latter-day Advaitist guru's proclaim that the thought IS the thing, and so the idea ABOUT the non-dual state IS the thing itself, and so we are ALREADY 'THERE' so no work needs to be done, the enquiry has become stultified and this stultification has taken on the epidemic proportions so-called Western Advaita is suffering, unknowingly, from. This dream has now become reality. And this dream is being repeated, and has now become 'conventional wisdom' or ' perfectly obvious' to all.

It is only obvious as a thought. Nothing else. Not unlike the existence of god being obvious to the religious mentality. There is absolutely nothing obvious about non-duality or non-doing. It is just thought presenting clever arguments to itself, and then believes its own arguments to be the thing itself, or ralating to the thing itself.

Ignorance is nothing other than thought mistaking its own creations for reality. It is what keeps the dream of subjectivity alive. Because despite all the procrastinations form all the pseudo-advaitists on these lists, theytill suffer the very same thing they are pretending to one another to have left behind somewhere in the dungeons of their own minds. Nothing has been left behind. The 'I' is still there, with each and every futile explanation towards this conceptually created madness called non-dualism. It is the very essense of dualism.

Once this problem of the monkey chasing its own tail has been seen as the very principle of delusion, we may start to enquire whether there may be something that could be done, which does not perpetuate the very thing we are trying to get away from. Before that, any proposition that there is no-where to go, nothing to do, no-doer from the start, and so on, is always, already part of the fragmented being's desparate attempt at pretending it is not real, and does not exist. But both its pretence and its existence remain in tact as its existence. Mind on mind. Concept on concept. Delusion on delusion.

The dream continues unabated. And with it, human suffering.

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Tim Gerchmez

Nonduality is a perspective on the nature of reality (reality being anything that you would consider real or that exists), nothing more and nothing less. It can be viewed from a spiritual angle, from a scientific angle (I would venture to say many quantum physicists would agree with the nondual perspective), or any other angle you can think of.

Nonduality says that at the core of all existence, everything and everybody is one, a single homogenous entity. In other words, if you "boil down" everything that exists, both perceived and unperceived (and as we all know, our senses are limited), the result would be one single thing. From that single thing, all multiplicity is derived. Without that thing (whatever it may be), nothing whatsoever would or could exist.

It's substantially more difficult to define what that "thing" or that homogenous entity is, what it consists of. Everyone seems to have a slightly different idea about it. The fact is, the single homogenous nondual entity cannot be comprehended by the mind at all. Since that entity is the *primal cause* of everything else, it cannot normally be seen directly. However, since the nondual perspective also holds that in truth there is nothing but that entity (and all differentiation is actually that entity filtered through the mind and the senses), it can be said that all the different things we see around us are actually that entity itself. In other words, since there is really no differentiation or variation at the most primal level, everything that we see as differentiated is really that single entity itself, *in that entity's totality*.

This is a hard concept to grasp, and one that gives a newcomer to the nondual perspective no easy time. How can each different person or thing we see around us be that absolute, single entity *in its entirety*? Well, think of it this way: Since nothing really exists but that one homogenous entity, we must be under some sort of delusion when we see subjects and objects, when we see differentiation. A newcomer to nonduality will invariably find this idea dangerous and threatening, but think about what science tells us: Touch a hard surface, and what you're touching is really mostly empty space. On a smaller scale, the space between individual atoms is greater than the distance from the Earth to the Sun. In other words, everything is composed mostly of empty space, and when we touch a hard surface and find it solid, that perception is simply a delusion created by the senses. And so it is with the delusion of differentiation.

Another way to look at it is this: Think of how we endlessly create and un-create differentiation on a psychological level. For example, what you call a "computer" is actually a complex mix of parts; a case, a motherboard, a power supply, etc. Each of these parts is further subdivided into electrical components, and so on, until we see that a "computer" is actually a big lump of molecules that can be further subdivided into atoms, quarks, and so on. Nonduality applies this kind of thinking to reality itself, stating that at the base of everything, there is a "Ground of Being" or substratum, and that everything is actually "made of" this substratum. A jar is an arbitrary term for a piece of glass, and so also a jar or a person or an automobile is an arbitrary term for the primal homogenous entity. Everything is interconnected at the deepest level, is really one thing at the most basic level.

Differentiation is like waves on the surface of the ocean. Couldn't you say that each wave is really the ocean itself, not "part of" the ocean? You can't separate a wave from the ocean. It *is* the ocean. If all waves on the ocean subside, only the ocean remains. So it is with differentiation, which arises like waves on the "surface" of the primal homogenous entity.

In addition to everything being "composed of" homogenous reality, our perception of variation serves to hide the knowledge or perception or experience of that homogenous reality. Our perception of variation is a "veil" or "covering" or "overlay" that hides the perception of the real homogenous entity that underlies everything. The only way to know or realize the reality of the single primal entity is to know that we're deluded. Knowing is not enough, however; somehow the delusion has to be seen for what it is, or even eliminated entirely. If we see a fallen tree lying on the ground and believe it's a dead body, we'd likely run away or call the police. But if the tree is seen for what it is, the "dead body" idea will instantly vanish. So if we could for one moment perceive the primal homogenous entity directly, our delusion of differentiation would vanish and we would see reality for what it really is.

Can it be done? Can we rid ourselves of this delusion of subject and objects? Many say that it's possible. Note that even the ideas of time and space and causation (action-reaction) arise from our delusion of differentiation; if there really is only one Thing, one timeless, eternal, primal Fact, then that's ALL there is. There cannot be more than one.

So how do we get rid of the delusion of the mind and the senses, and see reality for what it is? Well, that's a topic for another article, but there are many religions and philosophical systems that offer ways and means to do this (these methods are sometimes called "yogas," sometimes "paths," sometimes something else). Some of these systems of thought say that "enlightenment" or "realization" happens when the delusion of differentiation disappears.

The only way to find out if the nondual perspective is true is to explore it yourself. Most nondual systems of thought strongly emphasize *experience* over book learning. They say "If you want to know if something is true or not, apply it to your life in this way, and see if you perceive truth here." However, at the beginning, it can be very helpful to do some reading within the different nondual systems and schools of thought (it should be noted here that nonduality is not *confined* to various systems or schools of thought (it stands alone as a perspective), but often appears in those contexts).

A few of the various contexts of nonduality:
* Science (mainly quantum physics)
* Religions (Buddhism, Vedanta, many others)
* Individuals (belief systems and experiences)
* National Traditions (Tibet, India, etc)
* Websites/Internet (a potpourri of different views)
--October 31, 1999

For those who may have read my other definitions, it's amazing how wordy they are, how full of concepts gleaned from other sources like books, list members, gurus, upanishads, scriptures, web sites, etc., ad nauseum. I look at these earlier definitions and think "Who the hell was that masked man?!?" :-)

Amazing how words become ancient museum pieces, moments after they are written. Really, they are old even as they are spoken or written. A week later they're like looking at dried mummies in a museum.

-Definition 1-

Nonduality is a "state" in which neither duality nor nonduality is perceived!

-alternate 2-

Nonduality is just This, Here and Now.


There is no such thing as duality or nonduality. That is nonduality.

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Jonathan Shearman

"Non-duality isn't experienced. All experience has a beginning and an end; one's real nature hasn't. "

This is from one of the definitions on your page and its very close to the mark.

Hence the 'nothing special' teaching of Shunryu Suzuki. If one is hanging out for an experience, one is looking in the wrong place!

If you're committed to a life of meditation, you are constantly called to pay attention to what is here and now - the actual, not it's imaginary ramifications.

The human condition being what it is, this is very difficult for us. So we have to learn to give our undivided attention. There's your 'non-dual'!

'Non-dual' is from 'a' - 'not' and 'dvai' - dual or divided. Not-divided. Undivided. Hence when there is thought about 'me' and 'mine' , then naturally your attention is divided - between what 'I' want, and 'the rest'.

Very simple. But it takes a life of utmost commitment and dedication to realise it, to live from that simplicity. It takes a religious dedication, even if one foregoes the trappings. There is no pay-off for this. It doesn't, Anthony Robbins nothwithstanding, make sure all your bills get paid

Al-Maqtul Bey

Reflections on Non-dualism

Just to get it out of the way, I'll start us off with the most elementary and generally agreed-upon definition of non-dualism. Also called monism, the non-dualistic perspective (I won't call it a belief or a religion, since it is principally a way that reality reveals itself to a perceiver) is the understanding that ultimate reality is continuous and singular, "all-one", and that we humans, as well as all of nature and the material world are continuous with each other as well as all things unseen. On that premise, it is felt that consciousness is continuous as well, and that the personal consciousness can be expanded into a complete identification with the ONE. From this point on is where we see the many divergent interpretations of non-dualism. Some people think that therefore one should make pooja here, take refuge there, dress in robes, burn incense and chant things. Non-dualism devolves into conceptual word games. Bound to language as we are, it is difficult to avoid these word games. When one goes to teachers, zendos, ashrams, retreats, etcetera, the game-playing is taken to greater heights. People judge the awakened-ness of each other by how well they are costumed, how well they've mastered the walk, talk, and poses of their particular game. I'm sure it's very distracting to constantly keep track of who's getting more favor from the teachers, who's ahead in the race for enlightenment, and who's not playing by the rules. I hope you recognize that these religion games will not quench your thirst for enlightened consciousness. It seems that those things ration out light in very small quantities, just sufficient to keep you wanting more. Why do people do it? Some teachers attained to some profound height or other, and decided to capitalize on it. So many eager people are looking for the express bus to attainment that these teachers can hang out a shingle, turn on the charm, and they will come. This is not the path to non-dualism. Where's the path then? There is no path. It is "pathless" as J. Krishnamurti said. No teachers are needed, for it is already there. How many seekers expressed regret for the time spent chasing gurus when they realized that what they sought had always been right in front of them. Not even hidden. Well, maybe hidden by those over-wrought flights of fancy that one projects onto the world. It is when you give up the search that all the words and fantasies fall away, and the truth can finally wash the senses clear.

Ayya Khema


Truth occupies a very important position in the Buddha's teaching. The Four Noble Truths are the hub of the wheel of the Dhamma. Truth (sacca) is one of the ten perfections to be cultivated in order to purify oneself.

Truth can have different aspects. If we want to find an end to suffering, we have to find truth at its deepest level. The moral precepts which include "not lying" are a basic training without which one can't lead a spiritual life.

To get to the bottom of truth, one has to get to the bottom of oneself, and that is not an easy thing to do, aggravated by the problem of not loving oneself. It naturally follows that if one wants to learn to love oneself, there must be hate present, and we are caught in the world of duality.

While we are floating around in the world of duality, we can't get to the bottom of truth, because we are suspended in a wave motion going back and forth. There is an interesting admonition in the Sutta Nipata, mentioning that one should not have associates, which prevents attachments. This would result in neither love nor hate, so that only equanimity remains, even-mindedness towards all that exists. With equanimity one is no longer suspended between good and bad, love and hate, friend and enemy, but has been able to let go, to get to the bottom where truth can be found.

If we want to find the basic, underlying truth of all existence, we must practice "letting go." This includes our weakest and our strongest attachments, many of which aren't even recognized as clinging.

To return to the simile of the truth to be found at the bottom, we can see that if we are clinging to anything, we can't get down to it. We're attached to the things, people, ideas and views, which we consider ours and believe to be right and useful. These attachments will keep us from getting in touch with absolute truth.

Our reactions, the likes and dislikes, hold us in suspense. While it is more pleasant to like something or someone, yet both are due to attachments. This difficulty is closely associated with distraction in meditation. Just as we are attached to the food that we get for the body, we are equally attached to food for the mind, so the thoughts go here and there, picking up tidbits. As we do that, we are again held in suspense, moving from thought to breath and back again, being in the world of duality. When our mind acts in this way, it cannot get to rock bottom.

Depth of understanding enables release from suffering. When one goes deeper and deeper into oneself, one finds no core, and learns to let go of attachments. Whether we find anything within us which is pure, desirable, commendable or whether it's impure and unpleasant, makes no difference. All mental states owned and cherished keep us in duality, where we are hanging in mid-air, feeling very insecure. They cannot bring an end to suffering. One moment all might be well in our world and we love everyone, but five minutes later we might react with hate and rejection.

We might be able to agree with the Buddha's words or regard them as a plausible explanation, but without the certainty of personal experience, this is of limited assistance to us. In order to have direct knowledge, it's as if we were a weight and must not be tied to anything, so that we can sink down to the bottom of all the obstructions, to see the truth shining through. The tool for that is a powerful mind, a weighty mind. As long as the mind is interested in petty concerns, it doesn't have the weightiness that can bring it to the depth of understanding.

For most of us, our mind is not in the heavy-weight class, but more akin to bantam weight. The punch of a heavy-weight really accomplishes something, that of a bantam weight is not too meaningful. The light-weight mind is attached here and there to people and their opinions, to one's own opinions, to the whole duality of pure and impure, right and wrong.

Why do we take it so personal, when it's truly universal? That seems to be the biggest difference between living at ease and being able to let the mind delve into the deepest layer of truth, or living at loggerheads with oneself and others. Neither hate nor greed are a personal manifestation, nobody has a singular claim on them, they belong to humanity. We can learn to let go of that personalized idea about our mind states, which would rid us of a serious impediment. Greed, hate and impurities exist, by the same token non-greed and non-hate also exist. Can we own the whole lot? Or do we own them in succession or five minutes at a time for each? Why own any of them, they just exist and seeing that, it becomes possible to let oneself sink into the depth of the Buddha's vision.

The deepest truth that the Buddha taught was that there is no individual person. This has to be accepted and experienced at a feeling level. As long as one hasn't let go of owning body and mind, one cannot accept that one isn't really this person. This is a gradual process. In meditation one learns to let go of ideas and stories and attend to the meditation subject. If we don't let go, we cannot sink into the meditation. The mind has to be a heavy-weight for that too.

We can compare the ordinary mind to bobbing around on the waves of thoughts and feelings. The same happens in meditation, therefore we need to prepare ourselves for becoming concentrated. We can look at all mind states arising during the day and learn to let go of them. The ease and buoyancy which arises from this process is due to being unattached. If we don't practice throughout the day, our meditation suffers because we have not come to the meditation cushion in a suitable frame of mind. If one has been letting go all day, the mind is ready and can now let go in meditation too. Then it can experience its own happiness and purity.

Sometimes people think of the teaching as a sort of therapy, which it undoubtedly is, but that's not its ultimate aim, only one of its secondary aspects. The Buddha's teaching takes us to the end of suffering, once and for all, not just momentarily when things go wrong.

Having had an experience of letting go, even just once, proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that it means getting rid of a great burden. Carrying one's hate and greed around is a heavy load, which, when abandoned, gets us out of the duality of judgment. It's pleasant to be without thinking; mental formations are troublesome.

If we succeed even once or twice during a day to let go of our reactions, we have taken a great step and can more easily do it again. We have realized that a feeling which has arisen can be stopped, it need not be carried around all day. The relief from this will be the proof that a great inner discovery has been made and that the simplicity of non-duality shows us the way towards truth.

ADVAITA: Introduction

from What Is Enlightenment magazine:(link removed; no longer functioning)

ADVAITA PHILOSOPHY, OR VEDANTIC NONDUALISM, has become, along with Buddhism, one of the most popular spiritual paths being pursued by those interested in enlightenment today. During the past three decades, Advaita has become more widely recognized in the West through the ever growing popularity of Ramana Maharshi, considered by many to be modern India’s greatest spiritual giant.

We, like many Western spiritual practitioners, also first came into contact with Advaita philosophy, the Hindu philosophy of nonduality (oneness, or more precisely not-two-ness), through the teachings of the great Ramana Maharshi. Endeavoring to acquire a deeper understanding of the background and philosophical context of this profound and ever more influential teaching, we looked back to its source, to the man who is widely recognized as its founder, the eighth century religious philosopher and master teacher Shankara. Advaita Vedanta is considered the crown jewel of Indian philosophy, and Shankara’s powerful influence can be felt throughout most modern schools of Indian thought. Originally we had believed that he was the legendary figure that he is often described to be in the traditional literature: the enlightened genius maverick who not only defeated the dominance of Buddhist philosophy and any and all other opposing religious views in medie val India, but also single-handedly reestablished the glory and reign of traditional Vedantic doctrine. But as we probed beneath the popular interpretation of Shankara’s life, we found out that much of what has been proclaimed about him is the stuff that myths are made of—and, in fact, knowledge of the actual circumstances of his life is extremely sketchy at best, to the point that even his reported date of birth varies by a hundred years. What we do know is that Shankara was a master philosopher-sage who put great emphasis on a rigorous interpretation of Vedantic scripture strictly in accord with the doctrine of advaita, or nonduality. In traditional Advaita philosophy (which can be simply defined as the Upanishadic declaration, Thou Art That Immortal Self Absolute!), spiritual knowledge was sought not through yogic experience as much as it was through the systematic practice of discriminating the Real from the unreal, supported by the study of the scriptures.

Noted scholar Georg Feuerstein summarizes the advaita realization as follows: "The manifold universe is, in truth, a Single Reality. There is only one Great Being, which the sages call Brahman, in which all the countless forms of existence reside. That Great Being is utter Consciousness, and It is the very Essence, or Self (Atman) of all beings." The special glory and liberating power of these extraordinary teachings of nonduality (known to be the most direct path to enlightenment) is not only their potential to enlighten the seeker in the present lifetime, but even more, their potential to liberate the ripe individual instantaneously from the bondage of conditioned existence. There have been impressive living demonstrations of this profound attainment in recent times, in the example of the saint and sage Ramana Maharshi; the remarkable cigarette-smoking jnani [Self-realized individual] from Bombay, Nisargadatta Maharaj; the recently deceased renegade master and "lion of Lucknow," H.W.L. Poonja; and the unassuming Ajja, who resides effortlessly in an intensely blissful, unbroken awareness of the Self, introduced to the Western world for the first time in this issue of What Is Enlightenment?

[I am] the nature of Pure Consciousness. I am always the same to beings, one alone; [I am] the highest Brahman, which, like the sky, is all-pervading, imperishable, auspicious, uninterrupted, undivided and devoid of action. I do not belong to anything since I am free from attachment. [I am] the highest Brahman . . . ever-shining, unborn, one alone, imperishable, stainless, all-pervading, and nondual—That am I, and I am forever released.

—Shankara, The Upadesasahasri

While Advaita's profound inspiration and power to liberate is undeniable, its worldview has not been without its critics. Even though "modern" Advaita seems to emphasize the indivisible nature of the world and Brahman, or the Self Absolute, Advaita philosophy has traditionally expressed, as noted religious scholar Lance Nelson points out, a "deep metaphysical bias against the world. . . . In the end, the Advaita tradition fails to present a true nondualism of world and Absolute. . . . It is rather an acosmic monism. It achieves its nonduality not inclusively, but exclusively. Empirical reality is admitted in a provisional way, but in the end it is cast out of the Absolute, out of existence. From the highest perspective, the world is simply not there [emphases ours]." Once again, even though modern proponents of Advaita do not appear to exclude the world in their vision of nonduality, in the classical view, the world is clearly recognized as being either completely unreal, or only partially real. And this is what Advaita has been historically criticized for. Precisely because of its emphasis on the ultimate unreality and illusory nature of the world and embodied existence, any teaching of how to live in the world is entirely absent. More specifically, the nondual teaching does not in any way address the ethical or moral dimension of human life. And even though modern Advaita does not seem to exclude the world in its nondual view, it still is devoid of any teaching that addresses the realities of human life.

Interestingly enough, it appears that historically Advaita did not address ethical or moral questions because, according to Nelson, the highest nondual teachings were "never intended to be a philosophy for the general public." In fact, he states that they were "formulated by and for a narrow spiritual elite of male brahmins [members of the highest, priestly class], primarily sannyasins [renunciates], who alone were believed qualified to fully appropriate its import." This practically would have meant that the individual to whom the absolute teachings were revealed would have already fulfilled the demanding moral and ethical qualifications for discipleship. And even more than that, Shankara himself states that the qualifications for discipleship also demanded an extraordinary degree of detachment from and transcendence of worldly desires:

The pupil must be dispassionate toward all things noneternal. . . . [Having] abandoned the desire for sons, wealth and worlds, endowed with self-control [and] compassion, he is a brahmin who is internally and externally pure, whose thought is calm, who has reached tranquility. . . . [Thus] let him go to a spiritual teacher who is learned in the scriptures and established in Brahman.
—The Upadesasahasri

The unusual phenomenon occurring in the postmodern spiritual marketplace is that now, as never before in history, what were once considered the highest esoteric teachings, revealed only to those who were prepared and had proven themselves worthy of their unimaginable depth and subtlety, are available to anyone who wanders into a spiritual bookstore. An important question seems to be: Are most seekers genuinely prepared for the psychological upheaval and world-shattering shift of perception that penetration into the Absolute unleashes? Advaita’s emphasis on the illusory nature of embodied existence has the potential to give license to human weakness and self-indulgence if the individual is not already firmly grounded in a fundamentally wholesome relationship to life. The unwholesome tendencies characterized by narcissistic, neurotic and deeply cynical convictions so common today create a dangerously weak foundation for a nondual perspective that transcends all pairs of opposites, including right and wrong. While Advaita’s great strength is its singular, unwavering emphasis on the Absolute dimension of existence, its weakness is revealed in the limited scope of its singularity. And while any truly absolute view must, by definition, transcend all distinctions, the inherent potential of Advaita or non dualism to inspire a worldview that is perilously empty of any value whatsoever is enormous. Indeed, the potential for escape, rather than genuine transcendence, is great in such an absolute teaching. For to be embraced, absorbed and utterly consumed by the Absolute is one thing—but to escape from the inherent complex ity of life in order to avoid the overwhelming demand that true surrender requires is another thing altogether.

© Moksha Foundation 1998

The following exchange comes from Ken Wilber's book A Brief History of Everything. This excerpt is the entire contents of Chapter 13 from the book, and a conversation that I thought was so succinct in explaining and describing the nature of the causal and non-dual conditions and processes that I thought I would include it as part of my web page. Now I don't really have permission from Ken to do this, so if you like what you read here, please go out and and buy the book! --Phil Servedio

A Brief History of Everything, by Ken Wilber

Realms of the Superconscious: Part 2

Q: You said that with the archetypes, you are looking into the Face of the Divine, the first Forms of the Divine. Most modern researchers reject all of that as "mere metaphysics" at best, none of which can be verified.

KW: First, you yourself must perform this experiment and look at the data yourself. Then you can help interpret it. If you don't perform the experiment--the meditative injunction, the exemplar, the paradigm--then you don't have the data from which to make an interpretation.

If you take somebody from the magic or mythic worldview, and you try to explain to them that the sum of the squares of a right triangle is equal to the sum of the squares of the hypotenuse, you won't get very far. What you are doing cannot be seen in the empirical world. It doesn't have simple location. And yet you are correct. You are performing an experiment in interior awareness, and your mathematical results can be cheeked by all those who perform the same interior experiment. It's very public, very reproducible, very fallibilist, very communal knowledge: its results exist in the rational worldspace and can be readily checked in that space by all who learn the experiment.

Just so with any of the other interior experiments in awareness, of which meditation is one of the oldest, most tested, and most reproduced. So if you're skeptical, that's a healthy attitude, and we invite you to find out for yourself, and perform this interior experiment with us, and get the data, and help us interpret it. But if you won't perform the experiment, please don't ridicule those who do. And by far the most common interpretation of those who have seen this data is: you are face to face with the Divine.

Fulcrum-9: The Causal

Q: You mentioned that these subtle or archetypal Forms issue directly from Emptiness, from the causal, which is the next stage, fulcrum-9.

KW: When, as a specific type of meditation, you pursue the observing Self, the Witness, to its very source in pure Emptiness, then no objects arise in consciousness at all. This is a discrete, identifiable state of awareness--namely, unmanifest absorption or cessation, variously known as nirvikalpa samadhi, jnana samadhi, ayin, vergezzen, nirodh, classical nirvana.

This is the causal state, a discrete state, which is often likened to the state of deep dreamless sleep, except that this state is not a mere blank but rather an utter fullness, and it is experienced as such--as infinitely drenched in the fullness of Being, so full that no manifestation can even begin to contain it. Because it can never be seen as an object, this pure Self is pure Emptiness.

Q: That's all very abstract. Could you be more concrete about this?

KW: You are aware of yourself in this moment, yes?

Q: I think so.

KW: So if I say, Who are you?, you will start to describe yourself--you are a father, a mother, a husband, a wife, a friend; you are a lawyer, a clerk, a teacher, a manager. You have these likes and dislikes, you prefer this type of food, you tend to have these impulses and desires, and so on.

Q: Yes, I would list all the things that I know about myself.

KW: You would list the "things you know about yourself."

Q: Yes.

KW: All of those things you know about yourself are objects in your awareness. They are images or ideas or concepts or desires or feelings that parade by in front of your awareness, yes? They are all objects in your awareness.

Q: Yes.

KW: All those objects in your awareness are precisely not the observing Self. All those things that you know about yourself are precisely not the real Self. Those are not the Seer; those are simply things that can be seen. All of those objects that you describe when you "describe yourself" are actually not your real Self at all! They are just more objects, whether internal or external, they are not the real Seer of those objects, they are not the real Self. So when you describe your- self by listing all of those objects, you are ultimately giving a list of mistaken identities, a list of lies, a list of precisely what you ultimately are not.

So who is this real Seer? Who or what is this observing Self?

Ramana Maharshi called this Witness the I-I, because it is aware of the individual I or self, but cannot itself be seen. So what is this I-I, this causal Witness, this pure observing Self?

This deeply inward Self is witnessing the world out there, and it is witnessing all your interior thoughts as well. This Seer sees the ego, and sees the body, and sees the natural world. All of those parade by "in front" of this Seer. But the Seer itself cannot be seen. If you see anything, those are just more objects. Those objects are precisely what the Seer is not, what the Witness is not.

So you pursue this inquiry, Who am I? Who or what is this Seer that cannot itself be seen? You simply "push back" into your awareness, and you dis-identify with any and every object you see or can see.

The Self or the Seer or the Witness is not any particular thought--I can see that thought as an object. The Seer is not any particular sensation--I am aware of that as an object. The observing Self is not the body, it is not the mind, it is not the ego--I can see all of those as objects. What is looking at all those objects? What in you right now is looking at all these objects--looking at nature and its sights, look- ing at the body and its sensations, looking at the mind and its thoughts? What is looking at all that?

Try to feel yourself right now--get a good sense of being yourself-- and notice, that self is just another object in awareness. It isn't even a real subject, a real self, it's just another object in awareness. This little self and its thoughts parade by in front of you just like the clouds float by through the sky. And what is the real you that is witnessing all of that? Witnessing your little objective self? Who or what is that?

As you push back into this pure Subjectivity, this pure Seer, you won't see it as an object--you can't see it as an object, because it's not an object! It is nothing you can see. Rather, as you calmly rest in this observing awareness--watching mind and body and nature float by--you might begin to notice that what you are actually feeling is simply a sense of freedom, a sense of release, a sense of not being bound to any of the objects you are calmly witnessing. You don't see anything, you simply rest in this vast freedom.

In front of you the clouds parade by, your thoughts parade by, bodily sensations parade by, and you are none of them. You are the vast expanse of freedom through which all these objects come and go. You are an opening, a clearing, an Emptiness, a vast spaciousness, in which all these objects come and go. Clouds come and go, sensations come and go, thoughts come and go--and you are none of them; you are that vast sense of freedom, that vast Emptiness, that vast opening, through which manifestation arises, stays a bit, and goes.

So you simply start to notice that the "Seer" in you that is witnessing all these objects is itself just a vast Emptiness. It is not a thing, not an object, not anything you can see or grab hold of. It is rather a sense of vast Freedom, because it is not itself anything that enters the objective world of time and objects and stress and strain. This pure Witness is a pure Emptiness in which all these individual subjects and objects arise, stay a bit, and pass.

So this pure Witness is not anything that can be seen! The attempt to see the Witness or know it as an object--that's just more grasping and seeking and clinging in time. The Witness isn't out there in the stream; it is the vast expanse of Freedom in which the stream arises. So you can't get hold of it and say, Aha, I see it! Rather, it is the Seer, not anything that can be seen. As you rest in this Witnessing, all that you sense is just a vast Emptiness, a vast Freedom, a vast Expanse--a transparent opening or clearing in which all these little subjects and objects arise. Those subjects and objects can definitely be seen, but the Witness of them cannot be seen. The Witness of them is an utter release from them, an utter Freedom not caught in their turmoils, their desires, their fears, their hopes.

Of course, we tend to identify ourselves with these little individual subjects and objects--and that is exactly the problem! We identify the Seer with puny little things that can be seen. And that is the beginning of bondage and unfreedom. We are actually this vast expanse of Freedom, but we identify with unfree and limited objects and subjects, all of which can be seen, all of which suffer, and none of which is what we are.

Patanjali gave the classic description of bondage as "the identification of the Seer with the instruments of seeing"--with the little subjects and objects, instead of the opening or clearing or Emptiness in which they all arise.

So when we rest in this pure Witness, we don't see this Witness as an object. Anything you can see is not it. Rather, it is the absence of any subjects or objects altogether, it is the release from all of that. Resting in the pure witness, there is this background absence or Emptiness, and this is "experienced," not as an object, but as a vast expanse of Freedom and Liberation from the constrictions of identifying with these puny little subjects and objects that enter the stream of time and are ground up in that agonizing torrent.

So when you rest in the pure Seer, in the pure Witness, you are invisible. You cannot be seen. No part of you can be seen, because you are not an object. Your body can be seen, your mind can be seen, nature can be seen, but you are not any of those objects. You are the pure source of awareness, and not anything that arises in that awareness. So you abide as awareness.

Things arise in awareness, they stay a bit and depart, they come and they go. They arise in space, they move in time. But the pure Witness does not come and go. It does not arise in space, it does not move in time. It is as it is; it is ever-present and unvarying. It is not an object out there, so it never enters the stream of time, of space, of birth, of death. Those are all experiences, all objects--they all come, they all go. But you do not come and go; you do not enter that stream; you are aware of all that, so you are not caught in all that. The Witness is aware of space, aware of time--and is therefore itself free of space, free of time. It is timeless and spaceless--the purest Emptiness through which time and space parade.

So this pure Seer is prior to life and death, prior to time and turmoil, prior to space and movement, prior to manifestation--prior even to the Big Bang itself. This doesn't mean that the pure Self existed in a time before the Big Bang, but that it exists prior to time, period. It just never enters that stream. It is aware of time, and is thus free of time--it is utterly timeless. And because it is timeless, it is eternal--which doesn't mean everlasting time, but free of time altogether.

It was never born, it will never die. It never enters that temporal stream. This vast Freedom is the great Unborn, of which the Buddha said: "There is an unborn, an unmade, an uncreate. Were it not for this unborn, unmade, uncreate, there would be no release from the born, the made, the created." Resting in this vast expanse of Freedom is resting in this great Unborn, this vast Emptiness.

And because it is Unborn, it is Undying. It was not created with your body, it will not perish when your body perishes. It's not that it lives on beyond your body's death, but rather that it never enters the stream of time in the first place. It doesn't live on after your body, it lives prior to your body, always. It doesn't go on in time forever, it is simply prior to the stream of time itself.

Space, time, objects--all of those merely parade by. But you are the Witness, the pure Seer that is itself pure Emptiness, pure Freedom, pure Openness, the great Emptiness through which the entire parade passes, never touching you, never tempting you, never hurting you, never consoling you.

And because there is this vast Emptiness, this great Unborn, you can indeed gain liberation from the born and the created, from the suffering of space and time and objects, from the mechanism of terror inherent in those fragments, from the vale of tears called samsara.

Q: I can get a brief taste of that as you talk about it.

KW: Most people can connect fairly quickly with the Witness. Living from that Freedom is something else.

Q: How does that Witness relate to the causal unmanifest?

KW: The Witness is itself the causal unmanifest. It is itself pure Emptiness. And if, as a yogic endeavor, you actually keep inquiring intensely into the source, into the pure Subjectivity of this Seer, then all objects and subjects will simply cease to arise at all. And that would be nirvikalpa or cessation--an actual yogic state, a discrete state (it is, in fact, the fusion phase of fulcrum-9). This is pure formless mysticism--all objects, even God as a perceived form, vanish into cessation, and so deity mysticism gives way to formless mysticism.

Because all possible objects have not yet arisen, this is a completely unmanifest state of pure Emptiness. What you actually "see" in this state is infinite nothing, which simply means that it is too Full to be contained in any object or any subject or any sight or any sound. It is pure consciousness, pure awareness, prior to any manifestation at all--prior to subjects and objects, prior to phenomena, prior to holons, prior to things, prior to anything. It is utterly timeless, spaceless, objectless. And therefore it is radically and infinitely free of the limitations and constrictions of space and time and objects--and radically free of the torture inherent in those fragments.

It is not necessary to pursue the Witness in that particularly yogic fashion, but it can be done, and it does point up the unmanifest source of the Seer itself. This is why many traditions, like Yogachara Buddhism, simply equate Emptiness and Consciousness. We needn't get involved in all the technical details and arguments about that, but you get the general point--the Witness itself, pure Consciousness itself, is not a thing, not a process, not a quality, not an entity--it is ultimately unqualifiable--it is ultimately pure Emptiness.

Q: Why is it called the "causal"?

KW: Because it is the support or cause or creative ground of all junior dimensions. Remember that we saw, as Whitehead put it, that "the ultimate metaphysical principle is the creative advance into novelty." Creativity is part of the basic ground of the universe. Somehow, some way, miraculously, new holons emerge. I say out of Emptiness, but you can call that creative ground whatever you want. Some would call it God, or Goddess, or Tao, or Brahman, or Keter, or Rigpa, or Dharmakaya, or Maat, or Li. The more scientifically oriented tend to prefer to speak simply of the "self-transcending" capacity of the universe, as does Jantsch. That's fine. It doesn't matter. The point is, stuff emerges. Amazing! Miraculous by any other name.

Emptiness, creativity, holons--and that is exactly where we started our account in chapter I. These holons arise as subject and object, in both singular and plural forms--that is, the four quadrants--and they follow the twenty tenets, which is simply the pattern that manifestation displays as it arises, a pattern that is a potential of Emptiness, a potential of the Dharmakaya, a potential of the Godhead. And with that pattern of twenty tenets, off we go on the evolutionary drive of holons returning to their source.

That pattern embodies a creative drive to greater depth, greater consciousness, greater unfolding, and that unfolding ultimately unfolds into its own infinite ground in pure Emptiness. But that Emptiness is not itself an emergent, it is rather the creative ground, prior to time, that was present all along, but finally becomes transparent to itself in certain holons that awaken to that Emptiness, to that Spirit, to that groundless Ground.

That same Emptiness, as Consciousness, was present all along as the interior depth of every holon, a depth that increasingly shed its lesser forms until it shed forms altogether--its depth goes to infinity, its time goes to eternity, its interior space is all space, its agency is the very Divine itself: the ground, path, and fruition of Emptiness.

The Nondual

Q: So this causal unmanifest--is it the absolute end point? Is this the end of time, the end of evolution, the end of history? The final Omega point?

KW: Well, many traditions take this state of cessation to be the ultimate state, the final end point of all development and evolution, yes. And this end state is equated with full Enlightenment, ultimate release, pure nirvana.

But that is not the "final story," according to the Nondual traditions. Because at some point, as you inquire into the Witness, and rest in the Witness, the sense of being a Witness "in here" completely vanishes itself, and the Witness turns out to be everything that is witnessed. The causal gives way to the Nondual, and formless mysticism gives way to nondual mysticism. "Form is Emptiness and Emptiness is Form."

Technically, you have dis-identified with even the Witness, and then integrated it with all manifestation--in other words, the second and third phases of fulcrum-9, which leads to fulcrum-10, which is not really a separate fulcrum or level, but the reality or Suchness of all levels, all states, all conditions.

And this is the second and most profound meaning of Emptiness--it is not a discrete state, but the reality of all states, theSuchness of all states. You have moved from the causal to the Nondual.

Q: Emptiness has two meanings?

KW: Yes, which can be very confusing. On the one hand, as we just saw, it is a discrete, identifiable state of awareness--namely, unmanifest absorption or cessation (nirvikalpa samadhi, ayin, jnana samadhi, nirodh, classical nirvana). This is the causal state, a discrete state.

The second meaning is that Emptiness is not merely a particular state among other states, but rather the reality or suchness or condition of all states. Not a particular state apart from other states, but the reality or condition of all states, high or low, sacred or profane, ordinary or extraordinary.

Q: We already discussed the discrete state; now the Nondual.

KW: Yes, the "experience" of this nondual Suchness is similar to the nature unity experience we earlier discussed, except nowthis unity is experienced not just with gross Form out there, but also with all of the subtle Forms in here. In Buddhist terms, this is not just the Nirmanakaya--gross or nature mysticism; and not just the Sambho- gakaya--subtle or deity mysticism; and not just the Dharmakaya-- causal or formless mysticism. It is the Svabhavikakaya--the integration of all three of them. It is beyond nature mysticism, beyond deity mysticism, and beyond formless mysticism--it is the reality or the Suchness of each, and thus integrates each in its embrace. It em- braces the entire spectrum of consciousness--transcends all, includes all.

Q: Again, rather technical. Perhaps there's a more direct way to talk about Nondual mysticism?

KW: Across the board, the sense of being any sort of Seer or Witness or Self vanishes altogether. You don't look at the sky, you are the sky. You can taste the sky. It's not out there. As Zen would say, you can drink the Pacific Ocean in a single gulp, you can swallow the Kosmos whole--precisely because awareness is no longer split into a seeing subject in here and a seen object out there. There is just pure seeing. Consciousness and its display are not-two.

Everything continues to arise moment to moment--the entire Kosmos continues to arise moment to moment--but there is nobody watching the display, there is just the display, a spontaneous and luminous gesture of great perfection. The pure Emptiness of the Witness turns out to be one with every Form that is witnessed, and that is one of the basic meanings of "nonduality."

Q: Again, could you be even more specific?

KW: Well, you might begin by getting into the state of the Witness--that is, you simply rest in pure observing awareness--you are not any object that can be seen--not nature, not body, not thoughts-- just rest in that pure witnessing awareness. And you can get a certain "sensation" of that witnessing awareness--a sensation of freedom, of release, of great expanse.

While you are resting in that state, and "sensing" this Witness as a great expanse, if you then look at, say, a mountain, you might begin to notice that the sensation of the Witness and the sensation of the mountain are the same sensation. When you "feel" your pure Self and you "feel" the mountain, they are absolutely the same feeling.

In other words, the real world is not given to you twice--one out there, one in here. That "twiceness" is exactly the meaning of "duality." Rather, the real world is given to you once, immediately--it is one feeling, it has one taste, it is utterly full in that one taste, it is not severed into seer and seen, subject and object, fragment and fragment. It is a singular, of which the plural is unknown. You can taste the mountain; it is the same taste as your Self; it is not out there being reflected in here--that duality is not present in the immediateness of real experience. Real experience, before you slice it up, does not contain that duality--real experience, reality itself, is "nondual." You are still you, and the mountain is still the mountain, but you and the mountain are two sides of one and the same experience, which is the one and only reality at that moment.

If you relax into present experience in that fashion, the separate self-sense will uncoil; you will stop standing back from life; you will not have experience, you will suddenly become all experience; you will not be "in here" looking "out there"--in here and out there are one, so you are no longer trapped "in here."

And so suddenly, you are not in the bodymind. Suddenly, the bodymind has dropped. Suddenly, the wind doesn't blow on you, it blows through you, within you. You are not looking at the mountain, you are the mountain--the mountain is closer to you than your own skin. You are that, and there is no you--just this entire luminous display spontaneously arising moment to moment. The separate self is no- where to be found.

The entire sensation of "weight" drops altogether, because you are not in the Kosmos, the Kosmos is in you, and you are purest Emptiness. The entire universe is a transparent shimmering of the Divine, of primordial Purity. But the Divine is not someplace else, it is just all of this shimmering. It is self-seen. It has One Taste. It is nowhere else.

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Q: Subject and object are nondual?

KW: You know the Zen koan, "What is the sound of one hand clapping?" Usually, of course, we need two hands to clap--and that is the structure of typical experience. We have a sense of ourselves as a subject in here, and the world as an object out there. We have these "two hands" of experience, the subject and the object. And typical experience is a smashing of these two hands together to make a commotion, a sound. The object out there smashes into me as a subject, and I have an experience--the two hands clap together and experience emerges.

And so the typical structure of experience is like a punch in the face. The ordinary self is the battered self--it is utterly battered by the universe "out there." The ordinary self is a series of bruises, of scars, the results of these two hands of experience smashing together. This bruising is called "duhkha," suffering. As Krishnamurti used to say, in that gap between the subject and the object lies the entire misery of humankind.

But with the nondual state, suddenly there are not two hands. Suddenly, the subject and the object are one hand. Suddenly, there is nothing outside of you to smash into you, bruise you, torment you.

Suddenly, you do not have an experience, you are every experience that arises, and so you are instantly released into all space: you and the entire Kosmos are one hand, one experience, one display, one gesture of great perfection. There is nothing outside of you that you can want, or desire, or seek, or grasp--your soul expands to the corners of the universe and embraces all with infinite delight. You are utterly Full, utterly Saturated, so full and saturated that the bound- aries to the Kosmos completely explode and leave you without date or duration, time or location, awash in an ocean of infinite care. You are released into the All, as the All--you are the self-seen radiant Kosmos, you are the universe of One Taste, and the taste is utterly infinite.

So what is the sound of that one hand clapping? What is the taste of that One Taste? When there is nothing outside of you that can hit you, hurt you, push you, pull you--what is the sound of that one hand clapping?

See the sunlight on the mountains? Feel the cool breeze? What is not utterly obvious? Who is not already enlightened? As a Zen Master put it, "When I heard the sound of the bell ringing, there was no I, and no bell, just the ringing." There is no twiceness, no twoness, in immediate experience! No inside and no outside, no subject and no object--just immediate awareness itself, the sound of one hand clapping.

So you are not in here, on this side of a transparent window, looking at the Kosmos out there. The transparent window has shattered, your bodymind drops, you are free of that confinement forever, you are no longer "behind your face" looking at the Kosmos--you simply are the Kosmos. You are all that. Which is precisely why you can swallow the Kosmos and span the centuries, and nothing moves at all. The sound of this one hand clapping is the sound the Big Bang made. It is the sound of supernovas exploding in space. It is the sound of the robin singing. It is the sound of a waterfall on a crystal-clear day. It is the sound of the entire manifest universe--and you are that sound.

Which is why your Original Face is not in here. It is the sheerest Emptiness or transparency of this shimmering display. If the Kosmos is arising, you are that. If nothing arises, you are that. In either case, you are that. In either case, you are not in here. The window has shattered. The gap between the subject and object is gone. There is no twiceness, no twoness, to be found anywhere--the world is never given to you twice, but always only once--and you are that. You are that One Taste.

This state is not something you can bring about. This nondual state, this state of One Taste, is the very nature of every experience before you slice it up. This One Taste is not some experience you bring about through effort; rather, it is the actual condition of all experience before you do anything to it. This uncontrived state is prior to effort, prior to grasping, prior to avoiding. It is the real world before you do anything to it, including the effort to "see it non-dually."

So you don't have to do something special to awareness or to experience in order to make it nondual. It starts out nondual, its very nature is nondual--prior to any grasping, any effort, any contrivance. If effort arises, fine; if effort doesn't arise, fine; in either case, there is only the immediacy of One Taste, prior to effort and non-effort alike.

So this is definitely not a state that is hard to get into, but rather one that is impossible to avoid. It has always been so. There has never been a moment when you did not experience One Taste--it is the only constant in the entire Kosmos, it is the only reality in all of reality. In a million billion years, there has never been a single second that you weren't aware of this Taste; there has never been a single second where it wasn't directly in your Original Face like a blast of arctic air.

Of course, we have often lied to ourselves about this, we have often been untruthful about this, the universe of One Taste, the primordial sound of one hand clapping, our own Original Face. And the nondual traditions aim, not to bring about this state, because that is impossible, but simply to point it out to you so that you can no longer ignore it, no longer lie to yourself about who you really are.

Q: So this nondual state--does this include the duality of mind and body, of Left and Right?

KW: Yes. The primordial state is prior to, but not other to, the entire world of dualistic Form. So in that primordial state there is no subject and object, no interior and exterior, no Left and no Right. All of those dualities continue to arise, but they are relative truths, not absolute or primordial truth itself. The primordial truth is the ringing; the relative truth is the "I" and the "bell," the mind and the body, the subject and the object. They have a certain relative reality, but they are not, as Eckhart would say, the final word.

And therefore the dilemmas inherent in those relative dualisms cannot be solved on the relative plane itself. Nothing you can do to the "I" or the "bell" will make them one; you can only relax into the prior ringing, the immediacy of experience itself, at which point the dilemma does not arise. It is not solved, it is dissolved--and not by reducing the subject to the object, or the object to the subject, but by recognizing the primordial ground of which each is a partial reflection.

Which is why the dilemmas inherent in those dualisms--between mind and body, mind and brain, consciousness and form, mind and nature, subject and object, Left and Right--cannot be solved on the relative plane--which is why that problem has never been solved by conventional philosophy. The problem is not solved, but rather dis- solved, in the primordial state, which otherwise leaves the dualisms just as they are, possessing a certain conventional or relative reality, real enough in their own domains, not but absolute.

The Immediacy of Pure Presence

Q: Are there any orthodox or mainstream Western philosophers who recognize nonduality?

KW: I always found it fascinating that both William James and Bertrand Russell agreed on this crucial issue, the nonduality of subject and object in the primacy of immediate a wareness. I think this is very funny, because if you can find something that these two agreed on, it might as well be coming straight from God, so I suppose we can embrace nonduality with a certain confidence.

Russell talks about this in the last chapters of his great book, A History of Western Philosophy, where he discusses William James's notion of "radical empiricism." Now we have to be very careful with these terms, because "empiricism" doesn't mean just sensory experience, it means experience itself, in any domain. It means immediate prehension, immediate experience, immediate awareness. And William James set out to demonstrate that this pure nondual immediate- ness is the "basic stuff" of reality, so to speak, and that both subject and object, mind and body, inside and outside, are all derivative or secondary. They come later, they come after, the primacy of immediateness, which is the ultimate reality, as it were.

And Russell is quite right to credit James with being the first "mainstream" or "accepted" philosopher to advance this nondual position. Of course, virtually all of the mystical or contemplative sages had been saying this for a few millennia, but James to his eternal credit brought it crashing into the mainstream . . . and convinced Russell of its truth in the process.

James introduced this nondual notion in an essay called "Does 'Consciousness' Exist?" And he answered that consciousness does not exist, which has confused many people. But his point was simply that if you look at consciousness very carefully, it's not a thing, not an object, not an entity. If you look carefully, you'll see that consciousness is simply one with whatever is immediately arising--as we saw with the mountain, for example. You as a subject do not see the mountain as an object, but rather, you and the mountain are one in the immediacy of the actual experience. So in that sense, consciousness as a subjective entity does not exist--it's not a separate something that has an experience of a separate something else. There is just One Taste in the immediateness of experience.

So pure experience is not split into an inside and outside--there is no twiceness, no twoness, about it! As James characteristically put it, "Experience, I believe, has no such inner duplicity."

And notice that duplicity has the meaning of both "twoness" and "Iying." The twoness of experience is the fundamental lie, the primordial untruthfulness, the beginning of ignorance and deception, the beginning of the battered self, the beginning of samsara, the beginning of the lie lodged in the heart of infinity. Each and every experience, just as it is, arrives as One Taste--it does not arrive fractured and split into a subject and an object. That split, that duplicity, is a lie, the fundamental lie, the original untruthfulness--and the beginning of the "small self," the battered self, the self that hides its Original Face in the forms of its own suffering.

Small wonder that D. T. Suzuki, the great Zen scholar, said that James's radical empiricism (or nondual empiricism) was as close as the West had gotten to "no-mind" or Emptiness. That's perhaps too strong, but you get the point.

Russell had a rather thin understanding of the fact that the great contemplative philosopher-sages--from Plotinus to Augustine to Eckhart to Schelling to Schopenhauer to Emerson--had already solved or dissolved this subject/object duality. But aside from that misunderstanding, Russell introduces James's great accomplishment in a very clear fashion:

The main purpose of this essay ("Does 'Consciousness' Exist?") was to deny that the subject-object relation is fundamental. It had, until then, been taken for granted by philosophers that there is a kind of occurrence called "knowing," in which one entity, the knower or subject, is aware of another, the thing known or the object (the "two hands" of experience). The knower was regarded as a mind or soul; the object known might be a material object, an eternal essence, another mind, or, in self-consciousness, identical with the knower. Almost everything in accepted philosophy was bound up with the dualism of subject and object. The distinction of mind and matter and the traditional notion of "truth," all need to be radically reconsidered if the distinction of subject and object is not accepted as fundamental.

To put it mildly. And then Russell adds, "For my part, I am convinced that James was right on this matter, and would on this ground alone, deserve a high place among philosophers."

Q: So they both caught a glimpse of nonduality.

KW: I think so, yes. It's fairly easy to catch at least a brief glimpse of nonduality. Most people can be "talked into it," as we were doing a moment ago, and at least get a little taste of it. And I think this is exactly what William James did with Bertrand Russell, in person, which is what Russell himself reports. Right after he says, "I am convinced that James was right on this matter," Russell adds, "I had thought otherwise until he persuaded me of the truth of his doctrine." I think James just pointed it right out to him! See the mountain? Where is your mind? Mind and mountain . . . nondual!

Q: So they were onto a taste of Zen? A taste of the Nondual?

KW: Well, a glimmer, a taste, a hint of the nondual--this is easy enough to catch. But for the Nondual traditions, this is just the beginning. As you rest in that uncontrived state of pure immediateness or pure freedom, then strange things start to happen. All of the subjective tendencies that you had previously identified with--all of those little selves and subjects that held open the gap between the seer and the seen--they all start burning in the freedom of nonduality. They all scream to the surface and die, and this can be a very interesting period.

As you rest in this primordial freedom of One Taste, you are no longer acting on these subjective inclinations, so they basically die of boredom, but it's still a death, and the death rattles from this liberation are very intense. You don't really have to do anything, except hold on--or let go--they're both irrelevant. It's all spontaneously accomplished by the vast expanse of primordial freedom. But you are still getting burned alive, which is, gosh, just the most fun you can have without smiling.

Fundamentally, it doesn't matter what type of experience arises-- the simple, natural, nondual, and uncontrived state is prior to experience, prior to duality, so it happily embraces whatever comes up. But strange things come up, and you have to stay with this "effortless effort" for quite some time, and die these little deaths constantly, and this is where real practice comes into view.

Neither James nor Russell did this, and it clearly shows in both of their philosophies. Russell announces that he completely agrees that the subject and the object are derivative to primordial awareness. And then, in his own life, he promptly goes right back to identifying with the derivative subject, with the derivative self, with the little rational mind, and he constructs his analytic philosophy based on this lie, based on this duplicity. What good is that? He doesn't have a clue where this nondual state will actually lead.

Even James doesn't penetrate into this primordial state with much profundity, and so his radical empiricism degenerated very rapidly into sensory phenomenalism, which collapses into Right Hand empiricism and pragmatism--an extremely disappointing development, American to the core. Although this certainly doesn't detract from the amazing first steps that he took.


Q: You said nonduality doesn't reject dualism on its own level.

KW: No, that would miss the point completely. These dualisms-- between subject and object, inside and outside, Left and Right--will still arise, and are supposed to arise. Those dualities are the very mechanism of manifestation. Spirit--the pure immediate Suchness of reality--manifests as a subject and an object, and in both singular and plural forms--in other words, Spirit manifests as all four quadrants. And we aren't supposed to simply evaporate those quadrants-- they are the radiant glory of Spirit's manifestation.

But we are supposed to see through them to their Source, their Suchness. And a quick glimpse won't do it. This One Taste has to permeate all levels, all quadrants, all manifestation. And precisely because this is the simplest thing in the world, it is the hardest. This effortless effort requires great perseverance, great practice, great sincerity, great truthfulness. It has to be pursued through the waking state, and the dream state, and the dreamless state. And this is where we pick up the practices of the nondual schools.

Q: Does "Enlightenment" mean something different in these schools?

KW: Yes, in a sense. There are two rather different schools about this "Enlightened" state, corresponding to the two rather different meanings of "Emptiness" that we discussed.

The first takes as its paradigm the causal or unmanifest state of absorption (nirvikalpa, nirodh). That is a very distinct, very discrete, very identifiable state. And so if you equate Enlightenment with that state of cessation, then you can very distinctly say whether a person is "fully Enlightened" or not.

Generally, as in the Theravadin Buddhist tradition and the Samkhya yogic schools, whenever you enter this state of unmanifest absorption, it burns away certain lingering afflictions and sources of ignorance. Each time you fully enter this state, more of these afflictions are burned away. And after a certain number and type of these entrances--often four--you have burned away everything there is to burn, and so you can enter this state at will, and remain there permanently. You can enter nirvana permanently, and samsara ceases to arise in your case. The entire world of Form ceases to arise.

But the Nondual traditions do not have that as their goal. They will often use that state, and often master it. But more important, these schools--such as Vedanta Hinduism and Mahayana and Vajrayana Buddhism--are more interested in pointing out the Nondual state of Suchness, which is not a discrete state of awareness but the ground or empty condition of all states. So they are not so much interested in finding an Emptiness divorced from the world of Form (or samsara), but rather an Emptiness that embraces all Form even as Form continues to arise. For them, nirvana and samsara, Emptiness and Form, are not-two.

And this changes everything. In the causal traditions, you can very definitely say when a person is in that discrete state. It is obvious, unmistakable. So you have a clearly marked yardstick, so to speak, for your Enlightenment.

But in the Nondual traditions, you often get a quick introduction to the Nondual condition very early in your training. The master will simply point out that part of your awareness that is already nondual.

Q: How, exactly?

KW: Very similar to when we were talking about the Witness, and I sort of "talked you into" a glimpse of it; or even further with the nondual One Taste of you and the mountain. The Nondual traditions have an enormous number of these "pointing out instructions," where they simply point out what is already happening in your awareness anyway. Every experience you have is already nondual, whether you realize it or not. So it is not necessary for you to change your state of consciousness in order to discover this nonduality. Any state of consciousness you have will do just fine, because nonduality is fully present in every state.

So change of state is not the point with the Nondual traditions. Recognition is the point. Recognition of what is always already the case. Change of state is useless, a distraction.

So you will often get an initiation taste, a pointing out, of this Nondual state that is always already the case. As I said, I think this is exactly what James did with Russell, in a small way. Look at immediate awareness closely, and you will see that subject and object are actually one, are already one, and you simply need to recognize it. You don't have to engineer a special state in which to see this. One Taste is already the nature of any state, so pretty much any conscious state will do.

Q: It's simply pointed out.

KW: Yes. You've seen those silly newspaper puzzles, something like, "There are fifteen Presidents of the United States hidden in this picture of the ocean. Can you spot all fifteen?"

Q: The comedian Father Guido Sarducci has a joke on those-- "Find the Popes in the Pizza."

KW: We'll get in trouble here! Maybe we better stick with Presidents, who are used to being blankly humiliated.

The point in these games is that you are looking right at all the faces. You already have everything in consciousness that is required. You are looking right at the answer--right at the Presidents' faces-- but you don't recognize them. Somebody comes along and points them out, and you slap your head and say, Yes, of course, I was looking right at it.

Same with the Nondual condition of One Taste. You are looking right at it, right now. Every single bit of the Nondual condition is fully in your awareness right now. All of it. Not most of it, but absolutely all of it is in your awareness right now. You just don't recognize it. So somebody comes along and simply points it out, and you slap your head--Yes, of course, I was looking right at it all along.

Q: And this happens in the training?

KW: Yes. Sometimes right at the beginning, sometimes down the line a bit, but this transmission is crucial.

But the central point we were discussing is that, because this Nondual condition is the nature or suchness of any and all states--because this Emptiness is one with whatever Forms arise--then the world of Form will continue to arise, and you will continue to relate to Form. You will not try to get out of it, or away from it, or suspend it. You will enter it fully.

And since Forms continue to arise, then you are never at an end point where you can say, "Here, I am fully Enlightened." In these traditions, Enlightenment is an ongoing process of new Forms arising, and you relate to them as Forms of Emptiness. You are one with all these Forms as they arise. And in that sense, you are "enlightened," but in another sense, this enlightenment is ongoing, because new Forms are arising all the time. You are never in a discrete state that has no further development. You are always learning new things about the world of Form, and therefore your overall state is always evolving itself.

So you can have certain breakthrough Enlightenment experiences--satori, for example--but these are just the beginning of an endless process of riding the new waves of Form as they ceaselessly arise. So in this sense, in the Nondual sense, you are never "fully" Enlightened, any more than you could say that you are "fully educated." It has no meaning.

Q: Some of these Nondual traditions, particularly the Tantra, get pretty wild.

KW: Yes, some of them get pretty wild. They are not afraid of samsara, they ride it constantly. They don't abandon the defiled states, they enter them with enthusiasm, and play with them, and exaggerate them, and they couldn't care less whether they are higher or lower, because there is only God.

In other words, all experiences have the same One Taste. Not a single experience is closer to or further from One Taste. You cannot engineer a way to get closer to God, for there is only God--the radical secret of the Nondual schools.

At the same time, all of this occurs within some very strong ethical frameworks, and you are not simply allowed to play Dharma Bums and call that being Nondual. In most of the traditions, in fact, you have to master the first three stages of transpersonal development (psychic, subtle, and causal) before you will even be allowed to talk about the fourth or Nondual state. "Crazy wisdom" occurs in a very strict ethical atmosphere.

But the important point is that in the Nondual traditions, you take a vow, a very sacred vow, which is the foundation of all of your training, and the vow is that you will not disappear into cessation-- you will not hide out in nirvana, you will not evaporate in nirodh, you will not abandon the world by tucking yourself into nirvikalpa. Rather, you promise to ride the surf of samsara until all beings caught in that surf can see that it is just a manifestation of Emptiness. Your vow is to pass through cessation and into Nonduality as quickly as possible, so you can help all beings recognize the Unborn in the very midst of their born existence.

So these Nondual traditions do not necessarily abandon emotions, or thoughts, or desires, or inclinations. The task is simply to see the Emptiness of all Form, not to actually get rid of all Form. And so Forms continue to arise, and you learn to surf. The Enlightenment is indeed primordial, but this Enlightenment continues forever, and it forever changes its Form because new Forms always arise, and you are one with those.

So the call of the Nondual traditions is: Abide as Emptiness, embrace all Form. The liberation is in the Emptiness, never in the Form, but Emptiness embraces all forms as a mirror all its objects. So the Forms continue to arise, and, as the sound of one hand clapping, you are all those Forms. You are the display. You and the universe are One Taste. Your Original Face is the purest Emptiness, and therefore every time you look in the mirror, you see only the entire Kosmos.

The following material is take from The Basket of Tolerance, Version dated June 10, 1991.

Secondary Nondualism and Ultimate Nondualism of Da Free John (aka Da Avabhasa, Adi Da, etc.)

First it is necessary to understand the seven stages of life:

The Seven Stages of Life

Stage One -- Individuation. The first stage of life is a process of individuation, or of becoming identified with the physical body in the waking state. In this stage, one gradually adapts functionally to physical existence and eventualy achieves a basic sense of individual autonomy, or of personal independence from the mother and from all others.

Stage Two -- Socialization. The second stage of life is a process of socialization, or social exploration or growth in relationships. In this stage, the individual adapts to the emotional-sexual, or feeling dimension of the being and achieves basic integration of that dimension with the physical body.

Stage Three -- Integration. The third stage of life is a process of integration as a fully differentiated or autonomous, sexual and social human character. In this stage, one adapts to and develops the verbal mind, the faculty of discriminative intelligence, and the will. And one achieves basic adult integration of body, emotion, and mind in the context of the bodily-based point of view.

Although the first three stages of life are the necessary foundation of all human development, the point of view of the first three stages of life represents an error, or limitation, in Consciousness, because it is based in identification with the body (rather than identification with our True or Divine Self-Nature.)

Because of mankind's generally weak or incomplete adaptation in the first three stages, it is extremely rare for individuals to pass into the fourth, the fifth, the sixth, or the seventh stage of life. Though experiences of the states of consciousness of the advanced and the ultimate stages of life may occur for anyone, mere experience does not constitute stable Realization of that stage (which requires stable responsibility for the processes of that stage).

Whereas the first three stages of life develop in three periods of roughly seven years each, the duration of the advanced and the ultimate stages of life cannot be predicted, since that duration depends on many factors, including the force of the individual's impulse to growth and self-transcendence and the stages of life taught and realized by his or her teachers and tradition.

Stage Four -- Spiritualization. The fourth stage of life is the transitional stage between the gross, bodily-based point of view of the first three stages of life and the subtle, psychic point of view of the fifth stage of life.

In the fourth stage of life, the gross, or bodily-based personality of the first three stages of life is harmonized and converted to love through devotional reception of and surrender to the Spiritual Force (also called "Holy Spirit" or "Shakti") of the Divine Reality. ... Communion with this Spiritual Force becomes naturally felt and expressed as service and devotion to the Divine... . As the fourth stage of life advances, the individual enters into the more mystical processes that are fully developed in the fifth stage of life.

...the common error of the fourth stage of life is the tendency to prolong the first three stages of life, and the patterns of un-happiness that are egoically associated with the first three stages of life. This tendency takes the form of a fixed idea of God and the personal self as eternally separate from one another, thereby making the fourth stage of life into a never-ending search for God and a never-ending appeal to God for intimacy, relief, and self-satisfaction.

Stage Five -- Higher Spiritual Evolution. In the fifth stage of life, existence is viewed from the point of view of the higher mind, or psyche, which is the subtle dimension of the being beyond the gross, verbal-conceptual mind, and above, or prior to, the processes of the gross body. The traditional orientation of the fifth stage of life is toward renunciation of gross bodily existence in the phenomenal world, is some cases through asceticism.

Traditionally, the fifth stage of life is the stage of mysticism and the Yogas or contemplative and practical exercises) that attune one to the Divine Spiritual Reality through the psychic point of view of the higher brain and nervous system. Thus, the fifth stage of life is awakened and developed through the contemplative, Spiritual ascent of attention and the energy of one's being into the subtle or psychic dimension and processes of the being. Traditionally, the ultimate achievement of the fifth stage of life is absorption in mystical Unionn with the Divine, which in the Yogic traditions is called "nirvikalpa samadhi" (formless ecstasy).

...the error of the fifth stage of life is the tendency to seek and cling to subtle objects and states as if they were Ultimate God-Realization (or, in the case of fifth stage conditional nirvikalpa samadhi, the tendency to seek and cling to conditional transcendence of these objects and states).

Stage Six -- Awakening to the Transcendental Self. In the sixth stage of life, one's characteristic view of existence is not based in identification with the body-mind or even with the subtle mind (or psyche). Rather, it is based in identification with the apparently independent Consciousness, or essential self, exclusive of th ephenomena of the body-mind and the world. In this stage, one renounces all identification with body or mind and lives and acts from the position and the domain of Consciousness, as the Transcendental Witness of the body-mind and all psycho-physical phenomena. The sixth stage of life will most likely include (perhaps even frequently) the experience of Jnana Samadhi, or temporary or conditional Realization of the Divine Self.

The error of the sixth stage...is the tendency to hold on to the position of Consciousness as if it were a reality separate from Spirit-Energy and the conditional world. It is the tendency to hold on to the inherent love-bliss of Consciousness by strategically excluding all awareness of...conditional objects and states. Jnana Samadhi, because it is associated with an accompanying effor that excludes all conditional objects and staes, is an expression of this sixth stage error.

Stage Seven -- Divine Enlightenment. The seventh stage of life is Perfect Freedom, inherently Transcending every kind of conditional, limited, or individual point of view. All conditions are divinely recognized as merely apparent modifications of the Love-Bliss-Radiant Consciousness in which all conditional forms or events arise and pass away.

Thus, in the seventh stage of life, the Realizer enjoys Sahaj Samadhi, or continuous permanent, inherently perfect identification with Divine Being or Happiness Itself, and he or she experiences no "radical" or fundamental difference between Divine Consciousness and body, psyche, separate or separative self, or any and all psych-physical states and conditions.

Secondary Nondualism
First, two terms have to be defined:
Purusha: The Self, the Absolute, pure consciousness. The witness observing the changes taking place in Prakriti.
Prakriti: the primal matter of which the universe consists. By its proximity to purusha, it creates the mind, the world of appearances.

According to this point of view -- Secondary Nondualism -- there is no inherently independent and separate Purusha, but the totality of existence is only Prakriti (or a beginningless and endless continuum of causes and effects, or, in effect, modifications of Prakriti, or of "energy itself"). Therefore, according to this point of view, Prakriti (or "energy itself") appears only as ephemeral changes preceded and followed by equally ephemeral changes, until (by the process of observation, insight, and self-pacification) the inherent (or original, or Nirvanic) state of Prakriti is realized.

(However, there is an ultimate paradox necessarily associated with this orientation, or point of view, for if the realization of the original or Nirvanic state of Prakriti, or of "energy itself", is in fact achieved, how can that realization be differentiated from, or otherwise be presumed to be other than, or not identical to, Absolute Consciousness itself?)

In any case, this point of view and Process...is traditionally associated with the sixth stage of life, and such great sixth stage schools as have appeared within the traditions of Buddhism and Taoism.

Ultimate Nondualism
According to this point of view, there is (in Truth) no Prakriti, but the totality of existence is only Purusha. Therefore, from this point of view, this "Ultimate Absolute" (or this non-conditional, and, as such, inherently perfect, and perfectly subjective reality) must, first of all, be understood (and directly intuited) to be actual and then perfectly or utterly affirmed (by direct identification with Consciousness Itself).

And this point of view and process (which may follow upon, or be uncovered by, the point of view and process of Secondary Non-dualism) is the second (and final, and Principal) nondual possible point of view and process traditionally (and inherently) associated with the sixth stage of life (and such great sixth stage schools as have appeared in the form of the traditions of Advaitism, and also, secondarily, or with less directness, within the schools of some varieties of Buddhism, especially within the Mahayana and Vajrayana traditions, and, but with even less directness, within some of the schools of Taoism).

Indeed, this point of view and process is (when most perfectly realized) the "point of view" (and ultimate perfect process) that establishes and characterizes even the seventh stage of life.

The "Self-Abiding" discipline of Ultimate Non-dualism achieves self-transcendence (or renunciation of body and mind), but by the ultimate and most direct means of perfectly subjective Self-Abiding, whereas Secondary Non-dualism seeks Ultimate Non-duality by the conditional means of either asceticism or self-pacification. However, it is also generally the case in actual practice that the real process of Self-Abiding (or direct and profound identification with consciousness itself, prior to body and mind) begins or develops only after, or in the course of, degress of practice (previous to the sixth stage of life, or otherwise in the context of the sixth stage of life) wherein either ascetical or self-pacifying disciplines are engaged until identification with the body and the mind is sufficiently released to stably allow the direct approach of unconditional identification with consciousness itself.

Utter self-purification or utter self-pacification is not possible, and, in any case, it is not itself God-Realization (or the realization of Truth Itself, or Reality Itself). Therefore, the limits of (or the search associated with) the moderate and necessary orientation toward self-renunciation must eventually be understood, and even the motive of self-renunciation must then (in the context of the sixth stage of life) be replaced (or transcended, or perfectly fulfilled) by the ultimate process of Native Identification with the inherently perfect and perfectly subjective (and, ultimately, Divine), Non-Dual (or Absolute), Self-Existing, and Self-Radiant Truth, or Reality Itself, which is Existence (or Being) Itself, Consciousness Itself, and Happiness (or Love-Bliss) Itself. And, in the course of this ultimate Process, God-Realization Itself (or the Unqualified, or Absolute, Realization of Truth Itself, or Inherently Perfect Reality Itself) is made Perfectly possible by Divine Grace.

Mandee Labelle:

What is the meaning of the word nonduality?  

The underlying true nature of reality can be described as nondualistic and it has been 'lived from' and referenced to by wellspoken teachers, quiet sages, and ordinary truth seekers of many different traditions and backgrounds.  Although there may be countless methods available for, not just understanding, but actually realizing and living from nonduality; what may be helpful, when, and how, seems unpredictable and may be even inversely related with the level of 'wanting to realize.' 

The contemporary teacher Adyashanti has even suggested that what ends up being the primary function of most methods is to exhaust the querent of their desire to attain 'something' such that there is a relaxing into what was, is, and will be already always here, 'no-thing-ness'. 

One quality however, may be of the greatest benefit to cultivating an awakening to the underlying truth, which is simply a deep commitment to 'truth' above the natural desire to 'feel good'.  

To realize and live from nonduality, duality must be fully seen through as merely mental interpretations of sensory information, rather than the standard automatic assumption we have that leads us to believe that the interpretations of mind are accurate impressions of external phenomena.  Duality is seen as pure conceptual projection in all its functional and sometimes disfunctional ways. 

That one goes 'up' or 'down' a mountain, for example, is not a valid description of the activity other than what is relative to the observer.  Even to agree to call it a mountain, one must realize that its name is not a description of essence, but rather it is simply a term of agreement, a label, for the purpose of communication and conceptualization.  This is a fundamental misunderstanding in the human conditioning, that to know a name is to know what it is.   

It may be said that all mental statements and interpretations are subjective (illusion, maya) and have no objective reality in the absence of the observer and therefore say more about the observer than anything to do with the external world.   

Furthermore, when realizing and living from nonduality, the distinction between the observer and the observed blurs, and totality of reality reveals itself as empty of names and ideas, leaving only undifferentiated presence.  Aware presence now can be seen to be experiencing itself through duality, giving rise to the functionality of seeming to have a separate sense of self exploring the myriad of possibilities.   

Even these words are nothing but dualistic conclusions. 

Take a big step back and there is but a writer and a reader...
Another step back, and there are just symbols on a screen of light and a pair of eyes feeding a brain... 
Another step back, and ask 'Who is reading this?'
And another asking, 'What is the "I" that wants to know?'
Finally, 'Out of what is all this arising?'

James Traverse

Hey Mandee,

I like the way you summarized things at the end of this and made the summary experiential with the invitations to 'step back' (deconstruct).

For me it is not wrong to say, '
Aware presence now can be seen to be experiencing itself through duality, giving rise to the functionality of seeming to have a separate sense of self exploring the myriad of possibilities.'.. or 'Finally, 'Out of what is all this arising?' '... yet I see the possibility of interpreting these statements as a distance between Presence and what is arising'

In this light I would suggest a more direct statement like, 'Aware presence now is the agent and the actor (the cause and effect). The duality of definitive labels like agent and actor, cause and effect is a consequence of mental representation and language. Mental representation and language is functionally very useful for making distinctions yet it is untrue because the label is not the fact and especially because mental representation is a slippery slope that flowers as the notion of a separate sense of self exploring myriad possibilities.

'Finally, 'Out of what is all this arising?'...
may be restated as: 'Finally, without stepping, remain as Awareness'... and as T S Eliot says "We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time."


ps - you pointed to what I said above with your statement '
Even these words are nothing but dualistic conclusions.'

Talking about Nonduality


by Dr. Gino Yu




"Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one."-Albert Einstein


In late October, many luminaries of the nondual community will be gathering in San Rafael, California, at the Science and Nonduality Conference. For those unfamiliar with the term, nonduality is like the final destination for those wanting to uncover the ultimate Socratic quest to "know thyself." Nonduality is the sudden and absolute realization that all perceived separation is entirely illusory, and that, instead, everything that you experience is, quintessentially, only One. To explain this sense of unicity that underlies the multitudinous universe, nondualists often resort to the metaphor of a movie that's being projected on an infinite screen. Even though the characters and the scenery appear to be separate and interactive, the only thing that's really real is the white, seamless screen that's accepting the melodramatic and illusory story that's being projected upon it. Nondualists claim that, instead of you being just a small and limited character playing a part in your life's story, that, in truth, you're actually the entire infinite screen itself! From their point of view, you are the very context in which ALL of life itself is showing up in. According to the nondualist, your fundamental nature is Pure Consciousness, Itself. In short, "you-are-what-is."


Obviously, a non-dual perspective like that has a built in problem: the moment that you start talking about nonduality is the very same moment that you've re-entered the wonderfully wacky world of duality. So the logical question then becomes; what are all of these non-dualists going to be talking about anyway??


Well, the issues that are addressed often take the form of the ultimate, primordial questions of life itself: e.g. Who or what am I? Am I my feelings, or do I just have feelings. Am I my thoughts, or do I just have thoughts. Can there be thoughts without a Thinker. Can there be feelings without a Feeler? And, of course, WHO is the one who's asking all of these questions, anyway? In short, "who's the who?" Nondualists claim that, by tracing the origin on the "I" thought back to its true source, these answers can be found. But, in these amorphous areas, the answers cannot be clearly articulated in ways that make sense to our logical minds. The realization of this absolute Oneness that underlies everything is more of a kind of "knowingness" than it is a scientific conclusion that's been arrived at through any form of linear cerebration. And, because its base position is logically "un-figure-out-able," it's not something that is, well....debatable. Either you get it or you don't get it. And here's the real kicker: nondualism has absolutely nothing to do with "belief."


In fact, it's this very belief in the separation of all things that is the root cause of much of the suffering in the world. Separation creates borders which in turn, invites defenses, both internal and external. Instead of having beliefs, we then make an inward shift to, in a sense, becoming those beliefs After that unfortunate reframing, then any perceived attack on my beliefs is likely to be experienced as a personal attack upon my own self and will be answered accordingly.


Most people struggle with the possibility that they are not their body. This belief is a lot tougher to let go of because our experience is of peering out into the world though these two holes in our skulls. Our senses seem to validate that we are walking through the world and that, in turn only reinforces our beliefs that we are separate and alone.


But the nondualists tell us that we are really the underlying fabric from which all-that-IS mysteriously emerges. You are, they insist, the entire context in which the entire universe shows up in to play in your play. In other words, you are not as much in the world as much as the world is in you.


Indeed, the scientific evidence is beginning to show that we live in a holographic universe where everything is contained in everything else. From that perspective, there are no separate parts. There's only the One indivisible whole that appears to be fragmented and separate. When enough people really get this Truth, the understanding would radically alter the way in which we interrelate. That's what makes conferences such as the Science and Nonduality Conference so important.


Media and culture play an important role in shaping how we perceive reality. Today's media promotes fear, consumerism, and a "dualistic" (or "multiplistic") worldview. Fortunately, the subject of Nonduality is making its way into films and new media. The Science and Nonduality Conference also includes a film festival which will include a new film, The Quantum Activist, about the work of Amit Goswami who will be tying the science of quantum mechanics to consciousness and to the many world's religious traditions. Professor Goswami will also be in attendance.


My friend, author Chuck Hillig wrote a book called Enlightenment for Beginners that will be shown as a short animated film at the October conference in San Rafael. His talk will include how and why we began this playful game with nothingness. Chuck's website is: www.chuckhillig.com.


Isaac Allan and Chad Cameron, the co-producers of the Leap! Movies will also be screening their latest movie called Leap 3.0. which further explores this whole idea of the material world as illusion.


Among the speakers participating in the event are authors Stephen Wolinsky and Jeffrey Martin, Stuart Hameroff the director of the Center for Consciousness Studies, Marilyn Schlitz who heads up the Institute of Noetic Sciences, Futurist Peter Russell , Master Teacher Olga Louchakova, and investigators into altered states of consciousness including Frank Echenhofer, Reality Sandwich maker Daniel Pinchbeck, and Tom Ray just to name a few.


For more information about the exciting lineup the organizers have planned at the upcoming Science and Nonduality Conference which will be held from October 21-25, 2009, at the Embassy Suites/Marin Civic Center in San Rafael, California, please visit their website at http://www.1shoppingcart.com/app/?af=1010851


Follow Dr. Gino Yu on Twitter: www.twitter.com/phusikoi

What is nonduality? By Remez Sasson


Nonduality, also called non duality or nondualism is a philosophy, which says that there is just One Eternal Spirit in existence, and that everything in the Universe was created by it and is an inseparable part of it. At the same time, nonduality also says that the world is not real, but is an illusion perceived by the mind.

The mind finds it hard to accept the concept of non duality, becuase it does not accept that the world is a creation of the senses and is not real. In order to understand what is nonduality, one has to be in a state beyond words and thinking, and be able to silence the mind. In this silence one realizes the real meaning of non duality.

When you meditate and focus your full attention on your consciousness, rejecting all thoughts, good and bad, you ultimately arrive to the experience of non-duality. In this state, of being without thoughts, you realize your Oneness with the One Spirit.

The mind, with its thoughts, ideas, beliefs and habits prevents you from seeing what is beyond it. It is as though it envelops your consciousness and obscures your vision. It lets you see the world only through the eyes of the mind, which means that you see the world and everything in it, including yourself, as being separate from each other. Only after removing the veil that the mind creates, you will be able to realize the Oneness of everything, and thereby realize what nonduality is.

It will be easier to understand the meaning of non duality through a simile. Imagine that the sky is hidden by clouds of different shapes. These clouds constantly move around and change their shapes, and it is only when they disperse and disappear that one can see the blue sky again. The sky never moves or changes. It is here all the time, but is sometimes hidden by clouds. The sky is permanent and always here, only the clouds are transitory, coming and going view.

Thoughts, people and events constantly come and go, just like the clouds, while the background is the One Eternal and Formless Spirit, which is always here and never changes. It is the only reality. To be aware of the One Spirit, and understand that everything else is transitory and dependent on it, is to understand what nonduality is.

Here is another simile. While dreaming during sleep, you go through all sorts of pleasant and unpleasant experiences. In the dream everything seems so real, but when you wake up you realize that these experiences were just a dream. They were not real, and lasted only while you were dreaming.

Before, during, and after the dream, you are the same person, living in the same conditions and circumstances, but in your dreams you go through all kinds of experiences, situations and circumstances, which don't really exist. In this case, there is one constant factor, which is you, and all else i.e., the activities in the dream, are only illusions.

It is like watching a movie and identifying with the heroes, and then, when it is over, you forget about it. In both cases you - your consciousness - spirit, is the stable factor, and all else just come and go. You are one with the One Real Spirit, which is Omnipresent, while everything else is transitory, like moving pictures projected on a screen.

What prevents you from realizing and understanding nonduality?
The restless, thinking mind and the belief in the reality of the ego, of separate individual existence, prevent you from seeing what is beyond them and understanding nonduality.

What can help you to realize and really understand nonduality?
Looking within you, and searching for the source of your mind and thoughts, where they come from, and discovering who you really are, bring the knowledge and understanding of what nonduality is.

How is this done?
Through concentration and meditation, and by learning to silence the mind, a "new" consciousness emerges. In this "state" you know what nonduality means. You understand and realize it not through the mind, but by rising your consciousness above the mind. When the mind is silent, there is just Oneness, not "me and the Spirit", "me and the body", "me and they", but just Oneness.


Charlie Hayes

Tony Parsons

A Course in Miracles

Panel discussion on Conscious TV

Maybe it's me.  Of course it's me... But the folks I come across in real life... have a distinct and faultless sense of nonduality even if they don't have a name for it.

What the difference is between me a few years ago and me today, can be summed up as, seen as a (de)evolution, dropping away, a stripping down to the bare essentials, so to speak.

In this day of instant news, sound bytes and remote-control tv gurus on Oprah, what is missing is the seeker *wanting* the experience of enlightenment.

No amount of words, short or long, no teacher/guru will be sufficient until one wants this experience as much as the next breath.  The irony is all words, ideas, thoughts, including guru-worship have to be given up in order for this experience to *happen*.

Nonduality then becomes the knowing of one's own life, quite ordinary really.

And then it really doesn't matter what words are used.  It's a matter of how we interact with one another; nothing has changed yet those who know know. 

~Anna Ruiz

What is Non-Duality?

- Prashant Trivedi

    To understand non-duality and how it operates
    in our lives we must first think back to a
    state before this physical universe came into

    One has to understand that there are many universe's
    and this physical one is just one of them 

    Only the 'Creator' or in Vedic terminology, the
    'Paramatman,' exists in a timeless state
    beyond all the creations 

    We can not refer to Paramatman as a male or
    female, because it is without gender

    Being beyond time and space, and Paramatman
    is also beyond nature and it's qualities

    Before this multiverse began, there were no contradictions,
    as all were humble to the original divine spark 

    There were various lokas/creations/realms of existence 
    but no pain or suffering

    Then came an error, which was basically 
    'a being' going against the will of the 
    real creator and decided to become
    creator itself

    In this fraudulent world 
    created by this false creator
    known by many names Rex Mundi, Jehovah etc.
    who now proclaimed itself as god 
    we experience this duality as
    pleasure and pain, pessimism and optimism,
    black & white and so on  when in actuality
    all is pain

    This world is based on perversion of the original
    blueprints of other worlds  

    There is only one way to incorporate
    original non-duality in our daily lives
    in this fraud world

    One must surrender one's ego, i-ness to
    the original divine spark

    This allows one to free oneself from
    the false web 'maya' of this fake world   

    This is not always an easy task, because the
    illusionary power of this false creation, or the Web of
    Maya, is very strongly programmed into all the
    beings caught here

    Like an insect, once caught in this web, 
    one mfinds it hard to escape

    If anyone tells you that just by going deeper within
    your 'Self' you can break free from this
    prison, than they are lying 
    All this newagey 'God is within you' is 
    ego-enhancing nonsense which was meant to
    keep beings trapped in this realm
    of pain & torture

    Thats why Krishna asks Arjun in
    Gita to not pay attention to his own
    self but surrender his self to him

    Attention is the only device one has
    in this universe which is beyond the 
    evil programming 

    This device should never
    be used to peer inside one's own self because all
    one will find there is one's own genetics &
    ancestors & all of the combined programming
    which will make one more confused &  trapped

    The only way out is a sincere seeking of divine
    through using one's pure attention
    and surrendering of the ego
    to the 'paramatman' 

    Only when this is done, one realizes the true
    principle of Non-duality as one becomes
    whole again through connectivity with the Original 
    divine spark ...


What is Advaita or nonduality? Advaita means nondual or "not two." This oneness is a fundamental quality of everything. Everything is a part of and made of one nondual conciousness. Often the question arises, If it is all one non-dual thing why don't I experience it that way? This is confusing oneness or nonduality for the appearance of sameness. Things can appear different without being separate. Just look at your hand for a moment. Your fingers are all different from each other, but are they separate? They all arise from the same hand.

Similarly, the objects, animals, plants and people in the world are all definitely different in their appearance and functioning. But in their ultimate nature, they are all connected at their source. So, this one nondual oneness of Being has an infinite number of different expressions that we experience as different objects.

It also turns out that your fingers are all made of the same substance. As you explore the nature of your hand with greater subtlety, you discover more and more similarities. Your fingers are actually made up of very similar tissues, cells, atoms, and ultimately subatomic particles. When your experience of reality becomes even more subtle, you discover that everything is just a different expressions of one non-dual field of Being. Below is a wonderful little story about and definition of nonduality or Advaita written by Dennis Waite (of advaita.org.uk) that explores this in more depth.

But what about your experience right now? Is it possible to realize this subtle oneness or nonduality in ordinary experience? It is, if you set aside the expectation of a dramatic awakening to the experience of oneness and explore the nondual nature of reality a little bit at a time. Just as even a single drop of water is wet, you can experience nonduality or oneness in even simple everyday experiences, since Advaita or oneness is a fundamental quality of everything that exists.

As an experiment, just notice your fingers and the palm of your hand. Can you really say where one starts and the other ends, or are they one thing? To take this further, where does your hand stop and your forearm begin? Can you experience the oneness of your hand and your forearm? If these are not separate, then what about all the other parts of your body? Are your feet and your ears really one even though they are so different? Now notice if there really is a separation between your thoughts and your head. Where does your head stop and something else called thought begin? What about feelings or desires? Are they really separate from you or your body?

Now, notice the simple sensations you are having: the sounds you are hearing, the sensations of touch, and the objects and events you are seeing. If you are seeing, something, where does the seeing stop and something else called the eye begin? If you are hearing sounds where does the sound start and the ear stop? Perhaps the hearing and the sound and your ear are all one thing. Yes, the ear is different from the sound, but in the act of hearing they become one thing.

Then, where does the source of the sound stop and the sound itself start? For example, if a bird is singing outside your window, where does the bird stop and the sound of its song begin? Or are they one thing? If the bird and its song are one thing, and your hearing and the song are really one thing, then is it possible that you and the bird are one thing also?

What is Advaita or Nonduality? - by Dennis Waite

"So, Swami-ji, what would you say that Advaita is?" The eager young woman crossed her legs and sat expectantly, pencil poised above a pristine pad of paper.

"It simply means ‘not two' - the ultimate truth is nondual," replied the Sage, reclining in a large and comfortable-looking armchair and not sitting in an upright lotus position, as he ought to have been, for the sake of the photograph that she had just taken, if nothing else.

She continued to wait for further elucidation before beginning to write but it soon became apparent that the answer had been given. "But is it a religion? Do you believe in God, for example?"

"Ah, well, that would depend upon what you mean by those words, wouldn't it?" he responded, irritatingly. "If, by ‘religion', you mean does it have priests and churches and a band of followers who are prepared to kill non-believers, then the answer is no. If, on the other hand, you refer to the original, literal meaning of the word, namely to ‘bind again', to reunite the mistaken person that we think we are with the Self that we truly are, then yes, it is a religion. Similarly, if by ‘God' you mean a separate, supernatural being who created the universe and will reward us by sending us to heaven if we do what He wants, then the answer is no. If you use the term in the sense of the unmanifest, non-dual reality, then yes, I most certainly do believe in God."

The pencil raced across the paper, recording the answer for the benefit of the magazine's readers but, as the words clashed with previous ideas in her memory, the lack of a clear resolution of her questions was reflected by an increasing puzzlement in her expression.

He registered this with compassion and held out his hand towards her. "Give me a piece of paper from your pad." She looked up, mouth slightly open as she wondered why he could possibly want that. But she turned the pad over, carefully tore off the bottom sheet and placed it in his outstretched hand. He turned to the table at his right and deftly began to fold and refold the paper. After a few moments, he turned back and, before she had had time to see what he had done, he held the paper aloft and launched it into the air. It rose quickly and circled gracefully around the room before losing momentum and diving to meet a sudden end when its pointed nose hit a sauce bottle on the dining table. "Could you bring it back over here do you think?" he asked.

"So, what would you say that we have here?" he asked, as she handed it back to him.

"It's a paper aeroplane," she replied, with just a hint of questioning in her voice, since the answer was so obvious that she felt he must have some other purpose in mind.

"Really?" he responded and, in an instant, he screwed up the object and, with a practised, over-arm movement, threw it effortlessly in a wide arc, from which it landed just short of the waste paper basket in the corner of the room. "And now?" he asked.

"It's a screwed-up ball of paper", she said, without any doubt in her voice this time.
"Could you bring it back again, please", he continued. She did so, wondering if this was typical of such an interview, spending the session chasing about after bits of paper like a dog running after a stick. He took the ball and carefully unfolded it, spread it out on the table and smoothed his hand over it a few times before handing it back to her. "And now it is just a sheet of paper again," he said, "although I'm afraid it's a bit crumpled now!"

He looked at her, apparently anticipating some sign of understanding if not actual revelation but none was forthcoming. He looked around the room and, after a moment, he stood up, walked over to the window and removed a rose from a vase standing in the alcove. Returning to his seat, he held the rose out to her and asked, "What is this?"

She was feeling increasingly embarrassed as it was clear he was trying to explain something fundamental, which she was not understanding. Either that or he was mad or deliberately provoking her, neither of which seemed likely, since he remained calm and open and somehow intensely present. "It's a flower," she replied eventually.

He then deliberately took one of the petals between his right-hand thumb and fore-finger and plucked it. He looked at her and said, "And now?" She didn't reply, though it seemed that this time he didn't really expect an answer. He continued to remove the petals one by one until none remained, looking up at her after each action. Finally, he pulled the remaining parts of the flower head off the stem and dropped them onto the floor, leaving the bare stalk, which he held out to her. "Where is the flower now?" he asked. Receiving no reply, he bent down and picked up all of the petals, eventually displaying them in his open hand. "Is this a flower?" he asked.

She shook her head slowly. "It was a flower only when all of the petals and the other bits were all attached to the stem."

"Good!" he said, appreciatively. "Flower is the name that we give to that particular arrangement of all of the parts. Once we have separated it into its component parts, the flower ceases to exist. But was there ever an actual, separate thing called ‘flower'? All of the material that constituted the original form is still here in these parts in my hand.

"The paper aeroplane is an even simpler example. There never was an aeroplane was there? And I don't just mean that it was only a toy. There was only ever paper. To begin with, the paper was in the form of a flat sheet for writing on. Then, I folded it in various ways so that it took on an aerodynamic shape which could fly through the air slowly. The name that we give to that form is ‘aeroplane'. When I screwed it up, the ball-shape could be thrown more accurately. ‘Aeroplane' and ‘ball' were names relating to particular forms of the paper but at all times, all that ever actually existed was paper.

"Now, this sort of analysis applies to every ‘thing' that you care to think of. Look at that table over there and this chair on which you are sitting. What are they made of? You will probably say that they are wooden chairs?"

He looked at her questioningly and she nodded, knowing at the same time that he was going to contradict her. "Well, they are made of wood certainly, but that does not mean that they are wooden chairs! On the contrary, I would say that this, that you are sitting on, is actually chairy wood, and that object over there is tably wood. What do you say to that?"

"You mean that the thing that we call ‘chair' is just a name that we give to the wood when it is that particular shape and being used for that particular function?" she asked, with understanding beginning to dawn.

"Exactly! I couldn't have put it better myself. It is quite possible that I could have a bag full of pieces of wood that can be slotted together in different ways so that at one time I might assemble them into something to sit upon, another time into something to put food upon and so on. We give the various forms distinct names and we forget that they are ONLY names and forms and not distinct and separate things.

"Look - here's an apple," he said, picking one out of the bowl on the table and casually tossing it from one hand to the other before holding it up for her to examine. "It's round or to be more accurate, spherical; its reddish in colour and it has", he sniffed it, "a fruity smell. No doubt if I were to bite into it, I would find it juicy and sweet.

"Now all of these - round, red, fruity, juicy, sweet - are adjectives describing the noun ‘apple.' Or, to use more Advaitic terms, let me say that the ‘apple' is the ‘substantive' - the apparently real, separately existing thing - and all of the other words are ‘attributes' of the apple - merely incidental qualities of the thing itself. Are you with me so far?"

She nodded hesitantly but, after a little reflection, more positively.
"But suppose I had carried out this analysis with the rose that we looked at a moment ago. I could have said that it was red, delicate, fragrant, thorny and so on. And we would have noted that all of those were simply attributes and that the actual existent thing, the substantive, was the rose. But then we went on to see that the rose wasn't real at all. It was just an assemblage of petals and sepals and so on - I'm afraid I am not a botanist! In the same way, we could say that the apple consists of seeds and flesh and skin. We may not be able to put these things together into any form different from an apple but Nature can.

"If you ask a scientist what makes an apple an apple, he will probably tell you that is the particular configuration of nucleotides in the DNA or RNA of the cells. There are many different species of apple and each one will have a slight variation in the chromosomes and it is that which differentiates the species. If you want to explain to someone what the difference is between a Bramley and a Granny Smith, you will probably say something like ‘the Bramley is large and green, used mainly for cooking and is quite sharp tasting, while the Granny Smith is still green but normally much smaller and sweeter'. But these are all adjectives or attributes. What is actually different is the physical makeup of the cell nuclei.

"But, if we look at a chromosome or a strand of DNA, are we actually looking at a self-existent, separate thing? If you look very closely through an electron microscope, you find that DNA is made up of four basic units arranged in pairs in a long, spiral chain. And any one of these units is itself made up of atoms of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen, again arranged in a very specific way. So even those are not separate ‘things-in-themselves'; they are names given to particular forms of other, more fundamental things.

"And so we arrive at atoms - even the ancient Greeks used to think that everything was made up of atoms. Are these the final ‘substantives' with all of the apparent things in the world being merely attributes? Well, unfortunately not. Science has known for a long time that atoms mainly consist of empty space with electrons spinning around a central nucleus of protons and neutrons. And science has known for somewhat less time that these particles, which were once thought to be fundamental, are themselves not solid, self-existent things but are either made up of still smaller particles or are in the form of waves, merely having probabilities of existence at many different points in space.

"Still more recently, science claimed that all of the different particles are themselves made out of different combinations of just a few particles called quarks and that those are the ultimately existing things. But they have not yet progressed far enough. The simple fact of the matter is that every ‘thing' is ultimately only an attribute, a name and form superimposed upon a more fundamental substantive. We make the mistake of thinking that there really is a table, when actually there is only wood. We make the mistake of thinking that there is really wood, when actually there is only cellulose and sugars and proteins. We make the mistake of thinking there is protein when this is only a particular combination of atoms. "Ultimately, everything in the universe is seen to be only name and form of a single substantive.

The journalist was transfixed; not exactly open-mouthed but her pencil had not moved for some time. Eventually, she asked in a small voice: "But then where do I fit into all of this?"

"Ah", he replied. "That again depends upon what you mean by the word ‘I'. Who you think you are - ‘Sarah' - is essentially no different from the table and chair. You are simply name and form, imposed upon the non-dual reality. Who you really are, however... well, that is quite different - you are that nondual reality. You see, in the final analysis, there are not two things; there is only nonduality. That is the truth; that is Advaita."

What Is Nonduality?


by Jerry Katz


Nonduality can’t be defined in the same way you define … tungsten, for example. There’s no single definition of nonduality that everyone would agree upon. Nor is a definition of nonduality intended to replace full teachings such as Advaita Vedanta or Buddhist traditions, or the teaching of any Guru. Nonduality is to be seen, lived, awakened to, and then, for whatever reason, one may try to define it.


Having awakened to nonduality or the realization that there is only awareness*, the elements of your definition may include


a statement that nonduality means non-separation: “In the world of things as they are, there is no self, no non self;”


a confession from pure knowing, or experience, of what nonduality is: “Nonduality is the living heart of being;”


a method for experiencing nonduality: “Don't keep searching for the truth; just let go of your opinions;”


a statement that the definition of nonduality rests in seeing or experiencing nonduality, not merely reading words: “It is not simply having an occasional experience of unity beyond all division, it is actually being undivided. This is what nonduality truly means;”


a metaphor: “as the space in a jar delineates a part of main space: when the jar is broken, the individual space becomes once more part of the main space;”


a reference to an authority: “Gaudapada … argues that there is no duality;”


a disclaimer, paradox: “Nonduality is ineffable. Any words that attempt to capture its essence instead hide it from us.”


You’ll see several of those points in this description of nonduality or advaita from Encyclopedia Britannica:


Gaudapada … argues that there is no duality; the mind, awake or dreaming, moves through maya (“illusion”); and only nonduality (advaita) is the final truth. This truth is concealed by the ignorance of illusion. There is no becoming, either of a thing by itself or of a thing out of some other thing. There is ultimately no individual self or soul (jiva), only the atman (all-soul), in which individuals may be temporarily delineated just as the space in a jar delineates a part of main space: when the jar is broken, the individual space becomes once more part of the main space.[1]


Almost all of the elements are found in this experiential revelation of nonduality (which literally means “not two”), composed by Seng T'san, the third Zen Patriarch, in The Mind of Absolute Trust:


Don't keep searching for the truth; just let go of your opinions.

For the mind in harmony with the Tao, all selfishness disappears.

With not even a trace of self-doubt, you can trust the universe completely.

All at once you are free, with nothing left to hold on to.

All is empty, brilliant, perfect in its own being.

In the world of things as they are, there is no self, no non self.

If you want to describe its essence, the best you can say is "Not-two."

In this "Not-two" nothing is separate, and nothing in the world is excluded.

The enlightened of all times and places have entered into this truth.

In it there is no gain or loss; one instant is ten thousand years.

There is no here, no there; infinity is right before your eyes.

The tiny is as large as the vast when objective boundaries have vanished;

the vast is as small as the tiny when you don't have external limits.

Being is an aspect of non-being; non-being is no different from being.

Until you understand this truth, you won't see anything clearly.[2]


Most definitions of nonduality or advaita are found in the words of teachers.


Francis Lucille:


Advaita is a Sanskrit word that literally means "not two". Synonyms of Advaita are non-duality (nonduality, non duality). Advaita is not a philosophy or a religion. Non-duality is an experience in which there is no separation between subject and object; a "me" and the rest of the universe; a "me" and God. It is the experience of consciousness, our true nature, which reveals itself as absolute happiness, love and beauty. Consciousness is defined as that, whatever that is, which is aware of these very words right here, right now.[3]


Nisargadatta Maharaj:


When you go beyond awareness, there is a state of non-duality, in which there is no cognition, only pure being. In the state of non-duality, all separation ceases.[4]




To awaken to the absolute view is profound and transformative, but to awaken from all fixed points of view is the birth of true nonduality. … Enlightenment means the end of all division. It is not simply having an occasional experience of unity beyond all division, it is actually being undivided. This is what nonduality truly means. It means there is just One Self, without a difference or gap between the profound revelation of Oneness and the way it is perceived and lived every moment of life. Nonduality means that the inner revelation and the outer expression of the personality are one and the same. So few seem to be interested in the greater implication contained within profound spiritual experiences, because it is the contemplation of these implications which quickly brings to awareness the inner divisions existing within most seekers.[5]


James Traverse:


Nonduality is the living understanding of one's true nature as that which is empty of itself and full of the unfolding of being. Nonduality is a wave as the living relationship of complementary extremes. Nonduality, like Emptiness or Silence, is not a thing yet no thing can be without it. Nonduality is the Numberless One. Nonduality is the living heart of being. Nonduality is its own knowing as "Form is Seeing and Seeing is Being"  (Quote is from Atmananda Krishna Menon). Nonduality is the path that is formed by walking it.[6]


Some define nonduality at length. The following is part of a discussion by philosopher James M. Corrigan:


Simple Answer:

Nonduality is the state or condition of not being separate and distinct even if appearing to be so. It is the condition which allows us to say that there is no true separation between ourselves and anyone else or anything else in the world, for instance. When we say things like “We are all one,” or “God is in all things,” we are asserting that the presence we call ‘reality’ is a nonduality.


A “nondualism” is a systematic description of nondual reality, or the tradition of spiritual practices of nonduality.


More Complicated Answer:

Nonduality is the condition that one arrives at when all distinctions and relations between ‘things’ are removed. Fundamentally, all such distinctions and relations are the result of error on our part because it is we that impose the idea of plurality on the whole. Nonduality is thus a simple wholeness, rather than an “all in one” whole. It is very difficult to clearly contemplate such a simple wholeness, because by thinking about it and conceptualizing it, we have lost the simple wholeness that is the real nonduality that we were trying to grasp, which is always already our very nature – we are reality. Nonduality is the Infinite because we can both indivisibly apprehend it and enumerate it inexhaustibly into parts and relations between parts.


Nondualism according to this understanding is an error because fundamentally anything that we say or think about the Infinite removes this simple wholeness of reality from our grasp.


The Ultimate Answer:

Nonduality is ineffable. Any words that attempt to capture its essence instead hide it from us.


Nondualism according to this understanding must be an apophatic* performance that uses words to lead us towards nonduality and then at the horizon of understanding pulls these words away so that reality can stand in its pure simple beauty. For example, in order to say that Nonduality is ineffable, we first posit 'Nonduality', making ‘Nonduality’ a creature of reason and thus positively identifying ‘Nonduality’ as some thing that can be thought about, and then in the same breath we take away this assertion by adding that this ‘what’ of which we speak is ineffable and thus beyond the reach of reason. The point being made by this performance is that Nonduality is not nothing, because then we could not even speak of ‘it’; but it is not something either, because if it were it could not be Nonduality; yet it is all things and no thing itself. Thus the name "Nonduality" is used to indicate a denial of multiplicity, yet the mind, seeing this denial, may assume that it means 'One' as that is the opposite of multiplicity in quantitative reasoning, and while reasoning the mind is locked into certain forms of thought, among them the form of contradictories. But the name "Nonduality," while it denies multiplicity, also denies its contradiction and subsumes both. These words are an apophatic performance. If you can ‘see’ their meaning, you do not need any more definitions. [7]


Want more?


There are many more definitions of nonduality, short and long, at http://nonduality.com/whatis.htm


For an extensive, in-depth comparative study, read Nonduality: A Study in Comparative Philosophy, by David Loy:



For a classic and simply told explanation of nondual reality, read Chuck Hillig’s Enlightenment for Beginners. http://www.amazon.com/Enlightenment-Beginners-Second-Discovering-Divine/dp/159181040X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1250991815&sr=1-1


The Book: On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are, by Alan Watts is a classic from the Sixties. His use of the word nonduality may be the first in popular spiritual literature in the West. http://www.amazon.com/Book-Taboo-Against-Knowing-Who/dp/0679723005/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1250991998&sr=1-1


The book I edited, One: Essential Writings on Nonduality, is filled it with diverse writings from nondual traditions and nondual perspectives. There’s something for everyone.



Write your own definition of nonduality


Using the elements that are common to definitions of nonduality, listed earlier, I have constructed a table which you may reproduce to you own liking. Using some, all, or none of the elements, create your own definition of nonduality and send it to me: [email protected]. I might publish it here and elsewhere.




A statement that nonduality means non-separation

A confession from your knowing

A method for experiencing nonduality

A statement that defining nonduality requires experiencing it

A metaphor

A reference to an authority

A disclaimer based on the paradox exposed by trying to define nonduality

Add another element




The word nonduality


One of my stumblings into nonduality was upon the word itself. One day in the early 80s I was sitting at the counter of a deli in Santa Monica and the guy beside me was reading an oversized leather bound book. I casually asked him what he was reading. He said, “The Upanishads.” I asked him what it was about. He didn’t answer me at first. He looked away, up and down, like he didn’t want to be bothered with me, but also as though he felt obligated to say something. After a few seconds he looked straight into my eyes and said the word as though it were a challenge: “Non-du-al-i-ty.”

In that way the unspoken power of the word was given to me. Here are 7 reasons why the word nonduality is powerful:


1. The word nonduality is fresh and untainted by loose-end connotations, such as the words Zen, consciousness, or spirituality are. As such, it conveys a new perspective, perception, and paradigm. It crystallizes what one has been feeling, intuiting, sensing, or knowing within about the fundamental truth of the teachings of oneness.

2. The word nonduality, for full understanding, demands its experience.


3. The word is a key that opens search engines and allows you to encounter, engage, and contribute to a multitude of teachings, conversations, and people.


4. The word nonduality is a portal, revealing the nondual perspective of many fields of knowledge: literature, psychology, cinema, education, art, physics, neurosciences, ecology, philosophy, mathematics, architecture, dance, music, martial arts, and more.


5. The word, like any word when it is first heard and valued, is a magnet. Once a person hears the word nonduality, it becomes a magnet drawing attention to other appearances of the word. As well, the user of the word becomes a magnet for others who are sensitive to the appearance of the word nonduality.


6. The word nonduality is a “red pill.” Recall that in the movie The Matrix, Neo was offered either a blue pill or a red pill. The blue pill would have returned Neo back to his dream world whose unreality he sensed but did not understand. The red pill would have awakened him to who he really was, which would have begun his journey through life and to the source.


The word nonduality could work as a red pill if you value its meaning enough to follow it as deeply as you can. When Neo was being given his choice of pills, his teacher and mentor Morpheus explained to him:


This is your last chance. After this there is no turning back. You take the blue pill, the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill, you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes…. Remember, all I’m offering is the truth, nothing more….


7. The word is a pointing to “the seemingly indefinable underlying nature of reality.”[8] 


8. The word is a category holding “the body of works created by those who are open to experiencing life/reality beyond the limiting beliefs and definitions of mind.”[9]





At one time the word nonduality was essentially unknown to the public. The word belonged to philosophers, scholars in comparative religion, Buddhists, and Hindus. The last ten years have seen the coming together of world teachers and the Internet, the wide dissemination of the teaching of nonduality in a variety of forms, the waking up of many, and the entry of the word nonduality into the spirituality mainstream.


A person at any level of understanding should be able to find a definition or description of nonduality that makes sense. However, I haven’t included the most elementary definitions of nonduality, for example, as one young person explained it to her not-so-spiritually-inclined parents, “Beyond good and bad.”


The collection of material on the definition of nonduality is still being generated, identified, accumulated, and published. Right now the collection is diverse, accessible, and open to new offerings and commentaries.


About the author


Jerry Katz has been promoting nondual awareness since 1997. His main website is http://nonduality.com. Jerry lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada and may be reached at jerry at nonduality.com.


*You may prefer a term other than awareness, such as God, consciousness, emptiness, reality, Brahman, Self, the Absolute, or Truth.

**Apophasis - the Greek designation for language that 'speaks away' or 'unsays' what it first affirms.


[1] "Advaita." Encyclopedia Britannica. Encyclopedia Britannica. Web. 30 Dec. 2001. <http://www.britannica.com>.

[2] Mitchell, Stephen, ed. The Enlightened Heart: An Anthology of Sacred Poetry. New York: Harper and Row, 1989. Print.

[3] Lucille, Francis. "A Primer on Advaita." Francis Lucille. Web. 19 Aug. 2009. <http://francislucille.com>.

[4] Maharaj, Sri Nisargadatta. I Am That: Talks with Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj. Trans. Maurice Frydman. Ed. Sudhakar S. Dikshit. Durham, NC: Acorn, 1992. Print.

[5] Adyashanti. "Selling Water by the River." Adyashanti. Web. 19 Aug. 2009. <http://www.adyashanti.org>.

[6] Personal email communication from James Traverse.

[7] Corrigan, James M. "What is Nonduality?" An Introduction to Awareness. Web. 19 Aug. 2009. <http://anintroductiontoawareness.com>.

[8] Personal email communication from Mandee Labelle.

[9] Ibid.

Nonduality is like the final destination for those wanting to uncover the ultimate Socratic quest to "know thyself." -Chuck Hillig


from http://mayanprophecy2012.blogspot.com/2009/08/oneness-transcending-illusion-of.html

Oneness : Transcending The Illusion Of Duality

The philosophy of Nonduality, or as it is called in India, Advaita-Vedanta, says that there is just One Spirit in the Universe, and that everything, living or inanimate, is an inseparable and indivisible part of this One Spirit. Nonduality further says that it is only illusion, caused by the mind and the play of the senses, which make us regard the world and everything in it, as real and separate from us.

For someone not familiar with this philosophy, it might sound strange and even weird, but once understood, it can completely change one's attitude and perspective about life.

Imagine a state, in which you feel oneness with the Universe, enjoying bliss and peace of mind, and at the same time acting and functioning normally in your day-to-day life. A state of being active in the world, yet maintaining a state of inner detachment. In this state you are aware of your oneness with the One Spirit, and also aware that the One Spirit is acting and manifesting through everything, things, plants, trees, animals and people. This is the experience of nonduality in its highest condition.

Ordinarily, the veil of thoughts and the five senses draw the mind outside, to the external world, and obscure the awareness of the consciousness that is beyond the mind. Meditation brings peace to the mind, and develops the ability to silence it, thus enabling us to experience the "state" of nonduality. In this state of inner silence, one rises above the illusion of identification with the mind, thoughts and ego, gets beyond the illusion of separateness, and realizes the oneness with the One Spirit. It is as if a new sort of consciousness dawns, and one sees the world in a different way.

With this kind of consciousness, we are able to allow the mind to be active or command it to be silent at our command. It becomes our faithful servant, instead of being our master. We function very effectively in the outer world, yet our basis is in pure, calm and limitless consciousness, which is not attached to anything and not limited by anything. In this state, we live and view the world from the nonduality point of view.

Though in our day-today life we refer to other people, as separate from us, this is only a mental viewpoint, convenient for functioning in our daily lives. From a higher state of consciousness, all are One, and the terms "I", "you", "he", "she" and "they" are not real. There is only the One Spirit, Consciousness, which seems to manifest in limitless forms and ways.

The concept of nonduality is not a strange or weird idea. It can be experienced and lived right here and now, no matter where you are, and without attracting anybody's attention. It is an inner state of consciousness, not an external state.

It is possible to realize the meaning of nonduality and attain spiritual awakening and enlightenment in an ashram or a cave, and it is also equally possible to do so while living in a town or city with family and job. It is all a matter of strong desire, inner attitude and dedication.

Most people cannot afford to live a secluded life in order to meditate and lead a purely spiritual life. Most of us need to work and support a family, and can therefore devote only part of the day to spiritual pursuits. The good news is that we can practice meditation and realize our true being, without abandoning our present style of living. With proper planning, it is possible to find the time and the energy.

Meditation, walking on the spiritual path and the realization of nonduality can be practiced anywhere, without making external changes in our life. You can stay with your job and family, and still make spiritual progress and realize the true meaning of nonduality.

There are many shades of meaning to the word nonduality. As an introduction, we might say that nonduality is the philosophical, spiritual, and scientific understanding of non-separation and fundamental oneness.

Our starting point is the statement “we are all one,” and this is meant not in some abstract sense but at the deepest level of existence. Duality, or separation between the observer and the observed, is an illusion that the Eastern mystics have long recognized and Western science has more recently come to understand through quantum mechanics.

Dualities are usually seen in terms of opposites: Mind/Matter, Self/Other, Conscious/Unconscious, Illusion/Reality, Quantum/Classical, Wave/Particle, Spiritual/Material, Beginning/End, Male/Female, Living/Dead and Good/Evil. Nonduality is the understanding that identification with common dualisms avoids recognition of a deeper reality.

So how can we better understand nonduality?

There are two aspects to this question, and at first glance they appear to be mutually exclusive, although they may be considered two representations of a single underlying reality.

The first aspect is our understanding of external reality, and for this we turn to science. The word science comes from the Latin scientia, which means knowledge. The beauty and usefulness of science is that it seeks to measure and describe reality without personal, religious, or cultural bias. For something to be considered scientifically proven, it has to pass exhaustive scrutiny, and even then is always subject to future revision. Inevitably human biases creep in, but the pursuit of science itself is intrinsically an evolving quest for truth. But then quantum mechanics turned much of this lauded objectivity on its head, as the role of the observer became inseparable from the observed quantum effect. It is as if consciousness itself plays a role in creating reality. Indeed, the two may be the same thing. As quantum pioneer Niels Bohr once put it: “A physicist is just an atom's way of looking at itself!”

The second aspect is our inner, personal experience of consciousness, our “awareness of awareness.” We have our senses to perceive the world, but “behind” all perception, memory, identification and thought is simply pure awareness itself. Eastern mystics have described this undifferentiated consciousness for thousands of years as being the ultimate state of bliss, or nirvana. Seekers have attempted to experience it for themselves through countless rituals and practices, although the state itself can be quite simply described. As Indian advaita teacher Nisargadatta Maharaj said: “The trinity: mind, self and spirit, when looked into, becomes unity.”

The central challenge to understanding nonduality may be that it exists beyond language, because once it has been named, by definition -- and paradoxically -- a duality has been created. Even the statement “all things are one” creates a distinction between “one” and “not-one”! Hardly any wonder that nonduality has been misunderstood, particularly in the West.

What is Non-Duality?

Non-Duality is so profound that it is the very substance and expression of life.  It is pre-life and after-life and intra-life.  There have been various techniques developed in Vedanta, Zen and other paths to try to point toward this truth, but it is so profound that no system, no matter how great has ever fathomed its depth or expanse.  Spiritual traditions and even some of the modern sciences are only hinting at its beingness, but it is up to each organic entity (person or otherwise) to directly realize its truth.

You can believe in God or have no belief in God.  You can believe in science or have no belief that science is a beacon of truth and Non-Duality will not be fazed.  All are welcome to take this grand journey to discover whether this truth that ‘All is Pure Awareness, Ever Free and Blissful’ is actually true or not

Why Non-Duality?

Because it brings us freedom, joy and understanding of ourselves, depths of who we are that we never even dreamed of – not only as we are today, but as we will be in the future.  Ultimately it transcends all of our concepts of self and brings us to the brink of knowing the Source of all life so we can learn to love and serve all beings in joy.


from http://www.scienceandnonduality.com/nonduality.shtml

What is nonduality, anyway?

There are many shades of meaning to the word nonduality. As an introduction, we might say that nonduality is the philosophical, spiritual, and scientific understanding of non-separation and fundamental oneness.

Our starting point is the statement “we are all one,” and this is meant not in some abstract sense but at the deepest level of existence. Duality, or separation between the observer and the observed, is an illusion that the Eastern mystics have long recognized and Western science has more recently come to understand through quantum mechanics.

Dualities are usually seen in terms of opposites: Mind/Matter, Self/Other, Conscious/Unconscious, Illusion/Reality, Quantum/Classical, Wave/Particle, Spiritual/Material, Beginning/End, Male/Female, Living/Dead and Good/Evil. Nonduality is the understanding that identification with common dualisms avoids recognition of a deeper reality.

So how can we better understand nonduality?

There are two aspects to this question, and at first glance they appear to be mutually exclusive, although they may be considered two representations of a single underlying reality.

The first aspect is our understanding of external reality, and for this we turn to science. The word science comes from the Latin scientia, which means knowledge. The beauty and usefulness of science is that it seeks to measure and describe reality without personal, religious, or cultural bias. For something to be considered scientifically proven, it has to pass exhaustive scrutiny, and even then is always subject to future revision. Inevitably human biases creep in, but the pursuit of science itself is intrinsically an evolving quest for truth. But then quantum mechanics turned much of this lauded objectivity on its head, as the role of the observer became inseparable from the observed quantum effect. It is as if consciousness itself plays a role in creating reality. Indeed, the two may be the same thing. As quantum pioneer Niels Bohr once put it: “A physicist is just an atom's way of looking at itself!”

The second aspect is our inner, personal experience of consciousness, our “awareness of awareness.” We have our senses to perceive the world, but “behind” all perception, memory, identification and thought is simply pure awareness itself.  Eastern mystics have described this undifferentiated consciousness for thousands of years as being the ultimate state of bliss, or nirvana. Seekers have attempted to experience it for themselves through countless rituals and practices, although the state itself can be quite simply described. As Indian advaita teacher Nisargadatta Maharaj said: “The trinity: mind, self and spirit, when looked into, becomes unity.”

The central challenge to understanding nonduality may be that it exists beyond language, because once it has been named, by definition -- and paradoxically -- a duality has been created. Even the statement “all things are one” creates a distinction between “one” and “not-one”! Hardly any wonder that nonduality has been misunderstood, particularly in the West.

from http://suzukiroshi.sfzc.org/dharma-talks/?p=212

Attention! Yuima-kitsu (Vimalakirti) asked Mañjushri: “What is Bodhisattva’s doctrine of attaining non-duality?”

Mañjushri said: “In my comprehension, on each doctrine there should not be any word, any verses, any interpretations or any understandings. This is the true entrance to the doctrine of non-duality, and all discussion about it makes no sense. This is the doctrine of attaining non-duality.”

Then Mañjushri asked Yuima-kitsu: “Each one of us already has finished giving our interpretations; what is your explanation of this doctrine of the oneness of duality?”

Here Setcho said: “What did you Yuima say? Did you understand?”  (Setcho was the compiler of the Blue Cliff Records).

Each one of the Bodhisattvas had tried their interpretations on the supreme doctrine of non-duality. When Yuima was asked to give some interpretation to the doctrine, he did not say anything about it. None of the other interpretations were better than the silence of Yuima.

If you understand this Model Subject in this way only it may not be perfect, because Yuima’s silence was not just to keep his mouth still. Setcho was very kind to us just to leave this point to our own effort, so that we would not be caught by Yuima’s powerful silence. Yuima’s way, including his silence, is a good example of the Bodhisattva’s way to help others before helping himself, through suffering the same suffering with others, in accordance with the circumstances and the temperament of the people.

Appreciatory Word:

Totsu!  Foolish aged Yuima![2] Grieving for the people who suffer in vain,[3] he helplessly laid himself in the sickbed at Vaisali. His whole body was withered and exhausted. When the teachers of the seven Buddhas came, he tidied[4] up his room thoroughly.  Earnestly he asked them about the doctrine of obtaining non-duality, but when he was asked back about it, he seems to have collapsed.[5] However, he was not broken down.[6] Even the Golden-Maned Lion (Bodhisattva Mañjushri) could not follow in Yuima’s track.


[2]  An ironical eulogy by Setcho of Yuima, who is a good example of the bodhisattva.

[3]  See the quotation from Dogen’s Shobogenzo, below:

After all, Yuima’s silence and his illness should be understood not just as the “finger to point at the moon,” but also as the actual practice of the ultimate teaching of Buddha. This is the Bodhisattva’s way which is neither for yourself nor for others, but for Buddhism.  Dogen-Zen master says: “When you practice right practice, your inner treasure house will open by

itself and the treasures will offer themselves for your free use (Oneness of duality).”

“By the Awakening of the Wisdom-Heart is meant the earnest desire to save all beings, even before we ourselves (laymen and priests) have attained Enlightenment. Anyone who cherishes this desire is the great teacher of all living beings. Even a little girl seven years old may be the teacher of four classes of men. This spirituality has nothing to do with sexes or age in the law of the supreme teaching of Buddha (duality of oneness).”

“The Buddha Shakyamuni is to be found in one’s own mind. Find out what this one mind is, and by so doing you will show your gratitude to the Buddha” (Dogen).

[4]  He cleared up his mind of discriminating ideas, of gaining or losing, good or bad, and waited for Buddha’s disciples’ visit.

[5]  When Mañjushri was asked about the doctrine of obtaining non-duality, he said: “No words, no verses, no interpretations.” But Yuima did not say anything when he was asked back about it, just as if he had collapsed. But his “no answer” in this case was the best relish ever given by any disciple of Buddha to the eternal teaching of non-duality.

[6]  However, later, even Zen students became attached to his silence without knowing that we should realize the same truth even in the prattle of an old man. Setcho is said to be very kind in that he did not say anything about Yuima’s silence so that his students would not be attached to the practice of silence alone. When Mañjushri was talking about the ultimate teaching, the whole world was nothing but Mañjushri’s and there was no Yuima; and when Mañjushri and the other disciples of Buddha were listening to Yuima, the whole universe was Yuima and there were no disciples of Buddha. For this reason, you should say that before Mañjushri disappears Yuima appears expressing one whole universe in different connotations. This is called the oneness of the duality or the doctrine of non-duality. The Bodhisattva’s way of life is supported by this truth.

George Poggemann

The philosophy of Non-Dualism is the point of view that there is one Absolute Reality without a second and that each of us is one with that Reality, just as a wave is one with the ocean. It asserts that experiencing Ultimate Reality is the goal of life. Advaita, another name for Non-Dualism, sees other religions, practices and philosophies as tools that ultimately lead to the direct experience of Absolute Reality.

To discriminate between what is real and what is not real, it is necessary to define what is meant by real and not real. In this philosophy only that which neither changes nor ceases to exist is real. No object or knowledge can be absolutely real if its existence is only temporary. The unreal includes every “thing,” all names and forms, our minds and thoughts, everything. The universe looks real but is not permanent. It is an illusion. We can’t say it exists nor can we say it doesn’t exist. It is neither real nor non-existent. It is magical. It’s a mystery.

Reality is not a thing at all. It is no-thing, nothing. An innocent term for it would be pure spirit, or pure consciousness. It has no parts. If we look for it, we are an eye looking for itself. It is experienced but cannot be described. It is ineffable. This Pure Consciousness is permanent existence, knowledge and bliss and is one with man’s inner self.

When we wake up from a dream the dream world disappears. Non-Dualism teaches that when we wake up to reality this world disappears. The world of thought and matter is a misreading of pure spirit and nothing more. It has a phenomenal or relative existence superimposed upon Absolute Reality by ignorance and remains superimposed until ignorance is destroyed by knowledge of reality, commonly called Spiritual Enlightenment.

Andrew Cohen

...a state of consciousness in which we are each aware that there is only One and yet, simultaneously, we are engaging as many; a state in which we are able to experience unqualified communion and powerful autonomy at the very same time. That's nonduality--incarnational nonduality. It is experienced in the body, in relationship, not only in the stillness of inner revelation.



What is Advaita?

A Discussion with James Swartz

Advaita (pronounced aahdwaituh) is a Sanskrit compound that means ‘not two.’ Although it can refer to anything, it is a particularly important word in the Vedic spiritual tradition because it indicates an important fact about the nature of consciousness, the Self. The portion of the Vedas that deal with the topic of enlightenment is called Vedanta. Vedanta contends that reality is advaita, ‘not two.’ This means that the subject-object distinction that is the most salient feature of what unenlightened individuals consider to be reality, does not actually obtain, although it seems to. This is a very important fact about existence because it is the subject-object distinction that is responsible for much of the existential suffering that characterizes human life. It causes all manner of emotional turmoil because taking the subject-object duality to be a fact puts the individual at odds with objects.

In duality, the subject, the person I have been conditioned to believe I am, takes his or her self to be limited and incomplete. Because of this fact, he or she feels he needs objects…a house, a job, a relationship, children, etc…to eliminate the sense of incompleteness associated with his or her status as a subject. He or she must develop strategies to obtain desired objects and to avoid undesirable objects. The pursuit and avoidance of objects accounts for considerable suffering. Because both the subject and the objects are subject to change, in so far as they are in time where duality obtains, it is difficult to obtain and keep desired objects. Time, the most salient feature of duality, puts considerable stress on the subject too. His or her desires are constantly changing. When an object is obtained, a change takes place in the subject that causes his or her relationship to the object to change. The constant friction caused by the interaction between the subject and the objects inevitably leads to loss of energy and death.

Vedanta contends that duality is merely a belief brought on by ignorance of the nature of reality, not a fact. In fact, reality is non-dual. This means that the subject-object distinction does not actually obtain. The subject is not different from the objects. Both the subject and the objects are apparent manifestations of the non-dual self or consciousness. Enlightenment is the freedom from suffering that arises when the non-dual nature of the self is fully appreciated. When you no longer take yourself to be separate from the world of objects…yes, people too are objects in duality…conflict dies and the subject is free of the desire to obtain and maintain objects. Vedanta is a time tested means of inquiry into the nature of reality that ultimately resolves the subject-object duality by revealing the non-dual nature of the Self.

~ ~ ~

More on subject/object analysis here:


Definition of the nondual from How to Attain Enlightenment, by James Swartz

p.17: “nondual reality means that there is only one principle operating in reality, not two or more, appearance to the contrary notwithstanding.” 

p.133: “Nondual vision means that everything in the creation is of equal value to everything else from God’s point of view; the whole of existence sinks or swims together.” 

p.139: “non-dual love is the realization of oneness with the self. Because the self is everything that is, non-dual love is unconditional love of everyone and everything.” 

p.89: "The self is non-dual. The meaning of these words erases the belief that there are other selves and that perceived objects are different from the subject. “ 

p.177: “The vision non-duality means that there is no other.” 

p.180: “There is perhaps no more eloquent example of non-dual vision than Christ’s statment under torture on the cross. ‘Forgive them; they know not what they do.’ ... Also, “Hate the sin, not the sinner.’ The sinner is just the self under the spell of self ignorance. He or she is worthy of love. The vision of non-duality is built into the sattvic mind because it is non-separate from the self. The self is not unique. It is the same in everyone. It binds everything into one whole. Any problematic experience can be quickly laid to rest when this vision is applied. Therefore, cultivate sattva in the form of inquiry into the nature of reality.”

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.


Kenneth Madden

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.



Peter Cohen

WHAT???? “Nonduality”—Definition #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
be different. 

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
person's definition.

Best wishes,


Nonduality is the realization/observation of the timeless, all pervading unity, as expressed continuously by the apparent name/form apparatus, without any agent or entity. this is what is - rest are stories, speculations etc...

Colin Drake

Nonduality - not 'the quality or opposition of being dual (two).'
-- not 'the opposition between two concepts or aspects.' (Oxford English Dictionary)

Or to put it simply 'not two' (of anything). It is put this way, rather than saying 'all is one', for the very term 'one' implies (that there could be) two or more… In fact the term 'nonmultiplicity' would be more accurate for what is being suggested here is 'not many' rather than 'not two'.

What we are trying to get a handle on here is that there is actually no (permanently existing) thing in existence, and that all apparent 'things' are manifestations of the same essence.

This can be shown by investigating the nature of our own subjective experiences, which is actually all that any of us have to investigate. For each of us any external object or thing is experienced as a combination of thought (including mental images) and sensation, i.e. you may see it, touch it, know what it is called, and so on … Thus everything in the external world is experienced as a mixture of thoughts and sensations, and when we attempt to investigate any 'thing' it is these that we are investigating.

Any given moment of direct experience there are only three elements: thoughts (including all mental images), sensations (everything detected by the senses) and awareness of these thoughts and sensations. All thoughts and sensations are ephemeral objects (the perceived) which appear in this awareness (the perceiver) which is the constant subject. So at a deeper level than the ever-changing objects (thoughts and sensations) we are this constant subject, awareness itself.

To put this in a slightly different way, we can easily notice that every thought and sensation occurs in awareness, exists in awareness and dissolves back into awareness. Before any particular thought or sensation there is effortless awareness of 'what is': the sum of all thoughts and sensations occurring at any given instant. During the thought or sensation in question there is effortless awareness of it within 'what is'. Then when it has gone there is still effortless awareness of 'what is'.

Reiterating, for each of us any external object (or thing) is experienced as a combination of thought and sensation, i.e. you see it, touch (feel) it, know what it is called, etc. Therefore in our direct experience everything arises in, exists in and subsides back into awareness itself.

Awareness can also be defined as universal consciousness when it is totally at rest, completely still; aware of every movement that is occurring within it. In our direct experience we can see that awareness is still, as there is awareness of the slightest movement of mind or body. In fact this is the 'stillness' relative to which any movement can be known. Every 'thing' that is occurring in consciousness is a manifestation of cosmic energy, for the string theory and the earlier theory of relativity show that matter is in fact energy, which is consciousness in motion (or motion in consciousness). For energy is synonymous with motion and consciousness is the substratum, or deepest level, of all existence.

Now all motion arises in stillness, exists in stillness, is known by its comparison with stillness, and eventually subsides back into stillness. For example, if you walk across a room, before you start there is stillness, as you walk the room is still and you know you are moving relative to this stillness, and when you stop once again there is stillness. In the same way every 'thing' (consciousness in motion) arises in awareness (consciousness at rest), exists in awareness, is known in awareness and subsides back into awareness. Awareness is still, but is the container of all potential energy which is continually bubbling up into manifestation (physical energy) and then subsiding back into stillness.

Thus there is no dichotomy or duality between the physical world and 'awareness' for they are both manifestations of the same essence. The physical universe is just cosmic energy (consciousness in motion) when it is manifest into physical form, and awareness (consciousness at rest) contains this same energy in latent form as potential energy. Therefore there is in reality no multiplicity (nondualtiy) as there is only consciousness existing in two modes, in motion and at rest.

Orva Schrock

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.

Duality and non-duality
Published: 24 Feb 2010

Everything happens according to the will of God. Is attachment a mere concept? If attachment is a concept, how do you get yourself attached? You can speak on attachment, but you cannot be attached. A concept is different from an experience. A person can speak on advaita, non-duality, which is the “God is One” concept. Has he experienced? The concept is different. People are experts in concepts and precepts, but very poor in practice. They are impoverished in practice, but they are scholars in concepts and precepts. Attachment is not a concept if you are attached. Identification of the body is not a concept, but a reality. You are the doer. It is happening; I think this is my body. I am attached to my family. I am attached to my job. These are things going on. Everything happens according to the will of God. This is a point we have to understand here.

logoWhere there is attachment, the very word “attachment” has a meaning when there is detachment. When there is nothing like detachment, the meaning of the word “attachment” is gone. There is day because there is night; when there is no night, the word “day” has no meaning. So attachment has meaning because there is detachment, or else it will lose its meaning. To believe that “I am the doer” is ego. And with regard to identification of the body, if I feel identified, it means that there is scope for non-identification. When I say that I am identified, it means I can also dis-identify. You can also get yourself dis-identified. So where there is attachment, there is a possibility for detachment. Where there is body identification, there is a possibility for body non-identification. Where there is a feeling of doership, there can be non-doership also. This is all duality. However, the reality is beyond it. The reality is non-dual.

Therefore, the will of God is non-dual. That duality, that Divinity, at the operational level, is, on one side, attachment, and, on the other side, detachment—like two sides of the same coin. Is it attachment or detachment? Is it both, and it is neither of the two. Both are present, and yet how can both be present at the same time? It is something like this. Therefore, reality is non-dual. Day and night are dual; that is correct. But truly speaking, they are non-dual. The sun does not rise, nor does it set. There is nothing like sunrise and sunset. When the Earth turns, it is day. When it turns further, it is night. We still say sunrise and sunset. Therefore, functionally you are dual; but truly speaking, you are non-dual.

Submitted by the Sri Sathya Sai Baba Organisation of T&T

Stanley Sobottka


There are many statements of nonduality, e.g., consciousness
is all there is, love is all there is, there are not two, there is only
oneness, etc. These are useful to begin with but the statements
themselves don't take us very far. To believe the statements is to make
nonduality into a religion rather than accepting it as a teaching.
Instead of belief, what is necessary is a clear, direct seeing of truth.
The essence of direct seeing is to see that there is no separate me. If
there is no separate me, there is no separation.

How do we see that there is no me? Simply speaking, we just look for the
me. If we don't find it, then we look for what-it-is that sees that
there is no me. We might think that then is the true me. In that case,
we just take another step back and look for what-it-is that sees that.
We might think that we will have to keep on stepping back forever but
that proves not to be the case. Once we see that there is no me, the
next step, the step of seeing the witness of no-me, is likely to be the
last one because the seeing of the witness likely dissolves the witness,
and then there is only pure awareness.

What if we find a me in the first step? The process is the same as
above. We step back and see what-it-is that sees the me. If we find the
witness of the me, we take another step back and see what-it-is that
sees the witness of the me. That seeing will likely dissolve the
witness, leaving pure awareness.

Even if we can find no me and no witness of no-me, we might still feel
that our awareness is confined to the skull. In that case, we look for
what-it-is that sees that awareness is confined to the skull. If we see
an awareness that is confined to the skull, we immediately see that what
seems to be confined awareness cannot be true awareness. Again, as we
step back and look for what sees this, we might find a witness of
no-confined- awareness. Once again, we step back to see what-it-is that
sees the witness. In so doing, the witness again dissolves into pure

Once we see that there is no me, no witness of no-me, and
no-confinement, all separation dissolves. This seeing might have to be
repeated many times for it to be a continuing awareness of no
separation. It is very helpful to realize that both the apparent me and
apparent confinement are just arisings. Since all arisings rapidly come
and go, the me and confinement are never permanent, even for a short
time. There are many times when there is no me and no confinement but we
are not aware of it because we are not at the moment suffering from
separation. Consequently, we can save our practice times for the times
that we are suffering.

Peter Fenner:

I can’t give you a definition of it because there’s nothing to define. That’s the definition. It’s the one and only thing that can be defined, in a way, by its absence. The nondual awareness: we can’t say what it is, we can’t say where it is. In fact, it’s going beyond existence and non-existence. That’s what it means to be nondual. If we say it exists, that’s in contrast to it not existing, that’s not nondual. If we say it does not exist, that’s in contrast to it existing. So here you can already feel that we’re way beyond the mind. The mind does not know what we’re talking about. … I don’t know what I’m talking about at this point, and that is one of the ways we can point to nondual awareness.


Stephen Wolinksy:

There’s no such thing as nonduality … Nonduality is just a word, it’s a pointer. But once you have nonduality, you have duality. So the question is, is there such a thing as nonduality prior to the word nonduality?


Rupert Spira:

Nonduality as the phrase implies, literally means not two. There are not two things. It makes reference to the presumption deeply embedded in all cultures, that experience is divided into two things, one, a knower, and two, the known. … The term duality makes reference to these two apparent things, a knowing subject, which is considered to be this body, or in this body, and a known object — other, person, world — which is considered to be outside myself and separate from myself. The term nonduality indicates the true nature of our experience, which, if we make a deep exploration of our actual experience, we find there are not these two things. There is just one. … not two. … That leaves what there is truly, completely open, unnamed, untouched, but yet absolutely present in every experience.


Vijay Kapoor:

Nonduality would be not the absence of duality. It is something which transcends duality. … In our experience we have youth, we have old age, we having the waking state, dream state, we have lots of different dualities, male, female… What we find is the very basic consciousness has no duality. It is independent of time. … Consciousness has no dependence whatsoever. … The very content of duality does not have duality.


Rabbi Hoffman:

If you name it you’ve already changed it. Our basic idea about nonduality is … an infinite light with no end that has no differentiation in it, no light or dark, no positive or negative, … or any of these dualities. … We don’t supress any question. We pray our questions. Our doubts are very holy. Out of a good question comes a lot of thinking. … The question is, “What motivated the creation of the universe?” Because there was no room in this nonduality for the so-called narcissistic ego that could choose to rebel against the nonduality and assert its individuality selfishly against the nonduality. This is the puzzle of Torah. We start from there then we go on to celebrate the existence of both. What we’re interested in is the conversation between the duality, or the left brain thinking — the “I” that strategizes — and the right side, which feels part of a unity without any differentiation. How do you give way to both sides and create a conversation between the two? What we believe is that G-d is the name of the one that cannot be named. How do you create G-d as the oscillating tension between the two that exist in the conversation. My operant metaphor for that is somebody walking a tightrope.


Peter Russell, Author, Philosopher:

Nonduality … means the universe is not dual, there is one common essence to the universe. … Science is nondual. It’s basic philosophy is that there is a unified field, a oneness which we are approaching. In spiritual circles … the nonduality is where the essence is awareness … consciousness … a different sort of nonduality … both of them see the fundamental nature of things, the oneness behind everything.


Thomas Ray, Professor of Zoology and Computer Science, University of Oklahoma:

Nonduality involves absence of self or sense of self and the feeling of oneness or unity with everything, with the universe. I’ve believed that nonduality is just the plain truth. The universe is one thing and we’re all part of the universe and that it isn’t nonduality that needs explanation, it’s duality that needs explanation. In fact, there is a mental organ that produces duality, just one. Without the activity of that mental organ, we would experience nonduality as the normal state.


Shaikh Kabir Helminski, Author, Sufi teacher:

The way we see it in the Sufi tradition is that — particularly for mystic consciousness — we understand that everything is rooted in the divine. Everything is unified in a field of oneness. Practically speaking what that means is that my consciousness, my love, my will, my generosity if I have any, my capacity for forgiveness, all of these have their attributes in the source of the divine. … This nonduality has a kind of quality to it … that is deeply personal as well as cosmic and impersonal because we realize the human being is the ripened fruit of that nonduality. The nonduality doesn’t cancel our human individuality. … We don’t make a big deal about nonduality because we know and trust that everything comes from God. The God that we’re talking about is subtle and integral to this whole creation. … Poetry suggests it. We communicate more through poetry than through abstract theory.


John Prendergast, Adjunct Assistant Professor of Psychology, CIIS

Nonduality, for me, points to the basic absence of difference between self and other, between subject and object, between perceiver and perceived. When the Buddha said form is emptiness and emptiness is form, this is statement of nondual perception. When nothing looks out and sees that it’s everything, this is the experience of nonduality. The apparent division between self and other is seen through. … The reality of the seamless wholeness nature of reality reveals itself. … It’s a deep understanding and knowing that there is essentially no separation.


Olga Louchakova, Director, Neurophenomenology Research Center, ITP Prof.:

Nonduality is the certain perspective on self and consciousness which makes one to experience being and consciousness as undivided and nonseparate from every other consciousness which can be perceived initially as different. It’s the experience of consciousness as being undivided, experience of your own being as being connected with the rest of the universe, and being one with the rest of the universe even though you may not have the perception of the whole universe at the moment. Most importantly, the experience of nonduality is the experience of authenticity, of authentic, unlimited, nonconstricted being, experience of being yourself, experience of living life with no fear.


Tim Freke, Scholar, Author, Stand up Philosopher:

My experience is that fundamentally reality is characterized by polarity. For me it’s not nondual or dual. It’s both at the same time. … Polarity is opposites, but they can only exist together. … They’re two and one at the same time. The paradox of our predicament is that it’s two and one at the same time. I see no reason to prejudice one over the other. In fact, I see a necessity to be conscious of both. What I’ve looked for is an image that can capture that experience. For me the image is lucid living, which is a state comparable to lucid dreaming, only now. … On the one hand I am Tim … I’m actually so individual that I inhabit this unique point in space and time and no one else can or ever will inhabit it. Then there’s the discovery of this deeper nature, the subject itself, not the object, the “I”, that which is witnessing this, and if I go deeply into that now it is a vast spaciousness in which all this is arising just like in a dream. And those two exist together, so “here” it’s all one, “here” it’s all separate. Which is true? They’re both true.


Francis Lucille, nonduality teacher

The definition for nonduailty would be that there is one single reality. We all have the knowledge that we are conscious and that consciousness is real. That which hears the words is consciousness. That is beyond a shadow of a doubt. …The world is only a concept which is inferred from perceptions. Perceptions are mind stuff. … Consciousness is the reality of our experience. If there is only one reality … the reality of all minds must be the same. That is the fundamental understanding of nonduality.


Robert Dittler, Abbot/Bishop, White Robed Monks of St. Benedict

[Silence. The video shows him smiling, shrugging, nodding, being.]


Jeremy Hayward, teacher of meditation, science, and Buddhism with Shambhala Buddhism

Literally what we’re talking about is the non-distinction of nonduality of I and other primarily … distinctions come from the conceptual mind that divides the world into this and that and the primary one is the distinction between me and you, me and that, me, me. That’s duality. It becomes a problem when we forget there is no me. … There’s just a flow of energy and awareness and then something pops up and says, “ME” and that’s starts duality. But duality and nonduality are two sides of the same coin. You can’t separate one from the other, you have to see the whole thing, which is duality and nonduality together.


Jeff Foster, nonduality teacher

I really don’t know what nonduality is anymore. Years ago I could have told you a lot about nonduality. The word nonduality is just a pointer. It points to life as it’s happening and the possibility that we’re not separate from life. The moment you talk about nonduality you kind of missed the point. … The moment you talk about it you’ve made it into something separate from something else … which is completely dualistic. So what is nonduality. I guess the answer is there when the question isn’t, somehow.


Nahid Angha, Co-director of the International Association of Sufism

The question of nonduality has been the concern of human beings since the beginning of civilization, because we want to see if there is any essence to all that there is. … What is nonduality when we see around ourselves duality? Is there any essence to [duality]? … In Sufism we come to the metaphor of raindrop and ocean. When it falls into the ocean it realizes that it is the ocean. So unless we find that reality within our own selves, then duality remains.


Bernard Baars, The Neurosciences Institute of San Diego

Nonduality in Sanskrit … is the theory that one can perceive the world in a completely unified fashion. … Nondualism is said to be the ultimate state that one may arrive at, after many years or perhaps very quickly.


Roy Whenary

Yes, the key thing is that 'Non-Duality' does not EXIST. It is not an object, and never can be an object. It is simply a tool to flip the mind out of conceptual thinking, out of a fixed perspective. The one who takes his stand as a separate entity/ego, is simply the projection of the past - memory, conditioning, programming. The past is forever replicating itself in all that arises, taking different shapes and forms, but always transient in the moment. The witness of these simply takes note of the arising and is not tempted to get involved, because the witness is not from the perspective of the separate ego ... it is simply a function of nature/the universal consciousness. The ego can never take control of the witness ... it can only pretend to, but underlying all deception is a fundamental awareness of how things truly are. This is present in us all ... though maybe not always consciously.



The word 'nondual' is the English translation
of the Sanskrit word, advaita.

Dvaita means two. And in Sanskrit, when you place
the letter 'a' before certain consonants, that negates
the meaning of the word. Thus dvaita means two, or dual,
and advaita means not two, or not dual, hence the
word 'nondual.' Well, that still doesn't explain
what the word nondual actually means.

It means one. But what does that mean? One what?

From my understanding, what the word nondual
means is that despite all appearances to
the contrary, there is actually only one
thing which really and truly exists in and
of itself.

Even a cursory analysis of all things that
are perceived leads one to the conclusion that
all objects are really made up of smaller and
smaller objects.

We take any object, say a chair, and then we analyze
it. What is really there? It's an object we give
a name to, and the name has a meaning, but when we
analyze the object, the chair soon falls apart. It
soon falls apart into smaller and smaller objects.

What is really there?

What is really there, nondual teachings tell us,
is something which cannot be cognized as an object
of sense perception, but yet which itself forms the
basis of all objects, the basis of all sense perceptions,
and is in fact your very own being.

So that's a very big 'jump' to make from a chair
to your very own being as the actual substance
of all that is, and it takes a lot of careful
step by step explanation, teaching, and analysis
before what is being pointed out isn't a jump, but
rather is directly recognized as an obvious fact,
which hitherto went unrecognized, but which was
always true as fact.

So what is nonduality? Nonduality is the
understanding that despite the appearance of
an infinite number of names and forms, and
despite all appearances to the contrary,
and despite the possibility of an endless number of
incarnations for all living things, there is really
only one 'thing' which in and of itself actually
exists, and it is that one thing which
all apparently separate things have for their
actual being.

The direct recognition of this fact is called
by some 'enlightenment.' It is also referred to
as 'the end of suffering.' It is referred to
in many other ways as well. It is said
by the tradition in which I study that it
is the recognition that my being is whole
and complete, there in reality being nothing
other than my being (which by the way is your
being too).

So it is this one 'thing' which all things
'share' as it were. It is this one thing
in which all things have their being.

It is this one thing, which never goes into
or out of being, while the entire universe
constantly changes within it.

So it's a really big topic, and I don't know
if what I've written makes any sense to you
or not, as it was a very brief (and not very
thorough) explanation of the word 'nondual.'

It takes a long time to understand what nonduality is.
At least it took me a long time, and I'm still gaining
clarity in that understanding.

Best wishes,

From Dzogchen by Chogyal Namkhai Norbu, "Dzogchen: The Self-Perfected State":

'Nondual' is, in fact, a term that is used in Dzogchen a great deal, instead of the term 'union.' To understand why this is so, one needs to be aware that the word 'union' implies that there exist two different things in the first place to be united, whereas 'nondual' means that right from the beginning there is no concept of twoseparate things to be reunited. This is a way of explaining teh base, but how can we enter into a real understanding of it? The fact is that the base cannot be understood through the intellect. Even if we think we have grasped the meaning of the word 'nondual,' we are really just fooling ourselves, because our mind is still caught up in the dualistic condition.

The mind is, by nature, limited. It does not have the capacity to think of two things at once, and exists at the relative level. When we think of everything as being nondual, our minds are in fact occupied in that moment with the concept. But that is not what is meant by 'knowledge of the nondual state.' Intellectual understanding and direct experiential knowledge are two very different things.

Four Songs of Non Duality: The Ashtavakra, Avadhut, Ribhu and Bhagavad Gitas
By Roy Melvyn


Manifestation is duality; the world is duality. Consciousness and the objects of consciousness constitute duality. However, there is something that serves to support all this. Whether it is called God, Awareness, the Absolute or any other name, it is the inherent Oneness from which every thing emerges and returns. it is Non-Dual.

Nonduality is a hard concept to grasp at first because the mind is trained to make distinctions in the world and nonduality is the rejection of distinction. Not to say that all differences are eliminated, merely transformed into relationships. Exploration is like a journey toward the understanding of truth and the desire for nonduality. Conclusions and explanations are drawn from every walk of life. There is something for everyone in the journey including beliefs from Judaism, Christianity, Islam, the Native American tradition, Hinduism and Buddhism.

The most fundamental proposition is that ”I" exist, and all else in the universe is ”not I". While making practical distinctions, such as day and night, hot and cold, north and south, etc., our conditioned awareness also expresses itself as a judgmental spectrum with negative at one pole and positive at the other. And it ingrains a habitual mindset, a thought pattern, based inevitably on this kind of division, and the desire, fear, and actions that arise from it. In other words, our dualistic viewpoint -- which we take for granted -- is at the root of our divisiveness, dissatisfaction, and conflicting values; in short, of our unhappiness.

For millennia, teachers of nonduality, in traditions such as Buddhism, Taoism, Gnostic Christianity, and Advaita Vedanta, have assured us that it is possible to transcend the limitation of dualistic awareness, and thereby live in an awareness of dualities absence, which turns out to be: harmony, contentment and equanimity. Non-dual, of course, means ”not two"; so, nonduality is the condition of Oneness as a living experience; the transcendence of our dualistically perceived unhappiness.

Non Dual awareness represents a shift in perspective. It is what results by the dissolution of the separative image of a self, an ”I", the concepts used to describe who we think we are. At this juncture, I believe it is more appropriate to allow others to define the non-dual tan for me to continue the endeavor myself:

When the Ten Thousand things are viewed in their oneness, we return to Origin and remain where we have always been. [Sen T’sen]

As long as this ordinary ”I” was present . . . everything I perceived was confused and hidden by that personality. Now that the everyday ”I” had been put to one side I could see the world as it really was. And there was nothing trivial about its appearance: instead it was full of beauty and joy. [Rabindranath Tagore]

All is everywhere. Each is there All, and All is each. Man as he now is has ceased to be the All. But when he ceases to be an individual he raises himself again and penetrates the whole world. [Plotinus]

The more God is in all things, the more He is outside them. The more He is within, the more without. [Meister Eckhart]

The Atman is that by which the universe is pervaded, but which nothing pervades. [Shankara]

[The Principle] is in all things, but is not identical with beings, for it is neither differentiated nor limited. [Chuang Tzu]

The Beloved is all in all; the lover merely veils Him. [Jalal-uddin Rumi]

Strictly speaking, there is no path to unity consciousness. Unity consciousness is not a particular experience among other experiences, not a big experience opposed to small experiences. . . . Rather, it is every wave of present experience just as it is. And how can you contact present experience? There is nothing but present experience, and there is definitely no path to that which already is. . . . It is for all these reasons that the true sages proclaim there is no path to the Absolute, no way to gain unity consciousness. . . . We won’t hold still long enough to understand our present condition. And in always looking elsewhere, we are actually moving away from the answer, in the sense that if we are always looking beyond, the essential understanding of the present condition will not unfold. . . .We are not really searching for the answer—we are fleeing it. ........................ You don’t look at the sky, you are the sky. Awareness is no longer split into a seeing subject in here and a seen object out there. There is just pure seeing. Consciousness and its display are not-two…The pure Emptiness of the Witness turns out to be one with every form that is witnessed, and that is one of the basic meanings of ”nonduality. [Ken Wilber]

Your very existence has been delivered from all limitations; you have become open, light, and transparent. You gain an illuminating insight into the very nature of things which now appear to you as so many fairy-like flowers having no graspable realities. Here is manifested the unsophisticated self which is the original face of your being; here is shown all bare the most beautiful landscape of your birthplace. There is but one straight passage open and unobstructed through and through. This is so when you surrender all—your body, your life, and all that belongs to your inmost self. This is where you gain peace, ease, non-doing, and inexpressible delight. All the sutras and sastras are no more than communications of this fact; all the sages, ancient as well as modern, have exhausted their ingenuity and imagination to no other purpose than to point the way to this. [D.T. Suzuki]

To sum up, in nondual consciousness, consciousness has experientially accessed its”ground” nature, and is aware of itself as pure sentience, transcendent of subject-object distinctions, and present in all apparent subjects and objects.As a consequence of stably experiencing its ground nature, consciousness has shed the sheath of egoic identity, becoming free of motivations, fears, and anxieties related to the bodybased, conceptual construct of a separate and bounded self. Knowing itself as the unchanging substratum of the phenomenal world, consciousness imbues living with a profound equanimity amidst diverse events.

Free of the perplexing influence of dualistic mentality, the consciousness of the mystic engages the flow of life with intuitive spontaneity and cognitive clarity. In the absence of emotional negativity, the intrinsically loving and joyful qualities of consciousness form an affective base that informs life with an abiding sense of blessedness and identity with all that exists.

Rabbi Rami Shapiro

You ask me of God: to define the Nameless to place in your palm the ultimate secret. Do not imagine that this is hidden some­where far from you. The ultimate secret is the most open one. Here it is: God is All.

I am tempted to stop with this-to close this letter, sign my name and leave you with this simple truth. Yet I fear you will not understand. Know from the first that all that follows is but an elaboration on the simple fact that God is All.

What does it mean to be All? God is Reality. God is the Source and Substance of all things and nothing. There is no thing or feel­ing or thought that is not God, even the idea that there is no God! For this is what it is to be All: God must embrace even God's own negation.
Listen again carefully: God is the Source and Substance of everything. There is nothing outside of God. Thus we read: “I am God and there is none else [am od]” (Isaiah 45:5). Read not simply “none else,” but rather “nothing else”-not that there is no other god but God, but that there is nothing else but God.

Let me illustrate. It rained heavily during the night, and the street is thick with mud. I walked to the Bet Midrash (House of Learning) this morning and stopped to watch a group of little children playing with the mud. Oblivious to the damp, they made dozens of mud figures: houses, animals, towers. From their talk, it was clear that they imagined an identity for each. They gave the figures names and told their stories. For a while, the mud figures took on an independent existence. But they were all just mud. Mud was their source and mud was their substance. From the perspective of the children, their mud creations had separate selves. From the mud's point of view, it is clear such independence was an illusion-the creations were all just mud.

It is the same with us and God: “Adonal alone is God in heaven above and on earth below, there is none else” (Deuteronomy 4:39). There is none else, meaning there is nothing else in heaven or on earth but God.

Can this be? When I look at the world, I do not see God. I see trees of various kinds, people of all types, houses, fields, lakes, cows, horses, chickens, and on and on. In this I am like the chil­dren at play, seeing real figures and not simply mud.

Where in all this is God? The question itself is misleading. God is not “in” this; God is this.
Think carefully about what I have said. It is the key to all the secrets of life.

Douwe Tiemersma

"The Sanskrit word advaita means ‘the absence of two-ness’ or ‘non-duality’ (a-dvaita).  In experience, that which you experience is not different from you who experiences it. You are pure being-consciousness-bliss which coincides with everything and everyone in the Inexpressible. As vision, non-duality is a human and worldview. Within it the boundaries and separations between me and the other, body and mind, micro- and macrocosm, subject and object, man and God are understood to be acquired and relative. In practice, the creating of separations is the cause of many problems, in both the individual as well as collective situation. The solution then lies in making the separations radically relative, and in the being-experience of a greater whole in which everything and everyone are included. In that whole the differences persist, but they don't destroy the unity. Is there a path to non-duality? Everyone experiences and knows himself in a direct manner, without mediation. There is no distance between yourself and your own essence. Thus, there is no path to non-duality."


What Is Nonduality?

At the Nonduality Institute, nonduality is understood as the realization of a very subtle, non-conceptual, unbounded consciousness that is experienced as the essence of one’s own being and of all life. This is a mutual transparency of self and other, in which everything, including one’s own being, is revealed as made of a single, vast expanse of consciousness. It arises together with phenomena; it pervades the movement of perceptions, thoughts, emotions and sensations. This nondual consciousness is not known as an object separate from ourselves; rather, it knows itself.

 This level of consciousness has been regarded as the source of positive qualities of being, in the sense that such qualities as compassion, insight, joy and equanimity manifest spontaneously when one realizes it. These qualities are experienced as non-referential, in other words, not a specific compassion for someone, but an open-ended state of compassion that pervades one’s entire field of experience.

Most contemporary teachings consider nonduality to be the direct unmediated perception of phenomena, along with spontaneous, unmediated expression and action. In other words, direct, spontaneous participation in life, unhampered by preconceptions. Students of this view are usually instructed to fix their attention on the present moment, or to relax into an all-inclusive awareness.

There are two limitations with this approach. One, nondual consciousness is more subtle than simple attention. It not only focuses on phenomena, it pervades phenomena. It renders all of one's experience as suffused with a radiant emptiness. Two, the fixations that obscure the present moment are not just mental. Long-held constrictions in the body limit our perception, cognition, emotional responsiveness and physical sensation. We cannot open to our fundamental nature just with our minds, we need to open throughout our whole body. Because of these bodily constrictions, when we attempt to let go into the present moment, we generally let go only from the surface of ourselves. In order to realize nonduality, we need to let go from deep within the core of our being.

Approaches to nonduality that focus on recognizing and dissolving mental constructions also de-construct the notion of the self. Any fixed ideas of the self, such as "I am a teacher" or "I am a good person" will obscure our realization of nondual consciousness. However, when we realize nondual consciousness pervading our body and environment, we uncover a qualitative, authentic sense of our individual self. Nonduality is neither the subject nor the object of experience. It is the unity, the oneness of subject and object.

Nondual awakening is not dependent upon a particular spiritual lineage. When we realize nonduality, we are not realizing Buddhism or Hinduism. We are realizing our own fundamental nature—the spiritual foundation of our being is self-arising. It is naturally there, and it appears spontaneously as we become open enough to uncover it. Although the different spiritual lineages describe nondual awakening in different ways, the arising of nonduality itself is unmistakable.


"Non-conceptual awareness." -Sailor Bob Adamson


Alan Watts

”How would you feel if you saw everything as really one basic reality? Well, a lot of people think that it would be as if all the outlines and differentiations in the field of vision suddenly became vague and melted away and we saw only a kind of luminous sea of light.

However, rather advisedly, the Vedanta philosophy does not seriously use the word ‘one’ of the supreme self because the word and idea ‘one’ has its opposite ‘many’ on one side, and another opposite, ‘none’, on the other. It is fundamental to Vedanta that the supreme self is neither one nor many, but as they say, non-dual, and they express that in this word ‘advita’. A is a negative word like non. Dvita is from dva, same as the Latin duo, two. So advita is non-dual. At first this is a difficult conception because naturally, a Western logician would say, ‘But the non-dual is the opposite of the dual. Therefore, it has an opposite.’ This is true, but the Hindu is using this term in a special sense. On a flat surface I have only two dimensions in which to operate so that everything drawn in two dimensions has only two dimensions. How, therefore, on a two-dimensional level, can I draw in three dimensions? How, in logic, is it humanly rational to think in terms of a unity of opposites? All rational discourse is talk about the classification of experiences, of sensations, of notions, and the nature of a class is that it is a box. If a box has an inside, it has to have an outside. ‘Is you is or is you ain’t?’ is fundamental to all classifications, and we cannot get out of it. We cannot talk about a class of all classes and make any sense of it. However, on this two-dimensional level, we can create, by using a convention of perspective, the understanding of a third dimension. If I draw a cube, you are trained to see it in three dimensions, but it is still in two. However, we have the understanding that the slanting lines are going out through the back to another square, which is behind the first one, even though we are still on two dimensions. The Hindu understands this term advita as distinct from the term ‘one’ to refer to that dimension. So when you use the word advita, you are speaking about something beyond duality, as when you use those slanting lines you are understood to be indicating a third dimension which cannot really be reproduced on a two-dimensional surface. That is the trick. It is almost as if whatever we see to be different is an explicit difference on the surface covering an implicit unity. Only it is very difficult to talk about what it is that unifies black and white. (Of course, in a way the eyes do. Sound and silence are unified by the ears). If you cannot have one without the other, it is like the north and south poles of a magnet. You cannot have a one-pole magnet. True, the poles are quite different; one is north and the other is south, but it is all one magnet. This is what the Hindu is moving into when he is speaking of the real basis or ground of the universe as being non-dual. Take, for example, the fundamental opposition that I suppose all of us feel, between self and other – I and thou – I and it. There is something that is me; there is an area of my experience that I call myself. And there is another area of my experience which I call not myself. But you will immediately see that neither one could be realized without the other. You would not know what you meant by self unless you experience something other than self. You would not know what you meant by other unless you understood self. They go together. They arise at the same time. You do not have first self and then other, or first other and then self; they come together. And this shows the sneaky conspiracy underneath the two, like the magnet between the two different poles. So it is more or less that sort of what-is-not-classifiable (that which lies between all classes). The class of elephants opposite the class of non-elephants has, as it were, the walls of the box joining the two together, just, as your skin is an osmotic membrane that joins you to the external world by virtue of all the tubes in it, and the nerve ends, and the way in which the external energies flow through your skin into your insides and vice versa.” ~Alan Watts (quotation found at

Ivan Rados

[editor's note: though Rados uses the term consciousness, the spirit of what he says could apply to the term nonduality.]


BOYT: Please explain how you define consciousness, this term is often used but also often misunderstood.

Ivan: Consciousness cannot be defined, it has never been defined and it will never be defined. To define something you have to create a distance, you need to stand out of it; you need a space between definer and defined. How can you define yourself? If you are outside of yourself, who is there to define it? Everything else can be defined, watched, observed, experimented, moved, dissected, but not the definer, because everything else is before consciousness. Who will define consciousness? Consciousness is you. It is mystery not to be known, but to be lived. You can know outside, but you can never know inside—because you are already there, melted in oneness with the essence of you.

This is the paradox: those who claim to know the consciousness are unconscious, and those who come to a point where they don’t know the consciousness are conscious. If you say, “I am conscious,” then the question arises, “Conscious about what?” Consciousness has no idea of “I” or “Me”; it has no personality, no ego, no idea of one’s separation from the wholeness. It is one with the existence. It is flowing into the wholeness, and the wholeness is flowing into the one. Consciousness is a process, a flow like breathing—when you breathe in, the whole enters in you, when you breathe out, you enter the whole.

When we think about consciousness we usually think about the mind. The mind is not consciousness. The mind is using consciousness for its own existence. So, the mind cannot exist without consciousness, but consciousness IS the existence. Consciousness without thinking is awareness, or what I like calling it, The Infinite Consciousness. It is awareness that YOU ARE—whole, wholly, present, alive and infinite. It is not a thought; it is alertness without the thought. It is the essence of ALL THAT IS. What is IS at this moment of NOW. So, the moment of NOW is consciousness. Be in the moment and you are with it, you are IT.

~ ~ ~

Read the entire interview here:


Nonduality 101
Nonduality in a Nutshell
By Prem Daas

1. Nonduality means there is no duality. There is only one reality. There is only one life. There is variety and difference in appearance, in name and form, but no separation anywhere. Everything is made up of the same one thing; consciousness, spirit, energy; whatever you want to call it. This realization doesn’t negate duality, it embraces duality. It is seen that everything is appearing and disappearing in this one present awareness, which is always and already here and now.

2. There is no separate self. Seeing that there is no separate self means that when you look within, you don’t find a person inside. Awareness is aware of thoughts, feelings, and sensations, but awareness never comes across a separate little person living inside the body. As Ramana Maharshi said, “If you open a radio, you don’t find anyone in there speaking. The same is with the body; if you open it up, you don’t find someone inside.”

3. There is doing, but no doer. Thoughts appear, but you can’t find a thinker. Feelings arise, but you can’t find a feeler. Doing happens, but you can’t find a doer. You may find a sense of a separate self, but that is only a sense and not an actuality. There is no owner to be found. If you find a thought that says, “I am the owner. I am the doer,” then it must be seen immediately that these are only thoughts as well and you can’t find an owner for these thoughts, either. There is no one behind thought. There is no one behind awareness.

4. Everything is happening all by Itself. Since we can’t find a doer, then it must be recognized that life is simply happening all by itself. You could say that this life shows signs of creativity and intelligence, but again, there is no separate someone who is intelligent and creative behind the scenes doing the doing, it is just part of the fabric and expression of this one life. Sometimes it is said that God is the doer, but do we ever find a God that is separate from our self? As Rumi said, “When you find God, you find your self and when you find your self, you find God.” God and Self are one and the same. This is the end of I and other, of you and me, and then only This remains. This never came and This never left; it is always and already here and now.

5. All there is, is This. Oneness is everything, Oneness does everything. This is the absolute appearing as the relative. This is the impersonal appearing as the personal. This is energy appearing as matter. This is formlessness appearing as form. This is emptiness appearing as fullness. This is spirit appearing as creation. This is the unmanifest appearing as manifestation. You open your eyes in the morning and awareness is aware of only one thing; life. This life could be said to be an appearance which is both real and unreal at the same time. Scientists have looked deeply into matter and ultimately what they find is no-thing. This is no-thing appearing as everything.

6. You are awareness without the you. Awareness is prior to everything. If awareness were not present first, then nothing would be perceived. Awareness is the substratum of every experience. Consciousness is always changing its shape, form, and expression and awareness is the only thing that is aware of that play of being. However, the objects of awareness are not separate from awareness, as they are appearing and disappearing within this vast space-like awareness, which is always and already present. This awareness is impersonal and no self can be found behind awareness. The person is not aware, awareness is aware of the person. The ego is not aware, awareness is aware of the ego. Changeless awareness is aware of changeful consciousness and this seemingly dualistic play make up the two sides of the one coin of Being.

7. These are only thoughts about Nonduality. Thoughts, at best, can only point awareness back to itself, consciousness back to itself, beingness back to itself. Understanding isn’t realization and realization isn’t liberation. The mind is always telling a story about the me; the me-story. But what is aware of the me-story? Only awareness is aware. That is why Nonduality as a belief system or religion isn’t the end of the journey and isn’t enough to exhaust the spiritual seeker. It’s unsatisfactory. Nonduality must become your direct experience and living reality. The sense of separation must truly and authentically end and disappear. Then it is seen by no one that all there is is this; nothing appearing as everything. You are Freedom itself.

from http://suite101.com/article/an-introduction-to-non-duality-a293319#ixzz2MbE7XmMh

An Introduction to Non-Duality

This article introduces the message of non-duality, highlighting the dilemma for the spiritual seeker in looking for what was never lost.

Posted by Michael Jenkins | Last updated: Mar 25, 2013
What is Non-Duality? The word 'non-dual' is derived from the Sanskrit word 'Advaita' which simply means, 'not two'. In recent years, there has been much written about non-duality and many non-dual teachers have appeared to deliver the Advaita message. But what exactly is the message?

Essentially, what is pointed to in a non-dual message cannot actually be named. This is because thought and language are part of the dualisitc world of form and therefore any description of non-duality is inherently dual. However, a discussion can take place that may illuminate the dilemma for the spiritual seeker.

The core message states that there is only 'this' or there is only 'being' and what arises in being or what arises in this, is the belief and experience that 'I am a separate individual with free will and choice'. The experience of being a separate individual is accompanied by a sense of loss or longing and that feeling gives rise to seeking. In the world of the individual, the individual must seek to do, have or be in order to 'make my life work'.

The message of non-duality points to another possibility. The possibility that what is sought after, never went away. It seems as if something is missing simply because 'you' are out there looking for it. This message has been pointed to many times over the years by the great spiritual teachers and can be found hidden in many of our traditional, sacred texts.

What Is Sought Is Already Here

In the bible, we have the story of the Prodigal Son who returns home after years of living as a poor man to find that he is heir to a great fortune. This is an allegory that delivers the same message that a pure non-dual message delivers. That which you seek, you already have. The son returns home to realise that all that he longed for was at home all along. He needn't have gone anywhere to seek it.

The Fuel of The Spiritual Search

Yet, it seems we must first forget in order to remember. When we are tiny babies, there is no sense of being an individual. The concept of 'me' has not yet been developed. As we grow up, we come to learn that 'I am in here and the world is out there' and so the brain simulates a 'me' and a sense of separation is experienced. The feeling of separation increases as we get older until it is accepted as reality. The belief is then: 'I am a separate individual in world full of other separate individuals'. And from that separation arises pain and suffering. The individual never feels completely whole. There is always the sense that something is missing. That sense of loss fuels all worldly and spiritual seeking.

The End of The Individual

Non-duality points to the possibility that there is no separation and there never was. It points to the possibility that the freedom we seek in our worldly pursuits or our spiritual seeking is already immediately available. It is only seen however when the illusion of separation is seen through.

The illusion of separation is seen through most clearly when the sense of being a separate individual falls away. When there is no 'me' looking, then wholeness is seen. It is seen by no one. You could say that wholeness sees wholeness. Or 'being' sees 'being'.

The trap of separation is seen clearly when a spiritual seeker hears that what happens for liberation to take place is the loss of the sense of being an individual. So, the seeker then thinks that it needs to get rid of itself in order to be free. But who is going to get rid of the individual? There is a still a 'me' there that hopes to eliminate 'me'. The individual has cleverly split itself in two and gives one the job of slaying the other. The individual of course, still remains.

The Eternal Message

Lao Tzu said that the Tao that can be spoken of is not the eternal Tao. So, non-duality is the eternal message that cannot truly be spoken of. The moment we think we have captured non-duality, it has become a concept and therefore has re-entered the world of duality.

What is Advaita?

by S. R. Allen

The Sanskrit word ADVAITA means “not two”, or “nonduality”. So, what is it, really? Looking at the world from the standpoint of dualistic perception is partial and errant perception mixed with superimposed conceptual classifications with reference to ego-notions and selfhood. Awakening to the standpoint of nondual wisdom where there is certainty of understanding in spontaneous presence we can remain in the absence of false discrimination. What is usually taken as normal perception and cognition is, in fact, a state of false understanding in which nearly everyone abides constantly when they fail to honestly inspect their mental mechanisms and recognize the truth of things as they really are. Enlightening texts always suggest inspection and analysis of our inner and outer worlds so we can awaken to the real nondual situation. Even the “inner” and “outer” are mere conceptual designations and are not two in reality because reality cannot be one-sided. But this is the way the mind habitually splits one reality into a relative pseudo-dualism.

The real nature of phenomena is nonduality. No single object or event has its own self-essence, so no two things can be ultimately different since they both are merged in the totality of the matrix of existence. The flux, the process, and all functions within the totality of existence are the matrix of reality. Reality has no opposites or anything that is not included within it. There is nothing outside the matrix; it is all inclusive.

There is no thing that can be accurately or completely described and defined by limited language because characteristics are infinite. Therefore, reality is inconceivable, beyond any kind of conceptual elaboration, beyond the discriminations of the mind. All manifested appearances of objects and events are always simultaneously the same in their real identity, no matter what the apparent temporal differences and characteristics may seem to be. The reality of any thing is the same as the real reality of anything else. The interdependence of all phenomena is as it is because, ultimately, any one thing depends for its existence on all else, and all depends on each one, whether remotely or immediately.

The mind gathers in partial details and characteristics of things through sense contact, and then compares qualities and discriminations. The human mind is limited, while details of knowledge are limitless because of the limitless change and infinite motion taking place within conditional perpetual flux. Reality cannot be known through any intellectual construct; reality is known only through identity with it. This means it is crucial to dissociate with conceptual error. To try to conceptualize what is too vast to be conceivable by the discriminating mind is to quit the race one step short of the finish line.

Consciousness in the individual is just ordinary wakeful awareness interacting with the supposed differentiations of the manifested world. In its unobstructed and unconfined state consciousness has a natural lucidity, the individual contemplative, once having recognized his natural holistic presence, is then concerned with integrated wholes, or the total system of manifestation within the phenomenal matrix, rather than with deluded absorption in and attachment to the supposedly separate parts of it. All phenomena are then recognized as they really are, as interrelated components of the unified field of ever changing conditionality. In undifferentiating, nondual holistic lucidity all the implications of the afflictions of conceptual dualism have ceased to be and the phenomenal matrix is clearly observed and understood.

The basis of nescient dualistic concept-making and distracted inattentiveness is the ego-notion. That’s all ego is; it is not an entity, but only an habitual errant notion. The objectifying of one’s subjectivity is the dichotomy of errant perception to be transcended, and one who has stabilized his attention perfectly does not fluctuate back into conceptual aberration. This means one must learn to detect and recognize the very beginnings of distraction and gain a decisive understanding of its mechanics. When automated, reactive concept-making is stopped by attentiveness to present mental situations themselves, always based on the dualistic ego-notion, then the ego-notion will simultaneously subside and automated dualistic thought activity will stop. This is the nondual, nondichotomous realization of one’s true identity as pure consciousness, but possible only in the total abscence of the counterfeit identity, ego.

Unicity is the source of all multiplicity; noumenon is the source of all phenomena; subjectivity is the source of all objectivity. There is no thing anywhere in the totality of existence which is separate or other than this one source, hence there is no thing which possesses its own separate or real being separate from essential source noumenon. So consciousness, as subjective, cannot be separate from its counterpart, phenomenal objectivity. They are nondual too. The primary delusion of any individual is that individual’s primary bondage, conflict, hindrance, and blindness. The delusion will last because an errantly discriminating mind perceives an object as a separate entity, separate from the one source noumenon. This is the primal dualism of the mind. When this errant notion dissolves away, the bondages, conflicts, hindrances, and blindness dissolve away also. The whole problem is mental and arises because each person conceptually imputes himself to be an independent and separate entity within spatiotemporality, not realizing that his innermost real essence is the source of, and same as, that space-time continuum.

The pure subjectivity is pure consciousness, all objectivity is an expression of its subjectivity. When subject, as noumenon, identifies itself with a particular object, excluding all other objects, then the ignorance of presumed dualism dominates. Subject identifies itself as a particular body and mind in which it seems to be stationed; then the ego-notion dominates all perception and thinking. Identifying with any object particularly, such as the body or the contents of the mind is a conditioned artificial fault in mental functioning that prevents our seeing things as they really are, in particular seeing ourselves as we truly are.

Understanding things in this way, as subject vs. object, or as “me” and “the other”, or as “this” over against “that” is dualistic, and there seem to be the two polar terms. Dualistic perception may have some usefulness for conventionality or mundane purpose, but it is sadly incomplete and errant. In the final vision, subject and object are not two (Advaita), since “each”depends on the existence of the “other”, as do space-time objects. The unicity of known object and knowing subject is a totalistic, holistic vision, a complete wisdom-view – not perceiving some sort of mystical oneness, but an elimination of conceiving all objectivity as separately existing outside of subjectivity.

In order to accomplish such an elimination of wrong conceptions, it is necessary to understand many things, for instance, determining what the difference between pure consciousness and mind is, how the ego-notion is developed and how it is purgated, how the mind superimposes, why volition is not ultimately free, what time really is and what is appearance and what is actuality, and how to return to the Source.

Nonduality is known by depth-perception. This is not going to be easy. If it were easy most people would already be liberated and enlightened.