What is Nonduality?
Nonduality means “not two” or “nonseparation.” It is the sense that all things are interconnected and not separate, while at the same time all things retain their individuality. An awareness of nonduality gives you a bigger perspective on life, a greater sense of freedom, and brings you a more stable happiness.
Why do we need to know about nonduality? How is it helpful?
The word nonduality is commonly seen in the spiritual press and blogs. Nonduality bears on quantum physics, movies, education, psychology, ecology, sexuality, art, music, dance, organizational theory, and many other fields. A knowledge of nonduality can change the way we look at ourselves and the world. That change is in the direction of a unified perspective. This perspective, if pursued, is found to go far and deep.
The Perception of Nonduality
If you have ever had a sense or experience of “something” deeper and more meaningful that lies beyond the everyday you, yet that is you in some way, you have had a taste of nonduality.
The taste of nonduality is the sense or experience of unity, peace, “something” vaster than the everyday you. The taste may be known through an experience in nature, from music or art, from being deeply involved in a hobby or work, from being in the “zone” during an athletic event, from sex, a walk in the park, dance, surfing, having a few beers, or other social interaction.
It may be known in meditation, Yoga, any other spiritual practice, a near death experience, while driving your car, or in the midst of any activity, or for no apparent reason at all.
If you have ever felt deeply dissatisfied, intensely unhappy, psychically imprisoned, it might be said that you can only feel this dissatisfaction because part of you knows there is a place of freedom. That freedom is the experience of nonduality. Your unhappiness may be viewed as the hunger for the taste of nonduality, nonseparateness.
The Pursuit of Nonduality
After experiencing or sensing the taste of nonduality, you may begin to pursue nonduality. Your pursuit may take you to books, teachers, ashrams, India, Internet groups. You may engage spiritual practices, attend meetings with nondual teachers, go on retreats.
Since you are not separate from the “something” that is deeper, vaster, more meaningful than the everyday you, it follows that this pursuit is the discovery of who you really are.
For whatever reason you are here, congratulations on discovering nonduality and looking beyond the everyday you.
Some short descriptions of what nonduality is:
“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.”
–from The Lotus Sutra translated by Burton Watson
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.
–from The Lankavatara Sutra
“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.”
–Bede Griffiths (1997)
“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”.
–Justin Stone: T’ai Chi Chih and Non-Duality
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.
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.”
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.
–from A Brief History of Everything, by Ken Wilber
Realms of the Superconscious: Part 2
Also read the post in this blog, A People’s Nonduality.
And read Definition of Nondualism.