“If nonduality is so wonderful, why do I still feel pain?”

How is nonduality going to help you if you are tied down and being tortured?

That was asked by someone who has read scores of nonduality books.

The question is another stressful thought. If you don’t understand what stressful thought is, then what good were all the books you read about nonduality?

Read the article about pain and nonduality books.

6 thoughts on ““If nonduality is so wonderful, why do I still feel pain?”

  1. Anonymous

    That is also a mechanical thought. The Perils of Pauline was a silent comedy. She was tied to the railroad tracks as the train got closer and closer….

    Similarly, we are tied to the tracks of mechanical thought.


  2. Ted Biringer

    Hello Jerry,

    Thanks for posing this question and posting a ling to the article. This misunderstanding of the significance of nonduality is, in my experience, all too common.

    The fictional Zen master, Louie Wing, adresses this issue in a couple of places in the book, The Flatbed Sutra of Louie Wing. While he is speaking from a traditional Zen perspective, I think his observations are accurate for anyone going through the experience no matter what tradition.

    In his discussion of the classic Zen doctrine, “The Five Ranks”, Louie Wing first points out that there is a big difference between “knowing” or “understanding”, and experiencing. He states:

    “Good friends, while such philosophizing can lead you to insight and knowledge, it remains an abstract theory until its reality, which this conceptual framework attempts to indicate, is intimately experienced… Zen is not concerned with abstract theorizing and philosophical erudition. It is the direct experience of reality or buddha-nature that Zen is interested in engendering within you. Once this is realized, the true power of words and doctrines become accessible in a meaningful, useful way…”

    Louie Wing then goes on to outline some of the common conditions of people on “the brink” of an “initial” experience of nonduality. He says:

    “Both the world and yourself are experienced as insubstantial and seemingly nonexistent… you still see, hear, and interact in the world. It is not as though you are blind, deaf, and mute; everything is still here, but in a dreamlike, insignificant manner.”

    He then goes on to describe two dangers for practitioners in this condition (the first condition, I think, relates to the topic of this post):

    “Good friends, there are two pitfalls you must avoid when you come to experience this condition. One is the danger of falling into a sense of melancholic dejection. Having worked hard to reach this promising condition, you may surprisingly find yourself becoming suddenly discouraged. This arises from the mistaken conclusion that you are actually experiencing some kind of realization. “This is it?” you may ask yourself. “All that time and energy pursuing the truth only to discover that everything is nonexistent? Enlightenment is nonexistent, delusion is nonexistent, Zen is nonexistent, and I am nonexistent. What is the use?””

    Louie goes on to offer some encouraging words:

    “Learned audience, allowing the experience of dull emptiness to come and go as you move deeper into your practice, you may discover a remarkable sense of impending realization… Often a serene sense of joy accompanies this sense…
    You need only persevere in your practice and the inevitable moment when the filter of conception and discrimination drops away, delusion dissipates, and buddha-nature appears at once…”

    Yes! Once this happens, the question posed in this post becomes resolved–I hasten to clarify, “resolved” is not the same as “answered.”

    Knowing about nonduality, even having deep faith in the teachings of nonduality may be helpful, but ultimately, it must be personally and directly experienced to have a truly liberating effect.

    Just as a recipe for strawberry cake cannot satisfy our sweet-tooth, so knowing about nonduality cannot free us from the delusion of seperation…

    Ted Biringer


  3. Tabby Cat

    You guys slay me! You really do. (I am Tabby Cat, author of the post).

    I leave you with the simple facts of earth-bound existence, expounded eloquently by Henry James:

    “Life is, in fact, a battle. Evil is insolent and strong: beauty enchanting but rare; goodness very apt to be weak; folly very apt to be defiant; wickedness to carry the day; imbeciles to be in great places,
    people of sense in small, and mankind generally unhappy. But the world as it stands is no illusion, no phantasm, no evil dream of a night; we wake up to it again for ever and ever; we can neither forget it nor deny it nor dispense with it.”


  4. Flick rahke

    Yes, until full Realization, there is the illusion of duality and it is “real” Nirvana and Samsara are not the “same” in the illusion of duality. They are realized to be the same in Enlightenment., Of course you can’t think your way into this. It takes a real sadhana or a real practice. This is another paradox , but true enough. And , certainly, there would be pain in the body even in Enlightenment. But Consciousness is not identified with the body and its pain. Ramana Maharshi was moaning when he was dying of cancer and his disciples were concerned, He just told them that it was the body in pain and that was not who he was.

    But of course, one would have to go beyond the bleak western scientific materialist vision to even acknowledge the reality of this. Flick Rahke


  5. Pingback: Rahke’s Ramblings: Adi Da is dead | Cesspool of Madness

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