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Non-Duality

By:Andrew Hain
Date: Sat,29 Jul 2023
Submitter:Andrew Hain
Views:794

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Non-duality

Recently I attended a talk given by the founder of the Vedanta Institute UK, Bhaskarji, entitled “The Science of Karma and Destiny”. I am not certain that I fully understood everything that was said, but I was interested in something he called “non-duality”.
According to Rupert Spira (rupertspira.com/non-duality) “non-duality is the recognition that underlying the multiplicity and diversity of experience there is a single, infinite and indivisible reality, whose nature is pure consciousness, from which all objects and selves derive their apparently independent existence. The recognition of this reality is not only the source of lasting happiness within all people, it is the foundation of peace between individuals, communities and nations, and it must be the basis for any sustainable relationship with the environment.”
That’s a big statement and, to me, it is pretty complex, and so I went exploring for a simpler explanation.
Non-duality is a philosophy, which says that there is just One Eternal Spirit in existence, and that everything in the Universe is an inseparable part of it. At the same time, non-duality also says that the world is not real. From the non-dual view, the world is merely an illusion created by the mind and the senses.
The word ‘non-duality’ comes from the Sanskrit word Advaita which means ‘not two.’ Therefore, put simply, non-duality points to the basic Unity of everything. Thus, ultimately, there is no division or separation between you or anything else in your experience.
While non-duality is thought to be primarily found in the Hindu mystical path of Advaita Vedanta, it is also found all throughout the world in paths such as Buddhism (Nirvana = transcendent state in which there is no self), Sufism (Wahdat al Wujud = the Unity of Existence), and Christianity (Henosis = union, beginning to be one, a stage on the path to theosis = united with God). 
The non-dual perspective says that all things are interconnected. You are one with everything in the Universe, part of the whole, unlike Duality, which means two, not one, the world and you, other people and you.
The mind finds it difficult to accept the concept of non-duality, because it does not accept that the world is a creation of the mind and the five senses, and that it is not real. It also finds it difficult to accept the concept of Oneness.
In order to understand what non-duality is, you have to be in a state beyond words and thinking. This requires the ability to silence the mind. In this silence, you realize the real meaning of non-duality. It is not an altered state of consciousness; it is an expansion of consciousness and living in the present moment. It allows you to know the true nature of reality.
A key to going beyond words and thoughts is meditation which helps you clear the mind of thoughts, so you can become aware of the essence / Spirit / the life force, beyond the mind. As you develop your meditation practice the mind becomes calm and peaceful, and you arrive to the experience of non-duality. In this state of being without thoughts, you realise your Oneness with the One Spirit, and you experience pure consciousness. (For a deeper explanation please visit Successconsciousness.com/blog/spirituality/what-is-non-duality/)
It still all sounds a bit too complex for immediate understanding so let me try to simplify it a bit more.



To understand the meaning of non-duality a little more in-depth, let’s break down some of the basic facets of non-duality which are:
• Everything is One
• There is no separate self
Non-duality when explained as above appears totally strange, confusing, and even irrational and ridiculous to our minds at first, because our minds work by giving things labels thereby creating divisions. It does this through words, perceptions, and ideas, and that is in direct opposition to the notion that “everything is One”. We operate under the Spiritual Law of Polarity which shows us the extremes of the labels we place on things. Without the dark, we wouldn’t understand light. Without pain, we wouldn’t understand pleasure. Without loudness, we wouldn’t understand quietness. The same is true with anything in our experience.
The Law of Polarity exists to show us the full range we can experience. Love and Hate: Rich and Poor; Dark and Light. It is up to each one of us, through the experience of the extremes, to determine how we shall live in relation to them. Most of us try to find a balance between the extremes.
While on the surface these differences exist, non-duality ultimately points to the underlying interconnectedness of everything. The Vietnamese Zen Buddhist Master Thich Nhat Hanh refers to this as ‘interbeing’ or, the fact that one thing cannot exist without another.
Science has found that everything is ultimately energy at its core (E = mc2) and mystics through the ages have pointed out, in different ways, that “all is God.” On a very basic level, we can sense that there is something that unifies all of us. Non-duality goes that extra step further and says that actually, we were never truly separate to begin with. The only separation we perceive has been constructed by the mind.
In non-duality we come to discover that we’re not our thoughts. We’re not our feelings. We’re not our preferences. We’re not our bodies. We’re not our experiences. Who we are is always shifting and evolving. 
Our sense of self was different at different times and ages in our life. If we truly think about it carefully we will find that our sense of self is forever undergoing a transformation. We change from moment to moment, from happiness to anger to another emotion. What catches our interest constantly changes. The “you” of right now won’t be the same “you” in a year from now, or perhaps even a few moments from now!
So who are we?
That is the central question asked by non-duality. And while we can say that who we are is Consciousness or Life itself, the answer can only be experienced directly to be truly understood. There is No Separate Self
Ramana Maharshi, a well respected Indian sage of the early and middle 20th century, is recorded to have said, “You have to ask yourself the question ‘Who am I?’ This investigation will lead in the end to the discovery of something within you which is behind the mind. Solve that great problem and you will solve all other problems.”
This question, “Who am I?” seems simple enough, but what would your answer reveal? Take a moment to think about your own sense of self. Write it down if it helps. Consider all aspects like your personality, your likes/dislikes, your interests, and so on. Is what you've written really you?
Finally, you discover that the essential fact that everything you’re searching for isn’t in some magical future. It’s right here, right now.
As contemporary spiritual teacher and author Unmani writes, “There is no journey. This is it. There is nowhere else. This has always been it. There never has been a past and will never be a future. This is all that has ever been longed for. This is it.”
Ancient Zen Master Huang Po (died 850 AD) put it this way, “That which is before you is it, in all its fullness, utterly complete. There is naught beside. Even if you go through all the stages of a Bodhisattva’s progress toward Buddahood, one by one; when at last, in a single flash, you attain to full realization, you will only be realizing the Buddha-Nature which has been with you all the time; and by all the foregoing stages you will have added to it nothing at all.” Huang Po taught that enlightenment could be achieved by a silent mind and putting an end to conceptual thinking.
In other words, all of our seeking, all of our striving on the spiritual path to get to some future “enlightened state” or liberated Self, is missing the point. This moment, this experience of the present moment, this breath, these sounds, the birds calling outside and the traffic passing by – when seen through the eyes of no-self, is all that we’re looking for.
As the term “non-duality” implies, there are not two different states of being, because everything is connected to everything else. The thought of some future state of paradise or enlightenment confirms a separate sense of self, a sense of “me” seeking for “that.”
Do we just stop seeking then? 
Trying to become something or not become something is still operating from a sense of separate self. The point is to see through the absolute transitory nature of this sticky energy we call “self” and return back to what we’ve already and always been: Life Itself.
If you feel you want to explore non-duality please tread carefully for there are many false prophets out there, so learning to cultivate spiritual discernment is a must. Spiritual discernment is the ability to distinguish between truth and deception on the spiritual path. In Sanskrit, spiritual discernment is called viveka  and is said to be the “crowning wisdom” on the spiritual path, allowing us to discover what is real vs. unreal. It is considered to be the first requirement for the spiritual journey.
Don’t trust everyone out there who positions themselves as a “non-duality speaker/teacher.” If something feels wrong on a gut level, trust your instincts and leave.
Arthur Paul Burton is an ex neo-Advaita devotee who got caught up in false teaching to the extent that it nearly drove him to the brink of suicide, recommends studying authentic or “true” Advaita Vedanta for non-dual teachings, which include the Bhagavad Gita, the writings of Adi Shankara (8th-century Indian Vedic scholar and teacher), and the Upadesa Saram in particular from Ramana Maharshi.
So what‘s stopping people from realizing non-duality? Quite simply, it’s our minds. Our tricky little thoughts stop us from observing and experiencing the world as it is, as we constantly create judgment, creating duality in our minds instead of oneness.
The antidote is pure presence. The reality we perceive is nothing but an illusion. It is constructed by our minds and senses.
I‘m sure you‘re familiar with situations where you were in the same location with a friend or family member and as you recount your experiences later, you realize you perceived the same situation entirely differently. Your perspective of reality is entirely created by you, influenced by the perceptions of reality around you. So you could say nothing is real.
Beyond the reality that we know, there is a deeper reality: a collective consciousness that vibrates within all of us. There are many words for it, some call it consciousness, and others call it Brahman, the Source or God. It is the ultimate reality. And as already said, each one of us carries this true nature of life within. It is the one truth that unites us all – way beyond dualism.

When we live in duality, there are always confrontations, discussions and misunderstandings. Even in ourselves conflicts arise, when two thoughts do not agree with each other. In our being we are twin brothers, for soul and personality are interwoven within ourselves.
We have to anchor ourselves in the energy of non-duality to realise that the pairs of opposites have their source in the same principle. In non-duality there are no opposites. We are one consciousness expressing itself as many different units of consciousness.
I hope this article has helped explain non-duality: for those wishing to explore further there are many sites on the internet that can provide information, but remember to use discernment.


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