On Beyond Non-Duality 1
More Notes to Myself…
Face the facts, your attempts to become a non-dualist is an utter and complete failure.
If your reason for studying or listening to nonduality (or Three Principles Psychology, or spirituality), or going to a teacher, going to satsang, or meditating, is:
to feel better
to improve yourself
to improve the world
to find or create peace
to end conflict
to fix what’s wrong
to solve a problem
to achieve a goal
to find yourself
to become liberated, enlightened, awakened, etc.
to prove something
to show something to others
to raise yourself up to a higher level
to get approval
to find love
to gain something
to lose something
to become more of something
to become less of something
to do something or not do something
to X …
it’s the wrong reason.
Any reason is the wrong reason.
You’ve already missed the boat, captain.
It’s too late.
Back to square Zero.
It is like your posts are reading my mind.
If any attempt to become a non-dualist is doomed to failure, and any desire will guarantee failure then how the bloody hell does anyone ever become a non-dualist? ‘Only by not trying can you succeed’ is just so painfully paradoxical.
Even making no effort requires effort and we are repeatedly told about the importance of being earnest, but who is earnest and doesn’t that very earnestness negate our attempt to see the truth?
Help me Eric, I’m in a mental mess 🙂
Hi Andy –
Believe me, I feel you brother.
But ask yourself, who becomes a non-dualist? You probably have asked that already…
Non-duality is merely a description of what Is. Nothing personal. You probably know that too…
At some point (or many points) “you” let go of effort. Call it moments of grace and love.
To “earnestness”, I would add, must have an honesty in addition to eagerness, willingness, and a sincere interest. For example, one can appear to be extremely earnest, but holding onto beliefs very strongly (I’m not saying this about you, it’s just something I’ve seen …). It can take a certain amount of courage to look at what you really believe and feel. Human beings kill each other, either literally, or attempt to with words, over beliefs: mere thoughts! – thoughts attached to an “I”. That gives you an indication of how strongly they are held onto.
Think of nonduality as the background of all existence, your true identity. This can only be intuited, sensed, experienced as the-meditation-that-we-are. In the East they call sat-chit-ananda, but I don’t like to use all the foreign terms. Call it bliss awareness, call it anything you want. It’s just a bunch of words.
There are two levels to “the answer” you could say: one is the mental, the theoretical if you will, and the other is the experiential. Without the experience, you will be going around in circles.
To reiterate from my other posts, a paradox is an apparent contradiction: a seeming contradiction to the mind that is not a contradiction in reality.
The paradoxes – such as “effortless effort” or “not-knowing is knowing” (of which there are many and I enjoy exploring) – are reflective of the fact that one is at the end of the road of what the mind can do for you. The mind is just a dumb apparatus we, as Consciousness, use for getting around in the world. But we can also use it for celebration, and for pointing to Truth. We sometimes have to resort to metaphor, stories, illustrations…
One of the metaphors I like lately is a telescope: you can look from one end, from the mind towards Consciousness and see nothing but paradox and contradiction; but look from the Consciousness end towards mind and see there are only apparent contradictions and limitations.
So paradoxes seen from Consciousness are not contradictions, that’s why they are only apparent. We get glimpses of this, have an intuition of the vast unity and peace of reality, but cannot hold it in mind.
The good news is we don’t have to.
The more experiences you have of the basic goodness, the power that knows the way, intelligence of Life, and trust in life unfolding, and the more you get the garbage from the past (memories) out of the way – thinking and feeling tendencies – that were filtering your seeing clearly, and stop interfering with being yourSelf, the more you are free of being bugged by contradictions (apparent ones). It just becomes like an adventure and joyful curiosity about what’s next, what is Now. You’re running on faith now more than clinging to anything.
But some of us, like the author (intellectually oriented by birth or karma), still enjoy thinking and communicating, no matter where we are on “the path”. Nothing wrong with that. This is despite some teachers who say we have to stop thinking altogether: what we want to do actually is to stop identifying with thinking, and dissolve the psychological thinking – any personal thinking tendencies, the belief and feeling to be a human being – that are problematic, the party-poopers.
I use the word “faith” but without any ecclesiastical connotations whatsoever. It’s just naked faith. Innocent.
It’s like you’re in the army, and the boat that takes you to shore dumps you there, saying “Good Luck, Godspeed” and you’re on your own. You can’t take the boat with you, but it was a good boat for getting you there. However, when you get up on the beach you realize the war is over. Now what? Hmm, good question. Well, “now what?”, is: whatever you want! You’re now Self-propelled. So why not enjoy life? Heaven was never far off, it was right here all along.
I recommend taking time to simply Stop, notice the gaps in thinking, and marinate in the feelingness of what you Are…
(This response is longer than the post, and enough to be an article – I may post it!)
Thanks for the question.
I need metaphors, and you never fail to deliver.
I also think that foreign terminology gets in the way and makes it all unnecessarily mystical and esoteric.
I was talking to a friend yesterday who is extremely dedicated to his practices (as prescribed by his teacher), we are after the same thing of course but by the time he has saluted the sun, done his pranayama exercises, chanted Om 21 times, done a round of Mala beads and scrubbed his aura with sage there’s absolutely no room left for just sitting down and being quiet. Everything he does is about desperately chasing enlightenment – I’m sure most of us have been there and I’m equally sure it makes it impossible to see the truth.
He on the other hand is convinced that Neo-Advaita is a cop out for westerners or those who can’t be bothered to chant Om Namah Shivaya 108 times a day, and enjoy a lay-in, even on the Summer Solstice.
I’m very happy that you don’t feel it’s necessary to stop reading and ‘researching’ – it’s just too fascinating, rich and important a topic not to become intellectually immersed in but it’s something I really struggled with – until I was reminded (thank you) that stopping and sitting is the only truly important part.
I’m off to ‘marinate” (wonderful choice of phrase).
Thanks again Eric!
Hi Andy – Thank you for the kindness, and I enjoyed the picturesque story about your friend scrubbing his aura with sage.
I too have friends who are deeply into practices and adhere strongly to beliefs about why they are necessary. They will see stages, or levels of consciousness, and feel their being needs purification or whatever.
A non-duality “teacher” (share-er of truth) friend once said that many people need to “chew on a spiritual bone”. Got a laugh out of that.
It’s also true that some Advaita friends are so intellectual, and have minds are so active and big that it is quite a bizarre spectacle to see the convolutions the ego will go through to protect blind spots. Whereas the yoga devotees twist their bodies into pretzels, the intellectual will get so lost in the maze of mind it’s like the centaur in the middle of the garden labyrinth, defending its territory tooth and nail. The hairy beast will eventually wear itself out, take a rest and be airlifted upward by Grace Helicopters, Inc.
Been there done that too…
All part of the show my friend. Enjoy. “All is well and unfolding as it should” as the marvelous sage (and story-teller con man? – do your research…) Robert Adams always used to say.
For anyone reading all this, and just to be clear, I have nothing against practices. For one thing, they are useful for quieting the mind and being one-pointed (writing can be seen as a kind of practice, or any art form). It’s just that if they are a dead and boring repetition from the past, or an empty ritual, this boringness or dullness from doing something repetitive or mechanically isn’t a great path to truth and freedom. Liberation is in the direction of not going along with “the machine” we have programmed. And, if there’s a projection of meaning into objects, or chasing a future state, this is all a misdirection as it were. It’s like Cargo Cult Science. Why wait, and for what?
More fundamentally, doing a practice with the hidden assumption operating of thinking and feeling one is doing it as a person is kind of like being on a spiritual hamster wheel.
Being serious is a good sign one is slightly lost in illusion too – who or what is there to be serious about? We’ve all been there…
Better to have a beer and listen to some music in that case.
So rather than mechanical practices, follow your interest, love and enthusiasm.
I’m saying this not for you but anyone interested.
Of course none of this is meant as a “just do what you want” license to be a hedonist or be an asshole, as that has consequences all around too.
But if your friend (or you) is doing all this stuff and really enjoying it, why not? If it makes him happy, even if just for a short time, there is nothing inferior about any happiness. It may have drawbacks, but they have to learn in their own way, grow according to their nature.
Anyway I didn’t mean to lecture or preach, this is all by way of clarification and communicating what I see.
I’d like to thank Gary and Andy for their comments – Gary, I was thinking the exact same thing over the last 2 weeks of posts. And Andy, good question and followup.
Eric, as always, thank you so much for sharing your insights. These last few entries have been just a treasure to read and absorb. The discussion here was very enjoyable. Everything you said here really feels right.
Thanks for the kind words Brian.