Bindi

Differences between dualism and non-dualism

Recommended Posts

3 hours ago, Bindi said:

Confusing. 

 

For sure.

 

Non-duality as a topic of discussion and analysis is very confusing. It is inherently irrational and paradoxical.

 

Methods of guiding practitioners towards a deeper understanding take forms that reflect this such as the koans of Chan and Zen, the pith instructions of Dzogchen and Mahamudra, even energy and body focused practices of Tantra and Daoism. All leading us away from spending time and energy on intellectual understanding towards a more visceral connection to what is.

 

The teachings with which I’m most familiar rarely try to explain because that is not an effective approach. Instead the focus is on metaphor, example, and personal practice.

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, Bindi said:

 

 You say “You already are, and always have been free,” but are you already and always have been holy and pure as well?  or is it just free? 

Of course. Though holy/unholy, pure/impure, freedom/bondage are also dualistic notions. They are meaningful only to the dualistic mind. Atman is beyond all duality. 

3 hours ago, Bindi said:

 

 
You ask me what would I prefer, “An agitated mind or a peaceful mind? A mind filled with anger and hatred or a mind filled with joy and love?”,  as though I can make this choice, and now you ask me why crave for the personality’s likes and dislikes and tell me to be free of the personalities whims. 
 

This is a very common thing — mostly people prefer one thing over another. They avoid some thing over another. This is called raga-dvesha or craving-aversion. They go hand in hand. And this is the root of suffering. What we like, we cling to. What we dislike, we run from. The entire lives of many is spent in this chasing/clinging/avoiding cycle. More we resist change, the more the  mind suffers.

 

Nondual realization neutralizes this raga-dvesha. But also, thinning of this raga-dvesha is called detachment, and detachment/dispassion towards the phenomenal world is one of the hallmarks of a genuine seeker.
 

Humans are typically hedonistic in nature. Which is following the natural tendency of the mind to acquire more things, experiences, etc. This is the path of pravritti or outward expansion. What is needed for spiritual and more so nondual realization is the reversal or nivritti, aka prtayahara in yogic terminology. 
 

So one has to start by recognizing the nature of their mind. Then one can actively start redirecting the mind to going back inward, meditating and contemplating on the nature of the mind. And eventually nondual realization will arise. 
 

So someone who has realized, is able to withstand the afflictions of nature without reacting  to them in the way a normal dualistic person would. That’s why nondual realization negates suffering. Pains and pleasures will continue based on the lifestyle and environment of the individual body-mind. One doesn’t become a super human in the sense that one can gain superpowers through this. 

3 hours ago, Bindi said:

Why?  I responded earlier that I didn’t think making choices based on the preferences of the personality was a good idea anyway, that it was like letting a toddler decide what to put in the shopping trolley. 

 

Stirling did something similar, he said nonduality would ideally be taught with an eye toward generating compassion for other beings, to soften the cherishing of the "self". This is the best way to avoid becoming an enlightened asshole, as though this was a choice, though he was very clear earlier that the “whole idea that you are a person who is in charge of your destiny, or that which practice you choose is in your hands, is nonsense. Projecting yourself or objects into the future and thinking what you imagine might REALLY happen, or imagining that something that happened to you in the past has any absolute reality is nonsense.”

 

Confusing. 

Yes it can be confusing, if we start form a place of resistance.
 

If you see the whole world as your own being, love is the natural outcome. That is the compassion sterling mentions.
 

But the first thing to do is prepare one’s own mind to allow nondual realization to arise. Those who continue to chase after other goals, in secular as well as spiritual life, will have to return again, and again, and again...until they finally get it. That IS the game :) (That is the law of nature). 

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
19 hours ago, Bindi said:

I have tried to explain my frustration with nondual-speak, but I’ll say it again to try and clarify. From my perspective the nondual awakened have experienced anandamaya kosha and as you say above have then dropped out of that experience,  from then in though they have set their manas consciousness to want to be in anandamaya consciousness always, to be perfectly aligned with it, I could say they are in love with anandamaya kosha in the way that manas loves and clings to store consciousness. What nondualists don’t comprehend is that anandamaya/nondual consciousness is not the endpoint, but one more form of consciousness that they are identifying with, just as they once identified with physical, emotional and mental consciousness. They disregard these earlier levels of consciousness as false, and don’t realise that their nondual perspective is equally false. Conceptually then, Atman is beyond duality, but it is also beyond nonduality. 

 

If you think about what the term "unity" might mean, you could infer that the idea of there being something and something else, an I and a thou, or a today and yesterday - any of these things - might be very hard to discuss. This is the challenge, and it is what I am imagining you find frustrating about "non-dual speak"? If so, I understand... honestly. 

 

The first "awakening" is gnosis - not like being philosophically convinced. The "emptiness" or "unity" of things can be seen at any time, despite the now fading "self" still being present. It's exciting, yes - but not something anyone is in control of. Optimizing practices or choosing to strengthen it is not why it deepens. It is understood that what is happening is nothing to do with "you" or any sense of agency or volition. 

 

When the "self" drops away there aren't really any further realizations. It isn't that it is an "endpoint" it is that the idea of a beginning point OR endpoint have been blown out of the water. All questions are irrelevant. They don't even make sense. The idea that there is this and something else is nonsense. Yet, the phenomenal world goes on. 

 

Seen from a non-dual perspective, the idea of levels of experiencing is or sheaths is just silly. These complicated systems - religions, practices, science - are simply wiped away with complete understanding. Sure, you find plenty of these systems in non-dual religions and philosophy, but these are merely attempts at describing a world that still appears to have its duality but is clearly non-dual at its core. Seen from the perspective of non-duality, all systems and practices are irrelevant. 

 

I'm truly happy for you to have your opinion. Really. I don't need you to "convert". But you have been asking questions - so you get answers. I'm sorry that they aren't answers that confirm your belief system. 

  • Like 3
  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Bindi - you seem very convinced. Do you know a teacher/s with first-hand personal experience that would support your theory? Maybe they would be happy to share how experiencing is for them now or what the journey to this knowing is like? How about some more reading material with more detail to support the theory you posit? This is not a trap. I'm curious. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
20 hours ago, dwai said:

Anything you can experience is not the Atman. 

 

With thanks to Dwai, IMHO, this is most often the crux of the matter. My bold/italic/underline. :)

 

If there is Atman, there is simply being.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
34 minutes ago, stirling said:

 

With thanks to Dwai, IMHO, this is most often the crux of the matter. My bold/italic/underline. :)

 

If there is Atman, there is simply being.

 

What agency, if any, do you attribute to Atman?  (anyone can answer)

 

Thank you.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
8 minutes ago, Apech said:

 

What agency, if any, do you attribute to Atman?  (anyone can answer)

 

Thank you.

 

My opinion: 

 

There is no subject to have agency, or objects to have agency over. 

 

or:

 

Atman is the illusory arising and passing of all phenomena, including those that believe in the delusion that they somehow have their own intrinsic existence or agency.

  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)
40 minutes ago, Apech said:

 

What agency, if any, do you attribute to Atman?  (anyone can answer)

 

Thank you.

Consciousness, Being, Fullness 

Edited by dwai
  • Like 1
  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
55 minutes ago, stirling said:

 

My opinion: 

 

There is no subject to have agency, or objects to have agency over. 

 

or:

 

Atman is the illusory arising and passing of all phenomena, including those that believe in the delusion that they somehow have their own intrinsic existence or agency.

 

 

Your Atman sounds very Buddhist :)

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
46 minutes ago, dwai said:

Consciousness

 

Ah that dreaded word again.

  • Haha 4
  • Wow 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Apech said:

Your Atman sounds very Buddhist :)

 

Oh... probably. :)

 

That is the language I first learned to apply to it. I get accused of being a Advaita Vendanta practitioner sometimes too. I am always looking for the language that feels most precise to me. On a different day I could have responded just like Dwai - maybe with "awareness" in the place of "consciousness"? None of it seems completely right, and all of it comes with the conditioning of the viewer.

 

For Atman to be really be Atman it would have to be entirely non-denominational, of course.

 

 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
7 hours ago, Michael Sternbach said:

Bindi,

 

A Zen master once said that we should be able to switch back and forth between the relative view and the absolute view at will.

 

... I would say that both would available to focus on at any time. Sort of like looking at a separate tree but being aware in your widened gaze that the entire forest is also present at the same time. Not an either or, but seeing that duality is always and persistently non-dual. 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
21 hours ago, steve said:

My teacher likes to frame it as what we are able to experience is the release of obstacles. 

 

I think it is this re-orientation that is important and key to non-dual paths. Typically, the assumption is that we have to gain, or arrange, or somehow add on. Whereas in non-dual traditions, the orientation is not about gaining, but about removing hindrances and ignorance. I think the key points are well summarized in the DKR checklist @dwai posted earlier. 

 

Which is why these paths typically spend a great deal of time going over the defects of gaining, adding, seeking elsewhere, etc. No matter how much subtle body or energy work one does, anything added or gained will eventually be lost. 

  • Like 2
  • Thanks 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

Great discussion! Two questions, if I may...

 

On 3.5.2022 at 11:07 PM, Mark Foote said:

experience of action of the body without the exercise of volition (choice) occurs in the fourth of the initial concentrations

4 hours ago, stirling said:

gnosis - not like being philosophically convinced. The "emptiness" or "unity" of things can be seen at any time, despite the now fading "self" still being present. It's exciting, yes - but not something anyone is in control of. Optimizing practices or choosing to strengthen it is not why it deepens. It is understood that what is happening is nothing to do with "you" or any sense of agency or volition. 

 

1 hour ago, stirling said:

... I would say that both would available to focus on at any time

 

1) What role does 'will' or 'volition' play here? So first 'gnosis' happens without volition, but later on it would be possible via (individual ?) volition to focus on / switch between the nondual reality or the dual one?

 

2) How would you say must the word 'experience' under these circumstances be then defined? Perceptions usually appear via the senses (eyes, ears, nose, skin etc.). But this is beyond senses or perceptions. What is it in us that 'experiences' without sensory organs? Qualia - on a science level? (You might call it Atman or the Source of possibilities?)

9 hours ago, Apech said:

are not experiences since the English word means 'tested out' - as in we experience heat and cold which are environmental conditions, we might experience mental states because we have separated our 'selves' from our minds

On 6.5.2022 at 10:58 PM, dwai said:

Anything you can experience is not the [Atman]

On 3.5.2022 at 1:26 PM, dwai said:

There is no “nondual” perception. There is nondual realization. Non-duality is not an experience. Anything you can experience is not reality. 


Edit: one more question... - what does development of 'subtle channels' etc. have to do with any of this? Why then, if realization of this and integration into life is (so to speak) the goal of non-dualists ... why is every other

system oriented toward 'energetics'?

 

and one more: where does spirit come into the equation?

23 hours ago, steve said:

non-dual realization has nothing to do with spiritual development, which is an activity of mind

 

 

P.S: Sorry if I seem lost, I probably am.

I do like a lot of all of your posts, but forgot to hit the like button. Much appreciated.

 

Edited by schroedingerscat
add-on question
  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, dwai said:

Consciousness, Being, Fullness 

 

Cheat!

  • Haha 1
  • Confused 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
19 minutes ago, schroedingerscat said:

Great discussion! Two questions, if I may...

 

 

 

1) What role does 'will' or 'volition' play here? So first 'gnosis' happens without volition, but later on it would be possible via (individual ?) volition to focus on / switch between the nondual reality or the dual one?

 

2) How would you say must the word 'experience' under these circumstances be then defined? Perceptions usually appear via the senses (eyes, ears, nose, skin etc.). But this is beyond senses or perceptions. What is it in us that 'experiences' without sensory organs? Qualia - on a science level? (You might call it Atman or the Source of possibilities?)

The mind experiences. What makes experience possible? Consciousness. Consciousness IS NOT an emergent property of matter. Matter is an emergent phenomenon in and from consciousness. 

19 minutes ago, schroedingerscat said:

Edit: one more question... - what does development of 'subtle channels' etc. have to do with any of this? Why then, if realization of this and integration into life is (so to speak) the goal of non-dualists ... why is every other system oriented toward 'energetics'.

To be able to recognize the true nature of our Self as Consciouness, the mind needs to be calmed. I think we’ve all heard the metaphor of a lake with turbulence in the water. When the turbulence stops, the lake “settles” and the lake bed can be clearly seen. Similarly with the mind - when the turbulence of the mind (yoga calls it chitta vritti or modifications of the mind) is stopped, one can see one’s true nature as consciousness/awareness. One  way to calm the mind is by focusing  the prana/qi.

 

I’m sharing my own journey below fwiw, take it as you deem fit. 
 

In my own experience, when I first started to read vedanta, I wasn’t able to focus my mind enough, to get the breakthrough of what is being pointed towards. So I followed the path of qi/Prana and mantra. This happened for about 17 years Over a period of time, a “witness” arose, first during practice, and eventually spilling over into all aspects of my life. With it came many mini “a-ha” moments, when suddenly a very obscure or seemingly complicated/cryptic piece of text that I’d studied earlier made sense. My mind was becoming more tranquil and disciplined. 
 

So these “energy-based” systems are preparatory, in the sense that they prepare the mind for nondual knowledge and eventually realization.

 

Realization doesn’t occur because of these systems, but upon being pointed to by a guide (teacher or text - knowledge). For me the “big breakthrough” started when my teacher shared presence with me (can call it a shaktipat). When that happened, the witness which was previously coming and going became permanently split into two. There was the monkey mind, and there was the silent witness which observed all the happenings. In vedanta this is pointed to with the teaching of two birds on a tree branch. One is busy eating the fruit (monkey mind), while the other quietly observes (the witness). Whenever I gravitated towards identification with the monkey mind, all troubles started. When I stayed as the witness, there was complete and total peace, tranquility, even amidst the most trying of situations. 
 

At this point, I was more than happy to just continue my practice and quietly live my life. But a friend with a very piercing intellect, who was interested in vedanta,  started engaging me in debates and discussions on the subject of enlightenment. At that point I revisited the upanishads again — just so I could  use a frame of reference that he was used to. Much to my surprise, I understood everything that was being referred to. And as I studied them more, I ran into teachers who were elucidating the teachings written in cryptic Vedic Sanskrit in layman terms, which set in motion the process of vedantic study - shravana (hearing), manana (contemplation) and nidhidhyasana (marinating in the knowledge), eventually culminating in a direct flash of recognition/realization.
 

When that happened, all I could do was sit and laugh for days together, at irony of being the seeker, whose “prize” was always present, and never ever really obscured at all. Every time the personality made a grand appearance, it would evoke great mirth, as the great pretender/appropriator (the ego). That which was the serious sufferer, victim, hero, villain of the stories it tried to make and uphold, became clearly transparent. All it’s actions became clear as those of a toddler trying to draw the attention of an adult.  Three things fell away consequently  - guilt, self-judgment/loathing and fear. Also what became clear as day, is that not a single “person” isn’t already that Consciousness. The world is an appearance of that very consciousness, in itself.
 

Did that make me a saint? No. Why do I need to become one? I am not a teacher, but a householder in this particular story. So I share in groups where it makes sense to share — no one has an exclusive claim on that which is already and ever-present. Everything is perfect, just as it is. The process of refinement is of old patterns slowly losing their power. Some have disappeared, others come and go. But the unshakeable knowledge of one’s true nature remains.  

  • Like 3
  • Thanks 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Gautama described the power of concentration by saying:

 

Making self-surrender the object of thought, one lays hold of concentration, one lays hold of one-pointedness of mind.

(SN V 200, Pali Text Society V 176)


He taught that volition in action ceases in the states of concentration, first with regard to speech, then with regard to deed, and finally with regard to perceiving and feeling.

In his description of his own experience of the cessation of volition in perceiving and feeling, Gautama stated he was left with "only this degree of disturbance, that is to say the six sensory fields that, conditioned by life, are grounded on this body itself."  He didn't aim to eliminate all disturbance, just to quiesce the exercise of volition, and the suffering associated with that exercise.

 

The exercise of volition can't be dispensed with by the exercise of volition.  Gautama claimed that volition ceased in a particular progression of concentrations, which he described.  He said that the ascendance from one state of concentration to the next was attained through "lack of desire, by means of lack of desire."  He spoke of persons who bragged about their concentration and their attainments, and he said with regard to each concentration, "for whatever (one) imagines it to be, it is otherwise”.

"Making self-surrender the object of thought", I think that's particularly about surrendering action that comes out of the identification of a self.
 

 I abbreviate Gautama's way of living for myself this way:
 

Appreciate the action of the body, and relax. Appreciate the action of the senses, and calm down. Appreciate the action of the mind, and open up. Appreciate the action of consciousness, and let go.

 

As to how that becomes the cessation of volition in action:

 

With an even stretch throughout the body, the location where consciousness takes place can become the source of action of the body.
 

(from my For A Friend)

 

Like falling off a log, whilst on my way to sawing logs.

  • Like 1
  • Thanks 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
20 minutes ago, Mark Foote said:

Appreciate the action of the body, and relax. Appreciate the action of the senses, and calm down. Appreciate the action of the mind, and open up. Appreciate the action of consciousness, and let go.

 

Wonderfully similar to my teacher’s core meditation instructions for connecting with the mind’s essence -

 

Rest in the stillness of the body

Rest in the silence of speech 

Rest in the spaciousness of mind

Leave everything just as it is

  • Like 1
  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
29 minutes ago, natural said:

 

Why?

 

He went back and changed his answer :)

 

  • Thanks 1
  • Haha 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, schroedingerscat said:

and one more: where does spirit come into the equation?

 

I guess that depends on what is meant by spirit

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, Apech said:

 

What agency, if any, do you attribute to Atman?  (anyone can answer)

 

Thank you.


There is a right thing to do, a right thing to say, a right place to be, etc etc, for one or all parties concerned, at certain moments in time. Atman consciousness is aware of these things, it being a much more expanded consciousness than I have (possibly limitless, I don’t know yet :) )and it informs my normal ‘lower’ consciousness of this. It is up to my lower consciousness to hear the echo and enact what atman consciousness urges. So atman consciousness has great knowledge and will but no agency to carry out that knowledge if my lower consciousness doesn’t hear and act. My lower consciousness has agency. This is like alignment with the Dao or with God, not my will but my Higher Will, and my enactment of same. 
 

 

  • Like 1
  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, schroedingerscat said:

Great discussion! Two questions, if I may...

 

 

 

1) What role does 'will' or 'volition' play here? So first 'gnosis' happens without volition, but later on it would be possible via (individual ?) volition to focus on / switch between the nondual reality or the dual one?

 

This is a key question which people tend to avoid.  Technically there is no difference between will and consciousness.  But then if Atman has agency as consciousness then it has will.  Then the question is what is it willing.  Most refute this kind of argument because they see consciousness as a kind of neutral abstract.

 

2 hours ago, schroedingerscat said:

2) How would you say must the word 'experience' under these circumstances be then defined? Perceptions usually appear via the senses (eyes, ears, nose, skin etc.). But this is beyond senses or perceptions. What is it in us that 'experiences' without sensory organs? Qualia - on a science level? (You might call it Atman or the Source of possibilities?)

 

There are different types of perception.  Usually in Yogacara these are object based perception, imaginative perception and pure perception - pure perception sees everything as buddha-nature.

 

2 hours ago, schroedingerscat said:

 


Edit: one more question... - what does development of 'subtle channels' etc. have to do with any of this? Why then, if realization of this and integration into life is (so to speak) the goal of non-dualists ... why is every other

system oriented toward 'energetics'?

 

Because realisation is not mental but involves the whole being.

 

2 hours ago, schroedingerscat said:

and one more: where does spirit come into the equation?

 

Spirit is a term in Western systems and does not really come up in dharmic systems unless you count prana of course.

 

2 hours ago, schroedingerscat said:

 

P.S: Sorry if I seem lost, I probably am.

I do like a lot of all of your posts, but forgot to hit the like button. Much appreciated.

 

 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
9 minutes ago, Bindi said:


There is a right thing to do, a right thing to say, a right place to be, etc etc, for one or all parties concerned, at certain moments in time. Atman consciousness is aware of these things, it being a much more expanded consciousness than I have (possibly limitless, I don’t know yet :) )and it informs my normal ‘lower’ consciousness of this. It is up to my lower consciousness to hear the echo and enact what atman consciousness urges. So atman consciousness has great knowledge and will but no agency to carry out that knowledge if my lower consciousness doesn’t hear and act. My lower consciousness has agency. This is like alignment with the Dao or with God, not my will but my Higher Will, and my enactment of same. 
 

 

 

I like this answer because it reflects my current inner debate.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
9 hours ago, steve said:

depends on what is meant by spirit

Good question... was asking because from what you wrote I gathered, that (mental ?) non dual realization has yet nothing to do with spiritually, which made me curious on how you made that distinction (experience?) ?

8 hours ago, Bindi said:

[atman] consciousness has great knowledge and will but no agency to carry out that knowledge if my lower consciousness doesn’t hear

 

8 hours ago, Apech said:

is a term in Western systems and does not really come up in dharmic systems unless you count prana

 

Spirit, if I had to try to get to it's meaning... well the book of the apostles comes to mind (Pentecost/ Whitsuntide). From the wording, spiritus, it seems to refer to a distilled essence. spiritus ( Latin) Origin & history From spīrō ("I breathe, I respire; I live"). Noun spīritus ( genitive spīritūs) (masc.) breath, breathing but also aspiration or lack thereof as well as some animating force

It seems to be related to the translation of  'Atman'... (original pali: breath of life, pneuma).

So some'thing' pervading life, felt and perceived only if individual 'volition' is left behind? (Reminds me more of the empty space in atoms, but that again is some'thing' of matter, not empty as in that which perceives without senses or mind. (consciousness?)

 

So non-dual gnosis is non spiritual per se, but not a mental concept either, but works also physically via 'energetics'? 

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites