Nonduality - Rising Above Illusion
By Remez Sasson
The philosophy of Nonduality or Nondualism, which is called Advaita-Vedanta in India, says that there is just One Spirit in the Universe, and that everything, living or inanimate, is an inseparable and indivisible part of this One Spirit. This is also the meaning of the word - "not two" or non-separation". Nonduality further says that the world is an illusion, caused by the mind and the play of the senses, which make us regard the world and everything in it, as real and separate from us.
For someone not familiar with this philosophy, it might sound strange, but once understood, it can completely change one's attitude and perspective about life.
Imagine yourself feeling the Oneness with the Universe, enjoying a state of bliss and inner peace, but at the same time acting and functioning normally in your day-to-day life. Imagine yourself being active in the world, but at the same time being in a state of inner detachment. Being aware of your Oneness with the One Spirit, and also being aware that the One Spirit is acting and manifesting through everything, matter, plants, trees, animals and people. This is the experience of nonduality in its highest form.
We are usually not aware of this state, because our thoughts, desires, and the five senses, draw the mind outside, to the external world, and obscure the awareness of the consciousness that is beyond the mind. It is through meditation that we can gain inner peace and the ability to silence the mind, and therefore, rise above the obscuring veil of thoughts. In the state of inner silence, we rise above the illusion of identification with the mind, thoughts and ego, get beyond the illusion of separateness, and realize the oneness with the One Spirit. It is as if a new sort of consciousness dawns, and we see the world from a different perspective.
With this kind of consciousness, we are able to allow the mind to be active or silent, at our command. It becomes our faithful servant, instead of being our master. We act in the material world, yet, our roots are in pure, calm and limitless consciousness, which is not attached to anything and not limited by anything. In this state, we live and view the world from the non-duality point of view.
Separteness and Oness
Though in our day-today life we look at other people, as separate from us, as separate units, this is only a mental viewpoint, convenient for functioning in our day to day life. From a higher state of consciousness, all are One, and the terms "I", "you", "he", "she" and "they" are not real. There is only the One Spirit, Consciousness, which manifests in limitless forms and ways. The external forms may be different, but the Spirit within them is one undivided Spirit. It is the mind, which lets us believe and feel that we are separate from others, but we are all part of the same One Spirit manifesting and expressing itself through different forms.
The concept of nonduality
The concept of nonduality is not a strange idea. It can be experienced and lived right here and now, no matter where you are, and without attracting anybody's attention. It is an inner state of consciousness, not an external state.
It is possible to realize and experience it in an ashram or a cave, and it is also equally possible to do so while living in a town or city, with family and a job. This requires dedication, an open mind, inner work, and turning the mind inwards.
Most people cannot afford to leave everything behind, in order to meditate and lead a purely spiritual life. They need to work and support their family, and therefore, can devote only part of the day to spiritual pursuits. The good news is that you can walk on the inner paths of spirituality and nonduality, without abandoning your family, job or external lifestyle. With proper planning, it is possible to find the time and the energy for the inner work.
Meditation, and walking on the spiritual path, which lead to understanding and to experiencing nonduality, can be practiced anywhere, without making external changes in your life. You can stay with your job and family, and still make spiritual progress and realize the true meaning of this concept.
Look within you, be aware of what is going in your mind, search for the source of your thoughts and where they come from, learn to make your mind peaceful, and you will begin to be aware of your true essence and the consciousness beyond your mind. This will lead to a better understanding of nonduality.
What can help you understand and experience nonduality?
Developing concentration, practicing meditation, learning emotional detachment, reading spiritual literature, and if possible, the guidance of a true spiritual teacher are the main means for gaining, understanding, and experiencing nonduality.