As far as I can tell, there is a continious deepening in terms of discriminating wisdom, compassion and skillful action, before and after a nondual awakening. A nondual awakening does mark a turning point, but it is neither an end, nor really a beginning.
Or we can say that it is both an end and a beginning. It is an end to the search, since what is awakens to its own nature. And it is a beginning to the conscious life of the Buddha, of the content of (freed) consciousness realizing itself as consciousness, as Buddha Mind, God, Spirit, Brahman.
And yet it is neither. It is just one phase in the continuing process of deepenining wisdom, compassion and skilfull actions. One phase in the evolution of the world of form in general, and the development and maturing of a human self in particular. It only marks when this unfolding of the world of form becomes conscious of itself as consciousness, as Buddha Mind, God, Spirit, Brahman.
This comes up for me daily, and most clearly in more dramatic situations.
Briefly: We have a new housemate who moved in at the beginning of January. At the time, he was quite wound up from a distressing break-up with his girlfriend. And after a few days, he vanished and was gone for three weeks. Upon his return, we learned that one of his parents had a medical emergency, and he was – if possible – even more high-strung than before. Since he returned, there has been an intense activity throughout the night in his room, which is next to ours (including talking to himself, phone conversations, smoking which comes into our room and so on).
The first two nights, we let it go although I got hardly any sleep. I actually found the situation quite helpful in exploring no “I” while lying awake in my bed, and I experienced it all as space and the various forms of space, but still – the sounds and activities themselves kept me awake.
The third night, fearing that this would continue and that we would be desperately sleep deprived, I knocked on his door at 2am, after one of his phone conversations, and asked if we could explore how to make it work for all of us. He was wild-eyed, reactive, and apparently at the bursting point, about to “pop” one way or another.
All this made me realize again the importance of developing skillful means. I was relatively clear and calm, experienced a compassion for everyone involved in this situation, and phrased what I said so that nothing would be an obvious trigger, but his state was such as even something relatively neutral would set off the fuse.
I know I could have approached it in a more skillful way, especially in terms of more explicitly acknowledging his situation and the (very understandable) stress he is experiencing. And I also know that everything I see in him is here in myself, in my own human self. So there is no way I can put any blame on him, it is all about me – how I can deal with it with more compassion, wisdom and skill. In this, there is nothing for me to defend. I can always deepen more into it.
At the same time, I need to take care of my own needs and balance them with others, so I do need to speak up and act when it seems appropriate.
And all this is exactly the process I mentioned at the beginning of this post, the continuous deepening of wisdom, compassion and skilful actions – before and after any nondual awakening.