What does non-dual mean?

I hardly ever use the word non-dual even if I have been familiar with it for a few decades. I prefer to describe my experience using more ordinary words.

So what does on-dual mean? What does it refer to?

ESSENCE

Here are a couple of versions:

Reality is a seamless whole. Only thoughts divide. And reality is always more than and different from any thought or set of thoughts.

To ourselves, we are consciuosness and the world to us happens within and as this consciousness. We are oneness and the world to us happens within and as that oneness. Again, thoughts divide and cannot capture the reality of what we are, or reality as it fundamentally appears to us.

We are non-dual and reality as it appears to us – before mind gets caught up in our stories about it – is non-dual.

WHAT DOES DUALITY REFER TO?

Another approach is to focus more explicitly on our relationship with thoughts.

Duality – the experience of duality – happens when our mind assigns exclusive truth to a thought.

This thought is true, that thought is false. Buddhism is true, Christianity is not. I am right, you are wrong. I am this human self and not the wider world. I am something within the content. of experience, and not what it all happens within and as.

Non-duality involves – but is not limited to – recognizing the limited validity in a range of different perspectives and stories, and seeing the bigger picture that holds them all.

HOW THE MIND RELATES TO THOUGHT

Said another way, this has to do with how the mind relates to thoughts.

If my mind gets caught up in holding thoughts as true, then duality is created.

When I recognize my own more fundamental nature, and the nature of thoughts, the non-dual is revealed.

It’s pretty simple, and yet there are innumerable wrinkles here which makes it interesting.

HOLDING THOUGHTS AS TRUE

What happens when my mind hold a thought as true?

The obvious is that I’ll perceive and act as if it’s true, to the extent possible.

Also, when my mind gets caught up in holding a thought as true, then an experience of duality is created.

Each thought creates a view, and the mind identifies with and as that view. A sense of I is created around the view. I become that particular view.

That, in turn, creates a sense of I and Other and identification with the former.

That’s how an experience of duality is created.

RECOGNIZE THE NATURE OF THOUGHTS

So what’s the nature of thoughts?

They are here to help us orient and navigate in the world. They have a pragmatic function. Their function is not to hold or reflect any final, full, or absolute truth.

They are pointers. They hold limited validity, and the way they are valid varies.

RECOGNIZE MY MORE FUNDAMENTAL NATURE

In one sense, I am this human self in the world. And when I look more closely, I find I more fundamentally am something else.

More fundamentally, and to myself, I am what my field of experience happens within and as.

A thought may call this consciousness. To myself, I am consciousness. And the world, to me, happens within and as the consciousness I am.

This involves a release of identification with content of experience, including a human self, doer, observer, and so on. And, more precisely, it involves a release of identification with mental representations of all of these things.

Here, it’s easier to recognize the nature of thoughts. Recognizing my more fundamental nature makes it easier to recognize the nature of thoughts. It’s easier to hold them all more lightly. To see that they have a pragmatic function only.

IN REAL LIFE: A MIX

In real life, it’s of course not always so clean cut and simple.

Our nature may generally rest in recognizing itself and thoughts are generally recognized for what they are. And at the same time, parts of our psyche holds onto certain (painful) thoughts as true. These are wounded and traumatized parts of us. And they inevitably color our perception and life.

We may also generally recognize or nature and the nature of thoughts, and sometimes more obviously get hijacked by painful thoughts and identifications.

Or there may be areas of life where we hold onto limited and painful thoughts and identifications, perhaps even without recognizing because it’s so familiar to us. It may be obvious to others but not so much to us, at least for a while.

MY EXPERIENCE

As I have mentioned a few times before, there were a couple of big shifts when this human self was in his teens.

The first one was when I was fifteen. Mid-day on January 1st, it was as if the world became distant. The whole field of experience became distant – the world, this human self, emotions, thoughts, everything. Later, I understood that it was if any sense of “I” became absorbed into observing. The observing became an I and what this consciousness was temporarily identified with and as. My human self at the time had no ideas about this and just felt something had gone terribly wrong. This lasted for a year.

Almost exactly a year later, between Christmas and New Year, there was a shift into oneness. Into all as the divine, Spirit, God. This shift didn’t go away.

All of this made it unavoidable to see the general nature of thoughts. They are here to help us orient and navigate in the world, and not so much more. They cannot capture any full or absolute or final truth.

They happen within and as what I am, as anything else. They live their own life, as anything else.

As is not unusual, many parts of my psyche were formed within separation consciousness, were wounded and perhaps traumatized, and these continued to operate from separation consciousness and wounds. They color my perception and life. Some of these have found healing, and some still wait for healing.

When it comes to my mental field and mental habits, it was shocking to to this part of me when the oneness shift happened. I was a self-identified atheist since elementary school so definitely hadn’t expected – or even heard about – it. My mental field was used to operate from duality, so it took some time for it to reorganie and be more aligned with oneness. And that’s an ongoing process.

How have I supported my mental field in realigning? I read a lot of systems views and deep ecology books in my teens and early twenties. I read a lot of Taoism in my late teens and twenties. I read a lot of Buddhism in my twenties and thirties. I read a lot of general mysticism in my twenties and thirties. And equally or more importantly, I have done quite a bit of different types of inquiry – especially the Big Mind process, The Work of Byron Katie, and the Kiloby Inquiries.

BIG MIND ON NON-DUALITY

Hi Big Mind.

Hello.

Can you say something about non-duality? How does it look to you?

Non-duality is a term some humans like to use. It looks about as useful as it’s not. Some get very caught up in the idea of it, in their mental representations of it, instead of using it as a pointer for finding it for themselves.

Non-duality is what I am, what you are, what every conscious being inherently is. It’s not something mystical or distanced or weird. It’s what we already are and are most familiar with.

It’s really all we ever know.

At the same time, mind is very good at creating the experience of something else. Of creating the experience of duality.

It’s part of how I explore and experience myself. There is nothing wrong about it. It’s natural. And it can be interesting to explore.

Duality is the experience we create for ourselves when we take ourselves to fundamentally be a human self or anything else within the content of experience.

It’s just an experience. It’s a filter. It’s not inherent in what we are or reality.

What we are and reality is one. It forms itself into everything within content of experience. And that includes a temporary experience of duality.

When I form myself into an experience of duality, it creates a sense of discomfort. It’s out of alignment with my nature and reality so it’s inherently uncomfortable. It can also create a longing, and that longing is ultimately for me to recognize my nature.

I should also say that recognizing my nature and being temporarily caught up in duality are inherently equal in a certain way. The former is more peaceful and the latter is more uncomfortable and creates more challenges for this human self and other beings. And my nature is also the same in both cases.

Image by me and created with Midjourney to hint at non-duality AKA oneness. Lots of things inside a circle.


INITIAL NOTES

What is nondual? 

  • Mostly just to realize the nature of thoughts 
  • Then comes naturally 
  • when find our nature, also tend to recognize the nature of thoughts

What does non-dual refer to?

There are many ways to talk about it, some of which are annoying (!)

For me, it mostly has to do with how we relate to thoughts.

If my mind gets caught up in holding certain thoughts, and thoughts in general, as true, then duality is created. The mind is identified with and as a certain view created by thoughts, and that creates a sense of I and Other and identification with one side of it.

When I recognize the nature of thoughts, the non-dual is revealed.

And the same when I recognize my own more fundamental nature. When my nature recognizes itself.

It’s pretty simple, and yet there are innumerable wrinkles here which makes it interesting.

…..

Big Mind process – talk w. Big Mind

……
……

There are many ways to talk about it. If we have a taste of it for ourselves, the words tend to easily make sense. (Unless it gets very intricate and technical.) And if we don’t, no amount of words will really make sense.

So how would I talk about it?

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