I have seen Rupert Spira talk about “non-existent self” in a few quotes, and don’t know enough about him to know if he, in other situations, also talks about the other side(s) of it and the bigger picture.
In any case, it’s a reminder that some non-dual teachers speak in a slightly one-sided way and that some folks like and are attracted to it.
WHY DO SOME STUDENTS LIKE IT?
Why do some prefer or like that?
Likely because it’s easier to grasp mentally. It allows our mental aspect to function in a familiar (simplistic) way.
And they may, at some level, assume that grasping it intellectually is what it is about, even if many point out the contrary.
It may be just the medicine they need there and then. It may help them release out of taking themselves as most fundamentally a self, an object within the field of experience. It may be a helpful stepping stone.
Through grace – they may engage in practices and explorations that – through grace – give them a direct conscious taste of what they are in spite of the one-sided pointers.
WHY DO SOME TEACHERS APPEAR ONESIDED?
So why do some non-dual teachers talk in a one-sided way?
It may appear they do it because we have limited information. We have just a small window into how they interact with others. They may be far more fluid and explore from many more views.
They may want to make it simple for the students, although that seems misguided. (It’s far better to be honest and not make it simple where it isn’t simple. What it points to is simple. Talking about it is not.)
They may fall into a lazy habit of using familiar phrases and ways of talking about it.
They may be focused on a simple mental representation of our nature rather than trying to put words on an immediate noticing.
UPSIDES & DOWNSIDES
I have already mentioned some upsides.
It can be a useful stepping stone. And it may not get in the way of their nature recognizing itself.
I have also hinted at some downsides.
It can give the impression that this, and anything, is something that can be grasped mentally.
And that tends to reinforce a habit of holding mental representations as true.
When we hold mental representations as true, there is an identification with the viewpoint of that or those mental representations. That’s an identification with something within the field of experience, and it creates a sense of “I” and “other”.
There is nothing wrong with that. It’s natural and innocent.
And yet, if we want to explore what we more fundamentally are, it’s a side track (or a stepping stone). It’s a distraction from our nature recognizing itself, and learning to allow this human self to function in the world and live from and as that recognition.
WHEN A TEACHER IS MORE FLUID AND SINCERE
If we are more fluid and flexible in how we talk about things, we are coming at the same issue in several different ways. We look at it from many different sides and in different contexts. We adapt how we talk about something to the person, situation, and context. We use words and pointers as medicine for specific conditions, and those conditions are different depending on the person and situation. *
We are typically more focused on our immediate noticing, and finding words that – in that moment – reflect what we are noticing, rather than using habitual phrases.
We don’t use pat answers. What we talk about cannot easily be pinned down.
And that may be less attractive to students who want simple answers (they can mentally understand and memorize) rather than what the pointers point to.
* Said another way… We know that mental representations can never capture what they point to. Life and reality is far too rich for that. There can be, and often is, validity in a mental representation, and it’s not any full, final, or absolute truth. We know it in our gut through direct noticing and lived experience.
Mental representations are about pragmatics, pointers, and navigating in the world. Their nature is not to capture any full or final truth. And that goes for anything that mental representations point to, whether it is our more fundamental nature, a human being, gravity, a rock, or an ice cream dessert.