Saturday, May 16, 2009

Non-Dual Me, Baby!

I’ve been checking out my bookmarked “non-duality” sites again and I’m always amazed at the self-absorbed and self-interested bloggers advocating that we all follow their lead and sink into ourselves in attaining the insight that we are not a ‘self.’

If you spend 10 to 20 years in self-absorbed meditation (and these are the authentic zenners and advaita jockeys, as I no longer read the 'instant-awakening' folks) you will eventually attain the insight that there is no subject/object division.(yet, in the meantime, your experience of a regressing and eroding world will continue to regress and erode as usual)

Here’s a quote from Ken Wilber’s "Spectrum of Consciousness":
"Similarly, the dualism of subject vs. object is as illusory as that of the past vs. future, and its illusory nature can be as easily demonstrated. For, at this moment, can you actually find a separate self, a separate “subject” apart from its “object”? When you hear a sound, can you ever hear yourself hearing? When you taste something, can you taste the taster? Smell the smeller? Feel the feeler? When you see a tree, can you at the same time see the seer? As you are now thinking about all of this, can you simultaneously find a thinker who is thinking about it? Is all this not the clearest demonstration that there exists no separate subject apart from objects? Invariably, the sensation called “yourself in here” and the sensation called “objects out there” are one and the same sensation. As we said in connection with Yogacara, at this moment you are this page reading itself!

This type of teaching ignores an existential aspect of living referred to as “facticity.”
In the works of Sartre, "facticity" signifies all of the concrete details against the background of which human freedom exists and is limited. For example, these may include the time and place of birth, a language, an environment, an individual's previous choices, as well as the inevitable prospect of their death. For example: currently, the situation of a person who is born without legs precludes their freedom to walk on the beach; if future medicine were to develop a method of growing new legs for that person, their facticity might no longer exclude this activity. Wiki.
Non-dualism denies the "facticity" of the human experience by deconstructing that diverse experience into an anonymous cauldron of homogeneity, in which experiencing the deep joy of intimately engaging with others is minimized against an anonymous subject/object clumping together of all experience.

Why do we hate the ‘self’ so much? Why do we so deeply wish to experience homogeneous anonymity?

Non-duality seeks to escape authentic existential experience by deconstructing that experience down to nothingness rather than reconstructing it in discovery of what it could be together in our diversity. The intimacy of two or more becomes nothing but a mere aspect of the dualistic "illusion," even though it gives us more joy than any other existential experience.

Non-duality is not so much an escape from self as it is more an escape from other selves. It is a way to offset guilt for the collective experience we all partake of and that the ego-collective constructs.

Non-duality seems to inform that since we have done such a lousy job of constructing our collective experience, best to just trash it all and seek anonymous bliss through an equally anonymous mass of subject/object merging. In other words, fuck the self and give me the bliss of anonymity. Now I can deny that I hate you for all that I’ve done wrong and completely disassociate from you as the vehicle I must seek to engage with in order for us both to know the ‘self' fully in an enlightened evolved state.

Meditation, with the goal of non-duality, is a defense mechanism against reality and attempts to deny our mutual "facticity."

Insight is available for experience, but only through others and the world.

However, these non-dual teachers and advocates are certainly an interesting lot. With all their non-dual principles, ideologies and practices, they still seem to get a big kick out of engaging with others in constantly discussing the theory of non-duality.

I just hope this type of consistent engagement with others doesn’t mess up their practices in achieving the non-dual state.

; )



  1. Do you ever not think that it is a luxury of the Latin West to even be so absorbed with the notion or non notion of "self"?

    If enlightenment only brings you to the notion of elitism, and awakening only brings you to a state of further self-absorption under the guise of spirituality, what then is the purpose of it? It is even worse babble than even I can come up with. In an interview, which just happened to take place during the moments just before the 11 September attack in 2001, Tolle did not seem "to get" why the interview was suddenly over. He was actually in a state of "What does this have to do with me?" Who wants to get to that place?

    The vehicle of meditation assists in calming my own mind enough to interact sanely with the world around me. I must not get it or something.


  2. mikeS,

    Don’t make me come out of Satan’s cave and kick your ass. Take it all back, Now!

  3. Hi Nahnni

    You found my other hiding place!

    As I currently see it, the "enlightenment" or "awakening" paradigm serves the same purpose of ego assertion that any other paradigm of the world serves. Yet, There does seem to be something behind it that may be missed or misinterpreted by the awakening crowd, even those ancient teachers.

    I suppose that, like them, I am "awakened" simply because I recognize that awakening must include all minds and not parts of the whole.

    Therefore, like them, I'm not awakened at all.

    Sometimes it can be a very frustrating situation indeed.


  4. Hey Moj!

    Come on out. I dare ya!

    Nowadays I imagine Satan is more frightened of us, they we are of him.

    Here's to hell!

  5. Hi Mike~

    I found your blog here by way of another blog. When I saw your name listed on the "sites" list, I thought, Hey, that's our Mike! So, I came to visit you.

    "Nowadays I imagine Satan is more frightened of us"I've always held a different view of Lucifer since reading Taylor Caldwell's, "Dialogues with the Devil" Quite the study of an illustrious and unapologetic ego. And yea, I would imagine frightened likewise, or at the least utterly amazed.


  6. hi there

    you said
    "Non-duality seeks to escape authentic existential experience by deconstructing that experience down to nothingness rather than reconstructing it in discovery of what it could be together in our diversity. The intimacy of two or more becomes nothing but a mere aspect of the dualistic "illusion," even though it gives us more joy than any other existential experience."

    in my view - this is not what the intention of learning of non-duality is at all. as a matter of fact - when the notion of non-duality is integrated then there is the a much much FULLER engagement of authentic existential existance... because there is less fear and because there is less internal distraction - so more experience is "available" ... not that it wasn't there before - but it just wasn't noticed - or it was interpreted as bad perhaps...
    so there is the experiencing of how things are... and because of that - less projections onto relationships and the opportunity for relational engagement - which is the dance of continual arising interdependance... with is non-duality...

    a particular experience of non-duality versus duality is NOT the point.
    bottom line - how do you relate with others? with the environment? what choices are made and what is the modus operandi of living? self preservation? forever youthful? a neediness to be seen? generosity? compassion?

    how much stress is held in mind? in body? and what is the source?

    i can see the value in discussing non-duality in terms of interdependance - as a way to illuminate that we are not islands-to-ourselves. and i get that ego can simply just latch onto that in mind only - somehow divorcing the natural flow of how life is actually lived with mental idealism...

    so sometimes non-duality could be discussed over and over as another form of "spiritual" mental distraction... but also, sometimes non-duality is discussed over and over again and there MAY be a little revelation ... a "sinking in" so that the truth of interdependance is glimpsed in a more visceral way and eventually becomes the actual modus operandi of living life. that, i think is the "role" of non-dual meditation...

    then at that point - the whole discussion and technique is no longer fruitful... but simply is egoic mental play. duality, non-duality - eventually, it doesn't matter... and all along it didn't matter - although for some of us it is useful to think about it for awhile... just to help with the seeing of what is, and "my" part in that... strangely - i did not consider the thought of interdependance until i was introduced to the idea of "non-duality".

    i think though - that some people will call that little revelation - that internalization of interdependance, as "awakening" or even enlightenment. or some others will call the experience of the continual arising of conditions as "awakening" or even enlightenment. i suspect that is what the instant enlightenment dudes are doing.

    i think it is kind of silly. and also "dangerous" in the sense that the ego just latches on to the notion of being awakened or enlightened... using that to define the separate selfness... then that is the hooking point for others to enter into relationships with the "awakened" - relationships that are full of projections and contrived ideals.

    but none of that has anything to do with the ever changing interdependant arising of conditions... although it is part of it... part of the weave.

    well, i don't know if anything i said is clear - but it was fun to try.

  7. Christine,

    How can one "learn" non-duality? It either is or it isn't. How can non-duality be a "notion"? How can that notion be integrated? Integrated into what? Of course the concept can be integrated and this makes many feel happy.

    Are you saying that simply understanding about non-duality gives the ego a sense of "FULLER engagement"? There are many concepts that can lift and energize the ego, for a time, and I suspect this is why many egos attach to the "notion" of non-duality. Like any other sacred-special term it gives one a sense of being separate from the shit of existence or at least a striving for that separateness.

    On the flip side it seems to me that non-duality makes the fear more present, since why else would I seek to be non-dual, if not from fear of the NOT non-dual?

    I hear and respect your opinion. However, for me non-duality is an internal distraction and the dualistic ego cannot help but use the concept to further itself since all ego's seek to further assert egoistically.

    It seems evident that even the experience of non-dual asserts non-duality, since there are those who got it and those who don't and the ego will differentiate and judge as such.

    However, I can understand how the 'concept' of non-duality, similar to all other esoteric transcendent concepts, give the fearful hope of another reality. And so the world we share may never benefit from the interdependent engagement that can happen in duality.


  8. hi again

    so, in a sense it is crazy to talk about non-duality because as soon as there is a differentiation between non-dual and NOT non-dual - then there is duality.

    i understand what you say about transcendant concepts as a way out of this reality - a fear/hope sort of grasping at something else "better". and i think that is very very true a lot of the time.

    however, there is, in my experience, a fine point - which cannot quite be held in thought - mmm... can't put words around it in this moment - but the word "realization" is not a bad pointer... that there is always the mixing of duality and non-duality - and that there is no separation... so any assertion of "getting" or "understanding" or "experiencing" something called non-duality as separate from existance as it is - is a mental distraction or fabrication...

    so, you and i agree on a lot, i think.

    you say
    "How can one "learn" non-duality? It either is or it isn't. How can non-duality be a "notion"? How can that notion be integrated? Integrated into what? Of course the concept can be integrated and this makes many feel happy."

    i understand what you are saying. something called non-duality is a concept. something called duality is a concept. both can be explained and understood in a limitted and likely conditional sort of way by mind.

    so, what is integrated? - not the concept - more of that flash experience i talked about. when i try to talk about it - the words are cumbersome and awkward... but it is the noticing of the arising of conditions as they are with no notion of being separate from the conditions - because there is no separation ... internal, external - whatever. just simply living and relating. wakefulness... a state of surprise - ever present though in the unique arising of what is... arising and arising and arising...
    and what is it integrated into?
    into the individuated self - that is always individuated - at least until death anyway... individuated, but not separate... and the borders of the individuation are always not entirely solid... like living cells birthing, growing, differentiating, reproducing, dying in the humanity being... and in the biosphere being ... and in the five element being (water, earth, air, fire, space)

    but - there is nothing at all special about it - and it doesn't look any different than anyone else's relating. it is ridiculously ordinary... and there is no seeking out of specialness at all... there is no need to. life, as it arises is full in itself... and that is what i mean about a "fuller" engagement. perhaps the engagement itself isn't fuller, but the awareness of the engagement is fuller.

    the thing about it is - there is no judgement of nondual versus dual experience - because the two experiences are never separate - so there is no judging of others who do not experience non-duality... they are not seen as separate, or inferior, or lacking in something...
    and if there IS a notion of non-duality being different that duality - then that is just mental fabrication...

    but as you say - all of the talking about it IS ego distraction... i entirely agree... something for ego to latch on to to assert itself... i agree.

    as i said - the bottom line - is how it plays out in interdependant relating... it doesn't matter that people know what duality or non-duality is... but it does matter that people know that their actions, thoughts, intentions, assumptions, projections, and conditioning affects the present, affect the future... the effect rippling through the interdependant web - creating the conditions that arise.

    warm regards

  9. I agree that the idea of doing away with, or seeing through the illusion of, the self is far down a very odd track. The very idea of being a person wanting to see that one is not a person is absurd.

    However, there are non-dual paths that do not embrace this idea. Those paths acknowledge the very impossiblity of saying anything about the non-dual at all. Can't be done. Ken Wilber has a quote about this that goes something like, "When you try an build up a philosophy from a foundation of non-duality you run into all sorts of trouble and it just doesn't work. So, stop trying."

  10. "there are non-dual paths that do not embrace this idea"

    I don't know, Travis, because it seems that once an idea such as 'non-dual' is identified as within any "path," we have channeled truth through expectation (and how could that be true?)

    such is the paradox...


  11. Homer Simpson sold his soul to the devil for a doughnut

  12. A friend just found this oldie but goodie and sent ti to me. Oddly enough I am currently reading Spectrum of Consciousness. Heh.

    I hear what you are saying MikeS, and after a year plus more looking into this stuff I agree even more with your post and your reply to my comment.

    It is my experience that you are describing people on a non-dual trajectory (a paradox I know) who are in sort of a half-way there state. What you describe is very much part of the non-dual scene, a full running away from reality. I could not agree more. Still, there is something beyond getting fixated on a goal, which after all would not be non-dual. That leads right to where you are, amidst all of the dross and yuck and yum (as Timothy Freke would say) of the truth of what reality is. It ain't all bliss or sublime absorption. It's still a lot of work. Even Ramana Maharshi labored to build the walls of his ashram.

    What you seem to be talking about are the lotus-eaters of all spiritual paths. The ones wanting to get something great for their effort. It's an easy trap to fall into, and always available. It's when people chase the experience of looking at the raw truth of themselves rather than at the raw truth of themselves.

    Anyways, good to see you again, and I would be curious to now if you have experienced anyone who has changed your feelings on this matter a bit, or how they have evolved in the last year.


  13. "Homer Simpson sold his soul to the devil for a doughnut"


    Don't we all?

    Thanks Tim,

  14. Hey Travis,

    Good to hear from you again.

    You're a great thought provoker!

    "It ain't all bliss or sublime absorption."

    Indeed. It's nothing "I" could even consider (so why do I? HA!)

    "It's still a lot of work. Even Ramana Maharshi labored to build the walls of his ashram."

    Hmmm...the "work" part I still grapple with (which is also alot of work!). Not so sure "work" has anything to do with it, but only because that continues to be an ego convention and certainly a paradigm of the world.

    But then, possibly one "works" for decades only to realize there was never any need to DO anything at all.

    So, yep, in that sense, I suppose "work" is required.


  15. The usual fear/desire based writings.

  16. Hi, Mike --

    My honest opinion on this writing? "Rational mind supporting/defending emotional mind". Or "emotional mind supporting/defending rational mind".

    All this is maintained as best one can, until "one day" it all falls apart as groundless.

    As an experiment, try sitting completely alone on the couch for just a few hours, without thinking at all. My guess is that what Mike will encounter is terror -- *panic*. IMV, that's really what this is all about.


  17. "My guess is that what Mike will encounter is terror -- *panic*."

    Been there, done that, dude.

    In fact, I ride the wave everyday.


  18. So much for the 'peaceful self', eh? :-p.

  19. "So much for the 'peaceful self', eh? :-p."

    I suppose that depends on how your ego-self defines "peace"

    ; )

  20. Thanks Mike for writing so clearly what I already knew, but could not find words for -yet.
    I enjoy your site

  21. Anna,

    Hello and thanks!