Recently I have been exploring the world of non-duality. This is the pursuit of recognizing that our belief that we and everything around us are separate is in fact an illusion created by our mind as a result of cultural conditioning. The cultural condition here is the idea that if you cut an apple in two, then you get two separate pieces of fruit. The fact that this statement makes sense to you illustrates the cultural spell you are under.
Non-dualists point out that ‘apple’, ‘cut’, ‘two’ and ‘pieces’ are thoughts in our mind. These are labels that we learned as children that allow us to exchange that particular experience with other humans via speech or the written word. Since they are human labels and thoughts, they are of our own invention and not fundamentally real or true.
(I wrote a post on the dual nature of language that is quite relevant here.)
To understand why the idea that separate things are not separate for non-dualists, you need to understand that model of reality. Non-dualism starts from first principles.
I can only know that which I perceive through my senses.
Everything I perceive, i.e. see, hear, touch, smell or taste is a conscious experience in my mind.
That what we call a thing or an object, is an experience in our consciousness.
That what we call matter is an experience in our consciousness.
There is nothing, nothing at all that we can experience outside our consciousness.
Ergo, there is only consciousness.
Everything is consciousness.
Everything we experience, every thought, every emotion is in consciousness. Is consciousness.
Non-dualists liken consciousness to a field with no dimensions, nor limits, nor time. I say ‘ liken’ because field doesn’t quite describe it. In fact, the Tao which like Buddhism is fully aligned with non-dualism, says that consciousness cannot be described nor named. The Tao opens with:
The tao that can be spoken of is not the true Tao.
The name that can be named is not a true Name.
Nameless, is the origin of Heaven and Earth.
Non-dualists contend that our self is pure consciousness or pure awareness (both are synonymous in non-duality). Now, thought is an experience in pure awareness and it is thought that ‘names’ things. So ‘apple’, ‘cut’, ‘two’ and ‘pieces’ are thoughts in our mind that are not pure awareness itself, which is a continuous unlimited ‘field’. Therefore it makes no sense to call things separate since they are no more real than the Loch Ness monster. Does the Loch Ness monster have yellow spots? Who cares.
For me, the above makes perfect sense when viewed from a personal experience perspective. The next step is to see that we share the same consciousness needs a bit more reasoning. Suffice to say that we have no issue in agreeing that we all experience the same world. Since that world is pure consciousness, we share the same consciousness. And by the way, there is no world out there, or if there is, we can’t know it because we share the same consciousness so we can’t point at the same thing and use it as an argument that since we both see it, there is that thing out there, outside our consciousness. That would be true if we didn’t share the same consciousness, but we do. And we know we do because we experience the same things in consciousness. Q.E.D or alternatively, a circular argument. You decide.
The most wonderful thing about non-dualism is that it is experience based. It is not a philosophy but a description of an experiential model. There are many teachers out there but I like Rupert Spira’s down to earth experience centered video’s. Perhaps it is a lifetime of meditation on my behalf or the western centric language of non-dualism but it didn’t take me long to reach some level of self-realization. There are many levels all the way up to experiencing godhood but we don’t need to go that far to get a glimpse.
Since this is a Genetic Fractals gospel, I will focus on the spatial experience of loss of self. There is a lot that could be said about the overall experience of the loss of self and suffice to google self-realization, but here I want to relate the spatial perspective, simply because it links back to some ‘work’ I have done on dimensions on this blog.
What is it that which we normally call self? It is the belief that we are the collection of our past experiences, emotions, physical features, expectations, and relationships. Non-dualists contend that all of those features of ourselves are nothing but thoughts and none of them are our true self. The argument for that is that if you remove these features one by one, are you still you? The short answer is yes, you are fundamentally still you. Stripped of good and bad experiences and features alike, but still you.
Let’s consider that illusionary overloaded version of oneself. I think it is fair to say that there is a self-centered element to this. What matters is what I experience and what happens to me. Certainly, depending on our degree of selflessness, we will care about our loved ones, our neighbours and others that we feel some kinship with. But 90% is about ourselves. Did I eat? Do I have pain? Do I have a job? Do I have a house? Am I happy? And so on.
We don’t realize it, but our spatial awareness is strongly influenced by this self centeredness. We look at the world from our perspective. I don’t mean a mental perspective but a physical and spatial perspective. We view the world from our eyes as if our eyes are at the center of experience. What happens nearby is more important than what happens far away. We are so used to being literally the center of our world that we think that this is normal. It isn’t surprising that pre-copernican people thought that the universe revolved around themselves.
What if we displaced the center of awareness somewhere else? To use more common language, what if we took a different perspective? “Try and look at this from my perspective”, we often hear. This is a revealing exercise that you can try yourself. Look at a flower or a tree or any object in your vicinity and try to observe the world from their perspective. This is easier when you walk past it or around it. Your mind is capable of creating that perspective. The experience of essentially being that flower or tree is already quite a shift of awareness.
When we remove ourselves as the center of perspective, as happens when we reach a first glimpse of self realization, then our perspective shifts to everything around us. We get an omniscient awareness of the world. We experience it from every perspective at once, but not as in many viewpoints at once, but a single omniscient all embracing perception. Self realization is a lot more than such omniscient perception but that’s the part I’m focussing on here.
Now here is the strange thing, I had experienced this omniscient perspective before. When experimenting with dimensions I devised different approaches to experience the 4th dimension. Now don’t go all, “aaargh, from spirituality to 4D!”. I’m a mathematician, bear with me. Here is the deal with dimensions.
If you take a point, i.e. zero dimensional ‘object’ and you move it in time, you trace out a line, i.e. a one dimensional ‘object’.
If you take a line, i.e. one dimensional ‘object’ and you move it in time, you trace out a surface, i.e. a two dimensional ‘object’.
If you take a surface, i.e. two dimensional ‘object’ and you move it in time, you trace out a solid, i.e. a three dimensional object. This is why even on flat TV screens you can get 3D impressions in scenes where the camera pans.
If you take a solid, i.e. three dimensional object and you move it in time, you trace out a four dimensional ‘object’. Just like that.
Now, I put the word object between quotation marks because except for 3 dimensional objects, 0, 1 and 2 dimensional objects can’t be seen under normal circumstances. A point is infinitely small; a line is infinitely thin as is a surface. They are mathematical concepts. But a four dimensional is a 3 dimensional object in movement, viewed across a lapse of time, and can be seen. In fact, we often see it without realizing.
One example is walking around a tree and looking the canopy into the direction of the trunk. With some trial and error, the brain is capable of seeing the tree from different angles at once, giving this omniscient perspective. Ordinarily we miss this because we are typically lost in thought.
This really surprised me. To find that the omniscient perspective that we experience through self realization is the same as the omniscient perspective when seeing a four dimensional object.
In principle, this sameness is without consequence. It doesn’t mean that the self realized experience is four or even higher dimensional perception. Nor does it mean that isn’t.
The only observation I can make with some certainty is that it isn’t easy to learn to shift one’s experience to an omniscient perspective. This might explain why self realization is for many an elusive pursuit. But there is method and it is being done by many and so it is possible.
Since this blog occasionally throws in some maths, I can give the shortest ever formula that will lead to full self realization.
Or in english: “is”, from the verb “to be”.