I love this phrase: non-dualism. Seems the concept could be presented in a word that does not contain a negative, but I like the complexity, the way contemplating non dualism invites me to think more about what NOT to do. How often do we hear ourselves say “I have to work on…” even when we are referring to emotional or spiritual longings? No you don’t. You just have to stop doing the things that are bringing you pain and aggravation.
It’s not work, it’s removing layers. And maybe proximity to truth. The magnet always attracts, but if the iron is covered with rust, or too far from the magnet, that attraction can’t be felt. The sculptor often discusses removing what does not belong, the meditator seeing what is beneath the senseless chatter, the batter losing consciousness of everything except the ball. When I thought there wasn’t enough love in my life, it was because this story of scarcity I was carrying around was blocking my view. Put that down, and holy smokes– look at the richness! Step closer to the people who seem to understand this better than me, and wow! Letting go is by no means easy, but it isn’t work. It’s connection.
Because, for me, the invitation in spirituality is to wake up from the illusion of separateness and really grock connection. God isn’t “over there,” separate from the people. I am not some special thing separate from you, I am just like you, you the child-elder-lover-sage-evil doer. I am not even made of any different material than star dust. “Not separate” then leads to being one, with God and everything, and then right in that thought becomes pure annihilation of self, and facing THAT is the reason I avoided spiritual work, kept myself separate for so long.
Non-dualism also compels me to embrace a theology that connects me to spirit through others, rather than through piety to any specific lord, and I am finding myself feeling the edge of that. I feel a separateness from both the secular humanists who have no sense of spirit and the other folks who pray for the mercy of a God to grant them things. So there is a rub, right? This contemplation, is it itself an obstacle? A dear friend on the Sufi path has offered me beautiful, divine words in the forms of poetry and prayers, and I choke on the language… The Oh Lord I pray to Thee stuff. Does this mean I’m just not far enough on the path, or further? Or is it just that there are different paths for different people? Or is it that it loops around, and the monotheists who go deep enough find the truth that this thing they’ve been externalizing is everywhere, everyone, everything; and the more I explore Buddhist teachings, the more I will find myself using this God word metaphorically because it is easier than saying the universe?
Last night, I attended an event at a church where a beautiful woman transmitted divine light to the individuals in the room. I have no doubt she was transmitting… We all are, I have felt it, and some people are genuinely better at this. I’m sure she sent me some, and the opportunity was to be there for that. We weren’t worshipping her though, she was just one of us. We weren’t praying to any denominational god, and in fact the language was very specifically cleaned up to not be theistic. And yet I still found myself distracted by the singular focus of the room on her as tonight’s source. Her presence on stage and the movement in the room, and even the architecture clearly designed to foster the exhaultation to God, all were a distraction to my connection. I frankly came for kirtan, because it is specifically in the collective chanting that I feel most oneness. So I found this layer, this desire to be in the hive, blocked my engagement. Interesting lesson there.
Post-script. Just found this on SwamiJ.com… Apparently this dualism question is far from settled philosophy!
To debate or not debate: Some intellectuals will also debate furiously and endlessly about whether the ultimate nature of reality is dualistic or non-dualistic. Some will say that Purusha (as consciousness) and Prakriti (as matter) are eternally separate, and therefore, ultimate reality is dualistic. Others will argue that the two are ultimately seen to be one and the same, and ultimate reality is non-dualistic. However, the seeker of direct experience through the practices of Yoga need not enter these debates intensely. While there may be some value in reflecting on these principles, and maybe even forming a provisional opinion, what is far more important is to understand and actually do the practices. (See also the article, Dualism and Non-Dualism)