Nonduality, Maya, and Spiritual Awakening
By Remez Sasson
The philosophy of nonduality or nondualism, as it is sometimes called, says that there is just One formless and limitless Spirit, and that everything in the Universe is within it, part of it, and created by it. This includes every person, animal, plant and tree, and everything animate and inanimate.
This One Spirit manifests through myriads of forms, all forms being inseparable part of it.
This philosophy, which is Eastern in origin, is called Advaita-Vedanta in India. One of its main tenets says that it is only illusion that causes us to view the world as separate from us.
There is so much misunderstanding, disagreement and clashes of egos in the world, due to the fact that each personality-ego is different and unique, considering itself as a separate unit. Everyone is deeply engrossed in their personality - ego, guarding it and protecting it jealously. This attitude leads to being trapped in a small imaginary world, where there are misunderstandings, disagreements, tensions and struggles.
Accepting, understanding experiencing nonduality, can solve these problems.
It is quite possible that not everyone will agree with the information and description of non duality as presented here. It is also possible that someone else's experience might be different, but I hope that this article will contribute to you some interesting and valuable information.
Pure Spirit and the Ego
The One Spirit manifests through your body, brain and mind. This Spirit is pure Consciousness, but when acting through the body and five senses, it seems to get identified with the body it is manifesting through, and this gives birth to the individual personality - ego. It is as if the Spirit "forgets" itself as being pure, indivisible Spirit- Consciousness.
This "forgetfulness" is so strong and deep that the body and the Spirit manifesting through it, tend to act as one unit, as a separate and independent individuality - personality.
The One Spirit is pure Consciousness, one homogenous whole, but due to the involvement with the body, five senses and thoughts, there arises identification with them, and the "creation" of a separate individual unit.
The physical body is an instrument created and used by the Spirit, and is not the real "I". However, since the identification with the body is so strong, you consider your body to be the real entity that we are.
Nonduality and the Mind
By now, you begin understanding what Nonduality really is. It is the idea that there is only one Spirit - Consciousness everywhere, which cannot be divided into parts, and this is the only real, enduring, and existing 'something' in the Universe.
This Consciousness seems to generate thoughts, ideas and feelings, which are impermanent and constantly change, and in this sense are to be regarded as unreal; now they are here, the next moment there are others. This is the Maya of the Eastern philosophies. It sort of covers and hides the pure Consciousness, which seems to forget itself and identify with the body.
In nonduality there is no' two', there is only 'one'. It is only illusion and an erroneous way of thinking that causes us to view everything as separate from us. This fact is realized in a state of inner silence and peace, when there are no restless thoughts and mental activity to hide this truth.
When the ability to silence the mind becomes natural, one can live in this Consciousness - Awareness, while living and participating in day-to-day's life and activities. A silent mind is a precondition for this experience. To understand nonduality and live in it, you have to learn to silence the mind, because this knowledge and realization is beyond the mind.
All thoughts, ideas and knowledge are mental. In order to know something beyond the mental world we need a different instrument. To understand the mind and what is beyond it, we have to rise above it, to the source beyond it.
Nonduality and Maya - Illusion
A hologram seems to be three-dimensional, but actually it is flat. A mirage looks so real, yet, it is only an illusion. A robot may be built, resembling a human being and acting like one. However, it is just a machine. In all of these cases there is illusion. Something looks different from what it really is.
In the East they use the following metaphors to explain and differentiate between illusion and reality:
1. Jewels made of gold are called earrings, bracelets or rings, but they are just gold shaped into these forms. For convenience, we call all these objects by different names, but actually there is only gold. Before they were made into jewels they were gold, they are gold now, and after they will be melted, they will also remain as gold.
2. Objects made of clay are only clay. They may be called plates, vases, or statues, but yet, they are all made of the same stuff, clay, which temporarily exists as a definite object.
There is just One indivisible Consciousness - Reality, but due to an illusionary phenomenon called Maya, this reality becomes hidden. All beings and inanimate objects, including planets and galaxies, are one with the One Spirit, but due to Maya there seems to be separation, individual units, in the vast and unlimited Spirit.
Nonduality and Spiritual Awakening
Accepting and realizing what nonduality is, can transform your attitude toward everything, and even lead to spiritual awakening. This realization comes through increased ability to focus and calm the mind, through meditation, reading about nonduality, meditation, and being in the company of people who have realized nonduality.
Sometimes, there might be a sudden dawn of understanding, sudden enlightenment, but often, it is a process that takes time.
The awakening and realization might come and go, faint at first, but getting stronger in time. When the process of understanding nonduality and awakening starts, it will go on, even if sometimes, you are not aware of the process. There will be small rays of light at first, but one day the full sun of awakening and realization will shine.
When you begin to understand and accept the concept of nonduality, the identification with the ego and body will begin to loosen its grip. However, you need not be concerned about this.
Your external life and activities would most probably continue as was before. You will go on living, doing most of the things you did before, interacting with people, working, eating, and sleeping, but now you start to realize that you are an inseparable part of the One Spirit, and understand that the body and the personality are not you. This realization brings a sense of true and great freedom and bliss.
In this state, you feel and know that you are an inseparable part of the ever present and impersonal Consciousness - Spirit. The world looks like an illusion from this point of view, even tough you still live in it, experience it, and enjoy it.
It is like watching a movie, without getting emotionally involved or affected by the characters playing on the screen, knowing that they are not real. You live in the world, but at the same time conscious and aware of the Spirit beyond the physical world, and beyond the ego and the body.
Awakening from the dream of unreality is the path of non-duality. This awakening brings happiness, joy, bliss, fearlessness, and inner power. You rise above the mind and return Home, to where you always are, but have forgotten. You realize who you really are.
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