Thursday, March 22
nonduality is not duality
there is no combining them
or trying to make them both fit
nonduality is not two
in his book on modern spitituality "After the Ecstacy, the
Laundry" Jack Kornfield asserts that there is no permanent
enlightenment. that's bullshit. once the snake is known to be a
rope, you never mistake it for a snake again! awakening has no
"me" and "you" and no parts within it.
many of the teachers at inner directions were also proclaiming a
kind of "qualified nonduality" where you have an awakening
experience and then 'come back' to embrace humanity. it may
appear that way to someone who has not understood. but, once you
awaken from the dream, the dream does not exist.
the trouble with "what is" is that many people take it to be
their ordinary waking experience, and don't enquire any further.
the truth is far far vaster than the ordinary waking experience,
where one is still a perceiver.
all i'm saying is go all the way
True, nonduality is not duality... but nonduality is still an
idea, a sort of philosophy, and *as direct experience* really
can't be called either duality or nonduality. It's something
like 'present nonexistence..." -- nonexistence can't include the
existence of something called 'nonduality' any more than it can
include the existence of something called 'duality' (if that
makes any sense).
Put another way, "nonduality" and "duality" are sort of
opposites, and there can't be such a (real) thing as opposites.
If there is nothing but nonduality, how can it be said there is
duality? ... and if there is *nothing but* nonduality, it's the
default... and the default doesn't need to be called anything at
Funny, I was thinking this morning how the term "Un-duality" is
almost better. You know how vampires are "undead" -- they are
really dead but still appear to be walking around somehow?
Well, as 'the manifested' is not excluded from 'what is' by any
means, I was thinking the term "unduality" sounds good! It
doesn't assert so strongly as *non* -- while still leaving a
place for the apparent manifest universe.
"Nonduality" does not deny the world, but demonstrates it as
appearance only, like a shadow, or a movie on a movie screen. As
a movie, a movie is real... and as the world, the world is
real... only it depends utterly on consciousness, which depends
in turn on awareness. An appearance still appears, despite being
Anyway, I am sort of rambling, so I'll bring this to a close. In
conclusion, it isn't important to me whether I 'agree' or
'disagree' with you when looking at this through the mirror of
words. "You" and "I" are the same Awareness. Thoughts always
seem to differ, and the joyous thing is it just doesn't matter
-- Reality is the same everywhere.
I was at a party in Los Angeles and a woman asked me what
nonduality was. I said it meant that all is God or
Consciousness. She said, 'Well I could argue that vehemently.'
She proceeded to tell me about the God of Abraham and the Truth
as she knew it and as it could only be. Then she tore a deposit
slip out of her check book, pointed to the address printed on
it, and demanded I come to her house for dinner. I envisioned
myself listening to her and then, about half way through
dessert, asking, Who is it that put forth these beliefs for the
last hour? I lied and told her I was busy and never went to the
dinner. I went to Krispie Kreme donuts instead. They were
miraculously warm, light, soft. One doesn't eat a Krispie Kreme.
One merges with it.
What a beautiful, funny and poetic understatement! It made me
laugh, while also conjuring distinct images of LA, where I used
to live. That was in the 70's, before Krispy Kremes were there.
So I made do with Hostess Twinkies and A&W Root Beer. At that
time, all I knew of any of this, was an occasional magazine ad
for the Rosicrucians.
JB798 AND GENE POOLE
JB: I am a new member here. My knowledge of Advaita is quite
limitted, so I am actually a dualist, in daily life.
GENE: As daily life now appears to you On surface levels of
JB: There is the talk of an 'empty mind'. What's that and how
does one discover it ?
GENE: All thinking is actually done externally The mind is
naturally empty Only when empty can it receive accurate
JB: And has anyone here, seen first hand, the end of suffering ?
GENE: Sufering ends upon full participation, conducted without
JB: Also 'What is indecision' ? It can drain one of energy
apparently.. like: 'should I move in with my girlfriend or not
GENE: Indecision is also known as ambiguity Caught between two
poles The essence of duality
JB: And does it matter at all (in the context of 'Truth') _what_
decision one takes ?
GENE: Truth is found only in language
CONSCIOUSNESS AND BUDDHIST ORTHODOXY
There is no final way to say what reality is. We can only be a
creature presenting a limited point of view. An ant might
describe reality a different way, yet the ant's view is true
from the ant's perspective. Certainly, there is not one Buddhist
perspective on the nature of "mind" or "awareness" -- one of the
reasons for "competing" Buddhist sects.
I imagine every buddhist has their own individual opinion. My
view as presented was not meant to be especially buddhist, I
mentioned the scriptures in passing and also mentioned other
religions. But I think the basic point I was making, about
consciousness (or awareness, same thing), insofar as it
conflicts with your views (which you don't state here, only
claiming mine to be of 'early buddhist' variety), could be
readily extracted from the Platform Sutra, that definer of
orthodoxy. Hui-neng was an illiterate who was enlightened while
listening to a sutra. He joined the local Zen sect, where the
fifth patriarch was holding a competition, the writer of the
best stanza would be appointed the sixth patriarch. Since all
the monks knew that Shen Hsiu was the number one monk after the
old abbot, they waited to see what he would write. After great
deliberation and anxiety, Shen Hsiu finally wrote:
Our body is the Bodhi-tree, And our mind a mirror bright.
Carefully we wipe them hour by hour, And let no dust alight.
Hui-neng was brought to the wall where the stanza was written,
and had it read to him. He thought it was all wrong, and had the
boy write the following stanza for him, which won the prize:
There is no Bodhi-tree, Nor stand of a mirror bright. Since all
is Void, Where can the dust alight?
The first stanza contains the error of regarding the 'mirror' of
consciousness as being the true self, and the working out of
enlightenment being the effort to polish (purify) the mirror
(Mind) of dust (defilements, 'sins'). The second stanza
(Hui-neng's) indicates that to work at purifying mind is to miss
the true realization that all is perfectly pure already, that
all efforts to gain spiritual progress are merely the working
out of ego (limited) desires. Later, Shen Hsiu and Hui-neng both
ran large monasteries with many disciples, but Hui-neng was the
patriarch of the Zen sect, and the arbiter of orthodoxy. His
sect, the 'Southern School' was known as the immediate
enlightenment sect, while Shen's was the gradual enlightenment
sect. Hui-neng taught of an 'immediate transmission outside of
the scriptures,' while the Northern school believed that they
would gradually develop through practice. While the schools were
on good terms, as their leaders wuld not allow them to argue,
both abbots regarded the Southern school as the orthodox one,
and Zen proceeded to develop along the lines laid down by
Hui-neng. "Our Mind is a mirror bright" refers to Mind as being
Consciousness. Orthodox zen regards Mind as Buddha-nature, as
Void, as Empty. Consider how this is explained by Dogen, another
very orthodox Zen Master:
"When the truth doesn't fill our body and mind, we think we have
had enough. When the truth fills our body and mind, we realize
that something is missing. For example, when we look at the
ocean from a boat, with no land in sight, it seems circular and
nothing else. But the ocean is neither round nor square, and its
features are infinite in variety. It is like a palace. It is
like a jewel. Only to our eyes, only for a moment, does it seem
circular. All things are like this. Although there are
numberless aspects to all things, we see only as far as our
vision can reach. And in our vision of all things, we must
appreciate that although they may look round or square, the
other aspects of oceans or mountains are infinite in variety,
and that universes lie all around us. It is like this
everywhere, right here, in the tiniest drop of water."
So, "When the truth fills our mind and body" refers to the
action of being conscious, being aware, totally. But even in
this total awareness we run into the limitations of the six
senses, including the limits of conceptualization, and dogen
illustrates this with the idea of a raft in the middle of the
ocean, seeing the ocean as circular. The 'bright mirror'
reflects only what is in front of it, not all that there is.
Dogen goes on:
"When a fish swims, it swims on and on, and there is no end to
the water. When a bird flies, it flies on and on, and there is
no end to the sky. There was never a fish that swam out of the
water, or a bird that flew out of the sky. When they need a
little water or sky, they use just a little; when they need a
lot, they use a lot. Thus, they use all of it at every moment,
and in every place they have perfect freedom. "But if there were
a bird that first wanted to examine the size of the sky, or a
fish that first wanted to examine the extent of the water, and
then try to fly or swim, it would never find its way. When we
find where we are at this moment, then our everyday life is
itself the manifestation of the truth. For the place, the way,
is neither large nor small, neither self nor other. It has never
existed before, and it is not coming into existence now. It is
simply as it is. "Thus in our practice of Buddhism, when we
master one truth, we master all truths; and when we complete one
activity, we complete all activities. The place is here; the way
leads everywhere. So understanding is not easy, because it is
simultaneous with the complete attainment of the Buddha's
teaching. Even though we have already attained supreme
enlightenment, we may not realize it. Some may and some may
What dogen is getting at is that we have *enough* consciousness
to be aware of 'suchness' or of being in ourselves 'the
manifestation of truth.' We have the infinite earth available to
us, in any direction we care to go, but at any given moment we
are using only that few square inches which lies under our feet.
Implied in these statements is that we may have total freedom,
as the fish and the birds do, without needing to know the size
of the sky or the extent of the water. It is not great
consciousness that gives us our freedom, it is our nature to be
free, conscious or not. Dogen says, and it bears repeating:
"Even though we have already attained supreme enlightenment, we
may not realize it. Some may and some may not."
It really doesn't take very much consciousness to realize that
we are already free. Some may realize it, and some may not.
Those who don't realize it will continue competing and trying to
gain personal advantage, while those who do realize it will
share it as best they can and be content if they can't.