Non-dual means one, thus any attempt to dissect the one, is a fallacy, such as in the heading above, where ‘comparative’ is suggested as a description of the intent of this article. A clumsy attempt perhaps, but when a paradox is recognised, language is doomed and so a place of common ground is worthy of attention for the sake of communication, and this is what has arisen here! Please excuse obvious departures from the narrative due to my incorrect or inexact usage based on ‘ME” as a subject, this approach “appears” as new and demanding for the novice.
The author makes no claim to have made any progress through the process of seeking, however, a long term interest in discovering the mystery of life has seemingly evolved with a continuing interest in the topic, and in daily life there appears to be a foundational self-contentment of being, albeit in a non-challenging environment.
Two teachings are mentioned here, my intent being to document my reflections and discover for myself through analytical writing, what similarities appear present. There is no specific purpose other than to record the thought patterns for my own clarity; but the article will also be posted on my Blog, where there is a record of my reflections.
Nothing, or ‘No Me’ is the title for the first teaching, and having an expectation that this may bring assistance to others is according to the first Teacher Jim Newman, a false notion, as there are not others, and there is no me; a fine concept but a challenging notion presently.
Advaita Vedanta is an Indian philosophy or traditional spiritual pathway, introduced here through the teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi, an Indian sage living in a majority Hindu environment at Thiruvannamai in Tamil Nadu, Southern India, in the late 19th and early 20th century. The simple and clear message resonates with me, and I continue my relationship to his teachings on a regular basis.
* NOTHING (NO ME)
Jim Newman, two statements from his website, (Ref.1):
“This website & Jim Newmans NON-DUALITY meetings share a mystery, a paradox. The paradox is that THIS, this appearance, isn’t what it appears to be. It is and it isn’t. It’s no-thing being something. It’s emptiness appearing as everything. It’s unified appearing as divided or separated”.
“The end of seeking is the end of the seeker, is the end of the experience, that ‘this’ is real. What’s left is what’s already obviously everything. THIS. This doesn’t need anything else, this is already all there is. Whatever is happening-whatever feelings, thoughts, experiences are happening-that is the wholeness that is looked for. It’s not the wholeness the individual’s looking for. It’s not the wholeness that the “I am” is looking for. It will always be dissatisfied with this. It’s a wholeness that’s beyond the personal seeking, beyond the personal need for something more or something else.
* ADVAITA VEDANTA
The teachings ofAdvaita Vedanta, (Ref.2), suggest that the ONE SELF alone exists, (other terms include our True Nature and Pure Awareness). The seeker is directed to Self-Enquiry, and to ask the question, Who Am “I”? whereupon a discarding of the adjuncts of a lifetime of reinforced false beliefs and desires as a ‘ME’ or ‘ego’ ensues. Without the adjuncts that have been hiding the real self all along, the ONE SELF, which has always been present but hidden by the experience of separateness, is thus exposed.
The traditions of ‘Spiritual Pointing’ presume the message to be most useful when expressed from the apparent perspective of Duality, even though it is known that this is a false belief formed by a fictitious dream person, known as ME or the ego. The initial impetus to contact the mystery of life arises and many circumstances may appear as paths to influence the method of transcendence of the ego.
The seeker will realise the false reality of the ego by the nature of their own awakening, however instantaneous awakenings without seeking are well documented. It has been stated that Silence is the highest form of teaching, and that stillness of the mind and a sense of peace occur in the presence of a living Guru.
Many report of the power or energy or light that is sensed in the physical presence of a living guru. It has been surmised that the light of Oneness is resonant with itself so strongly as an infinite source, that when people come in a field of resonant contact, their own true self also shines. Advaita teaches when one is totally absorbed in the ONESELF, one is the guru, and so the same effects arise as one becomes a Light to Oneself.
Similarly, when people arrive in the presence of the living guru, questions they have had suddenly disappear and seem irrelevant, due to the resonant stillness of mind which overpowers the person; thoughts seem to evaporate and the person comes into the present moment. Scriptures and texts can easily sidetrack the novice seeker, so in principal, if all desires and attachments drop away, the efficacy of the teaching is sufficient.
THE SEEKER (Student)
The seeker may have a notion that the content of the Mystery is a universal message but the perspective is presented in numerous ways as the various teachings and teachers have their own unique way of approaching and describing the Mystery of Life. Recognising the experience and stimulus of the author or teacher and the “PART OF THE MYSTERY” and their ability and reasons and desire to express it, are essential considerations, however, all of these are still secondary to one’s own maturity of seeking.
A mystery is both unexplainable and self evident, and the message is in a form and language with unique aspects of cultural and social conditioning, thus confusion may easily arise in the mind of the seeker. Also, due to a lack of familiarity with the detail and nuance that is inherent to a person skilled in one tradition or another, navigating the subject matter requires great care to ensure the accuracy and clarity of the pointing.
The quality of translation from original source material, comments taken out of context, inexact or contradictory usage and a variety of definition of the same term in the literature, can all be a hindrance to the POINTING from one body of knowledge or the next.
- Both teachings profess to be based on Non-Dual philosophy, a mature state of consciousness that is undivided awareness of the wholeness of life, where there is only one, without another. This is in contrast to the Duality of daily existence; which for most people is the experience of being a person, a subject, an I or ME, with a relationship to an-‘other’. The other consists of everything in the experience of the subject; a world that exists and is full of separate objects, and all have names and their own identities.
- Advaita has at its base, thousands of years of tradition of philosophical and spiritual texts and scriptures, which are both descriptive of various states and stages of awareness, and also prescriptive of the means by which the Unity can be approached. The common view of the Ramana Maharshi message is that it simplified all previous pointings into one succinct method, which is called self-investigation, characterised by the enquiry “Who am I”? Is is stated that all paths to Unity through seeking, must incorporate this aspect.
- The effectiveness of the ‘No-Me” approach, as related by Jim Newman and Tony Parsons and other advocates, is said to come about by the strength and immediacy of the refusal to recognise the presence of a ‘ME’ at all in conversation. Every attempt by a person to express themselves in common language and in relationship as a person is nullified. The languaging becomes paramount, and it is likely that this confrontation can and does overpower the ‘false ego’. With no ego to hold onto, thoughts drop away, leaving what advocates call “what is happening’.
- SO in essence it appears that the two approaches arrive at a similar place, a place where the ‘ego’ has been found to have dissolved or dropped away, and what is happening is with out reference to a person. Advaita suggests that in this state, there never was a person at all, while the premise of ‘Not-Me’ highlights the ‘false story’ that people build up during a lifetime of mistaken beliefs.
- In addition, the NOT-ME approach claims it is a DIRECT APPROACH, and declines any value whatsoever in all other methods, because is states there never was a ‘ME”, therefore all pointings which arise from acceptance that ME exists are confusing, misleading and circuitous.
- The freshness of the NOT-ME approach is invigorating, particularly as the two advocates mentioned are both alive and active in portraying the way that life arises for “them”. This ‘Happening’ in the moment, by moment is void of a past and a future, as are all stories that provide a sequential narrative to the happening of a person’s experience of life.
- Tony Parsons suggests there are at times a seeming consequence apparent, but maintains no connective story. He also notes the word “appears” is distinct from the word illusion. The illusion is an illusion to itself only, such as our thoughts in our mind. The appearance is a valid description of what the ME sees in its fairytale story of the world, while ‘whatever is happening; or ‘THIS’, is what NOT-ME is aware of. Happening is not experienced, it is an awareness, as there is NO ME to experience what is happening
This commentary is an exploration of the information; it is not an opinion, rather a deduction of apparent facts and a presentation and postulation of the relevance by the author, in whatever guise that might be or not be. I have been watching and listening to Krishnamurti, (K) to gather my insights to an analytical approach, so as to respect the view of science and ’factual matters’.
In addition, K addresses the CREATION OF LIFE in his ‘Last Talks’ (Ref.3), and it is here that a clue to the roundedness of a detailed analysis appears. My own understanding is based on knowledge, and therefore subject to interpretation and unreliable, however, this is the author’s situation, and that of all but a very few people. It may well be a mockery, I am making a fool of myself, this is the story, it is a cosmic joke, YES, OK! But I will continue as I need to do so, to contact that awareness, and besides I can also claim teasingly that this is what is happening!!
In an attempt to understand the content, it can be noted that words like understanding and clarity etc, are eschewed in the NOT-ME approach, because they assume a witness. SO please excuse the methodology here, as my attempt at neutrality is obviously limited and in any case, irrelevant to the non existent ‘ME’.
- So the first point to note is what arises from the attempt to communicate when there is no one there. This in itself is an oxymoron, and until a place of COMMON GROUND is approved as a meeting place for languaging around this approach, difficulties will arise. Usually conversations are held, with Advocates discussing the topic in the language of daily usage, but continually reminding the conversant of the immediacy of the happening, for which there is no reason, and no control or possible knowing about; it is called the Hidden Secret, and has minimal exposure.
- What’s happening for the Advocate is immersion in WHAT IS HAPPENING. The described reality of this includes a presence of a surrounding, with appearances, the surrounds contain similar boundaries like walls and floors of spatial sensations, but there is only the present time. The “story of the previous person” is seen as illusory when mentioned by another body, although the body form is apparent and has sensations, and pain and suffering still happening, but there is JUST NO ME to whom this happens. Interestingly Jim Newman states that thoughts still occur but are not acted upon, also the vestiges of a previous ME can arise at times in the form of a “contracted energy” in the body. I take this to mean that there is a mind-body connection apparent again. Tony Parsons states this contraction gradually goes away over a period of ‘physical years’.
- Thus the sum total of my analysis for the NOT-ME teaching is there is a reality of just THIS, and This is What is Happening. All else follows from this statement, and the awareness is complete with sensations and sufferings intact, that arise in the body where there is NO-ME present to reflect a personal or ego relationship.
- Movement to a Non-Dual state can happen with glimpses, or become established, with the falling away of the ego. In this sense, the NOT-ME, has the elements of Non Dualism, a Oneness of not doing, just BEING.
2. ADVAITA VEDANTA
For the record, I need to state the depth of my relationship to Advaita has formed over 20 years or more and a variety of approaches and processes associated with self investigation have been pursued; I have also stayed at Ramana Ashram for a few weeks, and immersed myself in their library, rituals and many like spiritual teachings. The traditions of philosophy and spirituality in India overwhelm every action of daily life, so daily experience is a very tactile and human relationship, highly developed and widely dispersed, with Lila, the dance of life, evident everywhere. That is the background for this commentary.
- The teachings of Advaita are extremely well documented, with states and stages of Awareness and perception having detailed descriptions. A general consensus of language and definition enables a seeker to maintain continuity of assessment and relationship to the content of the teachings, but it is only through practice and experience, not just mental understanding, that draws the seeker into the ‘inner search’ rather than material desires and attachment to the external world of form and activity. Ramana states that progress can be measured through persistence with the practice; there are other traditional paths or pointings, but eventually the Self-Enquiry has to be undergone for complete eradication of the ego.
Advaita documents Unity and Oneness, and the context of the history of human life over millennia, and thus any comparison of another teaching ,with such a developed body of knowledge, is bound to appear minuscule and for some may appear an unworthy addition to the Non-Dual Teachings. This comment has many partners in the history of human endeavour, and we can find the same reluctance wherever the status quo is challenged. There is immediately suspicion, often dismissal, then renewed interest, then detailed critique and finally acceptance. NOT-ME includes a DIRECTNESS that is unusual. It mirrors the scientific view reminiscent of form in quantum physics, that is, that consciousness and quantum mechanics are linked. Ramana maintains the notion that every moment contains the whole of creation, and that is ever present, infinite and all that is happening; it seems evident in this analysis.
SO are these two teachings the same. Yes and No. The claim to Non-Duality appears correct in both teachings. The Unity or Wholeness of the Pure Awareness is approached in both teachings, however, UNITY includes everything, for there is only ONENESS, and so the story of the false ego and the world and the person and God are all included in that UN ITY, otherwise an even bigger mockery is at play here. SO my summary is that being human is not about seeking alone, it is about accepting the grace of What is Happening in our own reality of the moment, whether we are caught in the story or beyond the story, for this is ultimately WHAT IS; unforced, no effort, acceptance and surrender at whatever place is apparent in the larger scheme of Oneness.
While our True Self, the Absolute Pure Awareness of what we are, is hidden, while it continues to be obscured, it is essential to contact that which resonates, and so either teaching may be right for us. The humbleness and humility to accept our dual self, is a constant source of nourishment for contact with our True Nature. The beauty of nature and energy and vitality and artistic expression and intent, the wonder of the play of life, the detail and nuance and intricacies and emotions and relationships, these are paramount in a world that encompasses a realised appearance of duality, an active meaningful role in the great cosmic joke; so be it, change is inevitable.
K suggests that fear is the opposite of love; we can see that fear is a combination of time and thought, so while the promise of not-knowing is present, and time is experienced as now, then we are indeed fortunate to be this aware already. Fundamental awareness is called the SAT CHIT, existence/consciousness. This is the awareness of I am, and we are all aware of that. It seems to me that NOT-ME is consciously aware of ‘what is happening’; and it is evident however, that in the duality, a glimpse—-a darshan of the infinite is also available.
In his final talk, K discusses Creation of Life with the listener, and from this one realises how we are all One already, our common interactions and senses and social settings and activities and desires and attachments, show humanity is itself one with a commonness in everything. What he also proposes, is to consider the opportunity to examine death while we are alive. In that practice, we come to see the unholy mess that is present, all of the history of the human condition driven by knowledge and thought. The suggestion appears in stark contrast to LIFE. We may identify the creation, as a vitality and energy of life, as silence and Oneness, through the sacred nameless, effortless quietness of mind.
Vigilance is necessary, so is stability, and the stability of the person and social setting as a place in nature. The fact that we have abused and continue to abuse the values of our true nature, the encroachment of fear and suffering, and pain and greed and separateness and power and control and etc. the denigration of our fellow creatures and the imposition of controls over personal freedom, these are all foreign to the path to Oneness, and so the need to pursue our hearts longing and desires, rather than the material pursuits of form and substance is essential fodder for the education in all of our social and cultural realms.
It is always possible, it starts with ME, and NOT-ME. The acceptance of what is, and the compassion of being who we are!
- Newman, Jim. Website at www.simply-this.com
2. Ramana Maharshi at www.sriramanamaharshi.org
3. Krishnamurti, J. at You tube, Last Talks, 1,2 and 3/3; Ben Solomon video.