Problem is, language does not create the world. It is a tool we use within a greater scope of relating to the world of which we are a part. But reality, the natural world, isn’t built upon language. Our interpretation of it, yes. But the actual universe, our connection to it, ourselves? Not a linguistic structure. Not a binary relationship.
Our projection of binary relationships onto the actual world is a massive illusion in which every human being participates. It is our greatest source of confusion and, ultimately, suffering.”
“Universe to each must be All that is, including me. Environment in turn must be All that is, excepting me.”
— R. Buckminster Fuller
Non-duality is a tough nut to crack, and even tougher to explain, until something snaps into place and it seems like the most natural concept you will ever process intellectually. That’s because it is: Non-dual logic is natural logic, the order of nature before a grid system of verbal concepts –semantic logic– is superimposed over it.
In the moment you are aware that Reality contains no “me-environment” distinction –that the appearance of a distinction is a useful illusion of semantic structure to help you subjectively navigate the Universe of which you are a part, like a blinking blue dot on a GPS map surrounded by an “environment” of which it is a part– you are experiencing non-duality. You don’t disappear into a formless Universe as a result of this experience –you learn that the Universe, experiencing itself subjectively, is all you ever were.
Seeing the world through this grid system of semantic logic creates an illusion called duality. It gives the impression that our universe is an aggregate of parts, assembled like an automobile within a void of nothingness. Non-duality draws our attention to the void –the Whole which no grid system can contain– letting us see that each part is a particular expression of the Whole, in the same way that currents, whirlpools, and waves are expressions of the ocean.
In simplistic terms, semantic logic looks at This and That and suggests that together they create a whole called Reality, in the same way that 1 plus 2 equals 3. Natural logic looks at Reality and sees a Whole comprised of a contrasting pair called This/That. If “3” represents that Whole, it was not created by adding 1 and 2– the 3 was always co-existent with and inseparable from its parts. The difference is subtle on the surface but enormously, mind-blowingly profound when you consider that the Whole we are talking about is infinite. Ultimately, non-duality is about the relationship between 1 and infinity, not merely 1 and 3, though its logic applies in both cases.
If human beings thought in pictures instead of words, non-duality would come easier to us, which is why the yin-yang symbol of Taoism is often used to illustrate. The white of yin contrasts with the black of yang, but the whole symbol is also a circle called yin-yang, or Tao. Neither yin nor yang is separable from Tao, nor from each other as their contrast defines them; yin is just as much “not yang” as its own extant self.
Easy enough to comprehend when we can see the whole circle…but now, envision the Tao as a circle “whose center is everywhere and circumference is nowhere,” as the Greek philosopher Empedocles described the nature of God. The same natural logic applies, though we can no longer see the boundary of the circle and the aspects of it are not two in number, but innumerable. This is how non-duality snaps us out of our grid system and brings us back to what is real and inseparably Whole.
Contrary to popular misconception, non-duality does not suggest that everything is a formless mishmash and the appearance of form is an illusion. There are people who, after seeing the non-duality of existence, profess such an absolute monism, but it is not intrinsic to non-duality, and it is not a tenet of Not Two. We posit that yin and yang exist –conditionally, relative to each other, whereas Tao is unconditional and absolute– and the illusion is simply the dualism that makes them seem separable from each other and from Tao. This is called either aspect monism or dialectical monism, and is very closely related to the neutral monism of Baruch Spinoza. When people insist that dualism is a more accurate depiction of reality and cite the obvious appearance of This and That, it is because they don’t have a working knowledge of aspect monism, which reframes our dualistic perception in a way that does justice to both reductionism and holism.
It is for this reason that we consider non-duality the cornerstone of everything else on this site. It is the key that opens the door from theology to metatheology, from a/theism to pantheism, and from a disjointed cacaphony of contradictory ontological details to an elegant panoply of expressions of a single wordless Truth described by Pan-Perennialism.
Duality is a slight of hand. It is a line drawn in the sand where none exists. It is the parsing of All That Is into distinct thought-concepts that hide from the part its concurrent existence as the Whole. It is the subjective narrowing of attention upon an object, shrinking its full context, and ignoring the ground connecting it to the subject. Reality unveils the connections we trick ourselves out of seeing.
*Actually much shorter. Lots of pictures
This is a series of articles following the thread of inductive reasoning that led me to view pantheism as a non-dual perception rather than a belief. Written especially for the deep concept geek within us all. (NOTE: As of 1.19.17, temporarily closed for revision.)
Glimpses of a Creative Universe, by Christopher Chase...
Insights into Nonduality and Living Awake & Engaged . . . by Eric Putkonen
Books and publications by Waldo Noesta
The Writings of Poffo Ortiz
Considerations on the Process of Recognition and Liberation
A Philosophical and Spiritual Guide
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