Nonduality in its purest, most basic form,  is not a religion, nor a practice of spirituality, but rather, non duality refers to the clear seeing of the actuality of  Oneness, or better said, the falling away of a sense of being a someone/thing,  that is  apart from or separate from, the totality of experience.

A popular metaphor in nonduality is that of the ocean and the wave. There can be  great freedom in coming to regard  physical form and experience as being   akin to a wave that arises from and within the One and only ocean, and that although the wave at times may seem to take on a life all its own, it never becomes separate or apart  from the ocean itself.

To really see and experience this atonement with the totality of all that is, is to experience a seamless, fluidity to life and a falling away of  the sense of limitation and deep suffering  that one often feels and experiences when  he believes himself to be ‘just’ a finite human being or person.

As important and life changing as this seeing can be though, It’s important to acknowledge that the bent/movement towards  this more expansive view, where  non duality can be seen to be the case, generally  has  its basis in a sense of limitation.  

Like  All spiritual seeking, the importance attributed to non duality, to clearly seeing Oneness,   is borne of human suffering, borne of a belief in an idea about what and who I am.  All spiritual seeking, like all quests to see ‘this’ in a way that will improve or better the experience of life, has at its basis, a sense of dissatisfaction with what currently is. If it were not for the fact that a belief in limitation, and an identification/attachment to the story of being a separate, limited person that is apart from the Ocean of Consciousness was originally the case,  there would be no sense of importance attributed to a non dual perspective.

Why is this important to acknowledge?

As human beings, we cannot escape our innate bent towards a better, more fulfilling life experience.  WE naturally gravitate towards a sense of joy,  freedom and well being, much the same way a flower naturally turns towards the light.

Thus, it’s very easy to become attached to ideas that appear to augment or support a better experience. The ideas presented through   non duality teachings   can easily get attached to, just as the ideas presented in any religion/philosophy can be attached to.

When this happens, nonduality gets turned into a concept that we cling to. When this is the case, the idea  “The wave is just an illusion,”  becomes our life-line. We rely upon the idea of being the ocean, in favor of the wave, in order to avoid the pain we associate with being a lowly, limited human being. In identifying with the ocean, folks often negate or even vilify that which is regarded to be ‘just’ a  wave.

 While this may provide a sense of freedom in comparison to what was experienced prior to non duality, it’s  a very limited  freedom whose sense is very much conditional upon holding to a particular idea while rejecting another.  If clarity and freedom are valued above else, this is not a place where we want to get stuck.

Nonduality - Ocean Vs. Waves?

non duality

I come at nonduality from the vantage point of one who would have at one time,  argued vehemently  that the wave is ‘just’ an illusion arising from the Ocean, and that the Ocean is the only ‘actuality.’  I often referred to physical life as ‘just a dream,’ and for several years, experienced the sense of well being and relative peace that comes with the conceptual reduction of  physical experience/existence. 

Again, it’s  important to acknowledge the fact that physical experience only requires reducing or to be diminished,  IF it is regarded to be dangerous or in need of betterment.  

There is a point where there is no longer any danger perceived in engaging with my humanness, where humanness is not regarded to be of a lesser nature  than that which it arises from/within, where there is no longer any need to augment experience through identifying with one aspect of experience while denying or diminishing another. Both the ocean and the wave are acknowledged. 

This is a point where it is regarded to be  safe to engage with all aspects of experience, with the experience of being the ocean and of being the wave,  without the need to divvy them up into categories of ‘illusive vs. actual.’  In my experience there is  a point where there is simply very little reason anymore to  make that distinction. The line between the two actually begins to dissolve when the division between Actual vs. illusive no longer serves any purpose.   

I call this dissolution of the importance to delineate certain aspects of 'this' to be illusion vs. actual, and thus, fully engaging with life in it's totality at face value, as  "coming full circle."   Full circle is not by any means incompatible with nonduality, however, and is important to note that at full circle, the distinction between wave and ocean can still be acknowledged, however, rather than being seen as 'less than'  or 'just' waves,  waves   are acknowledged as  an integral  facet  of the Ocean.

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