Non-dualism, dualism: Does it matter?

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rachMiel
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Non-dualism, dualism: Does it matter?

Post by rachMiel » Fri Jan 11, 2013 5:26 pm

Since I began studying Advaita Vedanta (coupla months ago) I've been grappling with the question of non-dualism vs. dualism. Advaita's highest goal (enlightenment) is to reach the point where you know brahman is everything, and everything (including of course your Self) is brahman. I.e.: (radical) non-duality. I've tried to open myself to this notion, but the closest I've gotten is a-brahman-gnosticism: I / just / don't / know. And so I entertain arguments for and against non-duality, weigh their relative merits, their resonance in me, etc., all without definitive results, like working through a koan.

Then, a few days ago, in the midst of a session of fierce cogitation upon these issues, it dawned on me that it might not matter what I believe, what I think I know. Reality is reality, regardless of my interpretation.

"Penetrating so many secrets, we cease to believe in the unknowable. But there it sits, nevertheless, calmly licking its chops." - H. L. Mencken
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Re: Non-dualism, dualism: Does it matter?

Post by Webwanderer » Fri Jan 11, 2013 7:23 pm

rachMiel wrote:Then, a few days ago, in the midst of a session of fierce cogitation upon these issues, it dawned on me that it might not matter what I believe, what I think I know. Reality is reality, regardless of my interpretation.
Have you considered that reality might be tied directly to what we believe? Here's my suggestion. As we are fundamentally consciousness that is ultimately unattached to any created phenomena, it is essentially only experience that is real. (The phenomena of experience is external while the experience itself is internal.) So what creates experience on an individuated basis? In a world of form, is it not our beliefs that determine our experience - more so than any particular set of conditions themselves.

Two people often encounter the same conditions and have vastly different experiences based on their core beliefs. Both experiences will appear as reality to the unique observers even though their defined experiences differed. So it would seem that conditions themselves create less of actual experience than do the underlying beliefs that influence the reception/perception of those conditions.

Now, your suggestion "Reality is reality, regardless of my interpretation", has merit to the degree that it is changing your core beliefs about conditions and creating a new belief about reality that may become your new paradigm. But what really is that 'reality that is reality'? Is it static conditions? Or is it the fluid nature of experience flowing to us through the beliefs that we hold?

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Re: Non-dualism, dualism: Does it matter?

Post by arel » Fri Jan 11, 2013 7:26 pm

It doesn't matter I would say..

The realization of the illusion of what most people refer to as "I", and the correction that happens to that mistake, is said by many spiritual traditions, and in my experience I guess, to affect personal and imppersonal suffering. Not a bad benefit, besides the worthiness of setting things straight from apparent mistaken presumptions about things. What do you think?
I've tried to open myself to this notion, but the closest I've gotten is a-brahman-gnosticism: I / just / don't / know.
Do you still have doubts about what you are?
What I say is only my viewpoint.

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Re: Non-dualism, dualism: Does it matter?

Post by runstrails » Fri Jan 11, 2013 9:52 pm

Hi rM,
All good questions :D .
rachMiel wrote:
Reality is reality, regardless of my interpretation.
I would say this is not true. There can be no reality 'out there' that is separate from you. All the objects that you consider as reality are appearing to your brain and the brain 'perceives' them as the reality you are so familiar with. Hypothetically, if I was to replace your brain with that of a frog or a fish or a dog, your reality would be very different indeed--you would see, hear and feel completely differently--your reality may not even be 3 dimensional or in technicolor! So your interpretation of reality is certainly critical to the very existence of your reality! Can reality even exist without a conscious observer?

Now, this so-called reality must appear to someone/something to be known. So, 'to whom is this reality appearing?" To rachMeil? But when you look closely you find that 'rachMeil' is really just a mental concept. However, on further deep inquiry you find that even though your mental identity dissolves, one thing remains constant. This is the sense of your existence or I AM or amness which cannot be denied. This is not personal and does belong to rachMiel, and in order to really feel this rachMeil has to go beyond rachMeil or to expand your awareness. Ramana Maharishi did this by simulating his own death and found that this sense of existence does not disappear. Nisargdatta did it by holding on to the sense of " I AM" for several years.

This awareness is what you really are and to what everything is appearing to. It's nature is often described as witness-consciousness or witnessing in Advaita (it's footprint is also experienced as stillness or silence or spaciousness). This impersonal awareness is unotuched by the object and experiences that appear in it. It can be the only true reality---since everything appears in it.

So if you can conclude that awareness is the 'only' true reality, then it's logical that whatever appears in awareness has to be some form (or manifestation) of awareness as well. One way to think of it is that the human being (or any other species) is simply a user interface through which awareness interacts with itself. What exactly constitutes this awareness?. I could speculate about vibrations and gamma oscillations but its probably easier to say I don't know and simply call it Brahman!

Why care about any of this? Awareness will either realize itself through your form or it won't--not much you can do either way. But human life is precious, in that, the human brain has the capacity for Self-awareness, so why not use it? :wink:.

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Re: Non-dualism, dualism: Does it matter?

Post by rachMiel » Sat Jan 12, 2013 12:57 am

Webwanderer wrote:
rachMiel wrote:Then, a few days ago, in the midst of a session of fierce cogitation upon these issues, it dawned on me that it might not matter what I believe, what I think I know. Reality is reality, regardless of my interpretation.
Have you considered that reality might be tied directly to what we believe? Here's my suggestion. As we are fundamentally consciousness that is ultimately unattached to any created phenomena, it is essentially only experience that is real.
For the experiencer, yes. From the frame of reference of my consciousness, what I experience (thoughts, images, sensations, feelings) is real. From the frame of reference of your (or any other) consciousness, what I experience is unknown = unreal.
So what creates experience on an individuated basis? In a world of form, is it not our beliefs that determine our experience - more so than any particular set of conditions themselves.
I'd say it's a collaboration. Beliefs help determine the nature of the filter of the I; conditions determine what gets passed through this filter.
Now, your suggestion "Reality is reality, regardless of my interpretation", has merit to the degree that it is changing your core beliefs about conditions and creating a new belief about reality that may become your new paradigm. But what really is that 'reality that is reality'? Is it static conditions? Or is it the fluid nature of experience flowing to us through the beliefs that we hold?
The "reality" I'm talking about is the reality that is untouched by human (or any other) consciousness, the reality that prevailed before the emergence of consciousness and continues to prevail now. If such a reality exists, then by definition, it is utterly unaffected by any interpretation of it.
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Re: Non-dualism, dualism: Does it matter?

Post by rachMiel » Sat Jan 12, 2013 1:11 am

arel wrote:It doesn't matter I would say..
That's my (current) feeling too. It's not as if my "knowing" that non-duality is real makes it real, or vice-versa. Same for anyone else. 100 Vedic sages "knowing" brahman is real doesn't make brahman real, except as consensual reality. 100 Buddhist sages "knowing" Atman is not real doesn't make it not real. Right?
The realization of the illusion of what most people refer to as "I", and the correction that happens to that mistake, is said by many spiritual traditions, and in my experience I guess, to affect personal and imppersonal suffering. Not a bad benefit, besides the worthiness of setting things straight from apparent mistaken presumptions about things. What do you think?

I'm with you on this. The fruits of the inquiry into I/self are among the greatest gifts of Eastern philosophy.
I've tried to open myself to this notion, but the closest I've gotten is a-brahman-gnosticism: I / just / don't / know.
Do you still have doubts about what you are?
Sure. I take my a-(everything)-gnosticism seriously! ;-) I could say this about pretty much everything: I / just / don't / know (for sure).

Do you know, with utter certainty, what you are?
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Re: Non-dualism, dualism: Does it matter?

Post by rachMiel » Sat Jan 12, 2013 1:29 am

rachMiel wrote:Reality is reality, regardless of my interpretation.
runstrails wrote:I would say this is not true. There can be no reality 'out there' that is separate from you. All the objects that you consider as reality are appearing to your brain and the brain 'perceives' them as the reality you are so familiar with. Hypothetically, if I was to replace your brain with that of a frog or a fish or a dog, your reality would be very different indeed--you would see, hear and feel completely differently--your reality may not even be 3 dimensional or in technicolor! So your interpretation of reality is certainly critical to the very existence of your reality! Can reality even exist without a conscious observer?
That's exactly what I'm inquiring into! :-) I'm going on the assumption that it can/does, that reality did just fine on its own for billions of years before conscious observers came into the picture and would continue to do just fine if an intergalactic plague wiped out all conscious life. But I realize this assumption could be wrong.
Now, this so-called reality must appear to someone/something to be known. So, 'to whom is this reality appearing?" To rachMeil? But when you look closely you find that 'rachMeil' is really just a mental concept. However, on further deep inquiry you find that even though your mental identity dissolves, one thing remains constant. This is the sense of your existence or I AM or amness which cannot be denied. This is not personal and does belong to rachMiel, and in order to really feel this rachMeil has to go beyond rachMeil or to expand your awareness. Ramana Maharishi did this by simulating his own death and found that this sense of existence does not disappear. Nisargdatta did it by holding on to the sense of " I AM" for several years.

This awareness is what you really are and to what everything is appearing to. It's nature is often described as witness-consciousness or witnessing in Advaita (it's footprint is also experienced as stillness or silence or spaciousness). This impersonal awareness is unotuched by the object and experiences that appear in it. It can be the only true reality---since everything appears in it.

So if you can conclude that awareness is the 'only' true reality, then it's logical that whatever appears in awareness has to be some form (or manifestation) of awareness as well. One way to think of it is that the human being (or any other species) is simply a user interface through which awareness interacts with itself. What exactly constitutes this awareness?. I could speculate about vibrations and gamma oscillations but its probably easier to say I don't know and simply call it Brahman!
These are the teachings of Advaita Vedanta that I am grappling with. Some of them resonate with me, feel right (Neti neti neti!), others not (Brahman).
Why care about any of this? Awareness will either realize itself through your form or it won't--not much you can do either way. But human life is precious, in that, the human brain has the capacity for Self-awareness, so why not use it? :wink:.

Yeah, I feel very much the same way. I care deeply about the process, my personal journey to(wards) enlightenment. And as part of that journey, I grapple with and question every teaching I encounter. Some people can hear Eckhart Tolle say "In the stillness of presence one feels/is the Divine" and boom: their lives are changed forever. I'm a (much!) tougher nut to crack. ;-)
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Re: Non-dualism, dualism: Does it matter?

Post by runstrails » Sat Jan 12, 2013 3:26 am

rM wrote:
That's exactly what I'm inquiring into! :-) I'm going on the assumption that it can/does, that reality did just fine on its own for billions of years before conscious observers came into the picture. But I realize this assumption could be wrong
Yes, inquire deeply and let us know your results. If there is no conscious observer, is there an event? So, if there is no conscious observer of the universe, then the universe is..well, a non-event. The Billions of years that you refer to is time, and time is relative (as shown by Einstien). So can there be the notion of time without an observer? Fun things to ponder :D.
rM wrote:I'm a (much!) tougher nut to crack.
Stick with Advaita. It's the path of knowledge (Jnan) and I think knowledge and inquiry will eventually overcome your (worthy) doubts. :D

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Re: Non-dualism, dualism: Does it matter?

Post by tod » Sat Jan 12, 2013 4:51 am

rachMiel wrote: That's exactly what I'm inquiring into! :-) I'm going on the assumption that it can/does, that reality did just fine on its own for billions of years before conscious observers came into the picture and would continue to do just fine if an intergalactic plague wiped out all conscious life. But I realize this assumption could be wrong.
Let's see if I have this right? You are inquiring into an assumption. How are you going to prove whether this assumption is not an assumption when the only 'apparatus' you have to prove this is what created the assumption?

Could the world be an assumption in mind? Could this assumption be wrong or something to inquire into, explore?

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Re: Non-dualism, dualism: Does it matter?

Post by rachMiel » Sat Jan 12, 2013 5:53 am

runstrails wrote:
rM wrote:
That's exactly what I'm inquiring into! :-) I'm going on the assumption that it can/does, that reality did just fine on its own for billions of years before conscious observers came into the picture. But I realize this assumption could be wrong
Yes, inquire deeply and let us know your results. If there is no conscious observer, is there an event? So, if there is no conscious observer of the universe, then the universe is..well, a non-event.
There is no event, because "event" is a human construct. But, as I see it, *something* happened/happens. What, I don't know. The concept of "events" helps us parse/measure this happening.
The Billions of years that you refer to is time, and time is relative (as shown by Einstien). So can there be the notion of time without an observer?
"Time" is also a human construct. But again, *something* happens: succession, entropy, whatever. Time is our way of parsing/measuring this happening.
Fun things to ponder :D.
Yes, great fun! And sometimes very frustrating ... pondering the imponderables. ;-)
I'm a (much!) tougher nut to crack.
Stick with Advaita. It's the path of knowledge (Jnan) and I think knowledge and inquiry will eventually overcome your (worthy) doubts. :D
Thanks runstrails! :-)
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Re: Non-dualism, dualism: Does it matter?

Post by rachMiel » Sat Jan 12, 2013 6:11 am

tod wrote:
rachMiel wrote: That's exactly what I'm inquiring into! :-) I'm going on the assumption that it can/does, that reality did just fine on its own for billions of years before conscious observers came into the picture and would continue to do just fine if an intergalactic plague wiped out all conscious life. But I realize this assumption could be wrong.
Let's see if I have this right? You are inquiring into an assumption.
I'm inquiring into the nature of reality. (Modest, eh?) By "going on the assumption" I mean that this is what seems/feels intuitively correct to me at this time. Like all assumptions, it colors the inquiry; but I don't think it invalidates it. I can, with reasonable effectiveness, put the assumption on the back burner and open myself to new discoveries.
How are you going to prove whether this assumption is not an assumption when the only 'apparatus' you have to prove this is what created the assumption?

Yeah, good question. It's another one I grapple with. To what extent, if at all, can thought "transcend" itself? Are there unfathomables, questions unanswerable by the human mind? If so, how do we recognize that they are unfathomable? And, even more importantly for me, what does/can one *do* when one runs up against an unfathomable? Smile and move on ... ?
Could the world be an assumption in mind? Could this assumption be wrong or something to inquire into, explore?
Yes it could. And, yes, it could be a false assumption, an illusion/misinterpretation.

As to how one might inquire into this ... scientifically/objectively ... now that's a toughie. Suggestions?
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Re: Non-dualism, dualism: Does it matter?

Post by tod » Sat Jan 12, 2013 8:15 pm

rachMiel wrote:
tod wrote:
rachMiel wrote: That's exactly what I'm inquiring into! :-) I'm going on the assumption that it can/does, that reality did just fine on its own for billions of years before conscious observers came into the picture and would continue to do just fine if an intergalactic plague wiped out all conscious life. But I realize this assumption could be wrong.
Let's see if I have this right? You are inquiring into an assumption.
I'm inquiring into the nature of reality. (Modest, eh?) By "going on the assumption" I mean that this is what seems/feels intuitively correct to me at this time. Like all assumptions, it colors the inquiry; but I don't think it invalidates it. I can, with reasonable effectiveness, put the assumption on the back burner and open myself to new discoveries.
Ok. Yes, seems a good idea to put assumptions to one side so that there is openness. Open to what? Discoveries? Or further assumptions? I wonder if in your inquiry into reality you have assumed that there is one... and that you are actually inquiring into the nature of assumption? I note, or have noted, (tense is moot when you are not actually located anywhere :)) that I don't actually reach any conclusion to this, but that in the process 'things are becoming clearer' and I am/was one of those things. So not looking for a definitive answer appears to be the dawning of clarity/freedom - not that this is intended to be considered a definitive answer :).
How are you going to prove whether this assumption is not an assumption when the only 'apparatus' you have to prove this is what created the assumption?


Yeah, good question. It's another one I grapple with. To what extent, if at all, can thought "transcend" itself? Are there unfathomables, questions unanswerable by the human mind? If so, how do we recognize that they are unfathomable? And, even more importantly for me, what does/can one *do* when one runs up against an unfathomable? Smile and move on ... ?
I don't think thought does transcend itself, but it is noticed that thought is only assumption (imagination); questions about unfathomables being further assumptions (imagination) about assumptions, ie assumptions that, it is assumed, are answerable. It seems the bottomless pit of assumption is recognised by looking for the assumption in each question, so when "one runs up against an unfathomable" it is seen as a groundless assumption, or, if this is not seen, it is put to one side, and as you say one moves on, or rather the assumption moves on.
Could the world be an assumption in mind? Could this assumption be wrong or something to inquire into, explore?
Yes it could. And, yes, it could be a false assumption, an illusion/misinterpretation.

As to how one might inquire into this ... scientifically/objectively ... now that's a toughie. Suggestions?
Via exploration perhaps, noting the similarities: between exploring the mind and exploring the world; between the awake dream and the asleep dream... and noting that there is something inherently strange with the idea that the universe extends infinitely into space. It seems that the universe is an idea, an assumption in God's imagination, that everything is made out of thought, assumption, imagination - especially when you put yourself in God's position.

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Re: Non-dualism, dualism: Does it matter?

Post by runstrails » Sat Jan 12, 2013 8:49 pm

tod said:
Via exploration perhaps, noting the similarities:.......... between the awake dream and the asleep dream..
Yes, I agree. The dream state presents many clues as to what is happening in the 'waking' state. It's really fun to explore and see the similarities. Vedanata uses the dream state a lot to in its explanations.

Enjoying your honest explorations, rM. They help me to clarify my notions as well :D. Keep at it!

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Re: Non-dualism, dualism: Does it matter?

Post by Mamaseeker » Sun Jan 13, 2013 7:49 pm

Then, a few days ago, in the midst of a session of fierce cogitation upon these issues, it dawned on me that it might not matter what I believe, what I think I know. Reality is reality, regardless of my interpretation.

Now I call that 'great clarity in thinking'. That's the reason they(vedantists) so object to the notion of "objectifying" non-duality. When we seek we tend to have the mindset of "achieving" the Truth. Thus objectifying the Truth. Whereas, Truth IS Truth. Just how you interpret it. Although our minds are so gung-ho on "Seeing" things. We all are so conditioned to perceive everything in a materialistic point of view. The same reason why scientists may never uncover "God" because they are looking for an "object".

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Re: Non-dualism, dualism: Does it matter?

Post by arel » Mon Jan 14, 2013 6:21 pm

runstrails wrote:Hi rM,
All good questions :D .
rachMiel wrote:
Reality is reality, regardless of my interpretation.
I would say this is not true. There can be no reality 'out there' that is separate from you. All the objects that you consider as reality are appearing to your brain and the brain 'perceives' them as the reality you are so familiar with. Hypothetically, if I was to replace your brain with that of a frog or a fish or a dog, your reality would be very different indeed--you would see, hear and feel completely differently--your reality may not even be 3 dimensional or in technicolor! So your interpretation of reality is certainly critical to the very existence of your reality! Can reality even exist without a conscious observer?

Now, this so-called reality must appear to someone/something to be known. So, 'to whom is this reality appearing?" To rachMeil? But when you look closely you find that 'rachMeil' is really just a mental concept. However, on further deep inquiry you find that even though your mental identity dissolves, one thing remains constant. This is the sense of your existence or I AM or amness which cannot be denied. This is not personal and does belong to rachMiel, and in order to really feel this rachMeil has to go beyond rachMeil or to expand your awareness. Ramana Maharishi did this by simulating his own death and found that this sense of existence does not disappear. Nisargdatta did it by holding on to the sense of " I AM" for several years.

This awareness is what you really are and to what everything is appearing to. It's nature is often described as witness-consciousness or witnessing in Advaita (it's footprint is also experienced as stillness or silence or spaciousness). This impersonal awareness is unotuched by the object and experiences that appear in it. It can be the only true reality---since everything appears in it.

So if you can conclude that awareness is the 'only' true reality, then it's logical that whatever appears in awareness has to be some form (or manifestation) of awareness as well. One way to think of it is that the human being (or any other species) is simply a user interface through which awareness interacts with itself. What exactly constitutes this awareness?. I could speculate about vibrations and gamma oscillations but its probably easier to say I don't know and simply call it Brahman!

Why care about any of this? Awareness will either realize itself through your form or it won't--not much you can do either way. But human life is precious, in that, the human brain has the capacity for Self-awareness, so why not use it? :wink:.
Nice clear post runstrails..
What I say is only my viewpoint.

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