Glossary of Non-Duality©
Brad Stephan ~ May, 2018
If you would like to suggest improvements or additions to this glossary, please contact the author at email@example.com.
Terms and concepts are antithetical to pure Non-Dualism. They feed the ego and clutter the mind. Descriptions of Non-Duality are necessarily limited by the language of Duality. Form cannot describe Formlessness. The relative cannot explain the Absolute. The finite cannot express the Infinite. Therefore, the sole purpose of this Glossary is to establish a common nomenclature, however imprecise, to facilitate clear communication.
Read with caution.
A Non-Dual Affirmation
“There is Something prior to each thought that comprehends.
There is Something behind each word that understands.
There is Something beyond each sight and sound that is aware.
There is Something within each organism that gives life.
That consciousness, that knowing, that awareness, that aliveness is God.
God is one, so there is only one knowingness-awareness-consciousness-beingness.
That is our True Nature.”
Absolute Reality: A Belief explained in this quote: “Only that which is Eternal is Real.” (Shankara). Only God is Eternal, so Absolute Reality consists entirely of God, and only God. Everything that can be perceived or detected by man or machine in this Universe, including planets, galaxies, Thoughts, feelings, atoms and subatomic particles, are temporary Manifestations of God, within God, like projections on a screen. The screen is Eternal and, therefore, Real, while the temporary projections are unreal and will eventually vanish back into the screen. Absolute Reality represents the screen, while Apparent Reality represents the projections. Absolute Reality is a synonym for Existence, Infinity and God. Absolute Reality is unknowable and ineffable. Only that which is not Absolute Reality can be conceived, perceived or verbalized. See: Apparent Reality, Existence, God, Infinity, Reality and Relative Reality.
Advaita Vedanta: ‘Advaita’ means ‘not two’ in Sanskrit. This is an ancient Indian philosophy of the Oneness of Reality and of all Creation. In Truth, God alone, Exists. Advaita Vedanta is a near synonym for Non-Dualism. Non-Dual Teachers have dropped much of the spiritual ideology and practices of Advaita Vedanta and focus solely on its core Truth of Oneness. See: Absolute Reality, Existence, God, Neo-Advaita, Non-Dualism, Oneness, Pantheism and Truth.
Apparent Reality: (Also: ‘Maya’ = ‘Illusion’ or ‘Ignorance’ in Sanskrit; ‘Appearance’ or ‘Manifestation’; ‘Grand Delusion’ or ‘The Cosmic Joke’) The material Universe and everything within it, including Human Beings, Objects, Space, Time and Causation. To our finite Mind and physical senses, our Universe, our body, our Mind, everything we can perceive has every appearance of being Real. However, nothing we can perceive or conceive, nor anything technology can detect is Real. According to the Non-Duality definition of Existence: To be Real, it must be Eternal, and only God is Eternal. Everything within Apparent Reality is only Appearance or Manifestation, like images on a screen or characters in a Dream. The screen or the Dreamer is Real, while the images or characters are a temporary mirage of God, within God. Apparent Reality is Real in the sense that all Objects are subject to the physical laws of Apparent Reality, including those laws associated with Space, Time and Causation. Eckhart Tolle refers to it as, “The surface-level of Reality.” Apparent Reality is a synonym for Creation, Duality and Relative Reality. “The world is but a show, glittering and empty.” (Nisargadatta) See: Body/Mind Entity, Consciousness, Creation, Dream, Duality, Existence, Illusion, Objects and Relative Reality.
Awakening: (Or: ‘Awakened’; Also: Enlightenment, Self-Realization, Illumination, Liberation, Moksha, Nirvana, Satori, Shift, Salvation, Breakthrough, etc.) 1) To Know, Realize or Awaken to one’s True Nature. Awakening is the advent of seeing through or directly recognizing the Illusion or Dream of being a separate ‘self’ or ‘me’ or ‘I’, i.e., the Ego, and recognizing or Realizing your True Nature as one with God and all Creation. “Full Awakening is the eventual ceasing of all the mental impressions of being an Ego.” (Shankara) 2) Awakening to our True Nature is the sudden Realization we are not our Thoughts, perceptions and feelings, but That which is Aware of them. “The fruit falls suddenly, but the ripening takes time.” (Nisargadatta). 3) Awakening does not come from the addition of virtue, but from the subtraction of Illusion, because we are already That. “To find the Truth, remove the false.” (Robert Wolfe) 4) Awakening is not based on Belief, faith or concept, but on direct, wordless Knowing. This Knowing can be referred to as Intuition, as it does not come through Thought. The Mind and its Thoughts are finite, so they can never know their own True Nature, which is Infinite. “Thinking still happens after Liberation, but there is no one listening.” (Tony Parsons) 5) Awakening unveils an inner, visceral conviction you are not the human body or the Ego – and never have been; a conviction you will not die, only the body dies; a conviction you are not your Thoughts, emotions or perceptions; a conviction all your questions have been answered; a conviction nothing is wrong or missing in your life; a conviction the Universe is unfolding as it should; and, a conviction you are One with God and all Creation, right Now. “Fred Davis does not awaken to the truth of Oneness, Oneness wakes up to the fiction of Fred Davis.” (Fred Davis) 6) Awakening does not provide answers, but dissolves questions. 7) Awakening does not change anything, but everything is now different. “Enlightenment is like suddenly seeing an image hidden within an optical illusion. You have looked at it all your life, but never noticed its hidden truth. And, once seen, it cannot be unseen.” Swami Sarvapriyananda 8) The conundrum posited by Non-Duality is due to the Body/Mind Entity being a fictional character: There is no one who needs Awakening. “If you want to make real progress, you must give up the idea of personal attainment.” (Nisargadatta) “Awakening does not happen to an individual; Awakening is the disappearance of the concept of an individual.” (Rick Linchitz) “There is no individual to practice, self-inquire or realize anything at all. The ‘cosmic joke’ is that you have been free all along – and were held in apparent bondage by an unquestioned belief.” (John Wheeler) However, the practical benefit of directly recognizing one’s True Nature, this ‘apparent’ Awakening, is that it brings the fictional person freedom from ‘apparent’ Suffering, caused by Nescience. “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:32) See: Awareness, Dream, Ego, Illusion, Nescience, Self-Realization, Suffering, That and Truth.
Awareness: As a noun, Awareness is a synonym for God, Consciousness, “I AM” and Life. As a verb, Awareness or being Aware is a synonym for Experiencing and Knowing. All are singular: There is only one God, one Consciousness, one “I AM”, one Life, one Awareness, one Experiencer, one Knower which are all one and the same. Each Body/Mind Entity shares in this singular Awareness. Awareness is That in which all Thoughts, Experiences and physical perceptions appear and disappear. Awareness is unchanging, while everything appearing in Awareness is constantly changing. The Body/Mind Entity is not Aware, only Awareness is Aware. Awareness can be divided into 3 categories: 1) Awareness of endogenous Objects, i.e., our Thoughts, perceptions and feelings, 2) Awareness of exogenous Objects, e.g., people, trees, clouds, etc., and 3) Awareness of Awareness. This Awareness of our own sense of being Aware is the best Pointer to our True Nature: We are our Awareness and not the endogenous or exogenous Objects. “Recognize your true self as undifferentiated Awareness, unaffected by time, past, present or future, and enter into Peace.” (Shankara) See: Consciousness, Experience, God, “I AM”, Knower, Life, Pointer and That.
Belief: Mental concepts or intellectual explanations for something that cannot be perceived by the human senses or measured by technology. Belief is a synonym for ideology. Belief in a separate self, i.e., Ego or Body/Mind Entity, is the cause of Nescience and the main obstacle to Awakening. “All beliefs are concepts, but not all concepts are beliefs. Beliefs are the problem, not the concepts.” (Rupert Spira) See: Awakening.
Body/Mind Entity: (Also: ‘Jiva’ = ‘Individual life-force’ in Sanskrit) A temporary, localized Manifestation of Consciousness (i.e., Awareness, God, “I AM” or Life) within Apparent Reality, in the form of a human Mind and body. The physical body perceives and interacts with the physical Universe, while the finite Mind filters or limits the Knowing of Infinite Consciousness. The body is not alive, only Consciousness has Life. The Mind is not conscious, only Consciousness has Consciousness. Non-Duality declares the Body/Mind Entity, along with all of Apparent Reality, is Illusory. “Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being” (Genesis 2:7). Consciousness is the “breath of life”, while the Body/Mind Entity is the inert “dust”. See: Apparent Reality, Consciousness, Human Being, Illusion, Knower and Life.
Causation: (Also: ‘Cause’) Causation is that which is required to produce an effect, an outcome or an action. Every effect, outcome or action within Apparent Reality appears to have a Cause, as nothing occurs on its own accord. However, like Space, Time and Matter, Causation is an Illusion. Everything within Apparent Reality arises spontaneously, without Cause, effort or resistance, including Thoughts, Objects and events. God, of course, is their Author. ‘Cause and effect’ has apparent existence only within a Dualistic universe. All Objects are subject to the apparent physical laws associated with Space, Time and Causation. “That which is beginningless cannot have a cause.” (Nisargadatta) See: Duality, Illusion, Objects and Perfection.
Consciousness: Consciousness is a synonym for Awareness, God, Knowing, Life and “I AM”. Consciousness is singular and the source of everything. Consciousness is all there is – and you are That. Do characters in Dreams have their own, independent Consciousness or Existence? No, the sleeper supplies ‘apparent’ Consciousness and Existence to its Dream characters. In a similar way, Non-Dualism submits that God is ‘dreaming’ all of Creation. There is one Dreamer, and infinite diversity. God has temporarily localized or encapsulated His Consciousness to form the many ‘apparent’ Dream characters, i.e., Body/Mind Entities and other Objects throughout Creation. Consciousness does not arise within each individual Mind, each individual Mind and body arise within Consciousness. Matter is not the source of Consciousness, Consciousness is the source of Matter. The Mind is simply insentient Matter and does not have Knowing of the Body/Mind Entity’s experiences, i.e., its Thoughts, perceptions and actions. Only Consciousness has Knowing. All of Apparent Reality is a Manifestation of Consciousness, within Consciousness. “There is no body, world or universe, only Consciousness; only choice-less, effortless Awareness.” (Robert Adams) As Human Beings, we constantly experience Consciousness as the sensation or feeling: “I AM”. “To Myself, I am the Infinite expanse of Consciousness in which innumerable persons emerge and disappear in endless succession.” (Nisargadatta). See: Awareness, Dream, God, Human Being, Knowing, “I AM”, Life, Matter, Mind, Objects, That and Thought.
Contraction: The physical, mental and emotional effort and tension that goes into the creation and preservation of the Illusory ‘separate self,’ i.e., the Ego. Contraction is a source of Suffering, through disease and distress. Awakening is often accompanied by a sense of expansion and wholeness, caused by the releasing of the Contraction, as the concept of a separate self falls away. See: Awakening, Ego, Illusion and Self .
Creation: (Also: ‘Universe,’ ‘Manifestation’ or ‘Appearance’) A temporary, localized Manifestation of God. God has manifested Himself as living beings, trees, planets and everything else throughout the Universe. Non-Dualism submits that Creation is not Real, because it is not Eternal and, therefore, is merely Illusion. Creation is a synonym for Apparent Reality, Relative Reality and Duality. “You are One, Pure Intelligence. The universe is non-intelligent and unreal.” (Ashtavakra Gita) The best analogy is that God ‘dreams’ Creation, meaning all of Creation is a Manifestation of Consciousness, within Consciousness. As it is with the Dreamer and the Dream, so it is with the Creator and the created. One is Real, the other is not. As God is Infinite, everything done by Him is Infinite, including the creation of an Infinite number of Universes (i.e., ‘Multiverse.’) “To the Self, the world is but a colorful show, which he enjoys as long as it lasts and forgets when it is over.” (Nisargadatta) See: Apparent Reality, Consciousness, Dream, Duality, Existence, Infinite, Relative Reality and Word.
Death: There is no Death (or birth), only the (appearance and) disappearance of Apparent Reality. As Ramana Maharshi said on his Death-bed: “Leave you? Where could I go?” At the Time of Death, the Illusion of a body, Mind and Ego falls away, leaving only the Eternal “I AM”, which is no longer restricted by the finite limitations of Space, Time and Causation. “‘Death is simply the end of the illusion that there was anyone in the first place.” (Tony Parsons) In Truth, we will never Experience Death, only the continuation of Life without the confines of a Body/Mind Entity. “Death can be beautiful and peaceful, once you know that death happens to the body and not to you – you just watch your body falling off like a discarded garment.” (Nisargadatta) See: Apparent Reality, Body/Mind Entity, Ego, Illusion, Life and Soul.
Desire: (Also: ‘Desirelessness’) All Desire is based on the pursuit of Happiness. Desire is an Object, a Thought, a concept, but nothing Real. To want something, over and above your basic needs, is Illusion or Nescience, because we are already That which we Desire. The source of all Desire is the Body/Mind Entity and its Ego, due to its false sense of separation, resulting in the feeling that something is missing in our lives. “Bondage consists only in desire and its destruction is said to be Liberation.” (Astavakra Gita) Non-Duality teaches that our True Nature is Infinite. What need does the Infinite have for the finite? What need does Spirit have for Matter? Nisargadatta Maharaj speaks cogently about the Illusion of Desire: “Desire is the source of suffering.” “Desirelessness is the highest bliss.” “Shed all desires, except for one, Liberation.” “When you know that you lack nothing, that all there is, is you and yours – desire ceases.” “Be nothing, have nothing, keep nothing.” “My silence sings, my emptiness is ever-full, I lack nothing.” See: Happiness, Illusion, Nescience, Objects, Reality, Suffering and That.
Direct Path: 1) The approach to Awakening that does not rely upon spiritual prerequisite, ideology or practice (e.g., discrimination, dispassion, yearning, Meditation, scriptural study, etc.), but simply asks the individual to use Self-Inquiry to directly recognize the Infinity, Eternity and Oneness surrounding and permeating them at all times in the form of their own sense of Awareness or “I AMness”. “On the direct path we start with the premise that we are already That which we seek.” (Kavitha Chinnaiyan) Pointers are employed to enhance this recognition. This direct approach to spiritual growth is one of the main distinctions between Advaita Vedanta and Neo-Advaita. “There is no need to grasp for non-duality, simply let go of duality and only non-duality remains.” (Sri Vidyaranya Swami) 2) The Direct Path also implies the bypassing of the Ego and appealing directly to our True Nature, “I AM”. “Satsang is Oneness talking to Oneness about Oneness.” (Fred Davis) See: Advaita Vedanta, Awakening, Awareness, Ego, “I AM”, Meditation, Neo-Advaita, Self-Inquiry and Truth.
Doer / Thinker / Chooser / Feeler: Non-Duality submits that only God exists and not His temporary Manifestation, i.e., Objects. One Reality, infinite diversity. As a temporary Manifestation, Human Beings are like Dream characters, which the Dreamer has given the appearance of Life and individuality. But, all the actions, Thoughts, decisions and emotions experienced by Dream characters have been supplied by the Dreamer, just like we do with our own Dream characters. Therefore, there is only one Doer, Thinker, Chooser or Feeler: God. Bodies are born, hair grows, blood circulates, thoughts arise, emotions surface, words are spoken, choices are made, events occur, bodies die and no individual can claim responsibility. Everyone and everything is God in action. “God is the all-doer, the jnani is a non-doer.” (Nisargadatta) Human Beings are the Knower of actions, Thoughts, decisions and emotions that spontaneously arise within Apparent Reality. We are God experiencing Apparent Reality and His Dream world from a first-hand perspective. “Personal control and personal responsibility are illusions of the mind. However, if you imagine yourself to be in control, you should also imagine yourself to be responsible.” (Nisargadatta) See: Creation, Dream, Free-Will, Human Being and Knower.
Dream: (Also: ‘Dreamer’) A mental image and story playing in our Mind during Sleep. In Dreams, our Mind creates entire worlds and populates them with people, places and events. Our Dreams take the form of dramas, comedies, tragedies and nightmares, all of which promptly evaporate upon waking and are soon forgotten. Our Dreams often seem Real, but we know them to be pure fantasy. Dreams are the best analogy for the True Nature of Reality. In this case, God is the Dreamer and each ‘night’ He Dreams of being all of Creation. In Truth, we are God dreaming of being individual Human Beings. While our own Dreams may seem very Real, God’s Dream is the ultimate in Realism. Because God’s Dream is so realistic, we have forgotten we are the Dreamer and believe we are the Dream. Awakening is the process of recognizing our True Nature as the Dreamer and not the Dream. “Let go of this dream world – stop imagining that it is yours or that it is real.” (Nisargadatta) See: Apparent Reality, Awakening, Creation, Sleep and Truth.
Dualism / Duality: 1) The Belief of an Eternal distinction or separation between God and His Creation. Dualism sees an intimate interrelationship existing between the two, between Creator and created, but God is forever one thing and Creation is something else. “Before Illumination, duality is delusion and bondage, but after Illumination, duality is sweet and beautiful.” (Swami Chetanananda) 2) Duality also refers to the multiplicity, diversity and polarity or ‘pairs of opposites’ that are intrinsic to a relative or dualistic Universe, e.g., Creator/creation, up/down, front/back, hot/cold, happy/sad, yes/no, hard/soft, good/bad, right/wrong, subject/object, cause/effect, early/late, heaven/hell, life/death, man/woman, awake/asleep, day/night, etc. As a product of this dualistic Universe, the Mind can only think in terms of these pairs of opposites, with the fundamental pair of opposites being: me/not me. That is why the Mind is not able to understand Non-Duality, as it would have to deny its own, separate, dualistic Existence. All Objects, along with Space, Time and Causation, ‘exist’ only within a dualistic Universe. To recognize anything other than God as being Real only creates Duality. Non-Dualism denies the Reality of Duality and refers to it as Apparent Reality, because in Truth, all is One. Duality is a synonym for Apparent Reality, Relative Reality and Creation. “Duality is an illusion – opposites are simply the two ends of one stick.” (Sailor Bob Adamson) “Oh, the root of misery is duality. There is no other remedy for it except the realization that all objects of experience are unreal and that I am Pure, One, Consciousness and Bliss.” (Ashtavakra Gita) See: Apparent Reality, Belief, Creation, Non-Dualism and Relative Reality.
Ego: The mental concept or Illusion of being a separate and independent ‘me,’ ‘I’ or ‘self’. The Ego is the sense of personhood or identification with the Body/Mind Entity. The Ego is a series of storylines developed to describe and perpetuate this sense of personhood. However, personhood is not Real, it is a fabrication of the Mind. This fabrication is the result of Nescience in Human Beings. “It’s not a matter of killing the ego, it’s a matter of not feeding it.” (Tess Hughes) The Ego sustains the false Belief of an independent self, separate from God and all Creation. This false sense of separation gives rise to Suffering and to an existential malaise afflicting mankind, evidenced by: 1) Fear of Death, 2) The feeling that something is missing, and 3) The sense that something is wrong. In Truth, the Ego or the ‘me’ or the separate self does not exist, and has never existed. The Ego is all ‘smoke and mirrors’. It is simply a Thought. It consists of nothing solid, nothing definitive, nothing continuous, nothing one can point to and say without question: “That is me.” Instead, the Ego is merely a jumble of memories, Beliefs, emotions and Desires. “The ego is an imposter that takes credit for the thoughts, words and deeds that arise spontaneously.” (Swami Atmarupananda) The Ego is intermittent, vanishing during the pause between our Thoughts, as well as every night during dreamless Sleep. “The ego is self-identification with the stream of thinking.” (Eckhart Tolle) The Ego is not a natural part of our being – it requires mental, physical and emotional effort to create and maintain itself, resulting in Contraction. On the other hand, our True Nature, “I AM”, requires no effort on our part and is always present. “The character which presumes itself to be ‘me’ has never existed in any shape or form, except as an imagined concept.” (John Wheeler) See: Body/Mind Entity, Contraction, Human Being, “I AM”, Illusion, Nescience, Suffering, Thought and Truth.
Eternity: Existence without the concept or Illusion of Time. Remove the concept of Time and the Illusion falls away, leaving nothing but Eternity and Infinity all around us. It is Time that must rely upon concepts and relativity (i.e., Duality) to justify its Existence. Eternity stands quietly and patiently on its own merits. Eternity does not consist of endless Time, but the absence of Time, altogether. Eternity never had a beginning, nor will it ever have an end, its ‘days’ are neither short nor long, it is simply and always right Now. Eternity is a synonym for Now and God, because only God is Eternal. “Gods, avatars and universes come and go – I deal with the Eternal.” (Nisargadatta) See: Absolute Reality, Now and Time.
Existence: 1) The quality of being Aware. Only God is Aware, so Existence is a synonym for Absolute Reality, Infinity and God. The conventional Dualistic definition of Existence: Something has Existence if it can be perceived or detected by man or machine. A Non-Dualist would respond: As man and machine do not Exist in Reality, anything perceived or conceived by them also does not Exist. Only that which is Eternal can be said to Exist, and only God is Eternal. Awareness does not reveal the Existence of Objects – Awareness becomes Objects. “As a red-hot bar of iron temporarily borrows its heat from fire, all of the universe temporarily borrows its existence from Brahman. Therefore, heat is not intrinsic to iron, as existence is not intrinsic to the universe.” (Swami Sarvapriyananda) 2) A case can be made for a ‘limited’ or temporary form of existence (lower-case intentional) for Objects appearing within Apparent or Relative Reality. Dream characters can be expected to assert the perceived Reality of their own existence, based on the realism of their Experience within Apparent or Relative Reality. See: Absolute Reality, Apparent Reality, Awareness, Dream, Experience, God, Infinity and Relative Reality.
Experience: (Also: ‘Experiencer’) 1) The Mind and its Thoughts, and the body and its senses generate and perceive stimuli from Objects, the result of which we call Experience. These Thoughts, perceptions, feelings and events are all subject to Time, Space and Causation and are, therefore, un-Real. The opposite of Experience is Realization. Unlike Experience, Realization does not rely on the Mind and its Thoughts or the body and its senses. Realization comes through Intuition, i.e., the direct, thought-free recognition of our True Nature. Consciousness is That which Knows or Witnesses the rise and fall of Experience. Experiences come and go, but Consciousness, in which they manifest, remains unchanged. The implication for Non-Dualism/Neo-Advaita is that the pursuit of Experience, whether Samadhi, spiritual visions and so on, is equal to the pursuit of Objects. This only serves to reinforce Beliefs, the Ego and the Body/Mind Entity, which are not Real. “All experience is illusory, limited and temporal. Expect nothing from experience.” (Nisargadatta) 2) Human Beings are continuously Aware of their True Nature, Awareness or the “I AM”, whether Realized or not. This means we are continuously Aware of Infinity-Eternity-Oneness, but don’t recognize it, because our Knowing is filtered by the finite Mind. The Mind prefers to focus its attention on the Thoughts and other Objects appearing in the foreground of Experience, while ignoring the limitless and timeless background of Awareness in which all appears. The Awareness of our own Awareness is our only non-Objective or Non-Dual Experience. “Is experience or belief the true test of reality? Trust your experience and question your belief.” (Rupert Spira) See: Awareness, Consciousness, Ego, “I AM”, Knower, Mind, Objects, Oneness and Self-Realization.
Free Will: Non-Duality submits that Free Will is an Illusion, because the Body/Mind Entity is an Illusion and not our True identity. We are not the generator of the Body/Mind Entity’s Thoughts, actions and feelings, but their Knower. We are the Dreamer, not the Dream. “There is no freedom for the separate self; only Awareness is free.” (Rupert Spira) Instead of a person’s Free Will self-directing Thoughts, actions and feelings, everything within Apparent Reality occurs spontaneously, on its own accord, without Causation. The Truth of Free Will is seen upon Awakening, as we recognize that our True Nature is Oneness, not multiplicity, which is prior to the Thoughts, actions and feelings that arise spontaneously. However, as Human Beings, we do have three abilities: 1) The ability to focus our attention on a particular topic, 2) The ability to choose how we see ourselves – as the Body/Mind Entity or as God, and 3) The ability to choose how we react to Thoughts, conditions and events as they arise. “In Reality, things are done to you, not by you.” (Nisargadatta). “Everything and I mean everything was determined before you came to Earth. Everything has been planned for you. Even the day you’re going to give up the body. Everything is preordained.” (Robert Adams) [Note: The field of neuroscience has conducted studies that appear to prove that our actions are not conscious choices, but are the result of neurological intentions taking place in the unconscious mind prior to the conscious choice to perform the action. Source: Soon, Chun Siong; Brass, Marcel; Heinze, Hans-Jochen; Haynes, John-Dylan (2008). “Unconscious determinants of free decisions in the human brain”. Nature Neuroscience 11 (5); et al] See: Causation, Doer/Thinker/Chooser/Feeler, Dream, Human Being, Illusion, Knower, Reality/Real, Thought and Truth.
God: (Synonyms: The Absolute, Consciousness, Awareness, Existence, Infinity, Perfection, “I AM”, Universal Self, the Self, Supreme Being, Brahman, Allah, Yahweh, etc.) The Belief of a Supreme Being, Who is creator, sustainer and destroyer of the Universe. Non-Dualism typically avoids the use of this term, as it is subject to many different religious interpretations. Instead, the terms: Absolute, Consciousness or Awareness are most often utilized. Advaita Vedanta uses a Sanskrit term to describe God based on His attributes: ‘Satchitananda’ = Absolute Existence, Absolute Consciousness and Absolute Bliss. Non-Dualism submits that God, alone, exists and everything man or machine can conceive or perceive is Apparent Reality. Human Beings and all other Objects are God in disguise. There is nothing in Existence that is ‘not-God.’ God is unknowable and ineffable. Nothing about God can be conceived or verbalized, only pointed at. (Please Note: ‘God’ is the term used throughout this Glossary, for no apparent reason.) See: Absolute Reality, Apparent Reality, Awareness, Consciousness, Existence, Infinity and Perfection.
Happiness: Utter peace, utter contentment and utter fulfillment. Like Love, Happiness is a descriptor or characteristic of God, Infinity and Oneness. Therefore, all Happiness is from within, as it is the natural state of Oneness, our True Nature, which lacks nothing. Happiness (and Love) is perceived or Known whenever our True Nature is temporarily unveiled or permanently Realized. Due to Nescience, the Mind believes Happiness is found outside of us, in the acquisition of Objects. However, when an Object is acquired and Seeking has temporarily ended, the resulting Happiness is not from the acquired Object, but from the temporary unveiling of our True Nature. “To me, dependence upon anything for happiness is utter misery.” (Nisargadatta) Happiness is singular, even though it appears to be diverse. We Experience the same Happiness whether eating our favorite ice cream or in the company of our dearest friend. The only difference is one of degree. All Happiness is derived from a single source. This is similar to the Illusion that glimmering grains of sand are casting their own light, when actually they are all reflecting the same light from the sun. Happiness does not come and go – only our acceptance of it comes and goes. “True happiness cannot be found in things that change and pass away. Pleasure and pain alternate inexorably. Happiness can be found in the Self, only.” (Nisargadatta) See: God, Infinity, Love, Mind, Objects, Oneness and Seeking.
Hearing à Reflection à Meditation: (Also: ‘Sravana, Manana and Nididhyasana’ in Sanskrit) In the scriptures of Advaita Vedanta, it is written that some Human Beings are able to Awaken upon their first Hearing of Non-Dual Truth, others require additional Reflection on that Truth, while others require even more time for Meditation on that Truth. See: Awakening, Meditation and Truth.
Human Being: A temporary, localized Manifestation of God, in the apparent form of a Body/Mind Entity. Human Beings are God in disguise. Infinite Consciousness appears to have become temporarily localized and limited by the finite Body/Mind Entity. This appearance or Illusion of separateness is created and maintained by the Ego, as a result of Nescience. In Truth, we are not Human Beings, we are God experiencing Himself, reflecting Himself and Loving Himself inside countless ‘mirage’ bodies – like endless drops of dew reflecting the sun’s rays. As Objects in Apparent Reality, Human Beings appear to be mundane, but are actually Divine. “You have two bodies: one personal and one Universal.” (Nisargadatta) See: Body/Mind Entity, Ego, “I AM”, Love and Nescience.
“I AM”: (Also: ‘I AMness’, ‘Beingness’, ‘Aliveness’ or ‘Awareness‘) 1) The “I AM” is a synonym for God. In Exodus 3:14 and John 8:58, God uses this phrase to describe Himself as both the Father, when talking to Moses, and as the Son, when talking to the Jews. The “I AM” is also a synonym for Human Beings. The “I AM” is the one and only thing we all hold in common with each other and with God. There is only one “I AM”. “‘I Am’ is everyone’s primary experience.” (Rupert Spira) 2) We continuously Experience the “I AM” as the sense or feeling of being alive, being conscious or being Aware. In fact, there is no sensation more familiar or more reliable than the “I AM.” The sense of aliveness, Consciousness and Awareness we feel right this moment, is exactly the same we felt 10 minutes ago or 10 years ago. 3) Our Thoughts and feelings come and go, but the “I AM” remains ever-constant, ever-peaceful and ever-content. 4) In Truth, the “I AM” is not something we Experience, it is who we are, it is our True Self. “Like the fragrance in a flower, like an image in a mirror, this sense of ‘I Amness’ is felt in the body. Therefore, give up your name, ‘Nanak’, and also your identity with the body and abide in the sense of ‘I Amness’. You shall be liberated.” (Guru Nanak) 5) Everything appears within the “I AM”, including our Thoughts, emotions, perceptions and all of Creation. The “I AM” is not touched or stained by whatever appears within it. The “I AM” remains ever serene, silent and unchanging. “Your sense of Awareness is as pristine now, as the day you were born. It hasn’t been diminished or altered in any way.” (Rupert Spira) 6) The “I AM” is the only thing we take with us at the Time of Death. That is why Death will be so familiar and natural. The false concept of being a Body/Mind Entity falls away, leaving only That, which we have always been. 7) The “I AM” is the only thing Real within Apparent Reality. 8) The “I AM” is synonymous with Now. God did not say “I WAS” or “I WILL BE”. He used the eternal present tense: “I AM,” which has no beginning and no end. It is always right here, always right Now. 9) The “I AM” is Infinite and has no needs, other than Itself. 10) The sensation of “I AM” is most keenly experienced in the pause between our Thoughts. “I used to sit for hours with nothing but the “I AM” in mind and soon peace, joy and love became my normal state.” (Nisargadatta) See: Awareness, Experience, God, Human Beings, Now, Thought and Truth.
Illusion: (Also: ‘Maya’ = ‘Illusion’ or ‘Ignorance’ in Sanskrit) The false Belief that Apparent Reality is Real. This Illusion includes Time, Space, Causation and Objects. Nescience gives rise to the Ego, which creates and sustains Illusion. “The concerns of a false self can only be false concerns.” (Robert Wolfe) See: Apparent Reality, Creation, Dream, Ego and Nescience.
Infinity: That which is never-ending, never-beginning, ever-new and without limit. Only one thing can be Infinite. If two things were infinite, they would displace one another, placing a limit on their infinity. Infinity is not endless space. Infinity is the absence of space, all-together. Infinity is the dimensionless ‘here’. Infinity is a synonym for Oneness and for God. This means that, as Creator, God creates with Infinite variety. Anything that can exist within Apparent Reality, must exist, as there is no limitation. If there can be an Infinitude of Universes, there must be. How else would an Infinite Being operate? How many Universes would an Infinite Being create? One? Two? Ten? No, an Infinite Being would create an Infinitude of Universes. As Infinity, God can only experience the Infinite. To experience His finite Creation, God temporarily reflects Himself, i.e., Consciousness, as Human Beings and other Objects within Apparent Reality. “Eternity means ever-now, Infinity means ever-new.” (Stephan) See: Apparent Reality, Consciousness, God, Oneness and Perfection.
Intuition: Wordless, Thought-free, inner Knowing that arrives spontaneously and effortlessly, bringing understanding, conviction, creativity and peace, without the need for logic, Belief, faith or proof. Intuition does not bring answers, it dissolves questions. It dissolves conflict. It dissolves separation. Intuition is the source of Awakening, and ‘grace’ is the source of Intuition. “Logic brings you to the door of Awakening; Intuition carries you across the threshold.” (Stephan) See: Awakening, “I AM”, Knower and Thought.
Karma: A Sanskrit term from Advaita Vedanta, not often used in Non-Dualism. However, the author of this Glossary maintains the Belief that Love is the ‘gravitational’ force at the center of our Dualistic Creation, causing Loving Thoughts and actions to stimulate the force of attraction, while anti-Loving Thoughts and actions stimulate the force of repulsion. See: Love and Word.
Knower: (Also: ‘Witness’ or ‘Observer,’ and ‘Know’, ‘Known’ or ‘Knowing’) 1) This term describes Human Beings’ relationship with the Objects and Experiences that spontaneously arise within Apparent Reality, including Thoughts, perceptions, feelings and events. Human Beings are not the Doer, Thinker, Chooser or Feeler, but the impartial, immediate and non-resisting Knower or Witness. And, the Body/Mind Entity is not the Knower, only Consciousness is the Knower. Knowing is prior to and independent of the Thoughts, perceptions, feelings and events that arise and fall spontaneously. To be more precise, our True Nature is even more intrinsic: We are not the Knower, but Knowing itself; not the one who is happy, but Happiness, itself; not the lover, but Love itself. 2) ‘Knowing’ is also a synonym for Awareness, Beingness, Consciousness and “I AMness” – which are all different terms for our True Nature. Ultimately, Knowing is all there is. Both the Knower and the Known are Objects, i.e., transient appearances or manifestations of Knowing within Apparent Reality. “There is no subject or object, only the verb.” (Rick Linchitz) See: Awareness, Consciousness, Doer/Thinker/Chooser/Feeler, Experience, Human Being, “I AM”, Objects and Truth.
Life: Life is synonymous with Awareness, Consciousness, God and “I AMness”. Life is our True Nature and is experienced as the sensation or feeling of being alive and being aware. Life gives apparent Existence to the Body/Mind Entity. The Body/Mind Entity is not alive, only Life is alive. The Body/Mind Entity does not Exist, only Life has Existence. Life does not come and go, Body/Mind Entities come and go. Life is also a synonym for Oneness: There is not ‘my’ Life and ‘your’ Life, but only one Infinite and Eternal Life. “Life is eternal, form is temporary.” (Eckhart Tolle) “Contemplate life as infinite, undivided, ever-present, ever-active, until you realize yourself one with it. It is not very difficult, for you will only be returning to your own natural condition.” (Nisargadatta) See: Awareness, Body/Mind Entity, Consciousness, “I AM”, Oneness and Word.
Love: Like Happiness, Love is a descriptor or characteristic of God and Oneness, our True Essence. “God is love.” (1 John 4:8) In Apparent Reality, Love is the force of attraction at the center of all Creation. Everything in Creation desires to return to its True or ‘Original’ Nature of Oneness. We can visualize this in the Dualistic process that creates/destroys our Universe: The Big Bang and the Big Crunch. The Big Bang created the many from the One, through the force of repulsion. The Big Crunch is expected to merge the many back into the One, through the force of attraction. Love’s force of attraction also causes Intelligent Vibrating Energy (i.e., Word) to coalesce into Objects, as well as for Objects to be attracted to one another through ‘gravity’. Love’s force of attraction continuously draws Manifested Consciousness, e.g. Human Beings, closer to Itself. As an emotion, Love is the feeling of attraction for Oneness, our True Nature. “Love is not a relationship, but the collapsing of the subject/object relationship into One.” (Rupert Spira) “Love is the recognition of all ‘others’ as yourself.” (Eckhart Tolle) “Unconditional love is singing everywhere throughout creation, but it’s a song the individual is unable to hear.” (Tony Parsons) See: God, Happiness, Objects, Oneness and Word.
Matter: Within Apparent Reality, Matter is the primordial substance that appears to make up all Objects. Matter actually has no substance or Existence, it is but a mirage composed of Intelligent Vibrating Energy, i.e., Word. “All matter is simply congealed Consciousness.” (Sailor Bob Adamson) See: Absolute Reality, Apparent Reality, Consciousness, Objects and Word.
Meditation: Traditional Meditation from Hindu and Buddhist sources has the meditator sitting quietly, with eyes closed and the Mind alertly focused on a single Object, such as Thought, mantram or sound, on a Divine mental image or upon the inflow and outflow of the breath. Non-Dualist or Vedantic Meditation is, generally, an open-eyed activity, reducing the tendency to use the imagination, while keeping the attention alertly focused, not on an Object, but on the Awareness or Consciousness in which all Objects appear. This is done without mentally labeling or analyzing the Objects appearing within the field of Awareness, but concentrating solely on the field of Awareness, itself. Non-Dual Meditation can be practiced throughout the waking day, by seeing Oneness all around you. A more apt term for Non-Dual Meditation might be ‘Watchfulness,’ where one simply ‘watches’ their sense of Awareness or Oneness, without judgment, effort or expectation. In all types of Meditation, non-attachment to or the ignoring of any Thoughts that arise is paramount. The purpose of Meditation is to prepare or quiet the Mind, so that it is no longer an Obstacle to Awakening. “Watching yourself, your beingness, your “I AMness”, that itself is meditation.” (Nisargadatta) “In Vedantic meditation, use movements of the mind and perceptions of the body as reminders you are not those thoughts or perceptions, you are the Consciousness in which they appear – and then refocus your attention on that Consciousness.” (Swami Sarvapriyananda) See: Awakening, Awareness, Hearing/Reflection/Meditation, “I AM” and Obstacle.
Mind: Localized, manifested Consciousness, that has been limited, moderated or veiled by Space, Time, Causality and Duality. “The finite mind sees Eternity as time, Infinity as space and God as matter.” (Rupert Spira) The Mind is not the source of Consciousness, Consciousness is the source of Mind. The Mind is not conscious, only Consciousness is conscious. The Mind is designed to function solely within Apparent Reality or Duality. The Mind can only grasp Objects, but not Reality. It is a means to interact with the world, but not a means to Self-Realization. “Put your awareness to work, but not your mind, as it is not the right instrument for this task.” (Nisargadatta) Due to Nescience, the Mind is constantly in search of Happiness through the pursuit of Objects. Therefore, the Mind and its Thoughts are the sole source of Suffering. “Mind creates bondage and mind also removes bondage. The seeker after liberation must work carefully to purify the mind, then liberation is as easy to grasp as fruit lying in the palm of your hand.” (Shankara) See: Body/Mind Entity, Consciousness, Duality, Happiness, Nescience, Objects, Suffering and Thought.
Neo-Advaita: A spiritual movement beginning in the 20th century with Ramana Maharshi (1879-1950) that retains the core principle of Oneness and Non-Dualism found in Advaita Vedanta, but abandons the tradition of spiritual ideology, preparation and practice (e.g., discrimination, dispassion, yearning, Meditation, scriptural study, etc.), in preference for spiritual growth based on a Direct Path. See: Advaita Vedanta, Direct Path, Non-Dualism and Teachers.
Nescience: (Also: ‘Ignorance’) The state of misunderstanding and misidentification of most Human Beings, who live under the Illusion (or Belief) of both the Ego and Duality. “Ignorance simply means we ‘ignore’ our True Nature.” (Sailor Bob Adamson) See: Belief, Duality, Ego and Illusion.
Non-Dualism / Non-Duality / Non-Dual: (Also: ‘Neo-Advaita’) The science of Reality. In Reality, only one thing has Existence, because only one thing can Exist, and that one thing is called God. God has manifested Himself as Human Beings, as animals, as mountains, as oceans, as planets, as dreams, as memories, as all of Creation. “The Absolute is not the source of creation – it is creation.” (Robert Wolfe) If something Existed in addition to God or separate from Him, that would mean God was lacking in that something. That would mean He did not make-up 100% of Existence, making God less than God. If a single neutrino Existed separate from God or in addition to God, that would displace God and He would not be everywhere, would not be omnipresent, would not be God. Nothing Exists, other than God. God is everything and everything is God. Non-Duality can be conceptually understood by the Mind, but is realized or intuited only through Awakening. “Everyone experiences both duality and Non-Duality, but only the Awakened recognize Non-Duality for what it is.” (Robert Wolfe) See: Absolute Reality, Pantheism, Oneness and Word.
Nothing: (Or: ‘No-thing’; Also: ‘Emptiness’) Not a vacuum or void, but the absence of Objects. Nothingness or Emptiness is devoid of Objects, but filled with pure Consciousness. Nothing is a descriptor for God. “Nothingness is eternal potential, while Consciousness is eternal actuality.” (Nisargadatta) See: Consciousness, God and Objects.
Now: A synonym for both Eternity and the “I AM”. “You are not living in the Now, you are the Now.” (Fred Davis) Now is all there is. Duality merely creates the Illusion of a before and an after, or a past and a future. Now never moves, while Time is never still. Now is Infinite, so it is ever-new. “In eternity there is no yesterday nor any tomorrow, but only Now.” (Meister Eckhart) See: Eternity, “I AM”, Infinity and Time.
Objects: Everything within the Universe, i.e., Apparent Reality, Creation or Duality, is an Object or form. This includes ‘you’ and ‘me’, cats and dogs, Thoughts and feelings, perceptions and sensations, Dreams and events, atoms and molecules, planets and galaxies. All Objects are either subtle or gross and have been misperceived to be separate from one another, creating a false, subject/object relationship. The apparent laws of Space, Time and Causation help create this Illusion of separation between Objects. This is the hallmark of Duality. “In truth, subject and object are one.” (James Swartz) Like Duality or Apparent Reality, Objects are not Real. Objects consist of Matter, which is composed of Intelligent Vibrating Energy (i.e., Word), which is a Manifestation of Consciousness, within Consciousness. Only Consciousness (i.e., God) is Real, not the Manifestation. All Objects are Consciousness expressing, experiencing and Loving Itself. Therefore, true Happiness and spiritual fulfillment cannot be found in the pursuit of Objects. They can only be found in the recognition or Realization of Consciousness as our True Nature. We are the Knower of Objects, not the Objects, themselves. “In insentient objects, only Sat is manifested, and not Chit or Ananda.” (Sri Vidyaranya Swami) See: Apparent Reality, Consciousness, Knower, Love, Matter and Word.
Obstacle: Thoughts that reinforce Nescience and resist Awakening. In particular, Thoughts that maintain an Ego, a personhood, an individuality, a separation from everything else, all of which is un-Real. Any Thought that turns the Mind away from Awakening to one’s True Nature is an Obstacle. “As long as you remain interested in your present way of living, you will shirk from the final leap into the Unknown.” (Nisargadatta) See: Nescience and Thought.
Oneness: (Also: ‘One’) The philosophy of Non-Duality: Only one thing can have Existence, and that one thing is God. God is One Who gives apparent existence to the many. God is the Dreamer, while the many are but a very realistic Dream. Therefore, Reality is singular, while Illusion is diverse. The Truth of Oneness can only be realized through Awakening. However, Oneness can be conceptually understood through science: All Matter, including the human body, the foods we eat, the air we breathe, even the Thoughts we think and the emotions we feel, everything we can perceive or conceive are all Objects, and all Objects can be broken down into molecules, elements, atoms, sub-atomic particles and finally down into pure energy, intelligent energy vibrating at high speed. This means there is nothing solid or static or different or Real in the entire Universe. Everything and everyone is from the exact same, singular source: Intelligent Vibrating Energy or Word. And this Intelligent Vibrating Energy, itself, is but a mirage, a Dream, a Manifestation of Consciousness, within Consciousness. This means everything is One in substance, One in Love, One in Truth and One is God. The social utility of this philosophy is profound: We are all One, without separation, opposition, conflict or resistance; there are no “Others,” “You vs. me” or “Us vs. them.” “If the mind makes no distinctions, then all is seen as One.” (Robert Wolfe) See: Absolute Reality, Consciousness, Illusion, Love, Non-Dualism and Word.
Panentheism: (Greek for “All in God”) The Belief that God lies both within and beyond the Universe. This philosophy is consistent with Dualism, as Human Beings may be of God, but are not God and, therefore, remain forever separate from Him. See: Duality.
Panpsychism: The Belief that Consciousness is universal and a characteristic of all Matter. This philosophy is consistent with Dualism, as it submits that Matter, itself, including the gray matter of the human brain, is conscious. On the contrary, Non-Dualism submits that all Matter is Illusory and has only Apparent Reality. Matter is only appearance within Consciousness. “Only Consciousness is conscious.” (Rupert Spira) See: Apparent Reality, Creation, Duality and Matter.
Pantheism: The Belief that God and His Creation are one and the same. Pantheism is a synonym for Advaita Vedanta, Non-Dualism and Oneness. “That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us” (John 17:21) See: Advaita Vedanta, Non-Dualism and Oneness.
Perfection: That which is without flaw or error, and cannot be improved upon. Perfection is a synonym for God. Logic informs us that Perfection must also have the qualities of Eternity (How could something temporary be Perfect?), Infinity (How could Perfection have limitation?) and Oneness (How could two things have Perfection, as each would possess something the other lacks?). Logic also informs us that Perfection does not make mistakes; therefore, the Universe is unfolding at it should. Any imperfection we perceive is a result of our imperfect Mind and its wrongful interpretation or perspective, i.e., Nescience. “Perfection is the sum total of all imperfection.” (Stephan) See: God.
Pointer: Ultimate spiritual Truth cannot be verbalized, conceptualized or transmitted, only ‘pointed at.’ Therefore, Non-Duality teachers have developed Self-Inquiry questions and verbal descriptions of Reality as ‘Pointers’ to help Seekers on the Direct Path remove Nescience and uncover Truth for themselves, with the goal of Awakening. Ultimately, all terms, concepts, descriptions and Pointers must fall away, before Truth can be seen. Just like the finger pointing at the moon must not be mistaken for the moon. “One thorn is used to remove another thorn and then both are thrown away.” (Ramakrishna) See: Awakening, Direct Path, Nescience, Self-Inquiry and Truth.
Practice: (Also: Sadhana = ‘Means to an end’ in Sanskrit) Spiritual disciplines, e.g., Meditation, Japa, Reflection, Darshan, etc., an individual employs to achieve spiritual growth, with the ultimate goal of Awakening. This topic is a conundrum for Non-Duality, because there is no discrete “me” to become Awakened – we are already and only That. Therefore, any effort or Practice serves to reinforce the Ego. “Strive without seeking. Struggle without desire.” (Nisargadatta) Also, most Non-Dual Teachers agree there is no specific spiritual Practice that will achieve Awakening. However, most Teachers do agree on the value of reflection on Non-Duality, i.e., Self-Inquiry, etc., as well as viewing the world from a Non-Dual perspective. The Practice of being aware of our sense of Awareness is also highly regarded. “We all share a single Awareness – practice being aware of this Awareness.” (Robert Wolfe) See: Awareness, Awakening, Hearing/Reflection/Meditation, Meditation and Seeking.
Prayer: Non-Dualism does not use this term, as it implies and reinforces a Dualistic relationship between God and Human Beings. However, generating Thoughts and feelings of Love is always a beneficial activity. See: Dualism, Love and Non-Dualism.
Presence: A descriptor or characteristic of God. His Presence permeates our Experience of Apparent Reality at all times. Presence is a synonym for the “I AM”. See: God, Experience and “I AM”.
Reality / Real: That which has Existence, meaning God. Reality is a synonym for Absolute Reality and God. “The real does not die, the unreal has never lived.” (Nisargadatta) See: Existence, Absolute Reality, Apparent Reality and Relative Reality.
Reincarnation: Non-Dualism does not often use this term. Non-Dualism submits the Ego and the Soul are not Real, so there is nothing to Reincarnate. See: Death, Ego, Reality and Soul.
Relative Reality: The philosophy that two Realities are equally Existent: The physical, finite reality of our material Universe and the non-physical, infinite Reality beyond our perception. In Non-Duality, however, only Absolute Reality is defined as being Real, while Relative Reality is considered a synonym for Apparent Reality, Creation and Duality. “As I see it, you are all on a stage performing. There is no reality in your comings and goings.” (Nisargadatta) See: Absolute Reality, Apparent Reality, Creation, Duality and Reality/Real.
Seeking: (Also: ‘Seeker’) An individual’s search for spiritual Truth, purpose, fulfillment and Awakening. “All seeking is actually the search for Happiness, which is your true essence.” (Rupert Spira) Non-Dualism declares you already are what you Seek. Like a person rushing about, anxiously searching for her glasses, which are propped up on her forehead. The process of Seeking can actually take one further from Truth, by reinforcing the Illusion of a Body/Mind Entity or a Seeker who needs Awakening. Therefore, Seeking can be a cause of Suffering. “The spiritual seeker is like a person immersed in water asking how to get wet.” (Jim Newman) Rather than Seeking, Non-Dualism advises Self-Inquiry, Watchfulness or ‘recognition,’ as in directly recognizing one’s True Nature, which has been right before us all the time in the “I AM”. “The Enlightened person’s perception and behavior may be different, but the moment-to-moment experience is the same for the sage, as it is for the seeker.” (Robert Wolfe) See: Awakening, Ego, “I AM”, Meditation, Nescience, Self-Inquiry and Truth.
Self: When capitalized, Self is a synonym for God. When lower case, self is a synonym for the Ego or Body/Mind Entity. In Reality, there is only one Self, God, Who is the Self of all. We Experience the Self at all times, but don’t realize it, don’t notice it or don’t recognize it. “The false self must be abandoned, before the real Self can be seen.” (Nisargadatta) See: Ego, Experience and God.
Self-Inquiry: (Also: ‘Atma-Vichara’ in Sanskrit) The process of spiritual growth whereby the individual directly investigates their own True Nature. This Direct Path includes questions that act as Pointers to aid spiritual seekers in their quest to remove Nescience and uncover their True Nature as one with God and all Creation. For example: “Who am I?”, “Who is asking the question?”, “What constitutes ‘me’?”, “Who is Seeking?”, “To whom does this thought come?”, “Who initiates my thoughts?”, “Who dies?”, “What reincarnates?” and so on. The purpose of Self-Inquiry is twofold: 1) To reveal the Ego as nothing but Thought, and 2) To expose Thought as being neither you nor yours. “You may practice self-inquiry at any time, when you’re working, when you’re driving the car, when you’re washing the dishes. Through self-inquiry, the mind becomes still and quiet. Thoughts become weaker and the ego begins to disappear. You do not have to meditate. You do not have to do mantras. Self-inquiry takes care of everything.” (Robert Adams) See: Awakening, Direct Path, Ego, Pointer, Thought and Truth.
Self-Realization: (Also: ‘Realize’ and ‘Realization’) To make Real the Intuitive, visceral conviction you are not the Body/Mind Entity or the Ego, but one with God and all Creation. Self-Realization is a synonym for Awakening. “Self-Realization is Awareness becoming aware of Itself.” (Eckhart Tolle) The conundrum posited by Non-Dualism is that Human Beings have always been the Self-Realized “I AM”, but have not recognized it due to Nescience. This leads to Seeking, which can result in Suffering. “Liberation is not of the person, but from the person.” (Nisargadatta) See: Awakening, Intuition, Nescience and Seeking.
Sin: Non-Dualism does not use this term, but would define it as Nescience. In Non-Dualism, Sin is not viewed as a deficit of morals, but a deficit of knowledge or understanding. “To take appearance for reality is a grievous sin.” (Nisargadatta) See: Nescience.
Sleep: A daily respite from the body, Mind and Creation, that occurs in two stages. Stage one: In ‘Dreaming Sleep’ we leave the body and Creation behind and experience the Ego and the Mind as they ‘unravel’ themselves from the day’s events. Stage two: In ‘Dreamless Sleep’ (or deep sleep or unconsciousness) the Ego and the Mind are also left behind as we rest in our True Nature, the “I AM”, without Objects to perceive or conceive. Deep sleep is similar to deep Space – it looks black and empty, but Space is actually filled with light, filled with photons, but they lack Objects, such as planets, moons, asteroids, etc., to reflect against. “Deep sleep is not the absence of awareness, it is the awareness of absence.” (Vidyaranya Swami) The “I AM” remains constant during all three states of Consciousness: Waking, Dreaming and Dream-less sleep. “A secret truth – we experience Awareness 24/7.” (James Swartz) See: Dream, “I AM”, Objects and Truth.
Soul: Non-Dualism does not use this term, but would define it as a spiritualized version of the Ego. In Non-Dualism, both Soul and Ego are viewed as fictional entities. At the time of Death, the body, Mind, Ego and Soul all fall away, leaving only the “I AM”. “I like to spell soul, s-o-l-e, because there is only One.” (Charlie Hayes) See: Body/Mind Entity, Death, Ego and “I AM”.
Space: In Absolute Reality, Space does not exist. What need does God, a dimensionless Being, have for Space? Does He need room to move? Does He have some place to go? When we Dream of trees, mountains and oceans, how much Space do we require? The same can be said of God and His Dream of Creation. Space, like Time and Causation, only appears to exist within Apparent Reality. The apparent physical laws associated with Space (as well as Time and Causation) regulate all Objects within Apparent Reality. “Space is Consciousness objectified by perception.” (Rupert Spira) See: Absolute Reality, Apparent Reality, Objects and Time.
Stabilization: Non-Duality teachers describe the post-Awakening period as a time of Stabilization and ‘clearing’, as the Ego continues to assert its apparent existence. These Ego-based, personal storylines and emotional reservoirs, including Suffering, linger out of habit and attachment, but are weaker, resolve sooner and recur less frequently than previously. Eventually, growing disregard for and lack of reinforcement of the Ego by the Mind, causes Nescience to be fully extinguished. However, the end of the Ego-centric life does not mean the end of spiritual growth, which is never-ending for the Manifested. “There is an endless process after Awakening, in which the way we think, feel, act, perceive and relate is gradually realigned with that understanding.” (Rupert Spira) See: Awakening, Ego, Nescience and Suffering.
Suffering: 1) From the perspective of Duality: All Suffering is the result of Nescience, or misidentifying one’s True Nature as the Ego and Body/Mind Entity. This Suffering includes all the typical psychological, emotional and physical travails of human life, including grief, regret, sadness, fear, doubt, pain, disease and unfilled desire. Underlying these worldly causes of Suffering lies a more subtle discontent with life, itself, in the feeling that something is ‘wrong’ or ‘missing,’ along with the ever-present fear of Death. These are all caused by the sense of ‘separateness’ created by the Ego. If this discontent is recognized as an existential or spiritual malaise, it may lead one into Seeking. Most often, however, the cause is not recognized and leads one into the pursuit of Objects, which only perpetuates Suffering, as Happiness cannot be found in Objects. In both cases, Non-Dualism responds by asking the question: “Who is Suffering?”, “Who is Seeking?”, “Who is discontent?”, “Who dies?”, “Who was born?”, in order to lead the person to Self-Inquire about the Illusionary nature of the Body/Mind Entity, the Ego and Apparent Reality. The ultimate aim is for the person to see through Illusion and Awaken to their True Nature as Awareness. “There is sorrow in finitude. The Self is beyond time, space and objects. It is infinite and hence of the nature of absolute happiness.” (Shankara) 2) From the perspective of Non-Duality: There is no Suffering. There is no one to suffer. All of Apparent Reality is merely a Dream in the ‘mind’ of God. See: Apparent Reality, Awakening, Awareness, Ego, Happiness, Nescience, Objects and Truth.
Teachers of Non-Duality: The irony of a Non-Duality Teacher can be summed up in this quote from Kenneth Madden: “There’s no teacher, there’s no student. There’s nothing to get, there’s nothing wrong.” And this quote from Fred Davis: “It’s Oneness discussing Oneness with Oneness.” A partial listing of Non-Duality teachers, past and present: Adi Shankara (Hindu 788-820); Sri Vidyaranya Swami (Hindu c.1300-1391); Ramana Maharshi (Hindu 1879-1950); Sri Nisargadatta (Hindu 1897-1981); H.W.L. Poonja (“Papaji” – Hindu 1910-1997); Sailor Bob Adamson (Australian b. July 21, 1928); Tony Parsons (British); Robert Adams (American 1928-1997); Rick Linchitz (American 1947-2013); John Wheeler (American); Eckhart Tolle (German b. 1948); Charlie Hayes (American b. 1936); Rupert Spira (British b. 1960); Robert Wolfe (American); James Swartz (American b. 1941); Swami Sarvapriyananda (Hindu); Fred Davis (American b. 1953); Kenneth Madden (Irish); Jim Newman (American); Tess Hughes (Irish b. 1949); Et al.
That: A synonym for God. “Thou art That.” (Chandogya Upanishad) See: God, Non-Dualism and Truth.
This: (Also: ‘What is’) The Thoughts, perceptions, events and other Objects spontaneously appearing and disappearing within Apparent Reality. ‘This’ or ‘All This’ represents the sum total of what we Experience within Apparent Reality, which includes both Duality, which is Illusion, and Oneness, which is Real. ‘This’ may also be used to point out that our day-to-day Experience of Apparent Reality is the same for the Awakened, as it is for the pre-Awakened. It is only the Seeking Mind that hopes and expects Enlightenment to be extraordinary, rather than ordinary. All This does not change after Enlightenment. The only change is in our perspective and behavior. “There’s absolutely nothing to ‘get,’ as it’s already here, and it’s stunningly ordinary.” (Kenneth Madden) See: Apparent Reality, Awakening, Duality, Experience, Illusion, Oneness, Reality and Seeking.
Thought: Thoughts or concepts are Objects that appear within Consciousness. 1) Thoughts are mental words and images, i.e., symbols of information, generated by the brain. The brain is a mass of organic tissue or insentient Matter. The brain processes the words and images, but does not Know or understand them. That which has Knowing of Thought is Consciousness, our True Nature. Thoughts are not conscious, the brain is not conscious, only Consciousness is conscious. “Thought is not a necessary component of Consciousness – thoughts are only needed to function within duality and are, therefore, unreal.” (Robert Wolfe) 2) The source of Thought, the Mind, is finite, while our True Nature is Infinite. This means reason, Belief and thinking can only comprehend Objects, and cannot open the door to Truth. “The mind is a useful servant, but a poor master.” ( John Wheeler) 3) Thoughts, like all Objects, are projections on the ‘screen’ of Consciousness. Just as a movie actor is unable to see the screen on which he or she is projected, the Mind is unable to see its True Nature. “Abandon all concepts, beliefs and ideas – the mind can only tell you what you are not, you must go beyond the mind to discover what you are.” (Nisargadatta) 4) All Thoughts arise spontaneously, on their own accord and without Cause. We don’t ‘pre-think’ our thoughts, nor is there a ‘mini-me’ inside generating them. In truth, no one knows what their next thought will be. Can you choose only happy Thoughts to appear? Can you prevent an unhappy Thought from appearing? No. We can self-direct the area or topic of Thought, but not individual Thoughts. We do not initiate Thoughts, but we do have the power to ignore or deprive them of influence. Thoughts are neither you nor yours. “Ultimate freedom is when you no longer care what arises in the mind. You stop fighting it, manipulating it or even watching it. That really takes the wind out of the sails of thought.” (John Wheeler) 5) Thoughts are discontinuous, there are gaps between each one. Only Awareness (the “I AM”) is constant. “When your attention is off a thing and not yet fixed on another, in the interval you are pure being.” (Nisargadatta) 6) In the gap in-between Thoughts we have an unobstructed experience of the “I AM”. “In the gap between two thoughts, all differences vanish and we stand as One.” (Rupert Spira) 7) In the gap in-between Thoughts, we experience utter peace, profound silence and absolute stillness. “And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding . . .” (Philippians 4:7). “Understanding” meaning ‘Thought’. Therefore, “the peace of God” will never be found in our Thoughts, but only in their absence. 8) In the gap in-between Thoughts we discover the source of Intuition. “The next stage in the evolution of humanity is to rise above thought.” (Eckhart Tolle) 9) To demonstrate the power Thoughts have over us, ask yourself this question: “Is there anything wrong right now, if I don’t think about it?” (Sailor Bob Adamson). If you don’t think about them, all worries immediately disappear. 10) Thoughts are the single greatest barrier to Happiness and Awakening. “To remain without thought in the waking state is the greatest worship.” (Nisargadatta) See: Apparent Reality, Causation, Consciousness, Free Will, “I AM”, Intuition, Knower, Meditation, Mind, Objects and Truth.
Time: 1) In Absolute Reality, Time does not exist. It is a mental concept that exists only in our Thoughts, similar to the mental concepts of the equator or a nation’s border. The past and the future are mental concepts, as they exist only in our memory or in our imagination. 2) Time is relative, not absolute. This means Time requires something else, something perishable, something changing, in order to have the appearance of Existence. For example: If all the Matter (i.e., energy) was removed from the room you are now in, down to the smallest sub-atomic particle, leaving only a void, Time would vanish. The room would have no past or future, only Now. 3) Time is always moving from the past into the future, but is never in the Now. Eternity, on the other hand, doesn’t move. Eternity doesn’t budge an inch. Like God, Eternity has no place to go, as it is already everywhere, already Infinite. That is why Eternity is not endless time, but ever-present, ever-new Now. “Eternity is the unmoving clock face, while time is the constantly moving clock hands.” (Stephan) 4) Logic informs us that if Time is not Real, anything subject to Time is also not Real. 5) All Objects are subject to the apparent physical laws associated with Space, Time and Causation. “Time is Consciousness objectified by thought.” (Rupert Spira) See: Absolute Reality, Eternity, Existence, Illusion, Now and Objects.
Truth: (Also: ‘True Nature’, ‘True Essence’ or ‘True Self’) A synonym for Reality. Human Beings are not the Body/Mind Entities or Egos they believe themselves to be. Instead, our True Nature is the “I AM”. Human Beings and everything else throughout Creation are not individual Objects, separate from God and each other, but actually are God. All of Creation is God, appearing within God. The best analogy for this Truth is that all of Creation is God’s Dream. “Thoughts come and go, sensations come and go, feelings come and go, but that which remains constantly aware of these comings and goings is your True Nature.” (Rupert Spira) See: Awareness, Creation, Dream, “I AM”, Non-Dualism, Oneness and Pantheism.
Word: (Also: ‘Intelligent Vibrating Energy’) As described in the Book of John 1-4: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.” The Word of which John speaks, like all words, is sound, and sound is vibration, and vibration is energy. The Word described by John does not refer to words uttered by man, but the One, Eternal and Perfect Word spoken by God. This primordial Word that is God, that is Life, that is Intelligent Vibrating Energy, is the fundament of all Creation, the substance of all Objects, and comes together through the attracting force of Love to form particles, atoms, molecules, elements and finally everything we can see, feel, taste, touch, smell and imagine throughout Creation, which we refer to as Matter. Everything in this Universe is created from the same substance, the same source, the same Intelligent Vibrating Energy, the same Word that is Life, the same Word that is God. See: Consciousness, Creation, Life, Love, Matter, Objects and Oneness.