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The Great Nondual Wisdom Tradition

What is its Core Message?

The Play of Consciousness

The core message of what we and many others today refer to as The Great Nondual Wisdom Traditon can be difficult both to describe and to discern.

From time immemorial, this liberating truth-teaching has always been known and taught in the world, but until recently, only a few in each generation recognized it for the precious treasure it is.

Now this ancient wisdom is far more accessible than ever before and a steadily growing number around the world are discovering its riches.

History indicates that in different countries and cultures, the core teaching of nondual wisdom was apprehended by most, if not all, of the world's leading philosophers and religious luminaries. But usually, the truth they discovered was obscured by the formal doctrines, rituals and practices introduced by less spiritually aware followers and further distorted by the belief systems they instituted.

Religious beliefs and observances then became deeply intertwined with the cultural mores and practices of the time and this fact has made separating them at a later stage either from each other or from the all-but-lost core message next to impossible.

Moreover, when, by pure grace, the core message of the Nondual Wisdom Traditon is finally revealed to a seeker, their mind often revolts against it.

The conditioned mind, so used to seizing on thoughts or things, gets frustrated and even angry when confronted with the core truth that is actually neither of these.

Under the guidance of an enlightened mentor, the seeker will be shown that the core teaching goes beyond the mind and is apprehended by a kind of intuitive understanding -- by what could be called an understanding of the Heart.

On this page, we will try to give you, as clearly as we can, an indication of the core message of what is called,"Nondual Wisdom" and will point you to some helpful resources.

Nondual Teachings as Pointers to Truth

Most teachers of Nondual Wisdom stress that their teachings are not essentially true, since any language, that evolved for use in a phenomenal world, can never fully describe or encapsulate the Truth they speak of.

For example, the ancient Chinese Nondual Wisdom text, the Tao-te-Ching begins:

The way that can be spoken of is not the true way;
The name that can be named is not the true name...

Quite simply, it means that no matter how articulate you are, mere words can never fully describe God, the Universe, or the nature of Reality.

So, think of Nondual Wisdom teachings as simply pointers or signposts. They point you in a certain direction and and say, "Stop, and look for yourself."

The Core Message

Many traditions, including Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity, Judaism, Islam, and others, have nondual teachings and branches. These nondual teachings all point to the same core truth.

Or, as it's been said, "There are many paths up the mounatin, but the view from the mountaintop is ever the same."

The masters of our Nondual Wisdom Tradition teach that the source, course and goal of the spiritual 'path', including any traveler on that 'path', are but different aspects of one indivisible ultimate reality.

So the core message could be stated as ...

I am That, You are That, All this is That, There is nothing else but That, That is all there is.

The task of the seeker is to turn "That" into "This" by consciously realizing one's true nature.

Another way of stating the core message is simply ...

All there is is Consciousness. Consciousness is all there is.

In the statement above, you can replace Consciousness with God, Providence, Universal Mind, The Christ, The Buddha, Krishna, whatever (but not 'creation' or 'the phenomenal world').

The idea is that Reality is not two... there is actually no separation between you and God, or you and anything else (appearances notwithstanding). You -- and every 'thing' around or within you -- is simply God 'manifesting'.

Consciousness (or God etc.) can exist without the manifest universe, but the universe could never exist apart from Consciousness.

Now, when first encountering these teachings, the ordinary conditioned mind revolts, particularly from two implications.

First, nondual wisdom teaching seems to imply there is "no self"... you are simply part of the universe. But as it has been pointed out, this wisdom does not mean there is no self (body/mind/personality). It means that essentially there is no separate self divided off from the rest of reality. In the relative world ... the world we experience through our senses, however, separate forms appear to come and go in time and space.

The true Self or essential nature of all forms, and especially human forms or beings, is Consciousness. Each form is uniquely different, but according to the great Wisdom Tradition, each is an expression of the exact same infinite and eternal Consciousness.

So, it follows, Consciousness is not something we have, but rather That which we already and always ARE.

To illustrate, the metaphor of the ocean and the wave can be helpful. The wave represents the personal self; the ocean represents everything that is.

Waves exist, surely, but they do not exist separate and apart from the rest of the ocean. We -- and everything else -- are just part of one big ocean.

Second, the mind wants to know, "If everything is an expression of God, how can there be evil in the world?"

According to the great Wisdom Tradition, Consciousness or God manifests and contains within Itself all opposites including good and evil, right and wrong, joy and sorrow, justice and injustice etc.

But ultimately, Consciousness or God is an infinite mystery quite beyond all opposites that can be conceived of by finite minds.

There is simply an ISness about the unfolding manifestaton of God at any given moment and a highly complex interactivity and reactivity of forms but in reality it is simply a transitory movement within the One.

To go back to our metaphor above of the ocean and the waves, a set of waves may roll in toward a rocky coastline and smash themselves with enormous energy at the cliff-base ... disintergrating into shooting clouds of white spray etc.

One by one the waves seem to dissappear in a spectacular display of explosive noise and violence, but have they actually been harmed or lost? Of course not.

The water the waves were composed of is still there ... part of the ocean again as it always was and their energy is simply dissipated and will be used to form more water movement somewhere else.

When conditioned dualistic concepts are dropped (e.g. waves are quite separate from the ocean), the mind can bring us to the 'threshold' of nondual wisdom, but cannot take us through the door, so to speak. The final step/s, as it were, are not taken through intellectual comprehension or mental analysis, but rather with what the wisdom masters call direct seeing. (This is just as well for otherwise the joys of this wisdom would only be available to a gifted few rather than to us all.)

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The Play of Consciousness

We all know that in a play, the characters are played on the stage by different actors. Each actor plays a role for the duration of the play, then takes off the costume and the make-up and resumes their true identity.

But according to timeless wisdom, in the drama of life, so to speak, the One that we essentially are plays ALL the roles ... including the 'you' and 'me' characters.

If we took the metaphor further, we would see that One (the Absolute etc) is also the playwright, the theatre and the audience, but that's an aspect of the mystery we won't go into at this point.

The idea of an actor playing a character in a play can help us get our mind around the paradox that the "I" of our essential beingness is not identical to the personal "I" we usually think of when referring to 'me', 'my' or 'mine' in the world of forms.

Why is it paradoxical? Because just as the actor and the role being acted out are present on the stage at the same time, so we are both the infinite "I" and the persona it is temporarily acting out are present at any given moment in our life-experience.

It is also paradoxical in that, like an actor in the midst of a performance, we are not one (being both actor AND acted character) and, in the same instant, not two (for the actor IS the acted character). More on this here.

This seeming paradox is the basis of the foundational spiritual teaching that the unconditioned, limitless, eternal, universal Self is different from the conditioned, limited, time-bound, egic self (or little 'me'), though both are present in each of us. As for the actor and his/her character, the first is the source, sum and substance of the second, and, of course, never the other way about.

As long as we identify with our individuality, expressed as body, mind, personality, self-image, or even the continuity of our existence as a form, we are identifying with the phenomenal "persona" or social mask rather than the noumenal, or actual One playing the role of its character on the stage of worldly life.

Sometimes, when the action is particularly intense or dramatic, we may find the play of Consciousness so realistic, so convincing, it's quite difficult not to get completely carried away by the dynamics of our life-experience. Then we can get thoroughly caught up in the story, mistake the play for reality, and become enmeshed in the theatrical illusion.

The challenge always is to play our role in life with as much creativity, skill and passion as we can, given our situation, circumstances and responsibilities, without mistaking the personality being projected for our true personhood. In the analogy of the theatre, actors usually do not confuse themselves with the characters whose roles they are playing.

When awakening happens, we can see through the theatrical illusion that most other people take for granted as being real. We smile, because secretly we know Who or What is doing it all. We enter into the delight of giving the very best perfomance we can, but we never forget that everything is just the play of Consciousness ... the Consciousness that in essence we are!

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Don't try to understand what I'm saying. These are just pointers. I don't understand what I'm saying either.
Pointers point to the state of direct realization but they're not a substitute for it.

  ~ Eckhart Tolle

Other Nondual Wisdom Resources

For other resources on this site, see our pages on Teachers, Books and Links.

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