Stuck In Non Duality and Advaita
Sometimes I get emails from people who seem to be very confused and they are often not making much sense, meaning they are rambling and not easy to get a real grip on.
Usually these types of emails come from people in the Advaita and Non-Duality circles.
I can understand where they are because I know what it’s like to be in the space of pure awareness, in the nothingness and everything-ness at the same time, but those experiences if you will, are not permanent states.
I wanted to write this article to reassure these people who find themselves in those types of confusing states that it is a state, and that nothing in life ever stands still.
Things are always moving, even if we don’t consciously feel it or experience it in our lives.
In the awakening process there are so many different processes one goes through, and one of them is the realization of oneness with everything, I mean literal Oneness, not the Kumbaya-let’s-all-hold-hands-together-and-immerse-in-the-yummy-feeling-of-togetherness-type of thing, but the literal and radical experience of being one with life itself.
Because it is radical, it can even be a mind-blowing experience.
It can be really beautiful, but it can also be startling and even chocking for someone to experience this all of a sudden.
Even if the experience itself wanes off (as all experiences do) we are never the same again, because now we know that life is not what we thought it were.
Some people stay there for a long time, some others have more harmonious unfoldments to more spiritual growth in healthy ways, while some have even got institutionalized, because let’s face it; it’s not a very popular thing to do to go around saying you’re Christ or that you don’t really exist.
Our individual paths to self realization and oneness can look very different for different people but there are also many similarities.
What happens after a profound awakening and when beliefs and concepts has been seen through for what they are then there’s only the awareness of I AM left (and nothing else).
And in that awareness of just being I AM we dwell for a while, but then one day the transformation takes another shift and the mind gets transformed and the I AM comes “alive”, or it ‘wakes up’.
This is not the right wording, but that’s the closest way in which I can explain it.
It’s not like the I AM has ever been asleep, it’s more like when the mind gets emptied of falseness (beliefs etc) then there’s only the Truth of who we are left and that expression is the I AM.
So, at first we go though a period of complete deconstruction of the identity we have had around our former selves, the self we took ourselves to be (“the little self” in lack or a better word), and all our masks fall away, our labels falls away, the roles we play falls away and so forth.
And this has nothing to do with any false, “bad” masks or roles but it’s about the garments we all wear that has something behind the I AM attached to it.
I am this, I am that, this defines me, and so forth.
It all falls away, and all concepts and ideas we have about life fall away too, everything. Literally.
Even the concept of God.
And when all is gone (which can take years), that’s when we ‘end up’ (not that we’re “done” yet), in the pure awareness of beingness.
The naked I AM.
We just are. This is difficult to explain.
But there’s just beingness (or awareness) with nothing attached to it, there is nothing that defines it, there’s no description to it.
This can be very confusing for a person as they suddenly don’t see themselves as a person anymore.
“I am no one, nothing exists, but I am everything at the same time”. (Or, “I don’t know who I am anymore!”).
Now, this is where things can go haywire, at least from what I have seen through my own observations.
Some go crazy thinking they are the next new Messiah and that they are going to save the world (I have received those emails too), or they become this blissful, aloof looking new “Guru” and they even buy the robes and everything to fit the role, and yet all it is is a facade, yet another show. (Innocently of course).
Because it can be such a beautiful and transformative experience to realize your oneness with God/Life, many people get carried away with the experience itself and want to hold on to it for all they have.
Some even ask “how can I get it back?”
It’s like asking “how can I get that first kiss back?” You can’t. It was an experience. A beautiful experience, but it was ‘only’ an experience.
And awakening is not an ‘experience’, it’s an abiding, a beingness, but when the ego takes ownership of the experience the realization can not be firmly established because there’s more to come in terms of processes after the initial “awakening experience”.
It’s like the realization has been ripped off of the true self’s hands even before the process could begin.
Some begin to seek more spiritual experiences instead of the Truth itself; they get spiritual ‘highs’ and get all exited about them, or they try desperately to get more of them, thinking the experiences will ‘make’ them enlightened.
Others might become a follower to one of the Advaita and Nonduality Gurus out there and these are usually people I have seen suffer the most.
They cling to the teachers and Gurus, desperately looking for themselves while trying to get rid of their egos who they perceive as the Big Enemy number one, hoping that once it’s slayed they too will enter into that permanent blissful state of being “no one”.
There’s a lot of self-loathing, a lot of self-denial and self-condemnation going on.
Awakening is very real, yes it is, but the stereotypical Guru-scene is not a more enlightened scene that the most radical revival meetings, and will not do much for the person who is sincere in their seeking if they stay there for too long.
That too has to go eventually.
All the books and teachers will at some point have to go. We will feel this intuitively, that’s why learning to listen to our gut is crucial and by doing that we will always know when it’s time to move on.
Because truth is that we don’t necessarily become “more spiritual” by awakening.
That’s a myth.
We just “become” who we really are. (When all ideas has been relinquished then what we really are is what’s left).
Life is a moving and active process, it moves.
There’s no permanent state of never-ending bliss where you just sit smilingly on a mountain top all day long, flowing aimlessly while “letting life decide”.
That statement in itself is dualistic because it implies that life is something separate from you and that It decides.
For a while we do experience this flowing with life thing (having no goals or plans), yes, most of us go through this phase so there’s nothing wrong with any of this, it’s just a natural unfolding of the process.
But the awakening is a deepening process and the deeper realizations will at some point always jolt us out of any of the phases we go through.
Confusion will become clarity and so on, if we allow this to marinade itself in us.
So when we allow this process to unfold and not get too exited about the experiences we have, even if they are out of this world, we can then move beyond even the concept of Advaita and Non Duality altogether.
But I can see how people get stuck in the concept because there is the promise of Enlightenment and freedom from Self (with all its suffering).
Some stay there for a very long time, and many get more and more confused and miserable, trying so hard not to have an ego, or to attain unity with God, or thinking that by not wanting or desiring anything they are somehow spiritually evolved.
You get what I mean.
There are “rules” in the Advaita scene as well as in all other concepts and spiritual groups, and some of them are that you should not have any goals or desires (they do fall away, but not by conscious choice, it’s not an ‘ideal’ to try to attain), never think of the future because “there’s nothing to do, nowhere to go, and no one who is doing anything”.
Or you should never think of the past either because if you have a “story” then you’re really not liberated yet and even laughed at.
I have cringed inside when I in the past used to watch Satsangs and saw some “Guru” that literally ridiculed his/her followers and the rest of the group was laughing at a person who was clearly in distress about something that had happened to them.
And in some radical Non-dualistic circles they don’t even refer to themselves by using words like “I, me or myself” because that implies that there’s a “person” there and that’s a big no-no.
Anyways, this is not the “end” by any means.
We (hopefully!) move on from those things too as quickly as we have allowed ourselves to further growth and development – and don’t get me wrong; not all teachers and Gurus in the awakening arena are like that, there are some really great ones too.
What I would like to say to anyone who feels they are stuck in that kind of environment whether in actuality or in their own minds (through books, online Satsangs etc) is that I urge you to have a very sincere look at who and what this I AM is, what it really is.
It cannot be realized by external things like books, teachers or Gurus.
You have to continue go within, really deeply into the core of your being as if nothing else existed, and by that I mean you should look deeply within yourself as if even the awakening or enlightenment you seek did not exist.
You have to actually question that as well, even if it’s your deepest desire in life to have an awakening, even if there’s nothing you want more than becoming enlightened;
You must even ask yourself what is true about the whole awakening and enlightenment thing (the real Truth) and forget about any concepts or opinions or beliefs about what you think it is or might be, or what others say it is.
Then something will undoubtedly happen within you (as you continue going within) that propels you forward – because once again; life is a moving and living thing.
The I AM can, in the beginning of self realization be experienced as emptiness and nothingness and so forth, but as the emptying out of concepts continues (which includes the concept of awakening/enlightenment) there comes a day when you will, completely out of the blue, realize that oh my God;
I AM is the creative force of the universe, and I Am That!
And then you are free to be that which you have realized, knowing that God is free, God is creative (you are creative), and then life becomes beautiful and amazing.
And then you can look back and think “what a journey it has been! Phew!” and know that the saga continues, that there are so many wonderful things still to discover about yourself and life, so many experiences to enjoy in life, so many things to learn, to do, to share, to – I mean, I can’t even find words!
It’s like having all restrictions and limitations removed and you’re just enjoying life, knowing that the power within you (“God”), is who you really are, and that God loves living.
That pretty much sums it all up.
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