Friday, July 1, 2016
To practice or not to practice - nonduality notes - 1
I was reading a post on a Tony Parsons group, whereby someone questioned why TP seemed to be promoting 'his' message, and that it almost seemed evangelical. There was a response given by one of the members, detailing how 'this message' wasn't anyone's in particular, and that it differed from other nondual teachings.
The difference given was that most nondual paths involve 'doing and performing action in order to become more aware, more nondual, whole etc.', while with TP's message, the idea is that things are already as they are, and that you are just THIS. That's it. Nothing to do, and nobody to do it. Nothing can be attained that trumps this already existing perfection that is nondual unity. No practices are necessary, or effective.
My response to the above is both agreement, and disagreement, and a note that this (above) view of nondual paths that use practices, is almost always misconstrued by the neo-Advaita type do-nothing-nowhere-to-go crowd.
Let's set the record straight- practices in regards to nonduality and nondual teachings do not aim at attaining anything new. Nothing new CAN be attained apart from what already is. They are not aimed at developing the individual (as opposed to self-development trainings), although some training in basic attention or concentration may often be involved. This is because even to read this sentence, some training is needed by the apparent individual, and an amount of attentiveness and focus is required to contemplate. The same can be said for attending a Tony Parsons meeting, reading a book on nonduality, or sitting in a satsang with a nonduality teacher that advises individuals present to do nothing and cease seeking.
What nondual practices aim at doing is this: creating space for the apparent invidivual to awaken from the dream that he/she finds themselves in, and seeing that all of it was nothing more than a dream, an illusion, and case of mistaken identity. Nothing changes, and nothing new is attained. An error in perception, and belief (thought), is seen through. That's it. The rope laying on the ground that was mistaken for a snake, is seen as just being a rope. The snake never existed except as a thought/belief, and thus the idea/belief/perception that there was a snake, is dropped. Things are allowed to be as they always have been and always will be. The story that there was a practice to complete becomes just another part of the dream story that has ceased to take place along with the individual.
There is a big fat proviso however, in assuming that one need do nothing-- and it is this-- does the individual see the snake or the rope right now on the ground?? This cannot be reasoned away or thought about or intellectualised away. If someone sees a snake, and is in a state of fear, then yes, there's apparently some work that needs to take place!! Advising such a person that there's nothing to do sounds idiotic, even though it may ultimately be true. It shows clearly that such an adviser is working in a state of level confusion, and speaking a language that the receiver cannot understand.
Not doing anything in such a situation, or trying to intellectualise things in a nondual way is a huge ego trap that leads nowhere.. as many a burned-out nonduality student/teacher/former seeker can show. Being thus disillusioned with the teachings, who knows when such an individual will then approach the teachings again, or have another opportunity to awaken. Hence the admonition in traditional nondual paths to find a valid teacher, path, etc.
So yes, practice is important. It matters. Not for gaining anything, but for undoing the illusion of separation and individuality that seems to have taken place.