Non-duality: three experiential approaches

Non-duality (here, the experience of an absence of the split between "I" and "Not-I" ) is necessarily only a theoretical concept, when one meets it first. Our thinking in subject-object terms is firmly entrenched into our deepest self-perception.


So, to experience non-duality, inner and outer have to be mixed up.


Practically speaking, to mix up things in this way, one can meditate, or one can take psychedelics as a means to do so. Psychedelics, with a bit of luck, will give one the present of mystic experiences as a short path.


Diana Polekhina


In order to "grok" Buddhism and non-duality, one has to experience it in one´s mind as a living reality.


One has to experience, that awareness and objects are one and the same, or more precisely, that the seer, the seen and the activity of seeing are the same.


The easiest way, in my personal experience, maybe psychedelics (I encountered it in an Ayahusaca ceremony). But this assumes a bit of luck.


Or, one is just lucky without any substance, which happened to Byron Katie ("Loving What Is").


Or, one attends a Mahamudra retreat, such as the ones by the "Pointing Out the Great Way" group.


They use three pointing out methods to give the meditation student a taste of non-duality. It's not a promise of a permanently changed state, though. A taste is a one-off initial fleeting experience only. But, if one had the experience once, even as a taste, one never forgets. "One throws a stick at a lion only once" (Lion´s view).


Three ways of experiencing non-duality

Basically, all approaches use a kind of mixing or dissolving approach, using imagination, vision, or breathing.


1. Metaphors approach

The metaphor approach uses images, pictures, the visual imagination to let the student´s mind adopt a non-dual mode of viewing.


The most famous of these is the ocean and wave metaphor, where the student imagines to "be the ocean watching its own waves". Here, the ocean stands for awareness, and the waves stand for the mental events.


When executed correctly, the student has adopted a non-dual view, since he "is" now as well awareness and the events that are the appearances of awareness. The student meditates from the vantage point of the being the ocean, rather than being - say - "Peter".


2. Directly look into space and mix awareness with space

The "look into space" metaphors instruct the student in some way to "mix" their awareness with the external space. Eventually, the student will "be" a field of "knowing awareness", as the initially empty space will now be filled with the student´s knowing awareness.


Mixing or blending or mingling or uniting of awareness and space is a key Dzogchen practice. In fact, it is the root of Dzogchen practice. (Barth, P. (2017)

The simplest form can be like this:


Do this repeatedly:

  • Mix your awareness with space

  • Mix space with awareness

This method of mixing can use other forms. Sam Harris, for example, has used the following form (simplified form) that integrates breathing:


Do this repeatedly:

  • Look into space and see the visual field as totality

  • As you breathe in, breathe in the visual field and project it as a reflection into your mind

  • As you breathe out, breathe out your sense of Self into space


3. Switching mind perspective and event perspective

This method aims at repeatedly and often and fast switching between the perspective of viewing the mental universe from the position of "space" or "ground" , and then perspective of the arising events.


So, the repeated basic instructions are


  • "now switch the to mind perspective" (short pause)

  • "now switch to the event perspective" (short pause)

  • "now switch to the mind perspective" (short pause)

  • "now switch to the event perspective" (short pause)


Eventually the mind perspective and the event perspectives will collapse.


Resources


Quote

We have three approaches to non-duality. The first is called the metaphors approach. So just like the vast ocean and its waves are inseparable. The boundless awareness and all the lively expressed awareness are inseparable to like an ocean of its waves. That's an example of the metaphors approach. We also say sun and it's rains, the atmosphere is breeze.
The second way that we approach non derivatives called the direct pointing out of the. It's where you look directly into the space. You see that the space itself, the objects in the space. The knowing of the objects is one unified field of awareness. It's all one seamless unified field. That's called the direct pointing out instructions but you have to be in that vast ocean timeless change, this boundless awareness. .You can't just use those instruction from ordinary awareness.
The final way is the switch back and forth between the event perspective, and the mind perspective very quickly. So you take the mind perspective, it's like vast open space, you take the event perspective movement, you take the mind perspective, it's like stillness. Take the event perspective, it's like appearance by switching back and forth. Eventually what happens is those two perspectives collapse. (Dustin Di Perna 2022, Online Meditation)

Resources


Barth, P. (2017). A Guide For Mahamudra Meditation - Kindle edition by Barth, Peter. Religion & Spirituality Kindle eBooks @ Amazon.com. https://www.amazon.com/Guide-Mahamudra-Meditation-English-ebook/dp/B077JHGZ3P

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