Andrew: Peace and love everyone. My name is Andrew Hewson. I’m a spiritual teacher. I’m here with my friend David “Davidya” Buckland. David is an author. He has a book, Our Natural Potential. He also has a blog, davidya.ca, where he writes about explorations of life and enlightenment.
David and I have been having conversations, recorded conversations, for about a year now, and we’re back together this month to discuss non-duality. So I’m going to let David go ahead and start in our exploration of this subject.
David: Thanks, Andrew. Yeah, it’s a big subject, and it’s been spoken to for thousands of years. In the Vedic tradition, the foundation of non-duality comes out of Vedanta, the darshana, or philosophy of essentially oneness, of wholeness, of totality, a number of ways of talking about it.
The Brahma Sutra is perhaps the best-known text associated with Vedanta. The framing of Advaita, which means “not one” or rather “not two” or oneness and non-duality, the way it’s framed in a general kind of way these days was from an emphasis by Adi Shankara some hundreds of years ago.
He founded four seats of learning in the four directions in India. Each one of those seats of learning, Shankaracharyas, is based on one of the primary Vedas, the four Vedas, and one of the four Mahavakyas, or great sayings, “I am that, thou art that, all this is that,” and so forth. The key to understand here about non-duality is that it’s about oneness of all. It’s totally inclusive. This is not about feeling interconnected or some value of experiencing oneness with a lover or with an object of perception. This is on the level of being, where we actually are living, we’re living oneness.
Now we can have certainly have tastes of this at various points and and different flavors and experiences prior, but what oneness is pointing to, what non-duality is about, is that oneness in being. Now generally speaking, the process unfolds through the stages in consciousness. Initially, there’s a recognition of the Self by itself, known as Self-Realization, or Cosmic Consciousness, has various names, where that inner Consciousness, the capital “S” Self, recognizes itself. And this kind of creates an inner Oneness, but it’s still a duality, because there’s an inner oneness, but the world out here is still separate and distinct.
In time, in that stage, there is a refinement and purification process, and at some point there’s a recognition that the world is also the Self. It’s kind of like there’s a world appearance playing out on the screen around us, leading to all of our experiences, and the screen itself on which this is playing out, and from which those experiences are arising, is consciousness. And that consciousness is the same Self. It is myself. And when that is recognized in a level of our very being, there’s a shift and the sense of being a subjective observer and the object side are merged together into one wholeness of consciousness interplaying with itself.
And then with time in that, at a certain point, and there’s various ways this may unfold, but generally speaking, as we go deeper and deeper into that oneness and more and more layers are included, which is essentially the topic of the Brahma Sutra, all the various recognitions of of “that is myself” and “that is myself” and so forth, in various… because it’s the intellect in this process that’s become associated with consciousness and is recognizing itself.
And it goes through this process of recognizing until it reaches a point where it knows itself in its wholeness, in its completeness, and at every point within itself, to the degree that we can process that through a human physiology. But there’s a recognition of that functionality of wholeness. And then it’s kind of like consciousness has been looking in on itself the whole time, and it turns, it realizes that, you know, realizes this, and he turns and looks beyond itself. And then there’s a recognition of that which is beyond consciousness, and it turns out consciousness itself isn’t the completeness we thought it was, and there’s a transcendence into what is typically called Brahman in this context. And this is when even the subtle dualities of conscious and not conscious, existence and not existence, very subtle dualities are resolved, and Brahman is inclusive of all. This is total inclusiveness. And that is essentially what non-duality is about, this totality of inclusiveness.
But this is, you know, very difficult to describe. Most people are experiencing through the senses and through the mind and having separate bodies and they’re distinct from other things. And so just a general oneness in consciousness is a revelation, but a totality of oneness is beyond most conceptions. And it’s beyond words, because words are inherently concepts in the mind, meaning in the mind and so on. And so we can’t really put our heads around it, but because we are it, we can live it.
Anyways, that was kind of an extended introduction, but that’s kind of the broad context. If you really want to understand non-duality, you have to recognize the completeness of it, and what those old texts like the Brahma Sutra and what Shankara was speaking to was so much more than a simple, you know, experience of, passing experience of inner oneness in consciousness.
A: Yes, yeah, beautiful. Thank you for for that introduction. There’s a couple things that are reflected back here as you were speaking. The first thing is, as we speak about oneness, there are some that consider themselves expressing non-duality that perhaps would take issue with the term oneness, you know, on the basis that non-duality is a negation. So it doesn’t place any affirmative value on anything. Now, this is a certain perspective that’s present in the spiritual marketplace right now. And of course, oneness as a word has been abused, I would say to a certain degree. So I understand perhaps partially where it’s coming from because a word can get out there and just sort of be used within the realm of general propaganda or, you know, sales, marketing, and things like that and lose any sort of potency or power that it once had.
But the negation of duality is not the end of the story. You see, the recognition that there’s no duality doesn’t necessarily point to what there is. So there is what I would consider to be a partial recognition that is oftentimes in place that would see a term like oneness or any sort of acknowledgement of affirmative recognition or realization as potentially sort of being something that is inaccurate or just more mind stuff or something like that.
So I am basically getting around to the point that it’s important that we recognize what the term oneness is really pointing at, and you sort of brought it back around to that. It’s not merely a concept, it’s not merely a word, but it points to a direct recognition or realization that there is only one reality. Now what that one reality is recognized to be shifts, because initially that one reality can be recognized as the Self, the one Self, this one field of conscious awareness.
And it’s conscious awareness that recognizes itself as the all-pervasive field of conscious awareness. So it’s not something that any one realizes as an individual entity in that sense. It is the non-entityhood of conscious awareness that realizes itself as being the essence or the substance that is appearing as all of creation.
So that’s one level of oneness we could say. And there’s even qualitative variations within the context of that recognition that there is only subjectivity. And you sort of pointed to the possibility of there being the sense of the observing or the witnessing being what is recognized as real, the pure awareness seeing itself, yet that not being something that translates into the recognition of form.
And so there still seems to be a duality there. There’s still the sense that there’s a reality, and then there’s the unreal world, and that could even have different qualitative interpretations in terms of it’s unreal in the sense that it’s a dream or it’s unreal in the sense that everything that we thought it was isn’t what it is, you know we made all this stuff up and we created all these names for these objects and it’s all you know all just uh conceptualization of of this story of separate individuality, so it’s, I’m kind of just laying out the very broad spectrum of possible perspectives. And one of the weird things is, is that, and maybe not so weird, but I guess these days I think it’s kind of strange, is that there are all of these various perspectives or degrees of realization are kind of simultaneously playing out in YouTube land or in the spiritual marketplace.
And oftentimes they’re just considered to be kind of the same thing. Like there’s, you know, just maybe people are saying the same thing in different ways or something like that.
David: Yes, actually that’s one of the fundamental issues with modern interpretations of what Shankara had to say or Vedanta itself is this assumption. There’s a, in some circles, there’s a denial of stages of enlightenment. There’s this perception that there’s only one enlightenment, and anything beyond that is just a flawed understanding, an illusion, in various ways. There are also traditions like the Papaji lineage who recognize stages but don’t talk about them in defined ways and avoid speaking to them because it can generate concepts that can be a barrier to living them. And this is true. I mean, if we get concepts to, you know, we hold concepts ahead of the reality, we’re making the map into the road, and the map is simply a representation, concepts are just a representation. However, you know, you don’t deny the map to the person on the road either. And it’s important to recognize that if you’re going to be talking about Vedanta, it’s something that unfolds in stages. It’s not something that happens all at once. I mean, I’ve certainly seen people move into that place rather quickly, but I think six months is the fastest I’ve seen someone wake up and then go through the process into Brahman. Usually it takes some years and there’s an unfolding process.
And it’s ironic that the concept that there is no more stages is another concept that’s a barrier. So just in the same way that someone thinks, “Oh, there’s all these stages and they’re supposed to happen this way, and I’m supposed to experience these things,” that can be a problem. But on the flip side, thinking there is no such thing or that such things are a delusion are equally a barrier to the same process. The whole thing is we have to allow this thing to unfold with some value of innocence and surrender and letting it be as it is, because we’re moving into territory we’ve never been in and it’s certainly an upgrade and an improvement but the mind can never grasp what it hasn’t known yet. I mean, I could, if you’ve never tasted a dragon fruit, I could describe various, you know, aspects by comparing it to other things. The way, say, they describe how wines taste, you know, that it has a nutty or a fruity flavor or whatever. You can kind of point to things that way, but until you’ve actually experienced it, it’s just an idea.
So it’s very important here that we put it in the right context so that it’s not… we’re not assuming that that Vedanta is all pointing to the simple realization of the Self and that we can write off the world because it’s an illusion. I mean that’s just one perspective of the world.
D: Of a number of them.
A: Yes, yeah, beautiful point. And so when the term oneness is used here in this context and in these conversations is pointing to the direct, unwavering, obvious recognition that the entire environment is made out of the one Self that sees itself as the appearance of the world, that sees itself as the appearance of creation. And there is no sense of separation in that.
There’s not a sense of a separate person that is experiencing that and saying, “Oh, hey, I’m so-and-so experiencing that.” That doesn’t mean that there isn’t a personality and that there is, you know, life doesn’t continue to unfold. But it’s unfolding as that oneness flowing within itself. And that’s a particular stage, you and I would both say, and we have language for that concept, which points to the subjective realization that is being spoken of. So the concepts themselves are a non-issue if we recognize them as concepts and we hold them in a certain sense with care and attention. If there are disclaimers that are made, I feel that that’s really sometimes the most supportive way of allowing them to sort of be revealed in their essence, but at the same time not using language or not pointing to what is a directly realizable recognition of reality is not supportive.
Yeah, can leave this sort of empty blank space of incommunicable whateverness, you know, where nobody knows like, oh, it’s just all, you know, yeah, like that.
D: which the mind is very uncomfortable with.
A: It is uncomfortable with it. And so there is an intelligence in that sort of over, what I would consider to be oftentimes an over emphasis on non-conceptualization or sort of a heavy emphasis on non-conceptualization, but it really pertains to sort of the transcendence of egoic dominance, because the sense of self associated with the human ego is so, as you said, frightened by that. There’s a sense that there’s control and concepts, or that through intellectual acquisition or understanding that it is adding to its possibility of something, or sort of, you know, gaining power over something or whatever the case may be, you know…
D: it’s safer too.
A: Yeah, safer, safer. Yeah, there’s a sense of false sense of control. So then one of the, one of the ways in which that was sort of counteracted was through sort of the removal of the, the validity of concepts, you know, that it’s just whatever, it’s not, you know, that’s not it, whatever you say, isn’t it kind of thing. And that has its place. But when that goes on, indefinitely, then perhaps it’s…
D: and you’ve got a concept of no concepts
A: that’s exactly it, so it gets around to a new conceptual baggage that is the negation-based concept, the know this, that’s not it and then it becomes a sort of a self-fulfilling prophecy if you will, which really leaves a little room for flexible, fluidity within the realm of dynamic experience, and it can develop into a rigidity which may not be the most supportive of the fullness of life, we could say. So, do you have something to say?
D: Yeah, I also wanted to mention too that some people have the idea that somehow you have to understand this in order to live it, and you have to have it figured out. And some people don’t have strong intellects the way we do, as an example, and so there isn’t the same inclination there, but there can be the fear that if I don’t understand this, that I’ll never be able to live it. But in actual fact, such a person has less baggage to unload. And you don’t have to understand this in order to live it, because once it is lived, then the understanding comes. Because the deeper you go, the more inherent the intelligence is in whatever we’re experiencing, and the more alive and clear that is, the more apparent it is to us.
So at a certain point, they talk about sometimes as the inner guru, the, essentially experiences come with their own understanding at a certain point, and as we get confident with that and clearer and so forth, then there isn’t the same need for outside sources or whatever as well.
And so it just takes care of itself. But it’s just getting out of the entanglement of the mind, which is the biggest challenge on the spiritual path for many people, is that strong mind that, it has its advantages, but the mind is a very powerful tool, but it makes a poor master, and that’s kind of the role it usually ends up in for many identified egos when we don’t know who we are at a deeper level. The mind kind of steps in and tries to take over as the new master but tends to create its dramas and struggles and all kinds of issues.
A: Yeah, beautiful. It makes a poor master but a great servant, right? That’s the key. So in that sense, I find that it’s natural to sort of move towards some degree of reflective confirmation within the realm of human dynamism, whether it’s through a teacher or through some level of scriptural reference or whatever the case may be.
And as you were pointing to, not everyone is going to have the same tendency to move to express that in particular details or anything. And I would say that a part of the cases where it is expressed in a more sort of particularized or detailed way is that it then sort of provides a certain set of possible confirming mirrors within the realm of that which is ultimately the non-conceptual direct experiential recognition of what is being pointed to.
So there are those that appreciate your blog and what you’re putting forward, and they understand what you’re writing about through their own experience. They may not be expressing it verbally in the same way or interested in putting it into details in the same way, but they appreciate that that’s taking place there. So it’s sort of a supportive.
D: Which has been a surprise. [LAUGH] It wasn’t something I was expecting. To have some facility with words. But it’s just kind of what started. And that kind of started flowing out. Well, the writing process started happening a few months, a couple of months before I woke up, actually. It was kind of a precursor in a certain way.
And then I started the blog a few months after that. It was very curious, the last thing I expected here. It’s one of those things, you know, there’s these concepts we develop about, you know, I studied this stuff for years before I woke up and had all these concepts about what it was supposed to look like and so on.
I already recognized that some of them were a little faulty because, you know, for example, that I witnessed for many years before I woke up and that was supposed to be part of, you know, you know, according to the concepts, we’re supposed to be part of waking up.
And it was, you know, some of the refined perception stuff that can unfold for people, you know, that unfolded here long before I shifted as well. And, but there were still lots of concepts. And so there was this, you know, for me, there was this throwing out my conceptual baggage with the shift to allow it to be as it was. And then gradually, the mind brought it back again in the new context and with much better understanding. And you don’t recognize you’re doing that, but you’re hearing a speaker and adding these concepts from wherever you are at the time, and we add this kind of, these ideas which can give us some framework and some general understanding. There’s still value in that study and pointing at reality, but we have to carry it lightly, so to speak, which isn’t always easy to do for a strong mind.
But just recognize that that’s how we understand something today is not how we’re going to understand it in the future at some point. It’s going to evolve, and so not to be too fixed or rigid about it. And you know, you get a little too much of that thing and you get into discussion groups and stuff where people are talking about non-duality and there tends to be a lot of, you know, like, “This is the way. This is the only way. And I’m right and you’re wrong. And, you know, I have the better teacher. This teacher has, you know, this experience in this lineage. And this teacher has this experience in that lineage.” And yeah, there’s there’s a little too much of that going on.
A: Yeah, yeah, that’s a great segue into something else that I wanted to go over, but I also just wanna kind of go back to the expression and language and conceptualization piece just for a minute, ’cause that’s something that I value to a certain degree in terms of our ability to communicate, higher values of reality and to do so clearly and without feeling limited, you know, and or, you know, a stickiness around them.
And I feel that for humanity, as the collective level of conscious experiencing continues to evolve, that that will become increasingly relevant. At the same time, we’re going to be passing through this sort of emptying out stage where our mistaken value of concepts is being sort of undone.
And that’s what a lot of the sort of more modern interpretations of quote unquote non-duality tend to emphasize in the sense that everything is sort of negated as being just a story or just a thought or just a belief or just a narrative. And that’s true within a given context, but there’s also no context given when they’re saying that. Just as a little side note there, it’s referential to that which is based in the illusion of separation. But if we are directly tasting the separationlessness of reality, then our ability to speak and express isn’t somehow completely undone and forever removed because this whole, you know, human experience is largely stratified in different levels of seeming separation in the sense that things are something that they may not actually be on a more essential plane or from a more essential recognition.
So the capacity to speak and to express and to hear is something that has the potential to be in alignment with truth. It has the potential to be in alignment with clarity. And yeah, there’s going to be a period for all of us on what seems to be a more individuated level where we are passing through the purification of where that has been out of alignment or where that hasn’t worked or where it has been mistaken and then you know through that witnessing a new found freedom being being born forth and then that also takes place on a collective level so accuracy is possible particularly when the language is aligned with a direct experiential energetic resonance as it is being spoken. So i can give an example…
D: And there’s a key thing in there, just to touch on, that’s so important. The vast majority of people have that initial shift of waking up from being a me or a person into recognizing that they’re actually this cosmic Self or there’s a number of ways that might be experienced but that shift into Self-Realization and recognizing they’re not this individual local person. For most people that’s catalyzed. There’s no reference point in their experience for awakening, and so for them the trigger is usually, maybe not at the time, but sometimes at the time, and sometimes a little after, but the trigger is usually a teacher, or someone who’s awake, speaking from the Self to the Self in the person. So speaking these pointers to the understanding and for some what that does is the mind relaxes and it is willing to let go because it feels like it’s appropriate and safe and, like we talked about before.
And for others, it’s just like the little click goes, and then there’s this shift, and the Self sees itself, and the recognition happens, and then there’s quite often a release of some kind, crying, laughing, both, and that “aha” moment all kind of mixed together.
And it just takes a moment, but there’s often a pointing and a catalyst that’s in there, and it kind of comes together at that point. So there’s a value in having the framework to support the unfolding so that we’re supporting what we’re experiencing. And so when something, some strong experience comes up or some new unfolding comes up or whatever, we have a bit of context for what’s unfolding. We don’t get in the way of it and we’re able to support it.
But also on that deeper value that potential for a shift to take place.
A: Yeah, beautiful points, beautiful points. I was just going to give a little example of the alignment of language with direct energetic resonance. Yes. And then I’ll say something else about that.
So a term like pure awareness can be said like, you know, pure awareness, or it can be said pure, silent, changeless awareness, full, vibrant, conscious presence.
That quality-less, no-thingness, which is prior to this full, vibrant, conscious awareness.
Pure, radiant, supreme Divinity.
So those are different possibilities for language being aligned with different recognitions of reality.
D: Yes, and if you come to that purely with the mind, because that’s so habitually, somebody speaking so we have the mind there listening to interpret the words and if we hear it only on the level of the mind it’s like why is he talking funny but if we’ve cultured enough presence or transcendence, however you want to frame that, to be there, then there’s that potential for that to hear and a whole different thing can kind of unfold.
A: Yeah, beautiful. The other point that kind of ties back into just walking through that together is that there are different aspects to infinity. And you and I have spoken about this many, many times in reference to the masculine aspect and the feminine aspect.
D: Yes, I wanted to bring that up.
A: And then there is that which is prior or beyond both the masculine and the feminine aspects of the Self.
D: Again, uniting into oneness.
A: Yes, into oneness. And then there is what I would consider to be the only reality, which is pure Divinity. And pure Divinity is actually what appears as nothingness or quality-less-ness, pure awareness and conscious presence or the feminine.
So that just gives some context for non-duality because in each of these different sort of prevailing conditions, there is a recognition of separationlessness, we might say. And as you pointed to, there can be some variations in that in the sense that there could still seem to be certain things that are not included. And that the totality of inclusiveness sort of really reaching its fullness in the recognition that what we are is actually the source of conscious awareness, the source of the infinite field of divine light.
A: So in the expression of what is currently considered non-duality, sometimes it’s coming from what I would consider to be a pretty basic, initial shift that’s characterized by the negation of the sense of a separate self.
And so therefore, any kind of talk about an infinite Self or even conscious awareness is oftentimes negated as there is no awareness, there is no consciousness. Those are just, you know, there’s just no person. There’s just no separate knower or separate individual. And, and I would say that even someone that’s been sort of indoctrinated in listening to that over and over, maybe would hear us speaking right now and presume that there’s just, you know, separate people here talking about this, all this maybe fanciful stuff about what they think non-duality is, but we’re, we’re really deluded.
D: Yeah, I’ve certainly gotten that.
A: Which is totally fine. It’s totally fine. But in case anyone may be was interested. The possibility, I would just say that I experientially seem to pass through a stage very early on where there I tasted that sort of what I would consider to be the rendering of the conceptual level of ego identification, sort of vacant or, or unreal. And in that, what basically shows up is kind of the sense that there’s still, there’s still form, there’s still you know, what may be even considered to be an objective world. But there is no individual knower, there’s no individual self knowing that or experiencing that. And there’s no doer, so things are just happening.
And whatever appears just is, there’s no reason for it. There’s no meaning for it. There’s no value to it because there’s no separate individual that really would value it or see any meaning or significance.
And if there was that, then that’s just an illusion or a projection of a separate individual that isn’t actually there.
Okay, so we get the kind of basic picture. But the, and I believe that I tasted that condition for a reason in the sense that it was so that it could be potentially useful to those that may be mistaking that to somehow be some sort of final realization, or something ultimate at a later point, which is what we’re here now speaking about. Useful in the sense that I’m able to speak from having passed through that and through grace, not have gotten stuck in that particular space, where it does seem as if basically it’s all about the whole story of awakening or spirituality or whatever, you know, kind of is rendered like a just a big story, just a big narrative, because there is no one to awaken, there’s no one to anything, there’s no one to pass through stages, there’s no one. And one of the, one of the wild things is that even, and this takes place, I mean, there are teachers that are expressing this, that even like,
the thousands of years of, you know, spiritual traditions and lineages are kind of dismissed as being just nonsense stories, like, you know, all of the great scriptures are kind of written off as being somehow just referential to, you know, some entity that isn’t there or something like that and it can, it’s really wild because it can be such a sticky situation, particularly if you’re teaching that or sort of regularly speaking that and people are biting at the hook that’s being put out there, so if yeah…
D: I just want to say that that I myself also had a sense of ego death. Not everybody does, but some people experience a sense of ego expanding to become cosmic, or there’s a devotional surrender or something like that. But here there was a sense of ego death, but what became clear in a bit of time was it wasn’t actually the ego as a function that died, it was the identification with the ego as who I was. So the ego as a function was still there, kind of like my thumb is still there. There’s still a function and it’s still needed so that I know where my foot is relative to the floor and the stairs and you know, I can I can walk up the stairs without falling down. And there’s still, you still need a sense of person in that kind of context. And so to be able to talk to someone in a semi-normal kind of way, and you know, function in the world. It’s just that that’s no longer the center. The center falls back into the universal consciousness and then deepens progressively further.
But yeah, but it’s useful to mention, you touched on the masculine feminine part. Because the stages that I outlined earlier were the masculine process in consciousness. And those can be experienced in a very flat and dry kind of way like you’ve been pointing to, at some of the occasions, but when you bring out that feminine side, the aliveness, the liveliness, the tendency to express within consciousness, there’s this whole other side of the process that opens up.
And it really depends on the practice, and that’s one of the reasons I recommend the practices I do, is they help not only with with that touching into consciousness, but they help refine the process in the interim. And also, you know, I recommend healing emotionally and energetically, because we tend to carry a lot of baggage that’s also reinforced in our culture. So usually we have have to do a little bit more targeted healing approach to clear out our energetic baggage, which acts like a veil, covers up the layers between that inner consciousness and our surface experience. And it just, it shifts everything from being this kind of dry, flat, emptiness into a fullness. And space is alive. It’s not just an emptiness, it’s actually, it’s an alive fullness. And there’s also this quality that each of us has our own unique blend of laws of nature that are functioning through this body-mind. And so it’s kind of bringing out a different experience of wholeness, of the totality, and it’s adding that to the whole.
It’s like our unique contribution to the whole is through just experiencing our life and our unfoldment. And that brings out this other way of experiencing. And it’s all part of the one whole, and so it adds to that one wholeness. So there’s real value on the other side of that. And there’s the whole unfolding of the feminine side, we’ve talked about in other conversations, that’s an important part of the process to fill it out.
And actually, modern Advaita conversations usually leave out the later part of Shankara’s teachings. His early teachings were much more pure intellect and kind of dry and so on. He was a profound debater and so forth, but in the latter part of his life, he had an unfolding of the feminine side and recognized the Divine Mother and wrote beautiful poetry and so on like that.
So it’s kind of like this, the ideal unfoldment is both the mind, the intellect and the heart, or the masculine and the feminine, to bring them both along. And we each have our own mixtures and emphasis and we go with what’s here.
But it’s nice to be able to round out and balance that a little bit if we recognize that possibility is there.
A: Yeah, yeah, that’s a beautiful point. There’s another kind of what I would consider to be a misperception surrounding the idea of the direct path. And so non-duality is associated with being this direct path, like the pathless path, the stepless step, all this kind of negation flip around language.
I use it myself, I’m not putting it down, it has its place. But it oftentimes presumes that any sort of application or practice as you were just pointing to is somehow useless or limiting or yeah, a trap or something like that. Because it just supports the sense that there’s someone doing something or someone moving in a certain direction or whatever the case may be. And that kind of ties back into what I was saying about the uselessness of traditions and all of those different things, potentially different, strange perceptions like that.
So one of the things I’ll clarify, although I did sort of taste that, what appeared to be kind of semi-objective, empty of conceptual identification space, The initial shift here is very much a feminine shift. So it was more of a devotional sort of unfolding or flowering, if you will. And then I was able to taste the masculine variations in the context of that. And sort of, it was a back and forth, you might say, in terms of presence, more presence and more absence-based recognitions of reality.
So, and the masculine tends to be on the absence-based side. So any kind of absence-based teaching typically is characteristic of a masculine shift. Now, even in that context, I would say that a lot of times there isn’t what I would consider to be a true recognition of the masculine aspect. It’s a negation of the mental or conceptual level and the story stops there, period, that’s it. And so there are teachers teaching from that space. It doesn’t mean that they see that they’re infinite. All they see is that there’s no, that there isn’t a finite entity. That’s, that’s it. And, uh, so.
D: Kind of boring to me.
A: It is very boring. It’s very boring and dry, but at the same time, one of the things I think it revolves around, David is the selling of the end of suffering. And so that’s kind of worth touching on, is suffering in general, you know, throughout, throughout the ages has been utilized, as a sort of motivating factor, perhaps, you know, in certain in a certain context to move towards the possibility of not suffering. There’s different, you know, motivations as well, such as love, and commitment, and those things. But one thing that I’ve noticed in the current non-duality marketplace is that there tends to be some sort of a transactional appeal taking place within the possibility of the one that seems to be suffering being gone or removed, the me that seems to be suffering being seen as an illusion.
And so when these certain teachings are pointing to the fact that there’s no one there, there’s no one suffering, that’s not going on, that’s an illusion or whatever, it can provide some false sense of temporary relief, almost like some pressure is being let off. So it’s like if you’re listening to these repetitive hammerings of negation, it can allow for there to be a sense that somehow things are better.
In the sense that there just seems to be the clinging to or the glimpse of something being cut through that was being assumed, the clinging to whatever is being expressed within the realm of negation. But there’s no real lasting peace being found. There’s no real lasting bliss being found. There’s no true unfoldment of potential, of what the human lifetime really holds as a possibility.
And so in that sense, I would say that they tend to perhaps be not necessarily in alignment with truth. They can be within the field of sort of peddling this false idea of relief or whatever the case may be, a false sense of relief. That’s not always going on, but I have a sense that it is to a certain degree.
D: Yeah, there is certainly the idea of spiritual bypassing that has become well-known more recently where people are using spiritual practices or spiritual concepts or approach to avoid their issues, to avoid their life, to run off to the ashram rather than deal with your need to choose a career or to deal with relationships or, to buy into that negation framing because then you can just dismiss all your experiences as irrelevant. And there’s a certain value in taking them less seriously and not buying into the drama in the same way. But as you mentioned, when you take them too far and then use them as a negation of your dharma, of why you’re here, then you’re basically just getting in the way of, you’re actually creating suffering, essentially. Maybe not directly, but at some point it has to be faced.
A: Yeah, well it all comes back around to balance. I mean there’s a place for for negation and negation is very powerful and it’s gonna be very supportive in our unfoldment in certain stages, but if it’s not complimented by that which doesn’t just leave it at negation, but also folds back in and attentively allows the residue of what has been seen through or what has been rendered ineffective through seeing that it’s not what it seemed to be, then it’s going to just end up with that flat, dry, empty sort of…
A: Flavor of, and I’m working with folks that are coming from a space of whateverness, what’s the pointness, meaninglessness, and because they’ve heard in our talks, even sometimes about the feminine, something is stirred in them.
And, but they’re coming from the space of like, you know, I don’t know, I’m just in this place where there’s just whateverness, meaninglessness, pointlessness, and oftentimes that’s characteristic of just a lack of balance in the context of both the feminine and the masculine. So when we speak about practices and application, these, you know, I also prescribe certain methodologies that I feel to be supportive and they involve healing and allowing and transmuting and observing and those kinds of things.
D: There can be also a place where, as you’re approaching a shift, the first shift, where the old drivers of the ego that were motivating your life are falling away And so there can sometimes be a flat period in the approach. I mean, we shouldn’t expect that. It really varies widely, but it is one of the symptoms sometimes that happens.
It happened here, where what used to drive the bus has gotten off the bus, so to speak. And but the actual identification hasn’t yet broken. And so there’s kind of like this draining of motivation and desire to get things done or whatever, and what do I do with my life kind of a thing. And there can be that, but that should be a temporary phase as long as there’s appropriate spiritual practices and you don’t kind of buy into that as a new, “this is the truth” way, kind of the true way of being.
Because at some point, especially if there’s some feminine being cultured, at some point the deeper movement of consciousness itself and the laws of nature and so forth move to the fore and start moving into life. Because once we get out of the way, then it can move through our life. But if we’re kind of partly out of the way, but not quite, then it’s kind of not quite moving through yet. So there can be a kind of transitional period there.
But then life just happens through us. And it’s a whole different, it’s a very different experience of life. Same life in many ways, but just a lot smoother and a lot better, a lot more feeling of support, because it’s just like what’s moving through is supported and finds expression.
A: Yes, yeah, beautiful point. Of course, it is going to take place where the things that were pulling us forward or pushing us, seeming to push us forward, being sort of seen through or emptied out, are leaving us in a space of just feeling as if we don’t know what to do or what the point of doing the things that we once valued would be anymore.
And there are different, there are even different degrees of that, you know, we can go through, like a supreme whateverness that sort of is present in reference to, you know, the quality-less nothingness being dominant and different stages. And that’s very appropriate, the emptying out aspect has its value, that level of intelligence has its place has its value, because we’re moving from being motivated by our own control mechanisms and belief systems and programs that were referential to this false sense of separation into being motivated by the commitment to truth and love and the flow of bliss and those kinds of things.
And there’s lots of different seasons that we go through. There’s different cycles, you might say, and stages, and all those are to be acknowledged. But it’s when one is singled out and sort of taken to be the only possibility that it potentially becomes an issue.
So, being emptied out is beautiful, but being filled up is also beautiful. So, were being emptied out to be filled up.
D: Yeah, and nothing is ever lost in this process. It’s like the fuller value of it is gained because the same laws of nature are still functioning here, but they can be upgraded, so to speak, and come from a bigger place.
Yeah, one idea that’s, you know, just looping back slightly, but one idea that’s interesting in the tradition, particularly associating with the Unity Stage, but it also has relevance right through there, is what’s called “leisha avidya,” which basically means “the remains of ignorance.” And the basic idea is that, well, they talk about it like picking up some butter and then putting it down again. And you get a film of butter on your hands.
And when you have infinite consciousness established and expanding into all the layers of being, it’s still being lived through this body-mind. I mean, you can call it a person, but it’s not a person in the same way it was a person before awakening. But there’s still a value of a human here. And indeed, I mean, in the Brahman stage, I touched on near the beginning, which sets the stage for Pure Divinity to be known, that essentially requires a human, an embodied human to go through that process. And so, essentially there has to be this small ignorance there. I mean, we as a human can experience a remarkable range of creation, but we’re still a mechanism that experiences one thing at a time. It can be a very, very big thing. Infinite, in fact, but it’s still the one thing.
And well, our mechanism isn’t such that we can kind of do everything, all of it simultaneously. That’s kind of the purview of the divine. But we can still bring out, like I talked about earlier, we have this unique combination of laws of nature to bring out some value of wholeness.
And as we grow more and more into this, we can do that more and more effectively. But it comes through the filter of these laws of nature, these, I wouldn’t say limitations, but this framework. And it has its contextual frame, and there’s certain limitations to it, you know. It’s not what’s dominant. What tends to be dominant is where our skill areas are, where our emphasis is. And, whereas other people will have somewhat different…
We’ve touched on this before also, where you know, mentioning Dorothy Rowe, for example, as a natural energy healer. She has those kinds of laws of nature and that emphasis has led her to unfold certain layers of creation in more detail because those are the ones she works on to help heal personally and collectively.
Whereas I have some overlap with that, but my emphasis is on a different region, so to speak, and I’ve brought out different kinds of things and the laws of nature here are very different in certain ways. And so, and then you again, the same, you have your own flavor and laws of nature.
And so one way of looking at that is as our faint remains of ignorance, our faint limitations that we have as being a human, but unless we have that context of being a human, we’re not able to unfold in this way. I mean, in a post-human lifetime, evolution is still going on, there’s still a soul unfolding, but the context and the platform is different. And so the stages we’re talking about are very specific to an unfolding human in this space and time. I get a little bit cosmic there, but…
A: That’s great. That’s a part of the gift of human life, right?
D: Yeah, exactly. But that’s the potential. So it’s like the human life is a limitation in a certain kind of way, but it gives us this platform, this profound platform that gives us the ability to reflect aspects of Divinity in a way that I never expected, that was beyond my conception before. And I’m sure there’s more yet to unfold.
A: Yes, I’m also quite sure there’s more yet to unfold here every day.
D: Every time, you know, several times there’s been like, oh, this is the ultimate reality. (laughing)
But it’s like, well….
A: Yes, exactly. It’s an ever deepening, complete yet in process unfoldment. And I just wanna go back to my mention of the direct path, ’cause I don’t feel like I really clarified there.
A: in terms of something being direct, it doesn’t mean that there isn’t the room for application. It doesn’t mean that there isn’t still dynamic expression. I think the basic misconception comes from where someone, identification with the ego has become one of the seeker or the sort of the aspirant, which is trying, trying very hard to get somewhere and to do something or to see something or whatever the case may be.
And so there ends up being this kind of burnt out seeker identity, this kind of fried, tired, some one who’s been doing this for this many years or been looking here and there and still hasn’t seen something or still hasn’t realized something, whatever the case may be.
And it’s understandable that there would be a sense perhaps of lack or frustration or discouragement or whatever the case may be. And then in that there would be an attraction to a very, what could be seen as a very sort of uncompromising way of pointing or speaking, which eventually negates or undoes that whole movement.
D: Yeah, there’s also the tendency I’ve seen where people looking for results or wanting it faster or whatever, that they start to chase experiences.
D: And so they start to look at the next big thing, the special spiritual teacher coming through town, you know, and going off and learning a new technique, a new and different mantra and a different practice and a different thing or even you know it has become fashionable to go after hallucinogens. But what’s really important to understand is this isn’t about experiences. A spiritual practice is about culturing the ground so that there can be shifts in being and recognitions of who you are to deeper and deeper levels.
And chasing experiences is just chasing the mind, basically. The mind is very oriented towards the senses looking out and to having experiences. And so when it’s not seeing experiences, a lot of spiritual stuff is very subtle, a lot of development goes on very quietly in the background. That’s a good thing. You don’t really want a rough path.
So there’s the tendency to start chasing experiences when the mind is leading the bus and then people go off and you know, teacher of the day and some of that stuff can be hazardous. And you don’t make progress by meditating a little bit this way and then a little bit that way and a little bit that way. A devoted long-term practice is far more effective.
A: And you also don’t make progress through saying that there’s no progress to make intellectually and believing that. So there’s you and I both, we just kind of gave the whole spectrum. There’s this side, which tends towards the total negation or sort of rendering it ineffective or meaningless of any kind of possible anything in reference to spiritual application or teaching or anything. There’s nothing to teach. Then on the other side, there are those that seek experiences and go from teacher to teacher to teacher and new things and new mantras and new techniques and new wonderful Shaktipats and things like that or whatever.
So there’s both categories in there and I’m sure that some from this category slide over to this category from time to time or some from this category, whatever, you know, it’s just it’s all innocent and a part of the unfoldment.
But there’s another possibility and that’s that the motivation isn’t being driven from lack. It’s not coming from lack. We can be given to something. We can be given to the spiritual path or the pathless path or be given to truth without feeling that it is a transactional exchange. And that’s where the frustration is rooted in. It’s from, it’s rooted from a lack-based transactional understanding of realization. And enlightenment is not the end of seeking. That’s not enlightenment. That’s not the definition of enlightenment.
Seeking may not be there, but that’s not what enlightenment is pointing to. Enlightenment is the realization of the reality of pure Divinity.
D: Yes, and it’s not a goal in itself. It’s a platform for living. It’s a different perspective we can bring to life, which makes it a lot more beneficial.
A: It’s also an expression of grace.
A: So the grace of that same Divinity that reveals itself as the one reality is realized to have been what has been unfolding itself the whole seeming way, whether there was the seeking or meditating or whatever. It’s all been the unfoldment of this grace.
D: Yes, and it’s a beautiful thing when you can see it in retrospect, you recognize the hand of grace coming in and at the appropriate time, but grace moves in the context of the whole. Grace isn’t about what I want or what, you know, the right time for me and my schedule.
It happens when it’s best for the whole. And when we do spiritual practices, we’re preparing the ground so that when grace arrives, it’s something we can sustain. Because otherwise, if we don’t, you know, if we negate practices and don’t prepare the ground, then grace can show up as expected at some point, but the ground may not be ready to support it. So there can be some opening and then we fall back in the mind again because the softening hadn’t been done enough.
And it’s such an important thing. And so there’s, I mean, you get patience as you get further along the path because you can see the hand of the divine in this process, in moving things forward.
When you stop trying to be the doer, then, when the doership falls away with awakening, then you start to see the much deeper flows of life through you and through those around you, and life itself. And you see there’s this profound intelligence in the way the world is unfolding, the way the world operates. And it’s not, yeah, it’s not, it’s so much better than you could plan or figure out or do yourself as an individual. And so, you know, from that you get a lot more confidence and trust in the process.
So yeah, prior to that it can be frustrating and yeah, it can be, we don’t see that yet, it can be, it can be challenging, but it’s just, you know, you just essentially have to choose a good path and be consistent and patient, and know that it’s unfolding as it should. I mean, if I look, you know, from my perspective, I look back at, you know, just how things, the world itself has unfolded since I was young. It’s amazing, you know, the changes.
One of the examples I sometimes give, for example, one of my teachers before my time, he used to have people, they send them to the room to meditate and do these cycles of meditation and yoga asana and pranayama and stuff over and over again for like 12 hours. And that’s just to try and break through their own stuff, but also the collective, because it’s much easier to support yourself in a bigger space when the collective is supporting that too. You’re not being dragged down by it so much. And then, by the time I came along, we were peaking at about, I guess, eight rounds, they call them, in a day, cycles of meditation in a day. And nowadays, they do three, maybe four, I would imagine in some scenarios. And there are people in a kind of more monk’s lifestyle who perhaps do more.
But the critical thing is to dip in and then come out and bleach the cloth, so to speak, in daily activity to integrate it. It’s not just about escaping off into the transcendent, into consciousness. You want to bring that forward into your life. And so it’s an integration of those two together. And that’s the process of stepping into silence and then out into activity and then into silence and out into activity and kind of repeating that cycle. And that prepares the ground, that softens attachments.
And it’s, you know, the point of practices here I’m talking about, a lot of the practices out there are about control of your experience in some way. Control or focus in meditation, or you’re walking around in your life, you’re trying to be mindful all the time and kind of create this mental division, unless there’s enough presence.
Mindfulness can be very useful as a practice, but it tends to, you know, my experience here is it tends to arise spontaneously and naturally when it’s appropriate. When you try to use it in your day-to-day life, if there isn’t enough presence established, essentially it’s the mind trying to manipulate its own experience. And that’s just a control way. And so that’s where some of the, I think, some of where the, you know, people are rejecting practices because they’re just, you know, more of the person trying to control their experience.
But there are forms of practice that are that emphasize effortlessness and non-control. And, you know, those tend to be more effective.
A: Yes, so it’s not throwing out the baby with the bathwater. That’s kind of what tends to happen in that context.
D: Yeah, yeah, but you got to be careful too because even there people can, you know, buy into, you know, I practice the superior meditation and I’m very evolved because I have long practice and all this, you know.
A: Yes, yes, that of course, and that’s within the realm of what I would consider to be the spiritual ego or the identification with being a spiritual person and that can be also the identification with being no person, nobody and you’re stupid because you think you’re somebody.
D: Yeah, but it’s a concept of being nobody. It’s a mind that’s thinking it’s nobody. It’s somebody thinking they’re nobody.
A: Yeah, exactly. Right.
D: It’s a mental game really.
A: It’s much better to be nobody than it is to think that you’re somebody or whatever. So there’s all these different variations and then there’s the variation that you mentioned in the context of, you know, like adding the spiritual history, the spiritual story, or the spiritual practices to some sort of identity construct in those, you know, so those things are what I would consider to be, you know, maybe not obvious to the one that seems to be tasting them, but through grace, we talked about grace, through grace, they become more recognizable when they are in place.
And in terms of practice or application, it’s the attitude, it’s the willingness, you know, the willingness to show up and to be shown. It’s not when it comes from trying and attempting to control and figure out, then that’s where there seems to be a difficulty.
But anything that is approached with the humility and the willingness of commitment and devotion has the potential to be fruitful, I would say.
D: Yes. And the mind naturally has that tendency. And that’s fine. We shouldn’t be hitting ourselves with a stick just because the mind is buying into it in some way and manipulating it. The mind just does that. But the key is if we can culture enough presence, then we’re going to recognize the mind is doing that and not take it quite so seriously. And over time we take it less and less seriously. And that just develops naturally. And then it’s just, mind does that, and it’s like, oh yeah, yeah, that’s just the mind running its stories. And we don’t, you know, it’s just kind of like a narrative that’s kind of like, you know, watching an old movie and there’s a narrator in the background.
We can ignore it if we want to.
A: That’s right, just let it chatter in the silence.
D: No, David’s going to make this.
D: And this person I’m talking to is going to say it’s not.
A: Yeah, and that quiets down. It quiets down progressively, you know? ‘Cause it’s not being fed with the attention and the drivers are being resolved. So the energetic condensation is being processed out. And a lot of that kind of thinking is arising from unresolved energy actually.
So we’ve covered quite a lot. There’s one last thing that I want to say in as we’ve been discussing non-duality. And sometimes there’s an understanding that in non-duality, there can’t be devotion or that there’s somehow contradictory or they don’t go together.
D: Yeah, I just found Shankara’s later teachings in that context.
A: Yeah, that’s exactly right. So it kind of ties back into what you were saying about Shankara is that there was a new level of richness
and feminine fullness that came online after his earlier, some more intellectual, drier teachings or pointings, you might say. And for everyone that is in the midst of this unfoldment, devotion is very much a potential and very much something that can flow without duality, without the sense of separation.
There doesn’t need to be any sense of separation in order for there to be devotion, in order for there to be love.
A: Yes. Thank you. Thank you so much, David.
D: Thank you, Andrew.
A: It’s really great. So we always like to give all glory to pure Divinity.
D: All glory, pure Divinity.