What is Nondual Thinking or Nonduality?
As I remind my readers from time to time, it is very difficult for a person to understand the teachings of an enlightened spiritual teacher when that teacher is teaching at a higher level of consciousness than that of the student.
I personally experienced this challenge reading Bernadette Roberts’s book The Path To No-Self. If you have read this wonderful book on nondual thinking you know what I’m talking about.
I have no problem admitting that some of her teaching went over my head, but here is a brief summary of what I learned from her book.
The Spiritual Power Of Nonduality
1) Nonduality is the primary spiritual practice that will guide those on the spiritual path toward authentic spiritual growth and enlightenment. In other words, nonduality is not the spiritual goal; it is the spiritual path that one will need to walk if the goal is awakening to the presence of God.
2) Authentic spiritual growth is essentially learning to walk the unitive path of non-duality toward an emptiness of ego called “no-self”.
3) Only nonduality has the power to free us from the dualistic prison of our self-focused ego.
4) And most importantly, until the level of ego emptiness called “no-self” has been achieved, God will remain an object or “other”, not a sustainable experience of ultimate mystery.
To incorporate her teachings into ideas more useful for me, I equated her “unitive state” or path of nonduality as the spiritual decision to adopt a middlepath spirituality or middlepath consciousness.
A Middlepath Spirituality
A middlepath spirituality is a spiritual path that has nothing to do with religious doctrines, religious beliefs, religious creeds, or the need to embrace any of the teaching’s contained in the world’s sacred texts as “absolute truth”.
A middlepath spirituality is the authentic spirituality that emerges when we adopt a level of consciousness that embraces the intentional decision to search for, and then fully embrace, the contradictory truths found on both sides of every issue—–without having to label one side as “right” and the other as “wrong”.
In other words, when we choose the middlepath spirituality that results from non-dual thinking, we are simply choosing to “intentionally” drop the dualistic categories of right and wrong, and good and bad—-those categories so treasured by our emotionally driven childhood primitive ego. Over time, the dualistic egoic need to take sides, judge, and compare will begin to drop away, and a sense of compassion for those on both sides of every issue or conflict will emerge.
When we have traveled the nondual path long enough to have tamed our ego’s kneejerk need to emotionally react, Roberts says we will increasingly find our soul moving ever deeper into the peaceful, nondual silence of the middlepath and a growing ability to simply be in the moment——–a silence, and sense of peace, deep enough for our soul to experience the ultimate mystery we call God.
Nonduality Is A Spiritual Choice
For Roberts, choosing to live a unitive life of nonduality is a spiritual “decision” or “choice” that one has to make if the spiritual goal is the ego emptiness of “no-self”, and the creation of a spiritually enlightened consciousness. Regardless of how we choose to describe the mystery of “ultimate reality”, until we have achieved enlightenment or the total emptiness of ego called “no-self”, we will continue to experience God as object or “other”.
Roberts cautions that understanding and intellectually adopting a middlepath nondual consciousness is one the easiest spiritual decisions a person can make, but achieving a true “nondual unitive state” can be a very difficult way of being to sustain in the marketplace of our day-to-day life.
She warns that once you have made the decision to embrace a middlepath nondual consciousness and have begun the spiritual journey toward the authentic spirituality of “no-self”, the world will find it very difficult to understand you. The values of the world, or “market place” as she calls it, will no longer have meaning or importance for you. You will increasingly not care how others perceive you. As a result, people will begin to experience you as dangerous.
She reminds the reader that once Jesus began teaching nonduality to his disciples and those who would listen to him, he only survived three years.
When you have achieved the unitive state of nonduality, the inevitable conflict and violence that results from the dualistic need to take sides and be “right” will no longer make sense to you. The inner peace and silence of the nondual unitive life will become more important to your soul than the emotional satisfaction your ego-self previously experienced taking sides and judging.
In the words of Bernadette Roberts and other enlightened spiritual teachers, when we have consciously chosen to drop right and wrong religious “beliefs”, and opened our mind to nonduality, our authentic spiritual growth toward enlightenment and true spiritual awakening will have begun.
I don’t claim to understand all of Roberts’ teachings, but after reading The Path To No-Self my spiritual journey toward a more nondual consciousness took an important step toward the unitive life that has been calling my soul for many years.