The Shimmering Dead End
Thoughts on the packaging and sale of nonduality

Containers, changes, and nondual consciousness

The container metaphor is one of the central notions out of which our individual identity is constructed. The idea is simply that we have a body with an inside, outside, top, bottom, front, and back. There are things outside our bodies, such as the world, and things inside, such as our thoughts, feelings, etc. In other words, our state of consciousness.

The prevailing view in nonduality culture is that nondual realization is a change in our state of consciousness. Many would contend that it is the “highest” state of consciousness. Others would say it’s a recognition of an enduring condition of consciousness that is suddenly noticed. This removes the “change” from consciousness, to a change in the awareness of consciousness, and this is a different matter entirely.

When you think state of consciousness, you could think about your emotional state, the state of your perceptions, drug and meditation states, etc. But if nondual realization is a recognition of an ongoing condition of consciousness, the change occurs to the state of ignorance of this. Rather than being something that you feel or experience, it’s simply a matter of what you know. Rather than being able to imagine any and all kinds of experiences—usually based on the idea that you are now God, or the universe—you simply see the truth, a truth that has always been true in you, despite the fact you hadn’t noticed this before.

I believe that the idea of our “state of consciousness” is a primary occlusion of the truth of our nondual consciousness. If one is expecting some kind of radical and unordinary state of consciousness to occur at the moment of realization, it seems more likely that one could miss the quiet truth of nondual consciousness that always exists within our everyday consciousness. So, rather than expecting a big deal, it might be better to seek within the arena of our routine existence as it happens, day-to-day, and so on.

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2 Responses to “Containers, changes, and nondual consciousness”

  1. The notion of a big event of some sort coinciding with enlightenment has been embraced in the West because there is a world view that bigger is better and truer. It aligns with our political/economic/scientific perspective.

    We lay that filter habitually onto/into the spiritual realm.

    As you say the self veiling habitually keeps us looking for events, siddhis, huge shifts. But realization…like football (terrible metaphor) is a game of inches.

  2. The language we use to describe both non-ordinary experiences of the subject-object relationship, and expectations that these experiences either demonstrate or confer some sort of “attainment” leads to much wasted time and effort, let alone an expensive trip to dashed expectations.

    To understand that “non-duality” (if we’re forced to use some linguistic shorthand) is not a particular psycho-physical experience could be the first step to understanding… of course, it’s simultaneously the last step, since it requires one to acknowledge that there is NO THING separate from our simple daily life and, therefore no pot of gold at the end of an imaginary rainbow.

    I wish people knew when to use the phrase “as if”… as in, “I had an experience where it felt AS IF something I normally experience as a temporally-bound subject (in a subject-object relationship to the object of my perceptions) lost the feeling of limited time.” Boy that would end the wistful looks that “students” give to the “teacher” who tosses out useless metaphors like, “Your true nature is timeless.”


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