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May 11, 2010

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nice article, encapsulating many of my frustrations with mysticism and its potenital confusion with the term mystery.

I also would like to know which mysteries the mystics know about and more importantly what this knowledge is.

But the frustrating thing and also their reply is that it needs to be experienced personally, i.e. first account, an account of it cannot be given, since the first mistake our intellects make is to conceptualise, and all these answers, i.e. actual reality is only percievable if one goes beyond mind whereupon all these mysteries are somehow revealed and are no longer.

George, here's how I've come to see this "can't be spoken about" excuse.

Either a mystery has been understood, or it hasn't. If someone has understood a mystery by means of some personal experience, that that person should be able to explain what has been understood.

If he or she can't, then the mystery remains a mystery. Plain and simple. And the person shouldn't make any claims to having understood the mystery. Just say "I experienced something; I can't describe it."

Instead, virtually every supposed mystic talks at great length about what can't be talked about. Except when you ask the mystic to talk about his or her personal experience that all of this understanding purportedly is based on, then suddenly we get "It's impossible to describe." Or "I can't talk about it."

So which is it? If you've understood something, unraveled a cosmic mystery, then tell us about it. Including your personal experiences, so they can compared with other people's personal experiences. If you haven't, then don't make any claims about having gotten to the bottom of a mystery.

a big ditto to that. and well said Brian.


Ditto too.

//calgaryhumanist.ca/ericsquotes.html

I enjoyed the quote: Mysticism is for people who are too lazy to study Physics

hi
what am i
that is a fundamental question
am i a body or spirit ???
if you are spirit most of these questions
answer themselves
what was never born can not die etc.

agreed and well put

and yet you have all explored various mystical paths at great lengths - taoism itself is mystical, even its so-called philopsophical account, see verse 1 of the tao te ching

"The tao that can be told
is not the eternal Tao.
The name that can be named
is not the eternal Name.

The unnamable is the eternally real.
Naming is the origin
of all particular things.

Free from desire, you realize the mystery.
Caught in desire, you see only the manifestations."

There are of course various translations, but even therence gray and allan watts talk about this non-conceptual way which cannot be explained.

Ppl talk about being in the zone, yet how can one really explain this experience? Why have you guys not tried to explain your experiences? Sounds like Tao for exampel has had some very bizarre experiences, which he has not described - but Brian perhaps less so other than the packet-reversal explanation of the universe.

i associate the word mystical with mystery, but i think it means unexplainable or undefineable.

whereas our intellects are concerned with naming, categorizing and associating objects and things - the mystical insight of reality seeks to deal with the unquantifiable unconceptual aspect of reality.

Thus, imo the nondual approach is a mystical approach in that it cannot be clearly defined. Instead its explained subtely via koans like the 3 passing bubbles tucson put forward to me when i first encountered this sight.

This 'direct seeing' is supposedly not explainable, it can only be experienced personally.

George, mystery isn't only manifested in strange or unusual experiences. I frequently have the feeling that every experience is strange, that it is utterly mysterious. Here we are, some 13.7 billion years after the big bang, the product of 4 billion years or so of unpredictable evolutionary processes.

I'm typing on my laptop while my wife talks on the phone to her sister. I'm just about to make lunch. i was born 61 years ago and one day I will die, likely never to exist again. And the universe goes on. For tens of billions more years. This is just freaking strange...and mysterious.

yes indeed, ever so strange it is.

George,

you said: "the nondual approach is a mystical approach in that it cannot be clearly defined."

i am not sure how you arrived at the conclusion that nonduality is not "clearly defined". i don't know how or where you got that idea. non-duality has been very well defined. perhaps you have not been reading more authoritative sources of nondual philosophy... such as: Sri Sankara - like Sankara's "Viveka Chudamani", or the Upanishads, or the Ashtravakra Gita, or the Avadhuta Gita, or the Tripura Rahasya, or the Yoga Vaisistha, or the Ch'an teaching of Huang Po, or the words of Sri Ramana Maharshi, or Nisargadatta and others.

when you say that non-dualism is not clearly defined, then i really have to wonder where you have been deriving your understanding of non-dualism?

it seems that you must have a confused or incorrect understanding, due to not having studied the core sources and teachings of the non-dual philosophy.

if you only listen to modern interpreters of non-dualism, then you may get a distorted or a mistaken idea of what non-duality really is, and is not.

i only say this because you have said and indicated, on several occasions, that you have come to the conclusion that nonduality "cannot be clearly defined".

but in fact, non-duality and non-dualism has indeed been most clearly defined, and by many diverse sources, over many centuries. so you must simply have not studied those authoritative sources.

and thats why i am always a bit perplexed when i hear (read) you say that you thinbk that non-duality and nondualism (the non-dual philosopy) is rather vague mysticism.

actually, it is isn't mysticism at all. advaita (non-duality) and jnana yoga is porbably the clearest and most simple teachings ever. you simply have to go to the authjoritative sources, the sages... and not to the interpreters.


tAo, well let me put it to you this way, nonduality is not a scientific concept, it cannot be proven, it is not clearly defined.

If there is only the One or the oneness, then why all the manifestations of form?

tell you what, why dont you give a quick clearly defined concept of what nonduality is (note not what it is not)?

'the tao that can be told is not the eternal tAo'

What non-duality is...drum roll please....

effortless, choiceless awareness.

In effortlessness, in choicelessness there is no youness, just thisness without a second. Since there is no second there is no one to know it, yet it is but is not as any 'thing' perceived by someone or something. Surely we all must understand this by now.

Birth: Awareness moves and time-space is born, objects appear, duality and a universe appear.

Death: Awareness stills, time-space is no more, objects perceived by a subject disappear along with the subject and along with duality and the universe.

But always 'I' (infinity, reality, etc.) am and I am not. This is our true nature prior to and after death and it is our true nature now.

That's it, imho.

Don't mean to sound authoritative or high and mighty. Just trying to express something as I see it. Ignore it if you like. No big deal... Where is Roger?

george, you said:

"nonduality is not a scientific concept, it cannot be proven"

-- i agree.

"it is not clearly defined."

-- i don't agree. it has been clearly defined in the advaita philosophical texts.

"If there is only the One or the oneness, then why all the manifestations of form?"

-- that is not necessaruily what advaita says. and the question of why is there form... it is because form is duality.

"tell you what, why dont you give a quick clearly defined concept of what nonduality is (note not what it is not)?"

-- i have no desire to elaborate upon non-duality (advaita). there is sufficient definition and elaboration in all the texts that i mentioned. suffice it to say that non-duality literally means "not-two".

"'the tao that can be told is not the eternal tAo'"

-- agreed. but that is taoist (from the Tao Teh Ching of Lao Tzu)... not advaita.


Tucson,

i commend you for at least having the bravery to give it a go.

Also, yours is an interesting explanation of nonduality and the creation of the universe, but the big bang is the scientific theory based on evidence, and no part of the big bang is concerned with awareness, whether its choiceless or effortless.

i would also be surprised if Brian and tAo agree with your view of what nonduality is and how the universe was born.

My point is that nonduality like mysticism is by its nature not clearly and agreeably definable, its beyond concepts, objects and associations which are clearly definable.

"i have no desire to elaborate upon non-duality (advaita). there is sufficient definition and elaboration in all the texts that i mentioned. suffice it to say that non-duality literally means "not-two"."

no thats just as evasive as the mystics Brian takes to task in this article, pointing to countless texts and such like. I am asking you if nonduality advaita is clearly defined, then please give me your plain definition as to its meaning.

What is not-two? Everything, the universe, awareness, what?

Also, could you describe or explain a nondual experience and how it might be validated?

in fact, mysticism is all about nonduality ultimately, the illusion of a plurality of forms, i dont know why you guys fight amongst yourself, since you believe in the same thing, a world consisting only of the neoplatonic metaphysics of One, whereas science and our normal experience of the world is of duality and a plurality of forms.

no george, its not "evasive" at all. you are wrong. i don't have time to write you a detailed elaboration on non-duality. you can easily find that yourself. i may be able to steer you to where you can find that online, but it will have to be in a few days. i don't have the time right now.

also, i most certainly did give my plain and simple definition as to the meaning of non-duality.

advaita literally means "not-two". it doesn't mean "One" or oneness. it simply means "not two"... or "not three", "not four", "not five" and so on. that is the definition of non-duality.

non-duality is not anything... not any 'thing' or things. it is not "everything", not "the universe", not "awareness"... it is not any thing.

"could you describe or explain a nondual experience and how it might be validated?"

-- there actually is no such thing as a "non-dual experience". in non-duality there is no experiencer who is having an experience. there is no separation or duality. non-duality, and the appearance of duality, are not really separate or different. and in non-duality, there is no separate individual. so there is no one who experiences non-duality, and there is no experience of non-duality. there is only the experience of duality.

there is no "other" in non-duality.

non-duality simply means: NOT-TWO


"i dont know why you guys fight amongst yourself, since you believe in the same thing, a world consisting only of the neoplatonic metaphysics of One"

-- no, not for me. i don't "believe" that at all. i do not believe in "a world consisting only of the neoplatonic metaphysics of One". i don't believe in any abstract "One". all i know is what is presently the case in my physical existence and reality.

"our normal experience of the world is of duality and a plurality of forms."

-- yes the world is a diversity of forms.


I wish I could say something cogent or wise-sounding about nonduality, but (understandably) I find it difficult to get my mind around the notion of "not two." Probably, or certainly, because this isn't possible to do.

I'll content myself -- because it's tough for me to remain silent on an interesting comment conversation -- with some thoughts I had today that might turn into a blog post for tomorrow.

Here we are, humans feeling like people. Meaning, we have a personal perspective. I feel like "me" inside my head. Outside (I'm in a coffeehouse right now) there are people sitting at tables, a kid with a lion backpack being led out the door by her father, tables and chairs, etc.

Everything other than me has an object-like feel to it. I perceive it, but I don't experience it from the "inside," as I do myself. And I assume the other people in the room feel the same. To them, I'm an object sitting at a table tapping away on a laptop. They feel themselves personally, intimately, experientially, but not me.

I see non-duality (rightly or wrongly) as finding a way out of this personal/impersonal dichotomy -- which seems to be a curious way for the world to work. Why should there be such a big difference between me and everything else? Why do I feel so real, from the inside, while other objects seem so, well, objectified, from the outside?

Perhaps, and neuroscience supports this notion, I'm not really the "me" that I seem to be to myself. This understanding begins to decrease the difference between personal me and object-like everything else. Maybe we -- tables and chairs included -- actually are the same "stuff." I just happen to have come to a different feeling, owing to the evolution of self-awareness, that crazy loop of me being aware of me being aware of me.

I can't say that this casts any real light on non-duality. It's just one of the ways I'm coming to look upon the world, which might or might not have any relation to non-dual teachings.

Perhaps, and neuroscience supports this I just happen to have come to a different feeling, owing to the evolution of self-awareness, that crazy loop of me being aware of me being aware of me.

Your "crazy loop..." is a wonderfully evocative description in my opinion. The way I perceive the world; how I react; my thought patterns usually seem so ordinary and predictable. But then there's that occasional nudge ..."of me being aware of me". I could even subtract 'me'. It's more just being "aware of being aware". A kind of freeze-frame of awareness itself, maybe the essence of mindfulness. And, although I can't explain it or defend it, for the briefest of moments, I feel free of duality, just in the moment, aware, nothing more, nothing less.

I would not want to feel one with the table or tramp, so I welcome trillionality. I respect the table by utilizing it with care, and I try not to judge the tramp knowing that cumulative circumstances have put him there.

I only understand that ' my outward curve is the atmosphere's inward curve' and that we are interdependant and would die partly or wholely without the full range of whole or part lifeforms.

In order to study and understand better, I have to objectify what I study while understanding it s part in the whole. Studying reduces mystery.

Spectacular, transcendant mystery holds absolutely no interest for me; I see it as a tool for the clergy to use to hold onto their jobs and gain power over others. If I experience anything unusual, I will observe it's effects on me, if it has none, so what? It would simply mean that we are more than we think and that there is more than we think- so what's new about that? It is more important that I work at refining my interaction with the trillionality.

I see the concept of oneness that the buddhists and others put forward as being flawed. The parts of the universe are made of different stuff and probably adhere to different laws of physics. We cannot experience oneness and sages do not exist.

"Spectacular, transcendant mystery holds absolutely no interest for me; I see it as a tool for the clergy to use to hold onto their jobs and gain power over others."

-- i agree. it is a carrot on a stick, and people are manipulated by the idea.

"I see the concept of oneness that the buddhists and others put forward as being flawed."

-- i have not heard buddhists speak of "oneness". but i have heard new-age folks use the term/idea of "oneness". could you say which buddhists you are referring to?

"The parts of the universe are made of different stuff and probably adhere to different laws of physics."

-- "different laws of physics"? hmmm. i think the laws of physics are universal.

"We cannot experience oneness"

-- i agree.

"and sages do not exist."

-- well it depends upon how you define "sages". so what do YOU mean whn you say "sages"? and why, in your opinion, do they not exist?

i define sage as simply an ordinary person who remains content and in harmony with the ever-fresh moment, and in whom understanding & wisdom flows effortlessly, like a hollow flute, and who has learned to be open and flexible.


tAo

"non-duality is not anything... not awareness"

well this proves my point, since Tucson gave a meaning which said it was awareness, a choiceless effortless awareness - so for all thats been written about it, as i say, its not clearly defined.

"advaita literally means "not-two". it doesn't mean "One" or oneness. it simply means "not two"... or "not three", "not four", "not five" and so on"

-- well which which one is it, the definition started off as 'not-two' and now has been expanded. also i asked you for what it is, not what it is not. also what is not-two? how can we validate ;not-two'?
please explain your position rather than trying to explain what it is not - this is exactly what the mystics do.

Brian,

bottomline is that prima facie there appears to be on the surface of it, different being each with their own independent thoughts and awareness of what appears to be an independent objective reality. Nonduality is the opposite, i.e. no seperation either between beings or objects, its supposeduly an illusuin, we;re part of one awareness. ockams razor suggests that which is most simple is more likely, our everyday experience is duality, not nondiality.


Oneness =non-duality in my post above.
Why should different solar systems in our universe and also different universes be subject to the same principles of Physics as ours?
Tao, I accept your definition of sage in every aspect except why does a sage have to be content? What if he's in harmony with the everfresh punk rock fest in the basement?

George, you're correct. Our everyday experience indeed is duality. What else could it be? If everything was One, there would be nobody around to have an experience, "everyday" or otherwise. Nor would there be anything to experience. Except, I guess, the One experiencing itself.

As tAo noted, seemingly the best we can hope for is to live in relative harmony and happiness with all this duality. The way I see it, natural dualisms are inescapable; artificial or unnecessary dualisms aren't. I think we have some ability to shape our minds/brains. We can mold ourselves to fit a bit more smoothly with other people, objects, and life forms.

Yet as Catherine said, absolute contentment likely is a fantasy. And as impossible as absolute oneness. When we aren't moving toward or away from something, we're dead.

George,

i had said previously: "non-duality is not anything... not awareness"

you responded: "Tucson gave a meaning which said it was awareness, a choiceless effortless awareness - so for all thats been written about it, as i say, its not clearly defined."

-- you misunderstood me george. i was simply indicating that non-duality is not any particular 'thing'. advaita or non-duality is just a concept which indicates a complete absence of duality, hence its literal translation and meaning of "not-two". i think you are complicating it and reading/interpreting more into it, than what is there.

also, i am not defending or promoting non-duality over duality. you seem to think that i am in one camp (the non-dualists) and you are in another. that is not how it is with me.

i am simply explaining that the literal meaning of advaita is "not-two". it does not mean "oneness" (as Catherine said). another similar way to translate it would be "not-many". but it doesn't mean "oneness". "oneness" implies duality, because when there is "one", then there is two, and so on. that is why the negative is used.

as Brian has quite rightly said, non-duality cannot be conceieved or comprehended. it is merely a concept. as a concept, it has been clearly defined, but nevertheless it is not possible to experience non-duality.

all of life and the universe is duality. all experience is based in duality. so the only way that this concept of non-duality can be accurately represented, is by calling it "a-dvaita" or "not-two".

non-duality can not be thought, known or understood because our very existence is predicated upon and consists of duality. the mind is duality. the universe is duality. life is duality. all of human experience is duality. so there is no way to know or to comprehend or to experience non-duality. so it is just a concept, a unique concept, but a concept nevertheless.

as i indicated, the problem is, if one could actually experience non-duality, then there would be no experienc-er. no one there to experience it. in non-duality, there is no "other". so as Brain has rightly said, it cannot be experienced. experience only happens in duality.


i had said previously: "advaita literally means "not-two". it doesn't mean "One" or oneness. it simply means "not two"... or "not three", "not four", "not five" and so on"

you responded: "well which which one is it, the definition started off as 'not-two' and now has been expanded."

-- again, you misunderstood. it means "no-duality" or "not-two" or "not-many". so i simply used "not-three" etc, etc, to further indicate that it means "not-many". the meaning has not been changed or expanded.


"also i asked you for what it is, not what it is not."

-- again george, i told you exactly what it is. advaita means 'not-two' or 'no-duality'. it is as simple as that. i don't know what more i can tell you. so why do you keep on asking? i also said that is is not "oneness", but i added that just for additional clarification.


"also what is not-two? how can we validate not-two'?"

-- i don't know what you mean by "validate not-two". advaita (or not-two) is a concept that indicates an absence of duality. it is just a concept. so what is there to "validate"? i don't see what it is that you are looking for.

non-duality is not some thing or object or knowledge that can be validated. it is just a concept.


"please explain your position rather than trying to explain what it is not - this is exactly what the mystics do."

-- i have already said this many times... i don't have any "position", i am not defending and supporting, nor negating nonduality. all i have done here is simply to explain the literal meaning of "advaita". i am not an advaitist, or a non-dualist, or a dualist, or a mystic, or a . i am just a regular guy who lives in california on terra firma, planet earth. you seem to lump me and everyone together in one camp as being defenders of mysticism and non-duality, and yourself as different and separate. its not that way. this is just a blog discussion forum. some people may support gurus and mysticism. some others may support non-dualism. and still others (like yourself) may support and align with science.

i am not a mystic or a non-dualist. so please stop implying that i am. you seem to have the attitude that we are all in one group, and you are over there all by yourself different from eveyone else. it is not like that.

we are EACH and ALL just commenters on a blog. just because i happen to know a great deal about some types of mysticism or non-dualism or buddhism or other philosphies... well that does not mean that i am a mystic or a non-dualist. so please stop acting as if the rest of us are all a bunch of mystics and non-dualists, and you are the only rational scientist here. frankly, thats bullshit.

i happen to know a fair bit about science too (more than the average person)... but still, i am not a "scientist". i am just a more or less unpretentious guy who just happens to know a lot of stuff about certain things. i am not in any particular camp, or group, or cult, or philosophy.... and i am not an expert.

and btw, before i forget... you never sent me an email. i don't know if you just forgot or what?

------------------------------------------

Catherine,

you say: "Oneness =non-duality"

-- well thats your opinion. and if that is what it is to you, then so be it. i am not going to argue about personal opinions.

you also asked: "Why should different solar systems in our universe and also different universes be subject to the same principles of Physics as ours?"

-- simply because science can see that the universe operates the very same way 'over there', as it does here in our solar system.

"I accept your definition of sage in every aspect except why does a sage have to be content?"

-- i never said that a sage HAS to be content. i just shared my thoughts about it. that's what a sage is to me... someone who is at peace with themself.

-------------------------------------------

Brian, you said:

"you're correct. Our everyday experience indeed is duality. What else could it be? If everything was One, there would be nobody around to have an experience, "everyday" or otherwise. Nor would there be anything to experience. \"

-- yes, that was and is my point. that is exactly what i was trying to say to George. but somehow he misunderstood it. George seems to think that i am pushing non-duality or oneness. that is not where i am at.

"As tAo noted, seemingly the best we can hope for is to live in relative harmony and happiness with all this duality."

-- right.

"as Catherine said, absolute contentment likely is a fantasy."

-- just so you know: i never implied any kind of "absolute contentment". but we can, and we do, find relative contentment. thats all that i indicated as what being a "sage" is to me.

"impossible as absolute oneness."

-- i agree.


Tao, I have to go back to my original thought on ,' there are no sages.' What I really think is...! That all people are sages at certain times, to certain degrees; we all have that quality in us. Our mistake is to believe that one other person has the sage quality. To expand this is to put all the power of wisdom and knowledge here and after in one person's (guru's) lap, and that's extra-ordinary faith, surrendering reason, which may be alright for a time or maybe for life for some people. I realise the idea of sage (all wise all the time) could be necessary for much of society probably for comfort, but recognising that the fool one minute may have remarkable insight the next, is to be open and this gives oneself and everyone else a good few chances!

Catherine,

i think you may have misundertood me. i don't have any of those illusions that you speak of.

i don't "believe that one other person has the sage quality."

i don't "put all the power of wisdom and knowledge here and after in one person's (guru's) lap".

i don't rely soley on faith, or surrender my reason.

i don't have the idea or the belief that sages are "all wise all the time".

and i do think that anyone could be a sage.


i;m afraid my point has not been understood, best i stop here.

as for the rational scientist, this article is about the frustration at vague and evasive answers from mystics who appear unable or unwilling to provide a clean unambigous description, including any evidence, for their experiences.

i am therefore using precisely the same logic, to ask what is then different from nonduality?

nonduality like mysticism is also not what we experience, we experience duality, which is supposedly illusory, and this is the mystical position too.

When asked for a description of nonduality, at least Tucson provided some substance, tAO of course did the usual and told me what it is not, which is precisely why you get all het up with Ashy. I am asking what it is, not what it is not. If I ask for a description of a mytical experience, i am not interested to hear it is not a scientific one, i want to hear what it is.

Moreover, just as Ashy has been castigated for not providing evidence (by myself included), I am asking where is the evidence for non-duality.

To be quite frank, i dont think some of you actually have an understanding of watts or gray at all, their whole raison d'etre was a mystical one, so why you are trying to argue your way out of a corner, especially so unconvincingly, is beyond me.

Why not simply admit the obvious which is that nondualism (advaita) is mystical?

Its almost like you will go to all ends to avoid being associated with that word ;mystical;, when meanwhile its precisely that.

if it makes you feel any better about my suposed assumptions, from now on i understand that you do not believe nondualism is true or accurate? Is that correct?

But i stick to my prior assertions that nondualism is mystical, unless substantive reasons (as opposed to ad hominems) can be given refuting this position.

Hi George,
Try this for a mystical experience.From Winnie the Pooh
When I was one, I had just begun.
When I was two, I was nearly new.
When I was three, I was hardly me.
When I was four, I was not much more.
When I was five, I was just alive.
But now I am six, I'm as clever as clever,
So I think I'll be six now for ever and ever.
That idea has often been with me. The present is the best time. Thank you A.A. Milne.

lol, thanks Obed.

George, you said:

"this article is about the frustration at vague and evasive answers from mystics who appear unable or unwilling to provide a clean unambigous description, including any evidence, for their experiences."

-- yes, mystics generally cannot provide any clear and direct decriptions, much less any solid evidence.

"i am therefore using precisely the same logic, to ask what is then different from nonduality?"

-- non-duality (advaita) is not mysticism. you are asking for some evidence. but advaita is only philosophical, not mysticism or mystical experiences. non-duality and non-dualism is merely an idea, a philosophical suppostion or premise. advaita is not some sort of traveling thru inner planes or transcendent realms of light and bliss. it is just a concept. a concept which represents an absence of duality. thats all. there are no "experiences" in advaita. its just an idea. why is it so difficult for you to understand that? i think its because you have not bothered to learn what advaita is. so you think that its like mysticism.... but it is not.

"When asked for a description of nonduality, at least Tucson provided some substance, tAO of course did the usual and told me what it is not"

-- that is incorrect. i DID tell you exactly what non-duality is, and what it means. yet you continue to deny this fact. i told you simply and precisely and exactly what it IS. its not my fault if you refuse to see that. i can't tell you any moer that i already have. and i have no advaita "experiences" to relate to you. i have never claimed to have any experiences of non-duality. you want something that i can not provide. all i can tell you is what the concept of advaita means. and i have done that. you are creating a false strawman, and then complaining because other people won't gove you evidence for your strawman. advaita is not the same as a mystical experience. advaita is only a philosophical concept. its not mysticism.

"I am asking what it is, not what it is not. If I ask for a description of a mytical experience, i am not interested to hear it is not a scientific one, i want to hear what it is."

-- i have already indicated exactly what it is and what it means. but advaita is not a "mystical experience". you are asking for a description of an experience. but there is no "experience". advaita is only a philosophical idea or concept. it is not a "mystical experience". therein lies the problem. you are asking for something that doesn't exist. there is no 'advaita experience'. why can't you undertand that? i have explained that numereous times, yet you still continue asking for evidence or an experience. advaita is pure philosophy, not a mystical experience.

"Moreover, I am asking where is the evidence for non-duality."

-- i don't know that there is any "evidence". advaita is not an objective phenomena. advaita is simply a philosophical premise. and it is more or less the basis of vedanta. and vedanta is philosphy, not mysticism.

"i dont think some of you actually have an understanding of watts or gray at all"

-- i understand Alan Watts fairly well. i have read most of his books, although that was many years ago. and i also had some direct personal acquiantance with the man in California in the late 60s. i haven't read much of Gray, so i can't really comment on him. but i do think he had some good understanding and insights.

"their whole raison d'etre was a mystical one, so why you are trying to argue your way out of a corner, especially so unconvincingly, is beyond me."

-- i am not trying to argue my way out of anything. i am not in a corner. and you can consider watts and gray as mystics if you like. i have no arguement with that.

"Why not simply admit the obvious which is that nondualism (advaita) is mystical?"

-- advaita is not mysticism. advaita is not categorized as mysticism at all. advaita is philosopical, not mystical. mysticism is all about going inward (via practices like meditation or raja yoga/kundalini or prayer etc) and thus attempting to transcend the world and access inner planes. advaita is not about going inward or transcending anything at all. advaita is a purely philosophical construct or premise, not an inwardly oriented mystical practice or experience.

"Its almost like you will go to all ends to avoid being associated with that word mystical, when meanwhile its precisely that."

-- i have nothing against mysticism. i understand very well what mysticism is. i also understand advaita. and i know that advaita has nothing to do with mysticism or the practices of mysticism. so i think you simply need to acquire a better understanding of advaita. then you will understand the difference. and there is a very distinct difference.

"if it makes you feel any better about my suposed assumptions, from now on i understand that you do not believe nondualism is true or accurate? Is that correct?"

-- i do not "believe" in non-dualism. and as for whether non-dualism is "true or accurate" or not, i simply do not know. i do not know if nondualism is "true or accurate". i only know what the concept - the basic philosophical premise known as non-duality or non-dualism - means or represents or implies. basically, it is just a philosophical concept of vedanta. vedanta is the quintessence or essence of the vedas. advaita is not mysticism nor a mystical practice. it is simply the basic premise of vedanta.

"But i stick to my prior assertions that nondualism is mystical, unless substantive reasons (as opposed to ad hominems) can be given refuting this position."

-- again, advaita is not mysticism. advaita is not classified as mysticism. please refer to my comments above.


so mysticism is vague, whereas nonduality is not?

hmmm, well if you say so, nothing you;ve sent has changed that for me. You could define mystical as mystery and it would also not mean anything.

insofar as i am concerned, taoism, buddhism, RS, advaita hinduism, sufism, christian mysticism, greek noeplatonic philosopgers - are all mystical traditions - which some ppl have called the perenial philosophy or tradition.

The idea being that our everyday world is but a reflection or an illusion of a deeper more profound ultimate reality of which we are all one and that we can access this deeper realisation by transcending our self (or chattering intellectual mind with all its concepts and attatchements).

nonduality is nothing but a concept.

mysticism consists of a variety of various premises and practices, and theologies and cosmologies.

also, advaita is not really "hinduism". advaita is a basic principle of vedanta. hinduism (the hindu religions) includes a lot more than just vedanta. much of hinduism (hindu religion) is basically dvaita oriented (dualistically oriented), not advaita.

i agree that either all or parts of taoism, buddhism, hinduism, sufism, christian mysticism, and especially RS... are mysticism and mystical traditions.

and the idea that "our everyday world is but a reflection or an illusion of a deeper more profound ultimate reality of which we are all one and that we can access this deeper realisation by transcending our self"... is indeed mysticism. however, there is nothing "mystical" (like all of that) in advaita. advaita isn't concerned with any of that. advaita is simply a philosophical concept regarding the singular nature of totality. it is not an attempt to transcend anything, by any means.


George and tAo...interesting interchange. I hadn't thought of advaita as simply a philosophy before. That makes sense and feels right. As I've noted before, it strikes me (along with Taoism and Buddhism) as a way of looking at the world, of experiencing the world, of interacting with the world.

A shift in consciousness, of awareness, of understanding -- I agree that this isn't "mystical." It's commonplace, in a certain sense. Some days the world seems like a very different place to me than it does on other days. The world hasn't changed, but something has shifted in my awareness of it. I'm sure we all have this feeling, of going from a harmonious to a frazzled state of mind, or the reverse.

George, I don't agree that all of the philosophies/faiths you listed consider this world to be illusory, or a shadow of a more vibrant higher reality. I don't see Buddhism or Taoism as reflecting this philosophy. Nor does Advaita, in its nondual guise. This world, right here and right now, is both truth and falsity, maya and nirvana. It's all in how we perceive it.

'The concept of Non-duality means: the singular nature of totality'

That makes sense. It does not mean it's true or false. It is open to being proven to be either. It a valuable way for some people to perceive and get perspective. What's the value of perceiving like this? Compassion, forgiveness, care, support would grow.

Brian,

I am happy with your description to an extent, yet you have admitted that we percieve the world as duality, so it requres a shifyt in consciousness to view it as nonduality.

The various mustical traditons describe ways to achieve such a shift in consciousness, some more intellectually or conceptually based then others.

But nonduality, like all the others requires a shift in consciousness and there is no means of validated whether this nonduality (enlightened) consciousness is true or not.

George, the way I see things is...we're always shifting the way we see things. Like I said in a previous comment, some days I view the world a lot differently than I view it other days.

This isn't a mystical experience. It simply is a shift in perception. Sometimes I feel connected to the world and myself; other times I feel like I'm fighting the world and myself. I suspect that "nonduality" is much more like this shift in perception than a mystical state.

Wei Wu Wei, who favors a nondual perspective, says that enlightenment doesn't exist, if this is considered to be a state that we move into and out of. For him, the truth is always right here and right now. Just this. It's much more an end to searching, than finding something after a search (like enlightenment).

I agree that there is no way to prove that a fresh way of viewing the world exists, since it isn't a thing, an object, but a subjectivity. However, like I said, each of us experiences changes in our subjectivity when we say "I'm having a bad day" or "I'm having a good day." Subjectivity is real, along with objectivity. Just different.

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