After reading a bunch of neuroscience books, Sam Harris' "Waking Up," and several books by Moller De La Rouviere, the simple truth of non-duality is finally sinking into my non-dual mind.
Which, like yours, also has been, is now, and forever will be non-dual.
Meaning, undivided into an observer and what is observed. Or awareness and objects of awareness. Or consciousness and contents of consciousness.
In short, there is no self.
No soul. No person sitting inside our head and watching what is being experienced. This is Neuroscience 101. Also Genuine Spirituality 101. (See "Real spirituality is realizing you aren't a soul, or self."
So when non-dual authors and speakers blab on about how there is nothing to do or become in order to realize the truth of non-duality, they're right. In fact, they're so right, they shouldn't be charging for this oh-so-obvious insight.
It's like saying, "Nothing needs to be done to realize the truth of gravity." OK, no argument there.
Gravity is a physical fact, a law of nature. So is non-duality. The human brain isn't divided dualistically. Again, there is no detached observer inside the head who is observing experience. Experience and the experiencer are a single entity: the brain doing its thing as what we call "mind."
I've begun to lean toward the attitude that, contrary to what Harris and De La Rouviere say in their books, it isn't necessary to engage in meditation practices aimed at a direct intuitive experience of non-duality. I talked about this some in a post about Harris' "Waking Up."
When I look at the Sun set or rise, I still have the sensation that it is moving, while the Earth stands still. However, science tells me this is an illusion. I believe science. My mental image is of the Earth orbiting the Sun. It is only my eyes which deceive me.
Likewise, I don't believe that I have a self or soul. I haven't for quite a while. Yet I still feel like I am looking out at the world in the same way as a rider looks out from his position astride a horse: in control, separate from body.
What I'm unsure about is whether it is really necessary to engage in all of the meditative work Harris considers to be necessary to lessen one's feeling of being a self or soul. If this is such a good thing, then why shouldn't I also labor at trying to experience the Earth moving at "sunset" rather than the Sun going down?
...Harris is big on meditation. I think that thinking is another way: understanding the reasons why a self or soul almost certainly doesn't exist can lead to an intuitive experience of selflessness.
Again, after I understand that the Earth revolves around the Sun, I won't look upon a sunrise or sunset in the same way. Eventually that cognitive understanding may morph into an experiential realization of Earth moving and Sun staying still.
Buddhist meditation -- Harris favors the Dzogchen variety -- surely is a proven way of experiencing more fully the reality of no-self. Simply living life with eyes wide open is another way. I doubt that sitting at the feet of a Dzogchen master is necessary to realize there is no self or soul inside my head.
Looking over some of my previous posts about non-duality, I was struck by how closely what a Zen master said mirrors modern understanding of how the brain works. His reference to a "self" really means our individuality as a separate body/mind -- not a Self distinct from physicality.
This cup I am looking at now is not the same one that I will be looking at in the next moment. Each of you is also looking at it from your own angle, with your own feelings, and these also are constantly changing.
This is the way actual life experience is. However, if we use our common-sense way of thinking, we think we are looking at the very same cup. This is an abstraction and not the reality of life. Abstract concepts and living reality are entirely different. The Buddhist view is completely different from our ordinary thinking.
...What Buddhism is concerned about is not something abstract, but the very concrete and actual reality of life. All beings exist through life experience of the self.
...That which experiences and that which is experienced cannot be divided into two. This reality that cannot be differentiated into two is called dharma or mind, and it is the meaning of the expression "dharma and mind are one reality."
Therefore, we cannot say that we appear on the world's stage when we are born, and leave it when we die. We were born with this world in which we live out our lives as life experience. We live with this whole world. When we die, our whole world will die with us also.
...Dharma is the reality of life, and each and every one of us is living out absolute life, no matter what situation we find ourselves in. We live out the self that is only the self. No one can become a different person. In a sense, from birth to death, we are completely alone.
Even if you think that you have good friends, family, or a loving wife, the fact is that your wife can never be you. You and your wife have different dreams and think differently.
We sometimes say that we know everything about an intimate friend, but that is really just something that we have thought up. It is impossible to really understand another person. In this sense, every one of us is living out the self that is only the self, and living out the present that is only the present. This is an absolute truth.
David Lane recently made a short film narrated by his wife which does a nice job of comparing the sense of "self" to a symphony conductor who only appears after the orchestra is harmoniously playing. Have a look: