What is non-dualistic thinking?
Close your eyes and try to see. Let your mind float in the darkness that you perceive now. Are you the observer? Do you feel the darkness staring back at you? How can darkness have a vision?
You can perhaps explain these strange conflicts with non-dualism.
It is an ancient idea. The oldest traditions of the world appear to include the non-dual understanding in them. Be it the Advaita sense in Hinduism, Nirvana in Buddhism, I AM in Christianity, or even the path of Sufi saints, non-duality unites all in simple harmony.
Believing in Soulfulness
You need to believe in the soul to begin understanding non-duality. Otherwise, it would appear just a fuzzy concept with various complex layers. Denial of soulfulness lets in finding justification solely in the material world. It leads to an endless desire to be rich and successful and nothing else.
However, even then, the greatest truth of life exists as an undeniable unsettling feeling. You may be sitting in the lush comfort zone of your living room. The light and sound of the TV percolate your drowsy senses. All of a sudden, you feel a chilling realization. Someday, death will separate your soul from this mortal life. Is it too late to know what happens after death?
Perhaps you will finally find relief within this approach.
Non-dualistic thinking dissolves the boundaries of dualism between life and death, subject and object, and harmonizes everything and everyone into one indivisible reality.
The self’s comfort is in knowing safety and peace. From a non-dual sense, the self surrenders to the turn of events in life. You let go of your concerns and ego to the care of God, or the Universe. You don’t try to control the circumstances; instead, you seek guidance from your true Self.
This is not to be confused with ‘yourself’, meaning your personality, or characteristics. It goes deeper than that. The self in the non-dualistic approach refers to the same shared being of everything and everyone, before separation tricks us into thinking we are separate.
Of course, this surrender does not mean that you don’t make any important decisions yourself. Rather, you realize metaphorically that God wants you to take certain actions. So, you follow the guidance you receive from the Universe. Now, you are non-dual, one with the great flow of the cosmos.
Keep in mind, God or the Universe are both terms used to describe this one reality which is consciousness itself. God is the traditional religious term, and the Universe is the new-age contemporary term.
Non-dualists also understand the poetic nature of alluding to God as separate, whilst knowing that God is really made of the same essence that they are made from. In other words, God is never separate.
Hope and Knowing
You don’t fluctuate between success and despair from a non-dual perspective. Instead of these conflicting emotions, you abide in the sense of faith and deep knowing.
You are not sure whether this hope is illusory, but then you realize that all self-doubts are dualistic in nature. Whenever you become detached from your innermost consciousness, it creates the confusion of duality. As long as you are one with your true self, there is no doubt, only determination.
Going forward, you need to introspect the reasons for detachment from your soul. Is it guilt? Is it fear or any other hurtful feeling? Do you feel too caught up in self-loathing and its subsequent denial? These are often the key reasons for despair.
In non-dualism, you are always one with your soul.
Steadfast Faith and Love
Perhaps, 1 Corinthians 13 is the most beautiful verse in the Holy Bible. The poet here praises the great virtues of love. Some of the words are startling to the core. It says that even if you know all the mysteries of the Universe but have no love, it means nothing. The Book goes on to say that you may have the confidence to move mountains, but without love, you are empty.
These lines present a precious realization that love is everything. They describe love against envy, arrogance, irritability, and deceit. You can also draw a vital conclusion from these verses, placing them in the non-dual perspective. It’s indeed a great ancient mystery sustained for ages. But, even if you finally figure it out, do not let that success make you proud. Unless you can love, non-dualism will mean just a dry hypothesis.
Also, recognize the potential perils of non-dualism. Suppose you try to assess your romantic relationship in a non-dual sense. You want to feel one with your partner and have no walls in between. Openness and trust are key notions of a beautiful relationship, and keeping secrets from each other may not be a good idea.
However, one can never insist on or force openness in a relationship. Neither can you be all dogmatic and morally superior to your partner. If so, then the quest for non-dualism can itself be a wall. One must always respect individual differences, even from a non-dual viewpoint. Only then can you find the common grounds for consent and sharing.
Living in a Material World
Spiritual pursuit in a material world has its problems. However, even there, non-dualism can be helpful. Try to interpret material success as one with what you need at the moment. It may be a difficult idea to digest if you want more than you need. That can lead to frustration and feelings of inadequacy.
Also, you need to do a real honest introspection on your career path. You may often feel disconnected in your career if it creates a duality with your passions. Shifting careers may be a difficult decision to take. Also, it can be impractical. So, you should weigh all the options carefully, both real and surreal.
Truth and Lies
You should stay away from deceit to pursue non-dualist thinking. Lying creates a barrier in the soul, separating your true self from what you are projecting. Focus on untangling any web of deceit that you may have built over the years. It may take time, but is worth the peace of mind. The fear of getting exposed is the greatest problem with lying.
If you are so bold to confess and expose your heart, you can overcome this fear. Speaking truth is a brave practice. A lot of folks abstain from it for fear of hurting the feelings of others. However, lying does not help because your body language may contradict your feelings.
In a non-dual sense, you naturally abide by mutual trust because you know the Universe, or God, will guide you in your life path. Truth can be hard to tell unless you know how to place it comfortably.
Summary of Non-Dualistic Thinking
Living life from a non-dual viewpoint can be a soulful adventure. It is the death and rebirth of yourself.
It all may sound complicated at first, but really, it is quite simple.
Just know that you share your being with everyone and everything, and sink your mind into this understanding.
Feel free to read the preface from The Book of Prota where you can truly capture the essence of non-dualistic thinking.