The non-dual states of awareness are described in great details in various sutras and tantras by making it abundantly clear that these states can only be pointed at through symbolism. In the Heart Sutra, for example, a well known Mahayana scripture, the awakened state is described using negation (no eyes, no ears, no nose, no tongue, no body, no mind; no form, no sound, no odor, no taste, no touch, no object of mind, etc.)
And in tantras, we can read a lot about terms like space, non-arising, non-abiding, self-liberating, emptiness, timelessness, spaciousness, mirror-wisdom, enlightened-mind, etc.
But what do these states actually mean in daily life?
How do they manifest?
And, how does it feel like to integrate these (for the lack of a better word) “ultimate” states into daily existence?
Well, knowing pretty well that words are quite limited, and, taking into consideration my limited experiences, I will try to share my current empirical knowledge on this (to me) rather important matter.
After studying the Sutrayana path (the Theravada system) and after attaining various non-dual insights or states (anatta, sunyata, cessation trance) several years ago, my perception at the time has been transformed quite deeply. It was a challenge for me to sleep, wake up, live and indeed to breathe knowing empirically that in reality there is nothing independent to base my cognitive processes (reasoning, learning, remembering, learning, decision making, and everything else) on.
It was like walking around with a great black hole in my chest. But in time, after several years, things got more relaxed. There indeed was more space in my inner psychological climate and more peace manifested.
I say “more peace manifested” because, at times, there was still quite an articulate disharmony present. Now I know that it was because my attachments, emotions, passions and especially aversions have not been brought onto the path yet, meaning, that I really haven’t dealt with these aspects of everyday life, at all.
My previous well-established methods of dealing with daily and spiritual life simply did not work. Whatever I did, nothing helped. I like to use the ‘old keys – new doors’ analogy quite often, so I might as well use it here: old keys cannot open new doors.
In my case, old keys were my attempts to withdrew from burning emotional life and windy mental atmosphere into monistic samadhi. Even taking refuge in samadhi, the blissful state of being at-one-with-the-only-true-reality did not help.
I am talking about the Advaita reality here, or the Causal level as per the established Wilber map. Being a witness to the inner and outer drama did not bring inner peace.
It is almost funny now, and as difficult as it is for me to admit, even with entering samadhi, I was merely trying to escape from this fu**ed-up life, never really succeeding.
Well, my Gurudev must have seen that I would have never ever made it on my own, and instead of letting me re-invent the wheel, He silently guided me to Vajrayana.
To make a long story short, using the specific methods of transforming ordinarily perception of the outer world and inner misconceptions (a part of anuttarayoga tantra), the inner disharmony abated to some extent over the years. The process still goes on…
Nowhere to escape
Non-dual states are very precious to me! There is one main reason for that, as far as I can see currently:
I can escape nowhere. Wherever I go, my inner reality (thoughts, feelings and everything else), well, I take along.
And regardless of “outer” reality or how things appear on the outside, there is still my inner state that takes the precedence.
And having empirically tasted the ‘spaciousness’, ’emptiness’, ‘non-arising and non-abiding’, there is not much left to hide behind.
In whatever form the outer world appears to me (my friends, my daughter, everyday duties, etc.), there is always this inner silence and ‘absence’ present.
In practice and in everyday life that translates to being open like a highway, and the world is so close, even intimate. And that used to scare the hell out of me. Not being able to explain these things to others was the least of my problems. Also, living in daily life here in the West did not really contribute. In time, however, things got more relaxed or better yet, I relaxed more into this openness.
Also, being open like that, I could easily see through the charade and clowning of others…and that used to make me upset and sad. There was so much pretense, drama, and lies all around me…
…until I realized that all of that negativity I perceived all around me was (and still is) only on the inside, in me in the form of misconceptions.
The difference now, however, is that slowly, slowly, even the so-called ‘negativity’ inside is self-liberating.
What does that mean in real life?
Well, it means that I cannot really point fingers and blame others anymore. It is getting exceedingly difficult to argue with others. It also means that, as I already mentioned, others and the world is so up close and even intimate. And I value that the most.
My daughter for example, only in the last few years have I been able to really see her, hear her, feel her emotions and needs. And my dear friends, only now there is space present to really understand them, without trying to force my perception of reality onto them.
There is no escape: this is glad tidings! The non-dual states of awareness are the most down-to-earth living and breathing natural states of awareness I have experienced thus far.
And sometimes it is really difficult for me to live like that. But, then again, when I am relaxed, present, aware, there is so much joy and freedom on the inside. And continuously trying to not deceive myself, embracing everyday life as it comes is the path for me, no need to go someplace else.
In time, may I relax even more.
May my loved ones, my friends, my family, and all others experience what is joyful and liberating for them.