The mind is a world-modeling navigation system Poisonous hagiography
The proverbial “peak experience”
There’s more than a few
Just as, if you are trying to seek enlightenment, how are you going to see what’s on your front doorstep? The map
First conceptual divide
The keystone Western “ego” and the ahamkara
Composite metaphors with their root notion
Transformations of divinity or not existing
Expectations and imagery The idea of merit
The circuit pulls the juice Neurology of nonduality
The folk theory of nondual enlightenment
The Folk Theory of Nondual Enlightenment
How can the supreme Reality be described, sinceIt is neither white nor any other colour, has noqualities such as sound, and is beyond voiceand mind?~DattatreyaMany rely on the folk theory of nondual enlightenment tohelp them “understand” by visualizing and/or imaginingwhat they believe they are seeking as nondualenlightenment.A folk theory of nondual enlightenment is probably presentin most systems of mystical spirituality that posit thepossibility of being one with the universe, God, or of havinga null existence.These are the popular definitions of nondual enlightenment.This actually represents a significant problem that is under-recognized within the nonduality spirituality community.
In Philosophy in the Flesh, George Lakoff and MarkJohnson argue that primary (or embodied) metaphorsand folk theories are among the basic building blocksof human reason.They define a folk theory as a “basic explanatory model …[which] make up a culture’s shared common sense …”“There are often good reasons for these models, and inmany cases folk theories work sufficiently well to serveeveryday purposes …”Folk theories are explicit, helping to form the more or lesswidely-accepted “common sense” of a given socioculturalgroup, yet they also operate implicitly, becoming“unconscious and automatic, taken as backgroundassumptions and used in drawing conclusions …”
While folk theories help us to make sense of the worldaround us, they are often full of noncritical assumptions.We can identify a folk theory of the human soul.We exist as beings apart from our body, and when thebody dies, we will somehow continue, maybe in a goodor a bad place.There really hasn’t been any definitive proof of an existenceof personal consciousness after death, but since the idea ofa soul has deep roots in our culture, many accept the folktheory that describes it.
Any thought regarding the Atman (nondualawareness) is a speculation.~Swami Dayananda SaraswatiThere is no possible description of nondual enlightenment.Nondual enlightenment refers to the moment of andsubsequent recognition of the nondual nature of ourconsciousness within the context of ordinary awareness.The recognition brings a permanent ability to notice nondualawareness as the origin of one’s ordinary awareness, whichis to say, our awareness apart from any objects within ourattentional space.Nondual enlightenment is not a glimpse, peak experience, orspiritual experience as they are commonly understood.It’s a recognition of what has always been present in ourordinary awareness—as its foundation—rather than asingular, shining moment of glory when we find ourselves tobe divine.
The impossibility of a description of nondual enlightenmenthasn’t stopped descriptions from arising within the cultureof nonduality spirituality, which includes the larger part ofHinduism, Sikhism, Jainism, Buddhism, Zen, Sufism, theWestern mystery traditions, New Age thought, and most ofthe modern variants collectively referred to as neo-Advaita.Descriptions of nondual enlightenment in the literature ofthese traditions is commonly hyperbolic.This has resulted in a rich and fantastic mythology thatattempts to describe what nondual enlightenmentis like as an experience.Spiritual marketers often use this mythology to promotethemselves as beings who enjoy a privileged, divine state ofexistence, often including the idea they can bestow thesame state to others.
A swelling glory within me began to envelop towns,continents, the earth, solar and stellar systems,tenuous nebulae, and the floating universes. Theentire cosmos, gently luminous, like a city seen afarat night, glimmered within the infinitude of mybeing.~YoganandaTo the enlightened one, the world as he knew itceases to be, and everything now stands shroudedby a shining vesture of divine effulgence, hithertoinvisible to his normal vision.~Swami ChidanandaA Sadguru [enlightened spiritual master] isendowed with countless Siddhis (psychic powers).He possesses all divine Aisvarya (powers), all thewealth of the Lord.~Swami Shivananda
The idea of siddhis is expressed through a “powerful being”metaphor within the folk theory of nondual enlightenment.The notion is popular in nondual spirituality culture primarilybecause siddhis are discussed in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras.According to Patanjali, siddhis are paranormal powers thatare acquired by the performance of demanding spiritualdiscipline and/or the cultivation of moral purity.Some of the siddhis mentioned in the Yoga Sutras are thepower to “levitate, walk on water, swamps, thorns, or thelike,” as well as “radiate light … gain distant hearing …become as tiny as an atom …”Today, the concept of a siddhi covers just about anyparanormal ability a person may believe is possible.
Purna Avatars are born with an extraordinary arrayof supernatural powers, and possess aninexhaustible ability to perform divine miracles ormiraculous deeds …~Dr. Chandra Bhan GuptaThe idea of the divine guru endowed with siddhis is thebeating heart of the “powerful being” metaphor within thefolk theory of nondual enlightenment, one that is anchoredto the notion of mystical power.This is a figure presented as having reached the pinnacle ofexistence and attaining the greatest wisdom, usually after along and arduous journey which often begins in a childhoodmarked by numerous miraculous occurrences.These include the satgurus and avatars, believed to bedirect incarnations of God Him/Herself.
Another key metaphor within the folk theory of nondualenlightenment is the idea of the “perfected being,” anchoredto the notion of purity.The perfected being is literally perfect because they arenondual enlightened.Or, they are nondual enlightened because they have madethemselves perfect, or have been made perfect by God.Their every action is considered to be God’s alone.They are imagined to be clear vessels of God’s love.They lack any ego, or only have the faintest trace of one.They are free from the influences of thought, feeling,and desire.Some have demonstrated otherwise.
Confusion … exists in the thinking that self-realization is the elimination of all thoughtsin the mind.~Swami Dayananda SaraswatiA third metaphor of the folk theory of nondual enlightenmentsupports a flight of ideas about the essential non-existenceof the individual self. It is anchored to the notion of being“empty.” This is a common mis-construal of the Buddhistnotion of “emptiness.”These ideas can arise automatically when one is exposed tothe conceptual theater of nondual spirituality culture, andwhile somewhat supported by recent discussions withincognitive science, they often fail as a way to model theindividual self and its relationship to the world by invoking adenial of nominal physio-cognitive realities and the impactof a “real world” life.
The images and notions provided by the folk theory ofnondual enlightenment supply a rich store of material fromwhich nonduality seekers imagine what nondualenlightenment is like as an experience.These images may work to interfere with the recognition ofnondual awareness by way of what can be called theconceptual displacement of awareness.When attention attaches to conceptual images aboutnondual enlightenment, those images are reified. The resultis something akin to inattentional blindness. The conceptdisplaces our awareness by becoming an object ofawareness itself, rather than pointing to our awarenessapart from its objects.
This can be illustrated by the reproductive strategy of thebrown-headed cowbird.The cowbird is a parasitic species which finds the activenest of another bird and lies in wait until the nest istemporarily abandoned. She then sneaks in to replace theeggs with her own.The victim assumes the eggs are hers, and so sheunwittingly hatches and raises the cowbird’s chicks asher own.In much this way, our ideas and expectations about nondualenlightenment can become one of its primary preventions.
The very expectation that thoughts and emotionsshould cease is a misconception.~Dzigar Kongtrul RinpocheA day will dawn when you will laugh at all yourefforts. What is there to realize? The real is alwaysas it is.~Ramana MaharshiUnadulterated wisdom is only to be found withinthe stream of your own ordinary consciousness.~Traleg RinpocheThe only difference between an awake one and onewho isnt is that the awake one knows there is NOdifference.~Sailor Bob AdamsonThere is no difference between this moment andenlightenment.~Dzogchen Ponlop RinpocheThe true mark of recognizing your Buddha nature isto realize how ordinary it really is.~Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche