Advaita Articles: Oneness in spite of Duality
An Article posted to Advaitin EList By Madathil Nair:
Knowledge, inferential or direct, is necessarily dualistic. There is a knower and there is a known. It is the apparent chasm between the two that necessitates ‘add ins’ like body, mind, intellect etc., which are absolutely necessary if we get down to analyzing the process of knowing and of which, however, we are not at all aware through most of our waking moments. The question now is if we can get rid of, or at least limit, the sense of duality while keeping our eyes open and experiencing the world. The sense of duality emerges only when ‘we get down to analyzing’. Otherwise, it is all One. This is the exact reason why empirical sciences unfailingly fail at appreciating Reality because they stick their nose deep into ‘enquiring’. Well, that is their job. Can’t help it.
This reminds me of a story of a king and his consort which I read in some old philosophical work. The lady was a realized being and the king was a spiritual struggler. She taught him Vedanta and, as a result, he reached a stage of spiritual evolution where he was able to enjoy samaadhi at will – but only when he sat in a particular posture and kept his eyes closed! His consort was not happy with the situation. She continued helping him until at last he opened up like Arjuna saying “naShTo moha”! He no more needed a posture or closed eyes to be One with everything. He ‘knew’ that he had always been just That!
As advaitins, we know duality and we know that there is only Oneness despite duality. In acquiring this knowledge, no doubt, we necessarily made use of concepts like adhyaasa, body, mind, intellect etc. But, isn’t it yet time we kept these tools and equipment on the shelf, opened our eyes, looked upwards at the Sun and chanted the gAyatrI mantra or showed the lighted lamp to our smiling devI (She is my iShTadevata) and said “na tatra sUryo bhaati ……….” or looked at the splendour of the night sky and thrilled heaven and earth by singing from dakshinAmUrti stotram: “Naanachchiddra ghatodarasthithamaha deepaprabhabhaasuram…..”?
Will you feel any sense of duality then? I am sure no. You then have no time to entertain duality. This guy called duality is there in your sitting room only as long as you care to entertain him.
The whole of waking life or most of it can thus be rendered ‘non-dual’. We don’t have to necessarily turn ‘inwards’ to do that. There is no ‘inwards’ or ‘outwards’ in this business. All directions are the same. An ‘inwards’ can exist only in relation to the limitations of the body-mind-intellect equipment. Haven’t we already placed it on the shelf? Neither have we got to negate anything. We can be just That inspite of everything. In other words, we accept everything and see them from a different angle, wherefrom only the oneness in diversity is perceived. This is my ‘I know’ – the common denominator of all transactions.
I am reminded of two situations Swami Dayananda Saraswatiji mentions in this context. You are alone and there is a beautiful sunset. That makes you extremely happy. There is no wish fulfilment here. Yet, you are happy, because you are essentially happiness and the sunset made you forget your limitations for a second. In other words, you tasted oneness. The second situation (slightly embellished by me): You are with your business rival in his sitting room struggling to sort differences out. You hate the man because he is a big pain on the neck. And suddenly you spot his baby. It is smiling at you – a toothless, innocent smile. You forget everything for a moment and break out into being a tender expansiveness in spite of the fact that that baby is not yours and its father is your bitter foe.
These are classical examples where duality vanishes without a trace. There is no body-mind-intellect equipment here unless you sit back later and analyze. You are then inviting the guy – the unwanted duality – back into your sitting room.
It is within us to make each and every moment of our life ‘non- dually’ happy if we really contemplate and endeavour. The ‘I know’ (or jaanaami) explanation helps. One can even reach a point where one is able to spot, appreciate and love the endearing ‘cherubicity’ (my coinage) behind the bushy moustache of Saddam Hussein without any sense of separation. (I was a war prisoner in his Iraq some time ago. I, therefore, have every reason to love him, for the hardships I then underwent taught me great lessons.). There are masters around us living this truth. Why can’t we at least aspire to be in their footsteps?
With advaitic contemplation, we begin to spontaneously glow like glow-worms. It is the waking, continuous glow of knowing (jaanaami) without a sense of separation. Deep sleep, experiences (!) of anaesthesia and hypnosis are within that glow. The concept of non-existent death too. Who cares? I have got to glow. I don’t have time to see what happens to this body-mind-intellect equipment. It is there on the shelf. I can take a look at it when I want. It does not matter if it was the same one which I left there last time!
More: Advaita Vedanta Resources