Maya, Heart, Self and Nondualism: By Pieter Schoonheim Samara
The Self, Maya, and the Heart: The Fundamentals of Non-Dualism
November 28, 1993
Maya mirrored (or reflecting on itself) = ayam or “I AM”
“Who is in my temple?
Who is in my temple?
All the doors open themselves.
All the lights light themselves.
Darkness like a dark bird
Flies away, Oh flies away.”
The concepts of the Self, Maya, and the Heart are the central themes or tenets of the Katha Upanishad and the Bhagavad Gita. Out of these and similar books (or scriptures) comes the philosophy of non-dualism or Vedanta.
Part I: Considering the concepts of Self, Maya, and Heart, as viewed from the sages
According to the ancient sages of India, the Self is neither the body, thoughts, feelings, nor intellect, but rather all pervasive Being/Consciousness manifesting as the Heart in all beings, from which emanates the awareness of “I” and Knowledge of the Self, which includes the realization that all knowledge is in and from the subject-“I”, the seer, not the object.
“The individual self, which is Brahman mistakenly identified with Maya, experiences the gunas* which proceed from Maya. He, who has experienced Brahman directly and known it to be other than Maya and the gunas, will not be reborn, no matter how he has lived his life.” Bhagavad Gita, p. 103
“That in which the sun rises and in which it sets, that which is the source of all the powers of nature and of the senses, that which nothing can transcend – that is the immortal Self”
Katha Upanishad, p. 21
“The Self-Existent made the senses turn outward. Accordingly, man looks toward what is without, and sees not what is within. Rare is he, longing for immortality, shuts his eyes to what is without and beholds the Self.” Katha Upanishad, p. 20
Maya is the self-existent beginningless power of Brahman, the Self, which makes us imagine that the sense of “I” felt in the body and the related thoughts and feelings are the Self. In the Bhagavad Gita (P. 59), this imagining or delusion is stated like a dream:
“You dream you are the doer
You dream the action bears fruit
It is your ignorance
It is the world’s delusion
That gives you those dreams.”
“Every action is really performed by the gunas*. Man deluded by his egoism thinks ‘I am the doer.’ But he who has the true insight into the operations of the gunas and their various functions, knows that when the senses attach themselves to objects, gunas are merely attaching themselves to gunas, knowing this he does not become attached to his actions.” Bhagavad Gita, p. 47
“Maya” – The deluding potency of the Self
What I was able to grasp from this is that, as long as the mind is turned outward, the Self, which is all pervasive, is sensed only as an “I”-awareness in and limited to the body with its thoughts and impressions revolving continuously around a perceived and separate world. But when the mind is purified or made to enquire where the source of seeing, which is to say, the subject “I”, arises from, then the mind reflects the Self. The moment the Self is reflected in the mind at once the idea of subject-object and knowledge vanishes like a mirage. This vanishing is why the perceived world, the “I am the body” idea or “I am the doer” is called Maya, because the sense of being a doer in the world is apparently real to the outgoing mind, but when the Real Light of the mind is realized, the use of the mind has no more value, just as the use of the moon seen in the daylight sky of the risen sun, is of no value.
* gunas: The three gunas are: Sattva – purity; rajas – action; tamas – sloth or dullness
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Again, as long as the mind is outward bent, the individual soul takes itself for the body/mind and accumulates impressions about itself in relation to a perceived and separate world. The mind then tries to coordinate and correlate all it sees into a cohesive composite of impressions it holds to be its identity. At a certain point, though, it begins to become apparent that knowing, comprehension, understanding, or knowledge about one’s world, be it within one’s mind or apparently outside, is coming from within and is not separate, as one is otherwise conditioned to believe. This insight into how we actually know or perceive leads to the conclusion that the impressions we’ve made of the world are actually each individual’s projected idea about it, and not one universally accepted truth. The question arises, “Can these changing thoughts, impressions be all there is, all that I am, all that the world is?” The sages of the Upanishads are asked this question by those seeking permanence in their otherwise “transient” lives.
“To many it is not given to hear of the Self. Many, though they hear it, do not understand it. Wonderful is he who speaks of it. Intelligent is he who learns of it. Blessed is he, who taught by a good teacher is able to understand it” Katha Upanishad, p. 17
“Veiled in my Maya, I am not shown to many. How shall this world bewildered by delusion recognize me, who am not born and change not.” Bhagavad Gita, p. 73
“The Heart” – Hridayam
The Heart is the Self. The sages of the Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita, and several other Gitas I found all refer constantly to the identity of the Heart and its location with the all pervading Self.
Significantly, the location of the Heart is intuited or inferred by everyone, as it is the very place we all point to when we say “I”. The realization of the Self in or as the Heart is said to sever the relationship between the Self and the out going mind forever, such that the relationship between the “I” and the thoughts and actions of the body are realized never to have been. At once, attention to the waking state of consciousness ceases, and the enquirer remains egoless, abiding in and as the Heart, observing impartially all states of consciousness as one emanation, as stated below:
“The ancient, effulgent being, the indwelling spirit, subtle, deep-hidden in the lotus of the Heart, is hard to know. But the wise man following the path of meditation, knows him and is freed alike from pleasures and pain.” Katha Upanishad, p. 17-18
“Smaller than the smallest, greater than the greatest, this Self forever dwells within the hearts of all.” Katha Upanishad, p. 18
“I am the Atman (Self) that dwells in the heart of every mortal creature. I am the beginning, the life span, and the end of all.” (Krishna to Arjuna)
Bhagavad Gita, p. 88
“The devoted dwell with Him
They know Him always
There in the Heart
Where action is not” Bhagavad Gita, p.59
“Both the individual self and the Universal Self have entered in the cave of the heart, the abode of the Most High, but the knowers of Brahman and the householders who perform the fire sacrifices see a difference between them, as between sunshine and shadow.”
Katha Upanishad, p. 19
“That being, who is the power of all powers and is born as such, who embodies himself in the elements and in them exists, and who has entered the lotus of the heart, is the immortal Self.” Katha Upanishad, p. 21
“That being, of the size of a thumb, dwells deep within the heart. He is the lord of time, past and future. Having attained him, one fears no more. He, verily, is the immortal Self.”
Katha Upanishad, p. 21
“Radiating from the lotus of the heart, there are a hundred and one nerves. One of these ascends towards the thousand petalled lotus in the brain.”
Katha Upanishad, p. 24
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These quotes state that the all pervading Self, as Brahman, is situated in the Heart, and from there light the body and the mind. To gain some clarification about the relationship between the Heart, the Self, and Maya, I’ve also quoted from the Sri Ramana Gita, which focuses on jnana or enquiry into the Self. (As an analogy, the Heart is to the body like the singularity of a Black Hole in the Universe. It represents the substratum, ground or basis behind all appearances.)
“The ‘I’-thought is said to be the root of all thoughts. In brief, that from which the ‘I’-thought” springs forth is the heart. (verse 3)
“The heart is different from the blood circulating organ. ‘Hridayam‘ stands for Hird ‘the center which sucks in everything’, and ayam, ‘this’, and it thus stands for the Self. (v 5)
The location of the Heart is on the right side of the chest, not at all on the left. The light (of awareness) flows from the heart through the sushumna (para nadi*) to Sahasrara (thousand petalled lotus in the brain). (verse 6)
“From there it flows to the entire body, and then all experiences of the world arise. Viewing them as different from the Light, one gets caught up in samsara. (verse 7)
“The Sahasrara of one who abides in the Self is nothing but pure Light. Any thought that approaches it cannot survive. (verse 8)
“The universe is nothing but the mind, and the mind is nothing but the heart. Thus, the entire story of the universe culminates in the heart. (verse 12)
“The notion that the seer is different from the seen is only in the mind. For those that abide in the Heart, the seer and the seen are one. (verse 19)
Sri Ramana Gita, Ch V, p. 26-27
It becomes apparent from reading all these Gitas that they all state that it is only due to lack of enquiry into the nature of the “I”-sense in the body and mind that the True identity of one’s self as the Self, with the all pervading, causeless, Brahman is not realizes. Once this enquiry is made the (para nadi) nerve referred to in the above quote from the Katha Upanishad, begins to resonate or pulsate “I as I” or “I, I, I, I, …” versus the constant grasping of attention to “I-this”, “I-that”, and so forth with each rising thought.
To paraphrase, when the sense of “I” becomes localized through single enquiry, the nerve referred to begins to radiate incandescently, and the whole body is outshined in a blaze of living Light, having no more separation from the all pervasive Brahman. (This is similar to matter that blazes when sucked into a Black Hole.)
In the chapter concerning the vision of God in His Universal Form, Krishna tells Arjuna, after revealing to him essentially what He, as the Self of all, Witnesses, states:
“Neither by study of the scriptures, nor by austerities, nor by alms giving, can I be seen….
But by single minded and intense devotion, that Form of Mine may be completely known, and seen, and entered into…”
Bhagavad Gita, p. 97
Krishna further states concerning the various methods of devotion that:
“Certainly, all these are noble: But the man of discrimination [between Self and not self*], I see as my very Self. For he alone loves me because I am Myself: The last and only goal of his devoted heart.” Bhagavad Gita, p. 72 [*my italics]
In the Sri Ramana Gita the points regarding this subject – the knot between the Self and the body/mind, and their final break were made in the most concisely to the point manner, as follows:
“The nexus of the body and the Self is called the granthi (knot). It is only by this connection with the Self that one is aware of the body. (verse 3)
“This body is insentient. The Self is pure awareness. The connection between the two is deduced through intellect. (verse 4)
“Enveloped by the defused light of pure awareness, the body functions. Owing to non-apprehension (of the world) in sleep, (swoon) and so on, the location of the Self has to be inferred. (verse 5)
“Even as the subtle forces like the electric current pass through visible wires, the light of awareness flows through a nadi (nerve) in the body. (verse 6)
“The effulgent light of pure awareness, taking hold of a center, lights up the entire body as the Sun illumines the world. (verse 7)
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“Owing to the diffusion of light in the body, one has experiences in the body. That center of radiation, the sages say, is the Heart. verse 8
“From the play of the forces in the body, one infers the flow of the light of awareness. The forces course through the body, each hugging their own special nadi. (verse 9)
“The particular nadi through which pure awareness flows is called sushumna*. It is also called atma nadi, para nadi, and amrita nadi. (verse 10) [*between the Heart and the brain]
“As the light pervades the entire body, one gets attached to the body, mistakes the body for the Self and regards the world as different from oneself. (verse 11)
“When the discerning one renounces attachment and the identification of himself with the body and pursues one-pointed enquiry, a churning starts in the nadis. (verse 12)
“With this churning of the nadis, the Self gets separated from the other nadis and, clinging to one nadi alone, shines forth.
“When the effulgent light of awareness shines in atma nadi alone, nothing else shines except the Self. (verse 14)
“He for whom the Atman (Self) alone shines within, without, and everywhere, as (clearly as) objects to the ignorant, is called one who has cut the nexus. (verse 16)
“When the light, withdrawn from all other nadis, dwells in one nadi alone, the bond (between awareness and the body) is sundered and the light abides as the Self. verse. 18
“Since such a one has no sense of doership, his karma, it is said, is completely destroyed. As nothing but the Self exists, no doubts arise for him. (verse 21)
“Once the knot is cut, one is never bound again. This is considered the state of power and peace supreme.” (verse 22)
Sri Ramana Gita, Ch:IX, p. 49-55
Another well known Gita is the Avadhut Gita, the only known work of the Rishi Dattatreya, who lived sometime after Krishna. Avadhut means high Renunciate or Perfected Man. To get an idea of the state of one who ever abides as his Self, with no awareness of the body, I’ve included a couple of stanzas of this Gita here, as well:
“Atman is not the Knower, Nor is It the known. It is not accessible to inference. Words cannot describe This Consciousness Absolute. The mind is lost in Its majesty. How can it be explained to thee? Space-like immortality-giving knowledge am I. (verse 11)
“I am the eternal principle. Free from attachment and aversion, free from imperfections am I, Fate and providence exist not in me. Eternally free from the sufferings of the world, Verily, space-like immortality-giving Knowledge am I. (verse 13)
“Maya is not my modification. Nor is its glamour mine. Deceit, hypocrisy, truth and untruth Have no place in me. Space-like, immortality-giving knowledge am I.” verse 18
Avadhut Gita, Ch III, p 25-27
The following are extracts from the Yoga Vashishta Sara, a condensed version of the Yoga Vashishta, the spiritual instructions of Vashishta to Rama, very similar to Krishna’s instructions to Arjuna, which also helps to get a feeling for the meaning of non-dualism:
“Nothing whatsoever is born or dies anywhere at any time. It is Brahman alone appearing illusorily in the form of the world.” Ch I: 23
“The Self is more extensive than space; it is pure, subtle, un-decaying, and auspicious. As such how could it be born and how can it die?” Ch I: 24
“O Rama, there is no intellect, no nescience, no mind and no individual soul (jiva). They are all imagined in Brahman.” Ch III: 25
“O Rama, the mind has by its own activity bound itself; when it is calm it is free.” Ch III 27
“O Rama, this enquiry into the Self of the nature “Who am I?’ is the fire which burns up the seeds of the evil tree which is the mind.” Ch V: 1
“How wonderful that in me, the infinite ocean of Consciousness, waves of jivas (individual souls) rise, sport for a while, and disappear according to their nature.” Ch VI: 8
“Knowledge is not separate from you and that which is known is not separate from knowledge. Hence there is nothing other than the Self, nothing separate (from it).” ChVIII:6
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Part II: Setting aside preconceptions and basic Western assumptions about the world
In order to be able to have some idea of what the concepts of Self, Maya, and Heart mean in relation to the philosophy of non-dualism, I’ve had to set aside several central preconceptions or basic views about life, myself and the world.
In the West we are brought up to believe, as Descartes, after locking himself in a secluded mountain chalet for two weeks, that “I think, therefore I am.” This is to say that who I am completely depends upon my thoughts in relation to my body and the impressions I make about it in relation to each specific thing (or person) in a separate world. In other words in the West, the conditioning from birth is that “I am this body and the mind’s thoughts, etc.”
This means that I am conditioned to accept my self as always viewing the world in terms of judging, comparing, categorizing, separating, distinguishing, organizing everything as something separate from me. The whole way of thinking and perceiving in the West is one of collecting empirical data, so to speak, and analyzing it in relation to other things.
Thus, the whole idea of analyzing the analyzer, seeing the seer, hearing the hearer, or simply to put aside one’s identity and attention to thoughts and things and abiding as the part that sees, in order to “enter into” a perspective that has no basis in thought related identity, seemed like an impossible task. It was a task that required believing such a view possible, that others had realized it, and to somehow discard all the “truths” or impressions I was brought up to take for granted, in order to suddenly discover that there is another point of view, which in itself may be even more valid than the one I had accepted without question before.
In the West, we have taken Descartes’ idea to its fullest extent, as the basis for all scientific study, intellectual thought, even religious belief, where everything is considered and examined as being “apart”. We take “dualism” as being obvious. Even analysis of the mind is done by considering the thought content, the emotions, the behavior, each to be categorized, codified, classified and so on. In fact, the inner mind to the Western mind is still what the non-dualist calls the out going mind. Even the Western Mystics and New Age spiritualists are categorizing planes and stages and levels of consciousness, which to the non-dualist are all experiences of the out going mind, having no relation to the Reality they try to convey. In their Reality, all this perceived world of inner thoughts, feelings and impressions and outer sensory experiences is only “Maya”, a mirage, non-existent, like a reflection in a diamond. The diamond represents the ever present rock solid reality, unchanging, while the images, however real they may feel, because of their superimposition on the jewel are only that, images.
Thus, when I am forced to consider a whole new “way” (Tao) of perceiving, requiring the consideration of an “I” without a ‘me’ or ‘mine’, I find myself experiencing a pause, a space, as it were, between thoughts. The idea that one might be able to think and act with no sense of being the thinker, the actor, the doer – that one could simply abide as impartial egoless Being, free of thought, was a completely revolutionary idea. That all action occurs by itself perfectly, required, and still requires a sense of radical turnabout in all my preconceptions.
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Part III: The Philosophy of Non-Dualism
Dualism supposes that there is a subject-“I” and an object, the individual self versus the world, man versus God, a thinker versus the thoughts he thinks, and so on. But in the philosophy of non-dualism, these are all only concepts, ideas, or imaginings, which we hold to be real, only because of attention to them as they arise in the waking consciousness. According to the philosophy of non-dualism, as soon as the Self is enquired into, these “ideas” of a separate self just vanish. The ideas of a conscious mind, subconscious mind, unconscious mind, even superconscious mind to one who has enquired into the Self, are only that, ideas (concepts-images-impressions), having no real existence, apart from attention to them in the waking state. The idea of a waking state, dream state, and deep sleep, even the idea of a fourth state beyond, impartially “Witnessing” those three, again, to the non-dualist, are only concepts or ideas of the waking mind with its need for a fixated attention, or need to identify and organize itself around some idea, to establish an identity.
The non-dualist will state that this is the nature of the outgoing mind, but that when this mind is stilled, purified, and made to enquire of its source, the Self shines forth, the True Man emerges, these ideas become ruthlessly disregarded within oneself, and one remains abiding as Self only.
When someone asks how this can be, that the entire world and all one sees and believes about it are just a fiction of the mind, the non-dualist gives the following comparison:
To paraphrase p. 5-7 of Jewel Garland of Enquiry (Vichara Mani Malai), the non-dualist will say that just as in a dream one finds one’s self to be the subject of one’s dream thinking about and relating to all sorts of persons and events over what may seem to be a long period of time, but in reality, both the subject and the objectified world one sees have all been created by the mind in the dream, so too this waking world is all a projection of the Self. The non-dualist states that we seem to believe that we are a subject seeing a world and making impressions and reactions to what we think we are seeing only due to non-enquiry into that Self. Therefore, he states, as soon as we enquire into the Self, the subject-“I”, we take ourselves to be, with all its dilemmas, and the objectified world we project our relationship with, will all just vanish, like the dream, and we remain abiding as Self only, impartially witnessing all the states and planes and levels of consciousness, unattached, unconditioned.
There seem to be 2 paths, both which lead to one path:
One path one might call a path of purification of the mind, a path of the separate soul seeking Union with its Creator. As an outset this would involve a focus on virtuous acts, involving giving, caring, and unconditioned love, with an attitude that avoids selfishly motivated acts, or acts, where one is seeking reward or advantage, as found in greed, lust or hate. This is called Karma Yoga.
These virtuous acts then lead to a giving up of desires, giving way to a sense of longing for the feeling of stillness and purity of the mind, a sense of surrender to that feeling of totally placid, thoughtlessly alert brightness, which many may call the Spirit of God, a state absolutely free from all thought. With this is said to come a feeling of neither an inside nor an outside regarding the body, of beauty/perfection- beatitude. This is called Bhakti Yoga.
The mind becomes so still or pure that when one goes to sleep, the body is seen to go to sleep, and one remains a still witness. Apparently, this purity leads to one becoming awake at, what the Western world would call, the subconscious or unconscious states. The non-dualists also have a name for this – jagat-sushupti, which means waking-sleep, or one who is awake in or to his unconscious all the time, asleep or awake. They see the world within a field of pervasive consciousness from the perspective of the atoms that form it.
Yogis approach this purification similarly, but adding various physical and mental forms of purification, such as cleaning out their intestines, stomach, and nasal passages with water and special exercises, fasting and strict vegetarian diet controls, certain postures – called asanas, postures with movement combined with breathing – called kryias, exercises in concentrating the mind – called meditation, and various types of breathing regulation – called Pranayama.
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The idea is that with breath regulation, combined with a focus on certain nerves in the spine, gradually there will come a profound stillness leading to deeper states of awareness of the unconscious mind. This process is said to have its physiological equivalent of a bio-energy (prana) withdrawing from the outer nerves to the central nerve of the spine, the yogis call sushumna, and entering at its base rising through the spinal cord, uniting the individual soul with higher planes of consciousness, until the highest state in the “thousand petalled lotus” or Sahasrara in the brain is reached, and the soul experiences the Light of a million suns. The yogis say this is Liberation.
The other approach is called the Path of Self Knowledge of the Jnani. The Jnani says that all the planes of consciousness are always already lit by the Self only. He will say that the Self is always realized, but for the idea that it is not. He will state that while some purification of the mind is necessary to bring about stillness, once the Self, which is ever awake, is enquired into, all planes of consciousness vanish like a mirage, and only Self is seen. The nerve here referred to is not the sushumna, which rises from the base of the spine to the top of the head, but the para nadi (amrita nadi) rising from the Heart to the top of the head. This para nadi, jnani’s say, is an extension of the sushumna, which yogis will eventually enter to realize the Heart, when the question dawns, “Who experiences?”
The vision of the Jnani, when the Heart knot is cut, is of a light in the nerve between the Heart (Hridayam) and the crown of the brain (Sahasrara), and that these two radiate, while a flame is seen rising through the spine and through the top of the head. He sees the world, but there is no sense of someone looking or giving attention to it. He observes without attention or interest the thoughts rising up from of the Heart, appearing in the waking consciousness, like bubbles rising from the depths of the ocean appearing on its surface. He sees the world, as the Totality of Existence, neither inside or outside, yet apart from his Self. There is no longer a sense of doer, person, or “I” localized in the body or related to the world. There is no body. The mind is severed from attention, and thinking and acting continue motivelessly by themselves. The world appears as a film in a movie, where the projected light brightens, and the picture is “outshined”. (Spiritual Instruction, p. 10) The picture is there, but only Self is seen, abiding as Self, as Heart, radiating brightness everywhere within Itself. Because thoughts and actions relate to vibrations in time, he, beyond thought, realizes himself to be forever timeless, space‑like, the Heart, the Self of all beings, the Heart of Being Itself, Consciousness Itself.
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Part IV: Could the Teachings of Christ Really Be in the Same Tradition as the Ancient sages, Krishna, and others? Are the Teachings of Christ Actually Centered in the Philosophy of Non-Dualism? Is Christ in reality the all pervasive timeless unconditioned Self, abiding as the Heart of everyone, as Consciousness Itself? If Christ IS the Truth, as He says, shouldn’t His Teachings be examined to discover Who and What That Truth is and abide as That, rather than to seek out for remedies in this world? – as in “Go first to God (“I AM”) and all things will be added unto you.” Luke 12:31
There are many passages in the New (and Old) Testament, where, when the notion of the West, that we are all separate beings, centered in our identities as thinking bodies, is put aside, one is surprised to find that most passages are apparently referring to Christ as being the Self, and likewise He speaks from the perspective of an Avadhut, or as Krishna might speak, or another sage from the non-dualist tradition.
While in the Old Testament God states the Truth as “I AM THAT I AM”, in the West we have built Christianity around Descartes’ dictum: “I think therefore I am.” From, the point of view of a non-dualist, the first two of the Ten Commandments (Ex 20: 1-7) are extremely powerful statements. So, it is no wonder that in reading the words of Christ, as a non-dualist, the statements come out as being also very powerful.
The following are several quotes about Christ as the Self, in terms that are identical to those of the ancient eastern sages:
“All things were made by him, and without him was not anything made that was made.”
John I: 3
‘In him was life, and the life was the light of men.”
John I: 4
“And the light shineth in the darkness; and the darkness comprehendeth it not.”
John I: 5
“That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that is born into this world.”
John I: 9
Basically, these are descriptions very similar to how Krishna describes himself. Here the creation is not only created by Christ, but also all creation throughout all time, as “without him was not anything made that was made”. Who Christ is said to be is Life, and that Life was the Light (Consciousness) of “every man that is born into this world.” The darkness described is the mind, which cannot know the Self, the All Knower, and cannot see the seer, which lights it.
From these quotes and the quotes to follow, we will see that Christ is defined clearly as the Self of all, and that his teachings are to redirect each listener that can “hear” him, to purify the mind, or directly to enquire into and abide as the Self, or to admonish them to take their stand in the Truth and “abide in me”, the Self. Quoting a few passages, it will become clear that these are statements from the perspective of Krishna, or an Avadhut, or someone, who, having realized their Self, no longer has a sense of “I” in relation to the body or mind, but abides as and is “Consciousness Itself”.
“No man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.”John 3: 13
Here Christ states essentially that the Self is always realized. In John 3: 14-21 Christ elaborates on this theme of the “Light” further, as do many other of his passages. When seen from the perspective of a non-dualist, His passages are intensely strong, giving no ground for alternate ideas that there may be some reality to the world or some basis to the world or some alternate “Ways” or approaches. For example:
“I am the Light of the world: he that followeth Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the Light of Life.” John 8: 12
One might think from reading these passages that Christ always speaks as the Atman and of the Father as Brahman, or as the Self realized being One in relation to the All pervasive and timeless Self. Just as Krishna tells Arjuna that he taught Aditia (the Sun), Christ states:
“Verily, verily, I say unto you, before Abraham was, I AM.” John 8: 58
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One can see from the way Christ always refers to the Father, as the doer of the miracles and all that He says, that regardless of His apparent actions, that He has no sense of being a doer, that all He says and does just happens, because He abides in the Father. Consider the following passage, where Jesus is speaking to the Apostles in John Ch 14:
“I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life: No man cometh to the Father but by Me. (verse 6)
If you had known me, you should have known my Father also: and from hence forth you know him and have seen him. (verse 7)
“Philip said to Jesus, ‘Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us.’ verse 8
“To which Jesus replied:
“Have I been so long with you, yet you have still not known me, Philip? He that has seen me has seen the Father; therefore, how do you say, ‘Show us the Father’? (verse 9)
“Believe you not that I am in the Father and the Father in me? The words I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwells in me he does the works. (verse 11)
“Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me, or else believe me for the very works’ sake.” (verse 12)
“I and my Father are one.” John 10: 30
Explaining how his Truth is in fact the Truth of all, Christ states in John Ch 15:
“Abide in me, and I in you. As a branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can you, except you abide in me. (verse 4)
“I am the vine, you are the branches…apart from me you can do nothing.” (verse 5)
In John Chapter 17, Christ prays to the Father on behalf of the Apostles, that He sanctify them by His Truth, and that they might be one with the Father, just as He (Jesus) is. Here, one can see that His state is always one with the Father. One is quite clear that Christ’s permanent abiding state, when He says “where I am“, is unrelated to the world. He asks:
“Father, I will that they also, whom thou has given me, be with me where I am, that they may behold my glory, which you have given me: For you have loved me from before the foundation of the world.” (verse 24)
The notion of Spirit, that He (Christ) and God (the Father) are one in Spirit also conveys the sense of the formlessness of Brahman (the Father), as well as our own Truth as spirit versus body:
“God is a Spirit, and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.”
(John 4: 24)
Apart from all Christ’s statements and parables about non-judgment (Mat Ch 7: 1-2; Luke 6: 37-42; John 8: 6-11), non-attachment (Mat 6: 40), non-anxiety (Mat 6: 25-34; Luke 12: 22-32), perpetual forgiveness (Luke 17: 4; Mat 19: 21-22; Mark 11:25), compassion (Mat 25: 34-40), humility (Mat 18: 4), and so on, which all relate to a discarding of attention to the world (“Take no thought for your life.” Mat 6: 25), probably the most profoundly direct instruction Christ gave concerning the teaching of non-dualism is from Luke 11:
“The light of the body is the eye: Therefore, when thine eye is single, your whole body will be filled with light….” (verse 34)
To a non-dualist, this is easily paraphrased as follows: The part of you that sees (the seer, one’s Self) is your true light. Therefore, if you hold the seer (subject-“I”) singly or exclusively (versus giving attention to thoughts) you will have illumination – or what some call the “enlightenment of the whole body”. This is the exact instruction of the non-dualists of the Vedanta tradition, with the same described outcome, as related above. (As if God’s First and Second Commandments weren’t clear enough in terms of having no images before the “I AM.”)
And as to the Heart: “The wise man’s heart is at his right hand, but the fool’s heart at his left.” Ecclesiastics 10: 2. And: “The pure in heart shall see God (“I AM”).” Matt 3: 8.
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Anyone in the east, coming to a similar conclusion about Christ, might call the approach of Christ the path of “sudden realization”, because his teachings are often in the form of commandments or statements giving no ground (room to maneuver). His approach permits no delays, no second chance, no outs, no remedy, no alternatives to the tribulations of the world. His way to God (the “I AM” of the Old Testament) is full of beatitudes and purity (Mat 5: 2-11), blessedness and love (Mat 6: 38-48). But those that oppose the Spirit “will never be forgiven” (Luke 12: 10, Mat 12: 32; Mark 3: 29) and “will be thrown into the outer darkness, where there is great suffering and gnashing of teeth.” (Mat 8: 12;14: 50; 22: 13; 24: 51)
In considering Christ as a non-dualist, like Krishna, or the Avadhut, the Rishis of the Upanishads, or one of the Buddhas, the approach might be stated as “radical” or “ruthless”. The reading of the New Testament requires a constant coming to terms with Christ’s life: His all knowingness of each person close or far away, now and in the future, how they will act, what will happen, when, and why; the constant ceaseless flow of power, where miracles fall from him, undirected. In the non-dualist texts, these are the powers described as God’s, to be all knowing, all powerful, and so forth. In Revelations, Ch I: 8, Christ tells John:
“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the ending” sayeth the Lord, “which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.”
Many of the stories about Christ and the words He spoke are similar to stories we might read of Saints and sages in India, Tibet, and China, as found in “The Tibetan Book of Great Liberation” and Tibet’s Great Yogi Milarepa” by Evens-Wentz, “Autobiography of a Yogi” by Yogananda, “Ramana Maharshi and the Path of Self Knowledge” by Arthur Osborn, “The Ramayana” by Tulsidas, books about the lives of different Buddhas, or the 10 Sikh Sat (Truth) Gurus, and many other books one can find about the miraculous lives of these sages, Saints, Avatars, Jnanis, and so on. But what was special about Christ was the sense of awe-inspiring fierceness, the intensity of rock hard Reality that packed each moment, demanding … commanding perfection of everyone, now. For example:
“Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
“I give you a commandment: Love one another.” John 15: 12, 17
“For I have not spoken of myself, but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak. And I know his commandment is life everlasting.” John 12: 49
As Christ repeatedly stated “If any man have ears to hear, let him hear.” Mark Ch 4: 23, again Mark 7: 16, etc.. This “hearing” is central to the entire teaching process of the non-dualist. In the “Lamp of Non-Dual Knowledge” (Advaita Bodha Deepika), Jewel Garland of Enquiry” (Vichara Mani Malai), “The Cream of Emancipation” (Kaivalya Navaneeta), “The Essence of Yoga Vashishta” (Yoga Vashishta Sara) – instructions of the Saint Vashishta to Rama, Shankara’s “Crest-Jewel of Discrimination”, and others, over and over again we see that the three necessities to realizing the Self, apart from the prerequisite of a “still mind”*, are “hearing”, “consideration”, and “perfect abiding”. Hearing is to understand the concept of the non-dual Self; “consideration”, to reflect inwardly: “From where do the thoughts arise?” or “Who sees?”, which includes a steady, even ruthless disregard of all rising thoughts, as “not this, not this,..” (“neti, neti,..”); and finally “perfect abiding” in the form of “objectless abiding as the seer” or as Ground (asraya) is to a Lightningbolt (Vajra Siddhi), until the Self flashes forth, as in “I say unto all, Watch!” Mk 13: 37. *“Stillness of mind” means “Be still and know that I am God (‘I AM’ Ex 3: 14).” (David, Ps).
Probably the best summation of the possibility, potential, or promise that Christ represents to the Western world is in his following statement from John 16: 33.
“These things I have spoken to you that in me you might have peace. In the world you shall have tribulations: But be of good cheer; I have overcome (conquered) the world.”
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Actually, not to see Christ as the personification of non-dualism is to turn all He says into demagoguery, to make him into another “zealot” of the time, the founder of a bizarre cult, of strange rituals based in fanatical superstition and myth, a revamping of paganism in monistic form. It seems quite obvious though in reading the first three parts (above) concerning Part I, the subject of the Self, Maya, and the Heart, as they relate to the philosophy of non-dualism; Part II, the nature of (Western) preconceptions that needed to be set aside in order to “enter into” the subject; and Part III, a discussion of the nature and experience of non-dualism, as a philosophical reality, that if we can “hear” Him Christ (the Vajra Siddhi Guru), ever abiding in and as the Father, may be one of the most profound Teachers of the non-dual nature of Reality and proof of its philosophy in terms of realizing the Truth of our own Reality as all pervasive Self!
Blessed am I
In freedom am I
I am the infinite
in my soul
I can find no beginning
All is my Self
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This is a wonderful article. Thank you.