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Non-Duality Notes

Some thoughts in progress. This page contains my ideas related to Non-Duality that aren't quite yet ready for prime time. They are just works in progress. As I think of stuff I like to jot it down so that I can come back to it later and refine it a bit more before posting it to the more main pages of this website.

I don't know if you've come across this, but there are "sort of" two perspectives on Non-Duality. A bit of an odd statement to make to talk about "two" when talking about "non-duality". I think that is because the second item I am about to present is totally artificial. Once you understand that the "I", the "ego", the "self" or whatever you want to call it does not exist in "absolute reality", then the "second perspective" on Non-Duality becomes a phantom.

First Perspective: The "self" (the "ego", the "I") is an illusion. There is no "separate self". Thus no "good" or "evil" exists. No "goals" or "purpose" exists. There is nothing that is less than "perfect" because neither "perfect" nor "imperfect" exist. There is nothing that is less than "enlightened", "liberated", "enlightened" or "awakened" because there is nothing in a state less than this. On top of that, no "you" exists to become "enlightened" or "awaken" anyway!

Second Perspective: I look at this as "sort of" a subset of the First Perspective. An "apparant self" exits. It seem like "I" exist. It seems like there is a "self". From that perspective, it seems important to shape the world to best suite my "self". Some of us are oriented towards "altruism". For us, our goal is "making the world a better place". That is fine, but it helps to understand that there are other "altruistic" individuals whose idea of making the world a better place is totally opposite of ours. Many battles have been fought and much blook has been shed over peoples who had different ideas about how to "make the world a better place".

But let's get back to the core of the "Second Perspective". From this perspective, there are may schools and practices to purport to be able to teach you how to achieve "enlightenment". This can be done. But only in the "Second Perspective", not the "First Perspective". In the "First Perspective" the "I" is an illusion. Thus, there is NO ONE who can ever become enlightened! Any teaching that says you can achieve enlightenment is within the "Second Perspective" because only in the second perspective does an "I" exist that could ever become "enlightened". From the point of view of the "First Perspective", it is just an illusary apparant "self" that seems to have become enlightened.

So what does it mean to become enlightened from the "Second Perspective"? It could mean that you understand that the "self" is nothing more than an "illusion". It could mean that once you understand that no "self" exists that you need to modify the world to make that "self" happy, then that "self" can always be content in whatever circumstances it finds it"self". I have no doubt that "achieving" enlightment in the "Second Perspective" can make the "self" shed its state of "discontentment" and live in "contentment" forever. That does not mean the "self" will never again experience "pain". "Pain" is a physical perception moderated by some psychological aspects. But pain can be something real and measurable if one places an ocscilliscope of the signals transmitted by the nerve fibers. But "pain" does not need to lead to suffering or discontent.

Once one understands that the "self" is an illusion and our existence and actions are like those in a play, one can be totally content, even if in tremendous pain in the role that we play in this existence. So, "Second Perspective" "enlightenment" can bring "contentment" to one's life and certainly makes the attempt by the "apparant self" worthwhile to enter a more contented life.

However, in the absolute terms of the "First Perspective", whatever happens is just fine as it is. It is the play, the drama, that just is "As It Is". If one is totally caught up in whatever life they are leading, that is perfectly fine. There is "no error" in failing to get your "apparant self" to become enlightened. In the long run, it makes no difference whether your "apparent self" becomes "enlightened" or not. You are here to play the role in life that you are to play. Whether you discover that you are just an actor on the stage is of no consequence to anyone.

Those of us who have discovered that the "I" is a fiction, that existence is just a "play", have just accidentally glimpsed behind the curtain of the Wizard. Despite what some gurus teach, it is not the purpose of life to seek and find there is a curtain to look behind. That is just an accidental consequence of life that a tiny few of us will do that. In life, one just plays their role as hard as they can assuming we are in a life in death situation and must play are role as if it really meant something. Those of us in the enlightmenment community are not at the leading edge of societal evolution. Rather we are doing something "naughty" and looking behind the curtain at the Wizard rather than just playing our roles with all the fury, passion, and commitment to the illusion that eveyone else around us is doing. But it is not cheating. Even the cadre of us that study non-duality are part of the whole play!

-- Brian William Drisko, 27-Dec-2010 1549

Non-Duality and Magnets

No matter how many times you divide the magnet, you can't walk away with just the NORTH end of it.

If you manage to divide it so much that you end up with a piece where the molecules are no longer aligned, than what you have is not a magnet.

You can break a magnet up into as many separate pieces as you want, but as long as each piece is still a magnet, then each piece will still have a NORTH and a SOUTH.

The magnet represents the non-duality that is all inclusive of duality itself. Duality is part of non-duality. Non-duality includes duality.

-- Brian William Drisko, 08-Sep-2010 08:43

IT isn't about YOU becoming enlightened.
IT isn't about YOU becoming awakened.
IT isn't about YOU gaining awareness.
IT isn't about YOU being in the here and now.
IT isn't about YOU entering a state of higher consciousness.

IT isn't about YOUR consciousness.

What is IT for a bird?
What is IT for a tree?
What is IT for a rock?
What is IT for YOU?

IT is that which is.

-- Brian William Drisko, 28-May-2010 08:43

The above has been featured on the main page of It is a good example of "That which can be put into words is not the Truth" and "Words fail us, but they are doing the best they can".

In the above "YOU" and "YOUR" refer to who we usually think we are: a single consciousness separate from all the rest of existence. It refers to the "YOU" that sees itself as one thing, and sees the rest of all existence that interacts with us as another thing. This is the core of duality.

But, if you look at "YOU" and "YOUR" as referring to who "YOU" really are, which is all that exists, then of course IT IS "about YOUR consciousness". This is why words fail us even though they are trying as hard as they can to convey a clear message and why that which can be put into words is not the Truth.

In attempting to convey the idea that "IT isn't about YOU", one first has to decide what is the meaning of "YOU". With what we usually think "YOU" means and who we think and feel we are, which gives us our gut feel for who "YOU" refers to above, then the above can be a pointer and something interesting to think about. If, on the other hand, you look from the perspective of Non-Duality where there is no "YOU" separate from IT, then the above makes little sense and offers no pointer.

Just as a side note: If YOU are pondering why YOU can't perceive existence from the mind of another when IT is non-dual and IT is both of you, that is because you are still interpreting YOUR experience from the illusion of being separate from the whole. Actually, YOU ALREADY ARE experiencing reality from the perspective of all beings. It just doesn't seem that way.

-- Brian William Drisko, 28-May-2010 09:56

Do you have more than one stream of consciousness in your mind?

How do you know?

An oft used example in Non-Duality is that we are like a child on a ride in an amusement park with a steering wheel that isn't connected to anything. Thus, if we steer in the direction the ride is going anyway, then we appear to be in control. But if the ride won't take us where we steer, then we think we need to learn how to steer better. Some suggest that we have a better understanding of existence when we see that our steering wheel is not connected to anything.

Not exactly on the same topic, but a similar example might be used within the content of the play to see a source of much frustration. Sometimes in an amusement park ride everyone in the same boat has their own steering wheel. Naturally, in the ride, none of them are connected. But what if ALL the steering wheels were connected and a computer averaged which way everyone was turning to determine the actual course of the ride? (There are actually some virtual reality type rides in some of the newer amusement parks that DO work this way!)

Think of your awareness as just one member of a "steering committee" in your mind. You'd then have some say in what actions you will take (where to steer your ship), but not the only say. If you want your ship to go in a certain direction, you must convince enough of the others on the "steering committee" to head in that direction. Thus, you may be more effective setting the direction by working on the other members of the "steering committee" than trying to turn the wheel harder.

Think about how this might work in your own life. Think about when you want to do something, but also DON'T want to do that thing. Who is it that wants to do that thing? Who is it that doesn't want to do that thing? What is it that you end up doing? Who wins the battle over which way to steer? Why?

-- Brian William Drisko, 17-May-2010 0900

There aren't steps, but let's pretend there are.

1) To cease suffering, learn to stop being taken in by the illusion.

The root cause of suffering is wanting things to be other than they are.

Examine for what ultimate purpose do things need to be different than what they are.

If everything in the universe could be ultimately changed to the way you want it to be, would that have a permanent impact on you that would last for all eternity? If not, would it have a permanent impact on your children or others that you care about that will last for all eternity? Would changing the world to be the way you want it to be have any permanent impact on anyone or anything for all eternity?

If you believe that all your efforts to change the world will not be permanent and last for all eternity, then is it still important to exert such efforts? This is not an argument to convince you that it is not important to make such efforts. Rather it is a question to ask yourself of why you make such efforts to change the world to be the way you'd rather it be if the results of such efforts are impermanent.

If in the end the results of any efforts you make to change the world to be the way you want it to be are washed away in the eons of time, does it make sense to worry about changing the world to be the way you want it to be?

Some come to the conclusion that expending great efforts to change the world are worth it even if they only lead to temporary happiness for themselves, those they care about, or others. But if you refuse to be happy until you change the world to be just the way you want it to be, then you may have a very long wait and be suffering for a very long time.

The first illusion to overcome is to understand that the world does not have to be the way you want it to be in order for you, for those you care about, or for anyone to find happiness. It is an illusion that the world must be a certain way for anyone to find happiness.

There are all sorts of people that are happy at times or suffering at times. It does not matter if they are wealthy or poor, famous or unknown, wise or ignorant, talented or untalented, smart or stupid. There is no particular way the world must be before we have the requirements to be happy.

If we want to end suffering in our own lives, then we must break ourselves of this illusion that the world must be the way we want it to be before we will allow ourselves to be happy. If you want to help your children to be happy, those you care about be happy, or others to be happy, all you can do is help them see through the illusion that the world being the way they want it to be is not a prerequisite to happiness.

Note 1: The essay here is focused on happiness and suffering relating to the majority of people that live in prosperous first world nations where most sufferiing is more "neurotic" than from physical lack. Those of you reading this are probably not suffering from a lack of food, water, shelter, warm clothing, etc. or suffering from a painful medical condition. Elimination of suffering is available to even people in those more physically painful circumstances but that is not the topic of the essay here. This is targeted more to those who have created their own hell on earth by falling for the illusion that the world must be the way they want it to be before they will allow themselves to find happiness in life.

Note 2: The basis of Buddhism is dukkha and the elimination of dukkha. "Dukkha" is often translated in the west as "suffering" but that is not an exact or accurate translation. Maybe a better but still incomplete definition would be a feeling of uneasiness because of things not being the way one wants them to be. We believe the world must change to be a certain way before we will be able to feel at ease with the world. The essence of Buddhism is the elimination of dukkha by helping us to see the illusion that the world MUST BE a certain way before we can live at ease with it. The rough translation of "dukkha" as "suffering" will work adequately at this point of the essay. A refinement of the definition will be presented when needed later.

2. Looking for the "I".

3. Figuring out the purpose of existence.

4. Understanding the Non-Duality of Existence.

-- Brian William Drisko, 25-Apr-2010 1110

Pre-verbal vs. Non-verbal brain functioning. Pre-verbal brain functioning is a bit of a misnomer. We are born with non-verbal brain functioning. Animals have non-verbal brain functioning. After we develop verbal brain functioning, our non-verbal brain functioning continues to operate for the remainder of our lives. We just don't seem to notice it because it is our verbal brain functioning that defines what we usually mean by "what we are thinking".

Much of what guides our lives, desires, fears, etc. is all non-verbal. Our verbal thinking tells us that we are our verbal thinking. But that is not what we are. Our verbal thinking is just language symbols that arise in our brains. The source of them is from lower non-verbal levels. Thoughts are just the end product of our non-verbal brain functioning turning concepts into verbal symbols.

Verbal symbols are far from perfect representations of our non-verbal brain functioning, but they do help us to communicate with others, and even to apply logic to our decisions. But when we make decisions, there are often a lot of factors that come into play, many of which may be non-verbal. Hence, why we sometimes come to conclusions and actions that are not always logical, but they usually do represent our actual desires.

Our non-verbal brain functions are very powerful but by definition are difficult to explore and explain.

-- Brian William Drisko, 24-Oct-2008 2228

Sometimes you want to scream and run out of the movie theater.
But once you realize it is just a movie,
that nothing can harm you,
and that there is no you in the movie to be harmed,
you can walk back in and enjoy the rest of the movie.

-- Brian William Drisko, 14-Mar-2010 1222

When considering the death of the self there are only two possibilities:

Either the self will eventually die and
there is nothing we can do to avoid it;

Or the self will never die and
there is no need to do anything to avoid it.

What is the point of worrying what will become of our self?

There is either no way to avoid eventually coming to harm or
there is no way to ever come to harm.

There is either nothing that can be done or
nothing that need be done, or both.

-- Brian William Drisko, 14-Mar-2010 1255

Of the numerous bizarre ideas in modern spirituality, probably my least favorite is the notion that you bring your sickness on yourself. The suggestion is that when one's understanding is wider and more expansive then sickness doesn't arise, or if it does, it is seen as irrelevant. We are told that all we have to do is "let go" or "see rightly" and all will be corrected. This means that if you're sick, you're an idiot. Not only are you sick, but you're spiritually flawed on top of it, which is a truly ugly notion.

-- Wayne Liquorman in Never Mind - A Journey into Non-duality, pg 15

Compassionate/Understanding vs Intolerant/Demanding

intolerant/demanding person will be
intolerant/demanding of a
compassionate/understanding person. A
compassionate/understanding person will be
compassionate/understanding of an
intolerant/demanding person.

The Language Archive, a play by Julia Chao, World Premiere directed by Mark Brokaw, South Coast Repertory, Segerstrom Stage, March 26 - April 25, 2010.

-- Brian William Drisko, 09-Apr-2010 2252

Consider the life of a red blood cell. If that red blood cell could think, it might wonder what its life is all about. It would understand that it is born, that it spends its life carrying oxygen from the lungs to other cells in the body, and then that it dies.

Actually, the red blood cell would have no concept of lungs or other cells. All it would see is that it picks up something (oxygen) from place A (the lungs) and brings it to place B (other cells of the body). It would have no idea what is the purpose of this, but it would see there are a lot of other red blood cells doing the exact same thing. They all are born, carry something from point A to point B for their whole life, and then die.

From the perspective of the red blood cell, life could seem quite pointless. But that is only because the red blood cell doesn't see the big picture. It can't see that it is a very important part of a much larger being.

Let's say the red blood cell desired to search for the purpose of life. It could explore the entire circulatory system from head to toe, but everything would look the same everywhere it went. Everywhere there would just be other red blood cells delivering their loads from point A to point B. The red blood cell would meet other interesting characters that seemed to be doing something different than his fellow red blood cells, like white blood cells, antibodies, and even some foreign characters like viruses, some friendly and some hostile. But observing them would not help to figure out the meaning of life as their lives would seem to be as much without purpose as his own.

The problem is that no matter how far and wide the red blood cell explored the circulatory system, it would never find any insight into the purpose of its own life. The world of a red blood cell doesn't contain the information it would need in order to understand the full context of the entire body in which it plays an essential role.

Likewise, no matter how much we explore and try to find the meaning of life, the true meaning of it all is outside our reach. Existence is much larger than the realm in which we live our lives or will ever have access to. No matter how difficult it may seem to find a meaning to everything, our lives play a very essential role in something that is far greater than we can ever discover.

-- Brian William Drisko, 21-Mar-2011 1019

One has to understand there are two levels of viewing existence.

(There ARE NOT two levels of existence as that would negate non-duality. There are two levels of VIEWING existence.)

First, is just understanding that everything is just AS IT IS.

Viewing from that level, the purpose of everything is just whatever is. It is the true dance of existence, from the micro to the macro level, from the level of vibrating strings of energy to the orbits of stars in the galaxies. Life is just a particular assembling of energy. There is no moral right or wrong. There is just the un-judged dance of existence, everything just doing whatever it does, everything just perfect.

Second, is the view from the dance that each of us does in existence.

We can pretend that life has whatever purpose we want. We can just believe the purpose is what someone else tells us, or we can analyze everything we've learned and come up with our own purpose. We will then judge ourselves and everything else we encounter in our life as good or bad, moral or immoral, based on what we think everyone is supposed to be doing. But this is just our dance, just the game that we have chosen to play.


You will still pursue your desires. You will still do your dance, still play the games you find yourself in, or maybe chose to try another dance or other games. But you will know it is just a dance you have chosen, and others are doing a dance they have chosen. But there is truly no right or wrong, no success or failure. There is just existence as it is.

Something that many overlook is that you can not escape Duality, just because you understand the Non-Dual nature of existence. All living things can only interact with existence from a dual viewpoint. As long as you are alive, you must do some dance, play some game. Your understanding of the true non-dual nature of existence may give you the freedom to chose a different dance, or to play another game, or to just continue what you've been doing but with the freedom to not take any of it seriously.

But when one becomes enlightened, one does not escape duality and start living a non-dual life. It is not possible. That may be one of the greatest delusions of some of those who think they have achieved enlightenment.

-- Brian William Drisko, 06-Nov-2012 0936

Here is the difference between Non-Dual Understanding and Law-Of-Attraction:

Law-Of-Attraction provides tools that are a mechanism whereby you may create for yourself Health, Strength, Success, Prosperity or any other condition which you desire.

Buddhism, a Non-Dual based philosophy, says that "desire" is at the root of all suffering. As long as you "desire" you will suffer. Fulfilling your desire does not end suffering; it is only ending your desire that will end suffering.

Thus, Law-Of-Attraction might be able to bring to you what you desire, but it will never end your suffering. Once you get one thing you desire, then you'll move onto striving and suffering from not having the next thing that you desire. It is a never ending path of always desiring something before you will feel like you are not missing something, and a never ending state of suffering. Buddhism teaches to remove your suffering you must remove your desire.

Non-Dual Understanding is that it doesn't matter.

It makes no difference if you desire anything or not, or whether you strive to fill your desire or not, and doesn't even matter if you feel incomplete and suffer because you have not filled your desire. Go ahead and use Law-of-Attraction to fill your desires, and continue to suffer along the way, and continue to suffer after you get one thing you want only to replace that with your desire and striving for the next item. That is the dance you have chosen, the role you have decided to play. Be the suffering, striving person, plagued by the lack of what you believe you need to feel complete.

Or just understand that it is just a dance, just a role that you have decided to play, and that none of it has really any significance to anything. Don't be trapped in the suffering from not possessing your desires since it has no meaning beyond the game you have created. Or just let chasing desires and suffering continue as part of your dance! It doesn't matter.

-- Brian William Drisko, 06-Nov-2012 1154

34. The two great sources of human suffering at present are bodily disease and mental anxiety.

I don't think so.

Bodily disease produces pain, not suffering.

Suffering is created from our desire to want things to be different from what they are.

One suffers from disease because one desires to be well and not sick. Disease produces pain. Dropping a brick on your foot produces pain. There isn't a lot we can do about what produces pain. It is a mechanism of the body to let you know something is wrong and needs your attention.

But pain is not suffering. Suffering is the desire for things to be different; for you to have something you are missing, or for you to get rid of something you don't want.

Drop desire and you end suffering.


Each time you use the Law Of Attraction to fill one of your desires, you will quickly find something new to desire that you will refuse to stop suffering until you then have that.

It is the nature of all life to not remain content but to instead take action to obtain the next item desired.

It is the self defining principle that keeps living entities alive. Living things must always feel incomplete and be motivated to find what they need to complete themselves. It can be a desire for air, water, food, warmth, safety from the elements, sex. A living thing must continue to feel it is incomplete and continue to fill these desires. If it does not, it would just sit and die. Or in the case of a desire for sex, it would be the end of the species. Living things can never be content to just sit and do nothing. Lack of desire to do anything is death. Thus living things are designed to suffer and to pursue what they desire, from the day they are born until they day they die.

Humans have a much greater cognitive capability than other living things and have extended their desires beyond the basics of survival. But the same driving mechanism that one must never be content with what one haves and continue to strive for more is what controls our lives and generates ongoing suffering.

But with Non-Dual Understanding, one can see this is just the way things work. One can continue to take the actions they need to stay alive, "Chop wood and carry water," without being trapped in the suffering that comes from living with desire.

-- Brian William Drisko, 06-Nov-2012 1218

Alan Watts: / / Audio Collection
Science & Nonduality / Books, Video, Audio, Podcasts
A Skeptics Approach To Non-Duality / On Being Adopted

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