From an introduction and talk with Douwe Tiemersma, in Gouda,May 14, 2008
The non-duality of experience
Yes, we are always talking here about the recognition of non-duality. It’s clear: in practice you will need to recognize very clearly that non-duality is the reality if duality and its associated suffering is to dissolve. You should determine this very clearly within your own experience.
This is easiest in the feeling sense. You can become aware of your tactile sensibility. Imagine that the wind blows and that you experience the wind on your skin. Which reality is that? Now, what do you really experience? There is one sensation in which you no longer experience the skin and the wind separately. In your experience it isone phenomenon. You can think about it further, that it has two sides, your skin and the wind, but what you experience is onephenomenon. You don’t experience your skin and the wind separately. They have come totally together. Intuitively, instinctively* it is just one phenomenon. Just call it skin-wind. Do you experience that skin-wind feeling in space? Do you see that your bodily self and what is said to come from outside come totally together? The wind, it blows. As skin-wind you go along with it completely into the infinite distance. You must forcibly intervene in order to pull these two apart from one another. In the intuitive experience it’s only about that one: that feeling skin-wind. The wind is nothing without skin; the skin is nothing without wind. It is one phenomenon.
That’s also true with the sense of taste, when, in this wonderful weather, you eat an ice cream. What is it like then? “Oh, what a delicious taste – strawberries, bananas…” What is that like? How is it with yourself in relation to the taste experience and that which you are tasting? Isn’t that also only one? I recently read a Buddhist text on the idea of “one taste”. The interpretation then was that you experience everything in the same way. There is no preference and no denial. In the advaita approach we intend an even deeper meaning. In that one taste not only have the separations you make between the different experienced objects disappeared, but also between yourself, your experience, and the objects. Then there is not a separate “I taste” and “that which I taste”. Both have come together. There is one phenomenon of taste. Therefore this situation in which you confirm that one taste or that one feeling has the tendency to become universal. Why? Because there are no divisions any longer. You taste something, a strawberry ice cream. When you fully enjoy the taste, you easily enter into it. Then there is only one taste and that is universal. There is nothing else. You pick up the ice cream and there is still a distance; you bring it towards you, enjoy it and there is a merging of yourself and the ice cream. You taste a strawberry ice cream and you’re gone, the ice cream, too, is gone:one taste. What is the reality? You can’t say anything else about it, except that you and the ice cream are one. In this way you recognize non-duality on the sensory level: that’s how it is.
With hearing, separation also disappears. You hear beautiful music and you go right into it: the separation is gone. In going along, the “I hear/am the music” develops itself spatially and there arises a literally-infinite enjoyment. (There is the sudden sound of a fire engine). You hear the sound of the siren and you can’t say if it is somewhere outside, or if it is present within your own sphere. There is a non-duality.
Seeing is strongly dualistic, because seeing sets up something at a distance. Through this we in the West are very visually oriented, such that in that in our mentation everything exists at a distance. Duality reigns. But there is also another kind of seeing, an intuitively available feeling-seeing, in which distance is not present. When you see from your heart you notice that you are in and with the things that you see. You see the light of the sun and you let the light enter into you. Every distance is gone. Sun and self are no longer apart. From out of your heart then, you see that self-light everywhere. You see someone else from your heart. The distance disappears and you can immediately confirm: there is no duality with the other but rather a non-duality. You would need to act quite forcefully in order to keep the other at a distance. You’d have to strain yourself, by keeping your eye on the distance and perpetuating it: “I am here and the other is there”. When a little relaxation comes then you automatically sink down. You return to intuitively seeing from your heart and you see that separation disappears. In relaxation this happens automatically.
Keeping distance, that is tension. Take a look at what happens when you maintain such distance. Then there is a notion of yourself, separate from what you see, separate from the others that you see. The world, the others, are kept at a distance. What appears there, what you see, is not allowed to come too close to you, to enter into your territory. In this sense you create a wall. In this sense you make yourself hard. In the energy of this distancing-seeing sits the energy which keeps the other at bay. ‘I’ see ‘you’ there. Can you see the tension of this distance keeping with each objectification? This also applies to all kinds of possible events in the future that people tend to fear: they must be kept at a distance, all those less attractive possibilities. Take a look on the energetic level. Then you see that you, through your seeing, are immediately in the power of everything, especially the things which are less attractive, that you wish to avoid. So relaxation means acceptance, such a complete acceptance that everything near by is allowed to come so close that it is going to coincide with yourself. That applies also to the suffering that you see. Then there is more than just pity, even more than compassion, which still knows a distance. No, the other things and the other people are allowed to come so close that you are going to coincide with them. That is the point of non-duality. There is no separation anymore between self-being and other-being, that other being.
Intuitively seeing from your heart, the feeling-sense experience, is a very sensual being-awareness. Within it there are no boundaries. You can directly affirm: it is universal being-awareness. That’s why immediately there is also universal joy-being. Through allowing yourself to open up, the universal aware-joy-being is directly there. When you don’t hold anything back and there is a deep relaxation, there is an immediate and very aware recognition of non-duality as the reality. So it is not just a feeling. And it is not just psychological, because you see that it’s about that one being-consciousness. So within that, these two sides come together: the consciousness and that direct being without distance. That is something that many people have difficulty with, because in seeing and hearing, in becoming aware, a distance is almost always constructed. Within that, how is non-duality ever possible? So that is very simple: internally there is an instinctively available sensual consciousness, apparent not only within sensing, but also within feeling-seeing. In that consciousness, phenomena appear and disappear without distance. They can come; they can stay away. Thus with that internal consciousness there is no dependence upon phenomena. When they come, there is a non-duality with the internal experience, or the complete coinciding and disappearance of everything. When they don’t come, there is the pure consciousness or the disappearance of everything in the Origin. Is that clear?