Non-duality: Non-dual View of the Self

Non-duality: Non-dual View of the Self

Self in the Non-dual teachings

Self is the most important idea in the non dual philosophy, which is often known by the Sanskrit term Advaita Vedanta.

This is because Self is what we really are in our own true nature. And according to the non dual teachings, it is by knowing the Self within that we can discover the deeper reality in all.

The practical side of the non dual philosophy is known as Adhyatma Yoga, the way of Self-Knowledge.

In the non dual view, when we put aside all the thoughts and feelings, everything that passes through the mind, what remains is not nothing. What remains is Self. It is Self that does not change as the body and mind change, and is what gives us the sense of the ‘me’ that endures through time.

This true Self is not anything that is experienced in the mind, it is the light of awareness that illumines all experience. In this sense, the true Self, and pure consciousness, are the same.

The non dual view of consciousness, or Self, is not of something insubstantial that experiences reality. Self, or consciousness is seen as the fundamental reality in all. It is this identity which makes possible a direct knowledge of Reality through the highest Self-knowledge. This is the non dual understanding of enlightenment, and the supreme potential of life.

The Sanskrit word for Self is Atman. The cornerstone of the non dual philosophy is that ultimately Atman and Brahman (the Absolute, Reality), are not different.

To approach and discover the lasting, conscious reality as our own being is the sure way to find inner peace, freedom, fearlessness and fulfilment.

Reason and Experience in the Philosophy of Non duality

It can be shown that the non dual teachings are entirely reasonable. And reason shows that there are contradictions implied by any view that holds there to be more than one ultimate reality.

But reason alone cannot prove whether the non dual teachings on the nature of the Self are true or not, and they are not meant to be accepted only intellectually. The teaching is that Self and Reality can be discovered directly in and as our own being. To reflect on the idea of non-dual reality is one of the practical steps towards this knowledge. The methods also include meditation and related practices.

In ordinary life, it is our common experience that we give our individual self, our ego, an exaggerated importance. This distorts our outlook and is the root of ‘selfishness’ in the negative sense.

In the light of the non dual philosophy, there is an important truth hidden in this feeling that our self is so significant. It is of little help to say that we should be less selfish. The real solution, offered by the non dual teachings, is to expand our sense of Self to the reality underlying all being. This is what we really are and always will be. It is through this Self-realisation that we become truly selfless, and manifest the highest good of all.

More on related themes:

How Appearance Arises in Reality

What is Non duality?

Non duality is the view that reality is a perfect whole or oneness. Even the word ‘oneness’ suggests a limit or boundary, so the name non-dual, not two, is preferred. Non duality is based on direct experience, not only intellectual speculation. It explains how variety can appear within non-dual reality. The theory is closely connected to methods and the way of life through which it may be verified in our own experience.

Is Non duality a Religion?

Non duality, like religion, is an understanding of the ultimate source and nature of reality as a whole, yet is not restricted to any one of the world religions in particular. It teaches that human nature is ultimately not different in essence from the universal being, called God, the Absolute, and other names. It presents ethics and practices as ways to direct knowledge of reality.

What are the Benefits of Non duality?

Non-duality is both an intellectually satisfying philosophy about the nature of reality, and a teaching on how we can realise our highest potentials. The theory describes the world and ourselves, and the practices provide ways to meet the human need for knowledge, love and lasting fulfilment that is not affected by the passing of time.