Is non-duality a philosophy?

Discussion in 'Eastern Philosophy' started by onemoment, Oct 9, 2008.

  1. onemoment Registered Senior Member

    To call non-duality a philosophy may lead people to believe that they have to study the words in non-duality to come to some kind of understanding of how the world really is. It assumes that non-duality is somehow another theory expounding a set of beliefs that, when mentally assimilated/believed in, gives us another set of beliefs we can adopt to understand the world in some other way.

    But non-duality is not about understanding. It is not asking us to adopt a new set of beliefs. It is asking us to look beyond beliefs. It points us to that sense of presence or knowing that is always and ever present.

    It tells us that everything that is seemingly appearing is it and it is all the one (without a second) - there are no parts to what we are.

    For the mind, non-duality tells us, the notion that it is all the one (without a second) is impossible to comprehend. It is impossible for the mind to comprehend it because the mind 'appears' in what we are and the mind is an illusionary appearance that can only ever see in parts. It is the mind/our beliefs that seemingly separate and divide things into parts.

    To try to find what we are, this totality, with the mind (philosophizing and understanding) is missing what is being pointed to by the non-duality message.

    Certainly, it is the apparent mind that is used to apparently comprehend the message in the first instance, but it is not with the mind that we will see what we truely are. Non-duality is a challenge to go beyond the mind - to see that there is a knowing of everything, a presence awareness, that is always there prior to the mind - a pre-conceptual awareness. And can we ever use the mind to see this? No. Therefore, non-duality cannot be a philosophy, it is a pointing.
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  3. glaucon tending tangentially Registered Senior Member

    Cf. Monadism; Essentialism; etc., etc.
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  5. lightgigantic Banned Banned

    There are other suggestions that there are means to transcend the mind aside from (and even within) non-duality - for this reason, namely for the sake of differentiating between the claims of non-duality (advaita), direct realism(vaibhasika), represntationalism (sauntrantika), subjective idealism (vijnanavada), voidism (sunyavada), purified oneness (suddha advaita), simultaneous oneness and difference (dvaita advaita), qualified oneness (visista advaita), dualism (dvaita) and inconceivable simultaneous oneness and difference (acintya bedabeda) - people tend to use the word "philosophy"
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  7. onemoment Registered Senior Member

    Lightgigantic - They all point, however, to how we come to 'transcend the mind', so ultimately it is not with the mind that we can come to see what is being pointed to, what we truly are.

    We use many words for the purposes of communication, of course. But is the word (the compartment) the actual.

    You say that there are other 'means to transcend the mind' - the implication is that all these 'philosophies' are pointing to what we recognize ourselves to be when we see ourselves without mind.

    So then, are they philosophies or are they pointings? Are we trying to grasp them with the mind or are we trying to 'transcend the mind'? And if they are pointing to what is there prior to mind, then can they be a philosophy?

    It is when people see it as philosophy that they live it like another religion with another set of prescriptions, and as a result they never look to see what is there without the labels of the mind. When it is received and delivered as a pointing (as is done on it is far more effective.
  8. lightgigantic Banned Banned

    not all these philosophies are reconcilable - in fact some of them are mutually exclusive - hence for the purpose of communication, we require the word philosophy

    I would agree however that philosophy is not sufficient to grant success in any of these disciplines
    They attribute an array of values to the mind (from "completely useless" to "a required prerequisite")

    eg SB 11.13.7 In a bamboo forest the wind sometimes rubs the bamboo stalks together, and such friction generates a blazing fire that consumes the very source of its birth, the bamboo forest. Thus, the fire is automatically calmed by its own action. Similarly, by the competition and interaction of the material modes of nature, the subtle and gross material bodies are generated. If one uses his mind and body to cultivate knowledge, then such enlightenment destroys the influence of the modes of nature that generated one's body. Thus, like the fire, the body and mind are pacified by their own actions in destroying the source of their birth.

    There is no possibility of avoidance of prescriptions - even if you say "don't read books, don't accept a teacher" (or to quote the website - "All concepts are ephemeral by nature, and they cannot bind Awareness - they simply are awareness itself appearing as forms ‘in or on’ Awareness. This program is all about this fact.") you are offering prescriptions
  9. onemoment Registered Senior Member

    I do not understand what is being prescribed in the quote you got from the urbangurusite - those words are pointing to the insubstantiality of thought, there is no action or non-action being subscribed.

    I can see your point though - that the mind is used to eliminate itself - even though in it's own elimination there is a realization it was never there in the first place. It is like using a thorn to remove the thorn and then throwning them both away. I think that is a quote from Nisargardatta.

    On the site that I suggested to you, the only 'prescription', if you like, is that they ask you to look and see if, in fact, there is any substance to this entity you believe yourself to be, if what you are (body-mind) is anything other than a thought - the 'looking' is done without thought. So I guess this is a prescription of sorts.
  10. lightgigantic Banned Banned

    so its telling me that thought is insubstantial, that there is no action or nonaction etc etc

    hence philosophy, etc etc
  11. onemoment Registered Senior Member

    I guess it is how you receive it - going back to that point I made earlier that if you see it as 'pointing' then you are likely to get it's message, if you see it as philosophizing then all you will get is another set of ideas to live by.

    I guess one other reason that I do not see it as philosophizing is that it is not something that can be argued, in reality - the only way to substantiate it's claims - 'you are 'one'' - is to know to what is points. There, there is no argument, it is self-evident.

    You did agree with me earlier on that;
  12. swarm Registered Senior Member

    Is non-duality a philosophy?

    Anything philosophers can disagree about can be a philosophy.

    I find some conflate non-duality with monism, aka "all is one." My experience is that non-duality is also non-monism. Not all is one. Not all is seperate.
  13. onemoment Registered Senior Member

    I guess that is a valid way to look at it because it is all nothing, though the expressions you use may be confusing. The first one might be misconstrued to mean 'not all is one and therefore some of it is one and some of it isn't'. Same with your second expression. Can you clarify what you mean by your expressions and if my summation is correct?
  14. greenberg until the end of the world Registered Senior Member


    From what you have written here in this thread, I conclude that you already hold that non-duality is true, that you are already taking it for granted. So how can there be any discussion?
  15. swarm Registered Senior Member

    onemoment I guess that is a valid way to look at it because it is all nothing, though the expressions you use may be confusing.

    I think for precision I would say all is void of inherent existence. Yes, it is traditionally very confusing.

    onemonent The first one might be misconstrued to mean 'not all is one and therefore some of it is one and some of it isn't'. Same with your second expression.

    There is no "therefore." It is an observation and possibly a realization, but it is not a syllogism. It is similar to the question of photons. They are not particles. They are not waves. What are they? They are what they are, but that is not easily conceptualized.

    Is that more clear?
  16. swarm Registered Senior Member

    greenberg So how can there be any discussion?

    Why do you ask how there can be any discussion about a discussion you are already having?
  17. Asguard Kiss my dark side Valued Senior Member

    you talking about monoisum and duality in the sence of Mind?
    If so what the hell are you talking about, each are equally valid psychological theories though the current usage is a combination of the two.

    You cant say that the mind is compleatly seperate from the body because it just doesnt fit the evidence, diseases of the body like tumors, bacterial infections, hypoxia as well as drugs have ovious and measurable effects on the mind. So do all nerological conditions like alzimers. There for dualitisum is refuted on the basis of emperical evidence which after all is what science is all about. That being said there is a difference between the body and the mind in that the mind can think and be influanced on a psycholgical level rather than a purly nerological one. There for monoisum is refuted as well but the evidence for this is less empirical and more assumed. Hence the combination
  18. lightgigantic Banned Banned

    to which the response is , there are many suggestions why it is not self evident. On a very simply level, if everything is "all one", why do you make the distinction between a cotton bush and a cotton T-shirt?
    And if all variety is simply a commodity of conditioned embodied life, where did that variety arise from?
    (hence philosophy ensues ...)
  19. onemoment Registered Senior Member

    Yes, but in non-duality, you come to the understanding wordlessly - it is not something that words can agree or disagree with.

    The argument/debate/discussion is not about the truth of non-duality (in that, there is no need for discussion, it is prior to discussion). The discussion is about whether or not non-duality is a philosophy - so no-one said there was no room for a discussion in the question I posed.

    I don't know much about the 'isms' you are talking about - I am talking about non-duality which I assume is much along these lines - most 'religions' 'isms' are talking about it. Excuse my ignorance.

    All things can be refuted. What cannot be refuted is that there is always a knowing of every theory to play out. What is being pointed to by non-duality is that knowingness that is ever and alway non-concptually there. You do not have to think 'I am thinking' to know that thinking is arising. That cannot be refuted. Everything else that appears on that - such as the various theories being exponded etc - cannot be there if that 'knowingness' of it all was not there to see it play out. What do you have to say to that?

    My discussion is not about the truth or falsehood of non-duality. My contention is that non-duality is not about about adopting a new set of beliefs but about seeing what is the truth if we hold no beliefs. We cannot know the truth of it until we drop beliefs and see what is there then.

    So, it is not about arguing whether there is truth in non-duality with ideas or not but about seeing if it is true or not by dropping beliefs. That is my only point. It is not, therefore, about arguing back and forth about whether this is true or not unless we have looked and seen for ourselves if this is true.

    So, there is room for debate in that if you think that non-duality is about aruging that it presents the best argument about what is valid, what is reality.

    Sure, off we go postulating - and yes there is room for that if non-duality is seen as another argument, another theory. And we can ask the question from where did that variety arise - but is this what non-duality is saying - is it not saying that so long as you remain in the mind - theorising and looking to the mind for answers, thinking that there is some answer that can be found in the mind, then you will never come to see what it is that you truely are for it is without mind that you come to see the validity of what is being pointed to.
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2008
  20. Asguard Kiss my dark side Valued Senior Member


    this has nothing to do with religion period, its about the mind

    one school of thought thinks there are two sepreate entities. The body, and your conciousness (the mind). Basically if you think of the little guy in the head of the dude in men in black thats the idea. That your mind is INSIDE your body but is seprate from it

    The other model says that both mind and body are the same thing (monoisum)
  21. lightgigantic Banned Banned

    what you give is not an exclusive claim on non-duality, since you can find similar claims in the dozen or so philosophies mentioned earlier.

    Basically the issue boils down to philosophical proofs, and which philosophers accept them as unassailable or acceptable:

    1. Direct perception (accepted by Atheists).

    2. Inference (anumana) + 1 is accepted by Buddhists.

    a. Hypothesis = There is fire on the mountain.
    b. Cause (hetu) = Because there is smoke there.
    c. Example = Where there is smoke, there is fire.
    d. Review of cause = The mountain has smoke...
    e. Conclusion = ...therefore the mountain has fire.

    3. Sabda (spiritual sound) + 1 & 2 is accepted by Vaisnavas.

    4. Arthavati (similarity) + 1-3 is accepted by logicians.

    a. "Have you seen a blue cow?"
    b. "No, but I would know one if I did" (cow + blue).

    5. Arthapatti: "This fat man does not eat in the day -> he must eat at night." (logicians)

    6. Abhava (nonexistence) + 1-5 is accepted by Mayavadis (non-dualists).

    a. Nonexistence means: "There is no cow here."
    b. It is a kind of knowledge based on the absence of knowledge or perception of something.

    Basically the calling card of non-dualists is Abhava - others suggest this is a highly problematic philosophical evidence (indicated by the origin of variety)
  22. onemoment Registered Senior Member

    Religion, psychology, biology blah, blah, blah. Theories and more theories.

    We have grouped together a number of sensations and experiences and thoughts and bunged them all together to call them body-mind. We move then from this group consensus reality to assume that because we can describe it (even though we have divided it up and named it ourselves) we understand reality. How absurd.

    Non duality points us to seeing what reality is outside of this 'consensus reality' - to examine what is reality if there is no thought or no belief we have created to describe reality. What is there then? Is there a 'there' and a 'here' if we do not think. Is there a 'me' if I do not recollect the words created in our 'consensus reality'?
  23. lightgigantic Banned Banned

    actually its philosophy ... and neglecting it tends to make one run the risk of careering into sentimentalism

    none of the philosophies mentioned indicate this as the complete picture of reality ... the issue is that they all offer suggestions on what is the complete picture for reality.
    Simplified, it boils down to whether one accepts that variety is part of absolute reality or not ...
    so does this mean that beyond all ephemeral designations (including the mind and body) there is simply a singular "substance" of reality or does this mean that the ephemeral designations of this world are a perverted reflection of the variety which is housed in the absolute?
    yes or no?
    (and watch the philosophy that ensues ....)

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