Dualistic and Nondual Thinking
Overtaken by Oceanic Oneness
Friday, February 3, 2017
Today’s guest writer, CAC faculty member James Finley, shares what it is like to be within nondual consciousness.
We approach nondual consciousness by means of our contemplative experience. “To contemplate” means to observe carefully, to pay attention. Throughout the day, things catch our eye and we momentarily contemplate them. In the quietness of the sustained attentive gaze, we recognize a preciousness—an immediate worth or value for which no words can do justice. And we sense this is so because the worth or value is God’s presence pouring itself out and giving itself away in and as the gift and miracle in whatever it is that may have captured our attention. Furthermore, we recognize ourselves to be one with this intimately realized experience of God pouring itself out in and as the gift and miracle of our life.
Let’s say, for example, that you go out to do some gardening. You begin in dualistic consciousness, trying to get some things done. But while you are working—in your deepening attentiveness to the earth—you are graced with a felt sense of oneness with the preciousness of the earth and the gift of life. This attentiveness brings you an experience of oneness with the earth, which in turn gives rise to a sense of your own preciousness in your oneness with that life all around you.
This experience is true for all of us. We have each had a taste of nondual consciousness: the face of our beloved, a child at play, the sound of running water, the intimacy of darkness in the middle of a sleepless night. Our lives move in and out of nondual consciousness. In these moments, we intuitively use the word God for the infinity of the primordial preciousness we, in such moments, realize ourselves to be one with. In these moments we realize that nothing is missing anywhere and what fools we are to worry so.
As I reflect on this, it dawns on me that the root of sorrow is my estrangement from the intimately realized oneness and preciousness of all things. I’m skimming over the surface of the depths of my life. Yet, I know in my heart that the God-given, godly nature of every breath and heartbeat is hidden in the ever present depths over which I am skimming in my preoccupations with the day’s demands.
So the question becomes, how can I learn not to play the cynic, not to break faith my awakened heart? In my most childlike hour, I have tasted the presence of God that is perpetually manifesting and giving itself to me as my very life. While the value of my life is not dependent upon the degree to which I realize this unitive mystery that is always there, the experiential quality of my life is profoundly related to the degree to which I am learning to live in habitual awareness of and fidelity to the God-given, godly nature of the life that I’m living.
I cannot make moments of nondual consciousness happen. I can only assume the inner stance that offers the least resistance to be overtaken by the grace of nondual consciousness. Two lovers cannot make moments of oceanic oneness happen, but together they can assume the inner stance that allows them to be overtaken by the oceanic oneness that blesses their life.
My spiritual practice is to sit each day in childlike sincerity with an inner stance that offers the least resistance to being overtaken by the God-given, godly nature of myself just the way I am.
This is my sense of what nondual consciousness is and the contemplative way of life in which we, with God’s grace, become ever more habitually grounded in it.
Gateway to Silence:
We are oned in love.
Adapted from James Finley, exclusive CAC Living School curriculum, Unit 1.