Q: What is Non-Duality?
A: Non-duality is the view that ‘everything is self’ and that ‘self is empty’ because everything is said to originate and abide in the unalterable and undivided, primordial state of the mind.
Besides for 'all being self' and 'self being empty' it is further stated "but Aware, and manifesting ceaselessly" and therefore all so-called ‘internal and external appearances’ are but the singular play of consciousness. With no external reality out there that is concrete or permanent in any way the same is also true for the so-called ‘self’.
This means that there are no dualities that imply a ‘self’, an ‘other’, ‘time’ and ‘space’ with any inherent existence at all. Instead, all of these things are but momentary movements of form, combinations of sound, light and sensation.
“The Buddhists talk about a channel that runs from the heart and exits through the eyes, so the movie plays out from within you, according to your moods. There is no external reality to perceive and instead, one PROJECTS reality onto the perpetually changing screen of space. This impersonal fluid matrix that we perceive of as reality is called Dakini (sky dancer) by the higher Buddhist schools. Dakini reflects the ‘illusion of duality’ in order to project the play of life back to us, creating the dense array of phenomenal existence.
The screen and you are one and hence the definition of the self as “empty like space but aware and manifesting ceaselessly”. One is of course never supposed to take this illusion or dance too seriously because it is always just the play of light, sound and sensation which changes from moment to moment.”
- Adamas, Buddha Brats – A Modern Tale of Enlightenment (Chapter 10, The Warrior Born)
“Dzogchen starts from the basic premise of Non-Duality. “Everything is Self” and yet “Self is empty”, so one avoids the complicated ego traps one might fall into if everything was just Self.
Starting from this view one then proceeds to abolish all other dualities, i.e. time, space, god, and society, quite literally anything that implies an external permanent reality. The Non-Dual state means no ‘self’ and no ‘other’ - just the dance of reality or awareness, whichever syntax appeals to you more. It is all simply the spontaneous arising of images, sounds, and sensations that make up reality.
All that is really required is that you dance with reality, shifting in and out of faces and form, always returning to Emptiness, which is your essential nature. Once one is no longer bound by form or concept, it is basically the multi-pass to the universe and beyond. If you can dissolve yourself, you can reform in any shape, place or time and theoretically be and do anything.
The scary thing is that most people seem to like being bound into one or two fixed forms - the bank teller only has three expressions, “yes”, “no”, and “I have to ask my supervisor”. You would think that people would get bored of being so limited when there are so many options, but it gives them a sense of continuity which keeps them safe at night, although it eventually turns them to stone.”
- Adamas, Buddha Brats – A Modern Tale of Enlightenment (Chapter 04, The Dance of Emptiness and Form)
“Probably the hardest concepts to break are that of ‘self’ and ‘other’ but it is the essential tool in overcoming fear. Once you realise that ‘all is Self’ anyway, there is nothing that can hurt you because why would you hurt yourself? These two constantly reinforce each other and you cannot really break them down in isolation, as they are inexorably entwined and the dissolution of one implies the dissolution of the other.
You cannot just talk about the Emptiness of Form, you have to experience it and this is where the multitude of enlightenment techniques comes in. If you manage to see and experience the ‘emptiness of Self’ then you are no longer bound by the idea that there is actually anything inside you, except for a huge pool of unlimited potential waiting to assume any form in a moment.
Once you have experienced the ‘emptiness of Self’ as a perpetually shifting pool of Pure Awareness, it is then quite easy to see ‘Others as empty’. When you can see ‘others’ in this light, it is a quick hop skip and jump to realizing that there are in fact no ‘others’ out there, EVER …
If you do not experience something it literally does not exist and if you do it is just the ‘play of your own mind’ with no more meaning than a pretty picture show. If you experience it, it has momentary meaning as Movement of Form but that is it. There is no more continuity between one moment and another than there is similarity between a supernova and a gerbil. Having seen the Illusion of things to be just that, one cannot be bound by it. One moment, one form, one thought, one emotion gives way to the next and we have no choice but to simply enjoy the ongoing succession of light shows.”
- Adamas, Buddha Brats – A Modern Tale of Enlightenment (Chapter 17, Riding the Whirlwind)
“No god, no demons, no government, no Illuminati watching over you and controlling your existence or demanding obeisance or offerings in exchange for a place at their feet in a second rate heaven. You have total freedom to do, make or be whatever you choose, total responsibility as well but one is free from the need to prop up a ‘self’ and maintain an identity separate from the rest of the world. If ‘everything is self’ and ‘self is empty’ then who did what to whom, and where?
Everything must go, bargain basement sale. How fast you choose to do this will be determined by your own nature. Personally I take the Jihadic view on this, going full metal jacket straight at the slugs and beetles in my psyche, as they are the enemy. Take it all back as Aspects, everything, every male and female superhero, mythological figure, god or great teacher are all aspects of your ‘Self’. A rather huge concept to embrace, but oh so sexy, and the potential if one embraces this view is limitless. One is prevented from the excesses of egotism and self aggrandization by the realization that the movie as well as the self is all empty.
Dzogchen takes the sting out of reality, but you are on your own, just you and the rest of reality which is also you, so one is never really alone ever, and who said that anyway?”
- Adamas, Buddha Brats – A Modern Tale of Enlightenment (Chapter 07, Honey on the Tongue)
“The reflection can be spotted inside or out, it makes no real difference. It is all the ‘play of your own mind’ and whether you choose to manifest something in your head or externally in reality, it is pretty much the same thing. Why something shows up in your reality in a particular way is largely irrelevant. What DOES matter is that if you pay attention you will come to realise that you are constantly communicating with yourself through signs, inside and out.
That is why it’s best to pay attention and learn to shape it the way you want it, consciously. Dakini is always showing you the way - how to free yourself from stagnation and what negative situations need to be changed. When something is too complicated to see in yourself or too fine a thread to spot, it will manifest as a real experience, person or sign in your reality, so you can become aware of it.”
- Adamas, Buddha Brats – A Modern Tale of Enlightenment (Chapter 26, Divine Science in Reflection)
An important aspect of understanding this view is to know how it differs from what in Dzogchen is traditionally called the ‘Four Philosophical Extremes’. These are nihilism, eternalism, monoism and dualism.
- Dzogchen differs from nihilism in the sense that there is not only Emptiness, but that reality is a constant dance between Emptiness AND Form.
- Dzogchen differs from eternalism by the fact that reality is a Constantly Changing and dynamic expression of Awareness – everything is bound to change and give way to something else.
- Dzogchen differs from monoism in the sense that Non-Duality does not negate the existence of Multiplicity, the many varied expressions of consciousness that make up our experience of reality.
- Finally Dzogchen differs from Duality in that all things are interconnected in the inseparability of the Mind as root and foundation of all things.
Please remember that most of the information on the site is aimed at readers of the BUDDHA BRATS e-book.
From the Universe, with Love