Advaita is a compound word from Sanskrit meaning “not two”. Although it can refer to anything, it is a very important word in the Vedic spiritual tradition, because it indicates an important fact about the nature of consciousness, the Self . The part of the Vedas that deals with the subject of enlightenment is called Vedanta. Vedanta holds that reality is advaita, “not two.” This means that the subject-object distinction, which is the most salient feature of what unenlightened individuals consider reality to be, does not really exist, even though it may appear to be. This is a very important fact about existence, because it is the distinction between subject and object that is responsible for much of the existential suffering that characterizes human life. It is the cause of all kinds of emotional disorders, because accepting the subject-object duality as a fact places the individual in conflict with objects.
In duality, the subject, the person that I have been conditioned to believe I am, regards himself as limited and incomplete. Due to this fact, he or she feels that they need objects – a house, a job, a relationship, children, etc. – to eliminate the feeling of ‘incompleteness’ associated with their status as a subject. He or she must develop strategies to obtain the desired objects and to avoid the unwanted objects. Searching for and avoiding objects represents considerable suffering. Because both the subject and the objects are subject to change, insofar as they are in the time where duality exists, it is difficult to obtain and preserve the desired objects. Time, the most salient feature of duality, places considerable emphasis on the subject as well. Your wishes are constantly changing. When an object is achieved, a change occurs in the subject that causes a change in his relationship with the object. The constant friction caused by the interaction between the subject and objects inevitably leads to loss of energy and death.
The Vedanta argues that duality is merely a belief caused by ignorance of the nature of reality, not a fact. In fact, the reality is non-dual. This means that the distinction between subject and object does not really exist. The subject is not different from the objects. Both the subject and the objects are apparent manifestations of the Self or non-dual Consciousness.
Enlightenment is the release from suffering that arises when the non-dual nature of the Self is fully perceived. When you no longer perceive yourself as separate from the world of objects — yes, people are also objects in duality — the conflict disappears and the subject is freed from the desire to obtain and keep objects. Vedanta is a time-tested mode of inquiry into the nature of reality that ultimately resolves the subject-object duality, revealing the non-dual nature of the Self .
– James Swartz
Non-duality is a description of seeing that there is only Oneness, or rather an attempt to describe this, since a real description is impossible.
The vision of Oneness can only occur when the sense of being a person, an individual living a life full of options in a separate world, fades. When this happens, the “I” is seen to be empty, the individual is seen as an emanation of consciousness, and “you” and “I” are seen as the light in which everything arises.
The relationship between the apparent individual and the Unity, or the Self, is the same as the relationship between a wave and the ocean. The wave is the ocean “undulating”, you and I are the Unit “personifying”.
This has been described in many spiritual traditions, from Advaita to Zen, yet it does not belong to any.
The vision of Unity either happens or it doesn’t. Nothing that the false “I” can do, no practice or reading of spiritual texts, will allow you to see that it is false. I do not give recommendations, but if I did, in the face of this immense hopelessness, I would recommend relaxing. This is all. This is the whole. This is already the promised paradise. Samsara and Nirvana are one so we can relax and enjoy it.
– Richard Sylvester
This Advaita, of which I speak, is not really a philosophy because it does not cling to any principles. It is simply a compilation of guidelines and concepts, and states that none of them are true in an absolute sense. It’s about digging into limitations and misconceptions about how things are. Therefore, more than an absolute truth, it is a process. His teachings contain a number of tools.
The primary tool is that everything is Consciousness; all is One. Or, to be more precise, Advaita, if translated literally, means “not two.” That is the most essential guideline. It is not a truth. And a guideline should be used as a means of finding out what is truly valid; to inquire within oneself and discover one’s own nature. It is a process that, when it occurs, is understood as a natural part of the flow of life.
– Wayne Liquorman
All authentic philosophy, if we give the word the etymological meaning it has, is born from an experience, because loving wisdom is not a simple intellectual curiosity, it is an experiential necessity. If the human being has the need to seek the truth, if he loves wisdom, it is because he senses that this truth can be operative in him, transforming. And this has to be true even in these moments when the word philosophy evokes almost the opposite: a knowledge removed from life.
The Advaita metaphysics is an operations research now, as it was at the time of Gaudapada, because it is inherent in the human yearning to find the meaning of existence. And since existence is a realization of consciousness , since everything we live, we live in it, entering human consciousness is the natural path of those who seek the unknown truth or the reality hidden behind appearances.
– Consuelo Martín
Non-duality means “not-two” or “non-separation”. It is the sense that all things are interconnected and not separate, while at the same time all things maintain their individuality. An awareness of non-duality gives you a broader perspective on life, a greater sense of freedom, and produces more stable happiness.
– Jerry Katz
That which permeates everything, that nothing transcends and that, like the universal space that surrounds us, fills everything completely, inside and out, that Supreme and non-dual Brahman, that is you.
When it goes beyond consciousness, there is a state of non-duality, in which there is no cognition, only pure being. In the state of non-duality, all separation ceases.
– Nisargadatta Maharaj
“Advaita is not a system, religion or technique, nor is it a philosophy. It is simply the truth.”
– Jean Klein
The message of non-duality
We spend our lives assuming [without question] that life is made up of separate people and things. In this separation, we feel “isolated” from each other. We also feel “cut off” from true happiness and satisfaction. This leads us to seek this happiness in the future. We try everything, including therapy, relationships, material success, self-help programs, career promotions, religion, drugs, and much more.
The message of non-duality is that the true nature of reality is non-dual. Non-duality means “not two”. This means that there is no separation in life. It is only our excessive dependence on the mind (ie dualistic thinking) that makes things appear to exist separately. Non-dual teachings invite us to see that we are not separate persons. We are not “isolated” from life and from others. With this realization, our search ends. Our conflict with others fades away. Through non-dual realization, we live life totally in the simplicity and wonder of the present moment. We no longer have to constantly scrutinize the past to seek our identity or pursue our happiness in the future.
Non-dual teachings have been around for thousands of years. They are the foundation of some of the world’s major religions. Currently, it seems that the message of non-duality is to free itself from its religious history. It is being reinvented, translated and adapted into a very plain and simple language . The new teachings are making non-duality accessible to many people who would not otherwise have heard of this message.