People come to the nondual teaching for two main reasons. There are those with intellectual curiosity, who simply are intrigued to understand nonduality academically. And those who come with a feeling of having reached the end of the road, that every trick and treat has been used, and their basic experience of life is more distress than grace.
Distress: a mental state, based on feeling overwhelmed by emotions, or in denial of emotions. It shows up as frustration, bitterness, disappointment or exasperation.
Grace: a sense of self that resides as peace, love, freedom, wisdom and abundance. It shows up as happiness, and the full range of emotions are acknowledged and felt.
This basic experience thing. It is about your baseline. Emotions naturally flow, thoughts form and dissolve, but you always come back to your baseline.
An easy way to recognise your baseline is how you feel first thing in the morning and late on the evening. This is when there’s the least distraction. If you wake up distressed, you probably already know that your baseline isn’t where you want it to be, and blame yourself. If you go to bed distressed, it’s easier to blame the world for your woes.
Interestingly, the intellectually curious often find a deep spiritual sense of Self in the teaching, and the distressed find a clear capacity to repeat the teaching from the intellect. But no one ever promised this was going to be fair.
Whichever route. You arrive at the door of the nondual teaching. “It’s all Awareness. That is the essence of all knowing, all experience, all things. There’s nothing but Awareness, and Awareness knows only itself, without division, upset, lack, limitation or loss. The knowing of Awareness is grace. Oh, and you are this Awareness.”
It’s like being given a beautifully wrapped box.
If you are operating at a very pure level, you’ve taken this gift, and it’s all you need. Every time you look at it, you remember that whatever looked like a problem is really Awareness, and your experience returns to a baseline of grace. And you shine that same grace in the world. There’s nothing left to say. You’re living it.
Honestly, I don’t work at that level. If you tell me it’s all Awareness, I’ll ask, “And then what?”
I had to open the box. I said to myself, “I know I’m Awareness, knowing only myself. So why is experience as though Sara knowing a world, a universe even?” I found that the more I learnt to understand this human, the more I fell in love with the design. The more I love the design, the closer I come to living in alignment with that design.
I am Awareness, and the freedom to know myself as though human includes the freedom to live at odds with the design of that human. If I’m at odds with any appearance of myself, I’m at odds with myself. It’s binary. Like the curate’s egg, it’s not good in parts.
If I’m living in alignment with the design, that’s grace right here and now.
If I hadn’t opened the box, I’d be sitting with a fantastic intellectual understanding and the ability to describe it beautifully. But for me, it would have been hollow, because my baseline was still distress.
Opening the box offered me the gift of loving all of it. The magnificence and the brokenness, the great and the small. And in loving all of it, finally coming to see the perfection of Awareness that was always here.
When the box is open, you can’t put the lid back on. I feel all the feels. I wobble, I rage and I cry. Then, in the deepening of my love for all that appears, I find my Self. That’s grace.
Do you wanna open the box?