A pure nondual teaching has only two things to tell you, however fancy the teacher dresses it up to help get the message across:
- NO SEPARATION
There is no truth in your felt sense of separation (from pure peace, from unconditional love, from total freedom). Though that felt sense is not a problem, in the knowing it’s not truth.
- ALL AWARENESS
The only ‘thing’ you can know is Awareness, which is not a thing. It is pure peace, unconditional love, total freedom. It is your essence, your Self, your truth.
Then, in all honesty, the only authentic thing to do is cook up the perfect storm.
Well, the problem is that “separation” and “Awareness” have been branded “selves”—the separate self, the true Self.
Which basically appears to make three out of one. There’s this separate self, like a little devil dragging you down, there’s the true Self, like an angel whispering in your ear. And then there’s you, stuck in the middle.
Now this isn’t good. We’re talking about One, but thinking in three.
You, could of course, try to resolve this by declaring there is no self. But while this is a nice easy line to hold to intellectually, you might be left wondering who it is that so confidently knows there is no self? It’s a classic case of throwing the baby out with the bathwater. And it often leaves the body described as some kind of organic robot, scrambling around a distant planet.
Or, you could turn your back on the world, her relationships, structures and challenges. Which is essentially the formation of a religious community, whether on a mountain top or at your kitchen table. It’s pretty hard work to deny experience, and will probably leave you very frustrated or embittered by a world that refuses to conform to your image of Awareness. This is part of why so many religious communities retreat from the world.
So, here’s another model:
There is you. Self. The first thing you can know with certainty, before any other knowing. Without reference to memory or perception, you know that “I am”. Next, you know experience. The knowing of Self is a constant, the knowing of experience rises and recedes, dances and falls.
There are times when that sense of separation seems true, and then you are triggered into emotions, thoughts and actions of a not-self. What does it feel like to you, when you are triggered into your not-self? By “not-self” I mean the insecure, anxious, passive and/or aggressive emotions, thoughts and actions. They don’t feel nice, they don’t look nice.
I call mine “the hedgehog”. Simultaneously curled into a protective ball, with defensive spikes out. If you’ve experienced a withdrawn, prickly me, it’s because at that time someone deeply hurt me. I’m lucky here. The hedgehog naturally uncurls once the hit of hurt has passed, and it only does damage to those that try to touch it. The storm it takes to trigger this is quite immense, but I can be triggered.
So can you. And this exploration will trigger you. Not in a nasty way, but as a natural by-product of our growing sense of self as Awareness. And it’s a helpful thing. Because, once you know that you are triggered into your not-self, you know the emotions, thoughts and actions that follow are very unlikely to be useful.
BUT—and this is super important—it doesn’t mean it’s all about you. You’ve been triggered. In other words, something has touched a raw nerve. Why is that nerve raw? It isn’t necessarily that the trigger held a mirror to your own weakness. It might be that you hate aggression, so aggressive expressions trigger you. It might be the person wears the same scent as someone who bullied you before. It might even be from a past life.
If, however, it seems that you are surrounded by weak, aggressive, nasty people? Unless you’re super unlucky, or in a situation that has past its use by date, then yes, that’s the energy you are putting out, being reflected back at you. This is quite confronting, but ultimately helpful, if you’re ready to see it.
Whatever the answer (and there aren’t any rules), it’s ideal that it is triggered during the exploration, because it gives you a clue to what the triggered not-self looks like. And therefore what conditioning you carry, what habits you have. It’s the gateway to the dissolution of conditioning, either immediately, gradually, or with assistance.
TL;DR: What is a perfect storm? The fact that any well-guided exploration of Self will trigger the conditioning of the not-self. And that is a wonderful opportunity to recognise a pattern, clear the emotion, and engage directly with what’s in front of us.