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Table of Contents
2.1 Literature Review
2.2 Modern Non-duality
2.3 Early Buddhist Discourses
2.4 Neuroscience on Free Will and Choice
2.5 Buddhist Philosophy as a Tourist Attractions
3.1 Research Question/Problem Identification
3.2 Aims and Objectives of the Study
4.2 Research Design and Methodology
4.2.2 Research Design
4.2.3 Data Collection
4.2.4 Field Research
4.2.5 Rational for the Questionnaire
4.3 Analysis of Data
4.3.1 Perceived Gaps in Pointers of Non Duality & Early Buddhist discourses
4.3.2 Comparison, Contrast and Neutral Factors Non-duality and Early Buddhist Discourses
4.3.3 Interpretation of language
4.3.4 Analysis of lokoththara Dhamma
4.3.6 Analysis of Linkages of Buddhist Discourse to Modern Non-Duality
5.1 Findings of the Study
5.1.1 Supportive and Rejective Elements
5.1.2 Language Barrier
5.1.3 Findings on the Research Question
5.1.4 Findings on the Conceptualization
5.1.5 Findings on the Objectives
5.2 Emergence of New Knowledge
5.3 Justification of the new knowledge
5.4 Limitation of the study
References & Bibliography
List of Figures/Charts
This study is dedicated to all scholars of spirituality in their search to ascertain clarity on interpretations of philosophies with a view to arriving at new findings that would not only enhance the quality of academic studies on spirituality but also help the mankind.
Summary of the Study
This thesis is a culmination of a rigorous and demanding study which attempts to bridge a possible gap between the main pointers of the Modern Non-Duality Concept and the core messages of early Buddhist discourses. The Modern Non-Dual Concept is fast spreading across the world specially in developed countries where the spiritual search has become intense in the last two decades due to increasing psychological suffering that surfaces as stress, anxiety, anger, worry, fear, hatred, depression etc.
The study has collected enormous but relevant data, mostly with the aid of online literature and has gone into an in-depth analysis in search of answers to the questions that surfaced in the pointers of Modern Non-Duality Concept and Messages of early Buddhist discourses on the assumption that any teachings which relive mankind from suffering were very much prevalent in the words of Lord Buddha through Dhamma (understanding true nature of life) unless there is some ambiguity between Mundane ( Routine) and Supra mundane ( Spiritualistic) spheres when presenting Dhamma to masses today.
It was evident through the study that Modern non-dual teachings revolve around supra mundane teachings that the knowledge cannot grasp, and the western world is becoming more receptive to such contradictions to normal human model explanations as long as there is some logical understanding beyond language. There is no evidence of mundane level teachings which this study has identified as a gap in Modern Non dual teachings.
On the other hand, early Buddhist teachings through discourses, cover both Mundane and Supra mundane teachings thus making a contribution to the world with the identification of wholesome and unwholesome actions The study narrates the findings and interprets the bridging knowledge as ‘Resonance’ which occurs either through observation or communication. Resonance may occur at both mundane and supra mundane level with virtues and spirituality understanding respectively. The gray area would be the ones who claim to have ‘seen through’ the true nature of life for which there is no verification while anyone’s mundane life is conspicuous.
The modern technology offers many communication tools namely YouTube, Podcasts and other social media where these messages seem to be resonating among spiritual seekers instead of conveying knowledge. Resonance and Wisdom thus appear to be a meaning which is different to knowledge or practice where true nature of life is seen through. In the light of this the Modern Non dual Concept compliments the Buddhist teachings if interpreted in the Supra mundane language.
The central enquiry has therefore drawn a new knowledge of ‘ Resonance’ through observation or communication which can be applied to both mundane and supra mundane teachings beyond knowledge gathering leading to some shift in a life style either to embrace a benevolent life style or become a speaker on the subject sharing what has been resonanced within self. This study is therefore available with this new knowledge for further study in spirituality hence fulfilling the doctoral framework of the study.
I am greatful to the supervisor or scrutinizing all parts of this study, guiding, advising and certifying the research and contents of the thesis. My heartfelt gratitude goes to the Ven Thero for the painstaking time taken to advise me on the study having understood its novelty and the importance of same for the Buddhist community all over the world.
Similar and profound gratitude goes to my good friend Mr. Siva Balaratnam, for parting with his valuable modern nonduality books with me which enormously helped me in addition to the material available in the Cyberspace.
I am also grateful to Dr A.A.C Abeysinghe, Senior Lecturer of the Colombo University and Dr Niranji Satanaarachchi, Senior Lecturer, University of Sri Jayawardenepura , for giving me advice to follow academic standards for a thesis of this nature.
Dr. Chandana Aluthge, Pricipal of the Australian College of Business and Technology must be mentioned with gratitude for backing this study from the beginning and guiding me towards the right direction.
My conversations with M/s Tony parsons in London, Darryl Baily in Canada, and Cliff Layden in London as well as M/s Gamini Pandokorale and Badulle Kumara in Sri Lanka should also be mentioned here as advisors for various interpretations of non-duality themes.
I am also thankful to my family for encouraging me and bearing with me for the time I had to sacrifice to make this study a reality.
Finally, there were numerous personalities who gave me much guidance during my long journey of the spiritual search which was the foundation for this PhD study.
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1.1.1 In search of the truth
Various explanations on Life and Existence have been described and recorded from the time immemorial through Religions, Philosophies Science and Experience. The explanations through Literature, Discourses, Sermons, Scientific Experiments and Discussions have led the world to witness the pendulum swinging from one extreme of peaceful living in fraternity to another corner of wars and destructions.
The mankind has gone through many phases which have left behind lessons and open- ended questions as to how life and existence should be asserted in terms of what is good and bad, right and wrong as well as spiritual seeking such as finding inner peace or freedom from physical and psychological suffering. Many questions are unanswered, and the explanations have sometimes converted people from one belief to another. The societies continue in debates while the science has evolved with many advancements and discoveries which just as much as help the mankind, also attribute to destructions in many ways.
The research studies that have been carried out in this sphere may be countless. And yet no conclusions can be reached due to the nature of the subject area which has limitations with its vastness of unknowability. That would however not prevent undertaking of various studies that would reveal causes and effects of a prevalent phenomenon connected to life and existence under a broad subject of spirituality which may or may not be experiential.
On the surface, it is apparent that the spiritual journeys will continue in search of the truth whatever the way people are driven into such a journey, be it curiosity, suffering or inherent nature of being analytical and looking for clarity. There are also those who claim to have seen or felt the true nature of life implying that it has brought about an end to the seeking. However there is a greay area as to the verification of these claims.
1.1.2 Movements of Spiritual Seekers
One aspect that is clear to the world is that despite scientific advancement and medical discoveries, human suffering has not receded. The life span of humans in developed and developing countries may have been prolonged with the medical inventions and yet the death is inevitable. Further the power, wealth or publicity have not resolved the psychological suffering which in most cases have urged many people to embrace spirituality, be it faith, philosophy or practices, especially when everyone reaches old age.
When describing the current phenomenon in one area of spirituality, one example that needs to be explored is the development of Monte Sahaja in Portugal which is a place where the travelers from all over the world visit to meet Mooji (Anthony Moo Young) and the said visitors are identified as travelers who are in search of inner peace and attempting to look at life from different point of view. This ashram claims to draw the visitors to a real spiritual awakening through complete realization of ‘No Self. The spiritual discourses of Mooji seem to trigger inner exploration for those who are aspiring to find freedom in this lifetime (Mooji Foundation, 2016).
Surprisingly, the teachings of Mooji neither contradict nor directly relate to existing religions or philosophies although he refers to Lord Buddha, Jesus Christ, Krishna from time to time. Many more such spiritual gurus have emerged currently right across the world viz Eckhart Tolle, Rupert Spira, Tony Parsons, Naho Owada, Richard Sylvester, Lisa Cairns, Francis Lucille, Darryl Baily, Nathan Gill, Jeff Foster, Adyashanthi, Gangaji, Paul Smit, Peter Russel, Scott Kiloby, David Carse, Jim Newman, Fred Davis, most of whom, a searcher can find in a list of Non Duality teachings which have been taken across the globe (SAND Community, 2017). The emergence of these Modern Non-Duality teachers also reflects in the spiritual travel movements which is elaborated in the following paragraphs.
It is generally difficult to describe a ‘Spiritual Seeker’ who is given many interpretations offered by multitude of quarters representing religious and other philosophical institutions. To ascertain where spirituality currently rests, one aspect that would spark an investigation would be the attempt to find purpose of travel by a traveler who initially appears to be a spiritual seeker but appearing as a tourist.
United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) estimated in 2014 that 300 to 330 million tourists visit the world's key religious sites every year, making spiritual tourism a significant part of both domestic and international tourists (UNWTO, 2014). This is a significant number of over one billion overall tourists who are crossing national borders with an increase of average 4% every year.
21 November 2013 was a significant day for many tourism destinations, heralding a new era for the recognition of the increasing importance of spiritual tourism. UNWTO convened the 1st International Conference on Spiritual Tourism for Sustainable Development in NinhBinh outside of Hanoi in Vietnam to explore ways and means in which culture, traditions and beliefs could be connected to tourism based on the four pillars of Tourism sustainability viz: Economic, Environmental, Social and Cultural. (UNWTO, 2012).
Making a remark on the conference, Ben Bowler said ’Over the last 30 years, there has been a revolution quietly happening in the global tourism industry. Terms such as ecotourism, responsible tourism and even voluntourism have entered common usage. Now there is an emerging trend on the horizon that is being cited at the fastest growing sector in the whole travel business. They call it "spiritual tourism" and it is starting to be taken very seriously by Governments, State tourism authorities, even the United Nations agency responsible for global tourism - the UNWTO (Bowler, 2014)
Although the magnitude of the phenomenal growth in tourism is reflected in spiritual tourism, what seems to have been emphasized in the conference are the locations that visitors travel to, than the purpose of the actual visit. It appears that the reason is the general inability to define’ Spirituality’ as a terminology, which is described in many ways globally. One definition that covers most of the elements in spirituality from different perspective is given by the Web Page of University of Minnesota as follows.
Spirituality is a broad concept with room for many perspectives. In general, it includes a sense of connection to something bigger than ourselves, and it typically involves a search for meaning in life. As such, it is a universal human experience—something that touches us all. People may describe a spiritual experience as sacred or transcendent or simply a deep sense of aliveness and interconnectedness. Some may find that their spiritual life is intricately linked to their association with a church, temple, mosque, or synagogue. Others may pray or find comfort in a personal relationship with God or a higher power. Still others seek meaning through their connections to nature or art. Like your sense of purpose, your personal definition of spirituality may change throughout your life, adapting to your own experiences and relationships (University of Minnesota, 2016).
Meanwhile, the position statements of the speakers of the said conference were published under the name of the conference on line jointly by UNWTO and Vietnam Tourism authorities. From the tourism angle, the increasing tourism is seemingly identified as ‘spiritual travel’ had been acknowledged and recognized in the light of its economic importance and sustainability (UNWTO, 2013). These statements however linked to emphasis on pilgrim and faith tourism. Therefore, the announcements did not offer adequate information as to the percentage of travelers in terms of their real purpose of the visit.
In that back ground, the definition of spirituality remains broader and tourist destinations would have been happier if spiritual seekers could be categorized into various segments such as Pilgrims, Enlightenment seekers, Worshippers, Admirers, Vow Makers and Fulfillers, Purifiers of Sins etc. for which research studies can be deployed to find out the exact purpose of travelers with the growing interest and importance of spiritual movements connected to international and domestic travel.
Thus, while the report on this conference emphasized on the protection of sites in a sustainable manner fostering multicultural ties, there is lack of evidence of sufficient material on various purposes of spiritual travel and what is being offered currently in various locations to satisfy the spiritual seekers.
Within the broader perspective of spiritual travel there is a necessity to find out what some segments of the travelers are looking for in terms of the neo spiritual teachers who are currently dominant in the worldwide online websites that are watched by millions of spiritual seekers.
It is worth mentioning Alex Norman’s thesis SPIRITUAL TOURISM: RELIGION AND SPIRITUALITY IN CONTEMPORARY TRAVEL when he said ‘For the scholar attempting to study spiritual tourists there is, as with its more general headings pilgrimage and tourism, a critical lack of multi-disciplinary theory. It is a common theme in the introductions of academic literature on pilgrimage to mourn the lack of theoretical publications' (Norman, 2004)
The Spiritual travel webpage describes the purpose of Spiritual Travel being - The goal of spiritual travel is mystical or transcendent religious experience. The reason for an interest in spiritual travel is that it provides a unique means of approaching these distant and extraordinary states of religious awareness. It does this by exposing the spiritual seeker to a series of lessons about the nature of identity, and the freedom of the soul to travel in various non-physical environments. (SpiritualTravel.org, 2017)
Therefore, the pilgrimages have two main features namely a) appreciation of the location and b) beliefs of power either of the place or super power being worshipped. People visit Katharagama in Sri Lanka to make vows and fulfil vows which revolves around God Skanda. Similarly, people visit Thirupathy in India or Devundara in down South of Sri Lanka to worship God Vishnu. Pilgrims visit Vatican to experience of being in the location and Jerusalem to commemorate Jesus Christ thus there are wider and broader reasons but primarily they are faith based and this study will not probe into this area.
1.1.3 Influencing factors for the Study
The research study was prompted mainly from four aspects.
First, the phenomenal growth of spiritual travel specially within the west which has been seemingly triggered by the discourses of the Modern Non-Duality Teachers initially learning from India and most of whom are now operating in the West. Others have received their initial coaching from the western Gurus themselves. For instance, Naho Owada and Richard Sylvester are reported to have admitted that they have for the initial understanding from Tony Parsons operating from London.
Second, there is a natural interest to explore the core messages of Modern Non-duality which are somewhat similar and yet there are implications regarding visible gaps in the understanding of such non-dual teachings. Among the teachings, there are common features emerging from them except that their styles of preaching differ. Adyashanti generally takes a soft and compassionate approach while Tony Parsons prefer to be blunt in what he has to say. Notwithstanding this, there is not evidence for experiential benefits apart from the increasing interest unless a research of this nature is carried out to narrow the gaps.
Third, with the personal interest in the area of Buddhist teachings , the study will attempt to find out if the modern non dual indicators are expressed in any way by the early Buddhist discourses considering that Sri Lanka is primarily a Buddhist country in which the available Buddhist literature is expected to encompass all areas of mundane and supra mundane aspects including what is taught in Modern Non duality with agreements and contradictions if any. Besides it has been stated (described later in the background of the study with the quotes of Jeyaram) that Hinduism, Advaita Vedänta had interacted with other traditions of India such as Jainism and Buddhism advocating sat-cit-ananda (truth-consciousness-bliss), seeing of which is said to be the liberation.
Apart from pilgrim and faith travel that could be explained without much difficulty with the locations being patronized , there seems to be a gray area as to what is being offered for those who are travelling around looking for inner peace and non-material happiness within the Modern Non-duality sphere. This investigation is directed to a specific study of Non-duality offered by contemporary teachers.
What is apparent in the spiritual drift of the West towards Non duality teachings will have implications on destinations like Sri Lanka as to why such spiritual seekers do not visit Sri Lanka in large numbers (like the visitors to Monte Sahaja) where pure Theravada Buddhism is preserved and presumably available for spiritual travelers who are seekers of happiness within, serenity, freedom from suffering which do not stem from mundane benefits.
There were spiritual retreats in places such as Spirit Rock - California, Plum village in France, Wat Suan Mok Phalaram - Thailand and Assisi Retreat Home & Hermitage - Italy (CNNTraveller, 2017). Some travelers undertake short stays sometime as temporary monks or ordained involving themselves in practices on the assumption that there is a way to reach inner peace and happiness while Modern Non-duality does not advocate such rigorous practices in retreats apart from the Non-duality teaching invading the West through the internet revolution.
Such places are also available in Plum village in France, Wat po Nanachat in Thailand and Amaravati in London. However, there is no visible speakers coming out of these except the decedents of Thich Nhat Hanh and Ajahn family who are sometime touching non-dual teaching combining Buddhism. The trend among spiritual seekers is to travel within USA and Europe and they are moving away from India towards their own places where the nondual teachers are available. In the light of this Sri Lanka seems to have fallen way behind all other countries despite the availability of scriptures in their original form.
Fourth, the researcher himself had been engaged in spiritual studies for decades which is intended to culminate in a research of this nature to do the justice to the persons placed in the same position as the researcher as well as practitioner of meditative sessions for tourists for over 5 years, experience of which is extracted for the benefit of the research._The findings by being associated in Dhamma and getting a constant feedback from the audience of Western Europe have enriched this study despite the area of probe is vast.
Interestingly, there is a study undertaken on non-duality in academic sphere in the past viz ‘THE NON-DUAL EXPERIENCE: A PHENOMENOLOGICAL HERMENEUTIC INVESTIGATION OF THE SEEKER'S - JOURNEY TOWARDS WHOLENES’(THERIAULT, 2001a) which has been accepted with Researchers experience and this is the only academic found so far which analyses Non duality teachings for the purpose of counselling.
1.1.4 World of Religions and definitions
To offer a backdrop to the study it was felt appropriate to offer a picture on the existing religions as stated in the Register Website. Dr Stephen Juan has said that there are some 4,300 religions in the world and explained that religious groups are connected to churches, denominations, congregations, religious bodies, faith groups, tribes, cultures, and movements while all are of varying size and influence. His calculations denote as follows.
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The same article says ‘Christianity and Islam are the two religions most widely spread across the world. These two religions together cover the religious affiliation of more than half of the world's population. If all non-religious people formed a single religion, it would be the world's third largest (Register, 2006).
What implies here are two-fold. One is the question as to the perceptions of non-believers and whether a good part of them could be some way spiritual seekers and the Other is that simply mentioning Buddhism as a religion appears to be the lack of understanding on the difference between religion and philosophy.
While the Oxford definition of religion stands as ‘ The belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, especially a personal God or Gods’, there are other definitions for the term religion. As stated in Some definitions of religions (Kenyon Journal, 2007)
- [Religion is] the belief in Spiritual Beings" (Edward B Tylor, Primitive Culture)
- "By religion, then, I understand a propitiation or conciliation of powers superior to man which are believed to direct and control the course of nature and of human life" (James George Frazer, The Golden Bough).
- "[Religion is] the feelings, acts, and experiences of individual men in their solitude, so far as they apprehend themselves to stand in relation to whatever they may consider the divine." (William James, The Varieties of Religious Experience)
These definitions mostly directed towards ‘a belief or super power in which life and existence is governed. Some have touched on moving beyond faith-based concepts, but the majority versions revolve around having super power based on a belief. If one takes the two major religions viz Christianity and Islam, their teachings are offered through main scriptures viz the Holy Bible and Holy Quran. Both scriptures advocate God being the creator and Decider on the plans of beings and non-beings.
Therefore, the religion in effect denotes emphatically a) Power above existence b) needs to follow guidelines c) revolves around belief d) faith based and rewards and punishment here or hereafter. This clarification is made at this point to avoid any controversy as to the findings of this study by any means touches on any aspects of religions.
However, a contradiction here is that the Modern Non dual teachers are referring to some aspects of Christianity and Buddhism meaning that these areas that cannot be described like ‘ He that findth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake will find it’ (Bible Study tools, 2016) and ‘ No self or Not theory’ of Buddhist Philosophy described emphatically later in the study. In any event Buddhist teachings are described under philosophies in the following chapters and in subsequent literature review when the study proceeds.
1.1.5 Philosophies on life and Existence
Philosophy is given many definitions which can be found in the website ‘Brainpikings’ and four such selected definitions and their author are given below (Popova, 2012)
Philosophy is thinking really hard about the most important questions and trying to bring analytic clarity both to the questions and the answers.” - Marilyn Adams Philosophy is the successful love of thinking.” - John Armstrong
Philosophy is critical thinking: trying to become aware of how one ’s own thinking works, of all the things one takes for granted, of the way in which one ’s own thinking shapes the things one’s thinking about.” - Don Cupitt
Most simply put it’s about making sense of all this… We find ourselves in a world that we haven’t chosen. There are all sorts of possible ways of interpreting it and finding meaning in the world and in the lives that we live. So, philosophy is about making sense of that situation that we find ourselves in.” - Clare Carlisle
In the history, the world had produced many philosophers whose viewpoints have been discussed and debated for centuries. (listverse, 2011)
Plato - Almost all Western philosophy can be traced back to Plato, who was taught by Socrates, and preserved through his own writings, some of Socrates ’s ideas. One of Plato’s most famous quotations concerns politics, “Until philosophers rule as kings or those who are now called kings and leading men genuinely and adequately philosophize, that is, until political power and philosophy entirely coincide, while the many natures who at present pursue either one exclusively are forcibly prevented from doing so, cities will have no rest fTorn evils.nor, I think, will the human race.
Aristotle - He theorized that there are four “causes ”, or qualities, of anything in existence: the material cause, which is what the subject is made of; the formal cause, or the arrangement of the subject’s material; the effective cause, the creator of the thing; and the final cause, which is the purpose for which a subject exists.
Epicurus - He was thought to be an atheist, whose principles for a happy life were passed down to this famous set of statements: “Don’t fear god; don’t worry about death; what is good is easy to get; what is terrible is easy to endure. ’’He advocated the principle of refusing belief in anything that is not tangible, including any god.
anything which causes us to suffer in life is an error in our judgment, and that we should always have absolute control over our emotions. Rage, elation, depression are all simple flaws in a person ’s reason, and thus, we are only emotionally weak when we allow ourselves to be.
Confucius - Confucius wrote in his Analects that “the best government is one that rules through ‘rites’ and the people’s natural morality, rather than by using bribery and coercion.
Rene Descartes - He is referred to as “the Father of Modern PhilosophyHe discovered the laws of refraction and reflection. He also invented the superscript notation still used today to indicate the powers of exponents. He advocated dualism, which is very basically defined as the power of the mind over the body. Incidentely the Modern Non-duality defies Decartesby citing a complete opposite to his theory.
These are extracts in the literature available on these philosophers which deal with life and existence in some way or another. Among the said Philosophers mentioned in the history, Lord Buddha is rated very high as a philosopher and orator by the world in offering discourses to masses to rescue them from suffering. The recorded history offers thousands of discourses offered by Lord Buddha comprising both mundane and supra mundane teachings relieving people from suffering which is today described as physical pains plus psychological suffering categorized into Anxiety, Stress, Worry, Anger, Hatred, Fear etc.
What is predominantly presented in the philosophy make of Lord Buddha is the concept of ‘ Ahimsa’ through loving kindness and equality which is reflected in laws and regulations in countries that are developed and have less crime rates. The policy that has govered these laws revolves around the verse of Dhammapada under Danda Waggaya 10:01 ‘ Aththanam Upaman Kathwa’ meaning - place yourself in this position. Although these laws apply to other developing countries, power and corruption have taken better off the real practice of these laws.
Although there are different approaches advocated in philosophies in describing life and existence, the common characteristics of philosophies can be presented as
a) Analytical thinking, b) Critical analysis , c) Possibility of thinking another way d) Offering another scenario etc.
However, from these definitions, we may reasonably derive the one offered by Claire Carlisle which is closer to the purpose of the study in relation to the Modern Non-Duality with reference to early Buddhist discourses implying that there were philosophers who were speaking of Non-duality prior to the emergence of Modern Non-duality theories. Clarsle said ‘ We find ourselves in a world that we haven’t chosen which can take a long way if one applies this core to all other factors that affect one’s life thereafter.
Meanwhile Science which experiments body and mind had overridden the beliefs, traditions and practices and is responsible for standing by Non-religious or Secular communities. There is over 1.1 billion of them and the only possibility for them to turn to spiritual study would be a philosophy which spells out an ‘experience’ which is the closest to the truth.
In the article ‘How Does Science Defeat Religion? John Shook writes ‘ What is the message that defenders of science broadcast to the doubtful and the faithful? Usually it sounds something like, “You must accept theories that explain the evidence. ”. Advocates for scientific theories, such as evolution, proudly point to all the evidence for that theory. “Look how evolution can explain our genes, our bodies, and our collections of fossils!” The ability of a theory to explain all that evidence, maybe every item of evidence, must be impressive to any rational mind. And so, it is — the way that a theory is compatible with all the gathered evidence could only be dismissed by a confused or dogmatic person. (Centre for Inquiry, 2010)
Having stated that, Science has not answered many questions in humanity. It has not discovered any technique for immortality. Science has not alleviated poverty or injustices. While many deceases have been eliminated, new viruses have loomed killing millions of people. This is apart from science being instrumental in developing weapons of mass destruction. Lord Buddha had mentioned in Cüla-Mälunkva sütra. that it is futile to search for beginning and the end and such teachings are to support this fact which is elaborated later.
The area that science touches on spirituality refers to psychology and neuroscience that is separately covered in this study specially around ‘ Free will’ which somehow collaborates with the theory of modern nondual studies.
1.2.1 Context of the study
The background to the study is emanating from the contemporary question of finding solace in the modern-day stress and anxiety for which centuries ago Price Siddhartha made a giant sacrifice by making that great renunciation from Pleasures, Wealth, Power and Publicity. Over 2500 years later, humans continue to suffer by way of inevitable happenings such as sicknesses, old age and anticipation of death as well as worries, anxieties, stress, fear, anger, hatred etc. without knowing what relives humans from suffering then and now.
As the story goes ‘ Prince Siddhartha reflected on the old age, disease, and death that would overtake them all and turn their bodies to dust. He realized then that he could no longer be content living the life of a prince. That very night he left the palace, shaved his head, and changed from his royal clothes into a beggar's robe. Renouncing all the luxury he had known, he began his quest for enlightenment (Thoughtco.com, 2017a).
Lord Buddha’s discovery appears to be fading away except for a few who claim to have seen the truth, and the literature available are interpreted by individuals and institutions in various forms. While that being so, the current trend of Modern Non duality has emerged from Advaita - ‘Not Two’ concept but it would be very hard to accept that it is a newly established truth when Buddhist Philosophy is presented as a discovery of the true nature of life and freedom from suffering after much study of Hindu Philosophies and its factions by Buddha himself under various spiritual Gurus Älära Käläma, Uddaka Rämaputta etc.
While this study does not undertake to challenge or counter any religion or philosophy , the need has arisen to probe into the pointers that are given by Modern Non-Duality Gurus who are now based across the world attracting a large number of spiritual seekers where most of them give credit to Lord Buddha. Mooji for instance, repeatedly mentions Buddha in his discourses. One such quote is ‘As you can walk through a busy marketplace and not touch or speak to a single person, in the same way you can move through this mind field and yet not get entangled with any thought activity. Such a one moves without trace and is called a Buddha (Mooji.info, 2014).
Similarly, Adyashati was quoted as saying ‘ The Buddha was no different from you. No different. That is why he serves as a good model, because he was as you are now. So, don’t worship the Buddha. Don’t put him on a pedestal. Don’t even look up to him. Become him. Have the same intentions, take the same stand. Be the Buddha now! Put an end to all delaying, to all excuses, to all bowing down to saintly figures of the past or present. Stand up! (Adyashanti.org, 2005)
Therefore, it is appropriate to flow the study from the origins with core teachings to where it stands currently that needs to be explored which would not arise with the question as to which faction of Buddhism this study is considering.
1.2.2 From Hindu Philosophy to Advaita
Hinduism is the oldest known religion (sometimes called a philosophy) and also known as the Sanatana Dharma, or "Eternal Way," is our planet's original and oldest living religion, with over one billion adherents. Today it has four main denominations: Saivism, Shaktism, Vaishnavism and Smartism, each with hundreds of lineages. They represent a broad range of beliefs, practices and mystic goals, but virtually all concur on certain bedrock concepts. All Hindus worship one Supreme Reality and believe that the cosmos was created out of God and is permeated by Him--a Supreme Being who both is form and pervades form, who creates, sustains and destroys the universe only to recreate it again in unending cycles. Each soul is free to find his own way, whether by devotion, austerity, meditation, yoga or selfless service. (Hinduism Today, 2008)
As described in the article Indian Philosophy (Luke Mastin, 2008) - Indian Philosophy or Hindu Philosophy codified during the medieval period of Brahmanic-Sanskritic scholasticism offers six orthodox factions namely
Nyaya: based on the Nyaya Sutras, written by Aksapada Gautama in the 2nd Century B.C. Its methodology is based on a system of logic that has subsequently been adopted by the majority of the Indian schools, in much the same way as Aristotelian logic has influenced Western philosophy. This is school of logic, argument and discussion.
Vaisesika : founded by Kanada in the 6th Century B.C., and it is atomist and pluralist in nature. The basis of the school's philosophy is that all objects in the physical universe are reducible to a finite number of atoms, and Brahman is regarded as the fundamental force that causes consciousness in these atoms.
Sāṃkhya: by Kapila Muni - the oldest of the orthodox philosophical systems, and it postulates that everything stems from purusa (self or soul or mind) and prakriti (matter, creative agency, energy) said to be dualistic.
Yoga: expounded by Patanjali in his 2nd Century B.C. Yoga Sutras, accepts the Samkhya psychology and metaphysics, but is more theistic, with the addition of a divine entity to Sämkhya: 's twenty-five elements of reality.
Purva Mlmämsa: by Jaimini - requires unquestionable faith in the Vedas and the regular performance of the Vedic fire-sacrifices to sustain all the activity of the universe while other explanations include traditions of exegesis .
Uttara Mimamsa or Vedanta: by Badarayana is also known as Ved Vyasa in which Brahman is a key concept in the Vedas, and it is extensively discussed in the early Upanishads. Vedänta school also concentrates on the philosophical teachings of the Upanishads (mystic or spiritual contemplations within the Vedas), rather than the Brahmanas (instructions for ritual and sacrifice) in which Vedänta focuses on meditation, self-discipline and spiritual connectivity, more than traditional ritualism. Badarayana is also known as Ved Vyasa.
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Figure 1 - Basic understanding of Hindu Philosophy - Authors Own work
Advaita Vedanta refers to the non-dualistic school of Hindu philosophy, which is derived mostly from the Upanishads and elaborated in detail by eminent scholars like Gudivada and Sri Adisankamcdrya. Dvaita means duality, and Advaita means nonduality. In simple terms, Advaita means absence of the duality between subject and object. In our wakeful consciousness we experience duality, but in deep sleep only nonduality (hinduwebsite.com, 2017)
Advaita Vedänta school advocates that apart from Bräman , the supreme being, everything else is appearance and an illusion. A common example given is to seek a snake in a rope in darkness. Snake is an illusion while the rope is reality. It speaks of an atman as a separate self is mere projection of Brahman in each being. The Atman or soul is deluded by ego and desires hence the duality being experienced (ibid).
There is also a liberation to be achieved from the dilemma of each being bound to the cycle of births and deaths subject to the laws of karma. Although this is difficult to understand in simple language, what is explained is that there is no two between self (Atman) and the highest metaphysical Reality (Brahman). The followers seek spiritual liberation through acquiring the knowledge or wisdom of one's identity as Atman, and the identity of Atman and Brahman. According to the Author Jayaram, Brahman is real, but the world in which we live is a mere illusion, like a mirage. It appears in our consciousness because of the activity of the mind and the senses. Since we totally depend upon them, we do not perceive Brahman, the ultimate reality, who is hidden in all. When they are fully withdrawn and made silent through detachment, purity and renunciation, one can see the Supreme Self hidden in all and attain liberation. (ibid.)
Due to the rather cryptic and poetic nature of the Veddnta suttas, the school separated into six sub-schools, each interpreting the texts in its own way and producing its own series of sub-commentaries:
Advaita (the best-known, which holds that the soul and Brahman are one and the same). Advaita’s conclusions derive from observation rather than from a scientific study of the material world and that perception of the diversity of the material is incorrect knowledge of Brahman.Advaita has however spurred debate with other theistic schools of Veddnta as given below.
VishistAdvaita (which teaches that the Supreme Being has a definite form, name - Vishnu - and attributes)
Dvaita (which espouses a belief in three separate realities: Vishnu, and eternal soul and matter),
Dvaitadvaita (which holds that Brahman exists independently, while soul and matter are dependent)
suddhadvaita (which believes that Krishna is the absolute form of Brahman) and Acintya Bheda Abheda (which combines monism and dualism by stating that the soul is both distinct and non-distinct from Krishna, or God) (ibid.)
Apart from showing the origins of Advaita, the Study does not wish to bring in broad Hinduism as a Philosophy due to limitations. But it is said in the same article by Jayaram that Beyond Hinduism, Advaita Vedanta interacted and developed with the other traditions of India such as Jainism and Buddhism and Brahman is said to constitute sat-cit- ananda (truth-consciousness-bliss), seeing of which is the liberation. The question then arises how Brahman manifolds the universe and if Brahman is pure bliss, why does the world go through immense suffering? The Philosophy clarifies that logic cannot lead to philosophical truths and only experience and meditative insights can see through the reality (ibid)
The Advaita philosophy therefore revolves around the concept and self and Brahmin are one and not two. Brahmin refer to the existence of everything or life energy while the Mind divides and separate being to assume separation. The realization is expected to bring liberations to individuals from mundane sufferings especially psychological suffering. The human beings who are caught up in the mind driven life cannot possibly see this reality unless there is radical way of seeing life from totally a different perception. The following chapters describe the emergence of Advaita and to Modern Non-duality which the study wishes to explore in the light of early Buddhist discourses.
This explanatory article explains the heterodox schools, which do not accept the authority of the Vedas, include:
Carvaka: Also known as Lokayata, Carvaka is a materialistic, skeptical and atheistic school of thought.
Buddhist philosophy: Buddhism is a non-theistic system of beliefs based on the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama, an Indian prince later known as the Buddha, in the 5th Century B.C.
Jain philosophy: The central tenets of Jain philosophy were established by Mahavira in the 6th Century B.C., although Jainism as a religion is much older.
The Arthasästra: attributed to the Mauryan minister Canakya in the 4th Century B.C., is one of the earliest Indian texts devoted to political philosophy, and it discusses ideas of statecraft and economy. (ibid.)
Here it is an assumption that Buddhist philosophy has been taken as a concept that is not in line with Vedantha and yet Jeyaram explains that Advaita had interacted with Buddhist Philosophy. The study therefore is a test to see whether Advaita being part of Vedanta is rejected in Buddhist Philosophy in some way and whether Modern Non-duality which is another school of Advaita has any link with Buddhist Philosophy.
Under the title ‘Neo-Advaita versus Traditional Vedanta ’ , modern non-duality is given a fair explanation although the word Advaita is still used in place of Non-duality. This entry by Tan was posted in Guest Writer and tagged enquiry, by Dennis. (Advaita vision, 2012)
Tan, having gone through the work of Greek Philosophy, Krishnamurti, Taoism, Zen, Neurological Science and Physical Science read more books while attending “satsangs” claims that the quest had led him to “Neo-Advaita” and then in the end to Vedänta.
He had spent several years in meetings with “Neo-Advaita“ teachers such as Tony Parsons, Karl Renz and later developed an interest in traditional Vedänta teaching. Despite his descriptions, it appears that Vedänta implies that it is end of search. This has a suggestion that Advaita being very much part of Vedänta if the terminology ‘ Modern Non-Duality ’ can be connected to Advaita which is the most common identification for modern Non-duality teachers who are quite popular across the world. (ibid.)
At the same time, it is strange that this scholar or truth seeker has not studied Buddhism for some reason or other. One possible explanation is that Buddhist philosophy deals with many mundane teachings which the spiritual seekers are not that much interested in with the belief that truth lies in something radical to usual life stories.
While designing a flow chart from Hindu philosophies to Modern Nonduality is not straight forward, and that covering Hindu philosophy is not within the scope of this study, the following may strengthen the flow of information towards the findings.
1.2.3 Emergence of Modern Non-Duality from Advaita
The duality theory has suffered many blows including the versions from Modern Nondualists. The analytical Buddhists such as Dr A.D. Priyanka Baddevithana have taken on duality saying that dualism is popular with those who believe life after death. Dualist philosophers have somehow struggled with mind body dichotomy. Even new age gurus are calling Mind Body harmony in medicine and other therapy. However, there is a problem in explaining how two fundamentally different kinds of reality can affect one another , and that the problem had been caused by treating the two mind and body as if they do not interact. (Baddevithana, 2009)
Tan, in the same article under the title ‘ Neo-Advaita versus Traditional Vedänta, says ‘ there is no teaching method, no tradition, no scriptures and no coherent teaching style. Also, there are no qualifications needed for a seeker or for a teacher since “all is one”. “The Open Secret” for Tony Parsons, “Life without a center” for Jeff Foster, or “Das Buch Karl” for Karl Renz) attempts to validate their claim ofwhat they present ‘ all is one ’ or ‘this is all there is’ and gives them authority to hold their subsequent seminars, retreats and meetings ’ (ibid.).
The subsequent teachers including Tony parsons and Jeff Foster added many pointers to ‘ All is One’ to establish that older non-duality teachers notion such as ‘ I am that’ (Nisargadatta i),‘ Who are you?’ (Sri Ramana Maharishi ii). and ‘ Drop the seeker’ (Papaji - H.W.L. Poonja iii)
Tan continues - A few of the Neo-Advaita teachers call themselves teachers which seems fair, since they focus on communicating in many different variations mostly one non-dual message - “All is one” - and have never built up a consistent teaching method.
In the teaching styles of Neo-Advaita Gurus, gives a discourse and answers questions of audience. There is no structure, nor any knowledge communicated in a planned logical manner. Specific slogans are repeated which are quite radical and may well annoy some members of the audience.
The Introduction and background has so far attempted to describe how life and existence is given by various dogmatic versions and non-theistic philosophies and, how Vedäntha derived from Hindu Philosophy , and Advaita from Vedänta as well as arising of Neo- Advaita. The above description has initially identified Tony Parsons and Jeff foster being authors on Neo Advaita and this therefore brings out Neo Advaita to be called Modern Non-Duality with obvious justification where the Modern Non-duality has many other pointers in addition to‘ All is One’ or ‘Not Two’.
It has been observed from the global webnets as well as other discourses, many spiritual seekers who are not caught up in beliefs or traditions seem to have found some refuge in Neo Advaita herein after identified as Modern Non-duality, thus some solace in the quest of freedom from suffering.
Modern Non-duality places teachers and seekers in a comfortable position which does not ask for any qualifications or prior practice. Contrary to rigorous teachings, Modern Nonduality gives direct messages without considering if the receiver is qualified or ready to understand it.
Some of the statements of such Non-dual teachers lead to false assumptions and interpretations too. The seekers may even get depressed when they cannot resolve the puzzle but nevertheless the obvious number of attendees reflect the importance of non-dual message as it appears to be resonating among many members in the audience.
It is also seen from the literature that Non-duality, specially the modern versions are simply extracts from Vedänta. Advaita appears to be communicating messages and due to vast literature on Vedantha, Advaita can be criticized as one-page image inside an Encyclopedia.
An Encyclopedia of Vedänta is said to have been tested for several thousand years and is reported to have set thousands free. But here again the debate arises as to whether finding true nature of life is difficult or is it the subtlety of the illusion that vails the reality where a simple, but a powerful message can resonate inside an open-minded seeker!
J. Krishnamurti who is a renowned spiritual guru in the 60s and 70s has once said ‘ You have listened to me for three years now, without any change taking place except in the few. Now analyze what I am saying, be critical, so that you may understand thoroughly, fundamentally. When you look for an authority to lead you to spirituality, you are bound automatically to build an organization around that authority. By the very creation of that organization, which, you think, will help this authority to lead you to spirituality, you are held in a cage (Krishnamurti Foundation, 2017)
Ramana Maharshi and Nisargadatta Maharaj are said to be the pioneers to advocate the Modern Non-duality as most Modern Non-duality teachers are mentioning these two names often while giving some credit to Lord Buddha and Jesus Christ. In (Science and Non duality, 2015b) Hillig says that he was an ardent devotee of Ramana Maharshi since 1970 and that he has worked as a state-licensed psychotherapist in California since 1978. Because of the area of interest, he has developed a long-time desire to find ways of successfully combining the beauty and simplicity of nondual wisdom with the down-to- earth practicality of western psychology. He further explains that ‘ Although it would seem that they might make for very strange bedfellows, they are but different sides of the same coin. On the one hand, a traditional therapist helps his clients to awaken and strengthen their sense of a personal and egoic self and to learn how to create better dreams that might lead to a happier future. A nondualist, however, would encourage the Seeker to look within for the true source of this illusory “self” (i.e. the “I” thought) and, by living fully in the present moment of “now,” to begin to wake up and stop dreaming altogether (ibid)
Hillig in his 35 years of service and practice, reckons about 95% of his clients sought therapy due to depression, anxiety, communication, anger, relationships, parenting, phobias, addictions, etc. and a very few of them had any real spiritual concerns. This would naturally mean the perceived futility of seeking refuge in the religions whether they were followers or not.
Significantly, most of his clients had power and wealth but they were still unhappy and empty inside. They felt that they were missing something, but they just weren’t sure what it was. He says ‘ One client explained it to me like this: “When I was younger, I believed that all I had to do was to become financially successful and then everything would be perfect. Now that I’m a CEO and have everything in life that I aimed for, I’m finding that it’s just not really satisfying. And, even worse, I don’t know WHY! ” (ibid.)
Then came the questions which originated from Sri Ramana Maharishi and Nisargadatta Maharaj that were the turning point for many subsequent spiritual Gurus in Non-duality which we call Modern Non-duality that has grown from strength to strength over period.
There are many current Non-dual spiritual gurus. Of them, the study would encompass the teachings of Eckhart Tolle, Jeff foster, Richard Sylvester, Darryl Baily, and Nathan Gill from the books while an extensive on-line reading will cover Tony Parsons, Francis Lucille, Naho Owada and Adyashanthi, Mooji and David Carse.
There are many meanings given to the word nonduality. In above description, non-duality emerged from Advaita with the original message ‘ All is one’ advocated initially by Gurus such as Sri Ramana Maharishi.
“We are all one,” is not to be understood in abstract sense but it appears to be needing a deeper level of seeing through to know the nature of existence . In simple language of Modern Non-Duality, duality brings in subject and object relationship and the Non-duality says that Subject Object relationship is illusory. Dualities are usually seen in terms of opposites: You/me, Black/White, Mind/Matter, Self/Other, Conscious/Unconscious, Illusion/Reality, Quantum/Classical, Wave/Particle, Spiritual/Material, Beginning/End, Male/Female, Living/Dead and Good/Evil etc. Nonduality is the understanding that identification with common dualisms as an illusion as repeatedly mentioned by Nonduality gurus in the western world.
The challenge to understanding nonduality is that it is beyond the language because language rests entirely on duality. Once might be sarcastic that even the statement “all is one ” creates a distinction between “one” and “not-one”
According to the thesis Non-duality and Psychotherapeutic Practice: A phenomenological study of psychotherapist experiences of non-duality and implications for psychotherapeutic practice presented by Janet Elizabeth Mojsa and as quoted in the page 42 ‘ There have also been a large number of books produced in the past decade publishing personal enlightenment stories and ‘guides’ (Foster, 2006; Spira, 2008; Goode, 2009). Similarly, we can note an emergence of publishing houses specifically geared to the work from this wide range of westerners who also do not follow a specific ‘tradition’ of spiritual practice (see for example, Non-Duality Press and The Science and Non-Duality Conference)3 . Similarly, online groups are emerging with specific nonduality titles (e.g. nonduality north; nonduality dorset etc.) all offering satsangs and links to nationwide groups and access to some of the ‘new’ nondual teachers. If there is a sense of a shifting paradigm in how westerners are living and understanding spiritual experiencing then this is clearly of interest to psychotherapy, particularly in relation to presenting issues in the therapy room’
- (Mojsa, 2012)
This undoubtedly explains the emerging popularity of Non-dual community across the world which seems to be having some justification. The following spiritual Gurus who claim to be modern Non-Dual Teachers after advocators of advaita by namely Sri Ramana Maharishi and Nisargadatta Maharaj, have received many hearing while they have offered the discourses away from their usual place of living as described in the spiritual travel in the introduction. As for 21 December, the number of hits on their video selected clips are as follows.
Both Ramana Maharishi and Nisargadatta Maharaj could not directly reach out to the west because of the language. They did not speak English. Westerns who met them eventually became spiritual Gurus and are now preaching across the world using the biggest marketing tool and that is the internet. The figures in September 2017 are as follows.
Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten
These are merely one video clip of each of the Gurus and there are hundreds of clips posted to the YouTube and other applications by all these spiritual leaders who have got similar hits on each of them. This is one clear evidence to establish that Modern Non-duality has grown over several folds within a shorter span of time with many people becoming regular audience.
Further these Spiritual leaders of Modern Non-duality travel around the world and some considerable participants attend these meetings. Mooji who established a center in Monte Sahaja has made it a travel destination. He does not promise mundane benefits nor healings. He seems to be reaching out to hearts of people with Non-duality messages with super eloquence of the language while referring to Lord Buddha.
The same links can be clicked at any given time to see the increasing rate of their popularity. For instance, Mooji link that is given above had gone beyond 279,000 hits exactly one year later. A smaller segment of the Globe and but slowly and steadily following these teachings.
Gangaji, formerly Merle Antoinette Roberson of USA took to Buddhist teachings, practiced Zen and Vipassana meditation, went on to study Tibetan-style meditation, eventually ended offering Non-duality discourses. Her first discourse in Australia was attended by many participants. She was not preaching of liberation of a self. She was denying the subject object reaity and the life story. Instead, she says it is the awareness which is the origin of existence from thoughts to assumptions. The point here is that someone offering ‘no hope’ is attended by a large number of people needs to be probed into. One example is that in a discourse in Australia she introduced the sermon by saying ‘drop the next moment’ intriguing the audience with much curiosity.
1.2.4 The Uniqueness of Buddhist Philosophy
Buddhism when compared to the core principles of religions, will fall into a philosophy which the Lord Buddha has spelt out emphatically for spiritual seekers showing them a path. The path needs to be followed by the seeker himself. However, the word ‘path’ shown in Buddhist philosophy has been interpreted differently in Mahayana and by Non-dualists.
Buddhism does not advocate an understanding on a belief or faith according to Käläma Sütta (Tipitaka, 2013) is cited often by scholars to justify the position of Buddhist Philosophy. It offers a radical message with an indication of some pointers viz dropping of Greed, Aversion and Delusion for the analysts to do the comparison of whatever that is taught through reports, legends, traditions, scripture, logical conjecture, inference, by analogies, agreement with pondering views, probability, or by the thought. Not to believe anything makes Buddhism unique in the background of all other religions.
Further, as stated in the ‘ Now is the knowing’ of Ven Ajhan Sumedo’ Ehipassikadhamma means to come and see, to turn towards or go to the Dhamma. It means to look, to be aware. It is not that we pray to the Dhamma to come or wait for it to tap us on the shoulder; we must put forth effort. Ehipassiko means that we must put forward that effort, to turn towards that truth. All these versions are to be checked with the pointers given. Instead, a belief or a view point must be tested by the results through the self-analysis and must further checked against the experience of people who are wise (Buddhanet.com, 2015).
Sam Harris, the commentator gives a simple explanation "The wisdom of the Buddha is currently trapped within the religion of Buddhism," Harris laments. "Worse still, the continued identification of Buddhists with Buddhism lends tacit support to the religious differences in our world. Given the degree to which religion still inspires human conflict, and impedes genuine inquiry, I believe that merely being a self-described 'Buddhist' is to be complicit in the world's violence and ignorance to an unacceptable degree (Buddhism Philosophy or Religeon, 2017b).
As per Finding Dulcinea Website’ For nearly 500 years after the passing away , Buddha's teachings were passed through generations of the monastic community by oral tradition. In the late first century BCE they were first written down in a collection known as the Pail Canon. Since then a variety of additional texts and translations have appeared as a means for disseminating his ancient wisdom. Now in the 21st century we have the benefit of a new medium; the Internet is a resource utilized by lay practitioners and monastics alike for bringing the religion of Buddhism to the world (Different forms of Buddhism. 2016).
The Same website describes the different forms of Buddhism as follows -
Theravada, the most ancient form of Buddhism, is the dominant school in Southeast Asia (Thailand, Myanmar/Burma, Cambodia, and Laos). Its name translates to "Doctrine of the Elders," and it centers around the Päil scriptures, transcribed from the oral tradition taught by the Buddha. By studying these ancient texts, meditating, and following the eightfold path, Theravada Buddhists believe they will achieve Enlightenment. Strong emphasis is also placed on the monastic community and on heeding the advice of the wise.
Mahayana Buddhism developed out of the Theravada tradition roughly 500 years after the Buddha attained Enlightenment. Several individual schools and traditions have formed under the banner of Mahayana, including Zen Buddhism, Tibetan Buddhism, Pure Land Buddhism, and Tantric Buddhism. Mahayana Buddhism focuses on the idea of compassion and touts bodhisattvas, which are beings that work out of compassion to liberate other sentient beings from their suffering, as central devotional figures.
Vajrayana was last of the three ancient forms to develop and provides a quicker path to Enlightenment than either the Theravada or Mahayana schools. They believe that the physical influences the spiritual and that the spiritual, in turn, affects the physical. Vajrayana Buddhists encourage rituals, chanting, and tantra techniques, along with a fundamental understanding of Theravada and Mahayana schools, as the way to attain Enlightenment. (ibid)
Meanwhile the core Message of Lord Buddha is explained in the very first discourse by the Lord Buddha to five ascetics, viz Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta, Setting the Wheel of Dhamma in Motion in which the Four Noble Truths were described as a) Dukkha or suffering, b) Causes for Suffering c) Cessation of Suffering or Nirvana and d) the Path to Cessation of suffering. Dukkha is arising out of craving and clinging to impermanent states and the Nobel eightfold path that leads to cessation of Suffering commonly called Nirvana or Nibbana (Accesstoinsight.org Thanissaro Bikku, 2017a)
In the publication ‘Theravada Philosophical Exposition of the Supramundane (Lokuttara) ’ it is stated ‘ Theravada Buddhist philosophy’s exposition of the supramundane involves drawing a distinction between the terms mundane (lokiya) and supramundane (lokuttara). The term mundane applies to all phenomena comprising the world (loka) form subtle states of consciousness as well as matter to virtue as well as evil, to meditative attainments as well as sensual engagements. The term supramundane, in contrast, applies exclusively to that which transcends the world, that is, the nine supramundane states: Nibbdna, the four noble paths (magga) leading to Nibbdna, and their corresponding fruits (phala) which experience the bliss of Nibbdna. The word lokuttara, supramundane, is derived from loka (world) and uttara (beyond) or transcending it. The concept of world is threefold: The world of living beings (sattaloka), the physical universe (akasaloka) and the world of formation (sankaraloka). That is the totality of conditioned phenomena, physical and mental. The notion of the world relevant here is the world offormations that comprises all mundane phenomena included within the five aggregates of clinging. That which transcends the world of conditioned things is the unconditioned element, Nibbdna (Herath, 2017).
In Visuddhimagga, Path to Purification written by Ven Buddhaghosa thero in the 5th century is considered a manual condensing teachings of Lord Buddha comprehended by the elders of the Mahavihara Monastery in Anuradhapura, Visuddhimagga sets out instructions from Virtues to Concentration and Wisdom (Accesstoinsight.org, 2011).
Vissudhimagga spells out that the goal of the path shown by Lord Buddha is liberation from suffering which is to be experienced through the practice of discipline of morality (Sila), concentration (Samädhi), and then reaching wisdom (panna).
The Tipitaka (Accesstoinsight.org, 2005) (Pali ti, "three," + pitaka, "baskets"), or Päli canon, is the collection of primary Pali language texts which form the doctrinal foundation of Theraväda Buddhism. The Tipitaka and the paracanonical Pali texts (commentaries, chronicles, etc.) together constitute the complete body of classical Theravada texts.
The Päli canon is a vast body of literature: in English translation the texts add up to thousands ofprinted pages. Most (but not all) of the Canon has already been published in English over the years. Although only a small fraction of these texts is available on this website, this collection can be a good place to start. The three divisions of the Tipitaka are:
Vinaya Pitaka -The collection of texts concerning the rules of conduct governing the daily affairs within the Sangha — the community of bhikkhus (ordained monks) and bhikkhunis (ordained nuns). Far more than merely a list of rules, the Vinaya Pitaka also includes the stories behind the origin of each rule, providing a detailed account of the Buddha's solution to the question of how to maintain communal harmony within a large and diverse spiritual community.
Sutta Pitaka -The collection of Suttas, or discourses, attributed to the Buddha and a few of his closest disciples, containing all the central teachings of Theraväda Buddhism. (More among five Nikayas (collections): the "long collection"
DĪgha Nikāya — the "long collection"
Majjhima Nikaya — the "middle-length collection " the "groupedcollection"
Saṁyutta Nikāya — the "grouped collection"
Ahguttara Nikaya — the "further-factoredcollection"
Khuddaka Nikaya — the "collection of little texts":
Khuddakapatha, Dhammapada, Udana, Itivuttaka, Sutta Nipata, Vimanavatthu, Petavatthu, Theragatha, Therigatha, Jataka, Niddesa, Patisambhidamagga, Apadana
Buddhavamsa, Cariyapitaka, Nettippakarana (included only in the Burmese edition of the Tipitaka), Petakopadesa, Milindapahha, Abhidhamma Pitaka
The collection of texts in which the underlying doctrinal principles presented in the Sutta Pitaka are reworked and reorganized into a systematic framework that can be applied to an investigation into the nature of mind and matter (ibid)
Ven Dr Walpola Rahula Thero’s famous compendium titled ‘ What the Buddha taught’ in which a summarized version of Buddhist philosophy is presented. Ven Thero simplified the presentation of Buddhist philosophy by quoting Theravada text as ‘ the doctrines of four noble truths, Noble eight fold path, the five aggregates, Karma, Rebirth, Conditional Genesis- Paticca Samuppada), Doctrine of no soul and Setting up of Mindfulness ( Satipattana) (Rahula, 1996).
As stated in Western Buddhist Review under-The Doctrine of Non-duality in the Vimalakiirti Nirdesa’ Buddhist philosophy takes the middle path in the intellectual debates at the time in ancient India. With regard to the two dominant schools - perennialism (Sassatavada) and annihilationism (Uchchedavtda) Dharmachari Ratguna’s version on Buddha’s approach in two aspects ‘ But what is duality, and what is Non-duality? And why does duality need to be resolved into Non-duality? A Duality consists (usually, but not always) of a pair of opposites, whereas non-duality is the Middle Way which is between, and which also transcends, these opposites. In the Dhammachakkappavattana- Sutta, The First Turning of the Wheel of the Dharma, the Buddha taught the Middle Way between the extremes of attachment to sense pleasures on the one hand, and self-mortification on the other - the Middle Way between the two being the Noble Eightfold Path leading to Enlightenment. This teaching is a practical application of the central insight of Buddhism, an insight which is put in metaphysical terms in another discourse - the Kaccdyanagotta- Sutta, Kaccdyana asks the Buddha what he means by the term right view (samma-dititi) and the Buddha answers “This world, Kaccdyana, usually bases [its view] on two things: on existence and on non-existence Everything exists: - this is one extreme. Nothing exists:- this is the other extreme. Not approaching either extreme, the Tathadgata teaches you a doctrine by the middle [way]. But what did the Buddha mean by existence and nonexistence? Existence (atthitd) means absolute existence - that is the idea that things have eternal existence and need no other conditions for their existence. Non-existence is absolute non-existence - that is, things don’t have any existence at all - they are completely illusory. The Middle Way between and above these two extremes is expressed in the doctrine of Conditioned co-production (Paticca Samuppäda ) which states that all things arise in dependence on conditions and cease when those conditions cease. Things have neither absolute existence nor absolute non-existence - they have relative existence (Western Buddhist Review, 2017).
While, there is acceptance that Lord Buddha had been outstanding in the philosophy of pulling people out of suffering, the interpretation of Dhamma had gone through many phases and now seems to be interpreted in different ways by those who understand Dhamma in their own perceptions and opinions.
This reflects in one area where there aren’t visitors in large numbers visiting Sri Lanka to learn and practice spirituality while the non-dogmatic, non-practicable concept is offered by Gurus who ironically give credit to Lord Buddha for discovering the true nature of life and existence.
2.1 Literature Review
Apart from substantial coverage through books and other material the literature review has also covered considerable teachings available on cyberspace placed by Individual and Corporates due to the following reasons.
- Most modern Non-Dual Teachers have their teachings through online media viz Webpages, Videos, and Blog. Nevertheless, the main books on Non-duality have been accessed for the validity of the study.
- The Contemporary Non-Duality Gurus are spread across the world and are linked conceptualizationthrough the internet hence the necessity to monitor their movements.
- The Buddhist Philosophy, although available through literature needs to be viewed from the eyes of international community which is possible with access to the internet
- Most Non-Dual Teachers offer due credit to Lord Buddha for the discovery of the truth and that too compels the researcher to seek guidance from the internet.
2.2 Modern Non-duality
Modern non-duality, although emerged from Advaita, it is more close to the terminology ‘ Spirituality ‘ as spirituality is defined ‘ As opposed to following a specific ideology or a set of rules spirituality simply lets you follow your heart, it encourages you to listen to your intuition and do what is right for yourself and others around you.
It truly sets you free to be the best you can be and to be a good person with no promise of punishment or reward. The reward is simply your own inner happiness. (Mindvalley, 2018)
In the the researcher has chosen leading concepts expressed presented by modern non-dual teachers with a view to bring out their core messages sometimes given with subtlety. In the early chapter the researcher has indicated their popularity by way of the number of hits for their video recordings while most of them have published books which the researcher has taken procession of.
As per CQ University (CQ University Library, 2017) the literature review is an assessment of a body of research that addresses the research question while
a) Identifying what is already known about an area of study
b) Making a case if necessary why further study of research questions is important
c) Searching relevant bodies of literature and managing search results
d) Synthesizing the research literature and making an assessment of the literature
e) Justify the research
f) Ensure that similar research has not been conducted before
g) Illustrate how the subject has been studied previously and highlight flaws in in previous studies and outline gaps in previous research.
Accordingly, what is explicit on the primary messages of Modern non-dual teachers will be examined through the literature review. In the same attempt the gaps will be identified for further studies which would require some explanations. Having examined the gaps in the study, the Early Buddhist literature will be examined to ascertain if rational can take whether in favor of against such arguments put forward by the Non-dual teachers.
For better understanding the following initial elements of the don duality teachings by the modern Gurus are examined as stated in figure 2.
2.2.1. Oneness - Not -Two - Advaita Origin
Rupert Spira is a Modern Non-duality Teacher and he is eloquent in the language that is predominant in Rupert Spira’siv discourses. He advocates that consciousness is all there is, and the mind creates the story with subject object relationship which is the duality. Spira expresses nature of experience more descriptively.
He says ‘There is one fundamental presumption upon which our world culture is founded. This basic presumption states that experience is divided into two essential elements - a subject and an object - joined together by an act of knowing, feeling or perceiving. This gives rise to the familiar formulations of experience such as, "I know such and such," "I feel sad," "I perceive the tree." In this way experience is believed and felt to consist of a knower and a known, a feeler and a felt, a perceiver and a perceived. In each case a subject knows, feels or perceives an object. The subject and object are two inseparable aspects of the same belief - the belief in separation or duality. Mystics tend to explore the subject and scientists and artists tend to explore the object or world. However, being inseparable aspects of the same belief, the investigation of either will suffice for an understanding of the true nature of experience. (Spira, 2013)
Spira often uses the metaphor of a TV screen being the consciousness which is required for the movie to appear. While the movie is not true, it cannot appear without the TV screen or the consciousness. What happens in human story is that if one gets into a character of the movie, that takes a person on a time line with space which makes everything that is said about somewhat true from the view point of a person. He says in the same website ‘How is our essential nature over-looked or forgotten? How do we seem to cease being the ever-present and unlimited presence of Awareness and become instead a separate, limited self? (ibid.)
The over-looking or forgetting of our true nature takes place in a similar way that the TV screen is apparently obscured when a film begins. When a film begins objects, people, buildings etc. appear. If we become involved in the film, we forget that we are simply seeing a screen. At the moment of this forgetting or over-looking of the screen, objects, people, buildings etc. seem to acquire a reality of their own, independent of the screen.
Although the screen itself is ever-present and unlimited (in the context of the metaphor), its essential nature seems to be veiled by the objects, people, buildings etc. that appear on it. The screen, as a result, seems to lose or forgo its essential nature and to take on the limits and the destiny of the objects and characters in the film.( ibid.)
Hence what is ever-present and unlimited (the screen) seems to become a temporal, finite object (the objects, people and buildings etc. in the film). The forgetting or over-looking of our true nature and the resulting appearance of a separate, limited self happens in a similar way.
In the natural state sensations and perceptions are appearing on the screen of Awareness and are all known and felt to be equally intimate, equally made from Awareness. (Later we will discover that even this model is not quite right - no models of experience are absolutely true - but it will suffice for the time being (Spira, 2011).
Eckhart Tolle (Tolle, 1996a) deals with Space in the following manner. ‘If there were only space without objects in space, it wouldn’t exist for you. Imagine yourself as the point of consciousness floating in the vastness of space - No stars , no galaxies, just emptiness. Suddenly space will not be vast anymore. It would not be there at all’ Tolle supports the idea of Advaita that ‘ there is no two’ or subject object reality. When the Subject object reality occurs, the space comes into being which seems somewhat obvious. He says nothing is more inspiring than to know the vastness or stillness of space which is simply emptiness. The most striking point of Tolle is that, the miracle is that the stillness and vastness enable the universe to be is not just out there but also with human body.
Another Teacher Darry Baily begins his book Buddhessence with a quote from Albert Einstein.
“A human being is a part of the whole that we call the universe. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical illusion. This illusion is a prison. - Einstein Unquote (Baily, 2004).
Nathan Gill , (Gill, 2004a) explains the objects and consciousness in a manner consciousness is the wholeness or oneness. He gives better explanation to the contents of the consciousness as objects which cannot be negated. The issues, according to Gill is the ‘ I ‘ thought which distort the wholeness and the objects making it to a story.
Jeff foster supports this by stating that whatever that appears in the present, memories, sounds , smell, sights , even wanting to awake is an appearance in the presence which is oneness (Foster, 2008a)
2.2.2 Time is Illusory
Eckhart Tolle, the author of Power of Now and the New Earth pioneered the version of the fallacy of time which is mind construct. As identified in ‘Globein’ Webpage (2017) Ekhart Tolle, a non-dual teacher who is now listed among the top ten most influence spiritual leaders in the world. His publication in 1997 ‘ Power of now ‘ took the world by storm with over 7 million copies sold with many subsequent editions and translations into over 35 languages. Eckhart Tolle relates his experience from a culmination of position of a suicidal thought to free himself from the bondage of the thought process.
(Tolle, 1996b) gives a comprehensive description to in-volunteer narration of the thought process what drives a human being in his or her entire life. He explains that there could be a possibility to be the observer of the thoughts and that is identified as consciousness which is the back ground in which the thoughts arise narrating a story with which people suffer with stress , anxiety, worry , anger, hatred, depressing, fear etc. .
Tolle is a strong advocator of the artificial time created by the mind. He says the time can exist only in the past or future, both are imaginations. The present moment or ‘ the now’ according to him is the only reality. He gives an example. ‘ Imagine, the earth devoid of human life, inhabitant only by plants and animals. Would it still have past and future? Could we still speak of time in any meaningful way? (ibid.)
Nathan Gill states’ it is always presently, not before , not after, Its always presently where one could recognize the true nature. (Gill, 2004b). The time therefore does not seem to be referred to clock time for working purpose. It is the psychological time where the thoughts related to past and future arise in the now.
The way mind labels, according to Tolle is that the present moment is never satisfactory, unpleasant and awful as something is expected in the next moment. His advice is to accept the present moment as if you have invited it. Do not work against it. Make friend with it how much ever unpleasant it is as that is the reality of your life.
Darry Baily, another non-dual teacher, answers to the question to an audience when raised the issue - ‘I am fine, but I am still confused’ - That’s natural. The important aspect of this investigation is to keep it simple. We are usually so absorbed in complicated stories that it’s difficult to come back to basics. There is a wrong assumption of about life that occurs at the most basic level of perception. That wrong assumption contains a huge amount of mental anguish. No matter how much I say this, it has no value unless you can see it in your own experience. So, let’s look at that. Everyone’s experience of existence is the happening of the present moment. It does not matter who you are, the present moment is your basic sense of life. Even if you are remembering the past or imagining the future, it’s happening now (Baily, 2004b).
Eckhart Tolle however has the direct answer to the time. He says, ‘time is Illusory’. When time is removed from the mind and it stops. Then the mind works only when you chose it for day to day planning organizing and implementation for which mind becomes a fine instrument.
Tolle says in the Power of Now ‘Nothing exists outside the Now ’ (Tolle, 1996c). This needs to be probed as to the logical explanation of it. The position that the time is illusory is taken that anything other than time is either a thought or merely an imagination in the mind. As example could be that one may remember what was eaten as breakfast in the morning but he or she has no way of going back and ‘experience’ it. To do so one needs to leave ‘ the now’ and go back in time which not possible. So, the thought of the past remains in the memory and gets added on to the life story depending on how important the matter is as no one remembers everything that happens in the past.
While Eckhart Tolle pioneered this version, most of the non-dual teachers support this view. (Spira, 2010) gives a detailed explanation as to the time through the video ‘Time and Death’ where he offers an example where time is compared to infinite space and events occur in that space. When the mind plots the experiences in a story, the time arises. This is however not to be taken as an absolute situation but only as an example.
Tony Parsons - A leading non-dual teacher in his video ‘ No time - No Journey’ says Time is not real, there is no future or there is no past. Time comes into the idea of individual. With the time a person arises, and that person is illusory (Open Secret, 2010).
Tolle offers a challenge that one could test how much the mind tries to avoid the present moment. The mind itself cannot reveal it because the existence of the mind lies on the past or future. It is the conciseness that observes the mind activity which tells a seeker to what extent one is caught up in the mental noise. Tolle calls this a narration of the mind which is connecting the consciousness into a life story to which the human being tends to link the entire life, dialogue, opinion, expressions and decisions are linked to.
He explains the habitual tendency of the mind activities to shift the people from the past into the future reinforcing the individual story. His point is that the past and future are thoughts which have not reality while countering the argument that people still think of past , lessons for example and visualize the future to do planning of persona matters and business. But again, the thoughts that drag a person into the past and future are on the one hand happening in ‘ the now’ but they have no reality to anything other than being thoughts. Whatever that happens in the now many be useful to think of past and set plans for future but all that happens in the now.
Jeff foster has a direct answer to the time. He implies ‘ there is only ever now . Any search for freedom is a denial of ‘ this ness’ which is the enlightenment although he does not use the word enlightenment as ‘ I’ is also an appearance of the ‘ now’. (Foster, 2008b)
To simplify the descriptions Eckhart divides time into Phycological time and Practice time. One who must start wok at 8 am needs to report at 8 am. That is practical time at which something needs to be attended to. An aircraft is expected to take off at a particular time and arrive at estimated time. These are practical times that are made available for day to day life.
The Phycological time on the other hand is connected to thinking or rather excessive thinking. Tolle Explains that most of the human thinking is useless and that is the mind created fantasy that creates feeling feelings and emotions which according to him can be watched if one could access to consciousness which is available only in the ‘Now’.
The power of now that Tolle identifies is a state in which consciousness is not overrun by thoughts. If you past can be watched from your presence without being judgmental. The past will no longer be a factor that could arouse feelings or emotions thus the story. This is freedom!
The ‘ now’ is the only reality in one’s life according to Tolle. Acceptance of the now or surrendering to it does not have a connotation to be negative. He points out that the real flow of life or how the life unfolds before you can be seen only be being in the now. Surrendering to the now is a profound wisdom as against knowledge where it is only relinquishing inner resistance to the ‘what is’. It becomes particularly important when things go wrong in the life story.
With this publication Tolle became a world icon in spirituality specially after Oprah Winfrey, the American media personality and talk show host announced ‘Power of Now being’ one of the most transformative books which ‘ I keep flipping through its highlighted pages time and time again. For anyone seeking to lead a more connected, vibrant life, The Power of Now is essential reading’
Tolle next book ‘ A new Earth - Create a better life’ too was the Best seller which was endorsed by Oprah’s Club. Over 6 million copies were also sold reflecting the interest among spiritual seekers who are on a journey looking for freedom from suffering.
Eckhart Tolle describes the reality of being in the now but he may contradict some nondual teachers due to the reason that Tolle’s version can be criticized that he establishes a self which is denied in modern non duality. At the same time , if the other strong element of non-duality is taken as that everything is one, what Tolle says is also ‘ what is happening’.
He does what is unfolding in his presence as he is not isolated. The study will go in-depth in these aspects specially when Tolle in 2018 says that ‘ life is a mysterious phenomenon’ which may well be the situation that existence is unknowable.
2.2.3 There is no ‘Free Will’ and Choice
Richard Sylvester, explaining ‘what is’ attempts to describe the fallacy of free will with the following example. A man who is late for a very important meeting was desperately looking for a parking space. Eventually he raised his eyes to heaven and prayed ‘Dear Lord if you give me a parking place, I will stop drinking and smoking. I will give up my mistress and I will donate one tenth of my income to the Church. Immediately a parking space appeared. The man looked up to heaven and said ‘ It’s Okay Lord, I have found one myself. (Sylvester, 2011a).
Nathan gill’s version is that play of life appears when thoughts are identified with a character. He compares this to a movie appearing on the screen with no apparent doer apart from the story. It is a mere ‘ cosmic entertainment and we ae looking for a reason or purpose. (Gill, 2004c)
Jeff Foster offers this in a subtle way - in Life without a Centre he says , No seer, No knower, No Speaker, No Experiencer. Only this and Only this moment without beginning or end’ (Foster, 2006a)
Tony Parson’s Open Secret touches on the Free will ‘ The Choice less Choice ’
‘ In presence I see that I have never chosen or done anything but have only been lived through. And so, I have never stopped the sea or moved the sun or taken one step nearer or fUrther away from my birthright. In accepting my divine helplessness, I enjoy the freedom of never having a past or future I could call my own. Some people ask, "Who chooses, who directs this wonderful chaos?" But once in the arms of the beloved nothing matters, and I can live as though I choose and rejoice in the letting go ’ (Parsons, 2005).
It is also appropriate to know what the modern neuro scientists have mentioned about ‘ free will ‘ through their experiments.
In Scientific American Website under what Neuroscience say about ‘ Free Will’ It happens hundreds of times a day: We press snooze on the alarm clock, we pick a shirt out of the closet, we reach for a beer in the fridge. In each case, we conceive of ourselves as free agents, consciously guiding our bodies in purposeful ways. But what does science have to say about the true source of this experience? . (Scientific American, 2017)
The same article say Psychologists Dan Wegner and Thalia Wheatley made a revolutionary proposal: The experience of intentionally willing an action, they suggested, is often nothing more than a post hoc causal inference that our thoughts caused some behavior. The feeling itself, however, plays no causal role in producing that behavior. This could sometimes lead us to think we made a choice when we didn’t or think we made a different choice than we actually did. (ibid.)
In a research article of Adam Bear, Paul Bloom published in 2016 , the abstract says ‘ Do people know when, or whether, they have made a conscious choice? Here, we explore the possibility that choices can seem to occur before they are made. In two studies, participants were asked to quickly choose from a set of options before a randomly selected option was made salient. Even when they believed that they had made their decision prior to this event, participants were significantly more likely than chance to report choosing the salient option when this option was made salient soon after the perceived time of choice. Thus, without participants’ awareness, a seemingly later event influenced choices that were experienced as occurring at an earlier time. These findings suggest that, like certain low-level perceptual experiences, the experience of choice is susceptible to “postdictive " influence and that people may systematically overestimate the role that consciousness plays in their chosen behavior. (Sage Journal, 2016)
The most famous neuroscientist is Benjamin Libet who made several experiments on ‘ Free Will while contributing to the ‘ The denial offree will is one of the major principles of the materialist worldview that dominates secular western culture. Materialism is the view that only the physical stuff of the world - atoms and molecules and the objects and beings that they constitute - are real. Consciousness and mental phenomena can be explained in terms of neurological processes. (Psychology today, 2017)
The article continues - In the 1980s, the scientist Benjamin Libet conducted experiments that seemed to show that the brain “registers " the decision to make movements before a person consciously decides to move. In Libet’s experiments, a participant would be asked to perform a simple task such as pressing a button or flexing their wrist. Sitting in front of a timer, they were asked to note the moment at which they were consciously aware of the decision to move, while EEG electrodes attached to their head monitored their brain activity. Libet showed consistently that there was unconscious brain activity associated with the action - a change in EEG signals that Libet called “readiness potential” - for an average of half a second before the participants were aware of the decision to move. This experiment appears to offer evidence of Daniel Wegner’s view that decisions are first made by the brain, and there is a delay before we become conscious of them - at which point we attribute our own conscious intention to the act.
However, if we look more closely, Libet’s experiment is full of problematic issues. For example, it relies on the participants’ own recording of when they feel the intention to move. One issue here is that there may be a delay between the impulse to act and their recording of it - (ibid.)
Naho Owada in her simplistic way says in a video clip - there is no one controls life or affects life, there is only Life. There is someone with a free will and choice is an idea. There is no free will choice. What is in this video is already happening. (Youtube, 2014)
Francis Lucille , in Science and Non-duality Website through YouTube answer a question about Free Will. Without going into Quantum Mechanics ‘ the question of Free will is ambiguous. Free will is for whom. Is it for Human Being, individual entity. You can see that within you like how thought arise. Without you choosing them. Or unchoosing them. You are not in control. Therefore, experience shows that as a separate entity we are not in control of our self. Experientially there is no free will. We are like Coke vending machine. Universe presses the button. It is hot and dry and am thirsty. I just put my dollar and I choose diet or regular button. We have this sense of freedom. That decisions are ours. We see what we should do there is a place of freedom where actions originate. This place of freedom we have is not personal. This is the great discovery!!. (Science and Non duality, 2014)
2.2.4 Non-Existence of a ‘separate self
According to official website of Francis Lucillev Advaita means ‘not two and synonym of Advaita is non-duality. Therefore, it is reasonable to say that the current Gurus who are advocating Advaita are modern non-dual teachers. However, they have offered many pointers over ‘ Not Two’. His websites say ‘ Non-duality is an experience in which there is no separation between subject and object; a “me” and the rest of the universe; a “me” and God. It is the experience of consciousness, our true nature, which reveals itself as absolute happiness, love and beauty. Consciousness is defined as that, whatever that is, which is aware of these very words right here, right now (Francis Lucille, 2017).
He explains that the awakened one lives knowingly consciousness without being entangled in distinctions of race, gender, age, etc. Such a person according to him is that a sage is not necessarily a spiritual teacher, and a spiritual teacher is not necessarily a sage. Ramana Maharshi, Krishna Menon and Jean Klein were such sages who taught in the 20th century. Ramana Maharshi used the self-inquiry method with his less advanced disciples.
Apart from this , unlike Non-duality Guru Tony Parsons, Lucille gives some kind of a prescription’ The student who practices self-inquiry keeps his attention focused onto the source of the I-thoughts andI-feelings, whenever they arise. Once enlightenment has taken place, the process of self-inquiry continues effortlessly. The attention spontaneously reverts to the source at the end of each thought and feeling and there is no need to focus the attention any longer. More advanced students can be taken directly to the experience of their true self by hearing the truth from the lips of the guru and/ or through his silent presence. This is called the direct path, the path used. (ibid.)
The web article further states ‘ Advaita transcends all religions, philosophies and nationalities. It doesn’t divide, but rather unites. Fanatic members of different religions can never agree about their concepts of God, but sages from different backgrounds can never disagree about their shared experience of non-duality (ibid.)
Francis Lucille has written several books and they include Eternity Now, The Perfume of Silence, Truth Love Beauty, Transmission of the Flame. Rupert Spira who is quoted here is a disciple of Francis Lucille and both speaks of Consciousness as the only truth and the separation is merely an illusion with Subject object story. This is in a way a challenge that can be taken up by modern thinkers as against various beliefs.
Naho Owada is a Japanese who discovered non-duality through which she had started seeking for the reason of her sense of lack and insecurity. She as the others according to her website wanted to find endless happiness just as much as other spiritual seekers. She says it was then a big surprise!! (Naho Owada, 2015).
Naho had stated that that she realized that Naho had never Naho never existed ...All there is, all there has ever been, is Life alone.
Owada’s message is simple. It goes as ‘ Naho communicate about non-duality. All there is what is... nothing and everything. Simply Life happening. She points out the cause of suffering which is apparent separation, apparent energetic contraction in the body. However, there never is a separate person existing. Nobody ever suffered. Unconditional love all that is ever longed for never left. Already always here. Naho points out this paradox of Life which cannot be spoken about (ibid.)
Richard Sylvester published his book ‘ I hope you die soon’ and obviously the title could not attract the audience as predicted by the publisher. The prefix of the book reads ‘ In liberation it is seen that all phenomena simply arise in awareness with no person mediating them. Purpose, religion and paths of spiritual development all lose their meaning when it is seen that there is no one who exercises choice ’ (Amazon.com, 2017).
Sylvester is a radical modern non-dual teacher who puts across the message in a blunt manner like his initial teacher Tony Parson. Sylvester elaborates the fallacy of ‘self identified by the mind which is illusory. He is also advocating that what is happening even without the identification of self is unknowable to human beings.
The introduction of this book continues “The most common misconception about liberation is that it is something an individual can gain. But liberation is a loss—the loss of the sense that there ever was a separate individual who could choose to do something to bring about liberation. When it is seen that there is no separation, the sense of vulnerability and fear that attaches to the individual falls away ... then life is simply lived, and relaxation takes place. There is a sense of ease with whatever is the case and an end to grasping for what might be." (ibid.)
Every Spiritual leader in Non-Duality describes an event which they believe is an experience without a self or being in the now. However most of them do not attribute this to Sat Chit Ananda of Advaita as the liberation is life itself without an interpretation.
Sylvester explains his experience. Then at the Central London Station on a warm summer evening, the person, sense of self suddenly completely disappeared. Everything remains as it is, people, trains, platforms and other objects, yet everything is seen for the first time without a person mediating or interpreting it. There are no flashing lights, no fireworks, none of the whirligig phenomena of LSD or hallucinogenic mushrooms. But this is a real wow seeing an ordinary railway station for the first time without any sense of self. Here is an ordinary seeing as extraordinary arising in oneness with no one experiencing it. (ibid.)
Sylvester describes in this book in page 99 and 100 that Spiritual teachers show a path of doing to a disciple as the disciple feels inadequacy and he or she needs something to fulfil. That something could be an expectation. Waiting for something to happen so that the next moment would be better. This is the fallacy that Sylvester is trying to elaborate through this book as for him, self does not exist except being illusory.
Sylvester became extremely popular there onwards and started offering discourses while travelling around Europe. After some years among his other publications was Drink Tea, Eat Cake and perhaps that title is deliberately to create curiosity among the spiritual seekers to make the book popular. It indeed served the purpose with Non-Duality communities and Non-duality media taking the time to promote the book specially through digital and social media.
Tony Parsonsvl is the most radical Non-duality teacher among all the Gurus where he puts across the message quite bluntly and directly. Tony Parsons has written three books viz As It Is: The Open Secret of Spiritual Awakening, The Open Secret, Nothing Being Everything. Of these, the Open Secret has hit the ‘spiritual market’ in the west with his core message that there is ‘ no person’ inside the body and what is happening is all there is without doers in there and all there is energy moving freely as everything arising from nothing (Open Secret, 2017a)
As for the dilemma in using the language, Sylvester asserts that even if we try always to use language in the most previse way we can, we run into problems. This communication always must rely on words with a very limited meaning like person, I or You. Trying to get language as close as possible to a description of this is futile because language can never touch this (Sylvester, 2011b).
Sylvester advocates ‘waking into the dream’. Unlike other spiritual teachers who say ‘wake up from the dream’ here it is waking into the dream. He uses the night time dream which convinces the dreamer that the dream is real. If the waking up is also ‘dream like’ where the dreamed and the dreamer are the same, that’s something that the followers are interested in probing into.
He brings out the language barrier. Here is what he says on the dilemma of language. ’ There is no ‘ I’. ‘There is no self’. When this is seen, it is suddenly realized that that all the incomprehensible philosophical sayings such as ‘ I am that’ ‘ There is only oneness’ and ‘ Everything is unconditional love ’ are not philosophical sayings at all. They are simply descriptions ofwhat is seen in the natural state of being when the person isn’t there getting in the way anymore (Sylvester, 2011c).
Tony Parson’s Open Secret Web front page offers a message that spells out ‘ This is a communication which illuminates the paradoxical nature of non-duality and exposes the deluded idea that it is something that can be acquired and experienced.
It seems that in the boundless energy that is oneness there can also arise a contracted energy which brings about apparent self-awareness. A powerful and convincing sense of self-identity seems to arise together with a belief in personal free will and choice in what is experienced as a real-life story. All these personal experiences can only apparently arise in what seems to be a very real but dualistic reality in which everything appears to be separate. This sense of separation can bring with it a sense of loss and a need to seek guidance, an understanding or a path or process that can promise fulfilment. There are attempts to seek unity which are totally futile because the separate seeker is apparently the very dualism from which it is trying to escape (ibid.)
This dilemma is illuminated in this unique communication which makes no demands, has no expectations and does not cater in any way to the seeker’s need for answers, processes or a path to follow. This uncompromising message can be both confronting and liberating. The whole personal investment in making spiritual progress, becoming more aware, more still, more open or more anything at all can simply unravel in this radical revelation. The whole perception of “the self ” or “the world ” it seems to live in, can be transformed and leave nothing to support the illusion of personal separation, control and continuation.
Suddenly, the absence that was feared is the absence which is unknowable, but paradoxically is also the very fullness, the freedom that was longed for.
In this apparent world, the state of individuality is accepted as normal. For the individual, self-awareness is a constant confirmation of individual existence (Tony Parsons, 2017)
2.2.5 Everything is a ‘changing movement’
Darryl Baily, a Non-dual teacher caries a primary message that everything is moving and moving into the next and nothing is form.
Darryl Baily, a Canadian Spiritual teacher entered public with his book Buddhessence which is now brining in many followers around him. Like any other spiritual teacher Baily too went from master to master but was influenced by Buddhist teachings in his spiritual journey. Before he moved onto Non-duality path he was an ardent practitioner of Buddhism in places such as Amarawathi in England.
Baily advocated the ‘movement’ concept. Everything, from thought to bodies, beings, nonbeings are subject to movement although some things such as hard rocks, mountains may take millions of years for naked eyes to visualize. His moving theory explains that nothing remains in one state as every state is moving on to the next although there is nothing called next.
James Swartz has described in the Teachings of Non-duality under website ‘ Eaton Satsang’ ‘ In duality, the subject, the person I have been conditioned to believe I am, takes objects... a house, a job, a relationship, children, etc. ...to eliminate the sense of incompleteness associated with his or her status as a subject. He or she must develop strategies to obtain desired objects and to avoid undesirable objects. The pursuit and avoidance of objects accounts for considerable suffering. Because both the subject and the objects are subject to change, in so far as they are in time where duality obtains, it is difficult to obtain and keep desired objects. Time, the most salient feature of duality, puts considerable stress on the subject too. His or her desires are constantly changing. When an object is obtained, a change takes place in the subject that causes his or her relationship to the object to change. The constant friction caused by the interaction between the subject and the objects inevitably leads to loss of energy and death (Eaton Satsang, n.d.) .
Here the change is presented as an inevitable happening ;leading to suffering. At the same time Darry Baily’s most striking point was that the biggest factor in the escape of Lord Buddha from the cycle of suffering is the recognition that everything in life is changing. He explains further directly citing the teachings of Lord Buddha,
There will come a time when even the great mountains and the earth itself will be gone. All things are impermeant, unstable and insecure. Although it is of great benefit to feed Buddhas to feed the monastic community, to build monasteries, to follow moral precepts, and to practice loving kindness, it is of more benefit to maintain the perception of impermanence. It is better to live a single day perceiving how things rise and fall than to live a century without perceiving this. Everything is changing. Not even as much as this ( pinch of dust) is unchanging.
Physical forms, feelings, perceptions, mental activities and consciousness , all of these arise and pass away and while they are present, they change. They are insubstantial, without essence. Physical form is like a lump of froth, and feelings like a water bubble,
Perception is a mirage and mental activities are like the empty plantain trunk and consciousness a conjuring trick!! (Baily, 2004c).
Baily’s study goes back to Jiddu Krishnamurti, Alan Watts, and others, and he was encouraged direct exploration of life‘s movement. He had learnt relaxation techniques offered in Yoga, Buddhism, Taoism, Sufism, Christian as well as contemporary psychologies.
The most powerful statement appearing in his official website is that ‘ no one has ever had an experience of directing existence. As he considered this statement, it became absurdly obvious that he had not, in any way, created his physical and mental abilities, nor his needs, interests, urges, and concerns, and therefore could not possibly have created any of his actions. All of this was a movement of nature. It became clear that not only was existence an unformed, indefinable happening, but he did not exist as anything apart from that event’ .
Baily supports Lord Buddha’s teachings with his interpretation. His books say according to Lord Buddha Paticca Samuppäda - Dependent Arising is not about rebirth. He says ‘ this is a rich vein of the discovery. There those who claim it is doctrine of reincarnation, but his deepest instructions do not support this. In many of the interactions , it is obvious that the teaching of Dependent Arising is not about reincarnation. Perhaps the easiest way to approach it is to consider our own development from infancy to adulthood. (ibid.)
Baily in page 39 of the same book, gives a different version to Paticca Samuppäda ( Dependent Origination) as to the emergence of forms from ignorance. He accepts that Dependent Origination is a deep description of what is happening or explanation to the illusion which the human beings believe to be true and get carried away.
In the Good reads website Rasheed Ogunlaru , a spiritual Guru has stated “Life is a series of events and sensations. Everything else is interpretation. Much is lost in translation and
The following was found
In the ‘ Quantum and the cyclic Mode of Impermanence it states under the topic - A Buddhist Reflection on the Non Duality of Impermanence within the inner Life and the external World - understanding Impermanence as a Tool of Liberation from Suffering - Impermanence can appear in the World in many Forms and Modes, while two of the main Modes of Impermanence are the one that I use to describe as “The Quantum Mode of Impermanence” and “the cyclic Mode of Impermanence”. It is here important to mention that whether it is the “Quantum Mode of Impermanence” or the “Cyclic Mode of Impermanence”, both are conditioned in their Nature and both can be also found in the external physical World as well as in our Inner Life, as I will try to explain in this Post. The two Forms of Impermanence, appearing in the external as well as in our internal World, are building therefore a Form of Non-Duality that is fluid and is gliding all the Time from the inner Life and the External World in a two-dimensional Way. In order to understand this deep Meaning of Impermanence, we should start now our Discussion with a Contemplation of the illusory Appearance of Permanence in the World around us ’ (Western Buddhism in the Light of Dhamma, 2010).
Darryl Baily’s question and answers are also stated in his other book - Dismantling the Fantasy in which his view point is presented in a manner where he has emphasized on the changing nature of everything like the law of impermanence.
In the same book under dialogue three, Baily says there are no enlightened persons. When a thought realizes its limitation, it will not attempt to describe the existence. He says the problem is that people are looking for something extra ordinary in the spiritual journey such as intense concentration, psychic flashes, versions of inner and outer light, energy releases, deep relaxation, special insights, wisdom, compassion, enlightenment etc. (Baily, 2010).
The changing nature of life is differently explained in One with Life website ‘ We live in a conceptual universe created by the mind which appears to be inhabited by separate individuals and is experienced as 'self (subject) and 'other' (object). The 'I', 'me', 'ego', 'self and 'Self are all concepts created by the mind, which is itself a concept and as such just an aspect of the illusory conceptual universe. The actuality is that there's just one thing happening - life, nature, what is...a single movement of energy appearing in myriad forms in which no artificial divisions exist. All ayyarent subjects and objects are intrinsic aspects of the indivisible whole (One with Life, n.d.). This is in other words a changing movement which cannot be predicted.
2.2.6 Life and Existence is ‘Unknowable’
Darryl Baily, apart from asserting that this is a movement of nature, what is happening is unformed, indefinable. He used the word that life is inexplicable which is constantly changing meaning that what is happening is unknowable beforehand although a ‘story’ may have some tools to affair human explanation through science or Philosophical expressions such as Karma (Darryl Bailynet, 2017)
Rupert Spira in his video ‘Is Karma just a concept’ (Rupert Spira, 2013), he explains a description of Karma where he describes the dream state created by the mind is the same as that is the living state hence the unknowable nature that becomes a story. If the state of living is dream like, the Karma can be explained in that fashion where the reality of Karma lies on the belief that there is mind inside the self or body. This is once again a paradox of mundane and supra mundane. However, a rational thinking establishes that existence by way of a life story or spiritually, is unknowable. The Wars, Economic Recessions etc. have emerged without much predictions.
Tony Parsons offers several pointers through his books, website and discussions on the videos. His message revolves around some wordings which the language cannot describe in a manner the language is used.
There pointers are What is What is , Apparently, Personal or Impersonal, Already Being, Knowing and Unknowing, Traditional not-two-ness is better than 'Neo' not-two-ness??, The dream of Separation, Seeing and Not Seeing, Divine Misconception (Open Secret, 2017b)
Tony parsons is popular within certain segment of spiritual seekers as he is too blunt when he is answering questions. His point is that what he does is not intentional, and he is another contracted energy appearing. His versions support the concepts of
No Self, No Free Will, Everything is one Event, Unknowable (ibid.)
On this basis he is unable to confirm as every question that is thrown at him is self-based seeking. For instance, when one asks ‘ How can we reach enlightenment’ - His answer would be , yes there is a seeing through but there is no person! This is a confusing message for enlightenment seekers who believe that a person can reach something within which one experiences a bliss etc.
According to Parsons, the seeker is never happy with the ‘ now’ and therefore he seeks happiness in a future moment by way of acquiring wealth, publicity, power or even Inner peace. But the future is merely a thought which has no reality apart from the appearance with feelings and emotions.
Therefor his version Justifies that this dilemma is illuminated in this unique communication which makes no demands, has no expectations and does not cater in any way to the seeker’s need for answers, processes or a path to follow. This uncompromising message can be both confronting and liberating.(ibid.)
Foster too emphasizes on oneness and that the separate self is an illusion. And then he says the mind cannot understand the reality which he says is a divine mystery that cannot be known. ‘What happening now cannot be known, cannot be grasped. The paradox of nothing as everything, the paradox of Oneness appearing as separate things. But the mind always moves away from that absolute simplicity and obviousness of what is. It moves into the future. It moves into the story of me’ (Foster, 2008c)
2.2.7 Knowledge is not ‘Wisdom’
Gangaji - Gangaji conveys similar message of Mooji. In her blog she has described ‘ Freedom in Relationship - In any moment of perfect stillness in the open, quiet mind, there is no problem. There is no suffering, no betrayer, no betraying. When we begin to relate to each other as human beings and begin to fill our minds with ideals, with memories, with wanted or unwanted possible scenarios, then problems arise. Those of us who are in relationship encounter tests and trials. I don’t mean in relationship with just a significant other. I mean relationship with all—in relationship with the world. Relationship is wherever or whenever there is an I and other. Relationship can be perceived as all internal, or it can be perceived as all external. There are hermits who retreat and never have to relate to the world. I don’t know what their inner state is like. Let us assume it is totally open, non-relational oneness. And then there are those like us who somehow have either re-entered or never left the world. Whether it is an evolutionary mandate, or good or bad luck, we find ourselves here with each other. Here we are together in this place of divine illusion—not illusion as a trivialization of form—but rather, illusory as the shape shifting nature offorms; physical forms, mental forms, emotional forms, and circumstantial forms. The great completion for anyone who has experienced, even for a moment, the emptiness of form and the absolute aliveness of that emptiness, is to find that same empty aliveness present even in illusion (Gangaji's Blog, 2017).
Darry Baily is somewhat questioning in his book ‘Buddhssence’ with contents of some Buddhist scriptures when he says’ reading the scriptures can be frustrating. The present confusing array of topics , from labyrinths of ancient cosmology to fantasy tales of super natural powers or bizarre descriptions (Baily, 2004d).
Baily has a point when one is presented with over 20,000 discourses and the massive collection of analysis in Abhidhamma. One could always raise the point as to whether reading and having a knowledge in all contents is necessary for Enlightenment or enlighten that is identified in language is something different to its face value.
Albert Einstein, though not directly identified as a non-dual teacher is quoted as saying ‘A human being is part of a whole, called by us the 'universe', a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings, as something separate from the rest - a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affectation for a few people near us.
Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circles of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty." "Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one." (A view on Buddhism, 2016)
Here is one where Buddhism is reflecting a non-dual message, but this seems emanating from Mahayana or Zen. An ideal point to show that Wisdom is not conventional knowledge.
2.2.8 Life as ‘ it is’
Jeff Fostervii has so far written 30 books on Non-duality and he is one of the youngest to touch on the subject who has become popular across the world. Among these books ‘The revelation of Oneness’ and ‘ Life without a center’ have reached many recipients including the researcher which were used for the study.
According to ‘The revelation of Oneness’ Foster explains the paradox. ‘there is just what is happening. Sights and Sounds and Smells and feelings, and color and textures, just what’s happening. Just what is arising presently. Just this and yet in that there appears to be this separate ‘me ’ this person who appears to have some sort of little outside this. And to the mind, that is absolute paradox of non-duality. It cannot be understood (Foster, 2008d) ’.
In the Science and Non-duality web - there is one principle that is stated as ‘ Often we focus so much on the goal or destination that we forget the journey, disconnect from each precious step, and stress is created, the sense that we are ‘Not There Yet’. Yet joy can only be found in the here and now, and has nothing to do with goals, destinations, or getting what you want. Take the focus off the 10,000 steps to come, the 10,000 steps you have not yet trodden, the 10,000 things that are missing right now, and remember the present step, this ancient living ground, your own intimate presence. Breathe. Feel the life in your body. Often, we don’t know where we are headed, and that ’s perfectly okay. Befriend any uncertainty, doubt, trepidation that you feel; learn to love this sacred place of no answers. It is alive, and creative, and full of potential. (Science and Non duality, 2015a)
This place a seeker in the place where life as it is. Foster challenges the notion of selfinquiry as there will be no one to inquire. He answered the question of the inquiry that begins with ‘who I am ?. Foster says ‘ you can ask that until you are blue in the face. You will never find an answer to that question. You will only ever find the asking. Just the question ‘ who am I’floating in nothingness. But in that sense, it serves a purpose. To lead to a point of absolute frustration, showing you that the question’ who I am based on a faulty assumption - that there is separate, solid I that can be found through effort. But there is nothing wrong with self-inquiry. If it happens, it is appropriate (Foster, 2008e).
Foster, in his book ‘ An Extra Ordinary Absence’ explains a dialogue regarding spiritual seeking.
- Question - ‘ It’s a terrible dilemma for a spiritual seeker. On the one hand you can’t get it. On the other hand, you can’t stop trying. You still have to live your life, follow your hearty, go where your life is taking you, you still have to do that. And that’s the amazing adventure. And it’s very inspiring to meet someone like you , who did all this, and then something opened, something changed. And your unhappiness, your depression dropped away, for whatever reason’
Answer - But you see, the beauty of this, is that it was seen right during that despair’ (Foster, 2009)
Foster does not direct a practice either. Any practice he says is done on the assumption of a separate self. If there is practice, there is a separate self-practicing. His view point affirms that absolute freedom is not a result of anything. Freedom cannot be reached through effort. Even the self-inquiring is Oneness according Foster.
Tony parsons keeps telling his audiences at the beginning of most of his discourses ‘ this is all there is. This is what is happening. Breathing is happening. Perceptions are happening. This is aliveness. All there is ‘ being’. (Youtube, 2016)
Jeff Foster reiterates all his versions through the other famous book - Life without a center. When comparing both books, it becomes apparent that he writes the same message in different language while the contents takes the form of a discussion and fosters answers.
Such a way of presentation is beneficial as they are answers to questions which may well be the case for spiritual seekers who are always having questions without answers hence the continuous seeking.
Foster starts this book with two famous quotations viz
And what then is action without a center. What then is life without a center? Having center is the very essence of sorrow. The centre creates the tomorrow - J Krishnamurti
All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players’ -, - Shakespeare
Then foster also quotes R.D Laing from the Bird of Paradise
The life I am trying to grasp in the me that is trying to grasp it (Foster, 2006b)
Confirming the concept of ‘ unknowable’ Foster says (when asked the question what motivates him to write books and give talks) ‘ I really don’t know where it comes from. If I am honest the way, it feels is that it’s all that is happening. It’s all beyond my control. Jeff could never have done this. The moment Jeff tried to make this happen, he would have failed miserably. And it might sound like I am trying to be cleaver b saying that, but that’s really what it feels like. It really feels effortless. It ’s just unfolding, evolving and I really don’t know how it ’s happening or why it’s happening but it ’s happening. This expression of non-duality seems to come out of this mouth and its always a surprise ’ (Foster, 2008f).
2.2.9 ‘Everything and Nothing’
Mooji ( Anthony Mooyangvm ) - In the introduction of his book ‘ Before I am ‘ Good Reads webpages describes the contents as ‘ Before I Am is a selection of dialogues between
Mooji, a warm-hearted spiritual master, and seekers of peace, truth and freedom. This second edition expands upon the first with 100 pages ofpreviously unpublished dialogues, fresh quotes, brush drawings and photographs. While Mooji's presence carries a devotional fragrance, the words and drawings that spring from his Being are of the nature of non-duality. At times humorous, at times tender, occasionally sharp and always loving, Mooji responds to questioners as they speak of fear, suffering, confusion, relationships, spiritual practice and how to live their lives in peace. Yet it is Mooji's unsparing pointing to Truth, through the method of self-inquiry, which forms the essence of this book. His words represent unwavering invitations to investigate the nature of the Self and to rest effortlessly as the fullness and emptiness of Beingness. His answers encourage, challenge and never fail to illuminate. Enriched with Mooji's exquisite brush drawings - which add depth and a power of their own - this book is even more potent than the first. This edition acts like an unsparing sword that chops the mind and leaves you fully naked as your Self (Goodreads, 2012)
Mooji. Today is a leading non-duality teacher operating in Monte Sahaja in Portugal and Rishikesh in India. Moji’s message can be presented in a following dialogue (Satsang with Mooji, 2017)
Question : ‘ When I simply relax in your presence and close my eyes, something very deep opens up in me and peace and joy come back again. The same happens to me with Ramana Maharshi, with Papaji, when I think of them, a very deep joy comes. However, when I try to do the self-inquiry, I get a headache. When I try to do what you encourage us to do - to think ‘who suffers?’ and ask, ‘who is perceiving this?’ then right there everything gets blocked ’.
Answer : First, you must be clear what you want to know or find out through inquiry. You say, “When I embrace Ramana or Papaji in silence, something naturally unfolds, opens up.” But is that the ultimate? What are you searching to find?
Use the inquiry as a light that somehow scans the being-ness to find seeds of ego or the image projections of the mind. Don’t panic and don’t imagine: ‘Oh, inquiry is so mental. ’ That imagining is also mental, it is also a thought. Gradually the inquiry becomes so clear for you that it will be like looking in a mirror and immediately seeing the undistorted reflection of your face. That is the power of inquiry. But in the beginning, because we tend to meet life so mentally, we use the inquiry mentally and then say that the inquiry itself is mental. Whether you use it successfully or unsuccessfully, it remains as it is - an instrument, a tool for recognizing your own Self. The inquiry does not produce headaches, it does not produce confusion, but it does expose the confusion hiding in you.
If peace goes away, if joy goes away, let them go. Stay only as the awareness. Carry on with the inquiry. Blockage comes, headache comes - blockage and headache are also coming from the mind. Resistance arising through the mind can manifest many strange phenomena. Headache is a popular one! ‘Oh, I have to stop, I can’t go on.’ Take this attitude: ‘Let the headache explode, but I will observe it.’ Even if it’s growing, know in your heart it’s not real. Hold only on to awareness. Now your efforts may feel very stretched, ‘I can’t go any further, it’s too much,’ but it is still only thought, feeling and pain. Self as Truth. Nothing is there... Is this a depressing discovery? Is this a terrible, fearful discovery? But don’t go to your mind looking for answers. Stay here as awareness. (ibid.)
Richard Sylvester explains the metaphor of Ocean and the waves. The waves can be compared to the person with vicissitudes. It elaborates why the term is used Nothing and Everything. Ocean is settled and Calm but no the waves. But the waves are arising out of Ocean. The ocean represents oneness, silence, stillness from which everything arises. ‘While we are entranced by the waves, while they seem to be the only thing that is going on for us, it is impossible for to recognize the ocean as well’ (Sylvester, 2011d).
Sylvester hits on the nail when he says most of us are searching for a secret. Which we think will put an end to our dissatisfaction. And we are searching for it in many different ways. (Sylvester, 2011e). Sylvester points to the ‘presence’ and says , this, is the secret. This is where the language seems to be having a problem of making a clarity. He in other words expresses ‘what is ‘ , again that too is not having clarity. This has a connotation with the ‘now’ that Elkhart is emphasizing on.
Interestingly Mooji agrees with most of the Non-duality teachers but he advocates the selfinquiry to some extent with has been passed onto him by his master Papaji ( W. Poonja). This is a crucial point in non-duality teaching as how one could move from self to no self. If the self is illusory, how could one become no self with a self-inquiry. On the other hand , as other explain, that is what’s happening, then mooji too is in ‘ what is happening’ and his explanation is to move audience from known to unknown.
Mooji has written several books viz Before I Am, The Direct Recognition of Truth, Vaster Than Sky, Greater Than Space, What You Are Before You Became. Mooji’s team has done a great work over the last few years making his discourses worldwide and drawing many supporters. He appears to be a healer like Sathya Sri Sai baba in appearance, but his discourses are within non-dual theories with the exception that he expresses a personal experience when the recognition occurs that ‘you are not what you think you were’.
Nathan Gill (Gill, 2006a) explains the nature of wholeness, divisibility of which is only an appearance. He says ‘ This story of ‘ me’ is based in thought, and as thought is only part of the whole picture, when the story appears as reality, there is an accompanying sense of lack. Seeking for wholeness is the story of the attempt to fill this sense of lack.
He continued ‘ The search for wholeness arises in Myriad ways, one of which is the search for enlightenment. Here too it is inevitably focused within the personal story, the partial psychological view of reality, and consequently it cannot result in a lasting sense of fulfilment’ (ibid.)
Gill’s book - Being : the Bottom line, is a collection of question and answers in his meetings with spiritual seekers. When questioned whether there is a purpose of such a search for the truth, he answers ‘ A room is appearing. A conversation is happening. May be in the case of some of the characters, relaxing happens in haring this description, may be not!! The most striking point in one off the conversation is when he answered the question ‘ So if you stop identifying, do you lose purpose? - It is not that ‘ you’ stop identifying. But it is possible that the sense of identification that is ‘ you’ disappears (Gill, 2006b).
Nathan Gill in his book ‘Already Awake’ explain that life is a great play. He attributes this to consciousness in which one plays part of the roles without the identity. If one’s part is seriously the entire story is looked at from that point of view although sometimes the play is seen for what it is (Gill, 2004d).
Gill asserts that ‘play of life not a separate creation watched and presided over by you. You the Consciousness - appear presently as the play, already wide awake, unable therefore to awaken. The characters in play have no separate existence. Characters are you, yourself celebrating immersed in the great play of life, playing the game of looking for yourself’. (ibid)
Gill explains in this book that thoughts are generally taking the centre stage in the play of life with the story of ‘me’ (or the sense of individuality) while there are no people inside these images. He says ‘you’ are only a thought. There is only being-ness or oneness.
Nathan Gill was not as popular as rest of the Non-dual teachers as he lived far away from the city as a famer or garden curator. He was self-taught and highly intelligent and fluent in language. Nathan Gill was a voice at least a decade prior to other non-dual teachers came into the picture. Many others levy a fee for their meetings obviously to cover their travelling chares and do it to make a living while Gill was offering his teachings in any location where he met people.
He too was subject to law of impermanence when his health was deteriorating he became unable to work. He had to leave his home and garden and there were no prospects of renewed health. He wrote two books viz ‘Already Awake’ and ‘ Being - the Bottom Line’ .According to Clarity - A Tribute to All he said was that everything is one and that is Consciousness. He questioned that if there is only Consciousness, why are we seeking? He elaborated ‘ If there is only Consciousness, then right now you must be that and everything else that appears in and as awareness must also be that, including your sense of separate self, if that is how you appear now. Any personal sense of I or ‘doership’ or ego must be Consciousness. What else could it be? (One the Magazine, 2015)’
He gives the question to his audience as to why is it not possible to live in this understanding which no longer requires supposed signs of ‘enlightenment’ to appear?
Gill explained in his book that there was a couple of experience of ‘ me ‘ not being there and that experience wears off. His contention later was that enlightenment is mere understanding of the nature of consciousness and there is no need for the mystique that anyone builds around the whole ‘enlightenment’ drama!
Gill has understood why people are confused around this whole issue. And that is clarity? Everyone wants clarity in the answers given. Gill questions why spiritual seekers should confuse spirituality with clarity. Clarity ???? unknowable - Why they confuse ‘spirituality’ with clarity. This leads to the other point which is pointer in non-duality that true nature of life minus the life story is unknowable.
Everything and Nothing has a wider meaning than what it explain through scriptures. If everything that appears in one event, and again it is difficult to explain as an event which is more focused into doers of the event, whereas the doers also appear as part of the event. The non dualists qualify this statement by saying that the ‘ seperation’ of a person with body, thoughts and feeling create the ‘ story’ with which humans live there entire life while the story is a fallacy and mind made.
2.2.10 Non-dual literature on the ‘ Mind’
Modern Non-duality offers visit description of Mind through various Non-dual teachers. Rupert Spira says ‘ objective experience is not happening through mind. Objective experience is mind, and by ‘mind’ here is meant sensing and perceiving as well as thinking. Mind, in the broadest sense of the word, is not inherently dualistic. Mind is an appearance that seems to become dualistic or ignorant only by the thought that attaches Consciousness to one part of the totality, that is, to the body part' (Spira, 2016)
A follower of Jim Newman has stated once ‘ It's hard to follow, at least in my opinion, because of the direct simplicity of what he states. He doesn't give the mind anything to work with, it's not something to get or understand, when he talks about unknowing, it's really an unwinding of the mind, relaxing the mind, almost coaxing it to rest and return to its source, almost to say 'stop searching for objects, just rest, be quiet, be still.' (Actualised.org, 2017)
There is fluid way of explaining the mind activities in Non-duality. Since this concept advocates ‘ no free will and choice’ the thought process too is not a choice, and this is where the need for bridging theory comes into play. In Buddhist philosophy Mind is described in two ways namely Mundane and Supra Mundane. Either way, the knowledge cannot be the area which understands ‘ Mind'.
The analytical explains of Mind will be presented in the Analysis as a separate chapter in support of the findings.
2.3 Early Buddhist Discourses
Buddhism is called a philosophy because the teachings do not rest on a faith or belief. In the introduction it was explained the evolution of Buddhist philosophy from Theraväda to Zen and Vajrayäna and that Theravada tradition presents three baskets (Tipitaka) viz Vinaya, Sutta and Abhidhamma.
According to ‘Buddhism Teacher ‘ - The Three Baskets are called the Tipitaka in the ancient language of Pali and the Tripitaka in Sanskrit. They identify the basic scripture or canon at the heart of Buddhism’s teachings. The teachings are divided into three parts. The Vinaya Pitaka is the collection of texts concerning the rules of conduct governing the daily affairs within the sangha (the community of monks and nuns during the Buddha’s time). The Sutta Pitaka is the collection of discourses attributed to the Buddha, and the Abhidhamma Pitaka is the collection of texts concerning the nature of mind and matter. (Buddhism Teacher , 2010)
Due to obvious limitation in the coverage of overall Buddhist philosophy, the study focuses on early Buddhist discourses specially the ones that are dealt with lokoththara dhamma that would presumably touch on areas connected to the pointers of Modern Nonduality teachings. Therefore, the said teachings of early discourses are taken from the second basket, the Sutta Pitaka, consisting of Buddha’s sermons, verbal discourses and teachings.
The third basket, the Abhidhamma Pitaka, which means further or special teachings, is a systematic philosophical and sometimes “scientific ” description of the nature of mind, matter and time (ibid). The study will not directly relate the teachings of Abhidhamma and this would be a limitation should the selected discourses do not reveal the Non-duality scenario adequately at this stage.
Sutta Pitaka which is divided into five nikayas (collections) viz Digha Nikaya — the "long collection", Majjhima Nikäya — the "middle-length collection", Samyutta Nikäya — the "grouped collection", Anguttara Nikäya — the "further-factored collection”, Khuddaka Nikäya — the "collection of little texts":
The literature review will be done on the following sutras which are considered early teachings of Buddhist discourses. Today the internet has offered easy access to researchers on Sutras through websites ‘The Basket of Suttas’ and ‘Buddha Sutta’ where a brief description is given to pick what would be more appropriate for the study (Sutta Pitaka, 2005).
The criteria for the selection of the following sutras were based on the long search of the assumed core messages of the known sutras that have been recommended and found in the sutra pitaka. In the event the said sutras are found to be inadequately covering any non - duality areas more search will be deployed in the literature review. The selected sutras are given below with the given meanings.
2.3.1 Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta ( SN 56.11 PTS: S v 420 CDB ii 1843) takes a pride of place being the first discourse of Lord Buddha to the five ascetics Kondanna, Bhaddiya, Vappa, Mahänäma and Assaji who were initially engaged in spiritual practices and discarded Price Sidhärtha after he gave up the self-mortification in anticipation of Nirvana.
"There are these two extremes that are not to be indulged in by one who has gone forth. Which two? That which is devoted to sensual pleasure with reference to sensual objects: base, vulgar, common, ignoble, unprofitable; and that which is devoted to self-affliction: painful, ignoble, unprofitable. Avoiding both extremes, the middle way realized by the Tathagata — producing vision, producing knowledge — leads to calm, to direct knowledge, to self-awakening, to Unbinding. (Access to Insite Tipitaka, 2017b)
"Now this, monks, is the noble truth of stress: Birth is stressful, aging is stressful, death is stressful; sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair are stressful; association with the unbeloved is stressful, separation from the loved is stressful, not getting what is wanted is stressful. In short, the five clinging-aggregates are stressful. "And this, monks, is the noble truth of the origination of stress: the craving that makes for further becoming — accompanied by passion & delight, relishing now here & now there — i.e., craving for sensual pleasure, craving for becoming, craving for non-becoming. "And this, monks, is the noble truth of the cessation of stress: the remainder less fading & cessation, renunciation, relinquishment, release, & letting go of that very craving. "And this, monks, is the noble truth of the way of practice leading to the cessation of stress: precisely this Noble Eightfold Path — right view, right resolve, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration.
The Noble Truth of the Cessation of Suffering
( Niroda) Nirvana Explanation 1- The mind can be purified of all the mental defilements that cause suffering. Nibbana, the ultimate peace, has been compared to the extinction of a three-fold fire of lust, ill-will, and delusion. One who has realized cessation has great purity of heart, ocean-like compassion, and penetrating wisdom. (TESMRinpoche, 2018)
Explanation 2- What is extinguished, in fact, is the triple fire ofgreed, hatred, and delusion which leads to rebirth. Indeed, the simplest definition of nirvana-in-this-life is “the end of greed, hatred, and delusion It is clear that nirvana-in-this-life is a psychological and ethical reality. It’s a transformed state of personality characterized by peace, deep spiritual joy, compassion, and a refined and subtle awareness. Negative mental states and emotions such as doubt, worry, anxiety, and fear arc absent from the enlightened mind (Keown, 2017)
Explanation 3 - Liberation, Freedom from Suffering from the continuity of Dukkha or Cessation of Dukkha. To Eliminate dukkha, one has to one had to eliminate main root of dukkha, which is Thirst or thanha hence the term (Extinction of Thirst). (Rahula, 2006). However, the same page suggests ‘ What is Nirvana? - volumes have been written in response to this question; they have more and more , only confused the issue than clarified it.!! (ibid).
According to the page 37 of the same chapter, Buddha had replied to Ven Sariputta when the question raised by Parivrajaka , the answer revolved around
- Extension of Desire, Hatred and Illusion
- Abandoning of craving and desire for Five Aggregates of attachment
- Cessation of Continuity or becoming ( Bhavanirodha)
- Since there is the Unborn, Ungrown, Unconditioned - there is escape for the born, grown and conditioned
2.3.2 Käläma Sutta ( AN 3.65 PTS: A i 188 Thai 3.66) This discourse is popular among the seekers as advice not to accept ‘ beliefs’ wherever they are stated or said by anyone. In Anguttara Nikaya 3.65 Käläma Sutta is described as follows. Lord buddha is quoted as saying in response to whom to believe and what to believe about life and existence ‘
"It is proper for you, Käläma, to doubt, to be uncertain; uncertainty has arisen or what to be in you about what is doubtful. Come, Kälämas, Do not go upon what has been acquired by repeated hearing; nor upon tradition; nor upon rumor; nor upon what is in a scripture; nor upon surmise; nor upon an axiom; nor upon specious reasoning; nor upon a bias towards a notion that has been pondered over; nor upon another's seeming ability; nor 'These things are bad; these things are blamable; these things are censured by the wise; undertaken and observed, these things lead to harm and ill,' abandon them. (Buddhasutra.com, 2017a)
Buddha then questioned Kälämas "What do you think, Kalamas? Does greed appear in a man for his benefit or harm? Does hate appear in a man for his benefit or harm?" Does delusion appear in a man for his benefit or harm?" (ibid.)
‘ He lives, having pervaded, with the thought of compassion, one quarter; likewise the second; likewise the third; likewise the fourth; so above, below, and across; he dwells, having pervaded because of the existence in it of all living beings, everywhere, the entire world, with the great, exalted, boundless thought of compassion that is free of hate or malice (ibid)
"He lives, having pervaded, with the thought of gladness, one quarter; likewise the second; likewise the third; likewise the fourth; so above, below, and across; he dwells, having pervaded because of the existence in it of all living beings, everywhere, the entire world, with the great, exalted, boundless thought of gladness that is free of hate or malice. (ibid.)
"He lives, having pervaded, with the thought of equanimity, one quarter; likewise the second; likewise the third; likewise the fourth; so above, below, and across; he dwells, having pervaded because of the existence in it of all living beings, everywhere, the entire world, with the great, exalted, boundless thought of equanimity that is free of hate or malice (ibid.)
2.3.3 Bähiya Sutta ( Ud 1.10 PTS: Ud 6 ) About Bähiya In Kuddaka Nikaya - Udana Exclamations UD 1.10 - the advice given by Lord Buddha to Bähiya who was wondering if he was on his way towards Nirväna ‘ Then, Bähiya, you should train yourself thus: In reference to the seen, there will be only the seen. In reference to the heard, only the heard. In reference to the sensed, only the sensed. In reference to the cognized, only the cognized. That is how you should train yourself. When for you there will be only the seen in reference to the seen, only the heard in reference to the heard, only the sensed in reference to the sensed, only the cognized in reference to the cognized, then, Bähiya, there is no you in terms of that. When there is no you in terms ofthat, there is no you there. When there is no you there, you are neither here nor yonder nor between the two. This, just this, is the end of stress.” (Buddhasutra.com, 2017b)
Buddha then exclaimed to monks after Bähiya’s accidental death ‘ Where water, earth, fire, & wind have no footing: There the stars do not shine, the sun is not visible, the moon does not appear, darkness is not found. And when a sage, a brahman through sagacity, has known [this] for himself, then from form & formless, from bliss & pain, he is freed. (ibid)
2.3.4 Rohitassa Sutta -( AN 4.45 PTS: A ii 47) - In the website ‘THE END OF THE WORLD in Buddhist Perspective - by Bhikkhu Katukurunde Nänananda Thero - Ebooks by Root Admin the brief of the Sutta reads ‘ It is in this very fathom- long physical frame with its perceptions and mind, that, I declare lies the world, the arising of the world, the cessation of the world, and the path leading to the cessation of the world”
The Buddha’s concept of the world and its end comes to light in a number of discourses in the Pali Canon. It is of refreshing relevance in the context of the findings in modern Quantum physics. Rohitassa Sutta occurring in two discourse collections, probably due to its importance (SI 61, A II47) is highly significant in this connection. In my “Samyutta Nikaya - An Anthology with Notes, First published in 1972 in the Wheel series of Buddhist Publication Society, Kandy (Wh. Nos 183/184/185) I gave a long annotation to this Sutta with a sidelight on Einstein ’s Theory of Relativity, Some of those who appreciated it, suggested the feasibility of bringing out the Sütta and the annotationl* as a separate
That the Buddha’s redefinition of the world is in terms of the six sense spheres is clearly revealed by his reply to venerable Samiddhi’s following question in the Samiddhi Sutta (SIV 39f).
“ The world. the world, so it is said Venerable Sir, But how far, Venerable Sir, does this world or the concept of world go”?
The Buddha gives the following answer: “ Where there is the eye, Samiddhi, where there are forms, where there is eye consciousness, where there are things cognizable by eye- consciousness, there exists the world, or the concept of the world. “ A similar statement is made with regard to the other spheres of sense, including the mind. That, according to the Buddha, is where the world exists ’ (DhammikaWeb, 2018).
2.3.5 - Cüla-Mäluqkya Sutta ( SN 35.95 PTS: S iv 72 CDB ii 1175) details out the futility of attempting to find beginning or end of the world and things that are beyond human knowledge. It reads -
Thus, have I heard: At one time, when the Buddha was at Savatthi, the monkMalunkyaputta asked "If the Blessed One knows whether the world is eternal, whether the world is finite, whether the life principle and the body are the same, whether an enlightened person continues to exist after death, please teach me about these things."
The Buddha answered, "Mälunkyaputta, I never said 'Follow me and I will answer your questions' nor did you say, 'I will follow the Blessed One because he will explain these matters.’
"Then what is your position? You are like a person shot with a poisoned arrow, who says 'I will not have this arrow removed until I know who shot it, his name, his family, whether he is tall or short, young or old...' This person would die before all these questions could be answered.
"Malunkyaputta, the religious life does not depend on dogma. Whether the world is eternal or not, whether the world is finite or not, whether the life principle and the body are or are not the same, and whether or not an enlightened person continues to exist after death, there undoubtedly do exist sorrow, discontent, grief and despair, the overcoming of which I make known. "Why then have I not answered your questions? Because they are not profitable, do not concern religious practice, and do not lead to Enlightenment. (Buddhasutta.com, 2017c)."
2.3.6 Dhaniya Sutta - (Sn 1.2 PTS: Sn 18-34) The wisdom of Dhaniya Sütta is reflected in the first part of the dialogue between Buddha and Dhaniya, the merchant where Dhaniya after relaxing at home and seeing the dark clouds said ‘ The rice is cooked, my milking done. I live with my people along the banks of the Mahi; my hut is roofed, my fire lit: so, if you want, rain-god, go ahead & rain."
Hearing this, Lord Buddha responded ‘ Free from anger, my stubbornness gone, I live for one night along the banks of the Mahl; my hut's roof is open, my fire out: so if you want, rain-god, go ahead & rain (Reddit, 2017).
The dialogue in this fashion continues as per scripture. However, it doesn’t take much time for an analyst to understand that the protection through mundane aspects of life is not really protection of self.
2.3.7 - Na Tumhäka Sutta - (SN 4) Samyuththa Nikaya presents a striking sutra which can easily be called a Lokoththara Sutta as it calls for analysis of the compositions of a being to see the ownership of the Indriya Snna. The sutta is also called - Not Yours.
Translated from the Pali by Thanissaro Bhikkhu, Buddha Weekly Website describes the Sutta as follows.
“Whatever is not yours: let go of it. Your letting go of it will be for your long-term happiness and benefit. And what is not yours? The eye is not yours: let go of it. Your letting go of it will be for your long-term happiness and benefit. Forms are not yours... Eye- consciousness is not yours... Eye-contact is not yours... Whatever arises in dependence on eye-contact, experienced either as pleasure, as pain, or as neither-pleasure-nor-pain, that too is not yours: let go of it. Your letting go of it will be for your long-term happiness and benefit.
“The ear is not yours: let go of it..., “The nose is not yours: let go of it...
“The tongue is not yours: let go of it..., “The body is not yours: let go of it...
“The intellect is not yours: let go of it. Your letting go of it will be for your long-term happiness and benefit. Ideas are not yours... Intellect-consciousness is not yours...
Intellect-contact is not yours... Whatever arises in dependence on intellect-contact, experienced either as pleasure, as pain, or as neither-pleasure-nor-pain, that too is not yours: let go of it. Your letting go of it will be for your long-term happiness and benefit.
“Suppose a person were to gather or burn or do as he like with the grass, twigs, branches, and leaves here in Jeta’s Grove.
Would the thought occur to you, ‘It’s us that this person is gathering, burning, or doing with as he likes’?” “No, lord. Why is that? Because those things are not our self, nor do they pertain to our self.”
“In the same way, monks, the eye is not yours: let go of it. Your letting go of it will be for your long-term happiness and benefit... The ear... The nose... The tongue... The body... The intellect is not yours: let go of it. Your letting go of it will be for your long-term happiness and benefit... Whatever arises in dependence on intellect-contact, experienced either as pleasure, as pain, or as neither-pleasure-nor-pain, that too is not yours: let go of it. Your letting go of it will be for your long-term happiness and benefit. (Buddhaweekly, 2017)”
2.3.8 Änanda Sutta - (SN 44.10 PTS: S iv 400 CDB ii 1393) Lord Buddha describes Self and No Self concepts through Ananda Sutra presented in Purifymind.com and again translated from the Pali by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.
Then the wanderer Vacchagotta went to the Blessed One and, on arrival, exchanged courteous greetings with him. After an exchange of friendly greetings & courtesies, he sat down to one side. As he was sitting there he asked the Blessed One: "Now then, Venerable Gotama, is there a self?"
"Then is there no self? "
A second time, the Blessed One was silent.
Then Vacchagotta the wanderer got up from his seat and left. Then, not long after Vacchagotta the wanderer had left, Ven. Ananda said to the Blessed One, "Why, lord, did the Blessed One not answer when asked a question by Vacchagotta the wanderer?"
"Änanda, if I -- being asked by Vacchagotta the wanderer if there is a self-- were to answer that there is a self, that would be conforming with those priests & contemplatives who are exponents of externalism [the view that there is an eternal, unchanging soul]. If I -- being asked by Vacchagotta the wanderer if there is no self -- were to answer that there is no self, that would be conforming with those priests & contemplatives who are exponents of annihilationism [the view that death is the annihilation of consciousness]. If I -- being asked by Vacchagotta the wanderer if there is a self -- were to answer that there is a self, would that be in keeping with the arising of knowledge that all phenomena are not-self? "
"And if I -- being asked by Vacchagotta the wanderer if there is no self -- were to answer that there is no self, the bewildered Vacchagotta would become even more bewildered: 'Does the self I used to have now not exist? (purifymind.com, n.d.)
2.3.9 - Mahä -Nidäna Sutta ( DN 15 PTS: D ii 55) The Great Causes Discourse - This sutra was chosen because it deals with both Dependent origination (Paticca Samuppädaix) and No Self (Anattalakkhana Sutta) theories which are crucial in this study when comparing with Non-duality concept. The two aspects are described in summary form as follows.
When Ven Änanda thero stated that although ‘ dependent arising is profound (gambhd ra), and it appears profound, and yet to me it’s as clear as clear can be!Buddha’s response to this was ‘
"Profound, Änanda, is this Dependent Arising, and it appears profound. It is through not understanding, not penetrating this law that the world resembles a tangled skein of thread, a woven nest of birds, a thicket of bamboo and reeds, that man does not escape from (birth in) the lower realms of existence, from the states of woe and perdition, and suffers from the round of rebirth."
The not-understanding of Dependent Arising is the root of all sorrows experienced by all beings. It is also the most important of the formulations of Lord Buddha’s Enlightenment. For a Buddhist it is therefore most necessary to see into the heart of this for oneself. This is done not be reading about it nor by becoming expert in scriptures, nor by speculations upon one’s own and others’ concepts but by seeing Dependent Arising in one’s own life and by coming to grips with it through calm and insight in one’s "own" mind and body. "He who sees Dependent Arising, sees the Dharma." (Buddhanet, 1998)
2.3.10 Anattalakkhana Sutta ( SN 22.59 PTS: S iii 66 CDB i 901)- The Discourse on the Not-self Characteristic - Translated from the Pali by Thanissaro Bhikkhu
I have heard that on one occasion the Blessed One was staying at Varanasi in the Game Refuge at Isipatana. There he addressed the group of five monks:
"The body, monks, is not self. If the body were the self, this body would not lend itself to disease. It would be possible (to say) with regard to the body, 'Let my body be thus. Let my body not be thus.’ But precisely because the body is not self, the body lends itself to disease. And it is not possible (to say) with regard to the body, 'Let my body be thus. Let my body not be thus.'
"Feeling is not self. If feeling were the self, this feeling would not lend itself to disease. It would be possible (to say) with regard to feeling, 'Let my feeling be thus. Let my feeling not be thus.’ But precisely because feeling is not self, feeling lends itself to disease. And it is not possible (to say) with regard to feeling, 'Let my feeling be thus. Let my feeling not be thus.'
"Perception is not self. If perception were the self, this perception would not lend itself to disease. It would be possible (to say) with regard to perception, 'Let my perception be thus. Let my perception not be thus.’ But precisely because perception is not self, perception lends itself to disease. And it is not possible (to say) with regard to perception, 'Let my perception be thus. Let my perception not be thus.'
"Mental processes are not self. If mental processes were the self, these mental processes would not lend themselves to disease. It would be possible (to say) with regard to mental processes, 'Let my mental processes be thus. Let my mental processes not be thus.’ But precisely because mental processes are not self, mental processes lend themselves to processes be thus. Let my mental processes not be thus.' "Consciousness is not self. If consciousness were the self, this consciousness would not lend itself to disease. It would be possible (to say) with regard to consciousness, 'Let my consciousness be thus. Let my consciousness not be thus. ’ But precisely because consciousness is not self, consciousness lends itself to disease. And it is not possible (to say) with regard to consciousness, 'Let my consciousness be thus. Let my consciousness not be thus.' (Buddhasutra, 2017e)
The sutra continues with Buddha’s question as to whether body, feelings, perceptions, Mental formations and Consciousness constant or inconstant and since they are not consistent, they lead to stress and sorrow.
When Walpola Rahula, in his book ‘ what the Buddha Taught’ further describes the no soul theory as follows -
‘What in general is suggested by Soul, Self, Ego, or to use the Sanskrit expression Ätman, is that in man there is a permanent, everlasting and absolute entity, which is the unchanging substance behind the changing phenomenal world. According to some religions, each individual has such a separate soul which is created by God, and which, finally after death, lives eternally either in hell or heaven, its destiny depending on the judgment of its creator. According to others, it goes through many lives till it is completely purified and becomes finally united with God or Brahman, Universal Soul or Ätman, from which it originally emanated. This soul or self in man is the thinker of thoughts, feeler of sensations, and receiver of rewards and punishments for all its actions good and bad. Such a conception is called the idea of self.
Buddhism stands unique in the history of human thought in denying the existence of such a Soul, Self, or Ätman. According to the teaching of the Buddha, the idea of self is an imaginary, false belief which has no corresponding reality, and it produces harmful thoughts of ‘me’ and ‘mine’, selfish desire, craving, attachment, hatred, ill-will, conceit, pride, egoism, and other defilements, impurities and problems. It is the source of all the troubles in the world from personal conflicts to wars between nations. In short, to this false view can be traced all the evil in the world’ (What the Buddha Taught, n.d.)
2.3.11 Kaccäyanagotta Sutta ( SN 12.15 PTS: S ii 16 CDB i 544) - As per translation by Thanisssaro Bikkhu - the theme of the sutra is on the ‘ Right View’ where Lord Buddha has advised Ven. Kaccayana Gotta addressing the question what is the right view , Lord Buddha responded ‘ this world is supported by (takes as its object) a polarity, that of existence and non-existence. But when one sees the origination of the world as it actually is with right discernment, 'non-existence' with reference to the world does not occur to one. When one sees the cessation of the world as it actually is with right discernment, 'existence' with reference to the world does not occur to one. "By and large, Kaccayana, this world is in bondage to attachments, clinging (sustenance), and biases. But one such as this does not get involved with or cling to these attachments, clinging, fixations of awareness, biases, or obsessions; nor is he resolved on 'myself.' He has no uncertainty or doubt that, when there is arising, only stress is arising; and that when there is passing away, only stress is passing away. In this, one's knowledge is independent of others. It is to this extent, Kaccayana, that there is right view.
"'Everything exists': That is one extreme. 'Everything doesn't exist': That is a second extreme. Avoiding these two extremes, the Tathdgata teaches the Dhamma via the middle:
From ignorance as a requisite condition come fabrications. From fabrications as a requisite condition comes consciousness. From consciousness as a requisite condition comes name-and-form. From name-and-form as a requisite condition come the six-sense media. From the six-sense media as a requisite condition comes contact. From contact as a requisite condition comes feeling. From feeling as a requisite condition comes craving. From craving as a requisite condition comes clinging/sustenance. From clinging/sustenance as a requisite condition comes becoming. From becoming as, a requisite condition comes birth. From birth as a requisite condition, then aging and death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, and despair come into play. Such is the origination of this entire mass of stress and suffering.
"Now from the remainder-less fading and cessation of that very ignorance comes the cessation of fabrications. From the cessation of fabrications comes the cessation of consciousness. From the cessation of consciousness comes the cessation of name-and- form. From the cessation of name-and-form comes the cessation of the six-sense media. From the cessation of the six-sense media comes the cessation of contact. From the cessation of contact comes the cessation of feeling. From the cessation of feeling comes the cessation of craving. From the cessation of craving comes the cessation of clinging/sustenance. From the cessation of clinging/sustenance comes the cessation of becoming. From the cessation of becoming comes the cessation of birth. From the cessation of birth, then aging and death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, and despair all cease. Such is the cessation of this entire mass of stress and suffering. (Buddhasutra.com, 2017d)
2.3.12 Bhaddekaratta Sutta MN 131 PTS: M iii 187 - The Discourse on the Ideal Lover of Solitude - Lord Buddha was addressing the Monks in Anaathapindika's monastery. I shall preach to you the summary and the exposition of the Ideal Lover of Solitude. Listen and give attention. I shall speak." "Even so, revered sir," the monks answered the Exalted One in assent. The Exalted One said this:
Let one not trace back the past Or yearn for the future-yet-to-come.
That which is past is left behind Unattained is the "yet-to-come."
But that which is present he discerns, With insight as and when it comes.
The Immovable — the-non-irritable, In that state should the wise one grow
Today itself should one bestir, Tomorrow death may come — who knows?
For no bargain can we strike, With Death who has his mighty hosts.
But one who dwells thus ardently, By day, by night, untiringly
Him the Tranquil Sage has called, The Ideal Lover of Solitude.
2.3.13 Tilakkhana 277, 278, 279 Dhammapada (KN)
In Buddhism, Dhamma pada in Kudduka Nikäya carries a powerful stanza covering the three marks of existence stating that all existence and beings, namely impermanence (anicca), un-satisfactoriness or suffering (dukkha and non-self (anattä). These three characteristics are offered in verses 277, 278 and 279 of the Dhammapada implying that humans are subject to delusion on the misinterpretation of these realities. (Famdom, n.d.)
2.3.14 Raga, Dvesa, Moha - Dhammapada Verse 251 -Buddha had explained to Ven Änanda Thero " Änanda, passion (raga), ill will (dosa) and ignorance (moha) are the three things that prevent people from taking in the Dhamma. Passion burns one; there is no fire like passion. The world may burn up when seven suns rise in the sky, but that happens very rarely. Passion burns always and without any break."
Then the Buddha spoke in verse as follows: Verse 251: There is no fire like passion, there is no grip like ill will, there is no net like ignorance, there is no river like craving. (Tipitaka.net, n.d.)
2.3.15 Vibhanga Sutta - Paticca Samuppäda -SN 12.2 PTS: S ii 2 CDB i 534
Lord Buddha stated, "And what is dependent co-arising? From ignorance as a requisite condition come fabrications. From fabrications as a requisite condition comes consciousness. From consciousness as a requisite condition comes name-&-form. From name-&-form as a requisite condition come the six-sense media. From the six-sense media as a requisite condition comes contact. From contact as a requisite condition comes feeling. From feeling as a requisite condition comes craving. From craving as a requisite condition comes clinging/sustenance. From clinging/sustenance as a requisite condition comes becoming. From becoming as, a requisite condition comes birth. From birth as a requisite condition, then aging & death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair come into play. Such is the origination of this entire mass of stress & suffering. (Access to insight, 2013a)
2.3.16 Mahäsatipatthäna Sutta : DN 22 PTS: D ii 290 The Great Frames of Reference
The Great Discourse- on the Establishing of Awareness where Lord Buddha had directed a meditation on the following factors
Käyänupassanä - The Observation of Body
Änäpänapabbam - Section on Respiration
Iriyäpathapabbam - Section on Postures
Sampajänapabbam - Constant Thorough Understanding of Impermanence
Patikülamanasikärapabbam - Section on Reflections on Repulsiveness
Dhätumanasikärapabbam - Section on the Reflections on the Material Elements
Navasivathikapabbam - Section on the Nine Charnel-ground Observations
Vedanänupassanä - The Observation of Sensations
Cittänupassanä - The Observation of Mind
Dhammänupassanä - The Observation of Mental Contents
Nivaranapabbam - Section on the Hindrances .
- Khandhapabbam- Section on the Aggregates
- Äyatanapabbam - Section on the Sense Spheres
Bojjhangapabbam - Section on the Factors of Enlightenment
Saccapabbam - Section on the Noble Truths
Samudayasaccaniddeso - Exposition of the Truth of the Arising of Suffering
Nirodhasaccaniddeso - Exposition of the Truth of the Cessation of Suffering
Maggasaccaniddeso - Exposition of the Truth of the Path
Satipatthänabhävanänisamso -The Results of Practicing the Establishing of Awareness
2.3.17 Lokavipatti Sutta: AN 8.6 PTS: A iv 157
Lord Buddha has said in this sutra "Monks, these eight worldly conditions spin after the world, and the world spins after these eight worldly conditions. Which eight? Gain, loss, status, disgrace, censure, praise, pleasure, and pain. These are the eight worldly conditions that spin after the world, and the world spins after these eight worldly conditions. (Buddhasutra.com, 2006)
2.3.18 Buddhist Literature on the ‘Mind’
Buddhist Philosophy attributes most activities to be ‘ mind driven’. In Dhammapada Verse I and verse II , Lord Buddha has stated that All mental phenomena have mind as their forerunner; they have mind as their chief; they are mind-made citing that both sorrow and happiness follow life as causes for such mental activities.
In the Website ‘Study of Buddhism in the Berzin Archives’ , there is a modern description of the Mind.
‘ The mind is the individual, subjective experiencing of “something” that is always changing, moment to moment. The concept of “mind” is elusive, and different languages conceptualize it differently. The Buddhist term for mind in Sanskrit is chitta, and has a wide range of meaning. It includes sense perception, verbal and abstract thought, emotions, feelings of happiness and unhappiness, attention, concentration, intelligence and more. When Buddhism speaks about mind, it refers to every type of mental activity. The focus is not the physical basis - the brain, nervous system, hormones and so on - nor the chemical or electrical activity involved. Buddhism doesn’t negate any of these, because of course they do exist and are integrally involved. Mind doesn’t refer to some immaterial “thing” that occupies the brain and produces its activity, either. Furthermore, Buddhism doesn’t assert a collective unconscious or universal mind ’. (Study Buddhism, 2015)
In the modern analysis somehow, the idea of Mind as an organ inside is not advocated according the versions of Dr. Alexander Berzin, Matt Linden and this leads to further investigation of different viewpoints.
2.4 Neuroscience on ‘ Free Will and Choice‘ - Scientific Experiments
Prof Benjamin Libet pioneered the experiments on human consciousness in which he researched heavily on the ‘ free will’ where the humans accept the model that they have the 'choice of making decisions. Libet was working in physiology department of the University of California, San Francisco. As a researcher.
Although his doctoral thesis was produced way back in 1939 his work on free will came to light in early 80s. His initial experiments indicated that the existence of ‘ free will ‘ is questionable. His measured the time of brain activity and conscious decision and pointed out that in most cases the brain was faster than conscious decision. Later Libet’s experiments were incorporated with two antagonistic concepts - freedom and determination, "free" and "will," in a "two-stage model" of free will.
‘Libet’s 1983 experiments measured the time when the subject became consciously aware of the decision to move the finger. Libet created a dot on the screen of an oscilloscope circulating like the hand of a clock, but more rapidly. The subject was asked to note the position of the moving dot when he/she was aware of the conscious decision to move a finger or wrist.
Libet found that although conscious awareness of the decision preceded the subject's finger motion by only 200 milliseconds, the rise in the Type II readiness potential was clearly visible at about 550 milliseconds before the flex of the wrist. The subject showed unconscious activity to flex about 350 milliseconds before reporting conscious awareness of the decision to flex (the red arrow above). Indeed, an earlier slow and very slight rise in the readiness potential can be seen as early as 1.5 seconds before the action’. (Information Philosopher, 2018)
In simple language he demonstrated a stimulus before the subjects were aware of them. A person’s brain records an activity to moving an arm before that person consciously decides to do it. This statement has been subject to criticism from some quarters, it remains a valid question that our “decisions” are illusions and our actions are dictated by some unconscious neurological processes.
The following YouTube link shows the experiment of Libet in the simplest form for the understanding of the readers.
https://www. voutube.com/watch?v=OiCt-LQPh5 o
Libet’s studies were further elaborated by Prof John Dylan and Marcus Du Sautoy (Professor of Mathematics at the University of Oxford]. The YouTube link as well as their conversation explains a position about free will which definitely supports Libets initial finding, but they link the consciousness to brain waves thus establishing that brain activity and conscious decision is one and the same.
Here is the conversation as per the experiment done by them as per the video on the link found in LYBIO.net http://lvbio.net/marcus-du-sautov-iohn-dvlan-havnes-neuroscience- and-free-will/science-technology/
[Marcus Du Sautoy] ‘ I think as humans we pride ourselves on the fact that we can make decisions. My free will means that I can decide whether I’m going to take this on or not, but science has a problem with free will. Science likes one thing to cause another. Okay, if you think there’s some sort of separate eye which is separate from my body, then that’s fine, that’s what’s helping to me to make my decisions. But if you think I’m just a load of biology, then I think you got a problem about free will, because what is making those decisions, is it just a sort of ebb and flow of neuronal activity?
[Marcus Du Sautoy I’m in Berlin to take part in an experiment designed to explore the source and timing of my decisions. I’m quite apprehensive because the results could have a profound effect on how I live my life. They will reveal who is in charge of my decisions. Is it the conscious me or an unconscious mass of grey matter that I have no control over?
[John-Dylan Haynes] - Yeah, this is looking at exactly, we test the machine...
[Marcus Du Sautoy] -Another day, another scanner.
[John-Dylan Haynes] - The experiment is simplicity itself. I have to randomly decide and then immediately press one of these left or right buttons.
[John-Dylan Haynes] - Okay, everything clear?
[Marcus Du Sautoy] - At the same time, the scanner system records when my brain made the decision and the computer when I physically press the button.
[John-Dylan Haynes] - Okay, Marcus, we’re ready to start.
[John-Dylan Haynes] - Okay.
[Marcus Du Sautoy] - The test didn’t take long, and to be honest, it ’s not terribly exciting, but I’m hoping the results will be a bit more interesting.
[John-Dylan Haynes] - In your case, up to six seconds before you make up your mind we can predict which decision you’re going to make.
[Marcus Du Sautoy] - Six seconds?
[John-Dylan Haynes] - Absolutely, six seconds, yeah.
[Marcus Du Sautoy] - Six seconds? So, I was conscious of making a decision to press my right finger down and you’re saying...
[John-Dylan Haynes] - Yeah.
[Marcus Du Sautoy] - That six seconds earlier my brain had already made that decision? [John-Dylan Haynes] - Exactly. So here we can show you how we did it. In this region, there ’s a pattern of brain activity that emerges before you make up your mind that tells us which way you’re going to decide. And these blue regions, they get more active when you’re going to choose left, and the yellow regions get more active when you’re going to choose right.
[Marcus Du Sautoy] - That’s a bit frightening; it sort of implies therefore my conscious decision is a very secondary thing to my actual brain activity.
[John-Dylan Haynes] - Absolutely, absolutely. It seems that there ’s a lot of unconscious brain activity going on that is shaping your decisions; and that your consciousness comes in at a very late stage in the decision.
[Marcus Du Sautoy] - So that’s rather a frightening idea that I’m sort of hostage to neuronal activity that’s happening six seconds earlier, I mean.
[John-Dylan Haynes] - But I wouldn’t call it a hostage situation because thinking of it as a hostage implies a dualism between your conscious mind and your brain activity. But the conscious mind is encoded in brain activity; it’s realized by brain activity, it is an aspect of your brain activity. And also, the unconscious brain activity realizes certain aspects of you; it’s in harmony with your beliefs and desires. So, in most cases, it’s not going to force you to do something you don’t want to do.
[Marcus Du Sautoy] -So what, do you think, this has implications for the whole, sort of, study of trying to understand consciousness and what “I” is inside here?
[John-Dylan Haynes] - Well, absolutely. I think ifwe find that a person’s thoughts are very closely encoded in their brain activity, we can’t make a distinction between these thoughts and the brain activity. We don’t need to assume that they ’re two separate entities existing in two different spaces rather they’re different aspects of the same physical process. So, your consciousness is your brain activity and that’s what’s leading your life. It seems that what our experiments reveal is that there’s like a mechanism unfolding, a deterministic mechanism that leads up to your decision at a later point in time, and that was inevitable. It could only go one way.
[Marcus Du Sautoy] -I mean, that has got to be the most shocking experiment I think I’ve seen on this journey. The fact that when I become conscious of making a choice that John can six seconds earlier predict what I was going to do before I even realize what I was going to do. I mean, that is absolutely extraordinary, six seconds is such a long time. I mean, I sort of don’t find it so disturbing that, okay, sure, some part of my subconscious mind is building up to a conscious decision, but John, by looking inside my head knows - his conscious knows before I consciously know what I’m going to do. That is really shocking. (Lybio.net, 2018)
The study on free will is further summarized by Andrea Lavazza through his ‘ Free Will and Neuroscience: From Explaining Freedom Away to New Ways of Operationalizing and Measuring It’
Andrea says quoting Libet and Soon et.al ‘ The concept of free will is hard to define, but crucial to both individual and social life. For centuries people have wondered how freedom is possible in a world ruled by physical determinism; however, reflections on free will have been confined to philosophy until half a century ago, when the topic was also addressed by neuroscience. The first relevant, and now well-known, strand of research on the brain correlates of free will was that pioneered by Libet et al. (1983), which focused on the allegedly unconscious intentions taking place in decisions regarded as free and voluntary. Libet’s interpretation of the so-called readiness potential (RP) seems to favor a sort of deflation of freedom (Soon et al., 2008). (Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 2016)
The Readiness Potential RP established somewhat later has different interpretations now which is somewhat building a bridge the gap between the neuroscientific perspective on free will and the intuitive decision. However, many problems are yet to be resolved specially the areas that have been hypothesized. (ibid)
According to Andrea as described by Walter, 2001, the free will has three conditions viz i) intuitive concept: to be free, one has to have at least two alternatives or courses of action between which to choose ii) control over one’s choices.” The person who acts must be the same who decides what to do and iii) “responsiveness to reasons”: a decision can’t be free if it is the effect of a random choice, but it must be rationally motivated.
Andrea says ‘Along with other evidence provided by experimental psychology, the branch of studies inaugurated by Libet has contributed to seeing free will as an illusion: this view seemed to be reliably supported by science, and in particular by neuroscience. Recent studies, however, seem to question this paradigm, which sees the initiation and conscious control of the action as the first requirement of free will, allegedly proving that there are no such things. (ibid)
Against the theory of ‘ No free will’ - In the article ‘ Study Tackles Neuroscience Claims to have disproved ‘Free Will’ - Think and do the Extra Ordinary 2018 found in the link https://news.ncsu.edu/2018/03/free-will-re - Veljko Dubljevic Matt Shipman have stated that ‘ “We found that interpretation of study results appears to have been driven by the metaphysical position the given author or authors subscribed to - not by a careful analysis of the results themselves, ” Dubljevic says. “Basically, those who opposed free will interpreted the results to support their position, and vice versa.” The researchers also found significant variability across studies. For example, a subset of studies that actually looked at where activity was taking place in the brain, and whether it was related to will (or intent to complete a task), often found conflicting results.
“Numerous studies suggest that fostering a belief in determinism influences behaviors like cheating," Dubljevic says. “Promoting an unsubstantiated belief on the metaphysical position of non-existence of free will may increase the likelihood that people won’t feel responsible for their actions if they think their actions were predetermined. " In the Abstract, article says ‘ While the Libetparadigm may be useful for examining how stimuli affect temporal judgments, the link between this and free will or moral responsibility is not clear. (ibid).
2.5 Buddhist Philosophy as a tourist attraction
The researcher carried out a research on this area which was presented at the International Buddhist Tourism Summit -2018 under the title ‘ Implications of opening Sri Lanka for Spiritual Tourists - A Conceptual View and published in the conference magazine .This research findings form part of the objectives as to the question why Sri Lanka fails to attract large number of tourists for Buddhist practices while Modern non duality seems to have captured a considerable size of the audience from all over the world. The study which was accepted by the erudite panel explains the findings and conclusion as follows. The extracts of findings and conclusion are stated due to the relevance of same to this study.
Results - With that position of Modern Non- duality in the light of travel pattern of spiritual or freedom seekers, Sri Lanka is a country which claims to have preserved pure form Buddhism hence the terminology ‘Theravada Buddhist Tradition ’. The Buddhist Philosophy advocates a) Mundane and b) Supra Mundane teachings. Mundane teachings expect a better, just world respecting each other with main four Brahma Viharas viz a) Loving Kindness b) Compassion, c) Altruistic Joy and Equanimity. (Rahula, 2017) - reproduced from Ven theros book ‘What the Buddha Taught’. The supra Mundane teaching is expected to lead spiritual seeker on a path to Nibbana - the supreme happiness. The core messages of Buddhist literature in Supra Mundane are emanating from the a) Four Noble Truth b Noble eightfold path c Path of Purification and d) Realization ofAnithya (Law of Impermanence, Dukka (Suffering) and Anaththa (No self-concept). There are some areas in Theravdda Tradition that hint at the pillars of Non- duality. The discoures such as Ananththa Lakkana, Käläma Sutta, Bähiya Sutta, Däniya Sutta, Cüla-Mäluqkya Sutta,, Rohithassa etc. somewhat support the Modern Non- duality. Käläma Sutta - a discourse of the Buddha which advocates self-realization as against collecting and gathering knowledge with beliefs widely displayed by present-day scholars, impressing the audiences. The damage is immeasurable to those who are blindly accepting such versions.
This Sutta describes ‘Buddha ’s Charter of Free Inquiry, ’ portrays the Buddha as a pragmatist who offers ‘pointers’ for the followers to wear the freethinker’s kit towards finding the truth. The commentary by Buddhaghosa in Visuddhimagga - the Path of Purification based on the Ratha-Vinita Sutta - explains the course to Nibbana. Buddhaghosa’s work has been subsequently questioned but that will not preclude anyone from analyzing as to whether the descriptions are correct to one ’s own understanding. Greater confusion occurs when the same Vissudhi Magga on the one hand describes a path to Nibbana while it states “Suffering exists, but no sufferer can be found. Actions exist, but no doer of actions is there. Nirvana exists, but no one who enters it. The Path exists, but no traveler can be seen.” (Visuddimagga, n.d.) (Wanigasekera, 2018)
Conclusion - The findings so far reveal the following although there are inevitable limitations to this study due to vast amount of data which sometimes contradict each other. The Spiritual Tourism can easily be divided into two sections viz faith-based travel which may be reinforced by the desire to be in a place of significance as per available literature. The other segment clearly represents spiritual seekers who are looking for different ways of looking at life and to find ways and means ofpulling themselves out of suffering which includes worries, anxieties, anger, stress, hatred, depression, aggression etc. the activities may include listening to discourses, discussions and meditation. There is evidence through online sources that travel movements for the latter meaning the spiritual seekers, are shifting towards the current Non- Duality Gurus who are also travelling thus inviting the interested parties to attend to their discourses no matters where they are.
Apart from the contradictions in the literature, the supra mundane is not explained to masses in a manner they need to be presented as given in some discourses of Lord Buddha, the way in which Theravdda Tradition practices Buddhism in Sri Lanka has overshadowed the investigation that the spiritual seekers are expected to make. The rituals and traditions have veiled this opportunity for Sri Lankan Buddhists hence the lack of hope for Sri Lanka to promote Spiritual tourism although the Supra Mundane aspects trigger this investigation. Unless there is a drastic thinking to reorient the structure for spiritual tourism, Sri Lanka will fail to attract ever increasing numbers in spiritual travel looking for freedom from suffering. (ibid)
3.1 Research Question/Problem Identification
The unprecedented popularity of Non- duality teachings of the modern non-dual gurus, who were originally guided by Advaita , could intrigue researchers with many questions as to why large number of people across the world are willing to hear their messages presented through discussions, sermons, internet etc. The original advaita had the version that ‘ There is no two’ remained as it is with the current teachers presenting more pointers for investigators which has created the interest among members of the audience. Since the modern non-duality teachers are not contradicting other religious versions specially Christianity and Buddhism, there is more interest among the followers to know if there are philosophical aspects to the religions apart from the search for freedom from suffering.
The research questions that the study seeks to address are several folds.
3.1.1 Statement of Bhikkhu Bodhi in the comparison of Theraväda Vipassana Meditation and Non-duality is intriguing. He had said, ‘ One of the most challenging issues facing Theraväda Buddhism in recent years has been the encounter between classical Theravada vipassana meditation and the "non-dualistic" contemplative traditions best represented by Advaita Vedänta and Mahayana Buddhism’ (AccesstoInsight.org, 1998c)
The article further describes ‘ For Vedänta, non-duality (advaita) means the absence of an ultimate distinction between the Atman, the innermost self, and Brahman, the divine reality, the underlying ground of the world. From the standpoint of the highest realization, only one ultimate reality exists — which is simultaneously Ätman and Brahman — and the aim of the spiritual quest is to know that one's own true self, the Ätman, is the timeless reality which is Being, Awareness, Bliss. (ibid)
Since all schools of Buddhism reject the idea of the Ätman, none can accept the nondualism of Vedänta. From the perspective of the Theravada tradition, any quest for the discovery of selfhood, whether as a permanent individual self or as an absolute universal self, would have to be dismissed as a delusion, a metaphysical blunder born from a failure to properly comprehend the nature of concrete experience. According to the Pali Sutta, the individual being is merely a complex unity of the five aggregates, which are all stamped with the three marks of impermanence, suffering, and selflessness. Any postulation of selfhood in regard to this compound of transient, conditioned phenomena is an instance of "personality view " (sakkayaditthi), the most basic fetter that binds beings to the round of rebirths. The attainment of liberation, for Buddhism, does not come to pass by the realization of a true self or absolute "I," but through the dissolution of even the subtlest sense of selfhood in relation to the five aggregates, "the abolition of all I-making, minemaking, and underlying tendencies to conceit."(ibid.)
Instead of undertaking a study of the entire sphere of Theraväda tradition, it has been decided that early Buddhist discourses could sufficiently cover this confrontation if a study is undertaken. Therefore, the study considers the early Sutras due to the obvious reason as they were discourses offered by Lord Buddha at various stages to various people. The benefits of suttas are described at length by Ajahn Brahmali in his book ‘ The benefits of reading the Sutta’ - Taking the Buddha as your teacher’.
The article continues ‘ The Mahayana schools, despite their great differences, concur in upholding a thesis that, from the Theravada point of view, borders on the outrageous. This is the claim that there is no ultimate difference between samsara and Nirvana, defilement and purity, ignorance and enlightenment. For the Mahäyäna, the enlightenment which the Buddhist path is designed to awaken consists precisely in the realization of this nondualistic perspective. The validity of conventional dualities is denied because the ultimate nature of all phenomena is emptiness, the lack of any substantial or intrinsic reality, and hence in their emptiness all the diverse, apparently opposed phenomena posited by mainstream Buddhist doctrine finally coincide: "All dharmas have one nature, which is nonature." (ibid)
As given above, there is a question that is raised as to the meaning of Anattalakkhana Sütta (Collection of Sutras, 2006) ( the second discourse of Lord Buddha to the five ascetics ) which spells out that there is no permanent self. Whether this means a permanent self or self itself is not very clear in the sutta according to some explanations. It however means that there is no self - that seems to support Advaita theory of there is only being-ness with of course interpretations. A study is needed in this area to clarify if Buddhist Philosophy has spelt out this matter with clarity.
The article also presents Mahavana as being advocating ‘ emptiness’ and that too is to some extent supportive of Advaita principle of the merge of Subject Object Reality in which it says there is no difference between Samsara and Nibbäna. Has Mahäväna been going through refinements or word of mouth has established some reality which is touching the teachings of core messages of Advaita?.
According to the web article Advaita - Mind Over Reality - ‘ Advaita is not so much a spiritual path as a philosophy, a highly intellectualized vision of reality. It has risen to popularity in the West largely due to Ramana Maharishi, a great sage who chose to articulate his self-experience through the philosophy of Advaita, even though he himself did not follow the teachings of Advaita on his path to self-realization. The concept of nonduality, which sits at the heart of Advaita, is very old. It can be found in the ancient Brahma Sutras of Bädaräyana and the teachings of Gaudapada. Gaudapada was Govinda Bhagavatpäda’s teacher, and he in turn was Adi Shankara’s guru. However, it was Shankara who, in the 8th century, gave Advaita Vedänta its final, recognizable shape and who became its most influential expounder. Adi Shankara was not a practical teacher, but a religious reformer and philosopher who travelled across the Indian subcontinent to propagate his philosophy through discourses and debates with other thinkers. His objective was to ‘defeat’ Buddhism and Jainism and to revive and purify Hinduism, which at that time was composed of many disparate and conflicting sects. He also wanted to reinstate Hinduism as the main religion in India. (Anadi Teachings, 2017)
While Shankara was against Buddhism, he was fond of Buddha himself. This is unsurprising, as Buddha’s success as a teacher had impressed many adepts of varying religious allegiances, including the eccentric Hare Krishnas who considered Buddha to be an incarnation of Vishnu. Shankara called Buddha “An emperor of yogis in the Kali age.” This statement, coupled with the fact that Shankara incorporated some Buddhist concepts into his own philosophy, has led many to accuse him of being a ‘Buddhist in disguise.’ But we could just as well say that Buddha was a Hindu in disguise, as many of the main ideas in Buddhism, such as the negative perception of existence and need for ‘moksha ’ (liberation), were taken directly from Hinduism.( ibid)
Therefore, any study that is taken deriving from these statement is accepting a challenge to test this version by an analytical study of the elements of the modern non- duality ( which is a refined version of Advaita) and ascertain what the real challenging issues are. The goal of spiritual seeker is to find freedom from suffering in both philosophies. The enlightenment, though sounds as a heavy achievement in Buddhist Philosophy is toned down in Non- duality as a realization or seeing through. This would be taken as the first of the question to be resolved.
To test this statement of Bodhi as well as Anadi Teachings together with Emptiness taught in Mahäväna one needs to extract the core messages of both philosophies and analyses them to a reasonable extent. The problem is that the two philosophies are offered to the world with not much of an undertaking to compare and contrast in the teachings which may probably bring out a theory that would attempt to bridge the Gap.
3.1.2 Pointers of Modern Non -dual Teachers - The Modern teachers are offering several pointers in addition to ‘ Not two’ theory of Advaita for seekers to grasp the core message of non- duality. If this is to describe through a conceptual figure, it may look as follows which is described in literature review.
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Figure 2 - Reflecting Premises of Modern Non-duality today - Authors own work
To ensure that the study offers justice to Theravada tradition to some extent, it is meaningful to extract early discourses of Lord Buddha. The study calls for addressing in the forefront as to whether early Buddhist discourse encompass the main pillars of Modern Non-duality as mentioned in the literature review (figure 2) especially considering the statement mentioned above. Theraväda tradition is so vast and adapting early discoursesmay be the best answer to represent Buddhist philosophy in relation to the analysis of Modern Non-duality concept.
3.1.3 Suffering then and now - Modern Non- duality teachings have emerged originally from Advaita - Vedänta. There is no comparison needed between the modern non-duality with AdvaitaVendanta for this reason as ‘ Not two’ was the original message that was given to the seekers turned modern gurus. This study compels the researcher to investigate ‘ Not Two’ with the sprouts of the tree viz the said pointers as to how they have reached thousands of masses across the world brining apparent inner peace to the Non-dual audiences. Having considered theistic and non-theistic philosophies, Buddhist Philosophy was assumed to be ideal and appropriate considering the vastness of Buddhism specially in the areas of discourses where the non-dual teachers do not hesitate to mention Lord Buddha as the first to have discovered true nature of life. If this is the position taken, Buddhist philosophy was placed in a pride of place in the quest of rechecking modern non -duality.
Lord Buddha’s discourses have relieved people from suffering and the study requires analysis to ascertain the relief offered through discourses by Lord Buddha encompassed the pointers of Modern Non-duality , accepting the fact that Buddhist Literature has been written after 500 years later hence the probability of not having some key words that would embrace the modern world which goes through immense suffering despite technological advancements.
The suffering has been adequately stated in Buddhist literature as a cardinal truth and that is seen quite conspicuous in modern world in everywhere inspire of development. Psychology today website, Jim Stone describes 5 sources of Stress and Anxiety in the Modern World which are non-other than suffering (Psychology today, 2017) apart from the inevitable suffering caused by old age, sickness and finally the imminent death.
Is the freedom from suffering the same in both concepts in which case the contradiction between the Modern Non-dual teachers and the version of Bhikkhu Bodhi needs to be cleared from the view point of what brings inner peace into the audiences then and now.
The suffering overshadows the need to know the true nature of life for those who are really suffering, be it physical or psychological. The seeker of the truth will be helpless in the presence of the way out of suffering such as a terminal illness or a family bereavement.
The suffering has surfaced as a fundamental truth in many ways even in the modern world which is obvious with the paths taken by people and being advocated , and in most of the cases for material gains. However, the material gains will not end the suffering of people when the next desire arises which may be power or publicity.
According to the Research study Starting from Wholeness: An Exploration of Non-Dual Awareness by Giuseppe Leporace and as quoted by him in page 61 ‘ Non-dual therapy is a new style of therapy that is emerging in Western psychotherapy. One of the main differences between conventional schools of therapy and non-dual therapy is the belief of a separate self. Conventional psychotherapy believes that a person’s ego is a solid object that can be ‘fixed’ (Theriault, 2011). Whereas, as in other wisdom traditions, nondual therapy believes that the self is whole and complete at all times and it is only our perception of it that is skewed (Foster, 2011). Also, unlike Transpersonal psychology and much like Buddhist psychology, non-dual therapists do not believe that NDA is a rarefied experience, or something to be attained. In fact, NDA is present and accessible all the time; It is that we are not aware of it or, as Buddhists say, we are ignorant of it, like the sun behind dark clouds. The sun is always there, even in stormy weather, simply hidden by the dark. Blackstone (2007) makes a distinction between non-dual experience and non-dual realization. Non-dual experience is simply being an experience of non-duality without any fundamental change to consciousness where non-dual realization is a fundamental change in the nature of one’s consciousness (Blackstone, 2007). (Leporace, 2017)
There is a clear comparison between Non-dual teachings to Buddhist philosophy although it may be tilting towards Mahayana, but the word ignorance is a fundamental teaching of Buddhist philosophy. A study on this is considered in this thesis for further clarification.
3.2 Aims and Objectives of the Study
The research seeks fulfilment of the objectives to the closest possible although what is envisaged is an inductive study aimed at qualitative contents. Nevertheless, the study will be focused enough to arrive at reasonable judgements which may perhaps require further studies for further clarity.
3.2.1 The main part of the objective of the study is to compare and contrast Modern NonDuality with early Buddhist discourses with a view to finding a bridging theory but the purpose is more elaborated below.
3.2.1 The main part of the objective of the study is to compare and contrast Modern NonDuality with early Buddhist discourses with a view to finding a bridging theory but the purpose is more elaborated below.
3.2.2 While the Modern Non-duality brings out more pointers than Advaita, it is necessary to go in-depth in analyzing these pointers to grasp various interpretations. Analysis of such interpretations will also enable the researcher to see supportive and or detrimental cross versions, if any.
3.2.3 The study envisages to gauge why non-duality pointers seem to be attracting the modern-day societies that seek freeing themselves from the bondage of stories they are engrossed. The relevance of these pointers would be looked into in an analytical way to present the findings for the purpose of identifying the attractiveness which seems to be cutting across the world.
3.2.4 The core messages through pointers of current Non-duality teachers would be compiled from existing print and online material that would pin point the standing of each non- dual teacher in terms of the various emphasis made by them through their discourses.
3.2.5 Some Neuro scientists appear to have supported Modern Non- dual teachings specially in the nature of ‘ free will’ and this study would ideally cover that area with the experiments done by scientists such as Benjamin Libet, Danniel Dennet and Sam Harris who one way or another have supported non-dual concept.
3.2.6 The researcher does not wish to engage himself in a complicated analysis on the basis that Modern Non-duality teachings are meant only for the ‘ learned class’ in the same way that Lord Buddha did not hesitate to share the core message with Patachara, Sopaka, Suneetha, Kujjuththra, Punna, Rajjumala, Kisagothami who were not recognized as educated’ representatives of the society. Besides the encounters of them with the Lord Buddha had been incidental. On that basis the aims and objectives have been set to test existing theories in an inductive research format and analyses to identify the gaps and to witness if there is a theory that could bridge any gap that is recognized through this study.
3.2.7 It is therefore considered view that a study of Modern Non- duality in the light of basic and core messages offered by early Buddhist discourses will lead to critical analysis which is likely to bring out a new knowledge that may also be presented to scientists specially the neuroscience that had shown interest in the area of consciousness.
There are some assumptions that are made though not in the form of direct hypothesis in order to conceptualize the proposed emerging theory. These assumptions were made with the material on the surface that triggered the interest for the study while the study at the end will validate the conceptualization so done as well as the emerging theory that will link up any gaps. This is not a comparison or contrast presented directly. What is conceptualized are some assumptions with the core messages based on what is emerging popular nonduality concepts preached by the popular spiritual leaders whose versions are offered through this study. The conceptualization takes into consideration that Lokoththara or supra mundane teachings more or less stand out for modern teachings.
Modern Non- duality teachings hardly offer mundane teachings as the teachers prefer to offer direct messages with the level of understanding of the audience. Such audiences are not caught up in frameworks hence they are open for any notions that is placed before them for investigations. Therefore, there is an assumption that Mundane teachings of Buddhist philosophy seem to be over shadowing the core messages of Lokoththara mainly due to traditional or ritualistic practices.
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Figure 3 Conceptualization of Modem Non- duality Theory in the presence of Messages of Early Buddhist Discourses - Figure - Authors own work
The conceptualization is not to test these assumptions but to direct the researcher to facilitate the core areas that need to be looked into. The Literature review is expected to cover adequate evidence to the core messages of modern non- duality and in the analysis it would come to light why such messages seem to be resonating within the non- duality seekers who are no longer looking for mundane benefits. Most of them have understood the futility of mundane luxury when the truth of dukkha confronts them either by way of anxiety, stress, worry, fear etc. or face old age weakness and sicknesses prior to reaching the death bed.
The conceptualization occurred in the initial overview of the study with available data in the teachings of modern non- duality gurus with the knowledge in core teachings of Dhamma. However, in the literature review and the subsequent findings through the methodology being adapted will reveal to what extent the philosophy of modern non - duality stands with the understanding of the early Buddhist discourses.
4.2 Research Design and Methodology
The design and methodology are well described through the chart given below. The extensive data collection, through literature review and the way in which the data is analyzed is explained in a systematic manner. This design is determined by the nature of the study where deep analysis is allowed while the field research is to support the finding of the new knowledge to bridge the gap in the study.
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Figure 4 Methodology in a chart -Authors own work
The inductive research method would be applied in this thesis with an initial understanding based on Researchers involvement in spirituality with which a comprehensive the literature review has been undertaken followed by structural and systematic analysis of the versions emanating from the study.
This would be a non-empirical dissertation where desk research and arguments would be used to address research question with a field study to ascertain a supportive element of the study which will start ‘ with the observations and theories proposed towards the end of the research process as a result of observations. Inductive research “involves the search for pattern from observation and the development of explanations - theories - for those patterns through series of hypotheses”. No theories or hypotheses would apply in inductive studies at the beginning of the research and the researcher is free in terms of altering the directionfor the study after the research process had commenced. (Research Methodology, 2017)
It is crucial therefore for this study to bring out meanings from the data collected in both Modern Non-duality and Early Buddhist Discourses in order to identify patterns and relationships to build a possible new knowledge while addressing the research questions.
What would be followed is to bring out any grounded theory which calls for collection and analysis of data. The emerging theory is expected to be “grounded” in actual contents of the material to be analyzed. The analysis and development of theories will take place after the collection of other relevant material to legitimize this qualitative research (Discovery of Grounded Theory, 2006).
The methodology that has been adapted is to identify the area of interest and in this case it is the Modern Non-Duality Concept. The reason for the research is also described as to the popularity of these concepts among spiritual seekers in the world specially after the advent of the internet and social media.
In the beginning of the study, the researcher has avoided preconceived notions with various interpretations except for the basic assumptions. The study is purely on the data presented through literature review taking the core messages of the Modern Non-Duality teachers as well as the core messages of the Early Buddhist discourses. They have been verified with a few scholars through interviews although the interviews and questionnaires do not pose as a predominant part of the study.
The researcher is conscious of the use of theoretical sensitivity specially in a study of this nature. While bearing in mind the subtlety of meanings of the data collected, there will be no attempt to disregard principles of philosophies taken for the study nor will there be any element of criticism. Grounded theory assists the researcher to have guidelines for collecting and analyzing data.
The guidelines set forth for the study are as follows.
- Selection of Modern Non-dual Teachers based on availability of their concepts either through books or Internet.
- Modern Non-duality is considered what has been emerged from Advaita theory which is ‘Not Two’.
- Extracting the main messages of Modern Non-Dual teachings and coding them as initially envisaged at the conceptualization level.
- Interpreting the core messages in line with current experiences of Human beings By way of using the messages as pointers
- Selection of Early Buddhist Discourses that have some connotation to NonDual Messages which are visible
- Ensuring that such discourses are within the main frame work of Early Buddhist discourses with a clear demarcation of Mundane and Supra Mundane teachings
Researcher will have an open mind without preconceived ideas and the aim is to generate a new theory on the available data. Once the data has been analyzed the Researcher will examine the existing theories to ascertain how a new theory can be placed within the discipline deployed in the study.
4.2.2 Research Design
Following an extensive literature review and extracting the data, the design of this study is will follow the conceptualization which spells out basic assumptions similar to hypothesis that would be somewhat tested and examined in the study. There will be narrowing down of the broader concepts into its main components.
The design will ascertain in a systematic way of collecting data on the Modern Non-duality through access explicit information. The selection of Early Buddhist Discourses will be done on manual search through Sutra Pitaka and extracting the sutras that could be relevant to the study. Assistance will be received in the selection of Sutra in consultations.
With these Research Questions followed by Research Objectives have been set forth.
The analysis will be done after the extensive search collection of data through the Internet and the other Literature of Modern Non- duality as well as Buddhist discourses where the pointers of Non-duality theories appearing to be touched on. The Analysis will reveal if there are conflicting differences between the early Buddhist discourses and Non-Duality core messages that have been narrowed down.
The analysis will consider the a) Gaps in the pointers of Non-duality concept - The design will specifically look for gaps to see if there is another explanation to the gaps by way of adapting a theory or theories, b) Comparison and contrasting of the two Philosophies c) Interpretation of the language test and d) the linkages that are emerging between the two philosophies.
The limitation of the language will also be assessed which is emphasized by the Modern Non-dual teachers specially when the language is identified as a tool of the mind in order to explore the life stories.
The framework will also bring shed light to any demarcation of mundane and supra mundane aspects of the Buddhist philosophy.
The design will ascertain if there is a fallacy between the knowledge and wisdom considering the long years of the service of Lord Buddha across the cast, creed, wealth etc.
As guided by the inductive reasoning which would begin with theories that are proposed for analysis towards the end of the research process on the basis of the observations made on similar patterns. This research involves the search for similar patterns from observations and the development of explanations of modern non-duality concept which would be critically analyzed in the presence of early Buddhist discourses with the freedom that in terms of altering the direction if necessary to some extent after the research process had commenced. This approach aims to give meanings to the general patterns of theories assessed in order to identify relationships with early Buddhist discourses based on learning from this experience.
The following design would be adopted as per the guidelines of Online ‘Research Methodology - Inductive approach.
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Figure -5 Methodology adapted in the study - Authors Own work
As per (Personal Writer, 2008) online version, the Design allows the theoretical knowledge gained in the study of Non-duality concept with the Early Buddhist discourses in an interpretive manner based on an established theoretical framework.
The work will also come to understand the fundamental differences in the messages of the emanating from the core study with the comparison for which the design has been structured in view of this being highly a qualitative study.
4.2.3 Data Collection
An extensive data collection has been done for the study specially in the literature review as most of the study has been a desk work. It has to be stated that most of the literature on the modern non-duality is available on line through established websites of institutions and individuals specially the ones whose work is taken for the study. A rare collection of books of Modern Non-dual teachers as well as other literature online was helpful in this study. Early Buddhis literature is freely available both in libraries as well as online with or without different interpretations of the core message appears to have been preserved.
The literature will be analyzed based on the following
a) Main elements of Modern Non-dual teachings and their implications
b) Gaps that are observed in Non-dual teachings in the light of the comprehension by human beings
c) Examination of Early Buddhist Discourses (Sutras) with the understanding of differences between Mundane and Supra Mundane teachings
d) Bring out implications of the matters to the area of findings of Modern Non - duality pointers in the light of early Buddhist teachings
4.2.3. (i) Modern Non-duality
The researcher was compelled to use extensive data collection of literature and available data on the internet as well as video presentations from short versions of less than 5 minutes to over one hour. The print versions of the Non-duality books are generally sold out and later they appear online at a price. The researcher has been in the process acquiring the books for some time and have been able to gather sufficient number of print versions for the study.
Apart from the Individual official websites , vast amount of material is available on the internet specially opened by groups a conversation in the websites such as ‘Science of Non-Duality’.
Initially the data has been collected as much as possible for extensive readings to ascertain the core messages which formulated the research problem, conceptualization and the objectives of the study.
The researcher has been engaged in Non-duality study for many years prior to the undertaking the analysis in the light of Early Buddhist discourse. The topic was refined following the initial presentation on the advice of the learned panel.
The data that has been collected for the literature review is considered sufficient with the availability of large number of material on the internet. What is necessary is to analyses them to see the practical purpose of such teachings in the light of early Buddhist discourses.
4.2.3 (ii) Early Buddhist Discourses
Collection of early Buddhist discourses is less difficult because such discourses are available in libraries and on line. They are internationally publicized so that different interpretations can also be viewed in the study if there is any. When studying the Sutta Pitaka.
The study will selectively choose the early Buddhist discourses specially with the understanding that some sutras have Supra mundane aspects being interpreted to people of various temperaments.
However, there is a necessity to obtain various interpretations on the selected areas without directly referring to the discourses chosen for this study. It is therefore intended to obtain versions of Buddhist Scholars for following questions which would be justified as follows.
The questionnaire has been designed with the following criteria.
- Can the answers be helpful in the critical analysis of the Modern Non /dual Studies?
- The areas to be questioned to be deriving from the themes or core messages of Buddhist philosophy
- Are there drastic differences in the versions of Buddhist Scholars in the interpretations of critical areas that need to be tested in the study?
- Are the questions carrying common connotations that lie in between Buddhist Philosophy and Modern Non-Dual Teachings that would be helpful to ascertain the gaps if any.
- Can the answers be generalized and categorized for easy analysis?
4.2.4. Field Research
The field research was deployed to ascertain one important element of the research. A major issue in the Buddhist core Messages emanating from early Buddhist discourses is the interpretation of the language hence the necessity to test this version to support the analysis. Researcher had developed 7 questions with a view to getting prompt response from the Buddhist scholars and Buddhist Students whom he approached. The rationale for the questions drawn is as follows.
4.2.5 Questions for Buddhist Scholars with Rationale
The basis for the questions are,
i) Are they direct enough for a prompt response from the audience?
ii) The immediate response is more on the understanding of the concept of question rather than detailed answer.
iii) There is a flavor of the understanding with the practical experience when the questions and answers are short
The carefully crafted questions are as follows with rational for the question.
a) What is the understanding of your good self on Saswathavada and Uchchedavada?
This question is directed to ascertain the position of ‘Everything and Nothing’ that is spelt out by the Non-dual teachers and why Lord Buddha advised not to accept both extremes. Understanding both view points and getting into one corner may well be two different aspects which is yet to be seen in the analysis stage.
The advaita followers during Buddha’s time may have been guided by the ‘nothingness’ which may have been taken into a livelihood practice. There seems to be different interpretations by Non-dual teachers on this
b) Do Anithya Dukka Anaththa emanate from Lokkothathara Teachings in Buddhist Philosophy?
This question was chosen in view of the vast number of Buddhist discourses and the assumption that Non-dual indicators can derive from Lokkoththara teachings which are also called supra mundane. The answers to this question will reveal the general understanding of Lokoththara teachings as to whether they are directed for spiritual seekers of inner peace as against those who are looking for material benefit.
c) A brief Message on Dependent Origination or Paticca Samuppäda
This question is necessary as this is a crucial teaching of Dhamma in describing arising and passing a way of life. There are several interpretations hence the necessity to arrive at one common understanding
d) Brief Message of Sathara Sathipattanaya?
The question is assumed to be directly taken from the Vidarshana or insight meditation and what exactly is expected from practitioners as well as what is the understanding that is envisaged through this section is important for this study.
e) In Anattalakkhana Sutta, Lord Buddha has mentioned about ‘ a no self-concept ’ - Can you describe this?
By far, this is the most powerful discourse that reflect Modern Non-dual teacher’s versions when they say, ‘ there is no self’. The question is posed to ascertain whether the understanding of Buddhist scholars is closer to the view point of Nondual teachings. In Buddhist philosophy some have mentioned this to be ‘ no permanent self while the other are stating that the one who travels if neither the same person nor a different person.
f) Description of Nirvana
This may have different interpretations by various scholars who answer and that will determine whether the answer is connected to a Realization b) Understanding and c) An experience
g) It is recorded that thousands of tourists visiting various spiritual locations around the world looking for Freedom from psychological suffering. Only a small percentage visits Sri Lanka in spite of the availability of Buddhist teachings in Sri Lanka?. Is it True ?. If so, Why?
This study was triggered by the fact that a large number of non-theistic seekers are visiting Modern Non-dual teachers in their effort in spiritual teachings. Most of these spiritual leaders with Non-duality background carry the pointers and most of them given credit to Lord Buddha being the first to have discovered the true nature of life. This is a paradoxical situation where the spiritual seekers travel across the world to visit such non-dual teachers but refrain from coming to Sri Lanka. With this, one could ascertain the perceived answer.
Research design will mostly reflect the need for a desk research in order to interpret and analyses data that is already collected for the literature review. A field research would be required to test some areas that were seen as gaps in the literature available through by way of a standard questionnaire from those who are identified as knowledgeable in both Buddhist Philosophy and Modern Non-duality.
4.3 Analysis of Data
The data analysis is done in several ways in order to arrive at some positions. The researcher intends detailing them in various categories for better understanding. It has to be noted that in a research of this nature, data analysis takes a broader perspective to avoid any personal view point becoming predominant. At the same time, some attempt is made to narrow down the findings in the form of an argument and discussion.
4.3.1 Perceived Gaps in the Pointers in Modern Non-dual Teachings and Early Buddhist Teachings
It is noted that the core teachings of Modern Non-duality revolve around the pointers offered by the Non-dual teachers through various modes of communication. It is a fact that they seem to be attracting a large number of spiritual teachers wherever they conduct sessions. It is also noted that their meetings do not follow any traditions except for Mooji who is considered a ‘ Guru’ where some traditions are followed similar to Hindu Ashrams although what he says is nowhere close to such traditions.
It is in a way intriguing to hear that there is no self or no person in a body. However, from the view point of a self, it is rather difficult to understand this concept as the self cannot see that there is no self! If this is true, how did Lord Buddha communicate with the masses this subject? There is Anattalakkhana Sutta which of course present-day Buddhist philosophers explain as ‘there is no permanent self’ and compare no self to Uchchedavada which lord Buddha is said to have rejected. It is not clear if Lord Buddha rejected Uchchedavada because it is definitely not understood by seekers unless they have a radical open mind or shift in perspective. Is there a gap in this element where Lord Buddha has chosen the right people to preach Lokoththara Dhamma as supra mundane teachings?. Accepting uchchedavada could lead people to do nothing towards their future as it is then self-annihilation. To confirm Saswathawada is again a contradiction to the teaching of Lord Buddha ‘ Nacha so Nacha anno’ - Neither the same person not a different person.
The non-existence of a free will as an indicator is worth analyzing because the same has been subject to scientific experiments by neuroscientists since the early eighties. Although the experiments support the theory of no free will, it has been subject to some criticism by later experiments where no conclusive evidence has been presented. However, the finding of the scientists cannot be ruled out in view of the similarities of the outcome of the studies done at various levels. This matter has not been pursued as there is no commercial benefit by establishing a theory as the belief of self having free will is the very nature of existence and all theories are built upon the same.
The study of this gap in needed to be pursued if this matter is to be explored. In the interest of the spiritual seekers it is important to know more about this experiment and it is not been carried out obviously because of the non-acceptance and cost factors where there is no funding from any quarters. The science itself speaks about ‘ Potential Rediness’ and that can imply what the Buddha is trying to say that it is not this nor that.
To say that time is illusory is also reinforced way back by Albert Einstein and once again the clock time has come into play with the modern world is trying to save ‘ time’ through technology. Practically every aspect is contingent on the time and this is very hard to be challenged by spiritual leaders except for some like Rupert Spira who offers a different model where the time is part of the ‘ self’ and when the self-collapses, the time also vanishes with space. This gap will continue to remain unless the spiritual leaders have more pointers to establish. On the other hand, Lord Buddha said not to pay attention to Past and Future but that is not in line of ‘ No time’ theory. Buddha has agreed to this with the notion that the past and future is of no use compared to the present moment.
In Buddhist philosophy , the followers are encouraged not to waste time as the time is limited. This is mundane teaching which applies in every situation whether in education or spiritual seeking. In Supra Mundane terms as described in the study ‘The concept of time in philosophy’ by Anawat Bunnag quoting Ven Narada thero Buddhist philosophy suggests that time does not have real existence. It is only a concept with no inherent existence because it belongs to the relative truth of the world of experience from our consciousness. Each of our consciousness (or thought-moment) according to Abhidhamma (Narada Maha Thera, 1987, p. 215) consists of three phases, with the first phase called the occurring or genesis (uppada), the second phase is change or development (thiti) and the last phase is cessation or dissolution (bhanga). (www.sciencedirect.com, 2017)
Besides, in BaddeKaraththa Sutta Lord Buddha has emphasized the need to be in the ‘ Now’ which is promoted by the Non- dualists. What is taught about ‘ time’ in Modern Non-duality seems therefore having some basis in depth which is generally not accepted in a life story and day to day affairs.
A life story must have a time which the mind has established. Time has three parts - Past, Present, Future. Past is only a memory and it does not exist in real life. Even if there are pleasant memories, one needs to use mind to imagine getting back in there. Most of the people do that and get tremendous satisfaction through the thinking process in spite of how futile it is except that the past experience is essential to make decisions without living in the past. An aircraft has to take off and land at a particular time and that is a clock time and the time duration is true in mundane terms. Others say the Aircraft took off in the Now and landed in the Now is a lokoththara way of describing that ‘now’ is all there which cannot be understood by knowledge.
Future is what people carry in mind is an idea about the future which people would like to happen or not happening in the present moment. There are desires to be fulfilled in the future but essentially one would have preferred having them now. The future too does not exist because the future is a mental construct and the future cannot be experienced until it turns out to be the present moment.
Time can therefore be a thought or imagination with which humans try to measure the ‘changing moment of the ‘now’. This is the Law of Impermanence. Instead of accepting the ever-changing nature of the present moment or the now and accept the present moment as it is, humans have invented time to cope with the established story which is also ongoing. The story is one’s life which is described with time as he or she recollects everything with a time factor.
How many things have happened in one’s life time and how much one remembers them? Thousands of incidents and events and it is impossible for anyone to recall all of them. If all of them cannot be remembered, what is not remembered is not important and that could be applied to everything in the past except for what is needed being done in the present moment with lessons in the past whether right or wrong.
If the time factor is taken out, a human could consider himself always to be a new person in every moment. Time only leaves behind evidence or anticipates a future moment but the time itself cannot be observed. It is obvious that many people live in the past, speaking as to what and how things happened in the past and how well they used to do things better than the present day. One reason why youth prefer to detach from the elders is that. In a society, we have observed many older people flock together and they cannot or do not mix with the youth because all they have to relate are what happened in the past. This reflects how people live in the past or what we may call the past created by psychological time.
The belief in the time factor makes one dragged into the past or future but the idea of the time according to Non-duality is false. Once again this should be taken in its true perspective. It does not mean humans should not plan work tomorrow or next year. But all that happens in the present moment with no time brought into the picture purposely.
The biological time can be seen only from the ageing body and the symptoms. Every cell in a human body has a life and the function of each cell is an activity by itself without time. The ageing body is the one that tells humans that the body is subject to ageing and that happens with time. In reality it is not the case. The body at any given time has a ‘present moment’ and that each present moment is fresh if there is no memory of past and expectations in future. The body grows and decays as part of the life story for the mind. Many of those who get awakened to the truth during the last stages of their lives, which is mostly the case when the ego is totally and inevitably dropped, would say that this is the best moment ever in their life.
One example that Eckhart Tolle has given is that if one considers the without human beings meaning that the world only with plants, animals, and birds, the illusory time factor can be seen. Of course, the clock time is not denied in his theory for practical purposes.
Time cannot be witnessed. Time does not cause anything. It is the idea that people have about the body which is taken along the time path and that is an imagination. Every moment in life is an experience and that experience can be perceived and explained without the time factor unless one wants to compare it with the past or future. Every moment of a human being could be changed if one is able to pay total attention to the moment which is otherwise considered unimportant in the thoughts that indulge the people into the past and future. Therefore, we could ascertain that Illusory time factor is an indicator which is worth pondering to see the reality for some people and Lord Buddha very prudently had used the time in mundane teaching to benefit masses as not everyone is a spiritual seeker.
The closest example that can be given is the act of a painter who draws portrays. Unless the painter stays in the moment he or she could never draw the portray accurately. He is positively in the now and this is the case with many professions like the surgeons, mechanics, and plumbers. However, in the case of lyrics of songs, he composer may go back to his youth to write a beautiful love song despite he being in the old age. Jawed Akthar has won several awards for his lyrics on contemporary love for Bollywood movies and that is the unreality that lives in reality which keeps the balance of the world.
The time factor becomes a living thing with the ego and rest of the conditions that make the false self which we need to identify. Another example of the unreality is when the time question is directed to an animal ‘What time would you eat?’ and if the animal can speak, the answer is likely to be ‘When I am hungry, and by the way what you mean by TIME?.
While Modern Non-duality advocates this concept, Lord Buddha had tactfully explained this for people to be in the present moment as a teaching. There could be awakening to this at once or gradually. Lord Buddha was a Counsellor with the oratory ability hence it is assumed that Buddhist Philosophy’s view of time is described in a pragmatic sense.
For instance, many would take a while to accept that they are mostly not living in the present moment. Much has been said on this subject by the spiritual guru Ekhart Tolle who is called father of ‘The Now’. Most humans admit without much hesitation and argument that they are either living in the past or future with a mind being constantly conditioned by thoughts that are influenced by previous thoughts and future expectations.
In reality and whatever way people try to analyze, all there is, is the present moment in life. Past and future are illusions and they don’t literally exist. They exist only to establish a story which is not really important to any life as that is the story that causes suffering. The fear that one will lose oneself if the past and the future is forgotten does not seem to be true. It will help the humans to get rid of the concepts of past and future and that will not have any adverse effect on human life. This goes undebated both in Non-duality and Buddhist philosophy.
The search that is mentioned in Meditation could well be the exploration or the alertness in the present moment while being watchful on the thoughts and asking oneself the question ‘who you are’?. No past or futuristic thought will help untie the knot which binds a person of a mind construct. The illusory time is therefore spelt out emphatically by Non-duality while Buddhist Philosophy uses the language to suit the status core of the person for whom the teaching is directed to. The gap here is that the time theory in Non-duality cannot be described in mundane language which Lord Buddha has handled quite well as a Counsellor.
What is denied with time in Non-duality is also the space. This too is hard to understand by laymen from the mundane aspects. The theory that everything is one is in other words is that everything is just one event. Meaning it is all full if one were to establish connection between the paddy harvesting in Thailand to an ice berg crashing due to global warming in the Arctic.
The study has not taken the 'space’ into deeper analysis as the idea is elaborated in Rohitassa sutra that can be interpreted to support the theory that there is no space. But this is highly philosophical and cannot be described in general language.
Everything is a changing moment is directly attributing to Buddhist teaching in Anithya or law of impermanence. This is not argued in anyway and specially the non- dual spiritual Guru like Darryl Baily emphasizes on this point to show that every moment is moving on to the other which cannot be seen to the naked eye by the people who are engrossed in securing their positions , wealth, power etc. It is obvious from history to date that everyone and everything is subject to change or a changing movement whether they lead to suffering or not. The inevitable happening s such as old age and sicknesses in life will obviously bring suffering and this will not go challenged. However, the modern-day society and management theories defy the law of impermanence when they assume success factors to be power, wealth and publicity. Unfortunately, there are living examples to show that most of these success stories have lived for a short while and even longer but have faded away with the law of impermanence. One cannot possibly see a gap in this between the early Buddhist teachings and Modern Non-duality in terms of the pointer of Law of Impermanence.
The change is having a connotation of a pessimism through Buddhist teachings where the word ‘Anicca’ is generally used in vocabulary with the Dukka. The understanding of the changing nature as a ‘ Cloud taking the shape of a anything as it moves’ is cited as an example where it can be applied to lives in life stories. The alertness and preparedness for this change could transforms lives towards reality of existence which is grabbed in the west without getting the pessimistic feelings.
Unknowability is another pointer that is strongly being advocated by the Non-dual teachers and this is directly put across. This takes Non-dual teachers ahead of others as the science has not provided answers to many questions so far leave alone beginning and end. To support this . Lord Buddha has indicated this fact in - Cüla-Mäluqkya Sutta sutra where any attempt to find these things will be futile. Once again this concept supports the current spiritual seekers as the seeking comes to and end while this is compelling the seekers to be in the present moment. There is hardly any gap to be searched further in the study in this regard. In Lokavipaththi Sutra, Lord Buddha has described vicissitudes that can’t be anticipated in life. Perhaps only some. If the future could be predicted , the world will in a different way and therefore the ‘ Unknowability’ factor is present in both teachings and the present attempts by teachers appear to be affirmative but this unknowability factor.
The denial to the term ‘ unknowability’ is not accepted as it contradicts knowledge. Humans believe that they have to acquire knowledge in everything although the human knowledge in front of what is yet to be discovered could be spread over thousands and thousands of years like how the billions of galaxies becoming trillions of galaxies within the last 50 years.
To say that ‘ existence ‘ is unknowable is not accepted by any religion including Buddhist philosophy. However, life being a ‘ dream like’ state proclaims that unknowability is irrelevant. The unknowability matters in Mundane terms and worthless in supra mundane sphere.
Knowledge is not wisdom can be applied in several situations. Knowledge is needed through studies and practice for a profession. The world is existing because of various professions that each one learns in every field. Wisdom is said to be seeing through the reality or what is called seeing true nature of life and existence. Law of impermanence which is advocated both in Non-duality and Buddhism is a true nature that only wisdom can see through. The behavior of majority reflects that in spite of knowledge they ignore the reality in their vocabulary and actions. The one who extends loving kindness to everyone and surrounding is likely to lead a happy contended life without much stress and anxiety. It does not however undermine the hard work and need for one to come up in life with wealth and happiness.
Lord Buddha had explained in mundane teaching how to reach happiness through Aththi Suka , Anana Suka etc., for instance the happiness of not being indebted. But there again people with wisdom will know how to lead a mundane life and all one needs is to observe with a conscious mind for this purpose. Therefore, this area does not lead a gap that much to explore which any sensible thinking will grasp. This justifies in Buddhist teachings as Lord Buddha has not discriminated the followers who were wanting to know about life. These include Patachara, Sopaka, Suneetha, Kujjuththra, Punna, Rajjumala, Kisagothami etc. They were not recorded as intellectuals or educated people.
Therefore, to assume ‘ wisdom ‘ lies only with education or educated world, does not imply that it is linked to finding true nature of life. Pachchaka Buddha, according to Buddhist philosophy does not learn Dhamma from anyone nor will he try to explain to another except for a pointer or so. Only wisdom will grasp the message and not the knowledge.
Everything and nothing is_an interesting statement of Non-dual teachers. If this is to be construed as Sassatawada and Uchchedawava, Lord Buddha had rejected both. In terms of Modern Non-duality, Everything and nothing is not considered as Sawathawada and Uchchedawa with a soul remaining or continuing. The idea that is emanating is that whatever that is in existence and happening is just one event according to non-dual teaching while there is no - thing meaning that nothing can be taken as just a person or a thing because everything is linked to another. In the light of that there is some sense even the Karma theory explains that not everything happens due to personal Karma. A lot may attribute to the circumstances. Therefore, some clarification is seen that everything and Nothing has some substance to probe into. When Lord buddha was asked is there life, there was no reply and to the question isn’t there life - there was no reply. Should that be the situation here , there is some justification in saying Everything and Nothing so that the investigator himself has to inquire without having to rely on these words.
This this area, the Modern Non-dualists reject Subject Object reality and that is beyond mundane understanding. ‘I’ is usually the subject in a life story while rest of the world would be consisting of objects. It is this notion that Modern Non-dualists disregard in view of everything being identified as one event. Rupert Spira once mentioned that a sticker on the side mirrors stated that ‘ objects that are seen through the are’ closer than what you think’ He immediately related this to Non-dual teachings with the pointer that everything is linked and together.
Life as it is_meaning that the Non- Dual teachers urge the followers to understand that_a) being in the present moment as everything else is imaginary and b) what happens ; now’ is all that happens. This is the most difficult part the modern societies cannot understand with the struggle they go through to make a living, educate children and look after their health. The lives are full of suffering because of what is anticipated is not their expectation. Accepting life as it is seeming rational provided it is not considered as doing nothing. What one does is also to be connected to ‘ Everything’ and if so when the message resonates, there seems to be contentment in one’s life taking up vicissitudes without being shaken up. However , the non- dual message is likely to be interpreted as there is nothing a person could do if one takes life as it is in mundane terms.
Life as it is meaning ‘ What is’ and that implies the thoughts that are arising from the past and from the future are a present appearance and that needs to be taken as ‘ life as it is’ as there is nothing else happening. This is ‘ what is’ or ‘ this is all their is’ has an in-depth philosophical meaning to anyone who is willing to look at life somewhat radically.
Oneness or Not two - is the original version of Advaita and this could be supported by ‘ Everything and Nothing. Oneness supports ‘ no self and ‘ No free will’ concepts when oneness is the magic show that happens as a movie on the screen. As Rupert Spira explain, when the movie is screened movie has a story with actors doing what they are supposed to do. But this is an illusion as this is happening on the screen. The truth is the screen and the characters are illusory. The problem occurs when one gets into a character and accept thoughts, feelings and emotions. The screen is a close example according to Spira but not a perfect example. Nevertheless, Oneness is becoming an interesting area if we understand political and economic scenarios as to how the totality attributes to ups and downs rather than individuals.
What remain in original Advaita is Oneness that were further broken into many pointers for the modern non-duals in order to simplify the advaita version. There is also Dvaita to counter Advaita theory and all the modern-day speakers on Motivation, Leadership. And Management Practices belong to them as it is held on the fact that there is free will for individuals to exercise. However, what is seen here is the free will also within the oneness hence there does not seem to be a contradiction. There is some connection with the theory of relativity where nothing takes a stand on its own.
4.3.2 Comparison Contrast and Neutral Factors Between Modern Non-duality and Early Buddhist Discourses
The Core messages of the selected Sutras that are supportive to Modern Non-duality Pointers would be used as Supportive and that are negative are categorized as Rejective while the others that neither support nor reject will be taken as Neutral Supportive Rejective Neutral The weightage of each Supportive and Rejective factors is given on a scale from 1-5 which is somewhat subjective but considered adequate while Neutral factors remain as Zero.
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Chart 1 - Comparisons and Contrast of Core Messages of Early Buddhist Teachings with Modern Non- duality
Comparison and contrasting of core messages of Modern No-n Duality with Early Buddhist teachings is not an easy task although the table takes the basic message as to whether the Buddhist discourses chosen are Supportive, Rejective and Neutral. The implications of the analysis are that out of the 16 discourses and their break downs with many elements taken into the study, the Supportive versions to Modern Non- duality are as follows
Supportive, Rejective and Neutral Elements
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Chart 3 - Results of Comparison and Contrast - authors Own work
The Supportive elements are 19 as against 3 negatives and 01 Neutral. The strength of the supportive elements is within S5 and S4 and Rejective elements are found only under R3. Although the scale is subjective, it was taken on the face value and the literal meaning without interpretation.
Anattalakkhana Sutta reflects the highest Supportive discourse while many others carry very high supportive elements to Modern Non-duality. There seems to be apparent interpretation that could be manipulated which is a limitation of this study. However, the 3 three rejective elements are not over powered by the basic analysis of the early Buddhist discourses with modern non -duality versions.
The Rejectives seem to be arising out of the aspects of Mundane and Supra Mundane elements which cannot be reconciled. From view point of Non-dualists, Mundane is the self and life story while supra mundane is taking this beyond the mind driven story hence the difficulty that is arising in the comparison and contrasting.
4.3.3. Interpretation of language - Outcome of the informal Questionnaire
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Chart 2- Expression with Language on core Messages of Buddhist Teachings - Authors Own work
The questionnaire was designed to check the interpretations and one clear observations is that in some questions and answers were similar while the others vary . This reflects that there are different perceptions when the relies were given. It may be possible that a longer version of reply might increase similarity. Since this was one analytical tool , the total reliance of this is mitigated to a greater extent. Therefore, this test was used only to ascertain the ability to express language in a different way where the understanding could be different. Therefore, one might take the premise that what has been communicated then may have not been represented with hundred percent accuracy through current literature.
In response to Saswathavada and Uchchedawada most scholars expressed the view that it is existence of Soul and Non-Existence of Soul. Soul is eternal and Non-eternal. . Some stated slightly different views connected to middle path.
There was also a response where Lord Buddha had rejected all Drishtis ( views) and advised to stay in the middle while another view expressed that it is Not Self Indulgence and Self Mortification. Arya Magga for Parama Satya. Among the other answers were ‘ Neither the same person nor different person’,’ Athman nor No Atman’, Acceptance of Five Aggregates as permanent and Non-Acceptance of same ’, This is a faction of Mahayana
In response to Three Marks of Existence - Anithya Dukka Anaththa, Some explained that this is connected to Supra Mundane while the others said it is linked to both mundane and supra mundane.
Among the other views were ‘ Supra Mundane teaching with causal relationship’, ‘An experience - Not created by Buddha. Merely a discovery ’, ‘ This is the truth in nature and spelt out by Lord Buddha’,
In response to Dependent Origination - Paticca Samuppäda, Most scholars said it is cause and effect theory linked to continuation of Sansaric journey. There are however vivid descriptions on this such as Cause and Effect and Inquiry about person’, ‘ Cause and Effect theory leading to merits and demerits’, ‘Arising and Passing - How Life begins’, ‘This is the middle Path’, ‘ Cause for Sansaric sojourn - Cause and Effect’, ‘ Explanation of Existence’, ‘Ignorance causes Volition etc. ’’Describe existence of Universe’.
In response to Satara Sathipattanaya, Most scholars agree that it is to be conscious of the aspects described in this sutra. It is also said to be path to Nirvana.
Among the other versions were ‘
‘ To be with the right conscious and concentrate on Satipattana’ ‘Seeing the truth through consciousness - Living in the moment ‘, ‘Helps to focus on Supra Mundane - Way of transcending’, ‘ Path to Nirvana -from Samatha to vidharshana’, ‘ to be conscious - most humans are unconscious, ‘ Must follow and advocate towards Nibbana’’ Meditation to be conscious’
In response to Anattalakkhana Sutta, the most critical discourse in comparison with Modern Non- duality, the explanations were somewhat different. While some said ‘ there is no person, other described that this is analysis of five aggregates. The other versions include ‘ Sammuthivada - Person Exists, Paramartha Satya - No permanent person’, ‘There is no person’ ‘ Investigation through five aggregates’ ‘ Nothing to have called me and mine’’
Cannot describe - No self to control. However, there is a residual which arises’, ‘ Me and Mine - Not real,’ To dispel Soul theory by stating that there is no ‘ me’’ ‘There is no person traveling in Samsara. It is the changing nature of mental formation that a person will travel’
‘ Seeing that there is no person’, ‘ A sermon of Buddha to achieve Nirvana’
In response to Description of Nirvana, once again various comments were expressed and mostly it was said that without experiencing Nirvana, it is not possible to describe. However, there is a comment that it is living in the moment coming out of thinking process. Apart from that , the versions have also been
‘Result of Meditation , Experiential’, ‘Without any particular view. Simple, free life. Understanding and experiential’ ‘ Difficult to describer - Fish and Tortoise Story’ ‘Aloko Udapadi - Complete defeat of Thanha’ , ‘ Only Buddha Arahaths, Pase Budhu could explain’, ‘Escape from suffering. Stoppage to continuation,’ Nothing to do with pain and pleasure. Freedom. End of Cause for person’s suffering’ Blowing out. Difficult to explain without experiencing’ ‘Difficult to explain
In response to the question Why Spiritual seekers are not visiting Sri Lanka?, most agreed that it is due to not offering the philosophical aspects of Buddhism while others attribute this to indulgence in traditions and not giving enough publicity. There were also views that the issue of the language.
Among the other responses were
‘ People need to be open, people need to focus on spiritual aspects ‘ Ritual have benefits but understanding is necessary’
Traditional ways have weaknesses ’, Question in the way Buddhism is presented’
‘ Perceived Negative elements,
‘ Poor Marketing. Lack of government support’
‘ Tourists are not interested in Lokoththara Dhamma, they get attracted to other locations’ , Dhamma is not propagated, ignorance’, ‘Not enough publicity,.
Inadequacy of Language skills’, ‘ Deep philosophy, so cannot be understood
Not giving the right message - Offering only religious nuances’, ‘.
Not enough facilities provided for tourists to learn Theravada Tradition
It is the responsibility of Monks to carry the message to the world’,’ Most sermons are targeted to development of material gains hence the understanding of true Therava dhamma is questionable’,
The researcher with his experience in conducting over hundreds of meditation sessions to tourists and in his experience why the core messages are not communicated adequately can be summarized as follows from experiential perspectives.
- Negative connotation in which Dhamma is presented as some detrimental impact on visitors which is somewhat unfortunate. Lord Buddha’s words in Anana Sutta overrides any negative flavors in the teachings.
- Ritualistic practices where the belief becomes forerunner to the teachings. While the traditions are accepted , for instance lighting a lamp in front of Buddha statue and paying obeisance prior to the beginning of the meditation session which gives a slight indication that what is communicated is emanating from Lord Buddha’s teachings’ the rituals appear to be submerging the core messages of Buddhist philosophy when they are observed by the visitors to the country.
- Language is certainly as issue if not communicated effectively to visitors as today most visitors speak English which wasn’t the case some years ago with Germans and French.
- There appears to be some notion that those who enter Meditation retreats have to go through a rigorous training. If the foreigners do not have basic facilities like living without mosquito bites, leeches and temperature in the night to sleep, these become hindrances. In the present day ‘ Bhavana Kuti’ seems to be misunderstood by the practitioners as they existed long years ago when the monks wanted to be on their own and yet had to be protected by the sun and the rain.
The test done with the questionnaire in order to ascertain language and interpretation, with learned participants somewhat establishes the following.
i Buddhist Philosophy offers some freedom for explanation of various concepts based on individual understanding. While this is appreciated, the self-investigation seems to be fading and this is reflected in the answers
ii The attempt to learn a subtle discourse like Anattalakkhana Sutta is not reflected among scholars and the answers appear to be vivid.
iii The difficulty in using a language to describe a philosophy is seen in the answers given by the scholars
iv Most answers seem to be based on understanding of theory and they do not seem to be emanating from experience except for what has been mentioned on Nirvana which again is considered as an achievement at the end of the journey
v they all admit that Buddhist philosophy in Sri Lanka has not been taken across to the world due to various reasons. There was no mention of the fact that if what is offered brings some inner peace, there will be followers at least through word of mouth
vi Most of them agreed that Philosophical aspects of Buddhism is not presented hence the lack of interest among tourists
The interpretation of the language is always an issue when trying to reconcile a Philosophy and a Concept. Since Buddhist philosophy takes the position from a mundane sphere to Supra Mundane there will be a confusion. There are many occasion the researcher has heard in sermons that seeing that there is no person happens at the end of the Sila Samadhi and Panna and this raises the question as to how an illusory person can dispel and illusion.
The approach of Lord Buddha had been to communicate with people of various levels and Lord Buddha had apparently switched the role from Counsellor to Spiritual Leader depending on the person whom he is addressing and the purpose. This becomes apparent in this analysis that the Lokothara aspects can be interpreted anyway by various scholars and that freedom is given in Buddhist Philosophy without which the philosophy becomes a religion. Lord Buddha had left behind the sutras with the freedom for anyone to investigate as to what it really means depending on the understanding of each person
4.3.4 Analysis of Lokkothara Dhamma in Buddhist Philosophy
4.3.4 (i) Mundane Vs Supra Mundane Teachings
In Buddhist Philosophy it goes undebated that Lord Buddha has spelt out Dhamma through two sections viz Mundane and Supra Mundane. Teachings for day to day living are compiled in mundane discourses such as Mangala Sutra, Parabawa sutra, Singalovada sutra etc. The saying that those who protect Dhamma are also protected by Dhamma may be related to Mundane teachings, but it is contradicted when the followers of Dhamma are subject to vicissitudes in life. Karma is an element which underlines the - non-controllable factors which however cannot be seen. The Karma theory seems to be very much embedded in the Buddhist philosophy and the only places where Karma gets somewhat relooked at when bringing the saying ‘ Na cha so Nacha Anna’ - the one who travels is neither the same person nor a different person as well as other Lokoththara.
The Mundane and Supra Mundane interpretations are brought for Karajakäya- Sutta with regard to the Karma , birth and rebirth. In mundane language Karajakä-ya- Sutta would make enlightenment almost impossible in a lifetime due to the doer of bad kamma that would keep rebirth for each past unwholesome action. On the other hand, in supramundane language, the kammas are experienced in the mind where Buddha explained, and it is a recollection of past dwellings.
A further explanation to Karma and Rebirth is given by Barbara O’ Brien goes as’ If you define reincarnation as the transmigration of a soul into a new body after the old body dies, then no, the Buddha did not teach a doctrine of reincarnation. For one thing, he taught there was no soul to transmigrate.
However, there is a Buddhist doctrine of rebirth. According to this doctrine, it is the energy or conditioning created by one life that is reborn into another, not a soul. "The person who dies here and is reborn elsewhere is neither the same person, nor another," Theravada scholar Walpola Rahula wrote. However, you don't have to "believe in" rebirth to be a Buddhist. Many Buddhists are agnostic on the matter of rebirth. (ThoughtCo, 2018).
There is always a supra mundane interpretation. For Instance, Mankadawala Sudassana Thero explained how three monks presented their views on the ‘ Middle Path . a) Matter is one extreme and Name is the other while Consciousness is the middle b) Happiness is one extreme and the Grief is the other while Equanimity is the middle, and c) Personality is one extreme and Cause for personality is the other where cessation of personality is in the middle (Sudassana, 2017). Lord Buddha clarified that everyone is correct but with the right understanding and given situation.
All teachings therefore connected to morality can be described as Mundane (Lokika) teachings while supramundane (Lokuttara) teachings deal with realization or enlightenment or in order words freedom from suffering. Needless to say, that Karajakä-ya- Sutta tends to be misunderstood by the seeker when it presents two versions under mundane (Lokiya) and ( Lokoththara) supra mundane levels.
For example, on a supramundane level, when Angulimala was in the stream towards Nibbana (for Arahantship), his mind would have been free from 'self-view' and therefore free from suffering. However, this mind would have probably experienced the results of past kamma in the form of painful feelings and residual defilements according to this Sutra.
Lord Buddha has played a great role of a counsellor offering ways for people to overcome suffering especially psychological suffering. The role of Lord Buddha as a counsellor or a great psychologist seems to have been misperceived by the present spiritual seekers when some teachings are very much mundane and suit the people for whom the discourse was given at that particular time. It is inappropriate to compare the situation to present day in which there is much transformation in societies in every aspect.
It may also be difficult sometimes to separate Mundane aspects from Supra Mundane due to the nature of the discourse where the immediate expectation is to pull the individual or audience out of a situation before the core message is communicated towards total freedom.
Obviously Mundane teachings can directly benefit the practitioner and those who are surrounding such practitioners while supra mundane teachings directly deal with transformation of seekers for enlightenment.
A good example is the Brahma Vihara or Brahma Vivarana thought in Buddhist Philosophy. They can be considered both mundane and supra mundane which can be measured to what extent one is able to cultivate and practice them.
In the language of the Buddha, these are Metta, Karuna, Mudita, and Upekkha (Accesstoinsight.org, 1994)commonly known as loving-kindness, compassion, appreciative joy, and equanimity respectively. They are also called qualities of Brahma which could be interpreted in different ways under Hindu philosophy too. The Mettä Sutta is the name used for two Buddhist discourses namely Karamyamettä Sutta and Mettänisamsa Sutta. In Theraväda Buddhism's Pali Canon, mettä is one of the four "divine abodes" (Pali: brahmavihära) recommended for cultivating interpersonal harmony and meditative concentration (see, for instance, kammatthäna). In later canonical works (such as the Cariyäpitaka), mettä is one of ten "perfections" (pärami) that facilitates the attainment of awakening (Bodhi) and is a prerequisite to attaining Buddhahood.
There is always a potential for human beings to abide in loving-kindness, compassion, appreciative joy, and equanimity as long as such human being are guided to do so. They are identified as inner wealth, more valuable than any outer faces of riches. To tap into this wealth Lord buddha presented these four Brahmaviharas. Love needs to be universal extend to everyone and every being. Although this is not easy, it is not impossible.
If one applies the four Brahma Vivarana to present day lives, one could clearly see the demarcation to which they can be divided into mundane and supra mundane practices. The extent to which they can be practiced will certainly determine as to where a true Buddhist stands in terms of spiritual practices. Both elements are reflected with the level of one could extend these qualities where there is much clarity through Buddhist philosophy.
The terminology ‘Mind’ using both spheres will show that there is not much of difference when describing the ‘ Mind where the researcher uses Mundane and supra Mundane aspects as described in this study.
Therefore, analyzing the ‘ Mind’ through logical explanation in both concepts is part of the study from the view point of Modern Non- dualists and Buddhist philosophers. Mind as explained in both philosophies, is a non-static, conglomeration or stream of thoughts that moves faster than a human could imagine and is instrumental in creating a person and a life story in this world. Each thought is conditioned by the previous thought or thoughts and the same thought is influenced by future expectations and situations whether they are positive or negative.
The mind- the forerunner in Mundane Sphere of Buddhist Philosophy, explained in Dhammapada reveals all mental phenomena have mind as their forerunner; they have mind as their chief; they are mind-made. If one speaks or acts with an evil mind, 'dukkha' follows him just as the wheel follows the hoofprint of the ox that draws the cart. (Tipitaka.net, n.d.)
This verse can be interpreted in two different ways using both philosophies. In mundane terms to prevent Bad Kammas and from Modern Non-duality, to show how the mind works. Either way it is not contradicting. According to Mundane teachings, there is some way of controlling the mind through meditation etc. This is true when humans embark on spiritual journeys where they tend to be away from the rush world. This helps settling of the mind.
The researcher through the experience wishes to state that life runs like a movie. Before the digital inventions, a film in a theatre cabin had thousands of stills or images. The movie unveils when the film is run through a projector. The moving of the images at constant speed creates the natural movements of humans. When the projector is stopped, each moment can be seen visibly from the images. Thoughts too said to be like that. They move so fast establishing the flow. Therefore, a life story at any given time can be seen as a combination of thoughts which is Mind driven.
Mind when identified as conglomeration of thoughts, some characteristics may be predominant while the others are dormant and that is depending on what you are thinking or the thought flow at a particular time based on the circumstances, be it a conversation with another, planning ahead for tomorrow’s work or spending a holiday. This is true in the description of Mundane life.
In mundane attempts to hold the mind from thoughts and bring back the mind on ‘ bring the mind back to where it was every time it runs away’, the question arises as to who does that?. Who is capable of bringing back to the serenity even for a short while? Is it a person it has to be awareness or consciousness which is either away from the thought or bigger than the thought or even the surrounding in which the thoughts can arise? That is the challenge before the meditator and this recognizes something about consciousness that non-duality concept is describing. This pat cannot be explained unless there is a need to enter Supra Mundane teachings.
Meanwhile, the medical professionals refer mind to the functions of the brain while others argue that there is energy in all the cells in the brain which connects the brain to the heart and outside world. This is precisely the difference between the Mundane and supra Mundane when the argument is brought as to whether the brain can function without rest of the organs and rest of the world.
There will be more and more findings by science in the existence of mankind which may or may not benefit the world. But humans do not have that time. Human life is fragile. They will either not get an opportunity for spiritual study or they may confront an early death which can happen in numerous ways hence the urgency for those who are curious about suffering and cause of suffering as well as way out of suffering. That is the reason why Lord Buddha preached ‘Appamado Amatha Padam’ (puredhamma.net, n.d.) stating that there is no time to study all these and it is also future according the Cüla-Mälupkya Sutta described elsewhere.
In Mundane teachings as per Buddhist philosophy, it is the karmic force that emerges from attachment and ignorance which one carries in one’s mind as part of the consciousness and nothing else. In non-dual study a story is modulated by the mind and one may stop the journey and come home which is formless, timeless and space less. Non- duality concept does not deal with Mundane life hence the need for Lord Buddha to take on day to day life living which does not contradict the Modern Non- duality by any means.
4.3.4 (ii) The Middle path
The nature of Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta Lord Buddha mentioned a Middle path from two extremes called self-mortification and self-indulgence. The reason being that the five ascetics with whom prince Sidhartha was practicing dhamma believed in rigorous practice of fasting in order to reach almost death to see such an endurance could bring light to the truth. When Lord Buddha gave up self-mortification, the five monks left him with the opinion that Buddha is not capable to continue with that endeavor.
The obvious reason for Lod Buddha to mention the middle path is to dispel the belief of the five monks that one has to go through a self-mortification as a practice towards attaining enlightenment. For this reason, Lord Buddha has prudently mentioned the middle path in order to be free without physical suffering or over indulgence in pleasures to be in the spiritual seeking. The same middle path is mentioned in Kachchanayagoththa Sutra for different reason which this paper will elaborate later. Specially where it expresses the middle path being the middle of existence and nonexistence.
4.3.4 ( iv) Path to Nibbäna
The Most significant aspect of Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta is the beginning of Aarya Ashtangika Magga or Noble eight-fold path with Samma ditti meaning right view at the beginning. If one does not have the right view, the rest is unlikely to follow. In other words, if what appears is an illusion, seeing through the illusion is imperative for rest of the factors to take place. It can be argued either way that Samma ditti is either Seeing through or a step towards right direction. Only an experiential realization could justify this.
In visuddhimahha by Ven, Budddhagosa, the path is also shown as Sila ( Virtues), Samä dhi ( concentration ) and Panna ( Wisdom). Vissudhimagga is path to purification and here again a path is shown. While this is very supportive to mundane life as for instance, it would be impossible for a spiritual seeker who is indulgent in violating the precepts to enter the sphere of study , practice or noticing. If this is not mentioned at any given time, there will be no possibility for anyone to have curiosity until something drastic happens in their lives to look for freedom from suffering.
4.3.4 (v) Paticca Samuppada
Volumes have been written on Paticca Samuppäda - Dependent Origination. The causal relations are given, and this cycle is less explained in mundane language. There is somewhat an affirmative factor and that is ‘ Avijjä’ or Ignorance which could be similar to Maya described in other Hindu based philosophies. The cause and effect relationship are well described through dependent origination. tion format which is the expectation from the Buddhist philosophy.
This shows that what appears to humans many not be the reality, but the mundane life may be described if the terminologies are described well. Whether understanding this through knowledge or wisdom remains a question in the current question.
However, it is somewhat difficult to explain dependent origination to mundane life. If something is causal, the effect is expected in this life which may not necessarily happen. The Karmic theory is generally brought in the describe cause and effect. However, this is with regard to action. Therefore, the dependent origination needs to be explained with interpretations while it is seeming somewhat clear when Supra mundane teachings are described through dependent origination where the artificial self-need not established as the dependent origination itself is the description of the creation of artificial self with thoughts, perceptions etc.
4.3.4 (vi) Thrilakshana viz Law of Impermanence (Anicca), unsatisfactoriness or suffering (Dukkha), non-self (Anattä)
These arise directly from Lokoththara Dhamma where they are not connected to material gains such as wealth, power, authority or publicity. At the same time Thrilakshana is perceived as areas that are pessimistic to day to day life with the notion that one has to ‘ given up’ things towards the path of Nibbana.
Anithya or Anicca - Anicca is a pali word with two combined words: "nicca" and the privative particle "a". "Nicca" which implies the idea of permanence. Anicca therefore means the absence of permanent nature which Lord Buddha has declared as a universal law that can be applied to all phenomena of the universe as well as our local sensual experiences. However, in Buddhist philosophy, Anithya is somewhat interpreted with a negative tone where most of the examples are given with the cases of death, illness, loss of power wealth etc. This has led many non- Buddhists to have a notion that Buddhism means to leave all mundane pleasure while Lord Buddha’s words in Anana Sutta where the pleasure are also given. However, those pleasure include ‘sharing of wealth’ hence the non-applicability of such teachings in real life.
The law of Impermanence therefore may offer an undesirable connotation but if that is true through experience, it is difficult to deny that truth whichever way it is viewed from. The changing nature of everything is vividly shown through simple experiences to major matters in the outside world.
Dukkha - The Law of Suffering is given a full account by lord Buddha where people go through suffering which arise through desire or craving. The power of the true nature of suffering was understood on the surface initially by Prince Sidhartha having simply seen that humans are subject to old age, sickness and death and also a human that seeks way out of suffering by way of a monk. Having seen Dukka to that extent ( not necessarily in the suffering of modern world with Stress, ancient, depression, worry, fear etc. ) made him leave all material pleasures that was visible in the near future as an emperor.
This brings us to the understanding that Buddhist philosophy presented suffering as one element that makes humans look for the true nature of existence rather than remaining unconscious being trapped within conflict, strife, and fear due to the brainwashed state of existence with hate, dishonesty, ignorance, and greed, be it individual or collective.
In Buddhist philosophy Dukka is the first of four noble truths as per the first discourse of Lord Buddha. It is not only a truth but also a strong signal for humans to go after freedom from suffering. In Dhammachakkapavaththana Sutra it is stated "Now this, monks, is the noble truth of stress: Birth is stressful, aging is stressful, death is stressful; sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair are stressful; association with the unbeloved is stressful, separation from the loved is stressful, not getting what is wanted is stressful. In short, the five clinging-aggregates are stressful. "And this, monks, is the noble truth of the origination of stress: the craving that makes for further becoming — accompanied by passion & delight, relishing now here & now there — i.e., craving for sensual pleasure, craving for becoming, craving for non-becoming (Access to Insight, 2013b). Therefore, whether one takes Dukka as a pessimistic view or not, dukkha remains a true nature and an integral part of life. In close analysis, one may interpret happiness, the opposite to dukkha is an intermittent absence of Dukka.
Suffering was placed by Lord Buddha as the primary reason to seek freedom through enlightenment and that was in fact the force which made him abandon all mundane pleasures in search of the remedy for suffering. Lord Buddha, as stated, had taken the difficult path to discover the truth but became a teacher to help thousands to realize the illusory world without much effort. There are, according to other scriptures, also many who have discovered this, sometimes all by themselves or with guidance. Buddhist philosophy spells out that there are Arahats and Pachchaka Buddhas who see this reality. Hence it is assumed that enlightenment brings suffering to an end.
Apart from inevitable suffering from old age, sicknesses to death as well as physical pain there are many other ways in which suffering is expressed in the modern world viz, distress, woe, sorrow, discomfort, fear, anger, worries, hatred, etc.
In reality, although many words are mentioned as elements of suffering, they do not encompass the true scope of suffering which explains human life from birth to death in which there are moments of absence of suffering which we may well be calling pleasure, joy and happiness. Suffering can be physical or psychological. It could be mild or intolerable. Pain is the word often used to denote suffering, but it does not embrace situations caused by anxiety, stress, depression, unpleasantness, distress, displeasure, and so on. Dukkha in Pali although represents suffering, has a wider meaning.
Nonetheless, it is needless to elaborate that all humans have their share of suffering one way or another which many people do not disclose due to social status specially in countries such as Sri Lanka. There is physical pain. There is emotional pain which people call physical and psychological suffering respectively. Those who understand suffering to some extent become spiritual seekers taking different paths initially based on their beliefs and understanding. All religions and philosophies based on spirituality appear to be helping people to come out of suffering and yet the human stories have vicissitudes that reflect suffering.
Physical suffering can be understood with sickness, disability, terminal illness etc. Physical suffering can be a good test to find out anyone’s ability to bear the pain. Some may suffer silently without displaying it while the others may not hesitate to cry pain out. The question arising as to the method to come out of physical suffering which is inevitable for instance, from sicknesses like Cancer, is there a way out of the physical pain? Gall Bladder, Kidney stones etc. There is no evidence directly presented that anyone has come out of such suffering through spirituality like what a pain killer medicines do. This is also opening a window for spiritual seeker whether true freedom is getting rid of physical pain or whether there is truly a sufferer who suffers.
Is the freedom from physical suffering is bringing birth to an end or seeing that no one is betting born?. While Modern non- dualists directly point out to ‘Emptiness’ , Buddhist Philosophy hints at the point with the definition of Nibbana being ‘ Unborn, Unconditioned, Unbecome!!.
A question may also arise how the physical suffering is experienced by an enlightened person. Is it that an enlightened person does not feel physical pain or there is a misperception in that version. End of suffering that is explained in both Buddhist philosophy and Modern Non-duality must have a common feature and the closest is the nonexistence of a person.
There are versions in scriptures that those who have developed ‘mind power’ can overcome physical suffering and that is not the subject that has been covered in this study. Nevertheless, it is important to elaborate the psychological aspect of physical suffering.
There is the version that an enlightened surrender to the physical suffering without having to suffer as a person while the people generally start resisting which makes the suffering more intense than the other. Surrendering to the physical pain without a thought that there is a person called ‘me suffering’ because of the pain, should make a deviation and that varies from person to person depending on how much suffering one has gone through before. This is an opportunity to see if one could transcend the thought that it is ‘Me’ who is suffering and that is the merit that needs to be explored and observed while considering that the pain itself is an experience without an experience.
The study suggests a position or an understanding that a situation is to be explored and physical pain needs to be confronted without the ‘ I ‘ thought where the Modern Non- duality will say only the consciousness will remain without the mind. Consciousness that operates in everyone is said to be the true being that will find the first best option to have a relief.
The consciousness according to Modern Non-duality or the true self without form, if allowed, would offer the human being the most appropriate option to any problem simply by taking on the issue in its true interpretation, like for instance, removing the psychological part of the physical pain or welcoming the pain as if there is no other alternative. If the pain eventually leads to inevitable death, the consciousness is said to be willingly enter its home because there is no sufferer to fight the suffering for an enlightened. However, the consciousness cannot be understood as to whether it is aliveness, energy or beingness unless it is described in Supra Mundane terms.
When a stray dog gets a stomach upset, it could be seen that it is chewing leaves of selected plants and vomiting while a dog in a luxury house would be taken for consultation with a veterinary surgeon and will get a series of medications. Both get cured at the end, perhaps the former gets the relief much faster because it knows the symptoms, nature of its illness and allows its own awareness to find a remedy.
This is not to mean doing nothing when it comes to physical pain. It only means according to modern Non- duality, if consciousness is allowed to be recognized and acknowledged, the understanding and response to physical suffering without the artificial ‘me’ would be different to the experience while the best possible remedy will emerge. One can test this all the time through experience.
The psychological suffering arises from many situations which needs no explanations. There is also reactive behavior similar to physical pain when getting hurt, angry, depressed, anxious and so on. It is easy to comprehend logically that psychological suffering is highly unnecessary as one needs no spiritual study to comprehend that. There is counseling by experts who could bring down such suffering of people by having a closer dialogue and offering alternative ways of thinking to get over the former. Lord Buddha did much counselling is a broader scale alleviating suffering of thousands.
Psychological suffering is therefore contingent upon how the mind is conditioned and the ego that has been established in one’s mind. When the ego is threatened, humiliated, ill-treated, neglected, ignored, suffering occurs if the situation cannot be corrected immediately. Suffering surfaces with bodily reactions too. When a family bereavement happens, the attachment to the deceased or the dependence on the deceased determines the degree of suffering because one tends to visualize the life without the person who is no more. This is painful but obvious enough for anyone to contemplate and get over the situation through rational reasoning.
Understanding of suffering, whether physical or psychological, is something that urges a person to go on a search for the truth in life because there has to be a way out of suffering in a broader sense. The cause of suffering can only be addressed by the search towards finding who you are and what you are and the outcome of that search.
The origin of suffering is inevitably attached to the human life and that surfaces during a life time when one is born as a human being. The end of suffering is lying beyond all this with the cessation of the birth of form and thereby the death of form.
When there are no more thoughts desirous to be carried forward, there will be no need to be born again and the consciousness cannot use that expression anymore continuously. The expression returns home and rejoins the unformed consciousness. Birth comes to an end and so will suffering with no more experiences of pleasures and pains leading to nothing but suffering. This may well be said as an assumption but there is logic to be probed into in this version.
Pleasure and pain are two sides of the same coin and yet people separate them and forget that one follows the other. Naturally there is a tendency to think that the pleasure which is on one side of the coin is the answer to the pain. Both philosophies point that this is a blunder that most people are making, and it is the very mistake that take people on the long journey.
The answer to suffering is ‘cessation of suffering’ as per Buddhist philosophy. It may not be pleasure or happiness. They are only ideas that emerge in the momentary absence of suffering. This cannot be a difficult formula to comprehend. People suffer for the fulfillment of mundane desires. When they are fulfilled, such desires arise again and again.
Then people suffer to retain what they possess which they believe bring pleasures or happiness to them. That includes power, wealth, comforts etc. Then they also suffer because of undesirable people or situations they want to disassociate with. In today life, people sometimes hate some others or organizations and avoid them for this reason. If for instance, law and order in a country is relaxed completely for a couple of hours, and people are given freedom to abide by ethics, will that resolve the social order. It may well be anarchy in many countries. On the other has some other countries that are not following any religion have low rate of crime due to ethical behavior of people. The intellectual dialogues are bringing ethics into society and that is ‘Aththänam Upaman Kathwä’ in Dhammapada i.e. compare yourself with another, although this was mentioned in terms of punishment and death.
In the light of that Buddhist Philosophy encompasses all aspects that make the world better if properly followed by people. Either way, the human beings tend to benefit whether they are interested in peaceful life or Spiritual seeking.
The realization that most of the events in life lead to suffering while the pleasures are mostly momentary or temporary is perhaps one’s biggest achievement in life. While Buddhist philosophy will trigger that investigation, the Non-dualists could mainly be represented by those who are seekers out of curiosity or investigation.
The desires are always to seek happiness and pleasures and suffering takes place when they are not met. The major causes of suffering directly relate to old age, sickness and finally death and whatever stems from the Law of Impermanence. The impermanent nature of all things and beings in the world causes suffering and it is only through realization of that the suffering comes to an end. That comes to people with wisdom and not with knowledge.
Therefore, there is perhaps opportunity in this life to find out what really causes suffering. What humans may find is a great revelation when one is allowed for a reasonable period of search without predetermined notions which is confirmed both in Non-duality and Buddhist philosophy.
The body itself suffers but probably not without the presence of mind as a Mind, according to Non-duality theory is a series or a stream of thoughts that appear and disappear while establishing and reestablishing a person connecting the past and future. The person that is created here does not exist in reality if the thought process collapses. If there is no person, there cannot be a sufferer as they say. What needs to be tried out is the position without the suffering as a person in mind, but the suffering will be there. This is very subtle understanding that goes begging to be discovered by seekers.
Some Non-dual teachers like Rupert Spira advocate consciousness that operates in stillness. If one could access the consciousness, the true self can be experienced and that has the power to redress suffering. This needs to be ascertained and understood because the remedy is mostly identified by theistic religions as God’s intervention. Indeed, and that depends on one’s own way of identifying, defining and accepting God.
In this search human beings could ask which pain, physical or psychological, is more intolerable?. There have been more suicides due to psychological or emotional pain as the physical pain seems to be finding a remedy somehow except for occasions of persisting pain that may lead to ending of a life as in the case of Nathan Gill who was a Non-dual teacher himself. As per Buddhism the impermanent nature of things, desires, aversions, attachments and clinging cause psychological suffering. Some end up with physical illnesses as a result. These defilements are closely associated with the ego which is the false self. The attachment is something to do with emotions and these emotions are parallel thoughts arising from the recollection of the past and anticipation of the future. Unless one has not tasted a bit of suffering whatsoever, which is almost impossible with the impermanent nature of everything in you and your surroundings, the suffering itself has the power to transcend the falsehood in which we live which may be reflecting in both the philosophies. The good news of suffering therefore, is that it drives people to seek freedom from suffering, specially the psychological pain.
Therefore, the answer to suffering is not necessarily the happiness or pleasure. Understanding that is crucial according to Non-dual teachings and that too is the position of Buddhist philosophy. People get dragged towards seeking happiness in mundane terms as a means to the end of suffering. Most people suffer because they need a comfortable life in future or continuation of present contented life. The money can bring the momentary pleasure but soon the desires exceed original needs and wants. Once a desire is fulfilled, another arises and that has to be fulfilled. Desires continue in both philosophies.
People generally like to be away from those who have caused them suffering. That thought itself is suffering. It may be interpreted as Vibhava Thanha as heard by the researcher in one of the sermons but generally presented as desire for nonexistence which is difficult to describe beyond that point.
If the past does not exist and there cannot be anyone who can be rejected on that basis. This is Metta in Buddhism where loving kindness is extended right around. The need to be in the present moment if necessary as psychological suffering arises from the past and future specially in the rejection of persons or situations which is also a desire that causes suffering.
It is needless to elaborate on the extent to which the world has gone to offer ways and means of gaining pleasures connected to the five senses. And the human addiction is reflected in various market activities which we call ‘economic drivers’, be they ethical or unethical, definitions that come into being through the legal and social system.
The way the suffering that some people have gone through in life to be successful beyond what they truly want in financial terms, not to mention the suffering that follows afterwards to protect what they already possess, it is certainly a point to mention the need where to stop and where to share and where to care. In such instances suffering is not conspicuous because of the explicit nature of luxury life styles which people have branded as successful living. On the other hand , the suffering of not so well to do people in society arise from the desires of becoming on par with the ones who are doing well or exceeding their positions. This is the paradox of suffering. Enlightenment appears beyond these positions but with the realization that success in life’ is a prejudice based on various desires in thoughts.
The need and the addiction are two different things. Needs and wants are often spoken in management. The management does not explain the suffering and instead it speaks of lack of motivation which results in loss of productivity and efficiency. If one starts calling the displeasure of employees as suffering, the management may begin to look at the management problems differently. Therefore, Suffering binds both philosophies specially to direct humans into spiritual seeking.
Anatta - Or No Self Concept - Undoubtedly the most powerful comment made by the Lord Buddha to five ascetics which is recorded as the second discourse of Lord Buddha.
Absence of a self-inherent nature (Anatta) is also called not-self. ‘ One reason is because in different religions and schools of psychotherapy and philosophy, as well as in everyday language, the word “self” is used in many ways. When people talk about “the self” without defining their terms, they may be unknowingly talking about different things’. (Insight Meditation Centre, 2002)
The same article elaborates this stating ‘ We must keep both these uses of atta in mind in understanding the Buddha’s teachings. On the one hand, he clearly did not accept any metaphysical definitions of “Self.” On the other hand, he emphasized the suffering that can come with clinging to anything as belonging to or defining “myself.” The Buddha’s path of practice leads to the ending of this clinging. The most common metaphysical “Self” against which the Buddha was arguing is implicitly defined in his Anatta Lakkhana Sutta, the Discourse on Anatta.
For something to be atta, according to this view, it needed three components. It had to have complete control over the body, feelings, thoughts, impulses, intentions, consciousness, or perceptions. It had to be permanent. And it had to be blissful. In this discourse, the Buddha makes it clear that nothing in our psycho-physical experience has these three qualities and is therefore fit to be regarded as an atta or self (ibid)
Anatta doctrine holds key for Buddhism to distinguish itself from other beliefs and religions. The argument that it is not ‘ No Self ‘ But ‘ No permanent self ‘ may also face criticism as no permeant self would also mean self thus accepting the self which has been identified as self-refuting.
The Lord Buddha explained in Anattä Sutta that a human being is no more than five aggregates (pancukkhandha) namely material aggregate (rüpakkhandha), feeling aggregate (vedanäkkhandha), perception aggregate (sannäkkhandha), and consciousness aggregate (vinnänakkhandha) and they all keep changing.
Another description is given in the website ‘Pure Dhamma’ by Lal Ariyaratna Pinnaduwage , a physicist and Senior Scientist at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. ‘ What really matters in the end is one comprehends, not words. The way different people interpret “no-self” could be different, even though the concept of a “self” is very clear.
If anatta means “no-self”, then there is nothing that can distinguish person A from person B. So, if A takes something belongs to B, he can say, “there is no “me” and there is no “you”; what is wrong in me using “your” stuff?”. If B believes in “noself” can he argue with A?. Similarly, there are many other contradictions: If there is “no-self”, (i) who attains Nibbana?, (ii) who does moral or immoral acts?, etc. Instead one needs to comprehend that “one is really helpless in this rebirth process” or “one is not in control over the long run”; that is the concept of anatta, as we discuss below.
Pinnaduwa apparently tries to explain the contradiction in Mundane terms assuming that there is free will and one’s ability to control. If Anattalakkhana Sutta is to be viewed from lokoththara point of view , the argument turns upside down because Anattälakkhana Sutta supports advaita theory of No self!!. (Pure Dhamma, n.d.)
About the moral ethics are other aspects brought in to dispel the doctrine of Anaththa as there will be no one responsible and the world will be in chaos is the laws , rules and regulations are not observed. This can’t be taken into Supra Mundane aspects except for the approach of Lord Buddha where such teachings have helped create better world.
There is another explanation by Thanissaro Bikku on Anattä which is trying to bridge the gap then and now. ‘ One of the first stumbling blocks that Westerners often encounter when they learn about Buddhism is the teaching on anatta, often translated as no-self. This teaching is a stumbling block for two reasons. First, the idea of there being no self doesn't fit well with other Buddhist teachings, such as the doctrine of kamma and rebirth: If there's no self, what experiences the results of kamma and takes rebirth? Second, it doesn't fit well with our own Judeo- Christian background, which assumes the existence of an eternal soul or self as a basic presupposition: If there's no self, what's the purpose of a spiritual life? (Access to Insight, 2013 c)
The same article says ‘ The Buddha divided all questions into four classes: those that deserve a categorical (straight yes or no) answer; those that deserve an analytical answer, defining and qualifying the terms of the question; those that deserve a counter-question, putting the ball back in the questioner's court; and those that deserve to be put aside. The last class of question consists of those that don't lead to the end of suffering and stress.
In this sense, the anatta teaching is not a doctrine of no-self, but a not-self strategy for shedding suffering by letting go of its cause, leading to the highest, undying happiness. At that point, questions of self, no-self, and not-self fall aside. Once there's the experience of such total freedom, where would there be any concern about what's experiencing it, or whether or not it's a self?(Ibid)
In the article written by Katie Javanaud to the Internet Magazine ‘ Philosophy Now’ it described with several quotes of scholars that ‘ It is necessary firstly to understand the Buddhist distinction between ‘persons ’ and ‘the self’, which is legitimised by differentiating between conventional and ultimate truths: “A statement is conventionally true if and only if it is acceptable to common sense and consistently leads to successful practice... A statement is ultimately true if and only if it corresponds to the facts and neither asserts nor presupposes the existence of any conceptual fictions. ’’(Mark Siderits, Buddhism as Philosophy, 2007) (Philosophy now, 2013)
The article continues ‘Buddhists argue that it is only conventionally, not ultimately, true that we are persons: that is, our conception of ourselves as persons does not correspond with reality. As it says in the Mahayana-Sutralankara, “A person should be mentioned as existing only in designation... but not in reality [or substance, dravya]. " Buddhists say that we consider ourselves persons because, through experience, we learn that we are constituted of five skandhas or aspects: body (rupa), feelings (vedana), perceptions (samjna), volitions (samskaras), and consciousness (vijnana). But the word ‘person ’ becomes merely a convenient designator for the fiction we accept when we believe that a ‘person’ is something over and above these component parts. Buddhists therefore accept what Buddhism scholar Mark Siderits calls a ‘mereological reductionism ’ about persons: they claim that the parts exist, but the supposed whole does not.
Notwithstanding all these views, the Anatta doctrine holds key for Buddhism to distinguish itself from other beliefs and religions. The argument that it is not ‘ No Self ‘ But ‘ No permanent self ‘ is facing criticism as no permeant self would also mean self thus accepting the self which has been identified as self-refuting.
Turn to oneself or look at oneself is the most powerful indicator or pointer shown both in Buddhist Philosophy and Modern Non- duality concept. The only difference being that there are many who advocate what the Lord Buddha has taught was ‘ not permanent self’ while the Non- dualists directly point out that the self is a mind construct which continuously create and recreate the person through the thought process.
The direct message is that ‘ I’ or ‘ Me’ is said to be an illusion. Both philosophies one way or another challenge the investigator to find the experiencer unless the experiencer itself is another thought which appears and disappears every moment. One effective example is to take a closer look at the body which cannot be identified as a self. The body consists of trillions of cells and each cell is alive and is functioning probably hundreds of thousand moments a day.
The body shape changes. That is the biological effect. It changes on its own. Body does not need a functioner for instance for breathing, blood circulation, immunity etc. It is illusory to assume that body has a governor called mind. Similarly, the thoughts are also not chosen. They arise and pass away. It is a constant moving which is advocated in both philosophies. According to Non-dualists, mind will prevent humans from seeking support from the original beingness. That is said to be why it is difficult to identify the mind and how it operates unless one needs to swim upstream by doing away with all conditioned beliefs and opinions about separate self. In creative thinking there are two ways to follow. Think opposite or think differently. The seekers are expected to discover something.
The body mind combination operates on its own with the thoughts to establish the separate self. If one faces a life-threatening situation, the body reacts and attempts to get out of that situation. It happens even before mind comes into the picture to say that there is a person trying to avoid a situation.
That is the intelligence that body carries with consciousness. If one accidently places finger on the flame of a candle, he will pull the finger back instantly. That is the co-ordination between the body, the brain and consciousness. Mind is not apparently there. It is busy trying to keep one in the trap making one believe to be a separate from others and everything else.
Medical Professionals differ in the opinion whether the brain is also the mind. That is not important in this study because this is not an exercise to directly analyze the human anatomy or what the human organs do. One aspect that needs to be understood is that humans are yet to know the nature of total mechanism of existence. There are discoveries every day and yet thousands of things are yet to be explored and discovered by science.
All scientific inventions were not known until they were discovered. How many more things that science will invent in the years to come? These revelations have done wonders to mankind except for a few that have become destructive. Science has not prevented aging and death. Science cannot predict one’s life hundred percent accurately in the future because future is just a mirage. Science cannot show anyone that that there is no person as a self nor can it prove that there is no birth or death but only a transition of a set of thoughts through ignorance. If there is a possibility that there are no conditioning thoughts, there is nothing to continue.
Self-image is established by the mind to make humans believe that it is a person. This is one’s own illusion playing to gain experience. Self-image is an idea which tells humans who they are. But is there a way to witness of all these. ‘You’ then is essentially the consciousness or awareness as suggested by Non-dualists. One guru preferred calling awareness ‘Awaring’ because awareness also gives a connotation of a thing. This can witness all what one does, own suffering, own pleasures in life. So ‘who’ could witness and this leads to the question - Who am I?
This is the most important question that may open one’s heart to enlightenment - The discovery that is indicated in both philosophies. Can the humans have the option of being the witness or the ego. Mind appears to be the creator of self and ego and it is the ego that is the illusory part of this life. It is the ego that tells a human ‘you are your mind and body’.
This may not be true according to both philosophies. One can be without the thoughts for a while but with consciousness which will be powered by memory and future goals. But the other way around where a person can view the present from the past or future. Probably the space between the thoughts as advocated by nondualists without making a deliberate effort which is also an attempt of a seeker. If it is a natural moment, there has to be an explanation that how could one reach that natural moment without the guidance. That guidance whether is a natural or deliberate moment is explained in Buddhist philosophy through mundane teachings. In supra mundane terms , even the mundane teachings may be part of the dream, but it is not important for the seeker who is genuinely seeking to be away from suffering. The non-dual teachers might say ‘ Let it happen naturally and allow awareness to be the witness like being a passenger of a car and not the driver. Trust the driver and enjoy the ride’ but that needs to be communicated only when the seeker is ready which is explained in Mahayana Dhamma stating that when the student is ready the teacher will appear.
In case there is no one other than the mind and body, who is there watching the person? Is it form or not form? Suppose there is no form, then there cannot be form either in the other person or in the world. There is no self-according to Non - dualists. If there is no self because the mind is not permanent, and body is not permanent, then who realizes the truth?
It is therefore said not to be a goal to be reached or objective to be achieved, nor a mission to be accomplished. Nevertheless, there is a need to be out of suffering. At least psychological suffering. When one is quiet, the whole universe is said to be cooperating and the right effort will emerge to discover the stillness in the humans without the experience of the senses. This revelation will occur spontaneously or gradually, and the Gurus differ in that too. While some say the ‘seeing ‘ will occur at once or it will never occur gradually. The other use the word ‘ effort and then seeing through. This is the purpose of the study to ascertain why Buddhist philosophy emphasizes on mundane teaching with disciplines as the excessive thinking will prevent humans from having any understanding that is contrary to human beliefs.
Once the researcher managed to take a photograph of a lake along the western route of Norway with absolute stillness with no waves on water whatsoever. Within minutes the still water which reflected a mirror image of the mountains on the other side, got caught to the winds and started producing waves. Waves so caused by the wind in the lake are also the water of the lake. A separate identity given to the wave has made it an entity which separates from the lake, but it is the same water of the lake. The waves rise and fall, and they are not constant. The lake is what is constant which makes the waves of different heights and momentum.
This example says life is also a wave driven by the mind. The life, like the lake can be the consciousness as per some non-duals. The wave, once merges into the water, becomes still unless it needs to rise again as a wave. Similarly, life may be continuing as waves and the life need not continue if it is not necessary. It will cease to exist by merging with overall consciousness which has no form. What is not form cannot be described by the language. It is however certain that the formless cannot cause suffering.
Similarly, when the rain falls, people call it rain. The rain has to fall, and it is not an entity and yet we call it rain. It is water and finally joins the water streams, rivers and then the ocean. The life too can be a process and humans call it is a self with a unique identity or a self-travelling along a time line. Simple examples like these should help people to investigate life and existence for realization by seeing through oneself.
In Modern Nonduality , Who am I ? is the question that needs to be asked constantly without getting attached to the meaning of the language as per teachings from both philosophies. Inside self it is a search than a question. One might say that this is impossible in a rush world that modern people live in. This is true to some extent, if people are over engrossed in the self and nurturing of the self with sensual pleasures or otherwise.
Such an inquiry can fully remain in whatever the working state that a person is if there is a sufficient degree of alertness. While people are engaged in a tedious task, concentration has to be focused and that is really an example as to how mind becomes a useful tool, if it does not drift between the past and future unless it is relevant. This is similar to those who are in adventure type professions; Para Jumpers, Mountain Climbers etc., where there is an advantage of having a focused mind or being in the present moment.
There is a test of English words being produced with only the first and last letters with accuracy while the middle letters are jumbled. One can still read this at a considerable pace and here the mind is used as a useful instrument to assist day to day after its alignment with the conscious presence. The overall awareness may emerge at some point of time, provided there is a search within you. Therefore, having to live in the rat race is no excuse for the need to find the true nature of oneself if there is an inclination towards such finding. This is conditioning which establishes the ways and means in which a person expresses opinions.
Is it the alertness in a greater sense?. This is to be explored through meditation. That is sometimes more advantageous, one would say, than trying to find free moments for the simple reason that mind tends to govern such silent moments in which case people tend to be trapped easily. While this is true in mundane levels it is not quite true for non-dualists as there is no one to be alert. Non-duals suggest something beyond knowledge and even awareness in many literatures.
When the self looks at self closer, the whole world be found within of course with cognition, feelings, and perceptions. Perceptions are knowledge based but they can be true only in mundane terms such as performing a surgery. However, that becomes a story if the event is not taken in totality. In another reality one will find oneself in everything that one observes outside, conceptually and materially. People need the environment to live and that must be very much the same person from which the person cannot be detached from. We, according to both philosophies interpret the whole world through the mind and therefore the concept that ‘ the world is you’ is overshadowed. . It is not really out there and what tells the people that the world is out there is the mind, constantly influenced by the five senses.
Peace is said to come within and the need for the self-inquiry is the fundamental driver to discovering the true nature of life and that knowledge cannot come to humans from an outside object. The continuous search with openness without arriving at conclusions may bring them enlightenment which would be the end of suffering.
Turning attention to oneself is an indicator in both philosophies which hardly contradict each other. This may be a good practical aspect for those who are into spiritual seeking.
According to Rocco A. Astore in the website Inquiries Journal- Theravada Buddhists, one can achieve the serenity of Nirvana, or liberation from the agonizing effects of desire, by dedication to the abandonment of the distractions of life. In order to do so, the Buddha recommends that one should discipline their mind and body. This is because the results of practicing self-discipline can help to lead one to conquer themselves and come to know the everlasting bliss and contentment that are characteristics of the state of Nirvana. To quell various forms of desire, and the suffering they produce, one should apply temperance to all they do. As the Buddha instructs, one who is temperate and does not enjoy excess is closer to Nirvana because by not being overly attached to the world, one gains genuine insight into its underlying nature. (Inquiriesjourrnal.com, 2016)
As stated in Udääna 80-81 in Kuddaka Nikäya in Sutta Pitaka - Nibbäna Sutra describes ‘ There is the unborn, uncreated, unformed, unoriginated, and therefore there is an escape from the born, created, formed, originated. If it were not for the unborn, uncreated, unformed, unoriginated, there would be no escape from the born, created, formed, originated, but because there is the unborn, uncreated, unformed, unoriginated, there is an escape, there is liberation from the born, created, formed, originated (Great Western Vehicle, 2005)
Ajahn Sumedho describes this further stating that ‘ this puts it in terms of the unborn and the born, the uncreated and the created, the unoriginated and the originated. These are words, yes, but the born, the formed, the originated, these are sankhara, mental formations, aren't they?
What we see, hear, smell, taste, touch, think, feel, the four elements - the earth, fire, eater and wind elements - the thoughts, the memories, the feelings - pleasant, painful, neutral feeling - the physical body, in fact all experience, the whole universe, is the created, the born, the formed, the originated. So that means everything, everything you can think of, imagine, feel, experience ...but there is the escape, there is liberation from the born the created, the originated. There is the unborn. So then reflect on what is the unborn, unformed, uncreated, unoriginated."
This places an average person into a difficulty to understand the nature of nirvana. May be one may interpret it as Unborn and therefore undying. Unless it is a supra mundane phrase, it would be difficult for average lay seeker to grasp this and this is probably why it is stated that Buddhist philosophy is not for everyone but for genuine seekers of freedom.
The above are analytical thoughts emanating from the study without prejudice to be explored for those who intend continuing research on these aspects further. The researchers wish to mention specifically that these are versions for further explorations and not presented as conclusions.
4.3.6 Analysis of the linkage of Buddhist Messages to Modern Non-Duality
4.3.6 (i) Mundane Vs Supra Mundane Teachings
There is a serious lack in Modern Non-duality in the mundane teachings where it distinguishes good from bad. Buddhist philosophy advocates five precepts deriving from various teachings of lord Buddha for laymen. Lord Buddha also mentioned Brahma Vihara which could be practiced if one makes up mind like giving up smoking of drinking alcohol. To that extent the non-dualist would face criticism as the world turns with actions that are founded through good and bad.
The moral conduct has been codified throughout the history of Buddhism until to date to the extent that any discourse begins with the oath taken from the people that five precepts will be observed.
The number of precepts for the monks may increase and may even run into the hundreds in some sectors. These five precepts are very direct, and the reasons have common rationale. Observation of such precepts will prevent individuals and societies becoming corrupt. Having said that however, we have seen that in practical sense, the precepts are violated due to socio economic reasons specially countries like Sri Lanka. There is heavy criticism faced by Buddhist quarters due to the violations of precepts, some of which are obvious namely consumption of liquor etc. The same socio culture shaped by Buddhist philosophy had contributed to agricultural economy during the times of kings where Sri Lanka is said to have been self-sufficient in rice and other agricultural crops apart from having a rich indigenous medical system which includes surgeries.
There is another point in mundane teachings where in most instances, some kind of tranquility is needed for a spiritual seeker to proceed in a rush world. There are records however that instant realization has occurred for those who have gone through intense suffering and they may well be Pachchaka Buddhas in Buddhist teachings. Modern nonduality does not seem to be advocating the need for tranquility from the rush world except from some retreats such as Monte Sahaja in Portugal and plum Village in France.
As said before, in the case of Brahma Vihara, there is a strong mundane aspect such as metta which can be converted to a universal love if one practices this. Ability to extend universal and unconditional love is a lokottara character which emanates from extra ordinary people and to achieve such a unique position one may get the idea from mundane teachings.
Mind has been analyzed in-depth in this study. It is one aspect that is detailed out in both philosophies - The Mind which is compared to a dream in Supra Mundane sphere from Modern Non-Duality perspective of the mind is to ascertain to find the exact mechanism of the mind which reveals that the mind has a primary function and that is to keep instituting the ‘false self and take that self on a journey which we call the ‘story of me’.
Non- Dualists are very direct in this, but each spiritual leader offers description of Mind differently. One common thread of the Non -dualists is that they commonly agree that there is nothing called free will. And that is the key message which is also touched by Buddhist philosophy when considering No self and Everything is one Concepts emerge from Anatta Lakkana sutra and Rohitassa sutra.
As per Non-dualists , mind seems to be working surreptitiously and cleverly to the extent that it can trick even the meditators making them believe that they can control the mind!. It is for this reason Buddhist philosophy advocates meditation, and there two main types of meditation viz Samatha (settling the mind or tranquilizing the mind ) and Vippassna ( insight meditation).
The danger seems to be that Vipassana is generally practiced with the notion that the practitioner gets into an idea that there is something to be known. This is a fallacy in Modern Non- duality. This is not a fallacy in Mundane teachings of Buddhist Philosophy as the what is happening may well be the search and that is the search of the Mind. And therefore, they do not appear to be contradictory.
In Supra Mundane teachings, they are close to Non- duality where mind detaches a person from original being and gets one to believe as a separate human operating on his own as per non-dual studies . The teachings of Lord Buddha describe self as ‘Naca so Naca Anna’ - the person who gets born is neither the same person or different person. From Non-duality point of view, it is compared to the dream where the illusory next life may well be related or non-related.
Most of the spiritual seekers who have tried meditation on tranquility are reported to have said that it is hard to keep or hold the mind in one place as it runs all over. This supports Non- duality teachings as they admit that mind cannot be controlled as the thoughts are not chosen by a chooser. If one analyses ‘Na Tumhäka Sutta’, the teaching can be applied that nothing belongs to the person.
Non- Dualist repeatedly confirms that there is nothing called time and space originally advocated by Advaita. This could be explained if the life can be compared to a dream where the dreamer who is in the dream has no control over what is happening. However, in Mundane terms dream is not real because it is not consistent while life has consistency.
If time and space are mind created, there cannot be any evidence that the world is appearing outside the self. Lord Buddha who was the first to discover the illusion of self and the world said ‘We are what we think. All that we are, arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts, we make the world’. Here ‘What we think’ is referred to the thinking as well as thoughts and that can well be the culprit called ‘Mind’.
Both Spheres agree to an example that when humans are children, they may have stared at the rainbow and wondered of its colours, enjoyed dancing in the rain while the parents were screaming, chased a butterfly to get a glimpse of its magic, imitated the birds singing, watched the beauty of the sky with stars on a clear day, patiently waited for a plant to grow as an amusement of nature.
As adults, most of the humans do not see them anymore because todays human beings in modern world have more intricate things in life to deal with and they are mind created problems. People are yearning to acquire the next sophisticated model of the mobile or iPad, learn all what is happening around the world to be prominent at the next meeting with peers or worry about the future of children instead of allowing their true being to interact with the world as grownups.
This is a reverse process that the Non- duals explain towards freedom. In other words, the self and the world that the mind has created bring people away from the reality of existence thus losing the natural happiness in them and embarrassing suffering.
Trying to control or tame the mind according to Non- dual studies is an unwise attempt. Many spiritual seekers fail in this exercise and later give up the practice too. Mind is smart when it operates on its own. It will find a way to fool a self all the time and will not accept defeat. Eckhart Tolle explains this while advising to be conscious and see how the mind operates through thoughts. And Buddhist Philosophy gives mind a pride of place. Mind is said to be conglomeration of thoughts.
This study in a way shows that one needs to be the observer and it is only the awareness which tells people if they are alive, that can watch the functions of the mind. The study urges to see if there is a place between thoughts in which one will find stillness in the present moment and that is the conscious awareness in which the mind functions.
As per non- dualists when the mind must live in the past or future, it creates the false ‘I’. Mind cannot survive in the present moment except for uniting with the consciousness and acting as an instrument and not as a self within a human body. The present moment or the ‘now’ belongs to the consciousness which is the unaffected, untouched being that has no form. Every other aspect like the body and thoughts are forms. The beingness, liveliness are not forms. That is the dilemma in describing the ‘unformed’ through a language.
As per non- dualists, why the dream is presented as an example of mind is because dream has all non-dual characteristics. The dream sometimes could be totally unrelated. It is not directly connected to an experience in one’s life story or not linked to any anticipation of a future event. Something in a dream which the dreamer may not have been ‘dreamt’ of happening. One wonders how such a dream could be experienced.
The work of the mind in this life is also compared to a dream while sleeping and the mind interprets the story of the event being experienced in the dream. Psychology may offer some explanations which may or may not be useful unless some analysis is made to compare dreams with the real life or what we call the waking state.
As in the case of a dream, the non-dualists question arises as to whether isn’t this similar to what the mind does in this life too? and that is the creation of the real life in the guise of waking state. The waking state which is considered normal life, takes over our day to day experience where dreams become less important as they have not happened literally. Normal life is not considered or compared to a dream for obvious reason.
Non- dualist Richard Sylvester explains the mind stating that realization is ‘ waking into the dream’ So there is no self that wakes up in a dream. Everyone is part of the dream which is the function of the Mind. . For that one is expected to do away with concepts and opinions for a while or at least a moment to look at life afresh and see how things appear . This is according to modern non-dualism, one way of coming out of the dream and experiencing the true nature of life without being pushed around by the mind, the culprit that tricks humans into the illusion to experience human life with pleasures and pains and will continue to make them believe as separate entities in the real life.
The mind driven or ‘dream like’ life story is a powerful indicator in non-duality where a dream can be compared to the ‘ real life’ because the characteristics of a dream can be found in real life too. However, in Buddhist teachings imply the ‘illusion’ and the dream example is not seen put forward by scholars due to the refusal to accept ‘ Nothingness’ which is somewhat advocated in Mahayana.
Non-dualists like Rupert Spira explains that there is nothing that is experienced in a deep sleep. Every faculty in humans is functioning but there is no need to feel any of those because the body and mind are resting. Mind which is always active is not apparent in the deep sleep. In other words, mind can also have spells of silence allowing the consciousness or aliveness to emerge and align itself with the universe which may be taking control of the body for a while. At the time of spending more than 5-6 hours in the deep sleep it may not possible to identify one self .
The example of a deep sleep is given to project that there is liveliness in the body without the mind and given the five senses and their effects, can the body act without the influence of the mind in day to day life and how would the life look like then?
This is an example of how a human could shut down the mind with longer spells and still exist with body movements. Can this be done while being awake? Is the test that is posed to spiritual seekers by non-dualists.
4.3.6 (ii) The Middle path
The middle path from the point of view of Modern non-duality is necessary to keep an open mind. Therefore, the middle path is supportive for modern non-duality teachings in order that no specific notion has to be grasped which lord Buddha tried to explain through silence. Or in a way it is not this or that.
Modern Non-duality may mislead when the teachers emphasize that there is nothing which is closer to Uchchedaw äda. However Modern Nonduality teachers are careful also to also it is everything and nothing so that they get the advantage of getting the followers to be in the middle path for this realization. The Modern Non-Dualists do not advocate the followers to get into any extreme. There is only a discussion, website, a book or a video clip would be their mode of communication there are no practices advocated. However, that would not make the world better without words of statements. Although supra mundane teachings do not encompass any extreme, the middle path is well accepted in Modern Non -duality.
From the Non-dual perspective, it is necessary for seeking initially and with the recognition the seeking falls away. They also mean that seeking falls away not because of the seeking as non-dualism explains that life is a movement in totality. This means the seeking too is part of the totality which supports speakers like Tony parsons and Richard Sylvester that there is no doer. Therefor no one can claim to have made an effort to be enlightened.
4.3.6 (iii) Path to Nibbäna
In this instance, from the view point of non-duality teachers, no path is advocated as it implies that there is a person following a path on a time line. There may be a possibility that Dhammachakka Pawaththana Sutra may not be contradicting the version of nonduality that there is no path and path is the Nirvana. From the view point of Lord Budddha, there is a need to make a perfect person so that Samma Ditti , even if it meant having seen the true nature of life can transform a person into a virtuous human. On the other hand, modern nonduals may point out that once the truth is seen, everything else will fall into place as no value or importance will be given to elements that are considered important in mundane levels.
While Nirvana makes a person free from the sanasaric journey, the Lokoththara Dhamma explains the it is ‘Unconditioned, Unborn and Uncreated. If this is applied to Modern Nondualists, the language cannot describe Nirvana and a seeker too cannot describe Nirvana as explained in the field research where at least one-person says’ I cannot explaine anything I have experienced’.
4.3.6 (iv) Paticca Samuppäda
Paticca Samuppäda - Dependent Origination, a detailed analysis of cause and effect theory which would open up a seeker to contemplate on how things happen in a supra mundane term. It is also noted that understanding dependent origination through knowledge is not possible as there is no evidence to relate it to a particular situation specifically. Buddha’s analysis may well be a seeker to understand that it is more deep and subtle although realization of the true nature of life is contingent on predominant characteristics of the person.
This is on the other hand directly supportive of non-duality as it begins with ‘ Ignorance’ and when ignorance collapses others are unlikely to arise whether they are separately identified as mind body combination or mind itself.
In mundane level, the cause and effect theory fit in perfectly so that the world order can be maintained. There is always a cause for an effect meaning that, for instance, law and order can be maintained in countries.
In supra mundane teachings, dependent origination is the process of establishment of person until the perceived person ends up in suffering. Lord Buddha saw this and worked backward until the main cause for suffering was found which was ignorance.
4.3.6 (v) Thrilakshana viz Law of Impermanence (Anithya ), Suffering ( Dukka) and Anatta ( No Self )
Anithya or Anicca -
The law of impermanence is interpreted by Darryl Baily as ‘Changing’ or ‘Movement’ and nothing is static. He says however that there has to be a deeper understanding of this ‘Movement’. The theme of most of Baily’s talks revolves around the nature of impermanence and he asserts that realization of the nature of existence that keeps changing will set the humans free from the bondage of their individual stories. In Buddhism, everything is limited to a time duration and everything means all connected to matter, sensation, perception and emotions. Consequently, all these are liable to disappear.
Whether, it is described in ancient time through Buddhist Philosophy or through Non- dual teachers such as Darryl Baily, the reality of the Law of Impermanence prevails. What seems to be apparent is the language with which this truth is presented to the world and the readiness of the audience to such a message.
The much-needed aspect for the truth seekers is to realize this true nature experientially rather than knowledge. It is for this reason that human being behaves in a particular manner with the assumption that self is in a way static and that selftravels permanently. Understanding the real true nature of ‘ Change ‘ could possibly make a human to be proactive in making decisions with the realization that ‘ this moment’ is also changing.
The law of Impermanence, although gives a negative connotation in this part of the world, it gives a positive message to seekers from developed countries where they open their minds up to realities where life and existence is a changing phenomenon. The preparedness to this phenomenon certainly makes a person to accept or surrender to the ‘change’ which is beyond a control of the person which is otherwise believed in knowledge gathering.
Dukka - The Law of Suffering is given a full account by Eckhart Tolle with full credit to Lord Buddha stating that pain or suffering arises through desire or craving. He elaborates all craving and clinging are mind seeking salvation or fulfilment specially in external things looking into the future for the joy of being.
Tolle had identified as one strong non-dual teachers who is supporting Dukka as a truth. He wrote in his books citing Dukka or Suffering or Un-satisfactoriness as inseparable from its opposite. Meaning that happiness and Un-happiness are one and only the illusion of TIME that separates them. However, this cannot be understood in language as the time is universally acceptable in life and existence.
Francis Lucille, through his video ‘ Investigate truth of the thought’ presents that suffering is a manifestation or a signal calling the humans to look for the truth and have the true understanding of Dukka that lord Buddha realized even prior to the great renunciation.
Steven Gray who became Adyashanti - Sanskrit word rf^: meaning "primordial peace"; who offers non- dual talks and online study courses as well as retreats has to say in his own website that ‘ by clinging to the mind in the form of memory and thought, we are held captive by the movement of our conditioned thinking and imagination, all the while believing that we are perfectly rational and sane. We therefore continue to justify the reality of what causes us, as well as others, immeasurable amounts of pain and suffering.
He further states on Sorrow (Adyashanti, 2015) . Adyashanti asserts that sooner or later human beings experience tragic nature of life meaning suffering. It can come to us through illness, the death of a loved one, losing a job, an unexpected accident, having your heart broken etc. His version is that that these tragic spells are experienced in the span of our lives. He was inspired by Lord Buddha to understand this tragic quality of life and that most people look for various ways and means to escape from this tragic quality of life and finally reach inevitable death.
According to Adyashanti it takes great courage to face the totality of life without withdrawing from it or trying to protect ourselves from it and Lord Buddha being a counsellor helped masses from psychological suffering throughout.
It goes without saying that apart from offering Lord Buddha the due place for discovering the true nature of suffering, Adyashanti says that there is no escape other than realizing the true nature and embody this life-changing realization.
Adyashanti takes a different position to Tony Parsons as he brings out mundane aspects in life to describes reasons for suffering. He says that all what humans go through are signals for humans to look at their being-ness when he says ‘ Deep down we all suspect that something is very wrong with the way we perceive life, but we try very, very hard not to notice it ‘.
The general expression of non-dual teachers is that the sense of separate self is inherently having a lack of something whether it is wealth, publicity, power or material gains. That makes the separate self a seeker in everything that he or she is longing to achieve in a life time. The seeking , whatever it may be, has the same connotation because the seeker believes that something that is in the future needs to be got.
Anattä — In modern non-duality, the main pointer used in no self or no person. In the versions of non- duality teachers, they are not too much interested in elaborating whether no self or not self. For them it means the same. In order to support this all the non-dual teachers, bring many other pointers to support that there is no individual separate self.
One is the factor of free will which is somewhat backed by neuroscientists that there is a question of ‘Free will’, If this is true, the no self-concept surfaces predominantly. The totality that everything is one is similar to saying that there is nothing meaning that ascertaining the existence of a separate self is fallacious.
The scholars such as tony parsons, Naho Owada, Richard Sylvester make a direct reference to no self-stating that there is no doer. All there is simply doing. Doer is a mind construct. Rupert Spira, Mooji and Adyashanti also confirms no self but rather in an elaborative version thus taking the posture of Lord Buddha where so self is tone down for the simple reason that it is the person who embarks on seeking at the beginning. Even if that is called something that happens there is still a seeker for them to use a language. This is where the most critical point occurs in the acceptance of no self when putting a message across.
Non- duality does not touch on the Ego which is quite mundane hence the Buddhist teachings that can be applied directly to people. There are perhaps thousands of identifications that make one unique in the society. It is the perception of oneself as well as one’s idea of others’ perception on you that makes the ego at any given time. That ego may change over a period with reinforcing or diminishing thoughts and conditioning towards various directions.
The ego starts with the name, home town, family status, school, university, profession, belongings, what positions being held currently, how much power being carried over subordinates etc. All these constructs one’s total ego prevalent at any given time which is of course subject to change.
Ego includes pride, self-esteem, rejection of certain individuals and situations etc. If one analyzes carefully, many things are almost contingent upon one’s ego although people hardly notice that. It is because the mind has swallowed or overshadowed the overall consciousness which has the ability to show that the ego is not the real self.
On the other that non-duals directly reject the self being ego as the belief of self is said to be illusory. This is mentioned that there is a possibility for readers to mix up with Ego to Self. Ego sounds quite mundane while self directly falls into supra mundane sphere where Buddhist philosophy allows the message to resonate in persons in the right position or drifted to the right place. The Zen saying ‘ teacher appears when the student is ready’ is easily applied in supra mundane teaching s and modern non-duality.
Once again the researcher reserves the right to mention that these are analytical views not to be taken as conclusions but only emanating from the study without prejudice. They are to be explored for those who intend continuing research on these aspects further.
5.1 Findings of the Study
5.1.1 Supportive and Rejective Elements - The magnitude of supportive elements as per analysis is far too greater between the Non-dual concept and Buddhist Philosophy although the scale is the closest a researcher can apply for comparison and contrast. The finding reveals that Modern Non-dual teachings compliment supra mundane teachings of Buddhism thus justifying the reasons why the Non-dual Teachers give due credit to Lord Buddha. The rejective elements emanate from the Buddhist Mundane teachings hence they are not in direct conflict.
It appears that many Europeans are benefitting from Lokoththara Dhamma or supra mundane teachings with the understanding through meditative practices which include discussions and meditation. In Sri Lanka there is more towards conveying a sermon and the audience listens with somewhat lack of a discussion. There is an opportunity lost as the preaching would surface as a tradition. What is emphasized is that without bringing Mundane and Supra Mundane the difficulty to compare and contrast will also be prevalent.
It is crucial to understand that Supra Mundane Teachings may open up the seekers to open an investigation within the seeker rather than offering direct answers. Most of the early Buddhist teachings chosen for this study have this feature where it allows the seeker to go into interpretations of the core messages on his own which may not be understood through conventional means or through knowledge.
If the knowledge is helpful in understanding dhamma, one has to bring in the argument that all professionally qualified persons have the potential of understanding dhamma and enter stream of virtuous life.
5.1.2 Language Barrier - In the ‘Mechanics of Buddhism’ of Tilak Marapona, there is a detailed discussion about the thought process which one may assume to be possible understanding only with meditation. If there is no such understanding, there would be a conclusion that either what is explained has some issue or the meditation technique is wrong. With due respect to the writer, an investigator from developed country may raise the question ‘ is this the experience of the writer through meditation?.
The language is said to be a mind product to express viewpoints and the opinions differ and change from time to time. Those who are in various professions have to use different terminologies to describe the areas to function. This language, such as a ICT personnel or a medical specialist cannot be understood by a layman.
However, life and existence embrace everyone, all beings. Realization of the truth may or may not arise from the language. The simple observation of the of the surroundings may reveal how the nature operates on it owns like breathing that happens inside a human body without a doer.
Therefore, the test that was done in the field research shows that there is considerable difference in the understanding of the basic concepts of Buddhist philosophy although the researcher is not solely depending on the versions of the respondents on the findings which would otherwise be argued that the respondents should have been given more time to explain.
Nevertheless, language is quite a barrier in the understanding of both Modern Non-duality principles and Supra Mundane aspects of Buddhist Philosophy including the messages from Anattalakkhana Sutta, Rohitassa Sutta, Bähiya Sutta, Cüla-Mäluqkya Sutta, Ananda Sutta etc.
The understanding of Buddhist mundane teachings is straight forward when describing good and bad. The laws have been developed in modern world is based on good and bad through intellectual discussion. Such laws are mostly revolving around Aththanam upaman kathwa ,meaning, compare with self before taking an action. Although this was said with regard to punishment and death, the same principle can be applied to all situations where laws have been established to maintain social order.
The language barrier was tested in the core teaching of Buddhist Philosophy. While there is common understanding of these core concepts, the explanation somewhat differs from a given situation when asked for a short answer from the respondents. The short answer is judged from the way Lord Buddha appeared to have responded to some of those questioned him on various matters where Lord Buddha had given a pointer like the key points he spelt out to Bähiya, Patachcara and Angulimala.
In this study it was shown, and Lord Buddha had several approaches when answering questions. It is obvious when answers require from Lokoththara sphere and if the person is not ready. Lord Buddha had been silent because a mundane seeker will never grasp the Lokoththara language as the intention is to find something for the ‘ self ‘.
Language is also called duality by the Modern non-dualists. Language has been developed for the understanding through knowledge and knowledge is said to be subject oriented and the true nature of life is mentioned as beyond all subject knowledge. It is called ‘Yatha Buutha Gnana’ in Buddhist philosophy while the Modern Non-dualists call the ‘ Recognition by no one’. Modern Non-duality rejects subject object reality which is the same description given in Rohitassa Sutta.
5.1.3 Findings on the Research questions
This has been the main purpose of the study where the findings effectively address the research questions.
5.1.3 (i) Statement of Bhikkhu Bodhi that ‘ One of the most challenging issues facing Theravada Buddhism in recent years has been the encounter between classical Theravada vipassana meditation and the "non-dualistic" does not arise as Buddhist Philosophy has gone beyond the Non- duality concept in making a better world with mundane teachings. Buddhist philosophy does not challenge any concepts of Modern Non-duality as most of the indicators are appearing in early Buddhist discourses described in this study. It is obviously the lack of understanding about the existence of the division between the mundane and supra mundane that leads to this statemrnt.
There is an apparent misunderstanding on Bikku Bodhi’ s statement due to not allowing from which aspects the comparison and contrast had been made viz Mundane and Supra Mundane spheres. There are separate discourses where the supra mundane aspects have embraced the Non- duality pointes specially considering the two periods in which the philosophies had come into human use.
The statement of Sam Harris in Thought.com "The wisdom of the Buddha is currently trapped within the religion of Buddhism,". is also another reason why Bikku Bodhi may have made this statement that Theravada Vipassana faces the challenges posed by the Modern Non-duality?. Religeon is essentially a belief and buddhist philosophy and modern non duality are not resting on beleifs.
The Dilemma is that the Buddhist philosophy deals with both Mundane and Supra Mundane aspects while the Modern Non-duality links the teaching to Supra Mundane and Lokoththara Dhamma. This is a key finding in this study and therefore it would unwise anyone to compare Buddhist mundane teachings to modern nonduality messages which need to be viewed from Lokoththara or supra mundane perspective.
It was evident that Modern non-dual teachings only revolve around supra mudane teachings of Buddhist teachings that the knowledge cannot grasp, and the western world is becoming more receptive to such contradictions to normal human model explanation as long as there is some logical understanding beyond language. Meanwhile there is no evidence of mundane level teachings which this study has identified as a gap in Modern Non-dual teachings.
In addition to the findings of this research where many variables are described as a to the comparison and contrast of the two concepts, there is also the ‘Mind’ that is described in Buddhist Philosophy and Modern Non-duality needs to be stated to justify the position with regard to mundane and supra mundane elements.
5.1.3 (ii) The pointers of Modern Non-dual Teachers beyond ‘ Not two’ theory of Advaita have been described and analyzed in this study adequately while showing that some indicators are covered in early Buddhist discourses. The pointers are necessary as the language which is a byproduct of the mind driven life hence its inability to describe the perspectives different to human model. The example is the identification of Shakespeare that the world of a stage ofa drama. We may even use a magic show for this purpose.
The consciousness described in Non-duality is in which mind thrives probably helps discover this truth. Humans cannot see this if they consider themselves as persons engrossed in the ego and actors in the magic show or the drama. Consciousness is not form and cannot be seen according to Non-duals. It can only be felt by the heart as mentioned in many places. Here comes the language of the heart which may be understood through Brahma vihara.
Non-dualists call the mind to be the lens through which humans see. It is also the lens which interprets data gathered from the five senses. The whole world operates in one’s consciousness and the mind act as a by-product and that includes one’s body according to the concept being investigated. That is where everything happens, and people tend to believe that the world is out there while a person is here. This is a fallacy that keeps us struggling in this world, be it existence, survival, or self-development which needs to be discovered.
Humans are entitled to any revelation of this nature such as a mind game if the entire existence of the show takes place within mind in the background of the consciousness. The five senses make the person believe that it is happening out there and the separation of people and material. The five senses are the tools of the with which mind seems to be fooling the people all the time. One cannot however transcend the power of the five senses unless there is drifting towards to truth which needs to be elaborated through this study.
The five senses in the present moment give the effect for human to be a human without allowing him to interpret the data collected from the signals of the five senses. The interpretation involves past experiences and anticipation of future through thought processes with a story in the mind which keeps getting conditioned from time to time. In the present moment, the whole world and the surrounding disappear, not physically, but as a notion. Everything becomes one.
Without thoughts, there will be no play of the world in the same way it does. As shown in the study the separation or some call it duality exists as forms and concepts. The mind interprets them, and the body reacts. If one were to see the world without thoughts, it would be a world without divisions. What humans may experience otherwise is an illusion. How would humans be without thoughts then?
Both philosophies demand the answer to the question ‘who you are’ which is primarily advocated in Non-Dual Concept and Buddhist Philosophy. Is there a person in you? is a common question in both philosophy. Humans have a decaying body and a mind which changes like a flash bringing various concepts into one’s life from time to time.
If people imagine, that they have no more concepts and opinions about the world, people and things. In that situation what would be the world like?
People need not change in behavior drastically. But only realization would be different. And then one may see the real world and perhaps he could start laughing at what is happening around and what people speak through what they call ‘Language’.
The above analysis leads us to the four types of people who realize the truth. According to Bhante Ethkadawala Saddhajeewa, three of these could comprehend the truth - Some will realize suddenly ( as per some of the Non-dual teachers such as Ekhart Tolle), Some with the help of explanations from others, Some with further explications and use of analogies, and the fourth type who will not understand because of not having spiritual foundation. Lod Buddha’s example was the lotus flower in this regard (Saddhajeewa, 2016).
And at the end the realization cannot be compared to the knowledge as an illusory self cannot dispel an illusion. The common example sighted by Jim Newman is the question ‘ how often you believe that ‘ Santa Clause’ is not true. The finding suggest strongly that it is not knowledge and it is not the brain that understand the message that life is illusory. That said, the study also reveals that the pointers in both philosophies suggest that a message which may reverberate that could be identified as ‘Resonance’ which is neither understanding or knowledge.
5.1.3 (iii) What relieves suffering then and now - Lord Buddha had played a great counsellor role during the four-decade service to mankind to bring them out of suffering. That counselling service brought immense relief to people as most of the suffering is caused by attachment and Lord buddha showed that how nonclinging to material gains can help people.
However, this should not be taken as a pessimistic message as Lord Buddha has also described pleasures in life like the relief of having wealth to share and not being indebted to anyone through the teachings in Aththi Suka, Anana Suka etc. Therefore, to say suffering is caused by attachment and clinging gives immediate relief to the ones who understand that attachment beyond necessary can cause suffering. It may be unrealistic to present a philosophical position that there is no one to suffer even if that is the true nature of life. In that sense, given that suffering is a noble truth, Lord Buddha’s role is quite justifiable where people accept the Maya as the real life.
On the other hand, the modern world had produced people with basic needs which have been fulfilled with luxury living with technology. However, the suffering had continued despite technical advancements of science. For that reason, many intellectuals specially in developed world had realized that there is another way to look at life and existence hence the seeking from Modern Non-dual teachers. It would be quite unwise for Buddhist philosophy to teach them what is good and bad which they had established through social and intellectual dialogue.
The good and bad are reflected in their governing systems which the people abide by to the letter. There is no need therefore to explain the right and wrong which they are accustomed to. Allowing the pedestrians to cross the road, not throwing garbage, having pension systems and elders’ homes to look after the positioners etc. emerge from the mundane teachings. The corruption and malpractices are less visible in these countries and simplicity of life is practiced like a religion in these countries. Thus, they alleviate suffering from the life style.
However, they understand that as per modern Modern Non-duality, the suffering becomes inevitable because it supports the idea that the entire world is seen as a drama - People are actors as per Shakespeare. Modern Non-Dualists advocate that seekers should attempt see it from outside without being the actor or actress. If one considers the drama as an ‘example’ of how life goes on, all one sees is the drama as an observer while playing a part in the drama in which case suffering occurs.
Most people say, ‘we are very fortunate not to experience suffering like others’ and this is not really true. If they mean wealth and power, they go through more suffering with the uncertainty of retaining them indefinitely or looking for recognition that the money cannot bring. Like celebrities who must retain their stardom, sometimes at a cost of a fortune with enormous day to day mental stress.
According to Jeff Foster, waves of the sea with waves as life experiences while the sea remains unchanged. Mind seems to govern the day with flashes of thoughts and people suffer with the slavery to the mind.
Can the awareness be submerged by mind activities or the sense of separate self or even the ego? That is all that matters to most human beings and they hardly take the time to see how the self-functions driven by the commands of the mind as per the non-dualistic studies. Mind is so fast that it is not controllable either as per the notion of - no free will. But the mind activities can be watched as per non-duals in self-analysis, and this could be subtle attempt. One cannot possibly do it by being in the false ‘I’ which is also the mind construct. This is where humans may get confused. The ‘conditioned I’ has to see ‘the unaffected I’ and that may well be the reason for Lord Buddha to be silent in most cases as the language cannot provide precise answers.
This may also explain the difference between concentration and meditation. In concentration seekers try to hold the mind deliberately with the sheer determination to have the concentration on one object. The idea is to let go off thoughts when they arise and hold the mind in the blank. The failure in this language guided exercise is resulting from the creation of an immediate ‘I’ that has to do all this job in the meditation. Mind may slowly and cleverly become that ‘I’ too according to Non dual studies.
As per non-dualists, suffering arises from the life drama that has to be seen in its true perspective hence the need to focus the meditation without having a futuristic goal and thereby one is expected to observe and observe only. In other words, it is the consciousness or awareness in one self which can observe the thoughts, how they arise and take one to different psychological levels that are conditioned by the past and future. That is how one could see this drama and not otherwise. If not, a human will continue to be the actor on stage with endless suffering.
The actor seems to have a role. The role is influenced and driven by the desires, attachments, goals, ambitions, love, anger, etc. and that version is supported by Buddhist Philosophy. That role is a continuation of the characteristics which the actor has acquired from the person who played the same role for mere continuation of the drama. This does not affect the spectator who has no desire to play a role on the stage.
A person is said to be unable to see the self because the self is illusory living with suffering. The non dualists point out that everything that is around the self is also self. In which case the whole world had to be self which is reinforced by Rohitassa Sutta in which the person is also in the drama playing the role of with sensations, emotions, memories and expectations. If there is a possibility for one to come out of this drama and see how the drama takes plays by simply being the seer, the illusory nature of the mind telling a person that the person is inside the body can be seen logically.
There is a life story that belongs to everyone specially the ones who are educated and are holding positions. Family, relatives, friends, job, house, enemies are all in this drama which is full of suffering. That is the closest circle. Then the country, the world, the sun and the moon all that is in the drama. Every moment the human gets knew knowledge, it gets added on to the drama as an appearance which creates the next moment. Each individual tends to separate the rest ‘my world’ forgetting that it is a drama according to non-dualists where suffering becomes an integral part of life story.
This way Lord Buddha has tactfully handled people based on their predominant characteristics. People could probably can get enthralled with laughter if the event they are able to see the drama as they are mere actors but tin reality, actor is the illusory and the only reality of the seer. Is that the reality that needs to be discovered by spiritual seekers.
As in the case of a dream, drama also continues. According to Buddhist philosophy, it is the same drama that continues after death when the unfulfilled desires seek another body through which the same characteristics could emerge dormant after being quiet for a while. That is called ‘Karma’ in Buddhism and Hinduism while in Non-duality the drama may continue without real people. In whatever way the suffering continues for two reasons.
Inevitable happenings in life, old age, sicknesses and death. Then comes the psychological suffering which is described as stress, anxiety, anger, hatred, worry, depression, restlessness. The entire life is plagued with suffering even if that is not what the humans want to project outside.
Sometimes it is difficult to imagine to be out of the life drama or life story. The mind wouldn’t let humans do that as much as possible. If, however one is able to drop the ego to some extent, most of the attachments will also fall and one may begin to see the drama collapsing with its parts without a proper story being narrated. If it collapses at once, that could be perhaps identified as enlightenment as described by the sample chosen in the study because suffering will be accepted as an inevitable and attachment may also drop to a greater extent.
If it collapses part by part, Buddhist philosophy explains it as stages towards Nibbana. When the story start collapsing, there is a possibility for humans to be free while being comfortable as the void is filled by conscious awareness which emanates love, compassion, altruistic joy and equanimity that will make a person enlightened eventually but not with the psychological time factor if compared with Non-dualists.
This is also one example that tells spiritual seekers what the mind looks for, based on the previous experience. Is is perhaps like in a deep sleep. Emptiness in mind. One may have a glimpse of freedom before the thought process which causes suffering. When one wakes up from a deep sleep, the same person could be identified as a free man for a while, may be for a few seconds. This could be the glimpse of bliss that needs to be experienced. Then begins the show with the senses making a kind of magic to happen.
There is no more bliss that is seen with the pause between thoughts and that is only for a moment though. In the waking state the human wears the coat, the coat of selfidentification fueled by ego and the magic show continues thereafter between the person and the world out there which the non-duals call ‘duality’.
The external world that we see does not seem to be truly external as per Rohitassa Sutta. Only the five senses and the mind seem to do that trick to make it a real show. There is a simile that reads as taking a walk in the morning or evening walk, and then closing the eyes for a few seconds and then the ears and to experience what happens while continuing the walk.
That little experience may be an ideal clue. The body doesn’t know that it is walking. There are no feelings about the place where the walking takes place. There is silence. Only the vibration will be felt which is not sufficient to say that legs are walking. There is some serenity at that time but that cannot be held onto because of the blind walk.
Lord Buddha is quoted as saying ‘ your feet are felt as feet only when they touch the ground’. This quote has been questioned in some literature saying it is not a quote of Lord Buddha. . This is how the experience takes place as a magic. The feet on their own are nothing, but need the ground to even feel, leave alone the walk!. The magic requires so many components and material to be staged to fool the audience. This can be applied to suffering.
Similarly, is there may be a possibility to close the activities of the five senses without physically halting them? In other words, confine the senses to a particular activity without forming ideas, concepts and opinions around them. Seeing, Hearing, Touching, Smelling and Tasting one needs to be with that moment without forming ideas and opinions.
Bähiya Sutta explains ‘if you see something, you have only seen that’ , and same with other senses’. But that is not what really happens with the mind. The coordination of the senses is interpreted by the mind to create the story and the story continues. This advocates a way out of suffering when there is no interpretation on what is experienced through five senses.
The whole world is said to be a mind driven thought as per non-duals or a series of thoughts. Stream of thoughts. Thousands of thoughts occurring in a flash with each one conditioned by the previous thought or anticipation of situations positive or negative. In reality they say, ‘you, me, the world we live in, are not what we think we are’. What humans perceive as most human beings, is therefore an illusion: Interpretation of one’s mind. The self exists only in the mind and so is the entire interpreted world. The suffering is an integral part of the mind according to Dhamma Pada.
Life and Existence seem obvious and it is hard to prove that nothing exists. Everything seems real although there is only an experience except for the function of the mind. The body is blameless. It does not even know where it is, except that mind tells where it is. The biggest magic trick here is that one cannot see the mind and how it operates.
Part of the mind may well be the brain, but it is not important. Psychologists’ view that brain cells are in contact with energy that cannot be seen like the electricity or sound frequencies. In general, the people refuse to believe that what is seen outside is a projection in the mind. That is the cause for the misunderstanding and suffering. It is a function of mind through the thoughts or stream of thoughts. The whole world is in one’s mind with the information fed by the five senses which goes without much argument as per studies in both areas.
A human sees a beautiful flower blooming in the morning reacting to the sunlight. What one sees is a form with colors and that is acknowledged by the consciousness but interpreted by the mind calling it a name and its background. The flower is a beautiful creation, no matter from which tree it has popped out. The flower has natural instinct to enjoy the beauty of the flower but is interpreted in so many ways with likes and dislikes based on the previous conditioning of the mind. It seems that humans are lost in this magic show which over shadows the natural happiness in around human beings.
Similar experience is illustrated with the full moon with its beauty. But today humans with knowledge might look for the sun to see how the sunlight is reflected by the moon. The beauty is overshadowed by the knowledge. Stars make the sky spectacular and humans try to differentiate stars from planets which emanate the light constantly unlike the star that is flickering. That is the end of enjoying the viewing of stars in the sky. Besides people hardly look at stars nowadays except for the ones who are studying astronomy.
Again, if one sits in a children’s park he could see how the little children play with joy. The attention will naturally go to their own child or grandchild and one tends to enjoy his movements most. In reality the movements of all children in the park are beautiful but the minds separate them from others.
Meanwhile there is a marked difference between some Non-dual teachers and the others. The popularity for Mooji, Adyashanti and Gangaji is far too higher than Tony Parsons, Richard Sylvester and Jim Newman. The reson appears to be resting on the the level of teachings where the former touches on mundane aspects with somewhat a flavor of counselling while the latter directly speaks spirituality with no attention individual life stories.
In comparison with the tone of the language and the voice of these popular non duality there is a popular element that is visible in their communication. This way there is some relief that is offered to the masses rather than directly addressing versions such as ‘ Give up’ etc. This is subtle but needs to be understood by the counsellors how they could mix spirituality with mundane counselling.
5.1.4 Finding on the Conceptualization
5.1.4 (i) The finding reveals that there are no major conflicts between the Buddhist Philosophy and Modern Non-dual teachings when looking at analysis while it is also noted that the modern language and the language in which Buddhist philosophy spells out teachings may differ due to time gap of over 2500 years. Nevertheless, the comparisons go down well in the understanding of the concepts which no not seem to be contradicting in the supra mundane sphere of Buddhist philosophy. The Modern Non- duality theory has expanded in the recent years for several reasons.
The world has matured and begins to realize that there is another way of seeing through life and existence specially for those who are looking for inner peace and happiness.
The emergence of spiritual leaders in the West communicates in a better language with more examples.
That communiction fits into modern world with current psychological problems after having gained material benefits.
The rediness to accept radical versions from spiritual Gurus is vital as people are showing the willingness to given up their beliefs which do not have any evidence. This is more prevailaint in the western countries than the countries where the philosophies had originated from.
The early Buddhist teachings interpreted in Buddhist countries denote something pessimistic specially in the concept of ‘detachment’ due to which there is reluctance on the part of westerners to embrace Buddhist teachings emanating from Buddhist countries. For instance , in a meditation centre where the researcher conducts the sessions for tourists, there are paintings of old age, patient, deadbody and a monk deriving from what Prince Sidhartha had observed. While this is stated in the autobiography of Price Sidartha, such painting could offer somewhat pessimism to foreing audiences.
The reasons given in this study validate the presentation of early Buddhist teachings in a modernized language seems acceptable hence the non-validation to the idea that there are differences between the messages. It is only a question of how Dhamma is presented to various audiences in a manner that the messages could strike them.
The conflict does not arise as long as the supra mundane teachings are compared with the non-dual pointers. Modern Nonduality does not elaborate any of the mundane teachings which have become somewhat irrelevant due to the modern human rights being understood at international level. What is right and wrong had been taken strongly through intellectual dialogue at international fora where laws and regulations have come into place through legal systems and international conventions.
9.4.2 While the Modern Nondualists advocate the nature of life being illusory, the mundane lives too need healing and the emergence of Lord Buddha is a rare occurrence even if one attributes to the physical world to be illusory. The study supports the conceptualization of Buddhist mundane teachings which can be applied even in modern days with the bridging theory of reveberation or striking. Lord Buddha could not relate the true message of ‘Nonexistence of self to every one whom he met. Most of the people then and now are not willing to investigate the no self-concept. Even if they do with curiosity, the attempt is somewhat futile because illusory ‘I’ cannot dispel the ‘ I’. which is the biggest trap into which the humans are caught up with their respective stories.
9.4.3 Language as tested in real life for this study reveals to be weak in describing concepts such as No self , Everything is one etc. The reason being the language is developed to explain the human model based on the knowledge that is gathered by a human from the day of birth. Anything that is beyond the mind construct cannot be expressed by the language which Lord Buddha himself has taken on board when preaching Dhamma with similes. The similes are called pointers in the modern non -duality hence the agreement that language is a barrier.
Apart from the language being mined driven, the language is developed to describe a story and knowledge and the truth described in Modern Non-Duality and the Supra Mundane teachings cannot be spelt out by the language as there is a greater tendency for people to misunderstand due to the language itself being dualistic. Nevertheless, it is only the language that is available to communicate with examples and perhaps there is a greater tendency for an individual to realize the true nature of things such as Pachchaka Buddha. An observation of the nature may be equally useful for the understanding of true nature of life only if such observation reverberates within humans like observing how a flower blooms on its own when there is no doer.
5.1.4 (ii). The final assumption of the conceptualization is to differentiate the knowledge and wisdom and this study emphasizes that the findings must be understood by even nonintellectuals. In Buddhist philosophy there are Pachchaka Buddhas who are said to have seen the truth but unable to describe because it is connected to wisdom and not knowledge. If the argument is brought to compare knowledge to realization, the argument crashes when the understanding of both philosophies is posed to the modern intellectuals and their life styles in the light of desires and attachments.
There are many examples that are given in both Modern No dualistic studies and supra mundane teachings which can be presented to any person without much of an explanation. This seems to be the case with Patachara, Sopaka, Suneetha, Kujjuththra, Punna, Rajjumala, Kisagothami and so on. There is certainly a possibility for someone to recognized the true nature as well as a person with little knowledge to grasp a few words from Lord Buddha and Modern Non-dualists.
The knowledge on the other hand can even mislead the true nature of life as the knowledge creates perceptions of individuals where the world and life can be explained from individual point of view.
5.1.5 Findings on the Objectives of the Study
1.1.5 (i) The study has done a comprehensive comparison and contrast Modern Non- Duality with early Buddhist discourses with a view to finding a bridging theory which has been established through this study for the gaps identified throughout the analysis.
The intention of the study is not only the comparison and contrast but also to move beyond to critical analysis so that the Modern Non-duality can be studied further should such a need arises particularly with its popularity while the followers of the religions apparently finding away although they may be having the religion in their birth certificate. Quoting why people are abandoning religions Holly Welker says ‘ But religion is not the only institution able to provide those things. As people create new communities and traditions, some feel stunted and restricted by religious teachings that contradict modern metaphysical and ethical ideals. Others are frustrated by repetitive services that bear no relationship to their actual lives when they crave meaningful intellectual stimulation or simply resent being bored’. (Support the Guargian, 2017)
Therefore, this study goes beyond comparison and contrast with analytical explanations in order to find a bringing theory if there are similarities between Modern Non-dual pointers the early Buddhist discourses which are categorized into supra mundane teachings and wherever the gaps are found through the analysis. .
5.1.5. (ii) The study also described in-depth analysis of the pointers in the non duality concept to grasp various interpretations. Analysis of such interpretations also enabled to arrive at the findings of the data so gathered. Such analysis of pointers was necessary to find gaps and to see if there are contradictions. This study however found very little contradictions and gaps among non- duality pointers provided they are analyzed from supra mundane sphere. It is difficult to interpret them in a mundane human model hence the difficulty in understand through knowledge.
A clear demarcation has to be made between Mundane and Supra Mundane teachings for the interest of spiritual seekers specially those who are inquiring about Buddhist philosophy in search of their quest to find true nature of life and existence. The study reveals that non dual pointers are somewhat linked to supra mundabe teachings for further analysis and this study offers that stepping stone with a view to moving the Budddhist philosophy to beyond the present status in countries where Theravada traditions have been preserved as to the fact that many pointers have already been stated in scriptures..
5.1.5. (iii) The study discloses that the attraction of modern non-duality is mainly for the people of developed countries where the laws and ethics have come into being through intellectual dialogue taking into account the primary teaching of Buddha to compare another before doing anything. Their realization that finding inner peace requires another way of looking at life hence they reach out to Modern Non-dualists who handle the language more eloquently although Buddhist Philosophy has not got the opportunity with representatives travelling around the world. The way the Buddhist philosophy is presented through traditions has not been condusive to spreading of Dhamma across the world.
In countries like Sri Lanka, the need has arisen, more than ever in the first place that the traditions seem to have overshadowed what needs to be communicated in mundane terms. The crime rate, unethical practices have increased in such a way that Buddhist philosophy in spite of the teachings being mundane focused. The reason being perhaps the over emphasis on politics and governance than what is good and bad for the people. While countries like Sri Lanka are struggling to come on par with other developed nations in terms of virtues such as simplicity, honesty etc., Sri Lanka’s ability to convey supra mundane teachings fall back even further. This is placing Sri Lanka in a difficulty unless some actions are taken to study why more and more spiritual seekers are drawn to modern non-dual teachings where the pointers communicated could be found in Buddhist discourses.
The researchers conference paper on ‘ Sri Lanka’s ability to attract spiritual tourists - A Conceptual View’ describes the findings as follows.
The Buddhist Philosophy advocates a) Mundane and b) Supra Mundane teachings. Mundane teachings expect a better, just world respecting each other with main four Brahma Viharas viz a) Loving Kindness b) Compassion, c) Altruistic Joy and Equanimity. (Rahula, 2017) - reproduced from Ven theros book ‘What the Buddha Taught’.
The supra Mundane teaching is expected to lead spiritual seeker on a path to Nibbana - the supreme happiness. The core messages of Buddhist literature in Supra Mundane are emanating from the a) Four Noble Truth b Noble eightfold path c Path of Purification and d) Realization of Anithya (Law of Impermanence, Dukka (Suffering) andAnaththa (No self-concept).
Greater confusion occurs when the same Vissudhi Magga on the one hand describes a path to Nibbana while it states “Suffering exists, but no sufferer can be found. Actions exist, but no doer of actions is there. Nirvana exists, but no one who enters it. The Path exists, but no traveler can be seen.” (Visuddimagga, n.d.)
5.1.5 (iv) The core messages of both teachings are not conflicting and instead the study brings them out in a manner as to the understanding of why the meanings must be the same.
The bridging theory need to be established to connect the gap of ‘ both spheres of teachings. On the other hand, the Non-duality concept cannot be presented to the average masses who are mostly seekers of inner peace for their mundane lives. At the same time the Supra Mundane teachings need to be presented in a positive manner to attract communities into the understanding of Buddhist teachings.
The bridging theory needs to connect the gap between the two concepts particularly in the understanding, meaning that it will help resolving as to what is presented through both spheres. The Contrast becomes narrower when such a bridging is adapted as explained later in the study.
5.1.5. (v) The study also went into the findings of Neuro scientists on free will which supports modern Non-dual concept to some extent. This is not directly denied in Buddhist Philosophy through the Sutras chosen but the bridging theory reasons out the possibility of interpretation from mundane and supra mundane levels.
Neuro Scientists experiments have not been pursued as it does not establish anything beneficial to mankind in mundane lives. A discovery of a new diagnosis or medicine would have directly helped the society or even a new technique of a surgery etc. Neuroscientists findings appeared to be illogical to present world, but the indications present something that supports Modern Nonduality and in certain cases, Buddhist messages too. No conclusion can be arrived, but the science is likely to make more discoveries should the Modern Non-duality becomes more prominent and popular in the future.
5.1.5 (vi) The researcher took into account that the realization by the personalities then such as Patachara, Sopaka, Suneetha, Kujjuththra, Punna, Rajjumala, Kisagothami would mean the wisdom over knowledge and the wisdom could grasp something simple which the mind may not able to catch hold of with the conditioning. The word ‘ wisdom’ needs to be coupled with a supportive theme that this study has come up with.
There seems to be a massive barrier when knowledge becomes a preventive factor. Researcher took into account perhaps the reason why Lord Buddha has not advocated the writing of Dhamma which came into being after centuries. This is not to undermine the subsequent writing but there is always the tendency for readers to understand the Dhamma from the intellectual point of view where the tendency is to accept that the knowledge can grasp, and the word realization also reflects somewhat a realization by someone or person.
Wisdom for instance can be understood with a faction of striking as long as something happens to the individual. What exactly happens is the question that this study is trying to address. If it is knowledge, then there is a notion that becomes obvious that one has to study literature. The argument is that some appeared to have grasped during the times of Lord Buddha who were not supposed to be intellectuals. In the case of Modern Non- duals, they claim the recognition or realization occurred at a time when no such occurrences were expected. The description of their realization is said to be very ordinary with the unification of I with the rest of the surrounding or detachment of separation which they call Oneness.
5.2 Emergence of New Knowledge -
Buddhist Philosophy deals with Mundane aspects effectively and act as a great counselling for which priority was given during Lord Buddha’s time. Such counselling which encompasses most parts of Buddhist teachings is not found in Modern Non-duality as most of the people whom they address are those who are spiritual seekers after having gone through suffering in life either in early stages or latter stages or by simple curiosity. There is no purpose in trying to teach virtues among such people as such personalities in whose countries the laws are implemented understanding the effects on another. (Aththanm Upaman Kathwa - Compare yourself to another - Dhammapada).
At the same time the Modern Non-dualists give due credit to Lord Buddha because they had found the places where Lord Buddha had mentioned the true nature of existence in some discourses which this study has taken into account. We will also note that Lord Buddha was somewhat discouraged to spell out the discovery of the truth with the notion that no one will understand the finding if that was freely spelt out. There were many occasions Lord Buddha was silent without answering specially to Bahiya where lord buddha has finally given a few pointers.
The language of heart is to be found within oneself according to both philosophies. It cannot be easily communicated as there is no written form of that language. Why was the language of the heart not written down for people to understand? It is impossible because the inventors of the language of the mind had to see the movements of the lips and the tone of the sounds to make the language for mankind to communicate. Language of the heart essentially rests on loving kindness, compassion, altruistic joy and equanimity. They are clearly spelt out in Buddhist teachings.
The language of heart produces only warmth with the said four basic altruistic messages with or without emotions and only the broad headlines of these messages can be written down as Metta , Karuna, Muditha and Upeksha Brahmaviharas in Buddhist philosophy.
All these signals of the heart do not belong to the concept of self. They revolve around the notion that ‘we all are one’. These qualities have to be extended to all beings unconditionally. That is the language of the heart for enlightenment which most of the spiritual teachers are trying to help their disciples with emotions, depression, anxiety, hatred also occur with the involvement of the heart, but they are merely reactions to thoughts, not what is originating from the heart. It is appropriate to mention here that often people saying ‘my heart started melting when I saw the suffering of these people ‘, ‘condition of the patient ‘or anything similar. Why was that term used unless it has originated from a true feeling of the heart?
Why do people sometimes place hands on the chest when they are either grieved or relieved? Where does the love emanate from? Head or the heart? Isn’t it timely that people in this part of the world, Anattalakkhana Sutta specially the seekers asked themselves ‘ who we are? as taught by the Anthatha Lakkana Sutra. The fear that no self-theory can alleviate responsibility is not acceptable as this is merely a supra mundane position. Life stories continue and there will be no effect on the life story except the possibility that no major value will be attached by the seeker after seeing the reality which will have no adverse effect on the society.
Anatta is like asking a person or a mirror to explain the three dimension it produces through reflections. If one stands in front of a mirror, what is seen is exactly the same person and his surroundings. The truth is that the mirror produces the real world on a flat surface. The flat surface does not have a depth which the mirror cannot explain.
Therefore, the study reveals the ‘Resonance ‘ meaning ‘ If something has a resonance for someone, it has a special meaning or is particularly important to them’ (Collins English, n.d.) which will not contradict as it acts as a bridging point between the Buddhist Philosophy and Modern Non-duality. The Mundane teachings of Lord Buddha even with application of Modern Non-dualists theory must be understood as much required ‘Compassion’ that society needs even with the availability of spirituality of various options.
The Modern Non-dualists could describe Lord Buddha’s words be they Mundane or Supra Mundane as words of ‘Resonance ‘ which could be explained either way within all framework of Supra mundane teachings. It appears that Sankaracharya has picked up the supra mundane teachings after much later than Lord Buddha’s passing away and left it among Advaita teachers such as Ramana Maharishi, Nisargadatta Maharaj and Pooja (Papaji) from whom some of the teachers such as Mooji, Ganagaji have emerged as popular spiritual seekers.
On the other hand , Richard Sylvester, Naho Owada, Nathan Gill, Darryl Baily have taken the message from Tony Parsons who is known to be a blunt speaker where he presents his message directly with the notion ‘ take it or leave it.
Jeff foster, Eckhart Tolle, Adyashanti offer somewhat a mixed message to cover both areas , namely the mundane teachings and supra mundane aspects thus they have secured a well income generation avenue through publications and discourses.
Therefore ‘Resonance’ is a meaning close to ‘Reverberation ‘ that is not knowledge. Knowledge is what is kept inside the memory while resonance means ‘seeing through’ and that is only seeing through without the attachment to the person. The seeing through can happen with the person and there can be a shift in persons perspectives as there is settling meaning settling from the rush world and bringing a person to the ‘ now’ which is the only reality in life without the life story.
There is Badulle Kumara who describes exact non -dual words without any study on nonduality and at the end he says, he flows through the life story, but he has ‘no value to anything that is encountered’. It is not detachment but ‘no value’. Badulle kumara in fact met a non-dual personality, Cliff Linden when visiting Sri Lanka and that is the first occasion he came across a non-dual teacher.
The researcher’s family friend Gamini Pandikorale is also another who spels out the nonexistence of a person or world which is only a story of the mind, has also not studied non-duality except his ling search and finally the meeting with Badulle Kumara. Unfortunately, this is not a salable commodity in Sri Lanka as such teaching does not offer anything to an audience that seek ‘something ‘ to happen in their Buddhist practices. Even if they are sincere in the attempt, the strong attachment to the person and for the need of person, they get stuck half way due to the trap of the illusion.
One may identify ‘Resonance’ to be convincing but that too can be applied to the ‘ wrong view’ hence the reverberation into the reality seems more justifiable. Richard Sylvesters version ‘ waking into the dream’ or Leo Hartong’s ‘Awakening into the dream’ gives some light to this position.
According to K.E Premaloka Thero ‘Law of Cause and Effect is called the law of Dependent Origination, conditioning one another’ (Thero, 2009). This cannot be understood when one brings in Anattalakkhana Sutta from the view point of Non-dualists. In Terms of Supra Mundane sphere, there is possibility of a closer explanation that Dependent Origination is justifiable in ‘Sabbe Dhamma Anattathi’.
In other words, the ‘Dream State’ according Non-dualists can be explained through Dependent origination. One can describe the same either being within or from the view point of an observer. One needs to grasp the fact that although the movement of the world is impermanent there is a strong ‘Resonance factor’ that works in both Mundane and Supra Mundane terms. Lord Buddha had been extremely skillful even if Modern Non -dualists identify such a personality being part of the wholeness in their theory justifying the emergence of a man par excellence to change the world - A complete contrast to Hitler or Polpot for instance.
Besides in mundane terms ‘I’ or ‘Self’ cannot exist without the external world or surrounding. The sunshine, rain, harvest, fruits, vegetables, family, friends, relations etc. Separation even within mundane sphere is an illusion which constructs the drama in which humans play. It is only to create a story with a memory and expectation that ‘ I’ exists with other by separating each other or perceived that way, because humans specially the ones with knowledge need to experience life with the ‘story’. To that extent , Non- duality concept explains the ‘ Oneness’ by stating that there is no two. This is indirectly explained in the other way by Lord Buddha in Rohitassa Sutta.
If the life stories are analyzed carefully, very little acceptance is given to the circumstances that change one’s life. Modern non-duality concept gets away from the circumstances with the other viz nothing because there is no two. One and the Circumstances are one. This leads to a confusion. When the life is narrated, the separate person will always explain anything from the view point of the self and not from the view point of ‘ Everything and
Nothing’. This cannot be understood with knowledge hence the difficulty that is arising in among seekers. In the Buddhist philosophy, the law of Karma is brought forward to explain this and within the illusion both the dream state and Kamma can be explained because the Mind could modulate anything from a dream to dream like reality.
As per the version of Ven. Renukane Chandawimala thero’ the ignorance results not only in Sanskara or volitions but ignorance leads to many other eventualities (Chandawimala, 2013) thus covering both mundane and supra mundane aspects. For instance, one cannot exist without the other. For people to have friends, they need to have those who are not friends, not necessarily enemies. To perceive good, we need to perceive bad and these could be concepts at a given period. These are concepts that govern our lives and concepts that we believe in our day to day activities. They keep changing. However, the change may take place gradually hence the tendency to cling onto these concepts as if they are permanent. This is where Buddhist philosophy comes into play to rectify the gap with the ‘law of impermanence’.
The ever-changing concepts are reckoned to be permanent in a given situation without realizing they are subject to change continuously. This is the nature of people who stick to their ‘guns’ until the inevitable understanding occurs through resonance and not through knowledge that change is inevitable and by the time they have forgotten their original positions taken in the past. In case they remember, they will tend to find out why? and how?. That does not happen usually. Therefore, the theory ‘everything and nothing ‘ cannot be explained without bringing the truth of impermanence or continuous moment through resonance and reverberation.
To support this and in the light of separation, let’s assume that a society or a group drops all egos and act as human beings. Everyone would be similar except for the shape of the form or body and what they do for a living. It will be the same behavior, reactions, except for a very few fundamentals, namely existence and survival. And such behavior will almost be in the form of animals, but survival can be through Metta Karuna Muditha and Upeksha for human beings.
Instead of the violent nature in which competition takes place in every aspect of society, humans whose brains are evolved, can extend love and compassion in the existence and survival with this condition. Once again, the Buddhist philosophy supports the idea of the nonexistence of the separate self such identities fall away.
If humans have only the body and the basic consciousness, without the mind which is obviously the stream of thoughts or thinking, their reactions would only be to exist and survive and there will be no differences of opinions, arguments, and judgements. This can be hypothesized. Memory that is accessed in the brain cannot therefore be connected to the mind in which all the problems are occurring hence the suffering.
The other perspective is that this whole life story is a drama with separate players. If the drama is seen as it is without the narration, the narration will continue but there will be no narrator. Once again, even if this is so, the theory cannot be understood as the Non-duals explain where one can opt to be in the drama as an actor or come out and watch the drama with your awareness. In other words, it is either the drama or no drama. The entire drama keeps moving with no prominence for individuals when the resonance occurs.
Having said that, the trap is laid again when it is said that ‘ one can come out’ which is again a fallacy as per ‘Non-Free Will’ theory. In Buddhist philosophy, this explains in a way that there can be ‘ situation where the truth is revealed through Resonance’.
That is not rejected by Non-duals and that is how the true nature can resonate in a self without a deliberate meeting of another, reading a book, listening to a sermon, watching a sermon on TV but again there cannot be anyone to realized that.
The law of impermanence offers the solution in both Mundane and Supra Mundane situations. Either way it works i.e. in the physical world or the spiritual sphere where nothing becomes important.
When the law of impermanence gets chosen as a mere truth, it has to be accepted in mundane terms as it is a truth to be experienced even in the drama which is said to be illusory. When this concept gets accepted in spiritual arena , that becomes even more truthful in every situation. The self which is referred in Non-duality is also rejected in Buddhist philosophy and the language used can be applied to only mundane situations and realization of this would will completely change of a self whether false or otherwise. The emotions thereafter need to be checked after having realized the changing nature of mundane life while in supra mundane it is the changing every phenomenon that everything is no - thing. This could be experiential if one has this understanding all the time. The drama takes place with the participation of everyone or otherwise there is no drama. So, everyone is one which is grasped through resonance.
For instance, there is a notion that one may choose to be the spectator and consider life experience as an example if everything in this world had come to an end. Imagine the world does not exist and one’s current life story is only an example, then there is a radical way of looking at life from different perspective and it will be not the knowledge but the resonance that would make the seeing through a reality, by no one.
The emotions, attachments, desires make people separate from others. Humans love parents and children. However, they do not have the same extent of love for parents and children of others in the same way with the same degree unless there are special cases like being close to some relations who have adapted children and have been with them in difficult times. Where has this arisen from? Emotions, and what are emotions? They are also set of thoughts or reactive thoughts to thoughts.
Can the people be without all these attachments. This is considered dreadful. It may not be so. People would still have parents and children whom they would look after but not with a false attachment with undue emotions. It is in one’s thoughts that are conditioned by the past that make the special attachment. One’s ability to extend the same compassion to others will make the person eventually believe that all are one and that is the truth beneath all humans which is thought in Buddhist philosophy in mundane terms and non-duals in supra mundane terms. Separation is considered a false idea in which humans have been conditioned for millions of years. Certainly, the wise, if interested, can see this with simple examples surrounding them provided resonance occur if there is sincerity.
The wise that is explained in Buddhist Philosophy is certainly not connected to wealth, knowledge , power or publicity. This is proven when one looks at criminology that none of these matter for Good and Bad. Käläma Sutta mentions WISE and that needs to be understood in that perspective.
In the Paticca Samuppäda, the wheel starts with ignorance. If that is placed into the present context, the logic will explain that once the ignorance is dispelled, rest will come into places. The cycle of birth and death will be broken. When one sees that no one was born, there will be no one to die according to the non-dualists. But this cannot be understood through knowledge or intellectual.
Again, Dhammachakka Pavaththana Sutra, the path starts with Samma ditti. If Samma Ditti were to be interpreted as correct view, the rest will fall into the place as no value will be given to anything except the life flows as it is.
Therefore, it is an indication that everything that is surrounding is our own mental paradigm including the interaction of ourselves with the others and therefore we could say everything is one. What we perceive about another person has nothing to do with that person.
People for instance, consider someone to be unreasonable while another would consider the same person to be rational. How can this be so? . Perhaps past experience and how the person is differently viewed. Hence the same person becomes two in two minds and two worlds but happening simultaneously as one whole changing event. This cannot be possible unless the same person is cognized and perceived differently in the mind of two persons. One person is living in two mental constructs. According to non-dual, the two mental structures are contracted appearance in a ‘whole’ and not in reality which is to be realized through resonance.
The appearance can be seen only through wisdom which is stated in both philosophies and That is what is presented as ‘ Resonance or Reverberation’ which is a shift in one’s perspective or the contracted appearance.
The ‘I’ is in everything that people associate as per this study. Own upbringing, experiences, beliefs etc. condition people to be in other persons’ eyes. People see themselves in other eyes and that once again reinforces the notion that people are all one. We have come across some people who are very skeptical of others without a reason. We observe this in a working environment mostly.
There is also another viewpoint. There is also an environment. Let’s consider what people eat as a meal. Rice, Bread, Chapatti, Potatoes, Vegetables - they all come from plants that grow on earth. They cannot just grow without water, sunshine, wind, air and even sounds. When a human consumes them, he or she consumes all that unless you consider whatever they eat to be an isolated separate material. This goes with all other elements in the world.
The scientists may go to the extent of explaining that all of peoples, beings and material are made of atoms and molecules - each operating on its own while reacting and communicating with others. But there is no need to go that far as far as science has not discovered everything in the world although people are greatly benefitting from whatever the findings, be they medical, engineering, mathematical or ICT. Spirituality speaks about liberating self and to be free from eternal suffering and science cannot find that for humans even in the next few thousand years because science has not yet turned inward, to find who we are, beneath our body and mind.
Therefore, both Modern Non-duality and Buddhist philosophy point to the fact that ‘ one’s mind is the whole world’ and that cannot be understood by the mind which is already the culprit. The five senses and the living in the past and future create this magic of the world making people separate persons confronting vicissitudes of life. If one is able to see beneath the mind activities, or feel the beingness, one begins to investigate the existence of all beings and things and will observe that this is an experience of the formless consciousness with forms of various expressions and all living beings in our environment including the plants are these expressions emerging from one source and that is the consciousness and awareness. The truth that ‘all are one’ must be felt through resonance and it cannot be learnt and it can be seen through only when the realization occurs that ‘ that all is one keeps moving as one event’.
It can be felt only through Resonance either by way of literature, discourse or discussion. This is one reason that one-way preaching is not having the Resonance where the social indicators in Sri Lanka are quite discouraging.
The vicissitudes are inevitable in various magnitudes. Old Age Sicknesses and Death is the most certain thing that happens. In order words the man’s ability to control is limited in whatever way we look at life and existence. This is further elaborated in the book ‘ Loka Dharmaya Apatath Urumai’ by Hokandara Sudinna Therini.
The statement is supportive Dependent Origination and the Cause and Effect Theories of Buddhist Philosophy and one needs to see the reality when the self is pulled out of the process and become the observer. However, this cannot be done through knowledge if the self itself is illusory emanating from the Dependent origination and Paticca Samuppäda.
Hence, one can conclude that Lord Buddha had been in the middle of this serious situation and therefore moved ahead with ‘Resonance’, where Lord Buddha could use the oratory skills depending on the conditioning of the people whom he met.
5.3 Justification of the new knowledge
The researcher, after having done an in-depth analysis and interpretations of the findings, could now move onto an area which may support the new knowledge in broader perspectives. The emerging concepts that encompass both Buddhist Philosophy and the Modern Non-duality have some commonality that have brought in a new knowledge useful to those who are into similar studies taking into consideration what is prevalent in the field of spirituality.
First is that mundane teachings of the Buddhist philosophy are not encompassing nonduality pointers. However, that does not mean the mundane teachings are less important. The connection is seen with supra mundane teachings of Buddhist philosophy that can be found in early Buddhist discourses, to modern non-dual pointers. There is a need to bridge the two sections by new knowledge which the researcher calls resonance or reverberation.
The bridging theory through ‘Resonance ‘ or ‘ Reverberation ‘ within is supported when the study flows with the elaboration of Resonance as they are not within the existing knowledge whether one applies science or not. The factors described are not explainable by knowledge or mundane language hence the awareness that is growing among western world which are also described in the Buddhist philosophy which seems to have got hidden in the Buddhism as a form of religion with opinions and beliefs.
The researcher may have been influenced by the interaction with visitors with over 400 meditation sessions under the program ‘Spiritual Tourism’. This project was initiated while functioning as the Director General of Sri Lanka Tourist Board. The program is continuing until today with no hindrance.
However, there is a problem in delegating this work to anyone unless this bridging theory is known and communicated accordingly. The researcher has identified many pointers without religious labels which could later be related to Buddhist Philosophy and not the other way around. Any attempt to impose a religion on tourists will be construed as detrimental to the project. Instead it is more valid to cite lord Buddha when the questions arise as the early Buddhist discourses almost cover all aspects and all that is needed is to communicate in a language that ‘Resonates’ the audience.
‘Resonance’ which can be used in Buddhist philosophy rather than citing the conveying aspects that are of negative connotation or pessimistic in the tone.
The truth appears to be hidden beneath the self and most spiritual seekers tend to err with continuous analysis of what is presented by the five senses through interpretation of the mind. Some understanding of the function of the body and mind may be necessary until the seeker himself redirects the attention (deliberately as per mundane teachings and on his own from supra mundane perspective) to find out what is consistent behind all and ever- changing phenomena in life and the world, either due to sheer curiosity or the realization that suffering is synonymous with life experience.
An individual considers the body and mind to be his or hers. This seems to be a wrong notion in both philosophies. The ‘Pointers’ presented in the non-dual studies and Buddhist philosophies through early discourses would enable the freedom seekers unlock the gate within. That would be the most wondrous discovery for the human race although it would be unexplainable and that is the realization of the non - existence of ‘self, in which position, there cannot be anything else that can exist.
The advice of both philosophies is to get humans to examine whether the idea that they have about themselves is true and when a realization occurs that the discovery is not connected to knowledge.
5.4 Limitation of the study
The study has chosen an area that has not been critically researched by Sri Lankans or not even a scholar from foreign land hence the inability of this study to make it more focused such as taking on one or two pointers of modern non-duality in relation to early Buddhist teachings with more in-depth analysis. Although this work reflects its original nature, it is hoped that further studies would be undertaken in specific areas of Modern Non-duality to shed more light onto the linkage of modern nondual teachings to Buddhist core messages.
The non-inclusion of Abhihamma (and in-depth analysis of mind and matter in Buddhist philosophy) in this study may be cited as a lack in the analysis of early Buddhist teachings. The research took the position that it is a difficult task for the researcher to include Abhidhamma teachings in comparison with sayings of the Modern Non-duality due to vastness of the study area. The Modern spiritual teachers are spelling out their versions in discourses and therefore the closest to the comparison is currently the Sutra Pitaka from where the discourses of Lord Buddha have been extracted. Nevertheless, as some scholars point out, Abhidhamma carries the most crucial analysis for truth seekers.
The Buddhist discourses are running into thousands under several sections and the selection of the discourses that suited this study took an enormous amount of time to ensure that the closest discourses have been selected. However, there could be a possibility that some discourses may have been missed out that would have been vital for this study. All attempts were made nevertheless through consultations and the experience of the researcher in the study of the area of spirituality prior to embarking on the research.
Some of the teachings in Mahayana or other factions of Buddhist philosophies may have contributed to this study but this study has limited the scope to to early Buddhist teachings through selection of some of the sutras. Therefore , there might be a necessity to touch on some aspects of Mahayana teachings although some of the statements stated have some linkages to Non-duality. ‘The teacher appears when the student is ready’ is such a saying in Zen Buddhism which could be interpreted in many ways thus either helping or distracting the study. The researcher wishes to mention this as a limitation in view of the decision for the selection of specific Buddhist early discourses.
In spite of all religions and philosophies as well as science and the pragmatic discoveries, the unknowability stands tall amidst all the teachings when attempting to describe life and existence. In such circumstances, acceptance of unknowability seems more realistic than various other explanations. There are obvious limitations to human comprehension and the science could discover something new whichever field it is dealing with from medicine to engineering and again at this juncture one may point out the possibilities of further discoveries may be infinite until someday the physical world destroys itself from the indications that we already see from environmental degradation and hatred among people and nations unless the world created by the mind disappears.
Subject to these limitations, the researchers would say ‘Experiential understanding’ or ‘Seeing through’ can be given another meaning as per this study recognizing the terminology ‘ Resonance’ which is closer to ‘Reverberation’. The analysis show that the truth must be elusive because the world exists on a mind driven stories or duality of experience. The experience emerges from the five senses interpreted by the mind. Rich and Poor, Good and Bad, Beautiful and Ugly, Smooth and Rough and all these are interpretations for day to day decision making mostly through thought driven actions.
Many religious, spiritual leaders and their followers claim to have seen the true nature of things - some through a long journey, others spontaneously. Nevertheless, they appear to have found it difficult to relate their experiences to others because of the limitation of the language and the extent to which the egos have embraced people today. The average masses are not inclined to take a hard look at themselves or life and existence in their true perspective due to the excessive attachment initially to self and then to self-ego and further to see one self through the eyes of others.
In the quest of true nature of life, this study shows that there are supportive elements between the Modern Nonduality and Buddhist philosophy and the similarities are shown mainly in supra mundane teachings of Lord Buddha.
Modern Non-dualists question ‘self-discovery’ with the notion that there is no one to do such an exercise and this is overridden by the term ‘ resonance’ which is neither understanding nor knowledge. This offers some indications why Lord Buddha was careful not to spell out such versions to those who are not ready to hear supra mundane concepts.
The reason is also explained in Non-duality that if the seekers are to find something, one immediately sets a goal and that becomes futuristic. Any goal that is futuristic is a thought in the mind that does not exist. That, according to them, is one part which reinforces the false ‘I’ and that ‘I’ appears as a permanent soul. This message sounds too direct and perhaps too harsh and may be taken in the wrong perspective.
Lord Buddha on the other hand, has dealt with this reality in the most effective manner not only by becoming a great counsellor to assist people in day to day problems through loving kindness and mundane teachings but also moving them gradually from mundane to supra mundane should the circumstances warrant such teachings. For instance, if the Lord Buddha’s version of the need to be in the ‘present moment ‘ resonates , it has the same meaning or expectations of Modern Non-Dualists towards seeing through of the true nature.
At the same time Lord Buddha had relieved people of psychological pains with his effective oratory skills with supra mundane teachings leading again to probably ‘ Resonance ‘ or experiential understanding meaning that in some cases a long rigorous training may not be necessary. The level of conditioning may well be the reason for the time taken to realize the truth. If one has an open mind and ready to swim upstream, Lord
Buddha’s message would have been simple as for Patachara, Sopaka, Suneetha, Kujjuththra, Punna, Rajjumala, and Kisagothami.
The discovering of the truth is of no use if it is not experiential and therefore it is said to be dependent upon how one keeps oneself alert as to how experience takes place in every aspect of one’s life without giving attention to the doer for doer is also part of the experience. This is easier said than done while doing is also contradictory. This is the gap the study was trying to bridge.
Lord Budddha has tactfully bridged the gap. How the message resonates can be explained for instance with regard to feelings in Satipattana Sutta ‘ when experiencing a pleasant feeling knows, "I experience a pleasant feeling"; when experiencing a painful feeling, he knows, "I experience a painful feeling"; when experiencing a neither-pleasant-nor-painful feeling," he knows, "I experience a neither-pleasant-nor-painful feeling." When experiencing a pleasant worldly feeling, he knows, Thus he lives contemplating feelings in feelings internally, or he lives contemplating feelings in feelings externally, or he lives contemplating feelings in feelings internally and externally. (Tipitaka, 1994)
Here, Lord Buddha leaves room for the audience to interpret this version on their own. The ones who are ready to visualize such Dhamma away from the ‘life’ story could probably see that there is no one to do all these. But seeing through somehow happens which cannot be described by the language as language is ‘ person and physical world based’.
A natural and continuous focus on one’s inside may begin to give people glimpse of self and it is the same self that acts as the being and the ego. Mind, according to this study appears as a by-product of the overall awareness and it is the mind that consists of all thoughts that make the ‘self or ‘false self who is perceived to be a permanent being. This is supported by Buddhist philosophy and Modern non-dual teachings.
Lord Buddha attributed most problems to the mind. Therefore, consciousness in modern non-duality can be considered as the space within which mind and the body operate and the very mind and body combination is what is seen as ‘I’ or ‘Me’. As explained in the analysis in the study.
For example, people cannot find how a magician does the trick but when that is found , they will know how simple it is. Similarly, researcher arrives at the conclusion that unless one is prepared to analyze critically and go back and forth in various perceptions, it would be difficult to grasp. Lord Buddha made a discovery which was written down much later hence the assumption that the core messages may have been overshadowed.
The seeing through in the modern world particularly through Modern Non-duality had triggered this study while the researcher himself has engaged in offering meditation sessions to tourists where the opportunity was fully taken into the study with the responses of the participants although they were not directly taken under the study.
There is a fallacy in everything people perceive. Beliefs, Opinions, Emotions - are said to be creations of mind at a given time but otherwise there is nothing, or No - thing. Emptiness is a concept advocated in Mahayana tradition, but Lord Buddha had been careful not to use this without qualification. There are several ways that people may see the reality. One may come out of the mind and see the actor on the stage. Similarly, one may detach from the desires of wanting in the next moment and that may bring humans to complete serenity.
The philosophy of seeing the reality seems misunderstood with the position that ‘it is a higher elevation to the present status of the being with which one becomes somewhat superior and that is what the study shows. But real understanding of seeing the truth is that, humans become no longer affected by the illusory world in which the mind- created drama takes place. Human mind construct or the bundle of thoughts identify being and things to be of various concepts and that interpretation is not real. That is what humans are expected to search, observe and discover if ‘ Resonance’ is given a prominent place over knowledge.
These pointers in non-duality and the pointers in early Buddhist teachings are not contradictory. The knowledge and memorized knowledge on theories could probably prolong seeing the true nature of life with the non-probability of ‘Resonance’ which in Buddhist Philosophy explains as ‘ Realization’ and Modern Non-duality concept describes as ‘ Seeing through’. Both the terminologies can be combined with the new knowledge of this study titled ‘Resonance’.
At the same time, it may be correct to state that getting into an environment in which one tends to seek enlightenment may be somewhat rare. Therefore, Lord Buddha’s worlds ‘Pathirupa Desa Vaashocha’ is applicable in both Mundane and Supra Mundane and that depends on the mindset of the seeker. It is the ignorance that precludes people from entering the search which is identified in Modern non-duality concept as ‘Illusion’.
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i Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj - From his living room in the slums of Bombay (Mumbai), this se|f-realized master became famous for brilliant, aphoristic, extemporized talks in which he taught an austere, minimalist Jnana Yoga based on his own experience. https://realization.org/p/nisargadatta/nisargadatta.html
ii Sri Ramana Maharishi - Most reputed early non-dual teacher who advocated self-inquiry - Who Am I? https://www.sriramanamaharshi.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/who am I.pdf
iii Poonja - disciple of Ramana Maharishi spelt out that the seeker is already self-realized, so no effort needs to be made. https://realization.org/p/h-w-l-poonia/h-w-l-poonia.html
iv Rupert Spira is a non-duality teacher who first came across the poetry of Rumi at the age of fifteen in 1975. Rupert met Francis. The first words Rupert heard him say were, “Meditation is a universal ‘Yes' to everything.” Although this is the sort of phrase anyone on the spiritual circuit might come across, nevertheless it was pivotal moment in Rupert's life. He holds meetings and retreats worldwide.( Rupert Spira 2018)
v Francis is a spiritual teacher in the tradition of Advaita Vedanta (non-duality). Francis transmits the ancient teaching of nonduality, the common ground of Advaita Vedanta, Ch'an Buddhism, Zen,Taoism and Sufism. Francis has translated some of the original works of Eastern and Western sages, which he frequently refers to in his dialogues.
vi Tony Parson has been communicating this non-dualistic message for ten years with absolute clarity His playful openness ensures that the message is delivered with warmth and laughter. Tony's invitation is for the simple discovery of the open secret. The author of ‘The Open Secret' and several other books, Tony facilitates open discussions on non-duality in London and Europe. For more information visit Tony 's website www.theopensecret.com (http://www.nondualitvinfo.com/tonvinterview.php)
vii Jeff Foster studied Astrophysics at Cambridge University. In his mid-twenties, after a long period of depression and illness, he became addicted to the idea of ‘spiritual enlightenment' and embarked on an intensive spiritual quest for the ultimate truth of existence. As per his website ‘ The spiritual search came crashing down with the clear recognition of the non-dual nature of everything, and the discovery of the extraordinary in the ordinary. Jeff presently holds meetings, retreats and private one-to-one sessions around the world, gently but directly pointing people back to the deep acceptance inherent in the present moment.
viii Anthony Paul Moo-Young, known as Mooji, was born on 29 January 1954 in Port Antonio, Jamaica In 1969, he moved to the UK and lived in Brixton, London. Anthony worked in London's ‘West End' as a street portrait artist for many years, then as a painter and a stained glass artist, and later as a teacher at Brixton College. For a long time, he was well known as Tony Moo, but is now affectionately known as Mooji by the many seekers and friends who visited him. Mooji is a direct disciple of Sri Harilal Poonja, the renowned advaita master, or Papaji, as his followers call him
ix Paticca Samuppäda is commonly translated as dependent origination where Lord Buddha has stated the principle that all phenomena arise in dependence upon other dharmas. The factors given as
With Ignorance as condition, there are Volitional Impulses, With Volitional Impulses as condition, Consciousness, - With Consciousness as condition, Body and Mind, With Body and Mind as condition, the Six Sense Bases, With the Six Sense Bases as condition, (sense) Contact, With Contact as condition, Feeling, With Feeling as condition, Craving, With Craving as condition, Clinging, With Clinging as condition, Becoming, With Becoming as condition, Birth, With Birth as condition, Aging and Death, Sorrow, Lamentation, Pain, Grief and Despair- Thus is the arising of this whole mass of suffering
List of Figures and Charts & Figures -
Figures - All figures are author’s own work
1- Basic understanding of six Hindu Darshans
2- Reflecting Premises of Modern Non-duality today
3- Conceptualization of Modern Non-duality Theory in the presence of Messages of Early Buddhist Discourses
4- Methodology in a chart
5- Methodology adapted in the study
Charts - All charts are author’s own work
1- Comparisons and Contrast of Core Messages of Early Buddhist Teachings with Modern Non-duality
2- Expression with Language on Core Messages of Buddhist Teachings
3- Results of Comparison and Contrast
List of Abbreviations
Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten
 Monte Sahaja is situated in southern Portugal. Its varied terrain offers many beautiful spaces to explore, such as small ponds, hidden paths and vistas, and quiet places for meditation and contemplation.
 According to https://fractalenlightenment.com/38072/spiritualitv/7-signs-mav-spiritual-seeker , two of the signs of a spiritual seeker are the detachment from religious Dogma and the Thirst for Self-Knowledge
 The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) is the United Nations agency responsible for the promotion of responsible, sustainable and universally accessible tourism
 Explicit reasons in pilgrim and religious tourism with activities that the travelers are engaged in.
 The Register is a semi encyclopedia on various topics in which the details of religions are stated by Dr Stephen Juan under the topic of ' What are the most widely practiced religions of the world?
 Lord Buddha, known as ' A Man par Excellence' who discovered way out of human suffering and the founder of Buddhist philosophy in which the core message evolves around true nature of life viz anichcha, Dukka and Anaththa.
 Non-duality derives from Advaita teachings, a faction of Vedantha - an ancient philosophy originated in India. The Modern Non-Duality is the latest versions emerging from contemporary spiritual Gurus spread across Europe
 Discovery is almost equal to Enlightenment, Liberation or Freedom from Suffering which most of the spiritual seekers are looking for through various teachings and practices
 Although there are over 200 surviving Upanishads, only 14 are considered to be the most important. The names of these Upanishads are: Isa, Kena, Katha, Prasna, Mundaka, Mandukya, Taittiriya, Aitareya, Chandogya, Brhadaranyaka, Svetasvatara, Kausitaki, Mahanarayana and the Maitri
 sat-cit- ananda implies that there is BLISS in addition to realization of the enlightenment
 Neo Advaita is also considered as Modern Non duality in this study
 Satsang - Seeing True nature of life- Term used by Spiritual Gurus such as Mooji for his sessions
 Solace - considered as some relief which could be seen through internet
 According to Science and Non-duality Website Chuck Hillig is a modern spiritual teacher, author and consultant. Before he retired to Virginia in 2006, Chuck worked as a state-licensed psychotherapist in California for over 30 years.
 It may be incorrect to call Buddhist philosophy ' Buddhism' which sounds as a religion. However, for literature purpose it is used for easy grasping for the reader
 Samuel Benjamin Harris (born April 9, 1967) is an American author, philosopher, neuroscientist, critic of religion, blogger, public intellectual, and podcast host.
 The very first discourse of Lord Buddha to the closest colleagues who practiced spirituality with Prince Siddhartha after returning as the Buddha , the enlightened
 Visuddhimagga has also been subject to criticism by scholars such as By Jhanananda where the original transcripts have been destroyed to keep the version of Buddhaghosha
 The Sutta Pitaka is the second of the three divisions of the Tripitaka or Pali collection of Buddhist discourses which were said to have been elaborated from short versions after the passing away of Lord Buddha .
 Ven Walpola Rahula (1907-1997) was a Sri Lankan Buddhist monk, scholar and writer. He was once the Vice-Chancellor at the then Vidyodaya University (currently known as the University of Sri Jayewardenepura). Ven thero had published material extensively about Buddhism including much publicized What the Buddha Taught about Theravada Buddhism.
 According to Student Sri Lanka Website Lord Buddha mentioned: "If one sees the Paticca Samuppäda Samuppadaya, he sees the Dhamma." In this world there is a cause for everything that happens. When the cause is removed the effect ceases.
 A comprehensive reading and visuals are available in Eckhart Tolle's official website http://www.eckharttolle.com/
 Richard Sylvester who was a psychologist and a therapist was engaging himself in many practices in spirituality. He had met the most controversial Non dual teacher Tony Parsons in 2002.
 Naho Owada is a Japanese now living in Paris. Having gone through the seeking she claims to have discovered that there are no seekers who is just contracted energy.
( Owada N N.D)
 A comprehensive reading and visuals are available in Darryl Baily's official website http://www.darrylbailey.net/
 Gangaji - Gangaji shares a simple message: This is an invitation to shift your allegiance from the activities of your mind to the eternal presence of your being. As a teacher and author, Gangaji travels the world speaking to seekers from all walks of life. She shares her direct experience of the essential message she received from Papaji and offers it to all who want to discover true and lasting fulfillment.
 The Anattalakkhana Sutta is the second discourse of Lord Buddha which is translated as "Not-Self Characteristic Discourse" and also known as Pancavaggiya Sutta (Pali) or Pancavargiya Sutra (Skt.), meaning the "Group of Five" Discourse.
 Bhikkhu Bodhi formerly Jeffrey Block, is an American Theravada Buddhist monk, ordained in Sri Lanka and currently teaching in the New York and New Jersey area. In 1972, after graduation, Bodhi traveled to Sri Lanka where, under Balangoda Ananda Maitreya Thero where he received sämanera ordination. He now lives and teaches at Chuang Yen Monastery (Carmel, New York) and is the president of the Buddhist Association of the United States.
 Additional pointers offered by Modern Non dual teachers in addition to ' All is One' advocated by Advaita
 Advaita, which means 'not-two,' is what is called 'monism.' The difference between monism and nonduality is that non-duality is not an affirmation of reality as 'one,' but rather a negation of its 'two-ness.' The concept of non-duality was created to describe the relationship between atman (soul) and brahman (universal self). brahman is considered to be the substratum of existence without attributes (nirguna). When the world is perceived in separation from brahman, it is called 'maya' or illusion. Extracted from Advaita - Mind Over Reality http://anaditeaching.com/advaita-mind-over-reality/
 The suffering may be regarded as a universal truth as the explicit factors of suffering viz old age, sicknesses and anticipation of death establish this truth that goes unchallenged.
 In a qualitative study of this nature conceptualization is the process of clarification of concepts with words and a drawing to arrive at some definitions.
 Sutta Pitaka -contains a collection of the discourses given by Lord Buddha and there are over 10,000 such sutras that have been taken into record through various conventions and interpretations.
 Supra Mundane Teachings- Transcending or superior to the physical world
 Theravada Buddhism defines arhat (Sanskrit; Pali: arahant) as one who has gained insight into the true nature of existence and has achieved nirvana. Other Buddhist traditions have used the term for people far advanced along the path of Enlightenment, but who may not have reached full Buddhahood.
 36 One who attains Enlightenment on his/her own but does not teach the Doctrine to others
 Those who are representing average societies during Lord buddhas time who were reported to have been enlightened
 The Abhidhamma Pitaka (Pali; English: Basket of Higher Doctrine) is the last of the three pitakas (Pali for "baskets") constituting the Pali Canon, the scriptures of Theraväda Buddhism. https://www.google.lk/search?q=abhidhamma&oq=abidhamma&aqs=chrome.1.69i57j0l5.5584j0j4 &sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8
- Quote paper
- Vipula Wanigasekera (Author), 2019, An Analytical Study of the Modern Non-Duality Concept of Modern Spirituality. Teachings of Early Buddhist Discourses, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/491417