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The Way of Non Duality

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by Sangharakshita

... course the creation of the mind. In Yogachara terms they are the creation of the Klisto Mano Vijnana or soiled mind consciousness. This consciousness, the soiled mind consciousness sees everything, sees reality itself, in terms of pairs of opposites, in terms of duality, especially in terms of the duality of subject and object. Reality however is Nondual, Adviya.

In the state or experience of reality all duality is transcended. Even the duality between duality and Nonduality. That duality is transcended in its absoluteness. It's not that dualism is wholly obliterated as it were so that one is left with a blank featureless unity. There can be no question of a real obliteration of something which in reality does not exist. We ourselves are creatures of duality. Our consciousness is dualistic. Our experience is dualistic, our thoughts, words and deeds are dualistically based. Our understanding of the Dharma is dualistically based. Our understanding of the Dharma is dualistically based. Our practise of the Dharma is dualistically based. The Dharma itself as a teaching is expressed in terms of concepts which are pairs of opposites: Skilful and unskilful; mundane and transcendental; conditioned and unconditioned; bondage and liberation; defilement and enlightenment etc., etc. Yet we have to use this dualistic Dharma as a means of realising that nondual reality. We have no alternative in fact.

The Nondual has to be realised by means of the dualistic and this is possible because in reality there's no absolute duality between duality and Nonduality. If there were no emancipation would be possible.

So how are we going to do this? How are we going to realise the nondual by means of the dualistic? How are the Bodhisattvas going to do it? This is what Vimalakirti is asking them.

He says, 'Good sirs, please explain how the Bodhisattvas enter the Dharma Door of Nonduality', that is to say how the Bodhisattvas make a dualistic Dharma function in a nondualistic way, or how , being themselves riddled with dualism, they actually follow the way of Nonduality.

Each Bodhisattva speaking from his own individual point of view therefore states a pair of opposites, states a duality, and he then shows how that duality can be transcended by means of the duality itself.

By means if you like of the contradictions inherent in the duality itself. How that duality can be transcended in terms of the duality itself. So let me give a few examples. Let me take just four of the replies already quoted and make a few comments on them from this point of view.

I'll take four of the more simple replies.

'The Bodhisattva Bhadrajyotis declared, 'Distraction and attention are two. When there is no distraction there will be no attention, no mentation and no mental intensity. Thus the absence of mental intensity is the entrance into Nonduality'.

This is Thurman's translation. Lamotte's translation makes the meaning a little clearer. Lamotte says, 'The Bodhisattva Bhadrajyotis said, 'Distraction and attention are two. If there is no distraction there is neither attention nor reflection nor interest. The absence of interest is the entry into Nonduality.' But what does this mean? Exactly what is the entry into Nonduality here? The opposites are distraction and attention. The word for distraction is Viksepa which means floundering or the floundering, the tossing, the wandering of the mind, and the word for attention is manyana in the sense of paying attention. We could also perhaps render the word as concentration but it's not exactly the same thing.

It's more like what makes concentration possible.

So this is the pair of opposites - distraction and attention - and this pair of opposites as I'm sure everybody knows very well is experienced especially within the context of meditation. Because what usually happens? We pay attention for a while. We pay attention to our object of concentration whatever that may be - breath, mantra, whatever - but then after a while the mind gets restless. It feels uncomfortable and it starts wandering. And sooner or later we become aware of this. We become aware what has happened, what is happening. We pull ourselves up, we start paying attention again. And in this way we oscillate between the two - distraction and attention - distraction and attention - and sometimes we don't get very far with our meditation.

What then are we to do? Well we have to find the entry into Nonduality within the situation. How are we to do this? We have to question the very terms of the situation. That is to say we have to question their absoluteness. We have to realise that it's not enough to try to sustain attention by means of a forcible act of will. If distractions persistently arise within the context of meditation it means that we have not understood ourselves deeply enough, not understood ourselves deeply enough. It means that there are factors at work within us, psychological factors, of which we are not conscious. And what we have to do is to become conscious of them. We have to take them into consideration. In other words or in a word we have to become more integrated. If we are more integrated the different elements of our being will form an harmonious whole. They will all pull or push in the same direction. They'll no longer be in conflict with one another. We'll no longer have to oscillate between them. So in the case of distraction and attention integration is the entry into Nonduality. Not that integration, that is to say integration within the context of meditation practice, is synonymous with the experience of Nonduality in the highest sense, but it's certainly a step in that direction.

Now I've said that it's not enough to try to sustain attention by means of a forcible act of will, but we should be careful not to misunderstand this. I don't mean that we should never try to concentrate, never try to get rid of distractions. This may be necessary as a provisional measure. In fact it almost certainly will be necessary. But in the long run the opposition between distraction and attention which plagues so much of our meditation practice, can be resolved only if we become more integrated. Integration itself is a form of Nonduality.

Now for our second example.

The Bodhisattva Subahu declared, 'Bodhisattva spirit and disciple spirit are two. When both are seen to resemble and illusory spirit there is no Bodhisattva spirit or and disciple spirit. Thus the sameness of natures of spirits is the entrance into Nonduality.' This is Thurman's translation. Here spirit does not mean spook. It means something more like mental attitude. It translates the Sanskrit citta and its equivalents.

Lamotte's translation again is clearer. It reads, 'The Bodhisattva Subahu said, 'Bodhisattva mind and listener mind are two. If it is seen that these two minds are the same as an illusionary mind there is neither Bodhisattva mind nor listener mind. This sameness of the mark of minds is the entry into Nonduality.' In the original Sanskrit illusory spirit or illusionary mind is mayacitta, Illusionary mind is not a mind that is absolutely non existent. It is a mind that cannot be defined in terms of existence or non existence, just like the magical show. It is a mind that has a relatively real existence. This relatively real mind sees things in a relatively real way. it sees things in terms of pairs of opposites which are mutually exclusive. For instance self and other, good and bad, pure and impure. The illusionary mind, the mayacitta, therefore corresponds in a way to the Klisto Mano Vijnana or soiled mind consciousness.

And one of the ways in which the illusionary mind sees things is in terms of gaining emancipation for oneself alone or gaining emancipation for others. If the illusionary mind identifies itself with the latter it becomes the Bodhisattva mind. If it identifies with the former it becomes the Sravaka mind, the listener or disciple mind. But the truth is that in the ultimate sense the distinction is unreal. It's only relatively real. One cannot progress spiritually oneself without paying attention to the needs of others, without developing friendliness and compassion. One cannot help others to progress spiritually unless one has progressed oneself. Bodhisattva mind and disciple mind are therefore not mutually exclusive.

The Bodhisattva ideal and the Arahat ideal are not mutually exclusive. Hinayana and Mahayana are not mutually exclusive. They are products of the same illusionary mind. Both represent attempts on the part of this illusionary relative and dualistic mind to apprehend the nature of the nondual spiritual ideal.

If we understand the limitations of that mind we'll understand the limitations of Bodhisattva mind and disciple mind considered as mutually exclusive. The realisation that Bodhisattva mind and disciple mind are both the same as an illusionary mind will be the entrance into Nonduality.

This doesn't mean that we shall no longer use terms like Bodhisattva Ideal and Arahat Ideal but it will mean using them realising that they have only a relative validity. They are not ends in themselves. Their function is simply to help us grow.

All right, third example.

The Bodhisattva Sinha declared, 'Sinfulness and sinlessness are two. By means of the diamond like wisdom that pierces to the quick, not to be bound or liberated is the entrance to Nonduality.' The word for sinfulness is Savadya. Lamotte translates blamable. That's more literal, but who blames us? Who says we are sinful? It could be the group, it could be the individual. Let us take it for the moment that it is the group. What happens when we are blamed by the group, especially when it's by our own group, that is to say the group to which we consider we belong? How do we feel? Well I think everybody knows, we feel very wretched and ...

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