The Knowledge of Non-Duality is the Goal

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The whole point of seeking, if what you want is moksha – liberation – is to know the nature of reality: that this is a non-dual reality, that you are the Self, and there isn’t anything else. It’s all you. Tat tvam asi. The point of the teaching of Vedanta is to show you the vision of non-dual reality, the knowledge of what reality is. You want this knowledge, and that’s all you want, if you are seeking moksha. Knowing what reality is – this is moksha.

It’s kind of funny to think that we might have wanted along the way an experience of some kind. We wanted an experience that felt really blissful, in which we felt merged with all of the objects appearing. And we kind of have to admit we wanted to have that experience all the time – permanently. Merged, blissful, “me” feeling wonderful all the time, feeling non-separate from everything.

When you look at this desire in the light of the knowledge that this is a non-dual reality, it’s silly. Why would I want an experience of oneness, as an experiencer, when the reality of non-duality is that I
am the oneness, and there is no experiencer? With the vision of non-duality firmly in my mind, my mind and everything else in existence is seen to be me, the Self, whose very nature is bliss. The mind doesn’t go away. It is just seen for what it is, an object appearing in me, awareness. That’s the goal of self-inquiry. This knowledge is the goal, because when this goal is attained, any experiencer remaining who wants an experience of non-duality is known to be ME – the Self – already, and its needs and desires are put to rest in the knowledge of non-dual reality.

But haven’t we been led to believe that it can’t be just knowledge, “just intellectual,” but that it has to be somehow felt or experienced? Oddly, this is what we’re told. I say oddly because it doesn’t even make sense in a non-dual framework. If there is a claim that reality is non-dual – that you are all of it – and at the same time a claim that an experience of non-duality is the goal of your seeking, then there is a huge problem in the logical consistency. Because if you are really all of it, the experiencer of anything is resolved into this. The experiencer, the experience, and the experiencing, in fact, are all resolved into this, meaning that you are “before” all of those. You are the substrate on which all of them appear.

The question might arise, if I’m not the experiencer, aren’t I also not the knower? Right, you are also not the knower. The experiencer and the knower are both objects appearing in you, awareness. And beliefs in the mind – also objects appearing – change and shift in light of new information. These beliefs in the mind are where the entire problem is coming from, not from the experiencer. So it’s the mind that needs to get straightened out. The experience is always of pure awareness, so the experiencer really doesn’t have a problem. The mind overlays that pure awareness experience with the belief that something else – the multiplicity – is being experienced. So it’s the mind that is the problem. When the problem is addressed, with knowledge, the knower doesn’t go away, and the experiencer doesn’t go away. They are just seen in the mind for what they are. The knower – an object appearing in you – now has correct knowledge, and will not suffer anymore. But you never were either the knower or the experiencer. You were always the Self, which is non-suffering by nature.

When you know that the nature of reality is non-dual, and that it is all you, your needs and desires are neutralized. As a liberated “person” – someone who knows the nature of reality and therefore of his or herself – there is never again an experience needed or desired to complete you, or to improve how things feel for you. The feelings are not important. The only thing that has any importance is that your mind is free of ignorance about the nature of reality. When it is, the subjective experience will be generally blissful, but that’s a by-product, not a goal.

If you are looking to have a better experience, you’re not seeking
moksha. You may get something nice happening in your experience, if that’s what you want, but you won’t find moksha. Moksha is freedom from experience. This is why we say liberation is about knowledge, not experience.

But you can’t learn the vision of non-duality by just saying that nothing exists but awareness. Awareness
appears as a multiplicity, and you have to understand the nature of the multiplicity, too. Every bit of it has to be looked at and understood as the Self, because it appears as bits and pieces. If it only appeared as One, then there wouldn’t be any mistake about it. But it appears as many, and we need to learn about the many in order to quit mistaking the bits and pieces for the Self.

This is what Vedanta does. It teaches you about the multiplicity, not in material terms like science does, but in terms of how it relates to you, the Self. This relationship is what gets confused, causing you to suffer. It’s not an
experience of non-suffering that will end this nightmare, it’s knowing how you really and actually are related to the things that appear in you. This is what Vedanta teaches. It takes time, and it takes unfolding slowly. Be patient, and hear it over and over. And be thankful that it is available to you. Vedanta is a true gift, and James Swartz – Ramji – compassionate unfolder of Vedanta, is a great blessing to the world.