Non-Duality: Knowing Without Joy


Q:
I'm very interested to read more of what you have to say on your new site. Your opening/landing page hit me right at home. My study of non-duality brought me to the point of Knowing, but I'm now in some sort of limbo, or maybe purgatory (often feels like it), of this Knowing-without-joy. The seeking is over, at least intellectually. But there is little to no joy (experientially). Did I miss something?

On your new site I notice you're using language that could easily be read as sympathetic with the Christian perspective. It leaves me wondering if you're mingling in that realm now? I grew up Christian – taking it straight to heart like the spiritual seeker/mystic I've always been – and while I eventually left the church in my 30's (over 20 years ago now), I still recall plenty of scriptural passages that make profound sense now from a nondual perspective.

A: The way you describe this limbo state is absolutely spot on. Like purgatory. Knowing without joy. Check, and check. Waiting for something to be revealed that will end the feeling of wandering in the desert. Looking for something green to pop up out of the ground and remind me, Oh! There really is Life! And it's good! And it's love. And it is me.

Yes, I am returning to a sort of Christian way of looking at things. I've tried it many times, but could never get past the doctrinal add-ons of religion that didn't make sense to me. But just praying to Jesus, and asking for help – that opened the door to life for me, and joy.

I was seriously depressed after fifteen years of non-duality. I knew something in my belief system had gone seriously wrong, and had to drastically change. That's when I dropped Vedanta like a hot potato. I got myself way too deep in the weeds with that, and it felt like it was sucking the life out of me, literally. I do find Vedanta and non-duality to be life-denying. This is where the Christian perspective has filled in the gap, and "my cup runneth over."

The thing I found impossible about non-duality was that "awareness" was not something I - as a jiva, as a suffering human being - could turn to for comfort. It has no comforting qualities, no uplifting qualities. No qualities at all, of course. Life events finally put it right in my face that I needed my spiritual life to comfort me, to uplift me, to hold me, to watch over me at all times, to have infinite love for me. I needed to know that I could grow in my closeness to God, that I am an immortal soul whose purpose is to know God more deeply. And in that growth, God's love is expressed more and more through me, through the world, so that heaven on earth really is a reality.

So when I opened to this, it all just started to appear quite quickly, the help I needed, the words I needed to hear, the books, the people. Last week the 23rd Psalm ("the Lord is my shepherd") appeared in my mind over the course of three mornings. I didn't recognize it, but then put it all together and now I say this to myself many times a day. It is the most comforting prayer!

So I don't know what to recommend to you, since we all have such a different relationship with Christianity, and certainly there is a lot of non-duality in the Bible. For me, the idea of non-duality is a turn-off now. It seems to suggest duality, weirdly, in that there always seems to remain this jiva, along with awareness which jiva is non-separate from. That felt dualistic to me, and therefore not what it purported to be.

I also could not hack the static-ness of it. Humans need growth, purpose. We need to feel like we are moving, or else what's the point of manifestation? I feel now that I am moving to greater life, greater good, eternally. But Vedanta seemed to be telling me that it's all done, creation never happened, and I am just.....that. Urgh. I couldn't do it. It was killing me.

I will admit that I am a dualist now. I look at the person and the creation as things to be lived and learned from, all for the purpose of bringing this manifestation into closer alignment with its Creator. Through my words, my thoughts, my actions. And I don't know why joy is a by-product of this, but it is. I guess it is because joy is a human thing, not an awareness thing, and finding the best human path to joy is the way to get it. And then it builds on itself, quickly. God is so eager to provide us joy.

I wanted to add something — Ernest Holmes has been a big part of this new direction for me. I’ll be posting a blog about him soon. I have an audiobook of his — not the Science of Mind (too technical), but the recordings of his old radio shows. They are so old-fashioned, complete with corny organ music, but I can listen to them over and over. They are so uplifting and empowering. He mixes Christianity in with his teachings, and he references Jesus at times, but he’s really got a brand-new message, even for this day and age. It seems those early-20th-c. New Thought people like Holmes got kind of passed over in the rush to a non-dual “truth” which puts an end to all this kvetching about personal evolution as an immortal soul. And it’s unfortunate, because Holmes’ message is not outdated, and neither is it preachy or religious, and, it answers this joy question that people are having after becoming disillusioned with non-duality.

It looks like you can get all the radio shows on YouTube. I think he took them from his book “This Thing Called Life,” which is a wonderful book. Also “The Art of Living.”


I have to say I'm surprised by this whole turn of events in my life. I thought my mind - which was really just my ego - could get to the bottom of the problem. It couldn't.

I would love to hear your thoughts on all of this.