I’m of Two Minds on this Non-Duality Thing

OK, there is thing called Nondualism, which is the notion that we are all connected and the separation we feel in each of us is the deception and if we could see our “true nature” this would be obvious. That probably imprecise definition has some similarities to traditions in Vedic religions and Buddhism, and now there is a whole industry in the western world of generalized nondualism teachers. Some of these teachers are humble, some grandiose, some grumpy and others cheerful.

For me I see some of same stuff I found when I was looking at Zen Buddhism, even though I bet a true Zen Buddhist might bristle at being lumped in together with these new upstarts. Anyway, somehow I stumbled across some books of Nathan Gill who was a British nondulism teacher, who passed away a few years ago, and his two books are mostly collections from group sessions he gave. He comes across as amazingly down to earth guy and somehow that just grabs me. Especially since most of the current big names in the western nonduality scene come across as opportunistic hucksters.

This is from my Goodreads review of Being: The Bottom Line by Nathan Gill...
I think he is saying there is no “I”. There is no “WE”. There is only “Being” and being is all of existence happening right now. Somehow there is no history, not yesterday, no tomorrow. All of those are just thoughts that are happening right now. So history only appears now (“presently” as he likes to say) with awareness, which is also awaken-ness, which is also being.

In fact there is a video (with just audio) on YouTube where he seems to be arguing with somebody about whether a photograph proves something happened in the past. Or rather I “think” he is trying to explain that the nature of existence is WAY simpler than usually explained. All in all it is either super brilliant or just outrageously daft. ( https://youtu.be/9Wo99sa8C4Q 

He might not like it but if I were to apply my own logic to it maybe it is that for each person there is really only this actual moment that you are breathing, reading, thinking…you never think in the past or the future (only think of the past and the future). So, given that we creatures living in time there always only ever this present moment. We are reborn in each second, in each millisecond, or something like that.  

Now what about there being no I, me, we, you? When you think of yourself or others what do you think of? Hang on this upcoming part as it may be a little shaky but I think it might be appropriate….MAYBE his interpretation of I or YOU is those are thoughts with people’s actions and attributes OVER TIME. So who am I? I am a person born at a date, did some stuff, and then some other stuff and that is me. Sort of like speed being miles per hour over time. There is no speed without time.  

BUT for Nathan even though we are living IN time, in reality with clear eyes you realize awareness is only now. Being for the universe is happening NOW. Don’t look back, don’t look ahead, because you can’t since existence is only NOW. And it can be no other way, and in fact most of the worry and fret in the world comes from people trying to do the impossible. It is impossible to truly live in the past just like it is impossible to live in the future. Ideas and thoughts of past and future are always only happening now. 

And I think he implies that in the present awareness there cannot be anything else so I, you and me don’t really exist. There is existence, “being”, but that sense of I only comes from the thought filled baggage. If we recognize this baggage is just that, baggage, then there can be relief since we see if for what it is…just baggage. 

I am reminded of  the idea of “instantaneous velocity” where there was a feeling in Physics that you could never find the speed of something for an instant frozen in time, because there would be nothing to calculate the average speed of time. Without time how could there be an average? Of course somebody comes along and invents Calculus and blammo you have a tool to determine just that thing. BUT since in modern times Physics and Metaphysics are different things, I don’t think Nathan Gill has to worry about some mathematician coming along with a proof or formula to explain away his presently awareness worldview.

I am not sure why this guy's books have grabbed me, but there is something there that seems true. Of course know most modern science-y people will discount him out of hand. But think if one is open minded about it anybody could at least see something to wonder about. One thing about his is that he never takes it beyond looking at the world in the present moment. In fact if somebody tries to make broader conclusions he shuts them down. 


But the brain example serves to reveal how easily overlooked is the obvious fact that thought‌—‌and everything else—‌is simply appearing presently in awareness. - LOCATION: 196

Person 1: But the past did happen.    Nathan: Nothing happened, though a thought may arise that says things happened. - LOCATION: 132

NOTE: Instantaneous velocity is the velocity of an object in motion at a specific point in time. This is determined similarly to average velocity, but we narrow the period of time so that it approaches zero. If an object has a standard velocity over a period of time, its average and instantaneous velocities may be the same.

- - - - -

Well then, where does that leave us (well just me really)?

The thing is, even if a rationalist view is that the nondulism is an impossibility prima facie since we are separate entities as can be seen by counting beyond one...Obvious right? And in there is an aspect that cannot be denied. BUT, bundled with that view is the mind body split from which most modern worldviews spring. Be it capitalism, Marxism, liberalism, neo-liberalism, communism...whatever. And it is premised on the “I” . But I guess I am also saying the "conventional wisdom" sometimes carries a lot of conventions that reinforce views that are so integral that people don't even recognize them as views. Almost like when you forget that you have glasses on and don't recognize your view has a "corrected" lens in place.

So setting aside the bureaucratic demand of modern society for the individual, what if the actual LIVED life of each one of us is more at home in a non fractured worldview? What if we all actually live just like Nathan Gill says? What if for actual life there is no past or future just what is happening NOW!

Of course he doesn’t build a philosophy around this to deal with the implications. He kind of says there are no real implications and anybody who recognizes the clarity of all beings living the same now.

So I kind of get what he is saying. But I wonder what it means in a practical sense? He sometimes sounds fatalistic like nobody is in control so does he mean we shouldn’t work for a better world? But what if by seeing that all life is happening NOW means we are free to drop past baggage and breath free?

Hmmm. Enough for now. I’ll try to work on some more later to get it out of my system


Art and Artist, by Otto Rank

I found a book by Otto Rank that I bought maybe 25 or 30 years ago and never read. I Googled the book to see what people had to say and found this quote...

“For the artist too is a totalist type that, unlike the average, cannot live in perpetual ‘partialization,’ but is forced to totalize every act of life. And on the artistic plane of illusion, in the act of creating – which is at once appearance and reality, a part and a whole – he finds it possible to conquer creatively this fundamental human dualism and to derive pleasure therefrom. For when he creates, the artist uses the whole of himself without being in danger of losing that self therein..."

“A deep study of neurosis has shown me that a characteristic quality of both the productive and the thwarted… is an Over-strong tendency towards totality of experience. The so-called adaptability of the average man consists in a capacity for an extensive partial experience such as is demanded by our everyday life, with its many and varied problems. The non-conforming type tends to concentrate its whole personality, its whole self, on each detail of experience, however trivial or insignificant; but as this is not only practically impossible but psychically painful (because its effect is to bring out fear), this type protects itself from a complete self-exhaustion by powerful inner restraints. Now, the neurotic stops at this point in the process, thus cutting himself of from both the world and experience, and, thus faced with the proposition ‘All or nothing,’ chooses the nothing. The artist, however, here also, in spite of many difficulties and struggles, finds a constructive, a middle way: he avoids the complete loss of himself in life, not by remaining in the negative attitude, but by living himself out entirely in creative work. This fact is so obvious that, when we intuitively admire some great work of art, we say the whole artist is in it and expresses himself in it”
(Pg. 373).

I watched the Gary Shandling documentary on HBO the other day and this really speaks to his experience. His search for ways to be pure Gary was creative and neurotic and the message of the show seemed to say he maybe broke free of the neurotic part of it toward the end.

But his life and this quote is a dangerous question for the rest of us. Are we working to be our true selves or are we merely living in a "perpetual ‘partialization"? And with that if we can't "totalize every act of life" can we step up? Or merely try and eliminate that urge?