Nonduality Institute

Nonduality Institute: For the science and practice of nonduality. Offering workshops, classes and private consultations.

Facebook button

What Is Nonduality?

Tara PaintingAt the Nonduality Institute, nonduality is understood as the realization of a very subtle, non-conceptual, unbounded consciousness that is experienced as the essence of one’s own being and of all life. This is a mutual transparency of self and other, in which everything, including one’s own being, is revealed as made of a single, vast expanse of consciousness. It arises together with phenomena; it pervades the movement of perceptions, thoughts, emotions and sensations. This nondual consciousness is not known as an object separate from ourselves; rather, it knows itself.

 This level of consciousness has been regarded as the source of positive qualities of being, in the sense that such qualities as compassion, insight, joy and equanimity manifest spontaneously when one realizes it. These qualities are experienced as non-referential, in other words, not a specific compassion for someone, but an open-ended state of compassion that pervades one’s entire field of experience.

Most contemporary teachings consider nonduality to be the direct unmediated perception of phenomena, along with spontaneous, unmediated expression and action. In other words, direct, spontaneous participation in life, unhampered by preconceptions. Students of this view are usually instructed to fix their attention on the present moment, or to relax into an all-inclusive awareness.

There are two limitations with this approach. One, nondual consciousness is more subtle than simple attention. It not only focuses on phenomena, it pervades phenomena. It renders all of one's experience as suffused with a radiant emptiness. Two, the fixations that obscure the present moment are not just mental. Long-held constrictions in the body limit our perception, cognition, emotional responsiveness and physical sensation. We cannot open to our fundamental nature just with our minds, we need to open throughout our whole body. Because of these bodily constrictions, when we attempt to let go into the present moment, we generally let go only from the surface of ourselves. In order to realize nonduality, we need to let go from deep within the core of our being.

Tara PaintingApproaches to nonduality that focus on recognizing and dissolving mental constructions also de-construct the notion of the self. Any fixed ideas of the self, such as "I am a teacher" or "I am a good person" will obscure our realization of nondual consciousness. However, when we realize nondual consciousness pervading our body and environment, we uncover a qualitative, authentic sense of our individual self. Nonduality is neither the subject nor the object of experience. It is the unity, the oneness of subject and object.

Nondual awakening is not dependent upon a particular spiritual lineage. When we realize nonduality, we are not realizing Buddhism or Hinduism. We are realizing our own fundamental nature—the spiritual foundation of our being is self-arising. It is naturally there, and it appears spontaneously as we become open enough to uncover it. Although the different spiritual lineages describe nondual awakening in different ways, the arising of nonduality itself is unmistakable.

Paintings by Mary DeVincentis

Back to top

Contact Us