Advaita Vision

Advaita for the 21st Century

Spiritual Paths
Richard Sylvester

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Richard Sylvester

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The following is extracted from the above book, 'I Hope You Die Soon: words on non-duality', which can be purchased from Amazon.

However you wake up, whether it's with a shock or gently, there's still that certainty that what was known to be real while you were asleep is actually unreal. We could use lucid dreaming as a metaphor for liberation, because in lucid dreaming the night-time dreamer knows that it's a dream.

Liberation doesn't change the phenomena that are experienced. If you follow spiritual paths and sit with gurus you tend to come across very excit­ing ideas about the phenomena of enlightenment. Enlightenment can sound like a wonderful state but liberation has nothing to do with this. In liberation, phenomena remain the same. It's simply seen that there's no separation.

So being awake and being asleep are the same, but that isn't how it feels if you're asleep. If you're asleep and become interested in this idea of waking up it seems as if there's something fascinating to be discovered. Spiritual paths tend to develop around this notion. The mind will spin complex stories about spiritual paths which play on the idea that there's something marvellous to be discovered and that there are wonderful people wandering about, probably in India , who have found it. One day I may discover it as well and then I'll have special powers and feel blissful all the time and my friends will envy me. This is just a story that the mind spins, but it's unlikely that I'll see that while I'm asleep.

There are many people communicating about non-duality. Lots of them call themselves 'teachers' and I'd be quite wary of these because there's noth­ing to teach about this. All we can do is try to give a description while acknowledging that non-duality is actually impossible to describe. As a description is impossible, we're bound to fail, so we can all relax now.

Spiritual teachers teach becoming, the need to improve a person who feels inadequate. A spiritual path is walked along by someone who feels they need to make themself into a better person so that they can deserve enlightenment. But the paradox is that as we set out on a spiritual path to make ourselves more adequate, there has never been anyone there who needs to be improved. And the idea of making choices becomes ridiculous and falls away when it's seen that there is no one. You are the divine puppet. You are a character that's breathed by oneness. How could you possibly be improved?

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Page last updated: 10-Jul-2012