Oneness, or Nonduality

Oneness, or Nonduality

“To be conscious of Being, you need to reclaim consciousness from the mind. This is one of the most essential tasks on your spiritual journey.” –Eckhart Tolle

The word “nondual” can be defined as “not two,” or Oneness. It comes from the Sanskrit word “Advaita.” Advaita is primarily related to Advaita Vedanta, which originated in India. But Nondualism refers to several related philosophies or theories. Forms of nondualism are found in various religious and metaphysical systems worldwide including Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, Abrahamic traditions, and Western traditions.

Nonduality is a philosophy that explains that there is One Ultimate Reality, and everything and everyone in the universe is appearing in it. Nonduality also contends that the world we see, the external world we seem to perceive with our mind and senses, is “not real,” but merely an illusion including the mind and senses themselves.

Nonduality also says that, because all things are included in the One, all things are interconnected. Duality, in contrast, means “two” and says that there is the world, and then there is you. Or, there are other people, and then there is you. It sees individuals as separate real beings in the universe.

Of course, it is a challenge to understand the concept of nonduality because the mind does not accept the world as an appearance, something unreal. We see things as separate, so how can we accept Oneness? Nonduality says we need to use the mind properly to transcend the mind, use words to go beyond words, use thoughts to go beyond thoughts. The process entails systematic and high-quality study (sravana), contemplation (manana) and assimilation (nididhyasana). Accompanying practices like meditation, devotion and service are also very helpful throughout the process.

Nonduality is often explained with the analogy of the clear blue sky, hidden by varying shapes and sizes of clouds. The sky is always there, though the clouds change as they move across the sky. The sky remains unchanged, even though it appears to be changing as the clouds come and go. Our thoughts, activities, relationships, come and go like the clouds, which the backdrop of our lives is the One Reality, ever present, never changing.