Some things can't be truly known or realized by means of the intellect but must be known through direct experience. Consider the phenomenon of being in love. You might try explaining to a friend what this condition feels like. The butterflies in your stomach, the tingling sensations of spontaneous goosebumps as he who holds your affection touches your skin. The longing for your partner when he isn't with you.
You can try explaining all of these sensations and feelings to others in hopes that they will be able to "get it". That they will be able to truly understand what you mean when you speak of your being in love. But try as you might, they never really will "get it" unless they decide to plunge into the tides of human experience and taste that reality for themselves.
Language is very limiting. Especially towards such profound and abstract experiences like being in love. That is why every culture blooms with song and prose using elaborate and sensual imagery in hopes to capture the sentiments associated with this profound condition. Metaphors and symbolism are used to express the full power of desire, the taste of union when our hearts melt into our lover's. We can find songs both ancient and newly conceived that attempt to capture this state in such a way that those hearing can relate. Sometimes it's the instrumental pieces that contain no lyrics at all that express it in a way where words fail. Without words that can mislead they put forth haunting melodies capturing heartache and loss, thunderous crescendos revealing climax, light and playful notes strung together to have our senses view the merry tango of souls courting one another. It's almost like we feel we are there...almost...
And so too, it is with the spiritual experience. There comes a time when words simply fall short. When one who has experienced a particular state of consciousness or spiritual reality will attempt to share that account with another but find his audience looking back at him with a vacant or bewildered expression. When a concept seems too "big" for the mind to wrap itself around and understand by means of the intellect.
This can especially be the case when it comes to those who have had their soul's palate be whet with the foretaste of nonduality and still more for those who have dived far enough below the ego's multi-layered garments to shake them off entirely, leaving the eternal core within naked and exposed, blazing with a light that outshines a thousand suns.
I am currently reading "Introducing Ken Wilber: Concepts for an Evolving World" by Lew Howard. In his chapter on nonduality, Howard notes that reading descriptions of nondual awareness can often seem like a paradox to those who haven't experienced this state of awareness themselves. He echos Wilber's emphasis that those that have journeyed through the laboratory of the consciousness, personally unwrapping their own layers of ego and exploring the Self within, have left us with descriptions. Seekers from all of the world's religions have sought the Self that lies buried at the core of our consciousness and their experiences can illuminate the path before us but we still have to walk down it ourselves. Their descriptions provide a layout of the land, of the different layers, stages and states of consciousness that must be traversed. To see this land for ourselves we must set out on our own journey into the mind via the method of meditation.
To get an idea of what one experiences in a nondual state, this is one of Wilber's descriptions of what it's like. Just as a note, the term Witness that Wilber uses is synonymous with Self:
"Everything continues to arise moment to moment—the entire Kosmos continues to arise moment to moment—but there is nobody watching the display, there is just the display, a spontaneous and luminous gesture of great perfection. The pure Emptiness of the Witness turns out to be one with every Form that is witnessed, and that is one of the basic meanings of “nonduality.”
…the real world is given to you once, immediately—it is one feeling, it has one taste, it is utterly full in the one taste, it is not severed into seer and seen, subject and object, fragment and fragment. … Real experience, before you slice it up, does not contain that duality—real experience, reality itself, is ‘nondual.’ You are still you, and the mountain is still the mountain but you and the mountain are two sides of one and the same experience, which is the one and only reality at that moment.”
~ Ken Wilber, as quoted in, Introducing Ken Wilber:Concepts for an Evolving World (Kindle Locations 4703-4706). AuthorHouse. Kindle Edition.
If this doesn't make sense to you don't be disappointed! To most of us it doesn't. It takes training of the mind and a determination towards the spiritual discipline of meditation to begin to experience such a state of consciousness. To really understand the nondual state one has to realize it experientially and not just try to grasp what it is about through means of one's mind. "The Self cannot be known through study of the scriptures, nor through intellect, Nor through hearing discourses about it it...The Self cannot be known by anyone who desists not from unrighteous ways, controls not the senses, stills not the mind, and practices not meditation." (Katha Upanishad 2.23a-24a)
It was my intention to share one of the meditations I have enjoyed incorporating into my spiritual practices that has helped me disidentify with my ego and begin to taste the nondual state. I feel because of it's length it would make this post too long so I will share it in the next post. There are many paths to the same destination. Wilber notes that seekers from all of the different religions in the form of their mystics have developed ways of meditating which aid individuals ascribing to those religions in experiencing such a state of oneness with God/universe/reality (whatever is one's perspective!). One just has to pick which path calls out to them and pursue it with passion and dedication.
Thoughts? I'd love to hear them! Please leave them in the Comments Section. Thank you!