The sage Nisargadatta Maharaj said, “The world is the creation of your own consciousness. It is seen only due to duality. If there is no duality, there is no world.” This is a very sublime teaching which we are not able to comprehend unless we are immersed in the state of non-dualistic experience. Even though we may not identify with such a world-view, living as if it is so, can accelerate the unfolding of the truth of this philosophy. This is a challenge when we look outside of ourselves with our separate identity, and expect to see divinity in all we encounter. When we can apply the teachings of a high philosophy in our own lives, then it is meaningful or else it is mere philosophy. I learned a lesson from a wise teacher that perhaps brings us closer to the experience of non-dualism.
We are all emanations of the Self that exists through all manifestations, there is no other. With a world-view such as this, how do we remain focused in this state when we are not yet immersed in the experience of oneness? The path to the experience of oneness is a slippery slope when we are not able to identify with it yet. All of life points to others and their impact on our experience. When the sage says, “there is no world,” how can that be when all our senses tell us otherwise. From the point of view of physics, we learn that all matter is a quantum soup of energy molecules colliding and coming together in a myriad of configurations, creating what we interpret as form. Yet I don’t think this is what the sage is implying when he says, “the world is a creation of your own consciousness.” It seems to me that these words are pointing us in the direction of the awareness of how we create the drama of our existence through our misinterpretation of the nature of reality.
One of my teachers is relentless in bringing me back to center through this one lesson, no matter what the cause of my confusion. This perspective teaches that no matter what another person or entity is doing, they are not doing anything wrong. In the dualistic society that we live in, a crime committed is punishable by law, whereas in a non-dualistic world-view, all actions are the soul’s way of learning about the Self. Even when a being breaks the law of non-violence, it means that that being is still in a deluded state and is in the process of learning about truth. When we are able to perceive all actions that we may judge as wrong in this way, it changes the dynamics of relationship. Then there is no one to blame, to fix, or to be the cause of our pain. All there is that is left to do about anything, is to heal the pain and suffering that is triggered in us by the actions of another.
When we hold the view of non-duality, all beings are the Self. We are all in the process of uncovering the illusion that prevents the experience of non-dualistic reality. When this is so, our wanting to change another person, judging what they do as wrong, we are being disrespectful of their soul’s journey by wanting to take away their learning process. Each person has to do what they need to do to get to the experience of oneness. This also applies to the body politic. That said, then how do we deal with the innocent victims of perpetrators that unleash undue suffering on others. We have to step in and bring comfort to all levels of their well being. Even in this situation there is a learning from the experience. An analogy is a child learning to walk. Only the child can do it, a mother can hold her hand, encourage her and comfort her when she falls.
Living in a non-dualistic world is a radical way of life, we go against everything we have been taught. The path of the spiritual healing journey is not easy. It leads us to the difficult work of seeing that all of life is about us. It is not about anybody else causing our suffering or about doing good to change the world. We can only change our own self, and perhaps by our presence, we can be a beacon for those with whom we come into contact. With a compassionate heart we reach out to comfort others, knowing that we cannot change their experience of the world, but can be a catalyst for their growth, a reflection of the truth of the divinity that we all are. Our approach to life becomes non-dualistic and as we live in this manner, we slowly begin to uncover the truth of our nature and learn that, “the world is the creation of our own consciousness.”