Part II — A Higher We: The Real Meaning of Incarnational Nonduality
For millennia, mystics, spiritual masters, and teachers have been speaking about what they call “nonduality.” In the teaching of Evolutionary Enlightenment, I’ve come up with a new interpretation of that profound and subtle concept.
Nonduality means “not two” or, more simply, it means that there is only One. The discovery of Oneness has been the perennial revelation that occurs in mystical experience. When one stumbles upon one’s own deepest interior, which is consciousness itself, it becomes immediately apparent that consciousness is the timeless, formless ground of everything that is. It is beginningless and endless. Paradoxically, it is everywhere and nowhere at the same time. In mystical revelation it becomes apparent that consciousness is all there is. Consciousness is that One which is never two. Consciousness is unknowable by the mind and yet without it, the mind — and indeed, the entire cosmos — would cease to exist.
Mystical insight into this mystery of mysteries often occurs as a result of a deep and sincere practice of meditation, but it can also spontaneously erupt within an unsuspecting soul, as it did for me when I was a teenager. Whenever the mind or the filter of our cognitive apparatus quiets down or temporarily becomes transparent, the whisper of intuition reveals to us the liberating presence of that empty, infinite ground. Indeed, this opening to our own boundless interior can happen any time that we are either extremely concentrated or extremely relaxed. That is why we can also experience glimpses into the nondual oneness of all things, as many people have discovered, in the midst of love-making. When are we more concentrated and simultaneously more relaxed than that?
This is what practitioners of the ancient art of tantra discovered. Tantra emerged as part of a revolution that took place in Buddhism about 2000 years ago. This revolution was based on the historic recognition that the world of form and time is not separate from the formless, timeless ground of all Being. As the Buddha is purported to have proclaimed in the Heart Sutra, “Form is Emptiness and Emptiness is Form.” This insight changed the meaning of enlightenment significantly. From then on, spiritual emancipation was no longer merely about transcending time and form but was now about seeing directly the truth that time and form were none other than that empty ground itself. The highest realization, therefore, was that being in the world was not ultimately different than transcending it. In this new understanding, to transcend the world meant one had seen through the veil of appearances, the most fundamental of which was the appearance of duality.
In our postmodern era, many Eastern ideas have become known by greater and greater numbers of Western spiritual pioneers and practitioners, albeit with a degree of modernization. Not only different kinds of meditation but also the practice of tantra, or spiritual sexuality, have become popular vehicles through which to experience nondual awareness. That is because we’re no longer rejecting the world, no longer rejecting the body. We no longer see them as separate from Spirit. And we understand that in the electric ecstasy and tactile immersion of erotic love, the mind can become transparent, and through that transparency, the formless nature of Spirit’s true face can powerfully shine.
I have discovered that there is a higher form of nondual practice, a new kind of tantra, that I believe is infinitely more relevant for the time we are living in. Over the last two centuries, it has slowly but surely become an apparent and unavoidable fact that the entire universe, including our world and each and every one of us as individuals, is part of a creative process. And it’s a dynamic process that is going somewhere, that is evolving. Any interpretation of nonduality or enlightenment that does not also include this new and all-important fact about the cosmic process only gives us part of the picture. Traditionally, a glimpse of nondual oneness is a direct perception of the interconnected nature of all things, seen and unseen, known and unknown, including the infinite ground upon which they all exist. But this traditional enlightenment insight does not include the relatively recent discovery that everything that occurs, including the subjective experience of enlightened awareness, is all part of an evolutionary process occurring within a universe that’s going somewhere.
A direct glimpse into the nature of nonduality that does not include evolution as part of that interconnectedness is not going to take us anywhere new or create the world afresh. It will only reveal to us the way things ARE in the present moment. That’s why the teaching of Evolutionary Enlightenment is based not only upon awakening to the timeless ground of Being, the eternal Present, but is based, even more importantly, on awakening to the evolutionary impulse, or the Authentic Self. The Authentic Self is that creative spark, or Eros, that emerged from that empty ground to create the entire cosmos. And we experience it, at the level of consciousness, as a wild utopian impulse to strive to create a better and more perfect world, at every level. It’s a powerful drive and a passion that emerges from the ground of consciousness itself. It compels those who have awakened to it to live our lives first and foremost for the sake of the future.
When two or more individuals have awakened to that Authentic Self, and crossed what I call the 51% threshold so that that spark becomes their driving motivation, and then begin to relate with each other, intersubjective friction occurs at the highest level. This is experienced as the liberating emergence of spontaneous inspiration, ecstatic creativity, and passionate commitment. This does not occur at the level of the flesh or the personal heart, but only at the level of the soul and the Authentic Self. This is when Spirit meets itself as the creative impulse. And when this occurs in and through those who are on the other side of ego, the world we create changes in and through us. This is Evolutionary Tantra of the highest form. This is the spiritual practice that I teach: Incarnational Intersubjective Evolutionary Nonduality.