One of the most common confusions in non duality is the belief that personal freedom is enlightenment. In fact, personal freedom is an impossibility, because the very person that desires to “be free” is that which dwells bound in a cage. This cage, of course, is illusory and the person itself is the cage.
When non duality states that the person does not exist, it is pointing to an unrelenting reality: that you are ALREADY free. However it is not “you” the person that is free. You do not exist – only everything exists. And if only everything exists, then an individual person is an impossibility. The only existence of the person is in a thought. Without the thought “I”, there cannot be a person. The person is an idea. This idea of a person is illusory. It has a time and an end. You have the thought, “I am here” and then the thought disappears as you get lost in a bird song, or sun set, or your lover. And the unrelenting reality is once again all – pervading. Again, a thought, “I want a cookie” a sense of separation, “me” and the “cookie”… and then the act of eating the cookie once again allows the unrelenting reality of everything to pervade. A friend calls, plans are discussed, the illusion of time arises…then once again, the all pervading reality, as the fly on the wall rubs its insect feet together and something watches her. What is watching? Who is watching the fly? Where is the boundary between the fly appearing and the watching? Can the fly appear without the awareness of it? Can the cookie appear without the awareness of it? Can the friend calling appear without the awareness of it?
If “you” exist, then also must “I” exist. Therefore “we” exist, and then therefore “they” exist, as does “he” and “she.” The thoughts that appear about a “me” are claimed as “my thoughts”. “Me” and “my thoughts”. This is the actual root of separation. Everything arises, and is claimed. Groups form, identifies form, beliefs form, and the illusory made-up world starts to feel real, and becomes an actual framework that relies on apparent laws, images, and expectations. It then reinforces itself and creates a cage or a prison. While this is all playing out intensely, it is completely illusory. It has neither a start, nor does it have a beginning. It also has no purpose, no direction. The karma realm, or the realm of cause and effect, only exists in so much as the thought “I” exists. Without that thought there is no one there who would be bound to a dualistic perception of “me” and “my life”, “me and my job”, “me and my lover, family, possessions” , “me and my awakening”.
Here is where I want to make the distinction between personal freedom and who you are. Personal freedom is an impossibility, because the person itself is illusory. Therefore, it’s freedom or happiness, or awakening, and enlightenment is also illusory, and even if it is seemingly experienced will always be temporal. It will exist in the realm of experience, which is the realm of time. It will have a start and a beginning. It will not be permanent. This is precisely why it can be said that enlightenment does not exist. Simply, because the person does not exist, therefore, who would be enlightened?
If the person needs to work on personal problems like relationship co-dependancies, addictions, financial independence, more happiness based on doing what feels good etc…this is still in the personal reality and has absolutely, 100% nothing to do with who you are. While this blog, and also many other non dual teachers do discuss mental and physical health in the personal, this discussion has absolutely no relationship to who you are, outside of the relationship that the illusory “I” creates for it.
In my experience, when who you are is recognized, both the mind and the body experience seeming shifts towards an expression of more awareness, compassion, and personal freedom. However, these are illusory. Who you are does not change. The body changes, the mind changes. Thoughts become more positive or negative depending on the body’s perception and experiences, the system ages and dies, things come and go; but, this is NOT who you are. Who you are DOES NOT change. Again, change is in the realm of illusory appearances. Non duality points to an unrelenting, reality , the substrate in which the illusion appears, in, from, and as. IT is neither affected by time or space.
Whatever shifts and seemingly positive changes happen in the mind or the body, does not affect who you are. The search for personal freedom, however that expresses is not truly, at the core, what is wanted. What is wanted more than financial independence, youth, and personal freedom is who you are. You simply would not have read these words, if there wasn’t something recognizing it’s eternal nature right now. So, it’s time to stop the games. It’s time to get real. It’s time to tell the truth.