What Is Nondualism?

Many traditions and mystics talk about nondualism. But what is nondualism, and how have people—from different religions in different parts of the word—described this concept over the millennia?

In this book you will discover the long history of nondualism, from its first roots in the Indian Upanishads, to its expression in Buddhism and Advaita Vedanta, to its most modern-day expressions in the West. If you are a person in a nondual tradition, this book is an invaluable companion on your journey.

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What Is Nondualism?

Nondualism is the human experience of oneness with all things; a sense of connectedness and identity with the entire universe. It is intimacy with everything. In this experience, the sense of being a witness or seer of things vanishes completely, and instead you feel yourself to be whatever thing you are beholding. You don’t see the mountain, you are the mountain. You don’t hear a bird, you are birdsong. Awareness is no longer split into a experiencer and the thing that is experienced, there is just pure experience with no divisions. This experience of oneness is the essence of nondualism.

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Author

Michael W. Taft is a maverick meditation teacher, bestselling author, podcaster, and neuroscience junkie. As a mindfulness coach, he specializes in secular, science-based mindfulness training in retreats, groups, corporate settings, and one-on-one sessions. Michael is the author of several books, including the bestselling The Mindful Geek, Nondualism: A Brief History of a Timeless Concept, and Ego (which he co-authored), as well as the editor of such books as Hardwiring Happiness by Rick Hanson and The Science of Enlightenment by Shinzen Young.

He has often taught meditation at Google, worked on curriculum development for SIYLI, and is currently core faculty at Wisdom Labs, in San Francisco. Michael is also a featured teacher on the Simple Habit app, and an official advisor to the Therapeutic Neuroscience Lab. He was previously editor-in-chief of Being Human, and was the long-time editorial director of Sounds True.

From Zen temples in Japan to yogi caves in India, Michael has been meditating for over thirty five years and has extensive experience in both Buddhist Vipassana and Hindu Tantric practice. Michael is a senior facilitator in Shinzen Young’s Unified Mindfulness system, and is a teacher of meditation groups around the Bay Area. He currently lives in Oakland, California, and is founding editor of the iconoclastic mindfulness meditation blog and podcast Deconstructing Yourself.

Resources

 

Michael Taft interviewed by Jerry Katz on Nonduality Talk.

Show Notes on Nonduality

0:00 – 3:37 – Introduction to the topic of the history of nondualism and how it seems to be missing in the larger education

3:37 – 9:46 Early Vedic teachings. First definite nondual teachings in the Upanishads. A reading on turiya from the Mandukya Upanishad. Chandogya Upanishad.

9:46 – 11:22 The Upanishads as teaching texts. The current methodological teaching of Advaita Vedanta being a much later development.

11:22 – 14:38 Advent of Buddhism originating from study of the Upanishads and the three turnings of the wheel.

14:38 – 19:07 The refinement of Buddhist teachings. Emptiness teachings. Via positiva and via negativa teachings compared.

19:07 – 21:18 The expression of nonduality by people in general.

21:18 – 22:41 The blossoming of Buddhism very briefly mentioned.

22:41 – 26:13 Advaita Vedanta. Gaudapada.

26:13 – 29:17 Shankara. Buddhism contrasted with Vedanta.

29:17 – 34:43 The Western religions and nondualism. Meister Eckhart. Apophatic Christianity.

34:43 – 38:30 Modern teachers: Nisargadatta Maharaj, Ramana Maharshi, Poonjaji, J. Krishnamurti. A gap noted in the book’s coverage and discussed.

38:30 – 45:08 Neo-Advaita, the pros and cons. Poonjaji’s teachings. Does neo-Advaita incorporate a practice?

45:08 – 46:54 Adyashanti and a paradoxical offering.

46:54 – 54:30 Michael Taft offers a meditation based on the “do nothing” technique of Shinzen Young. Conclusion