Drukama RadioTM Episode 44 – Non-Duality and Advaita
This week Daishi and Yahel discuss the subject of Non-Dualism. What is the tradition of Advaita, and how is it related to Maya? Is Non-Dualism different to other traditions such as Tibetan Buddhism, Kabbalah, or Gnosticism? How can mastering meditation in the various brainwave states help us with our Path?
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Episode 44 Extract
Non-Duality and Advaita
~ Daishi Nagiyah
Full Transcript of This Episode
Yahel: Namaste brothers and sisters. Welcome to another episode of Drukama Radio. I am Yahel, your co-host for today. Let me take a minute to introduce our host Daishi. If you’re joining us for the first time Daishi is the chief Abbot and beloved Guruji of our Drukama school. We are really fortunate and blessed to have Daishi with us again today. Daishi, how are you doing today?
Daishi: I’m doing great. Thank you for the wonderful introduction and I’m really happy to hear your voice and to have you on this podcast today, so let’s jump into it.
Yahel: Today we are going to discuss about Advaita or non-duality. So let’s start with the most basic question what exactly is Advaita or non-duality?
Daishi: That’s a big question. I’m not sure that I can fully answer that on this podcast but I’ll do the best I can. So non-duality points to a state that a practitioner is seeking to attain or to realize – is a better word – that transcends the binary or dualistic mind, the way that our brain operates currently for most people. That difference is in the brain. We’re looking at things as always good or bad. They’re always measures of each other. They’re always degrees of each other and polarities of each other. So I like this, I don’t like that. I’m encouraged by this, I’m fearful of that. I hate this I love that. This is up, this is down. This is hot, this is cold, and so on, and so forth. This is the normal process of the dualistic brain and the objective is to realize the non-dual mind. In this particular spiritual Path, and I should say all spiritual Paths.
Every Path is trying to get you to a place where you realize the nature of true mind which is beyond duality, and we can’t really say that it’s a unified mind because that’s a little strange, because it’s not even that. It’s just not a dualistic mind, and because of that, we see things or perceive things I should say, in a way that it’s hard for us to talk about, because a binary instrument can’t really understand a nonbinary instrument or something that transcends it. So because of this typically what you find in non-dual or any spiritual teaching I should say, is references to what it isn’t. Talks about things that it’s not and sort of tries to parse out everything that it’s not so that we can start trying to look at what it is potentially, and realizing what it is. So in that regard the simple answer is – and this is a big subject it goes much deeper than this, but – the basic idea of a non-dual Path Advaita is something that transcends the typical binary or dualistic mind.
Yahel: So in Advaita that is a term called Maya. So what exactly is Maya and how does it influence us?
Daishi: Depending on the culture, and there’s different traditions that approach this differently. There’s vastly different ways of looking at the reality around us, but traditionally Maya is the play or the Leela of the reality, and that reality is supposed to be created by the mind itself. It’s all kind of illusory, and the reason they say this is really actually becoming proven out more and more by science, when science says that most things are inherently empty of stuff. So if we look at the atom or molecular structures, they’re really just emptiness mostly and this is what non-dual said many many thousands of years ago. It said that things are inherently empty.
We can find this in the Buddhist teachings and in the Hindu teachings and in most religious teachings actually. But the idea is that within everything that we see and perceive in this reality, is mostly emptiness and not really structured the way we perceive it. Maya is the term we use to say this is all illusion. It’s all not really what it seems. It’s not really what we perceive it to be, and like I said science says the same thing that things are inherently not really that full of stuff. They’re mostly empty stuff and so what we perceive with our tactile senses is sort of an illusion or some kind of manipulation, and it’s not really the way things truly are. So the term for how we see things when we don’t see them the way they truly are is Maya is the illusion.
Yahel: Thanks Daishi. I think this is the question that confuses a lot of practitioners who followed this Path, so if this is an illusion, and if I say get hit by a bus and I die, that’s not an illusion. So what does illusion mean by this term?
Daishi: So I would say to you that you getting hit by a bus and the idea of you dying is also an illusion, that you don’t really die you transcend into something else, but death itself is an illusion. So by that very nature you being hit by a bus and dying really never occurred. You never died, you never got hit by a bus, but what might occur is that you wake up from the dream like experience of this Maya into another reality. And whether or not that reality has the same illusory nature or not is irrelevant. We’d have to go and see for ourselves, but the idea in this philosophical teaching is that, that bus, you dying, and the whole experience actually never happened in the same way when you’re on your bed at night, swimming away from the shark you think is chasing you, that’s not really happening either. Now you might have the fear of that. You may be experiencing that. But in truth, the minute you wake up you realize none of it really happened, and in the same way Maya, the bus, you’re dying, and everything else that happens is part of that dreamlike illusion.
Yahel: Okay, so most followers think the Advaita movement is a kind of an intellectual movement or the Gianna movement and they contemplate on questions like: Who am I? Where did I come from? What is my purpose? So what is your opinion on those questions?
Daishi: Those are good questions. Because the nature of what we are, is sometimes challenging to understand, most people just assume a lot about themselves and Advaita actually asks you to question yourself very deeply. We do too. It’s this nature of the tantric practitioners, nature of a Gnostic practitioner, every practitioner and every spiritual tradition is going to ask that question. Who am I really? In order to understand that we have to realize and dig deeper into the nature of how we function, and how the brain functions, how the nervous system functions, how our senses function, and really understand those things and realize that at the end of the day, a whole orchestra of things creates the one thing we believe that we are. So we may look at something and say you know, “I’m experiencing touching the table.” But there’s a million things going on before the sense of touch actually hits your mind, and your mind actually processes and shows you the feeling, or it reveals the feeling of the table to whatever awareness is in the reception of that feeling.
In the same way there are compartments of the mind, like there’s a memory compartment or there’s an intellectual or egoic compartment, and these compartments work at different times. When I want to do a calculation on something I use my intellect and I think up and go well what’s two plus two? It’s four. When I want to think back onto something that happened to me or an experience I had prior, I look to my memory aggregate and start to fiddle with that and dig up the files that it contains there, and try to look back on the past. But doesn’t mean that these things that I’m utilizing to review and experience reality are necessarily me. So what non-dual practice wants you to do or what it’s asking you to do, is to become really clear that there is some awareness point and then there are all these other functioning processes happening and they’re not necessarily all you.
Anything that you can see or perceive cannot be you. In other words if you look out and say, “ I see that chair” there’s some space between “me” and “it”. I’m obviously not the chair, but in the same way when you look at your hand, that hand is not you either, because if we took it off it wouldn’t stop you from being you. Within that hand is a million billion cells that are all doing their own thing. and there’s blood going through, plasma, and there’s all kinds of nervous connections, and everything’s happening in that hand, and all of these different kinds of devices are active and working. They’re all not really what you are essentially, and so it wants you to go back and find the essential nature. The thing that you really are and they want you to become clear about that so you’re not duped by thinking you are your thoughts, you are your emotions, you are your senses, you are your likes and dislikes and so on and so forth. It wants you to get away from that and like any good spiritual Path, it’s trying to have you become really crystal clear on what you aren’t so that you can come back and figure out what you really are, and so from that point you operate from a very clean and radiantly clear perception, which is essential.
So, as one of the first points of any good Path, just like in non-dual, it’s to cut out the nonsense the delusion, because delusion creates suffering and delusion is part of that ignorant process that we don’t want to have in our day-to-day lives. It causes too much attachment and karmic problems. So we want to get away from being attached to those things that we aren’t.
Yahel: You have mentioned about this witness aspect before, so where is this witness when we’re sleeping or in the deep sleep?
Daishi: Well okay so there are four levels. Let’s get into the levels of mind wave, let’s call it a wave. There are different levels that the mind operates on and we can divide those up in many different ways, but let’s just for sake of simplicity say that there’s four. We have our waking state, we have our sleeping state or our dreaming state, we have a state that I refer to as the darkness or the void, and then we have a deep sleep state, we’ll call it that and there might actually be a fifth that we could call some kind of gamma state – something that’s beyond – but let’s use those four. Depending on where we’re able to keep our awareness awake and alert and alive, we will only experience whatever level we’re able to maintain, obviously. So, if we’re in a waking state and we’re aware and awake that’s a wonderful thing. If we’re conscious and self-aware and we’re actually watching how we think, feel and how we’re attached to the various processes that are going on, wonderful.
When we get into a sleeping state, it’s much harder to be aware and awake. Some people naturally become awakened during dreaming states or they can have lucid dreaming or project themselves astrally when they’re going to bed, this condition happens because of the central winds in the middle column of the body we’ll talk about that another time. But the idea here is that waking up in the sleeping state or when you meditate down into a deep state called “sleeping” we call it more like a theta state, you can become alert and aware of what’s happening in those states. If we go further down outside the dreams, we break into a void state or a state that is a place, a chasm, before we make a jump into a very deep sleep state, and that chasm is usually where people feel alone or isolated, and they feel like they’re the only thing in existence, because it really doesn’t seem like anything else exists. Because they’ve transcended the projections of the mind at that point the minds gone into such a slow cycle that the mind isn’t generating as much projection as it does when we’re sleeping and dreaming, and we’re painting the dream with all kinds of projected material.
So, in that void state if we carry down and cycle further down, we go into a deep sleep state. That deep sleep state is where we get to the unconscious, we actually are in the unconscious area there and that’s the place that everybody wants to get to in meditation. People want to get down into that deep state because, if you understand the process of samyama, there you can actually go and make modifications in that unconscious mind and the unconscious mind is the thing that’s responsible for generating most of what happens in our outside world, and in our inside microcosmic experience. So, if we can get to the unconscious which is the goal of non-duality, we can then understand the unconscious mind, connect with the conscious mind, and really be driven by and with the unconscious mind, and that would generate the kind of experience in reality we experience here now.
So that’s the goal, if we can call it a goal, but that all has to do with bringing awareness down into those states, and typically we’re used to turning awareness off as we go to bed. So this is something that we’ve habitually created tendencies toward, and we need to undo those tendencies so we can become more wakeful in all of those levels of brain cycle. Again the only reason why, is because when we get lower, we can make change, and the things we want to change most of the time are the ignorant perceptions so that we cause the suffering to cease. Now, there’s a myriad of other things we can do there, ancillary kind of practices that we can do to modify the unconscious, but that’s the goal is to get down there, so we can say, “Let’s stop any ignorance I have toward the structure of reality so that I can become a master of it, rather than being mastered by it.”
Yahel: That’s I think where you mentioned that the real magic comes from.
Daishi: That’s exactly where we would go if we wanted to make real changes because, let’s just take for example if I’m creating and painting reality from my unconscious Big M mind, and my little sliver conscious mind is just experiencing it, and as a slave to it I have to bring my awareness down into that unconscious in order to make real change, permanent lasting change. In order to see through the illusion that’s being created by it. I can also then go and modify things there that would then paint a different kind of picture based on what I want to see, what my desires, my intentions and my will is. So that’s why there’s a foundation side of the Path where I’m learning how to stay wakeful, I’m learning how to make corrections, I’m learning how to change the way I perceive on a conscious level, and then later going into a more advanced practice where I want to get deep into that unconscious layer and make lasting changes, and changes to the way I experience reality and the way that I understand the structure of creation, and that’s the goal of a very advanced kind of spiritual application.
Yahel: So how different is it from other spiritual Paths like Buddhism, Zen?
Daishi: All of these Paths are trying to do the exact same thing. They’re just approaching it a little bit differently. In Vajrayana, for example, in a different kind of Tibetan Buddhism, they’re using visualizations and mantra, and they’re applying things in a way to drive down into that deep mind and then supplant a new kind of program onto the old program. In other words, I see a Deity that has all the qualities that I want, I invoke that deity, and I bring that Deity, I merge with it, I put it into the program on my unconscious and I become it. In Zen Buddhism it’s a little bit different, not too far off, but a little different in that they cut out everything that’s not profitable and not connected to the essential nature more, and more, and more, and deeper and deeper meditations/ until they break through into the final Enlightened state where they’ve reached the unconscious mind, and basically negated everything that’s not essential to their understanding or needs I should say. In Hinduism, the yogic traditions, in Kabbalistic traditions, Gnostic traditions, the different kinds of esoteric traditions, it’s always the same thing. We’re trying to get to the program, and so in that way everything we see and perceive in this reality is very much like a simulation. I know that’s been very popularized lately but that’s something we’ve talked about forever, that what’s happening out there is more like a simulation, more like a dream experience, and the way that we get out of it is by learning how to hack it.
We have to become wakeful enough to start asking questions like “Why am I here now? How did I get here? Who put me here what am I doing here? Not that I care about work and school and government, you know that aside, okay I get it. Everybody’s trying to function together in some common way but why is my awareness here right now? What’s going on?” And so these deeper questions lead one to understand the basics of the Path, and then eventually start grasping concepts as there awareness kind of flourishes, that they say, “Okay I understand, I’m in some kind of game. I’m being manipulated by a system that’s deliberately tricking me. It’s not giving me all the answers, it’s not showing me everything, it’s asking me to dive in and figure this stuff out.” That’s the game here.
So this structure of creation is playing a game with us. It’s saying, ”Okay you figure it out. I’m going to trap you here and I’m going to make it so that you suffer a little bit, or at least you believe you suffer – there may not be any suffering at all – but I’m going to give you the perception of suffering that drives you toward understanding what’s going on. Then eventually that driving and striving leads you to understand the structure a little bit more, and more, and more, until your crack it, and hack it, and make it what you want. Then you become like the Creator, and then you understand the Creator because you’re becoming like it. By doing that you’re adhering or merging with the Creator in that way, and it doesn’t mean that you disappear and it eats you up. It means that you become like the Creator, by understanding the system, learning how it’s working on you, learning how you work it, and becoming a master of it, and once that happens you’re freed from it. You can leave obviously, and that’s the full moksha or the liberating factor that happens to somebody who’s figured out the game that is this simulated Maya.
Yahel: Where do we get these steps or how do we go about understanding the system and to break away from it?
Daishi: Well we just released the curriculum that walks people through week after week on how to establish the foundation practices, waking and seated how to understand how to get down into these states of consciousness, and then how to apply the practice of samyama, the idea that your wakefully adhering and unifying with the object of contemplation, so that you can understand it better. It’s a system of teachings at Drukama.com. We offer it there, if you don’t like or don’t want to go to our online school you can go anywhere but find somebody who understands it thoroughly and cleave to them. Because they will inevitably lead you out of the Maya that you find yourself in and get you away from the ignorance and the suffering that you experience and we need a lot of that today in our world. We need people to become very clear and not attached to things that aren’t necessarily them. Their ideals, the things they strive for, the things that they want to achieve and some of this stuff most of this stuff is artificial in nature driven by the unconscious self the transient or illusory self and so they’re chasing things that they think they want or they think they need and in truth they really don’t need or want any of the things that they get when they get them. They realize they don’t want them which causes more suffering and more ignorance and more delusion. So it’s important to find somebody that can actually help you understand that process really well and then dive into it with all your heart, and if you knock there’ll be an answer for sure. You got to stay with it, stay consistent and break out of the prison that is the Maya illusion around us.
Yahel: Thank you. Spiritual seekers think that Advaita is a pretty dry subject. So is there any role of bhakti in Advaita?
Daishi: In some systems there is a big role of devotion and it just depends on you know the specific tradition. There’s so many traditions and they’re split off into so many different forms just like Tantra has, just like Buddhism has. You know, they’ve had different cultures that have taken it in and modified it and all of that’s okay. In our schools specifically we like to unify emptiness and wisdom together. We want to have a very clear radiant view of things and we also want to have very high compassion. So those two things need to come together and the reason why is because the joyful compassion that we have in every moment is very important when we have a mind that is clear and clean. We don’t want just a mind that’s clear and clean, because we kind of check out. We go the other direction and that can become very Nihilistic and we can become dry and not attached to anything and connected to anything. But that’s not the structure of the creator force. The creator force is very connected. It’s very blissful, joyful, loving and empathetic in that way. So we want to mimic and adopt those things as we get through that Path. So those two pieces need to come together and in doing that sometimes devotion is a very important way to build a fire in the heart, and get ourselves to be more inspired and more craving toward joyful connection, and most human beings don’t have much of that, so that has to be there at some point on the Path and devotion is a big part of that. That’s one way to get that.
Yahel: Does the school also help it seekers decide on which Paths to follow? Like you mentioned there are so many different spiritual Paths. So which Path is good for me or which Path should I follow? So is there any guidelines for which Path to follow in the school?
Daishi: Again every Path is essentially trying to do the same things. Our curriculum is a way of achieving the union of those two that emptiness and compassion together very very quickly. So our particular Path is for people who have a drive very high drive toward spirituality, and they want to achieve this realization quickly. It’s not for everybody, but it is a Path that pushes and asks somebody to really look at corrections, and drive corrections up, and to establish a very aware one tasting kind of approach to waking life and seated life.
We do it in a way that’s aggressive. We use Kundalini Shakti in some parts of it, we use some of the practices of Naropa and we also attach into a tantric practice that allows us to bridge those two important parts together quickly, and again that process is only for a seeker who’s really really aggressive on the Path. So for somebody who just wants to go out and be part of a religious group or have a very meager kind of spiritual Path that’s slow and methodical and not too aggressive there are many other solutions to that. They can go into Hatha yoga , they can go take Kundalini Yoga classes those kinds of things. But our school’s specifically for those who not only want to achieve realization and do it very quickly but also learn about the sides of manipulating reality, which has to do with the bridging of a blissful state a unified state and a single-pointed focused state, and we go through that at the school. So I would suggest if you have a very high aggression toward spirituality and something you want very badly our school will help you. If you just want to touch and feel and kind of look around and peruse and browse a little bit, you might want to start with something a little bit more basic like a yoga school, or a devotional bhakti kind of school, or a religious group like that and then later when you feel you’re ready you come to a school that deals with winds and channels and these kinds of things. Come and look at it if you think it’s for you dive in. If it’s not, there other places you can go, but we do follow one strict way and that way is to get you to that realized state as fast as possible and as aggressively as possible.
Yahel: Daishi do you want to let us know about some of the new features that are coming up on the website?
Daishi: Sure. We have a tremendous curriculum being put out now that goes week by week that helps you both in waking and seated practices. We also have a special new feature that’s going up it’s called “The Vault.” It’s something where I share my personal experiences and some more advanced teachings with people who are interested in that, and we also have a bunch of supplemental teachings that are going up as well, so it’s going to be populated in a great way over the next few months, so stay tuned for that and enjoy that. And we have a few other surprises coming up that you’ll know about. We’re looking at doing VR and we have some other components going into a shop that’s being loaded up there as well, so we have some interesting things there I’m sure that the practitioners will enjoy over the coming weeks and months.
Yahel: At this point I just wanted to remind our listeners that there is another series on Drukama radio with the Sangha members talk about their stories and how the school helped them on their Path. You might want to check those out as well. Thanks so much Daishi for taking the time to join us today.
Daishi: Thank you so much for having me. I really appreciate. It was a pleasure talking to you.
Yahel: Thank you. If you have any questions or comments about the show please email us at radio at Drukama.com. You can also find us in all the usual places on social media. Just search for Drukama Teachings. The transcript for this show is also available on Drukama.com. Thanks so much for joining us today. We look forward to seeing you next time and also on Drukama.com.