In being out of sync with our true nondual Self, we’re shut off from what’s truly happening, and our ego stories (“ I’m not enough,” “I’m inferior,” “I’m superior,” etc.) are compelling and all-consuming. Without mindfulness our chattering minds influence much of our day—our actions, reactions, and emotions. We’re often hypersensitive to the drama around us in an alien world, and our eyes are closed to any common ground. The world rarely conforms to our hopes because it’s a projection of incongruence, a projection which takes lots of energy and effort to maintain but no energy whatsoever to transcend.
To be free of this projection’s unnecessary limitations, look with clarity at the apparently separate self. Try to observe its comings and goings, the way it arises and dissolves, and the desires and fears it consists of, until your seeing is purer and your discernment greater. Be mindful of ego-based thinking, reacting, interacting, and acting. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with emotions—all are valid—but isn’t it beneficial to everyone to be mindful of impulsive, emotional outbursts that erupt from a place of fear? Without eruption, or indeed suppression, we can tenderly hold emotions in mindfulness, intending not to harm. What we accommodate in our Beingness and give space to gets transformed, thus freeing our energy and calling forth tranquility. And so with a tranquil, earnest mind, free from emotional reactivity, our spiritual “eyes” are purified; we meet life as it is, with clarity and compassion. This is what happens when we align with the truth of nonduality.
Inattention obscures; attention clarifies. Clarity of mind and heart enables us to meet the challenge of impulsive reactions that we regret later—we can avoid acting from a basis of insensitivity and disregard. Our greatest challenge, at least on the experiential human level, is to live, behave, think, feel, and act in harmony with reality instead of ego. Ultimately, no effort is required; it’s just a subtle shift in focus from inadvertence to discernment. It’s discerning that each relative happening is the direct result and the flawless expression of the Absolute. Each relative happening is in fundamental synchronization with the Absolute.
Our suffering is the outcome of living in experiential discord, of living on the surface of lives led by desire and fear. But we can perceive reality from the vantage point of this absolute perfection, this greater order. Even though we’re often in the habit of complicating it, reality—truth—is evident, all-inclusive, and accessible to everyone.
Our humanness is a perfect expression of reality. Just as it takes a bird no effort to be a bird, it takes no effort to be human; our humanness does its own thing while the body-mind functions according to its particular quirks and inclinations, however we may feel about them. Because their idiosyncrasies are involuntary, even the most “awakened” people may catch themselves in unenlightened emotional and mental habits from time to time, but when caught they’re quickly released. Even the most intense anger, for example, subsides into stillness as Being is brought to the forefront, that is to say, as the mind becomes calm. Being is always aware of the nondual Self and offers a reliable tether to a relaxed mind. Difficult emotions dissolve only on reconnecting with something as peaceful and eternal as Self. In doing so, we learn to stop being ruled by our internal state when an external event triggers us. We understand that life flows freely; it’s only our short-lived self-concepts—ego identities—that create the experience of bondage, and even these identities have a “flow” about them when seen.
This doesn’t mean we don’t cry or laugh, but in staying connected, we have a capacity for detachment and are grounded in clarity and calmness. Detachment, in this sense, doesn’t mean apathy or disengagement; it means we can step back and appreciate the spontaneity of our reactions. We consequently foster a friendliness with the entirety of experience—internal and external. So, ironically, detachment creates harmony between both domains. Yes, if we want a more peaceful and unified world, our bodies and minds must mirror these qualities.