Have you ever asked yourself the question ‘is nonduality dangerous?’ These quotes by Nisargadatta Maharaj from the book ‘I Am That’ will help answer that question.
First, let’s explore the question: what is nonduality?
“The undisturbed state of being is bliss; the disturbed state is what appears as the world. In non-duality there is bliss; in duality – experience. What comes and goes is experience with its duality of pain and pleasure. Bliss is not to be known. One is always bliss, but never blissful. Bliss is not an attribute.”
“Without words, what is there to understand? The need for understanding arises from mis understanding. What I say is true, but to you it is only a theory. How will you come to know that it is true? Listen, remember, ponder, visualise, experience. Also apply it in your daily life. Have patience with me and, above all have patience with yourself, for you are your only obstacle. The way leads through yourself beyond yourself. As long as you believe only the particular to be real, conscious and happy and reject the non-dual reality as something imagined, an abstract concept, you will find me doling out concepts and abstractions. But once you have touched the real within your own being, you will find me describing what for you is the nearest and the dearest.”
“In the realm of non-duality everything is complete, its own proof, meaning and purpose. Where all is one, no supports are needed. You imagine that permanence is the proof of truth, that what lasts longer is somehow more true. Time becomes the measure of truth. And since time is in the mind, the mind becomes the arbiter and searches within itself for the proof of truth – a task altogether impossible and hopeless!”
“When you go beyond awareness, there is a state of non-duality, in which there is no cognition, only pure being, which may be as well called non-being, if by being you mean being something in particular.”
“Witnessing is of the mind. The witness goes with the witnessed. In the state of non-duality all separation ceases.”
“‘Nothing is me,’ is the first step. ‘Everything is me’ is the next. Both hang on the idea: ‘there is a world’. When this too is given up, you remain what you are – the non-dual Self. You are it here and now, but your vision is obstructed by your false ideas about your self.”
Here are some more Nisargadatta Maharaj quotes to help answer the question: is nonduality dangerous?
“Is a match-stick dangerous when the house is on fire? The search for reality is the most dangerous of all undertakings for it will destroy the world in which you live. But if your motive is love of truth and life, you need not be afraid.”
“I am not asking you to commit suicide. Nor can you. You can only kill the body, you cannot stop the mental process, nor can you put an end to the person you think you are. Just remain unaffected. This complete aloofness, unconcern with mind and body is the best proof that at the core of your being you are neither mind nor body. What happens to the body and the mind may not be within your power to change, but you can always put an end to your imagining yourself to be body and mind. Whatever happens, remind yourself that only your body and mind are affected, not yourself. The more earnest you are at remembering what needs to be remembered, the sooner will you be aware of yourself as you are, for memory will become experience. Earnestness reveals being. What is imagined and willed becomes actuality – here lies the danger as well as the way out.”
“Fascinated by names and forms, which are by their very nature distinct and diverse, you distinguish what is natural and separate what is one. The world is rich in diversity, but your feeling strange and frightened is due to misapprehension. It is the body that is in danger, not you.”
“I am dead already. Physical death will make no difference in my case. I am timeless being. I am free of desire or fear, because I do not remember the past, or imagine the future. Where there are no names and shapes, how can there be desire and fear? With desirelessness comes timelessness. I am safe, because what is not, cannot touch what is. You feel unsafe, because you imagine danger. Of course, your body as such is complex and vulnerable and needs protection. But not you. Once you realise your own unassailable being, you will be at peace.”
“I am all and all is me. Being the world I am not afraid of the world. Being all, what am I to be afraid of? Water is not afraid of water, nor fire of fire. Also I am not afraid because I am nothing that can experience fear, or can be in danger. I have no shape, nor name. It is attachment to a name and shape that breeds fear. I am not attached. I am nothing, and nothing is afraid of no thing. On the contrary, everything is afraid of the Nothing, for when a thing touches Nothing, it becomes nothing.”
“In my world even what you call evil is the servant of the good and therefore necessary. It is like boils and fevers that clear the body of impurities. Disease is painful, even dangerous, but if dealt with rightly, it heals.”
“There is nothing to renounce. Enough if you stop acquiring. To give you must have, and to have you must take. Better don’t take. It is simpler than to practice renunciation, which leads to a dangerous form of ‘spiritual’ pride.”
“Your difficulty lies in your wanting reality and being afraid of it at the same time. You are afraid of it because you do not know it. The familiar things are known, you feel secure with them. The unknown is uncertain and therefore dangerous. But to know reality is to be in harmony with it. And in harmony there is no place for fear.”
“The daily life is a life of action. Whether you like it or not, you must function. Whatever you do for your own sake accumulates and becomes explosive; one day it goes off and plays havoc with you and your world. When you deceive yourself that you work for the good of all, it makes matters worse, for you should not be guided by your own ideas of what is good for others. A man who claims to know what is good for others, is dangerous.”
“Pain is physical; suffering is mental. Beyond the mind there is no suffering. Pain is merely a signal that the body is in danger and requires attention. Similarly, suffering warns us that the structure of memories and habits, which we call the person (vyakti), is threatened by loss or change. Pain is essential for the survival of the body, but none compels you to suffer. Suffering is due entirely to clinging or resisting; it is a sign of our unwillingness to move on, to flow with life.”
“Your own little body too is full of mysteries and dangers, yet you are not afraid of it, for you take it as your own. What you do not know is that the entire universe is your body and you need not be afraid of it. You may say you have two bodies; the personal and the universal. The personal comes and goes, the universal is always with you. The entire creation is your universal body. You are so blinded by what is personal, that you do not see the universal. This blindness will not end by itself – it must be undone skilfully and deliberately. When all illusions are understood and abandoned, you reach the error-free and perfect state in which all distinctions between the personal and the universal are no more.”
“Do not try to know the truth, for knowledge by the mind is not true knowledge. But you can know what is not true – which is enough to liberate you from the false. The idea that you know what is true is dangerous, for it keeps you imprisoned in the mind. It is when you do not know, that you are free to investigate. And there can be no salvation, without investigation, because non-investigation is the main cause of bondage.”
“We shall suffer as long as our thoughts and actions are prompted by desires and fears. See their futility and the danger and chaos they create will subside. Don’t try to reform yourself, just see the futility of all change. The changeful keeps on changing while the changeless is waiting. Do not expect the changeful, to take you to the changeless – it can never happen. Only when the very idea of changing is seen as false and abandoned, the changeless can come into its own.”