What is Advaita, or nonduality?
Advaita means nondual or "not two." This oneness is a fundamental quality of everything. Everything is a part of and made of one nondual conciousness. Often the question arises, "If it is all one thing, why don't I experience it that way?" This is confusing oneness for the appearance of sameness. Things can appear different without being separate. Just look at your hand for a moment. Your fingers are all different from each other, but are they separate? They all arise from the same hand. Similarly, the objects, animals, plants and people in the world are all definitely different in their appearance and functioning. But they are all connected at their source-they come from the same source. This one Being that is behind all life has an infinite number of different expressions that we experience as 'different objects'.
To continue with the hand analogy, your fingers are all made of the same substance. They are made up of similar tissues, cells, atoms, and at the deepest level, subatomic particles. Similarly, when your experience of reality becomes more subtle, you discover that everything is just different expressions of one field of nondual Being.
But what about your experience right now? Is it possible to realize this subtle oneness or nonduality in ordinary experience? It is, if you set aside the expectation of a dramatic awakening to the experience of oneness and explore the nondual nature of reality a little bit at a time. Just as even a single drop of water is wet, you can experience oneness in even simple everyday experiences, since oneness is a fundamental quality of everything that exists.
As an experiment, just notice your fingers and the palm of your hand. Can you say where one starts and the other ends, or are they one thing? To take this further, where does your hand stop and your forearm begin? Can you experience the oneness of your hand and your forearm? If these are not separate, then what about other parts of your body? Are your feet and your ears really one even though they are so different? Now notice if there really is a separation between your thoughts and your head. Where does your head stop and something else called thought begin? What about feelings or desires? Are they really separate from you or your body?
Now, notice the simple sensations you are having: the sounds you are hearing, the sensations of touch, and the objects and events you are seeing. If you are seeing something, where does the seeing stop and something else called the eye begin? If you are hearing sounds, where does the sound start and the ear stop? Perhaps the hearing, the sound, and your ear are all one thing. Yes, the ear is different from the sound, but in the act of hearing, they become one thing.
Then, where does the source of the sound stop and the sound itself start? For example, if a bird is singing outside your window, where does the bird stop and the sound of its song begin? Or are they one thing? If the bird and its song are one thing, and your hearing and the song are one thing, then is it possible that you and the bird are also one thing?
Nondual consciousness is the natural state
The Advaita truth of nondual consciousness, or oneness of Being, has often been thought of as something hidden or difficult to experience, when it is quite ordinary and available in every moment. Nondual consciousness is the natural state. Of course, a dramatic experience of oneness is a rare event. But why wait for something so rare when this sweet and satisfying oneness is right here, right now?
The above courtesy of Dennis Waite who has been a student of Advaita Vedanta and nonduality for over 20 years and maintains one of the most visited websites on the subject. He is the present Chief Moderator of the Advaitin group and has published several nondual books, including The Book of One and, more recently, Back to the Truth: 5000 Years of Advaita. For information about the books, visit www.advaita.org.uk.
What are 'White Feather's' views on Non-Duality?
The essence of the guide's teachings have always been essentially non-dualistic, although probably not couched in those terms. Since initially begining his long association with Robert, he has spoken of everything being part of 'one whole'. He often refers to the creator as 'the 'Great Spirit' or more recently 'Infinite Consciousness' or 'Infinite Awareness' but these are simply terms that mean the same thing. Like all great teachers, White Feather recognises that there is nothing 'outside' or separate from the source and has said on numerous occasions that 'I know of no beginning or end, all of life is infinite.' He also often states to gatherings 'YOU are GOD' - meaning that we are ALL expressions of the divine. If this is not non-duality, then what is? It is my personal opinion (Robert) that Vedanta (an aspect of Advaita) is a very advanced body of truth worthy of consideration and if properly understood, compliments Spiritualist philosophy. Take a look at Rupert Spira, possibly the finest exponent of non-duality, speaking below.