“A rare book that distills a lifetime of insights and offers them to enlighten others.”
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Table of Contents
Foreword by Deepak Chopra
Part I You’re Not Who You Think You Are
Chapter 1 Missing Person
Chapter 2 Love, Shining!
Chapter 3 What Is the Ego?
Chapter 4 Where Does Consciousness Go When I Die?
Chapter 5 The Three Stages of Meditation
Chapter 6 What You Are Is More Than Who You Are
Chapter 7 Self-awareness Is Its Own Reward
Chapter 8 What Is Enlightenment?
Chapter 9 Our Nature Is Simplicity Itself
Chapter 10 Waking, Dreaming, and Sleeping Happen in You
Chapter 11 How Do I Experience Oneness with Consciousness?
Part II The World Isn’t What You Think It Is
Chapter 12 A Closer Look at Perception
Chapter 13 A Tale of Two Minds
Chapter 14 Where Is This Experience Happening?
Chapter 15 Misunderstandings About Consciousness
Chapter 16 Scientists Are Metaphysicians
Chapter 17 The Myth of the Monkey Mind
Chapter 18 What Is Consciousness?
Chapter 19 What’s the Purpose of All This?
Part III The Many Masks of Non-Duality
Chapter 20 What Is Non-Duality?
Chapter 21 How Is Non-Duality Different from Oneness?
Chapter 22 Why Is the Non-Dual Referred to As Consciousness?
Chapter 23 Why Does Non-Duality Contradict Itself?
Chapter 24 Are There Degrees of Non-Duality?
Chapter 25 On Science, Spirituality, and Consciousness
Chapter 26 Can Science Be Derived from Non-Duality?
From the Author
Wonder surrounds us. It’s there in the sun hanging in the sky and in the moon coolly illumining the ground at night. It’s also here, in the environment around you now. The walls. The furniture. Your clothes. There was a time when even these ordinary, inconspicuous things were wondrous experiences. Remember? It was decades ago, when you just emerged as a part of this world.
Later, you were taught to replace that wondrous experience with a label—like “wall”—and in doing so, an experience became a thing. Soon, the wonder was forgotten, except for those rare moments when faced with an experience so profound that it shuts down the labeling mechanism—perhaps when reuniting with a loved one or gazing at the speckled night sky.
Must we reduce an experience to the measurements we have tailored? Or, must we ignore our ability to measure so that we may live in Wonderland? Do we have to choose?
I vote no. We can play with both.
The choice I just presented is a false one. It’s false in the sense that these two poles—subjective and objective experience—are no different than last year’s winter, which came and went. In the midst of that winter, the cold was real, as the many snowmen in our neighborhoods attested. But a few months later, the snowmen had disappeared, and along with them, another winter.
The same happens with all dichotomies, whether they be subjective and objective, cold and hot, me and you, or even our favorite—good and evil. All of these are perspectives that come and go. They are not the final word. That’s not to diminish their significance. They are indeed necessary to live as a human being in this world. At the same time, they are also polarized expressions of something more fundamental—life prior to the refracting lens, where there are no dichotomies of any kind.
I wrote this book because a hypothesis I mulled over many years ago kept coming up in my mind. This was the hypothesis: There are no true contradictions—only apparent ones. The full import of those words wasn’t clear to me, but they sent me on a journey of reconciling everything I experienced with everything I already knew, whether it was in the form of science, philosophy, religion, relationships, or simply taking out the trash and cutting the lawn. I found that reconciling these disparate perspectives required an examination. That journey of reconciling the many compartments of life was crystallized in reflections written over the last couple years. This book brings those reflections together in one place, assembled in an order that is easy to navigate.
The journey starts with a jolt in Part I by declaring outright, “You’re not who you think you are.” Thus begins an exploration of identity—the core factor that is at the heart of not only spirituality, but also science, philosophy, religion, and every other facet of life, including washing the dishes on Saturday night after the guests leave.
In Part II, we shift our gaze to the world around us. What is it after all? How does it relate to who I am and how I experience the world? As we explore these questions, the falseness of the dichotomy of you and the world around you is exposed.
In Part III, we take a closer look at the philosophy of non-duality, which is the framework I use throughout the book. I chose to add this analysis to the book for two reasons. First, it gives you a backstage pass to my own thinking and biases. Second, non-duality is making a comeback.
Non-duality was originally expounded several millennia ago in the Indian philosophy of Advaita Vedanta, which translates to “non-dual culmination of knowledge,” Today, if you google “non-duality,” you will be greeted by a variety of conferences, discussions, and spiritual teachers that are interpreting the same timeless knowledge in a modern context. The inevitable result is that there are varying perspectives on exactly what non-duality means and what its implications are.
Into this sea of voices, I add my own in an attempt to put the sea itself in perspective. Importantly, I present these views on non-duality as someone who is drawing a map of the terrain, not as a trained philosopher or expert on Advaita Vedanta. In other words, the purpose of Part III is to put varying perspectives in context, not declare verbatim what has already been said.
At every step of the way, I urge you to challenge the words you read. They are not meant to convince you, but rather to stimulate reflection. Pick the words up off the page, take them apart, look at them every which way, and see if you can discern the fruit of your own meaning amidst the husk. That is where we meet. There is no discovery in believing or disbelieving what I say.
We are now upon a time in which our perspectives on spirituality, science, philosophy, and religion have evolved enough to stand together in the glare of the spotlight as we ask the most practical of questions:
· What is the common truth among all these?
· How does it change my life right now?
· How does it change the world?
Any answer that doesn’t address all these questions is incomplete. Any perspective that rejects another without assimilating it is outdated.
What we are looking for is a complete, comprehensive, living answer—an answer that transforms. It starts with inquiring into this character called i.