Non-duality, Zen, Advaita, Enlightenment, Awakening—What's it all about?
It is the dissolution of every answer to that question. Waking up now to the immediacy of this moment—breathing, heart-beating, sounds of rain or traffic, a dog barking, the cheeping of a bird, ever-changing sensations in the body—and the open, awake presence beholding it all.
If we give up everything that can be doubted, what remains? The knowingness of being present and aware Here / Now and the bare actuality of present experiencing is impossible to doubt. What we can doubt and argue about are all the ideas, interpretations and explanations of this living reality—the abstract maps drawn by conceptual thought.
In the map-world, things seem solid and separate. “I” am imagined to be encapsulated inside a separate bodymind, born into a world that exists independently of Consciousness.
But in reality, everything is dissolving instant-by-instant like snowflakes in a fire. The apparently separate and persisting forms are seamless, inseparable, fluid happenings like waves in the ocean. And when we look for the “me” who seems to be authoring my thoughts and making my choices, we find no-thing at all. No actual boundary can be located in direct experience where "inside of me" turns into "outside of me." What we all refer to as “I” turns out to be this boundless, impersonal awareness that is expressing itself as everything.
Every night in dreamless deep sleep, the whole show vanishes completely along with the phantom observer. What remains? Any answer (anything perceivable or conceivable) is absent in deep sleep. And yet, what remains in deep sleep is Here / Now, showing up as dogs and cats, beaver dams and skyscrapers, hurricanes and torrid love affairs, thoughts and sensations, music and imagination, meditation retreats and war zones.
What is it? Words can only point to the living reality that is ever-present and ever-changing. We can call it Here / Now, Consciousness, primordial awareness, God, the Self, emptiness, intelligence-energy, the One Mind, Being, the Tao, no-thing-ness, Unicity. The words are only sign-posts. The living reality cannot be grasped with thoughts and concepts. It is nothing in particular, and yet there is nowhere we can point where it is not. It is everything and no-thing.
We never actually leave Here / Now or exist as anything separate from awareness itself. There is a deep longing to be free that comes from freedom itself—a natural desire to relax into our True Nature, to feel the relief of no longer maintaining the illusion of separation, encapsulation and control. This is a beautiful longing, but it won’t be satisfied by anything less than simply being awake Here / Now, being liberated on the spot, realizing there is no one to liberate, discovering that what we long for is not "out there" somewhere, but that it is right here, most intimate, closer than close, even in the midst of what looks like limitation, conflict and misery. How far must you travel, and how long could it possibly take to reach Here / Now?