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 Here / Now, present and aware, and the bare actuality of present experiencing are 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 an independent entity, encapsulated inside a separate bodymind, born into an objective world that exists outside of consciousness. But no actual boundary can be located in direct experience where "inside of me" turns into "outside of me." No dividing line where awareness ends and content begins has ever been found. We never actually experience anything outside of (or other than) consciousness. What we all refer to as “I” turns out to be this boundless, seamless, all-inclusive Here / Now, which we never actually leave.
All apparently separate and persisting forms (mountains, chairs, people, nations, thoughts, colors, shapes, sounds, etc.) are in reality ever-changing, fluid appearances, inseparable from one another, like waves in the ocean. When we look for the “me” who seems to be authoring my thoughts and making my choices, we find no actual self, only ever-changing thoughts, memories, sensations and mental images. Every urge, interest, thought, action, and apparent choice is a movement of the totality that could not be otherwise than exactly how it is.
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 this amazing kaleidoscope of ever-changing forms—people, hummingbirds, subatomic particles, planets, galaxies, beaver dams, skyscrapers, hurricanes, torrid love affairs, silent retreats, wars, music, traffic sounds—all of it dissolving instantaneously like snowflakes in a fire.
There is a deep longing to relax into the simplicity of what is, to feel the relief of no longer seeking something better or different, no longer trying to improve or defend the phantom “me.” This longing won’t be satisfied by beliefs, ideas or second-hand information. It will only be satisfied by being awake Here / Now, not clinging or grasping, not fixating on one side of any apparent duality. What we long for is not "out there" somewhere. It is right here. How far must we travel, and how long could it possibly take to reach Here / Now and to be what we already are?