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…the open, awake presence beholding it all.
Everything in present experiencing is dissolving instant-by-instant like snowflakes in a fire. The apparently separate and persisting forms are inseparable and fluid happenings like waves in the ocean. Looking closely, we may discover that no actual boundary can ever be located in direct experience where "inside of me" turns into "outside of me." Without referring to thought or memory, I am no-thing and 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.
Are we separate from this ever-present, ever-changing happening? Are we in control of it? Is anything that shows up actually a distraction or a mistake? Is anything lacking or in excess? Do we really know what anything is? Is there a thinker authoring the thoughts, or is the thinker itself a thought? Can we see that every thought, feeling, urge, interest, decision, indecision, intention and action appears here in the same way that the brain, the breath, the wind, the clouds, the trees, and the galaxies appear here? How solid and substantial, and how personal, is any of it really?
The bare actuality of present experiencing is immediate and impossible to doubt. What we can doubt and argue about are all the ideas, interpretations and explanations of this living reality—the abstract maps and models drawn by conceptual thought. Maps are useful, but when we mistake them for the territory they describe, we suffer. The living reality is both ungraspable and inescapable. We never actually leave Here / Now or exist as anything separate from the Whole.
In the openness and simplicity of being awake to what is, we may discover that nothing is missing, that the turbulent, overcast weather is as integral to this happening as the calm, sunny weather, and that none of it is really a problem in the way we think it is. We may find that the freedom, happiness and peace that we long for is not "out there" somewhere, but that it is right here, even in the midst of limitation, conflict and misery.
By seeking enlightenment, we overlook it. Words like enlightenment point not to a finish-line that we cross or a personal attainment, but rather to what is: the living reality Here / Now that is ownerless, unbound, seamless and without division. This living reality is ever-present in spite of whatever appears and never because of any particular experience.
To be awake to this living reality is to know that everything is sacred and that nothing is lacking or out of place.