When we meditate, if we go very deep, we can actually awaken to the deepest dimension of reality itself. Mystics often refer to this depth dimension as the nondual ground of being.
The word ‘nondual’ means ‘not two’. Teachings of nonduality state that the ultimate nature of all things – seen and unseen, known and unknown – is one and not two. This is not simply an abstract metaphysical idea; the nondual ground is a real domain, an actual dimension.
This timeless, formless, empty ground is that which predated the emergence of the known universe 14 billion years ago, before the Big Bang. It is that which always already exists, prior to the relative domain, prior to the space-time continuum. In meditation, we can dive deeply into this domain.
Our awareness of passing thoughts starts to fade, and eventually cognition disappears altogether. As we keep sinking into meditative depth, not only will our minds disappear but also our awareness of the world and everything in it, including our own biological form. The familiar and the known fall ever further away from awareness, and we awaken more and more to the infinite nature of this depth dimension in which there is no beginning, no end, and no time.
When we go this deep, we enter a domain where nothing ever happened. There is no time, no history, and no Karma. The universe has yet to be created. You have not been born. No one has been born and no one has suffered, and so there is a felt sense of extraordinary, limitless freedom. When the Buddha sat in meditation under the Bodhi tree 2,500 years ago, what he realised was this causal depth awareness. He discovered the unconfined, unimaginable and infinite freedom of the ground of being.
The classical definition of non duality that emerged from this discovery states that the ultimate nature of all things, seen and unseen, known and unknown, is ultimately this timeless, formless, empty ground – and ‘I Am That.’ Gurus and mystics who teach this definition tend to proclaim that the world is an illusion, and that consciousness alone is real. My own teacher, the great H. W. L Poonja, taught in this way – and there’s no doubt that he awakened many people to this nondual truth, including me.
But since the time of the Buddha, our understanding of the cosmos has expanded enormously, and around 200 years ago, something new and paradigm-shattering emerged. With the discovery of evolution, we finally understood that the world of biological forms is evolving – in a state of endless becoming and reaching for ever greater complexity. Given vast eons of time, energy and matter can organise themselves into patterns of such unimaginable complexity that eventually life, mind, consciousness, and the human capacity for self-reflective awareness can emerge.
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