Nondualism: A Brief History of a Timeless Concept ~ Michael Taft


Many traditions and mystics talk about nondualism. But what is nondualism, and how have people—from different religions in different parts of the word—described this concept over the millennia?

In this book you will discover the long history of nondualism, from its first roots in the Indian Upanishads, to its expression in Buddhism and Advaita Vedanta, to its most modern-day expressions in the West. If you are a person in a nondual tradition, this book is an invaluable companion on your journey.

From the Introduction:

Nondualism is the philosophical and religious concept that all things are essentially one. It is called a philosophy of “identity” because it sees the entire universe, including any deity, as one unified whole. Although there appear to be a multiplicity of things in existence, any actual difference between them is illusory. Reality is not a multiplicity, in this view, but a singularity. Often in nondualism the apparent profusion of objects and beings in the universe is thought to be nothing other than a fantasy, and the only real thing is consciousness itself. Some, but not all, forms of nondualism include the idea of God, in which case God, creation, and the individual are seen to be identical. Nondualism has played a major role in the religions of Asia, such as Hinduism and Buddhism. It has also made some minor appearances in Western philosophies, but is an unpopular concept in the mainstream Abrahamic religions (i.e.—Judaism, Christianity, Islam).

Nondualism is the opposite (ha-ha) of a philosophy of “difference,” which sees reality as composed of many separate, individual parts, and usually a God who is also fundamentally separate from creation. Philosophies of difference, or dualism, are well known in the West: Christianity, Judaism, and to a large extent Islam are dualistic religions. The Abrahamic religions have had, here and there, a few philosophers and mystics that spoke of a nondual reality, but these have been few and far between.

India is unique in that it gave birth to several whole religions of pure identity (i.e. pure nondualism)
– for example, Buddhist Madhyamika and Hindu Advaita Vedanta.

The essence of nondual philosophy could be roughly summed up as: there is no you, no world, no deity, and no reality apart from the One Thing, which is consciousness. Everything else is imaginary. In this book we’ll examine the long history of this interesting and powerful idea.

In writing this text, it is my hope that the many people in the West who are currently involved in a nondual tradition will gain a bit more understanding of the background of nondualism, and perhaps where their tradition fits into the greater picture.

Michael W. Taft is an author, editor, meditation teacher, and neuroscience junkie. He is currently a meditation coach specializing in secular, science-based meditation training in corporate settings and one-on-one sessions. Michael is the author of several books, including “The Mindful Geek,” and “Nondualism: A Brief History of a Timeless Concept,” “Ego” (which he co-authored), as well as the editor of such books as “Hardwiring Happiness,” by Rick Hanson, and the upcoming “The Science of Enlightenment,” by Shinzen Young.

He often teaches at Google and has worked on curriculum development for SIYLI. Michael is also an official advisor to the Therapeutic Neuroscience Lab. He was previously editor-in-chief of Being Human, a site for exploring what evolution, neuroscience, biology, psychology, archeology, and technology can tell us about the human condition, and was editorial director of Sounds True.

From Zen temples in Japan to yogi caves in India, Michael has been meditating for over thirty years and has extensive experience in both Buddhist and Hindu practice. Michael is a senior facilitator in Shinzen Young’s Basic Mindfulness system, and is a teacher at Against the Stream Buddhist Meditation Society. He currently lives in Berkeley, California, and is founding editor of the popular mindfulness meditation blog Deconstructing Yourself.

Look Inside

Non-duality Talk

Michael Taft is the author of Nondualism: A Brief History of a Timeless Concept.

Michael writes, “The essence of nondual philosophy could be roughly summed up as: there is no you, no world, no deity, and no reality apart from the One Thing, which is consciousness. Everything else is imaginary.” In his book Nondualism a brief history of a timeless concept, he examines the long history of this interesting and powerful idea.

It’s Michael’s hope that the many people in the West who are currently involved in a nondual tradition will gain a bit more understanding of the background of nondualism, and perhaps where their tradition fits into the greater picture.

view here

Tracks

0:00 – 3:37 – Introduction to the topic of the history of nondualism and how it seems to be missing in the larger education

3:37 – 9:46 Early Vedic teachings. First definite nondual teachings in the Upanishads. A reading on turiya from the Mandukya Upanishad. Chandogya Upanishad.

9:46 – 11:22 The Upanishads as teaching texts. The current methodological teaching of Advaita Vedanta being a much later development.

11:22 – 14:38 Advent of Buddhism originating from study of the Upanishads and the three turnings of the wheel.

14:38 – 19:07 The refinement of Buddhist teachings. Emptiness teachings. Via positiva and via negativa teachings compared.

19:07 – 21:18 The expression of nonduality by people in general.

21:18 – 22:41 The blossoming of Buddhism very briefly mentioned.

22:41 – 26:13 Advaita Vedanta. Gaudapada.

26:13 – 29:17 Shankara. Buddhism contrasted with Vedanta.

29:17 – 34:43 The Western religions and nondualism. Meister Eckhart. Epiphatic Christianity.

34:43 – 38:30 Modern teachers: Nisargadatta Maharaj, Ramana Maharshi, Poonjaji, J. Krishnamurti. A gap noted in the book’s coverage and discussed.

38:30 – 45:08 Neo-Advaita, the pros and cons. Poonjaji’s teachings. Does neo-Advaita incorporate a practice?

45:08 – 46:54 Adyashanti and a paradoxical offering.

46:54 – 54:30 Michael Taft offers a meditation based on the “do nothing” technique of Shinzen Young. Conclusion

Michael Taft History of Nonduality SAND 2011 HD

Modern thought on nonduality has a long and illustrious lineage. Just where and when people began having nondual experiences, talking about these experiences, and sketching out the philosophy of nondualism is a controversial topic: sure to offend everyone! It is a deliciously dualistic topic, in which no air quotes will be allowed. Join me for a fun, lively, and fascinating exchange.

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