Neti Neti: What it is not
Neti -- neti is a well known Sanskrit expression that is found in the Upanishads, but also is widely misunderstood (both in the West as well as in classic Indian dualistic philosophic traditions as well). That is, it is subject to much varied interpretations. The common misunderstanding comes from a false assumption (which is nothing other than a dualistic preference of the mind) in which the saying is interpreted as a presumption of an programmed alienated context (an illusory assumption where God, Spirit, or Brahman is absent, separate in our daily life, or "elsewhere"). This limited backdrop occurs within the assumed context of a predilection toward the pre-existing false assumption of spiritual alienation (and may I add corruption), where a state of sin/separation from spirit is taken as the underlying "reality". Certainly, if a spiritual seeker finds themselves spiritually alienated and estranged from spirit, which is lacking, then this sadhak (spiritual seeker) can strive for re-union/re-integration. However, it is valuable to not set the quest within this corrupt and alienated framework less we amplify it as a condition paralysis/stickiness or spiritual stasis. Such is a limited/ignorant view of reality. In REALITY, this false coloring of spiritual alienation can be likened to grasping in the wind, being an error of the programmed dualistic mind. Within this mind-made conditioned schism that separates "spiritual principles or the sacred" from man, beingness, and from the earth in an oppositional manner, is the error that underlies all the corrupted brutalities that man lays upon himself, his fellow creatures, and that of future generations. Thus, the Upanishadic saying, neti-neti (neither this nor that), will be used to disclose the lie and reveal the truth.
Neti-Neti in the Non-Dual Context:
Here we will posit the opposite jumping off place of interpretation than dualism (dvaita). We will reveal and be grounded within that Reality, which true and spirited vision and clarity naturally expresses. That Spirit is the everpresent all pervasive Untouched Eternal Reality, as nisprapanca, acintya, aprapanca, and non-dual (advaita). It is Never-ending, Beginningless Reality, which is Eternally Present as sacred presence. Therefore, knowing and affirming the true context of "reality" from the beginning, as a non-dual assumption, then the term neti-neti can be applied simultaneously as a negation of subject/object duality, and hence as an affirmation of the non-dual unitive state. Here we will show how and why to effect this.
Although primordial presence appears to be absent or lacking from "normal" dualistic materialistic everyday life (as chronic ignorance), never-the-less we will view this "normalcy" as an error of the conditioned "normal" mind -- as a result of negative programming, where the gross physicality of sense "objects" as well as similar I/it dualistic obsessions are perceived as fragmented and disorganized. That mental and energetic obsession/fixation occludes universal sacred presence out of context of the whole. Thus this materialistic/dualistic chronic "normalcy" will be considered as the normal icy process of that establishes ignorance (avidya), as a fragmented self limiting skew, as a prejudicial and superficial bias of what really is in its natural universal and unbiased way. As such, chronic dualistic referencing (the reification process), as an illusory and an aberrant, corrupt, and perverted way of seeing and being, maintains a hallucinatory mindset, which when accepted by our peers becomes institutionalized ignorance, social stasis, and a force that is counter evolutionary.
The Sanskrit expression, neti neti, as expressed by the realized sages points to that vast reality, which is more than dualistic fixation. As such "not this, not that", which is the common translation, becomes transformed to, "we belong to a boundless all inclusive realm of Great Integrity and Continuity- the WE realm of All Our Relations being therefore more than just a fragmented limitation or corruption of the whole, but rather the phrase, neti neti, also implicitly shouts forth "tat tvam asi" -- That eternal spirit thou art. Yoga practice is designed to open that living book where all beings and things are relatives and kin as Vasudev Kutumbhkam --the entire Universe is One Family. As we will see, this is an exploration of vast interconnectedness, a vast diversity within a coherent unity, and a vast unity (hologram) found in the form of a vast holographic diversity, both.
Many levels of Interpretation
The expression, neti neti, literally means "neither this, nor that" or not this and not that. In the first level this is the rejection of a separate self or ego. It is a rejection of fragmentation or split from universal spirit which is embedded within all beings and things. In the wholistic multidimensional context, it means that human beings are not just separate egos, we can not ever be adequately defined as being separate from spirit without introducing a delusion -- spiritual self-alienation. The projection of an individual self or observer apart from the object, which the observer observes defines a limited dualistic mental framework. In turn such occludes the larger picture, which includes all time, space, and knowledge. Rather we, as human beings, are part of an immense sacred process, not apart from it.
Thus "neti neti", as a statement, means that we are not anything separate as in the disparate dualistic framework of a separate "I/ it" subject/object duality context (versus the sacred non-dual and transpersonal "I-Thou" context) wherein we identify as a finite expression integrally part of a boundless spirit (like a wave on the ocean). We are neither the ego, nor are we nothing at all. We are neither the all, nor nothing at all. Neither just this observer, nor just that (the observed). Neither eternal nor finite, neither eternalism nor nihilism, neither empty nor solid. Rather it is the great non-dual or advaya statement of both/and -- both, but neither by itself. "And" in the sense of a greater synthesis or unity -- call it the tantric Siva/shakti if one likes, albeit nihilists will take it as a negation of reality.
Although negative dialectics (such as found in Nagarjuna's Buddhist Madhyamaka philosophy, which is considered as non-dual philosophy by Buddhists) will be addressed shortly, we will show that the statement, neti neti, s not only negates the validity of a perception which imputes a separate/independent self existence (an ego) which includes the perception of a valid existence of a separate/independent object as well as the egoic observer, but also net-neti, by disowning duality per se, one is affirming a holographic non-dual dynamic wholistic system, where "things" as sense objects, the senses, the process of perception, mental dispositions, and intellectual function, all operate interdependently, becoming organized by an inherent vast intrinsic transconceptual schemata within the sphere of beginningless primordial awareness totally free from concepts of sequential time and limited space. Neti-neti is thus not a statement of existence per se, negating existence per se, affirming non-existence, negating the existence of both, or the negation of the negation of both, and so on infinitum, but of negating any dualistic view. Rather it affirms the interdependence of all things and beings -- the holographic relationship. Negative dialectics (negation without affirmation) most often serves to go down a slippery slope of the extremes of nihilism and cynicism.
Although there are volumes of pages written about Buddhist non-dual philosophy (Madhyamaka), we will briefly describe it in terms of neti neti, stating that phenomena, things, objects, the objective world, or "existence per se" do not exist by themselves independently. In short objects or observers have no independent or exclusive self existence other than in the dualistic imputation of the egoic mental formulation. Such things, objects, phenomena, or objective world per se, cannot rightly be said to exist, to not exist, both simultaneously, or neither. There are many logical reasons given. The easiest reason is that they never existed in the first place, so there is no self existing reference point (referent) to some "thing" which is not existent as compared to something else which does not exist. Secondly, nothing can be said to truly "not exist" exclusively in relationship to something else (to that which is considered to truly exists exclusively or independently). Likewise things, phenomena, objects, the objective world, etc., do not both exclusively not exist and exist at the same time, as it would violate the previous statements. Lastly, according to Nagarjuna things, objects. phenomena, or the objective world cannot be said to both not exist, and both not not exist, ad infinitum.
Here is a brief summary realizing full well that this leaves the realm of yoga and enters into philosophical speculation, dialectics, logic, and reductionism. Rather it is the intent of this article to place neti neti into the public domain, while extracting it from the realm of philosophical speculation.
The four (and more) negations
1) the negation of solid independent existence
2) the negation of the negation of existence
3) the negation of both existence and non-existence
4) the negation of the negation of both existence and non-existence
None of these imputations can stand on their own, so they are negated. In short, things, objects, phenomena, events, or the world per se do not exist as separate selves possessing an intrinsic independent existence, rather phenomena can only be said to truly exist when taken as parts of a mutually interdependent whole, hence the inseparable nature of differentiated reality (temporal ever-changing relativity) with undifferentiated absolute reality (the unchanging Beginningless a-temporal and primordial formless realm). Both are married as the inseparable unity of dharmakaya (empty space) and rupakaya (form), wisdom and compassion, emptiness and clarity, or emptiness and essential nature, which are different formulations of the same non-dual truth. The crucial key is that the non-dual view is equivalent to the inseparable interdependent/interconnected state of naljor (yoga) which is the great natural state of perfect wealth.
Things do not exist separate as exclusive independent entities as solid or permanent, nor do they not exist at all as in an inane nihilistic state. This is the essential non-dual meaning of the statement of neti/neti
By both/and, it is meant that neti neti refers to the illusion that things/objects exist by in and by themselves, as well as the illusion that the observer or ego truly exists as a separate independent observer. The both/and affirmation is the affirmative statement of interconnectedness and interdependent co-arising, where things as well as the intelligent evolutionary life force behind all things can be said to truly co-exist interdependently in the context of primordial time and wisdom.
Neti Neti as the body too -- the body too! We are the intimate limbs and expression of the body of God
So on one level neti neti says, "not self not self", not small mind self, not just individual mind, "not ego-not ego", not duality, not separateness, not division, not only this or only that, but in doing so it affirms its own negation in a greater affirmation in an unlimited all encompassing holographic integration as we will see. Too often dualistic interpreters (see introduction above) interpret net neti as a dualistic statement hearing separate separate as if saying "separate" from the body (as ego identifies with the body), separate from nature, the earth, the senses or even entire world of form as in an infinite and final nihilistic withdrawal. But that is an oversimplified logical mistake, throwing the baby out with the bath water, unless one understands that this statement is an affirmation of the integrative non-dual state where no thing is separate. But dropping the ego is only one step within the integrative step (re-integrating with the whole).
As a spiritual saying within the framework of yoga being union, net-neti, is understood correctly within a spiritual context of union with Universal all pervading Spirit, not within a dualistic alienated context. Anyone who has practiced yoga as a spiritual practice consistently over time begins to be familiar with that territory. They begin to recognize that they exist within a larger relational boundless framework, where nothing exists in and by itself as if in a vacuum as an ego or entity. Indeed these interconnections between all beings, all of creation in All Our Relations is the realization of the non-dual Great Integrity which is yoga.
By the body too, it is meant that the all pervasive consciousness includes all, including the body, but it is not limited to the body. In that experiential state of pure being and pure consciousness nothing is excluded and nothing clamors for inclusion.
The common error of the dualistic mind that must be pointed out is that a negation must also be an affirmation of another avenue of perception. If that new context does not exclude anything and is thus does not need to include anything; if it is not lacking in any way, is NOT separate, isolated, or independent, but is universal, all pervading, and primordial, then it satisfies the non-dual criteria. If not negation becomes part of an aversion process, where one craves escape, creates negative karma by trying to escape, avoid, isolate, or separate oneself from an imputed isolated autonomous "thing" (usually the body, natural feelings, the natural world, and evolutionary process). The latter is not yoga. In yoga we are looking for integration. Rather when a yogi starts to realize the greater wholeness of an expanded process oriented realm of evolutionary consciousness and being, he/she gladly surrenders his/her previously conditioned limited sense of "self" consciousness (asmita), recognizing it as an impediment/obscuration (klesha). thus suffering (dukha) is avoided and happiness and bliss eventually realized in Sat Chit Ananda. This is not to negate that at physical death, the physical body is relinquished, but that is part and parcel of a greater continuity and evolutionary integration process which has already been affirmed.
Thus authentic spiritual practice in yoga is aimed at realizing the "Reality" and truth of this non-dual transpersonal omnipresent and all knowing universal boundless Mind which is expressed through every cell in the body subjectively as well as objectively (united). Intelligent spirit is not only seen as manifest in the physical body but also in God's body, nature, and the entire manifest universe simultaneously as sacred presence --who we really are (swarupa) in context of total boundless space and absolute time.
For an authentic yogi, knowledge, jnana, or gnosis, is not derived intellectually or conceptionally -- realization is not just words or adherence to a memorized philosophy, but rather it is a direct expression of direct yoga experience. Hence it is fundamentally non-dual (based on an experiential union/integration) as distinct from an objectification process, which separates the observer from "something". Here we must be careful to make this distinction, and thus not perpetuate this common confusion. Neti-neti means not that, not words, not apparent isolated events that are frozen in time, but rather an experience grounded in the Great river of endless all encompassing continuity and everything short of that.
It is in this sense thus "neti -neti" is an affirmation of the all inclusive, omnipresent, non-dual, universal, and transpersonal identity which knows no bounds -- sometimes called Brahman in Sanskrit, sometimes called God in the west, or nirbija samadhi in traditional yoga, but at the same time we are warned not to think of it as an independent entity, a religious doctrine, belief system, or ideology, to which could be capable of obedience or conformity. Neither is neti-neti a negation of the physical relative world (as is often assumed). Rather on a higher level neti-neti means that we are neither just Brahman separate from the world, nor just the world, neither exclusively absolute nor exclusively relative, but both/and much more. When Brahman is truly realized, it is not separate from atman (self), but this is not the glorified ego which is the common illusion. This Self is not an independent entity. The separate self (atman) is not the universal Self (Brahman) by definition. Brahman permeates and contains all, both, while it is known as the essence of all. All pervasive it can not be isolated. Once realized not as a separate object, but one's true self, only then does atman and brahman become one. Taken as a whole, Brahman transforms the delusion of a separate self (atman). As such neti-neti is not just a negation, isolation, refutation, nor exclusion, but more so, a great affirmation of sacred non-dual universal presence -- the boundless realm of All Our Relations. It's more than human words can adequately express.
However the academician, the orthodox scholar, the pandit, the self gratuitous intellectual, the religionist, fundamentalist, the normal left brained dominated (unbalanced), but unfortunately "normal" person (who is submersed chronically in the duality, bias, and fragmented thought processes of the normal "i-it" limited context) carries with them the biased filter of a pre-programmed self perpetuating inability or ignorance (avidya) preventing them from expanding beyond their self imposed dualistic mindset/prison -- held together by rigid mind constructs, concepts, artificial half truth belief systems, preconceptions, mechanisms of analytical reductionism, prejudice, pride, arrogance, etc. Such (albeit normal) people who have become inured to such negative programming having adopted habitual distorted standpoints, their minds have become chronically artificially alienated from living spirit in a tenacious way (citta-vrtti). Thus they see spirit or God outside of everyday life -- separate from this world and life. Once that alienation sets in then, it is an easy assumption that God or spirit exists in death or outside of nature. God becomes associated with death. Yet the opposite is of course what is needed. Ideologues and fundamentalists simply need to bring spirit back into their lives rather than further pushing it away by attachment to overly simplistic false assumptions. What is needed hence, is to release/relax these mental attachments.
This is not to say that intellectual or rational function is "bad" per se. Rather, it is a specific technical tool that can be misused/overused to create lifeless, contrived, narrow, and artificial mind constructs no matter how logical they may appear, that preclude spirit and dishonor life. These ignorant mind fabrications can box man in to very limited conceptual frameworks and self limiting beliefs which compound his suffering and alienation if not surrendered to the larger innate intelligence behind the intellect (buddhi) and which animates it. Logic without inspiration thus gets in the way of universal boundless mind, thus creating an artificial split (duality) between the one who views (a false identification of separateness or ego) and the object that is being viewed, and thus the process of viewing (or consciousness) becomes severely obscured, conditioned, biased, frozen, and self limiting. This is the common assumptive trap of extractive reductionist mentation or over objectification of the right brain imbalanced person (a widespread epidemic in the modern world). Simply the Buddhists call this subject/object duality, or one may simply call it cerebral over dominance or fixation upon a false identification. It is necessary to release (vairagya) this fixation if one is a sincere seeker.
A yoga practitioner (sadhak) or true spiritual seeker asks the fundamental question of the spiritual seeker -- the one who inquires, explores, searches, and observes -- who practices self observation and self study (swadhyaya), thus removing the bias and prejudice of the a separate observer. Such a seeker is not interested in the small answers and the inquiry is not necessarilly put into words, other than into describing the nature of inquiry itself. The essential practice is transconceptual. By inquiring "who am I" conceptually, one defines oneself in terms of everything else. As such it is only the first preliminary question, through whose ultimate answer everything else understood. The answer is not separate, not independent. Ultimately the non-dual realization is beyond the ability of human intellectual/conceptual thought constructs, rather it is truly timeless primordial wisdom which must be allowed to express itself. Neti neti says it is not in the books, nor not "not in the words, belief systems, or conceptual frames. Neither is gnosis found solely in the physical body, nor not only in the body, rather the selfless unselfish state of pure being (Sat) both the body and everything else, and primordial wisdom, including vast time. Hence in this yogic light we experience a holographic embodied spirituality where phenomena is permeated with timeless wisdom, where phenomena and being co-emerges spontaneously as one when we allow it to happen -- when the wisdom eye opens, the true nature of phenomnena.is known. Yoga is a practice which allows us to realize that great integral synchronicity. Otherwise we exist spiritually estranged and disempowered in chronic spiritual self-alienation (error or sin).
Spiritual practice as such then is the remedial adjustment for the skew introduced by the conditioned small self (limited viewer which introduces time/space bias) in favor for the transpersonal universal spiritual boundless view. Sadhana thus brings us back into balance and harmony. That this REALITY is possible and that it involves an inner awareness; i.e., an awareness of "self" is the assumption that separates the spiritual explorer from the assumptive limitations and beliefs of an ordinary philosophic inquirer.
So this again leads one to ask the spiritual question, who am I? Thus in authentic yoga sadhana of swadhyaya (self study) this exact process of inquiry into Self nature is engaged, not the study of what books, scripture, priests, or external authority figures or status quo structures tell us who we are. The successful answer to this question depends on LISTENING/ASKING going deep into that very process of inquiry itself. This is called, BEING OPEN, in dhyana (emptiness meditation) practice.
Knowing our own mind (instrument of knowing) is a wonderful gift that we can give ourselves. At first, one may encounter demons (phantoms of the dualistic mind which one can apply "neti-neti", neither this nor that -- not self not not self. Going into that light of knowledge itself leads to what is called self realization in the spiritual context. If the answer is found in a book, external authority, scripture, or consensus reality then the book answer is temporal, prejudiced, contrived, and "religious" (conforming to an external authority) versus spiritual and universal which assumes that the answer has come about experientially from a subjective inner realization. The former conclusion (which is the norm) is achieved through conformity and memorization, while the latter is achieved at first through critical and creative thought (neti-neti) and then from there non-dual integration is based upon the highest Universal Eternal Omnipresent Source which is eternally present -- which is omniscient as well as omnipresent -- eternally here and now as beginningless and endless boundless universal Mind.
Thus the first step in this spiritual process is to make the inquiry which must challenge all sacred cows and institutionalized authority. The second step when this external knowledge (knowledge about something) and programming has been discarded, then one has space for the inner clarity and grace to arise (prasdam) which is subtle beyond the most subtle -- objectless. How else could one know the true Self who is not bound by any singular object, if not from every cell in your very body and every cell in the universe and every non-cell, and non-atom. This points to beauteous completion (where the bonds of karma are exhausted --to ultimate fulfillment and Grace).
This is the reason that yogis and true seekers meditate (practice dhyana) and perform spiritual practices (sadhana) in order to penetrate the veil of illusion, to remove conditioned ignorance, to free themselves of conditioned bias, belief systems, prejudice, programmed mental propensities/tendencies, habits, limitations, and karma, and thus to eventually abide in the wisdom expanse of the Great Integrity -- the Great Universal Consciousness and Beingness which is supra-human, i.e., it includes the human realm and earth realm, but is neither anthropocentric nor dualistic. To limit, reduce, or impose human terminology, symbolism, and language into this realm, is exactly the self imposed barrier which the intellectual suffers and becomes imprisoned. Thus neti -neti can also be translated, "not just that, but more than that - more than just that, much more unlimitly so". Nothing is excluded. This may appear to be a heretical interpretation to the orthodox academician intent on separation and negation, yet maybe some academicians would agree that analytical processes are preliminary and supportive, helping the practitioner to eventually weed out errors of the mind and surpass the limitations of the human brain. Certainly we are more than THAT, which words can describe. In other "words", it is a spiritual statement only if it is an affirmation of the presence of an all inclusive living spirit; i.e., that non-dual teachings calls forth as it discards the ego (false and limited view of a separate "i" observer self). It does not negate nature, and the natural unconditioned mind, but rather it negates false and limited views and delusion. Failing this criteria, it is not a spiritual statement, rather it is intellectual speculation and/or ideology.
Unfortunately, in both the East and the West the common man substitutes belief, pramana. academic book knowledge, or such as a displacement for wisdom or gnosis, but the yogi does not fall victim to that trap. Those who are tied to the sterile puppet strings of reductionist thinking of the intellect (immersed in the limitations of symbolic world and duality) interpret the expression neti-neti, as "not this body, not this body" even though the body has nothing to do with the Sanskrit word, neti. Rather this occurs because of the intellectual's ingrained dualism, i.e., that says that God or Spirit has to exist elsewhere -- not here not here they are saying. Some where else -- somewhere else! This self defeating estrangement puts the intellectual into self imposed spiritual alienation and by definition distances them from God, Spirit, sacred presence, union, or samadhi -- the living world of "All Our Relations".
Fear of life or pain, is the "normal" and common reaction, but unnatural. It produces an alienated world of institutionalized spiritual Diaspora, corruption, fragmentation, and sin. This is the affliction that authentic yoga attempts to alleviate and eventually remedy, by meeting our mental pain, and thus destroying fear and attachment, instead of attempting escape. This institutionalized anti-body and anti-nature prejudice unfortunately has become the acculturated and authoritative standard interpretation (no matter how absurd it appears to a true sadhak). It has become so entrenched that many humans are destroying themselves and their habitat. Rather in truth, neti neti means that we are not separate or apart from the sacred web of life; that this body does not exist separate from millions of years of co-evolution with the universe; that this body is a manifestation of beginningless love -- of eternal spirit right here in the present as a representative of eternal presence -- of love loving love. Here the true nature of phenomena is disclosed as itself discloses its beginningless primordial origin. Such a life becomes a living library in each instant -- in all instances.
The alienation of man from this deep holographic/reflexive relationship is ignorance, where man denies his connectivity with all beings and things. Nothing else will be able to fill this empty gap. Neurotic consumerism is dependent upon this spilt from living spirit and source. Man's true authority has become institutionalized by greedy and exploitive priests, kings, and their lackeys who thrive on manipulating others. These vampires create confusion on purpose in order to dumb people down and create a fundamental self doubt, which thus creates dependence upon these external authoritative structures, institutions, empires, kingships, priesthood, hierarchies, institutions, religions, etc. Of course those entrenched and dependent on this structure will deny this.
For example, neti neti as interpreted by some Vedantists (not all) is a form of denial of and escape from the world, of embodiment, of aversion to and fear of nature, creation, and embodiment. It's an easy way out/copout, but is none-the-less very seductive to the confused masses. The self delusion rap goes like this; "Just pretend that the world doesn't exist, that life is an illusion (maya), numb yourself out to it, the body, the senses, and sever all bonds to it, and then all your problems will go away. All suffering is just an illusion, war, torture, disease, poverty etc., is an illusion". In short rationalize out suffering and rationalize in Brahman. Take that as one's acting role as if playing in a theatre. Such is the pretentious play of those lost within inorganic and contrived self fabricated and sterile mindsets based on preferential thinking (raga/dvesa as attachment and repulsion). Obviously kleshas and ignorance such as raga/dvesa can not be remediated through application of raga (preference) or dvesa (dislike and escapism), nor can nirvikalpa samadhi be realized through utilizing vikalpa.
Yes, many attachments such as to the body go away when the physical body dies, but who dies and who dreams on, what samskaras, mental attachments, fears, confusion, and karma continues. These are the elements that are to be liberated today in order to become liberated today and in the future. What about future generations and the welfare of our children? What about the future of the human species and the planet? These are human questions which beg the question of why human birth in the first place which are too earthly questions for the orthodox.
The narrow minded academic Advaita (non-dual) adherent interpretation of neti-neti precludes and escapes nature, embodiment, and differentiated consciousness, focusing on an isolation toward Source only or monism. Monism is not non-dual, but rather one way union with the one at the expense of the many. Orthodox escapist oriented vedanta tends toward monism -- a force moving away from differentiated consciousness while labeling everything Brahman at the expense of everything else.
They may deny or affirm, depending, that they have created a conceptual ideological split between spirit (Brahman) and Nature (embodiment); yet at the same time they may mistakenly call their philosophy non-dual. As such these so called non-dualists are as other worldly as fundamentalist Christians, who believe that God is in heaven (not here). Heaven is where they will go AFTER they die. That is another word, for institutionalized spiritual estrangement -- something emperor Constantine created in the 4th century at the Nicene Council with a design to own the world. Jeshua bin Josef of course never indicated anything as absurd as a distant God. In fact he is reported as saying: "My God is of the Living". In the Nicene Council that established the legitimacy of the Christian bible, only those representatives chosen by the Roman emperor, Constantine, were invited. Even some of these could not be made to agree to a new church based on Paul's doctrines of sin, so they were condemned and banished . The main controversy stemmed from what was called the Nicene Creed, a statement of Christian faith that was adopted by the Nicene Council which clearly affirmed that heaven was elsewhere than here.
It is remarkable that there are elements within Vedanta who also create that same alienation from Spirit (the well known Brahman-Maya split) while still insisting on labeling it non-duality. However it appears that such represents a deep duality, dissociation, and denial. The deepness of that denial is that the Vedantists think that they are non-dualists (most of them), but have in Reality created their own drama which may I add won't end until they drop their own self imposed Vedantic filter. In both systems there exists a fear of nature, the body, and embodiment -- a statement of enduring suffering and denying fulfillment in trade for some distant far off time. In order to deal with the fear and trauma of existence brought upon one's state of confusion, one dissociates from "self" and embodiment -- from even an association with the body or life. Such systems reinforce an alienation from our own feelings. Such dogma males us believe that sex, pleasure, bodily feelings, connection with the world or our animal nature is bad. Implied in that assumption is that we should ignore or over come the body and our feelings. In that sense there is the idea of sacrifice without reward or a delayed other world reward. However in truth the body is god's temple and our feet and arms are his limbs. True non-duality (call it advaya if you like) synchronizes non-differentiated consciousness or absolute reality with differentiated consciousness (relative reality), one not excluding the other in true non-duality (advaya) with neither extreme existing by itself or negating/excluding the other. Thus neti/neti is neither an undifferentiated consciousness (Brahman) interpretation, nor a differentiated consciousness (maya), but rather both/and. Maya is the clothing or apparel of Brahman. It both conceals Brahman as well as discloses Brahman. Without the clothing Brahman is invisible. They must be seen as an overall whole. A monist would state that only only Brahman or the eternal is real to the exclusion of the temporal, while a non-dualist would recognize the relative and absolute truths as mutually co-arising.
Here we come to the true value of the saying, neti neti, as being neither monist, neither one extreme nor the other, neither up,. nor down, but rather non-linear and multidimensional. If one searches inside to the observer - to see how his conditioning and prejudice (vrtti) colors the field of consciousness, one would eventually have to ask who is self and where does it abide? Religionists do not embark in such a genuine inquiry because they are compelled to follow their politically correct external authoritative traditional dictates, and not contradict or question it. However after a thorough spiritual inquiry by true seekers, no one has been able to find a separate self, or ego. Where does it abide? This separate self or ego is the simple dualistic question, but no one has been able to find it. After a logical search most people mistake that the ego is defined by the physical limits of the body; i.e., where the body ends, the ego ends. Hence in this situation, the term, neti neti does mean; no, I am not just the body -- not the physical body only, in the sense we are not the ego, rather we are more than that. It says we are more than a thing that dies but also this thing that dies AND also includes this thing that dies and more than that. The yogi gets this answer not by logic alone, but from direct experience of that expanded boundless universal awareness brought through dhyana and samadhi -- from the open heart. That experience informs then the frontal cortex and thus the logic of it is inspired through direct experience of the opened heart dictating to the open mind.
So that most common mistake by the closed minded, logician, philosopher, religionist, or cortically dominated man is the most common mistake -- the preferential assumption that the body is not real or spiritual because of great pain and dvesa (repulsion). Neti neti really means is that the body is only a small part of who we really are in terms of the big Self of All Our Relations. It is part of the omnipresent magical and intelligent great matrix of Siva/shakti. The Great Integrity is just that, all inclusive, omnipresent, universal, innate, and non-fragmented by definition so how could it not include the body and the entire cosmos? The only thing it does not include is the delusion of the ego -- that somehow the body is the ego or that any thing exists by itself in a vacuum. The "i" in Reality is empty and vacuous -- there is no "i". The "i" is a neurotic substitute -- place holder, for the absence of the sacred relationship. This sacred relationship occurs in the transpersonal., both/and, non-dual realization that authentic yoga (reunification) brings.
Thus the true interpretation of neti-neti is that we are not this, not that -- not any "thing" separate. Neti-neti states clearly that we are not "just" that or this, i.e., that we are not separate and limited beings but rather thou are that, i.e., that our true identity is Brahman, not the limited and biased spin of ego (the delusion of being separate). In truth we live in sacred presence, but we are asleep in ignorance, delusion, and forgetfulness. Thus a Sufi affirmation to the divine goes; "I am nothing at all by myself. Only YOU exist -- God is everything"! Ignorance means just that; i.e., that some "observer/I" is ignoring the whole/hologram.
Just as the stars and valley are obscured by clouds and fog, they none-the-less truly exist as they are beyond their appearances, beyond the senses, beyond superficial clothing. The clearing of the clouds and lifting of the fog alludes to the process of purifying the matrix and lifting the veil of ignorance and illusion. Egohood only exists in our mind . It is a shared hallucination although a powerful one. Although many people may "act out" from this neurotic state, and thus mutually serve to amplify the illusion, it does not follow that it is none-the-less more real. Ego reality is "in Reality" an empty illusion -- void, a hallucination. Here we are approaching Buddhist non-dualism (free from all extremes). The ego is a delusion and hence so are the way that the ego normally perceives phenomena. But these limited or superficial ways of knowing does not preclude the true nature of mind or true nature of phenomena.
The non-dual unitive process includes the process of going toward primordial uncreated beginningless and the evolutionary creative manifestation from primordial source. This is only possible to know in the primordial present as instant presence. Primordial space and time has no end, no beginning, nor middle. It is not a thing or entity, and has always been available as sacred presence in the eternal timeless moment Primordial space has always been here, beyond before the beginning and after the end in the Beginningless never ending/ever-new/ever-now-ness), which is both nowhere and everywhere, neither one nor the other, and neither neither (neti neti). This is the ultimate unbiased universal unlimited and complete Reality, of which nobody can step outside of and view objectively.
This non-dual process in which all are kin is non-linear and non-dual BOTH/AND simultaneously like a non-dual pillar of light going up and down, neither up or down, left or right, in or out, neither both, but both/and. In authentic yoga we are this non-dual pillar in the activated core/heart reached through the middle innermost central channel (within the sushumna). Energetically this occurs when the winds moving in the ida and pingala channels (nadis) are subtilized to the extent that they dissolve into the central channel (sushumna) and stilled (sunya) in samadhi (see yoga Sutra III.3). Here samsaric mental afflictions are dissolved
Thus we are not "just" the energy body and not just the physical body which is ever changing, temporary, and corporeal, but at the same our identity must include the form bodies (in the greater context) in each sacred eternal moment of non-dual being. This is the salient point; i.e., that in all pervasive vast space, there is nothing excluded nor nothing that remains to be included. It is the Great Integrity -- the Great Completion -- the Mahamudra as the vast expanse where duality is merely a limited misperception. The orthodox scholar, dualist, and common man mistakes the expression to say that we are not the body, but the yogi takes it to say that we are all inclusive, the body, and the river, and the stars, the sacred mandala, divine creatrix, -- not just one of these limited, isolated, separate, and false identifications. In other words, the words, neti-neti, can not be viewed successfully as an exclusive statement out of context with Brahman, but rather as an inclusive affirmation of Brahman and Atman -- Atman only truly exists united with Brahman-- of an all inclusive reality where there is no separation. The yogi as a true seeker and fearless rainbow warrior who learns to see living spirit inherent all created things -- learns to see the continuity of eternal spirit in all of creation at all times. As Van Morrison has put it, "Spirit Don't Ever Die". It exists NOW.
On the Connection between Buddhist Anatta/Anatma, Sunyata, Nondualism, Advaita/Advaya, and (Atman/Brahman Unity Utilizing Neti- Neti as the Integrative Key
Neti neti is a saying found in the Upanishads and especially attributed to the Avadhuta Gita. Literally, it means neither this, nor that. Considerable debate has arisen over exactly "what" (if anything specific) does it really refer to? Indeed, the true nature of that "what", as the true nature of reality is a large topic in Hindu Advaita philosophy as well as in Buddhist Madhyamaka philosophy. As discussed above, the most classic fundamentalist anti-nature and escapist view is that neti neti is a statement of transcendence (isolation and escape), saying in effect, one is not the body, not identified with nature, and thus one doesn't belong on the planet. In that disidentification one attempts to dis-identify and avoid death and suffering. Simplistic, but appealing to the escapist/fearful mind none-the-less. Since it is said twice some may say that it says, I am neither the body AND not the mind; i.e., my true identity is not confined to either self existence, nor non-existence, but rather a larger non-dual Reality which encompasses both. In that way, the self (atman) is not viewed as independent, isolated, or separate from the all encompassing Brahman, but neither is Brahman absent from existence. Rather "existence" is redefined in non-dual terms. A cogent point to remember is that neti is repeated TWICE, rather than as a single negation "once", so we will take it as meaning, neither and nor.
Classically, neti neti is a refutation of duality, and thus an affirmation of the Great non-dual Integrity, often called Brahman, which affirms one's identity as interdependent with all beings and things, united as one as part and parcel with the hologram.. However, in some orthodox fundamentalist traditions, Brahman is defined as something separate from what they call Maya, which is usually defined as temporal existence. Hence they create an opposing duality (between eternal and temporal), but are they really separate or rather are they parts of a greater whole? In Kashmir Saivism, maya both clothes/masks Brahman and reveals Brahman, depending upon the depth of one's penetrating wisdom.
So in some other schools and especially tantricism in general, which evolved from the latter Yoga Upanishads and afterwards such as the Buddhist and Kashmir tantricism, neti-neti can be interpreted as an all inclusive statement of true Universal identification, which is both undifferentiated and differentiated -- as not being separate; i.e., I am not an ego or separate "self". Rather I identify and belong to the greater whole. That self or identity is not separate/independent from the whole (Brahman), yet it is omnipresent simultaneously and transpersonally, reflecting our true non-dual nature. All that can be ascribed to the first neti of neti-neti, which negates the identification of the ego or separate self.
The second neti can say I am not just the whole, but also within all the parts of the whole -- I am both at the same time. Thus one may say that it is an affirmation of the Buddhist idea of anatta or anatman, which similarly is the realization of the unreality of a separate self or ego (that the ego is fabricated and delusional, only existing because of unawareness of the Great Integrity, which bind us all to a universal unbiased commonality/Reality. This is to say that one can not be fixated on an egoic mindset at the same time as residing one's consciousness and being in the realm of vast space, vast primordial time, and vast knowledge. No, the latter is the ever present option which the open-mind chooses. The egoic mind is just a cramped, imprisoned, and limited version of the former.
So just as the first neti can say no to a separate observer (ego) who is free from subject/object duality, the second neti can be said to be a statement that affirms the emptiness of the object as viewed as independent and disconnected from the whole, which is nothing other than the an affirmation that "things" do not exist per se, by themselves, independently by themselves. Thus neti neti is best understood as an affirmation statement that we are not just the body, not an ego, not fragmented parts, and not separate -- that the body is part of a far more vast interconnected web of all life both of form (saguna) and the formless (nirguna) which is inseparable. “Neti neti” can be said to be a profoundly deep ultimate statement of non-dual beingness, neither one or the other, but rather an altogether expansive context which is all inclusive where nothing is left out nor needs to be included – which is neither form nor void in themselves, but both form and void intrinsically, neither just body or separate from body, but viewed within an integrated context where body and spirit both coincide and are synchronized.
If the Buddhist term, anatta (anatma in Sanskrit), is the negation of the fabricated delusional non-existence of the ego (a separate self), then there is no contradiction between Buddhism with Advaita. Confusion only arises when either Buddhists misunderstand the non-dual intention in neti - neti as a disowning of any idea of separate self; or where Hindus become confused that Brahman is a larger ego (soul) or separate self identification that can be conceived or owned by the ego; or when Hindus believe that Buddhist anatta is a nihilistic statement that denies existence completely. Such confusions arise only because of ideological conditioning and self identification which preclude listening fully or thoroughly while studying the other’s point of view.
Even in the older Buddhist Pali Canon, anatta (anatman, in Sanskrit) quite clearly confirms the reality of a non-separate (selfless) self simultaneously with the emptiness of any separate object whatsoever (which is the affirmation of emptiness or sunyata). The Vedantic statement that Atman and Brahman are united as one is thus a statement of no separate “self” also. Indeed atman does not exist separate from Brahman, but rather only when integrated with Brahman. Although Shankara, the first systematizer of Advaita (unqualified non-dualistic) Vedanta (culmination of all revelations), is credited with arguing against the Buddhists, if one studies his commentaries, one simply sees that his intent was simply to defend, promote, and reform Hinduism, rather than to attack basic Buddhist ideas. Buddha also did not challenge basic Hindu assumptions, rather than attempt to free people from dependence upon ritual, custom, ceremony, hierarchy, caste, idol worship, and dependence upon ancient scripture. Ancient Buddhism can be seen as a form of Hinduism, which is stripped naked of all its local, provincial, and non-universal ritual and cultural trappings, albeit cultural baggage has cropped up in Buddhism over the past 2600 years. So although rather heretical, one may postulate that there is not a large gulf between the two religions as religious zealots and defenders amy claim; rather the same truth is being stated within two different culturally described contexts.
Similarly sunyata (emptiness), is a broader application of the Buddhist statement of anatta, saying that neither the observer nor the observed – neither the object nor the knower of the object have any basis as separate other than as fabrications modified by conceptual ideations. In short, there remains no objective basis in Reality, as long as the observation point (observer) is limited or biased. Rather the basis or ground of the observer and observed is their inherent emptiness in themselves of an independent self or thing; i.e., no objects or observers exist in Reality separate from the universal boundless Mind. Without this complete integral boundless universal perspective, all other views are biased, distorted, prejudiced, fragmented and corrupt by definition. Here neti/neti again is remembered neither observer, nor observed, not one or the other, but both/and inside an all inclusive whole. Radical that it may seem to religionists, neti, neti, and sunyata point to the same truth. This is why net is repeated twice. It is the way one says neither one nor the other, but both/and --the many and the one where a bigger complete view is realized in Mahasandhi.
Of course strict dogmatists and ideologues who have become seduced by tradition, will stick to the old doctrine unmoved, unable to think outside their accustomed box. Similarly orthodox Vedantists will interpret this within their own box accordingly, but here we will utilize the Kashmir Tantric view which easily reconciles with the Buddhist view to show that neti/neti is an advanced non-dual statement relevant to both the cave dweller and layperson equally.
To sum up, we have to realize that in Advaita, Atman means as being one with Brahman. It is not the ego, because the ego separates and denies this unity. It can be called the soul only if the soul is defined as united with Brahman. When it is disconnected, then it is the egoic mindset (delusion) which rules, not the union of Brahman and Atman. This soul then is a refection and embodiment of Brahman, not its negation (not the egoic identification). That Atman can never own or possess Brahman, rather it is entirely owned by Brahman. Thus the statement of neti neti as a statement that one is not different from Brahman is not to be taken as, "the ego is not separate from Brahman", but rather the ego is nothing at all, where the soul is the reflection and expression of the universal all inclusive Brahman. Atman understood this way as not being independent from Brahman, is not an egoic atman, rather it is incapable of standing alone and apart from Brahman. It is anatman in the Buddhist sense of being empty of an intrinsic independent self. This Atman is akin to the Buddhist idea of Buddhanature, where all beings contain the evolutionary potential for complete awakening, Buddha nature being intrinsic/inherent as one's true nature. The key in Buddhism is to reflect and express this inherent true nature -- to become a living Buddha. In this way, Buddhanature (Tathagatagarbha) is the same as the Advaitic Atman, recognizing that Advaita Vedanta's definition of "Atman" occurred 1000 years after the mahasamadhi of the Buddha.
In the true non-sectarian yogic tradition, that which is put an end to, that which ceases, is ignorance/unawareness, or rather the veil of illusory thought patterns cease. the world of duality ceases in neti neti. When the veil of ignorance is destroyed, then illumination shines forth unadulterated. Conversely, the process of denying or limiting Reality as-it-is through ignoring what is, is called avidya (ignorance). When we ignore something, then we lose the big picture and wind up with distorted and biased views. One could just as well say that we are suffering from myopia or self deceit/delusion. When this confusion, delusion, ignorance, unawareness, or illusory bias (labeling it by whatever name that may be useful) is removed/negated, then we see things as they are -- Reality shines forth in net neti -- when "not this and not that" becomes natural and spontaneous.
This Reality in tantra and Mahasandhi is natural, uncontrived, and unconditioned. It is our natural state. What has been removed is the past programming. The result is the profound synchronization of absolute and relative truth, shiva/shakti, right and left channels, pingala/ida, undifferentiated and differentiated consciousness and so forth. It is not a denial of the temporal as if samsara were separate from nirvana, or that nirvana was not found in samsara, or that shiva was not inside shakti, and so forth simply affirming the eternal presence Now abiding in sacred presence - the basis of true spirituality, there is no thing truly solid, separate, or substantial that can be said to exist by itself (independently). Nor can that "something be said to exist (as it never existed separately in the first place. Neither can one say both, that it both truly exists and not exist, because there is no separate thing that can be spoken about. Nor can they be said to both not exist. Again in all these situations the reified separate object of existence, can not freely succeed as a referent or object to refer to. Relative and absolute, differentiated and undifferentiated, form and void. the moon and sun, the left and the right, and the earth and heaven are inseparable in the non-dual context of interdependence. Neti neti therein is the unification of wisdom and compassion, emptiness and bliss, emptiness and clarity, and emptiness and essence, where neti/neti is the negation of the process of dualistic illusion, fragmentation, and separation itself.
This occurs when awareness and the authentic energetic qualities of awareness are synchronized in the deepest recess of the nondual central channel (the avadhuti, kun dar ma, or sushumna). This occurs when the inner awareness meets its counterpart in outer awarenes -- where the breaks in Indra's net is mended -- where what is, is seen by the heart in the heart directly.
From the Hevajra tantra Chapter One
"Buddha replied, 'There are thirty-two nerve-channels. These thirty-two are the bearers
of the bodhicitta and flow into the center of Great Bliss. Among them three nerve-channels,
Lalana, Rasana, and Avadhuti are the most important. Lalana has the nature of Wisdom
and Rasana of Skillful means. In the middle, between them is Avadhuti, free from the
duality of subject and object. Lalana is the bearer of Aksobhya and Rasana is the bearer
of Rakta. The bearer of both Wisdom and Moon is known as Avadhuti.' "
Not Two (neither not one)
Non-dual (advaita) actually means (divitiyam nasti). However purists in Hindu tradition actually mean, eka vastu vada (there is no second substance except that Brahman is the only thing that exists as if it is separate from the physical created world or universe). This is actually a dualistic confusion of course and is really monism, rather than nondualism, where both diversity and unity are celebrated interdependently. Thus within this orthodox definition of Brahman, the phrase, eka vastu vada, is more accurate to describe what they mean, rather than the word, advaita.
Buddhism also uses the word, advaya, more than advaita to connote "'not two" i.e. free from the two extremes (skt. dvaya anta mukta) of samarupa (the tendency to see things as really existing) and apavada (the tendency to see things as non-existing). Free from these extremes is the famous middle path (free from eternalism and nihilism) taught by Buddha. Advaya is not of a thing (the one and only thing) like Brahma but a description of the svarupa of samsara )as things really are in their relative connected sense). That is why in tantra samsara which is illusory, but not an illusion is transformed into advaya jnana (nondual wisdom) in Buddhism whereas in Hinduism the illusory samsara vanishes and the true eternal unchanging Brahman dawns, but too often within the orthodox schools at the expense of diversity (excluding or denying the relative world) hence being escapist and unworldly stripping spirituality and God from embodiment.
Further, monism may impute that there exists only the observer, as if the whole is a separate object. That is the common mistake of selfhood (ego) where we ascribe name and form and "self/ego" to that which is unbounded, infinite, ineffable, universal, and totally incapable of being objectified. But really Brahman as the absolute can not be an object and the "self" can not identify with "it" as such without falling into dualistic delusion. Such an experience is impossible, otherwise the ego would try to grasp unto it (as it does). Thus monism is really a dualistic system -- an error in which one acknowledges the source/creator by negating or ignoring the creation – where the observer is separated from the observed. Monism is a one way street. In relative reality "everything" is not the same, rather life is infinitely diverse and rich, but at the same time it is interconnected --part of a greater whole. Rather non-duality in net/neti indicates clearly that creator (as source) and creation (as active manifestation) are not separate, just as a fire was started by a spark -- the spark is implicate to it. They can not be separated one from the other without creating a dualistic limitation.
Rather the case is that undifferentiated reality (absolute truth) coincides with differentiated reality (pratityasamutpada or relative truth) in sacred presence. Here both are acknowledged as well as linked in yoga. Conceptual formations no longer displace primordial wisdom, rather view is educated by the evidence of our unfiltered/naked awareness and direct experience. In monism however everything is confused with everything else. In other words it is quite different to say that only undifferentiated reality (absolute truth) exists and differentiated reality (relative or conventional truth) does not -- either one or the other, rather in true non-duality both exist AND do not exist – neti/neti. Existence, phenomena, things, and events appear to exist, appear to either arise or fall away, both, or neither, but all such referents are designators, indicators, or imputations toward nothing true, rather it arises from a limited arena of frozen time and contracted space. It is a very small part of the entire picture, like a distorted or occluded lens which obscures the vast hologram and primordial integrity which is rich beyond measure. In truth there is no thing separate from the vast and all pervasive Primordial Mind. This is disclosed to the true seeker. What else can be known? Once the true nature of the Mind is known, so is the true nature of nature also known in its timeless radiant and vibrant wonder. Hence monism thus is a dull sameness, inane, empty, indifferent, and nihilistic. Crucially, non-duality is not monism and it is not negation. Neti-neti is not negation of any thing, rather it is all inclusive where nothing needs to excluded or included. Neither exists separately from each other so in the non-dual Buddhist school it is simply said that no separate thing exists, not even emptiness is a thing. Because we usually use words to communicate, and words are inherently dualistic/symbolic, it is difficult not to speak about an observer and the observed, but we can try to make that extra effort. Ultimately of course we need to give up words and thought constructs completely, like through objectless meditation (dhyana) or other transconceptual nisprapanca) yogic arts which allow for direct experience devoid of mere/empty symbolic representations.
Again a quote from Bede Griffiths and Georg Feuerstein, both mature observers of both western and eastern scenes.
"Advaita (nonduality) does not mean "one" in the sense of eliminating all differences. The differences are present in the one in a mysterious way. They are not separated anymore, and yet they are there."
Bede Griffiths (1997)
"The difference between monism and nondualism might appear subtle, but it is important. The question is crucial for functional yoga or not the linguistic expressions by yogins etc. reflect their actual realization. Could it be that an adept has broken through to nondual realization but is still caught in monistic language?
There is no question in my mind, for instance, that many of the statements in the early Upanishads point to genuine transcendental, transconceptual realization but resort to poetical/mythical/symbolic language that could give an inexperienced reader a different idea. In other words, there is not inevitably a perfect match between experience and language. This is a critical fact, which we need to bear in mind when looking for Upanishadic passages that testify to either monism or nondualism."
Although yoga, as an experiential non-dual practice, has been known for millennia, it is not a coincidence that non-duality as elucidated by Nagarjuna (circa 200 AD) and his non-dual/indivisable doctrine of sunyata and form (the union of ultimate and relative truths) became further elaborated upon by Shankaracharya with his non-dual doctrine of advaita vedanta (circa 7th century CE). This breakthrough context linking form and consciousness set the stage for the innovation of Hindu, and especially Kashmir tantra, hatha yoga, tantra yoga, laya yoga, kundalini yoga, and shaktism. Simultaneously Buddhist mahasandhi/mahamudra flourished in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India eventually going to Tibet, China, and Japan. Such preliminaries posited the non-dual ground for such advanced practices. Both Hindu and Buddhist tantric and hatha yoga certainly explored new ways of self realization in the backdrop of a non-dual (advaya) providing a rich all-inclusive vibrant organic context, wherein primordial wisdom was co-evolving with the evolutionary force into an enlightened age, where wakin-up (while in this very body) was deemed accessible. Here the body, energy body, and mind were recognized as active co-participants. The sharpening of that indivisible relationship became the skillful instrument/vehicle for the exploration.
Numerous practices of integration evolved such as Sri Vidya, the body as a magical yantra (Trulkhor in Tibetan), the sadhana of inner heat (kundalini or tummo), the Six Yogas of Naropa, the doctrine of harmonizing the five koshas (sheaths), working consciously with the inner winds, channels, and bindu, and so forth (to name a few yogic techniques which are outlined in tantra and yoga). Similarly, the Tibetan word for yoga is naljor. Nal means natural and jor is wealth. Hence, yoga or naljor brings forth a natural innate state of wealth, health, and fulfillment.This enlightened age of bodymind wholistic integrated practices, continued to evolve in Medieval India up until the Moghul invasions of India (8th-13th centuries), wherein India's innovative genius became feared, suppressed, repressed, poisoned, and supplanted by alien invaders from the West.
Monism fears diversity, because it is a threat to egoic order and its attempt at imputational domination/control. It is thus an egoic grasping/craving which maintains the rend which substitutes monism as an inadequate compensation of a natural organic non-dual open-ended interdependence free from conflation (the superimposition of egoic confusion). Shankaracharya's non-dual "Self" (Brahman) is not an independent/separate self identity, but a genuine integration as a description of an indivisible interdependence where everything is connected. That Self is all-rich, all encompassing, infinitely differentiated and inseparably married as nature is married to awareness, shakti to shiva, Samantabhadra/Samantabhadri, the true nature of the mind and the the true nature of nature, or simply said as mind is married to the body, so too is heaven married to the earth. The problem, if any are to be identified, is that human beings tend to habitually ignore their truly innate connection with the infinite --as part of the whole, thus wallowing in a state of chronic egoic confusion (samsara).
Since the human mind, being part of a larger primordial system, can not grasp the entire process intellectually, the folly is to think otherwise; i.e., that the intellect is an efficacious tool for spiritual knowledge -- knowledge of mind itself. Without knowing the instrument of knowing, then chronic errors will continue to be repeated. So the major "problem" which arises for those mired in intellectual, fundamentalist, philosopher, and others lost in dualistic thinking is that they have become addicted to navigating "reality" through a veil of deadened and numbed out chronic processes of chronic extraction and over objectification -- through separation -- an exclusiveness (reductionism, analytical mentation, and comparative analysis) without placing their data within the wholistic context -- in integration and harmony with all time -- as exhibitions of gnosis of the Great Integrity where all the seemingly dualistic parts are seen in relationship with all others in all of time. Indeed, such a world view appears broken and fragmented due to self sabotage. Such folly! Even if a yogi should speak, if the listener has no direct experience, then the listener will try to understand the "yogic speak" through their intellect, which will only confuse the listener more. It will have the effect of bringing the listener even more so in their logical mind in a futile attempt to understand the "yogi speech". It might appear that the yogi is speaking intellectually, because the words are not logical and appear to be "foreign". Thus yogis are rare, but rarer still are teachers of yoga. It is said that the teacher comes when the student is ready, but "who" is ready? Despite widespread mental fragmentation and discontinuity, the yogi however entertains the possibility that Humpty Dumpty can be put together again, but like Jesus he/she will be scorned by those who have been ripped apart the greatest.
A true spiritual seeker places his/her predilections and prejudices aside -- offering it up as a fire offering while making an affirmation that all of his/her activities be reordered and placed in alignment and harmony with the universal timeless guidance of a sacred transpersonal non-duality -- the world of Grace where Maheshvara (the param-purusha resides). In indigenous terms the Great Integrity of "All Our Relations") is a holographic realm of profound and sacred suchness. A true sadhak (practitioner) will not allow themselves to be swayed, distracted, nor dissipated by the intellect or conceptional processes. "Here" in this sacred presence, which is not based on intellectual reductionism, the eternal timeless reality (creator) bleeds through and is revealed in every action of creation -- as divine shakti and as such in yogic terms siva/shakti is in perfect balance, harmony, and synchronicity. "HERE" yin/yang are in perfect balance and thus the complete Tai-Chi is accomplished. "HERE" father/mother, sky and earth, spirit and nature, pure consciousness and pure beingness exist as a self supporting mutuality -- as embodied LOVE. In indigenous time we learn to see and acknowledge Creator in all of Creation -- we can not do this "alone".
In this non-dual/transpersonal world of an all inclusive Brahman, divine shakti is seen in the tree, the river, the flowers, the stars, the ocean, and even in the human animal. It is beyond objectification or elaboration (nisprapanca/nirvikalpa). "It" as such can not be known or owned. The only place it is not seen is in that which is unreal, make believe, symbolic -- that which is illusory, false, or what is considered to exist in isolation in the frozen and deluded corrupted fragmented sphere of the egoic mindset (limitation and individual "self hood"). This latter sphere (the delusional reality of the ego) only exists in the deluded mind, so it is not considered real or true (although it colors "reality" for those who are deluded in superficial appearances).
"Neti-neti" does not mean that we are not this body, only that we are more than this body -- We are the Long Body -- vast Being, the Big Universal Unbiased Boundless Primordial Mind in which all things see from vast space and vast time as a synchronistic and holographic simultaneity are interdependent, interconnected, and mutually co-emerging. Here everything is alive an vivid.
Things, objects, or phenomena are not interpreted through only the five or six sense organs, but rather through the universal eye. The human animal, being a vital part of creation, it is up to humans to claim their rightful place in total harmony with the evolutionary force and no longer repress/deny it. This human body is not separate from this great body of timeless Being -- in context of the larger body of an all inclusive interpretation of Brahman (what the indigenous Americans call the Long Body) where we are all relatives. While in this unbiased and unlimited "Reality", no separate "i" exists. This "reality" is neither exclusively eternal,. nor exclusively temporal, rather it is both/and (neti/neti). It is the result of the marriage of crown and root, sahasrara and muladhara, pingala and ida, shiva/shakti, spirit/nature, objective/subjective, consciousness/beingness. Such is truly non-dual and synergistically synchronistic. It can not be realized through while remaining bound by the limitations of logic or analytical thought, but rather it comes from a more inclusive intelligent direct Connection/Union.
Indeed we would be misled to identify with just the physical body, the sense world, or the process of perception out of context with how the body arrived here or the origin of thoughts or the process of perception arise as separate from the process of creation/evolution or primordial wisdom-- who and what "it" really is -- we would be lost in an illusion and ignorant limitation, false identification subject to narcissism, delusional self aggrandizement of the illusion of separate self (ego), and all the rest of the many demons of ego delusion born of unawareness such as self pride, nationalism, racism, fame, status, envy, hatred, greed, lust, and the afflictions which stem from this false identification (the unfortunate common milieu). So within a primordial natural context, in light of "reality" and "truth", then ignorance is negated, the world of separateness is viewed not only an illusion, it doesn't really exist per se, i.e., it is empty of independent substantiality outside from the non-dual context of interdependence. Existence viewed from the fragmented context of apparently separate senses, separate sense objects, separate self/ perceiver conspire toward a limited and biased view. It is "not" as it appears in terms of what is or what it is not. This "not self" or non-existence also does not exist. Both "not-self" and not "not-self" do not exist alone. Neither both, nor other. Nothing exists separate as "itself" except the universal heart/core -- LOVE.
No separate self
No independent "I"
Rather an interdependent, indivisible, inseparable WE
No I am that, but rather WE ARE THEE
The true nature of our mind, is beyond a stasis of a separate/independent mentation/intellectual conception or artifice
The true nature of phenomena is thus revealed within the appearance of a body as well as outside of the appearance of the body,
In all phenomena as co-participants of all pervading omnipresent omniscience
WE ARE THEE -- Om Tat Sat- Tat Tvam Asi
Neither self, nor not self, as true Self is plural and unlimited, as our true nature, no one can own/possess it (albeit many have tried).
This is the true meaning of "neti neti" -- the end of spiritual self-alienation. The process then is in arriving home to indigenous all encompassing space. When we arrive, we wake up to see that we are profoundly present -- we become at one with sacred presence.
Thus the expression, neti neti, in context means we are the great LONG BODY all together taken as a whole, the Great Integrity/completion, not separate/fragmented from "God's" infinite parts --THAT is OUR TRUE NATURE residing in this transpersonal interdependent spiritual fullness and wonder -- this natural, profoundly intelligent, and wholesome expression of complete and continuous integration and synchronicity with all things past present and future. In the Heart then, neti - neti means not separate, not separate -- not apart -- and thus we put to rest limited self imposed false identifications, habits, and beliefs and thus the "reality" of yoga -- of a world inextricably bound together in its continuity is realized. HERE Self acknowledges Self -- eternal Love recognizes eternal love -- we express the love which is our hearts. It is from this core beingness -- this abiding in the true self nature of the natural unconditioned universal mind -- this as pure core/heart center -- where we learn to respect, affirm, and acknowledge in All Our Relations -- serving as the fount of great integral beingness -- that we increasingly draw our sustenance, sense of balance, sense of centeredness, peace, security, inspiration, and eventually identity from -- from the HRIDAYAM which is the HEART OF HEARTS where the omnipresent teaching of the always present teacher (as eternal presence) intimately reveals in self liberatory revelation. HERE we cease to be betrayed, abandoned, ignored, and afraid as we cease to betray, abandon, ignore, and fear. HERE neurotic compensatory desire ceases -- the vrttis are annihilated (nirodha) and we rest in our true nature (swarupa).
Just this, just this
Just that, just that
Nothing else, all included
Empty of separate self
When the veil is lifted
The ineffable great ground of pure beingness and consciousness, disclosed through the removal of falsehood (neti neti) reveals our true and essential nature (eternal, uncontrived, natural, innate, and "self" abiding) -- from which all are related -- the spark behind the flame and the flame are one, not two) -- the sparkling spirit which animates and breathes life into the world at each and every moment unending. Even HERE- all-ways/always HERE. WE are that great wonder taken all together-- Om Tat Sat!
Tat Tvam Asi -- That Thou art -- WE are THEE -- Boundless Great Integrity -- Pure Love in its natural expression -- The reality where all relations of a separate "self" are known as an incomplete myopia (as illusory), where, the Reality of All Our Relations shines vibrant, naturally vivid, self illuminating, and bright ... and THAT is how it really is.
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