At least 3 times in this post you have mentioned non-dualism as "standing apart".First, we have to understand that the entire history of "non-dualism" is merely a teaching within the dualistic mind and world given for the sake of ajnanis - people who do not firmly know that they are non-dual in nature, but have a growing intuition of this truth they wish to cultivate and expand upon, and perhaps at some point fully realize. There are no actual non-dual teachings in the strictest sense, there are only dualistic teachings that try to point towards the non-dual reality that is already present here and now, but which in our ignorance we do not fully grasp, perceive, or experience.
I understand that from the POV of the ajnani this would be an accurate perception, but it also seems to be a bit contradictory. Can you explain or elaborate?
The world is filled with an endless supply of dualistic teachings, because the dualistic mind creates for itself a world that is dualistic in nature - what we "see" around us - and for such a world, dualistic teachings are the most appropriate approach. To understand the non-dual understanding of the dualistic world, it is important to understand this point - the world we live in is not self-existing, and it was not created by the non-dual reality, as a non-dual world. It was created by dualistic mind, as a dualistic world, operating dualistically even at the pre-cosmic level of mind, not merely at the personal level.
The dualistic mind is something we tend to think of as a merely personal matter, existing within us a personalities, and the world is seen by us as self-existing, beyond our personal ability to create and control. And this is true enough of us as bodily individuals. But the roots of dualism go much deeper than the bodily individual, and the dualistic mind goes all the way down to the level of consciousness that creates and manifests the very world we live in. The dualistic mind extend down (or up, depending on your perspective) into the subtle dimension even in the ordinary uses of mind, and at a deeper level it includes the subtle, re-incarnating soul, the higher mind, the causal mind and body, and even "God", the primary source of manifest dualism, the seeming "creator" of the dualistic world. All of that is dualistic, even God, all the product of primal egoity. The dualistic ego is the source even of God, and is thus the source of dualism itself in every manifest form.
The dualistic world is therefore nothing but an elaborate optical fabrication of a false viewpoint, from the non-dual point of view. It is a reflection of a deeper dualism, the source of which is an illusion - the ego - that creates an endless supply of "mind", which reflects upon itself in an infinite cascade of self-reflecting mirrors, creating more and more intricate worlds and experiences as it multiples in consciousness, each more solid and "real" than the next. By the time we get down to incarnation on planet earth and these crude meat mechanisms of brain and body, our consciousness has become so deeply immersed in the dualistic perspective that it can't help but see everything as dualistic, and dualism itself as the nature of every thing, until the non-dual seems nothing more than a highly dubious and speculative idea that only the bored, crazy, and immature would bother to entertain.
And yet, because the non-dual remains our true nature, beyond the innermost illusion of the ego, it cannot be entirely banished from our awareness. It keeps resurfacing, to the point where some people "break through" not just through some of the cruder aspects of the dualistic illusion of ego, but through the entire thing, down to the very core, until even "the world" as a dualistic phenomenal collection of objects in awareness essentially vanishes, and the non-dual reality is fully grasped as the only reality, and the true nature of everything and everyone. Even the dualistic world is seen to have never been dualistic at all, and never to have actually appeared at all, it is understood that it was only a reflection of the non-dual reality as seen through the endlessly reflecting "prism" of the dualistic ego. And because of people awakening beyond dualism in this manner, non-dual teachings began to appear within even this seeming sold and real human world,. teachings about the process of awakening to this non-dual reality that is our very nature, and the nature of everything here.
These non-dual teachings are not directed towards dualism itself, however. Dualistic teachings naturally arise in the dualistic worlds as practical responses to the conditions and needs of dualism, and this is all quite appropriate. Non-dual teachings, however, have an entirely different purpose - to help us awaken from the illusion of dualism to the non-dual reality. They aren't directed towards making dualistic life better, more pleasant, or more workable. The word "awakening" is often thrown around rather loosely these days to describe any abiding sense of insight or heightening of awareness that anyone experiences. And there are indeed all kinds of awakenings possible within the dualistic mind and worlds. They are not false in any relative sense, they are often quite meaningful and valuable in the context of dualistic functioning. But they are not non-dual awakenings.
Non-dual awakening is not an awakening within the worlds of dualism that is geared towards our dualistic evolution to some greater and more inclusive form of dualism, it is an awakening to the reality which transcends dualism, which is not modified by the egoic, dualistic mind. And thus, it stands apart from any kind of dualism, or any kind of dualistic teaching, or any dualistic function we are trying to understand or incorporate or integrate into our dualistic life. It is not something that we can merely make a part of our lives, it is something that "stands apart" from the entire basis of our dualistic life. That is why non-dual teachings and traditions need to be set aside, and not mixed with dualistic teachings and traditions. They don't come from the same place, they don't address the same matters, and they aren't purposed towards the same ends.
Dualism and dualistic teachings are purposed towards the perpetuation of dualism, the growth of dualism, the evolution of dualism, and the survival of the dualistic ego most of all. Non-dual teachings are purposed towards an awakening from dualism itself, and bring an end to the dualistic vision of life, by penetrating to the very core of dualism, the ego itself, and awakening beyond the ego to the reality the ego has separated itself from, or at least imagined it has separated itself from. In so doing, the ego itself is discovered to be an illusion, and consciousness is known as itself, not by its dualistic representations in the mind that are then reflected as created worlds. That goes against the entire grain of the dualistic mind and the dualistic worlds the mind has created for itself to incarnate within. For this reason, dualism is often subtly at war with non-dualism and feels threatened by non-dualism. It even conceives of non-dualism as a terrible enemy, a satanic force that threatens even God (since God is the original dualistic creation of the ego). And for this reason, dualism often either tries to destroy non-dualism, or it tries to conquer and incorporate dualism into its folds, just as empires conquer and incorporate neighboring countries into their body politic, or destroy them if they resist.
Non-dualism, however, isn't at war with dualism at all, since it can't be at war with something that, from its point of view, doesn't even exist. One doesn't go to war with shadows and reflections in a mirror, one recognizes them as oneself and remains unthreatened. Nor does non-dualism seek to conquer and incorporate dualism into its "empire", since there is no such need or purpose to non-dualism. So non-dualism doesn't feel threatened by dualism, but it does set itself apart from dualism, because by its very nature it can't be a part of what is an illusion. We can see our image in a mirror, but we are never a part of the world we see there. We can enjoy watching a movie, but we know we aren't up there on the screen interacting with the people and places we see upon it. Those are just images. They are not "real", except within their own context.
Similarly, non-dualism by its very nature is "set apart" from dualism, and this is reflected in how it relates, even as it appears in human culture, to the teachings of dualism. Because it is so different in its origins and purpose, it simply cannot be directly mixed with dualism. It can be confused with dualism, and it can arise within a dualistic religious culture of some kind, but it must always be "set apart" in some way. And that is merely the meaning of the word "sacred", to set something apart by recognizing that it is of an entirely transcendental and non-dual nature. That is the origin of the whole tradition of the sacred, of setting apart what is most holy and true - a deep intuition of the non-dual as being not even of the same order of things as the dual.
Of course, the dualistic religions of the world end up combining and interpreting this notion of the sacred with its own dualistic concepts and views - how could it not? - and this results in a separative notion of God and the sacred superceding non-dual understanding almost everywhere one looks. But even without this perversion of the sacred, there remains a true distinction between the non-dual and the dual which serves a necessary function in spiritual practice and culture. Non-dual teachings by their very nature require that they be "set apart" from dualistic teachings, because they transcendent dualism itself, whereas within dualism there may be higher and lower forms of dualism which one may use the word "transcendent" to describe in relation to one another, but none of them actually transcend dualism itself, but only confirm and perpetuate it. These non-dual teachings are not to be "mixed" with dualistic teachings, because they point to this non-dual reality and not to any dualistic concept, even though they must use dualistic concepts in order to be taught to those who are immersed in dualism.
Is this contradictory? In a word, yes. It cannot be otherwise, however, because the nature of dualism is endless contradiction. Thus, even non-dualism, which points to the non-contradictory nature of reality, is contradicted by dualism itself, merely by being spoken or thought of. The nature of dualism is that everything which appears has an opposite that contradicts it, and this applies even to the teachings of non-dualism. Which is why non-dual teachers such as Ramana point to silence as the greatest of all teachings, because silence has no content which can be contradicted by its opposite. Even noise is not the opposite of silence, since all noise contains silence within it.
And this is why non-dualism must stand apart from dualism in practice. It cannot be properly understood as merely another assertion of concepts, experiences, teachings and evolved precepts which can be contradicted by its opposites in the realm of dualistic mind and experience. To reduce non-dualism to the concepts used to describe or point to it is to miss the fundamentally transcendent nature of what is being pointed to. For this reason, non-dualism must always stand apart from dualism. It must always make it clear that non-dualism is always referring to the transcendental source of all dualism, which is beyond all dualism, and not to something "opposite" dualism. The movie screen is always apart from the images that are projected upon it, and non-dual consciousness is always apart from whatever images, concepts, and experiences appear within its infinite dimensions of awareness. If one knows the non-dual reality, then nothing is ever seen as apart from it, but without that full and complete knowledge, in other words, within the dualistic worlds created by the dualistic mind, non-dualism will always have to stand apart from this dualistic mind and world that we assume to be self-existing.
The practice of non-dualism must likewise not confuse itself with the practices of dualism, or conceive of dualism and non-dualism as opposites which ought to be united (as Ken Wilber suggests). Ramana Maharshi tried to make this clear many times:
Advaita should not be practised in ordinary activities. It is sufficient if there is no differentiation in the mind. If one keeps cartloads of discriminating thoughts within, one should not pretend that all is one on the outside..... The world is a huge theatre. Each person has to act whatever role is assigned to him. It is the nature of the universe to be differentiated but within each person there should be no sense of differentiation.
The jnani, therefore, does not try to impose non-dualism upon those who see the world dualistically. The jnani doesn't see a dualistic world at all, as the ajnani does, so this problem does not arise for him. Even so, the nature of his actions in the world never comes into conflict with the dualisms that others live within under the mistaken assumption that they are self-existent. The jnani has overcome all contradictions, all opposites, and all opposition, so there is no sense of conflict in him, and no tension between the dual or the non-dual, because no such opposites even exist to him. And yet for this same reason his life and actions do not "mix" the non-dual and the dual either, because it is impossible to do so, since they are not existent qualities than can be mixed. So the jnani does not pursue some kind of "integration" of the dual and the non-dual. His actions reflect a natural understanding, even from the perspective of the ajnani, that non-dualism "stands apart" from dualism. So while the jnani sees no differentiation between the two, because he does not see "two" at all, he does not act in a manner which violates this principle of "standing apart" either, since that is reflective of the prior relationship - even at the cosmic level - between the dual and the non-dual.
This does not imply on the practical level of life any disassociation from others or indifference to the sufferings of dualistic life. As Ramana once said, if the jnani walks down the street and sees a man raping a woman, he doesn't simply pass on by thinking to himself, "That's just Brahman enjoying himself with Brahman". No, he acts appropriately, does what he can to stop inappropriate behavior, and remains certain of the transcendent reality of Brahman as being undisturbed by any of this, including his own appropriate action in the midst of it. It doesn't require a non-dual understanding of existence to stop an act of violence, nor does a non-dual understanding in any way interfere with one's dharmic obligation to act appropraitely. There is no need to ask oneself, "how do I bring non-dualism into the dualistic world when a man is raping a woman?" One simply acts appropriately, according to the needs of the dualistic world these bodies inhabit. One doesn't "mix" dualism with non-dualism, or integrate the two, since they stand apart at all times, just as the movie screen does not interfere with the movie that is playing upon it.
This doesn't mean that one who knows themselves as the non-dual reality, the jnani, feels himself to "stand apart" from the dualistic worlds. He knows there is no possible way to do that. But to any outside observer, who must employ an inherently dualistic analysis of the jnani's action and behavior, the jnani will demonstrate this principle of always "standing apart" from dualism. And for this reason when the jnani teaches others the principles of non-dualism, he also advises the student to not mix non-dualism with dualism, to not confuse the two realms of understanding, and to not try to bring them together under some ideal of unity or integralism, as if that were the meaning and purpose of non-dualism. Those efforts only bring about confusion, corruption, and the dis-integration of the spiritual impulse.
Even in matters of spiritual practice, it is important to set these apart, to respect the need for a sacred, inner space in which to approach the non-dual, and not to mistake sacredness for separativeness, or to see discrimination as the enemy of unity. The non-dual practitioner must discriminate between the dual and the non-dual in practice, by not confusing the transcendental with the immanent, the real with the illusory, or the sacred with the profane. One has to give the appropriate respect and deference to each within their own domain, and not inappropriately combine the domains in an idealistic effort to transcend their differences. All such differences are the product of one's own mind, and they are to be transcended where they arise, in the mind, and not in the reflected "world" of outer life as if by trying to integrate and combine them there, one is undoing the sense of "difference" itself. One is not, one is merely creating more conflicts within oneself that will make a greater mess of one's reflected outer life.
In the context of my previous post, I was referring to the actual history of non-dualism as a spiritual teaching, and made the point that non-dualism always has to stand apart from the culture within which it arises in order to maintain its own purity and inner strength. This is generally borne out even by the modern's world popularization of non-dualism, and its widespread appropriation by all kinds of spiritual teachers and paths, including Ken Wilber's integral movement. Popularization has its advantages, in exposing many more people to non-dual teachers and teachings than has been possible in the past, but it has many disadvantages as well, especially in this desire to "merge" non-dualism with whatever form of dualism one is involved with. Thus, Wilber's integral approach, being a dualistic approach of the dualistic mind, tries to incorporate non-dualism into its system and process. It does so by trying to re-conceive of non-dualism in a manner that makes this not only possible, but "new and improved". It's approach is an outright and open attempt to "combine" non-dualism with dualism, and the result is not a greater form of transcendental non-dualism, but a lesser, corrupted, and abusive form of non-dualism that is merely a shadow of its real nature.
The principle of "setting non-dualism apart" has been rejected by Wilber and the integral movement, without realizing the serious adverse consequences of this approach. In their idealism, fueled by a philosophical and practical need to combine and include all things into their system of thought, the integralists have indeed made non-dualism approachable, but in the process they have turned it into another dualistic quality that confers a certain degree of peace or harmony, which is to be balanced in turn by dualistic qualities of action and desire. When this happen, non-dualism loses its real power, and its ability to actually awaken us from dualism, and becomes instead merely a selling point for the latest conceptual version of dualistic enlightenment in the spiritual marketplace.
The true meaning of "integralism" is integrity itself, not "inclusiveness". Inclusiveness is not non-dualism, and including non-dualism into the integral club with all the dualistic approaches does not make it either stronger. Instead, it weakens and corrupts non-dualism, and it confuses and disturbs the dualistic. They do not mix. Transcendence does not mean inclusion, as Wilber has asserted. The screen does not "include" the movie that plays upon it. They simply coincide. It is that radical "coincidence" that is the secret of how the jnani seemingly lives within and as a part of the dualistic worlds. He has not combined the two, he lives from a perspective in which the two coincide. And it is this "co-incidence" that is the genuine non-dual principle of understanding how dualism works, not the integral approach of inclusion.
And that's the point of my earlier discussions of acausal synchronicity. If there is a non-dual perspective on how the dualistic world actually operates, it is this principle of acausal synchronicity, which merely means that the dualistic perceptions of the world always coincide with one another, rather than causing one another. Even the non-dual reality does not "cause" the dualistic mind or world to come into being, the two merely radically coincide. But co-incidence is not the same as inclusion, combination, or even unification. In fact, to observe the co-incident nature of the relationship between the dual and the non-dual, or even between the infinite dimensions of the dual, one must set apart the non-dual, and merely observe the dualistic mind and world from the perspective of the non-dual. If one does this, one will eventually see that the nature of the non-dual is radically non-separate, beyond all experience and observation itself. If one doesn't, one will never actually know the true nature of the non-dual, one will merely be pursuing one's desires for illusion using idealistic concepts of non-dualism as fuel for one's lust.
True integrity comes not from inclusion, but from putting everything in its appropriate place and thus preserving its real nature. Since the true place for non-dualism is "beyond" all dualism, it must be set apart from all dualism. It must be treated as a sacred principle, not a worldly principle to be combined and mixed in with all the various forms of dualism. If that is not done, then non-dualism's true nature is not preserved, and it can not serve the function it has, which is to bring about genuine awakening from dualism. The integralists approach castrates this function of non-dualism, rendering it incapable of actually reproducing itself and thereby awakening us to the non-dual, and thus it merely becomes the neutered pet of dualistic teachings, rather than the ruling principle of the sacred source that all dualism must bow to. One can see that in the integralist teachings, all the energy and enthusiasm is for more and more dualism, more and more thought, more and more desire, more and more activity in the dualistic mind and world, and very little of it is actually in the direction of genuine non-dual awakening from dualism. That principle has not merely been forgotten, it has deliberately been discarded and "transcended" as a lesser principle than dualistic inclusion, which is somehow conceived of as the higher and truer principle within non-dualism that has been neglected until now.
This is simply more of the vain attempts of the dualistic mind to perpetuate itself. It is not merely the rational mind that the "pre-trans" fallacy operates within. The genuine pre-trans fallacy is that of dualism itself. As long as one operates from the perspective of the dualistic mind that thinks it is living in a dualistic world, one will be immersed in its dualistic illusions. To introduce non-dual teachings into the dualistic mind at that point is very difficult and dangerous. The dualistic mind will tend to interpret and use even non-dual teachings from the perspective of dualism itself, and twist them into forms of dualism, and end up only strengthening one's dualistic illusions. For the dualistic mind to grasp such teachings and make use of them it has to set the non-dual apart, treat it as sacred, bow to them and worship them, and not corrupt them with dualism. That is how they remain effective and useful even within the dualistic worlds of men. If that is not done, their power is lost, and they become mere concepts with no more meaning or purpose than any other set of concepts we might encounter in the dualistic play of life. The sacred is beyond the dualistic mind and world, and it is only by cultivating the sacred with this understanding that we unleash its power to awaken us truly, beyond all limiting and illusory dualisms.