This is a transcription of the introduction to Jim Newman’s ‘radical non-duality’ meeting in Vienna last month. Its message will never really make ‘sense’ to the individual, but I thought it one of the most articulate statements yet about what is and is not real, beyond the illusion of separation and the self. I think, tentatively (if our modern human society doesn’t completely collapse before this is broadly understood) that this explanation of the true nature of reality will ultimately be appreciated, at least by scientists and philosophers, as the most important discovery in human history, as ‘obvious’ in its own way as the discovery, despite all appearances, of heliocentricity. Thanks to Rita Newman for posting it. The photo is from Rita’s Instagram page.
The topic of the meeting is what you would call non-dualism. The difficulty in talking about it or trying to have a meeting around non-dualism is: it’s not a thing, it’s not an object. So we can’t really say what it is, but at the same time there’s nothing that’s not it. So when we’re talking about the absolute, when we are talking about freedom, when we’re talking about the unconditional – which would all be words that would be in some ways synonymous with non-dualism – what’s being suggested is that everything is that.
Whatever’s arising, whatever’s happening — this room, these words, sitting on the bench, looking here, is absolute; rooming, sitting on a bench, looking, hearing.
Absolute isn’t a word to understand. It’s pointing to or suggesting that listening, hearing, rooming isn’t understandable. It’s immediate and all-encompassing. There’s no distance or space or separation to absolute, to what’s happening, to listening, seeing, rooming. There’s no distance there. Whatever’s happening is everything, is absolute. There is never two.
This room is absolute, appearing as a room. This body is absolute appearing as a body. Thoughts and feelings, whatever is arising, is absolute freedom or unknowing appearing, the absolute be-ing.
To be clear, I’m not suggesting that there’s an absolute somewhere that sort of generates this appearance and so there’s an absolute over there and this appearance here. Or that there’s an absolute that then hears. It is literally absolute hearing. Now what that means in concrete terms is: the experience that there’s someone hearing, the experience of the room as a knowable object in relation to a central experiencer, is illusory.
To have a meeting about non-dualism or about the absolute is really absurd, and it’s ridiculous because there’d be no reason to do that. What would the reason be to talk about something that first off can’t be talked about and secondly is already everything?
So the meeting is actually a response to that experience which I was suggesting just a minute ago, that the room is knowable. Or that I’m sitting in the room and I have an experience that is separate from everything else that’s going on. That’s what this meeting is in a sense about.
And the meeting has a very simple message: that experience is an illusion. I’m talking about the experience of a contracted energy in the body that ‘knows’ where and what this is, knows what’s happening. The suggestion is that’s illusory. Illusory in the sense that it’s not happening. That experience has certain claims. It says: “I’m real, I’m in the body, what’s happening is real. I know what it is. This is my life.” That arises out of the sense that what’s happening is knowable and real. But THIS is not knowable or real. The experience of ‘knowable’ or ’real’ is illusory. This appearance is never knowable or real. It’s never solid. It’s never a part of a story that’s attached to an individual. That is illusory.
The appearance is not an illusion. These hands aren’t illusory. This body isn’t illusory. The bodies aren’t illusory. The room isn’t illusory. It’s the absolute appearing, looking like, be-ing a body, a room, words. The only absolutely illusory bit, the only bit that’s truly not happening is that this is real and knowable and happening to me. The obvious question is then what is it like, or how do I find THIS that’s not illusory and not knowable?
And there’s no way to find what THIS is or what the suggestion is because there’s no way to separate from it. It’s impossible to find because it’s impossible to lose. There is no separation.
The experience that there’s a sense of loss or something missing or something wrong arises because this appears as something it’s not. It appears as though it’s separate. It appears as the experience, through ‘knowing’, that I have control over my life. Through knowing that I’m able to make decisions and find things that are good or bad for me.
That experience (= the person) is convinced that it’s necessary or responsible for finding the reality of what THIS is. That experience is exactly what hides the reality of what THIS is. That experience says the mystery has to be found somewhere else, and that hides the reality that there is only the mysterious. There is only unknowing.
That experience says “I need to, through my free will and choice, find the meaning and purpose to this apparent happening, this appearance”. That’s an illusion. There is no meaning and purpose, there’s nothing missing. THIS doesn’t need to be completed. It doesn’t need to become whole. It already is, and that includes the experience that it isn’t. That’s wholeness or the absolute appearing as the experience that something needs to happen for this to be okay. This is never okay or not okay. It’s simply the mystery appearing as THIS.