GOD, REALITY, AND “RADICAL”
Getting in Touch with Who You Really
as Based on the Spiritual Revelation
of Adi Da Samraj
D. B. Sleeth, Ph.D.
Western orientations to the self
rarely speak of the self in terms of God. However, an
orientation to the self that seriously considers God and
self to be the same runs through both Eastern and Western
spiritual traditions: nondualism. Yet, even to speak in
these terms is to commit blasphemy in certain spiritual
traditions. Nonetheless, a compelling account of the
identity between God and self exists: “Radical”
Non-Dualism, the spiritual revelation of the nondual sage,
Adi Da Samraj. Traditional accounts of nondualism provide
no means whereby manifest beings can be understand to emerge
from the underlying ground of unmanifest divinity. But two
crucial mechanisms appear in “Radical” Non-Dualism whereby
God can be said to transform into human beings: the
Illusion of Relatedness and the Grid of Attention.
This paper attempts to answer an
extremely perplexing question, which most people would say
is pretty important: “Who am I?” Psychologists believe
that somewhere around the time people reach their
adolescence, they begin to ask this question. Up until
then, they really aren’t too concerned about it. More
pressing concerns occupy their attention, like school and
friends, getting their hands on candy, finding more time for
play, especially by getting out of doing their chores;
things like that. However, as our intelligence begins to
develop to the point where we can look down the road and
consider our future, we start to wonder about other
things-what’s in store for me, especially after I die; where
did I come from and how did I get here; and, most of all,
just who in the world am I?
Historically, this very same inquiry
first appeared in the West among the profound works of the
ancient Greeks, such as Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle.
Yet, other great minds also grappled with the fundamental
nature of human beings at this time. Along with the
important centers of learning present in Greece, Egypt, and
Mesopotamia, two other great civilizations existed on the
other side of the world: India and China. Both of these
countries worked out an even more impressive and subtle
account of human nature, which, unfortunately, seems to have
been unknown in the West at the time. These texts have come
to be known as nondualism.
Although an extremely difficult
spiritual doctrine, nondualism can be summarized this way:
as people become aware that there is some larger, spiritual
reality within which they live, it is possible for a
two-fold discovery to be made:
1. they feel that they are in some
way intimately connected to this larger reality,
2. they then feel that they
literally are this larger reality-so much so that their
ordinary sense of being a separate self disappears
As can be seen, one is more
inclusive than the other. The difference could perhaps be
illustrated this way: whereas the latter is a diamond, the
former is a diamond in the rough. Although, to an ordinary
stone, the distinction might not seem like much, to a
jeweler it makes all the difference in the world-it is
precisely the former with which one fashions a resplendent
jewel. Transpersonal psychology aligns with the former:
“in which an individual’s sense of identity appears to
extend beyond its ordinary limits to encompass wider,
broader, or deeper aspects of life or the cosmos-including
divine elements of creation” (Krippner, 1998, p. ix).
Maslow (1964) spoke of this as “peak experiences,” in which
one’s awareness of reality is suddenly heightened and
ecstatic experiences begin to appear. Other accounts, such
as the Judeo-Christian spiritual tradition, speak of the
divine rapture possible in one’s relationship to God.
However, clearly, the second
position goes beyond even these extraordinary levels of
experience. In fact, the first position might even be
called pseudo-nondualism, or transitional to nondualism.
Consequently, it makes sense to augment transpersonal
psychology with another field entirely: transcendental
psychology. The difference between the two could be
described this way:
This does not mean that the mystic
lost all sense of separation from ultimate reality or was so
united with ultimate reality as to feel dissolved into it.
Some mystics have spoken in this way, claiming that all
difference vanished; but other mystics have not
(Carmody & Carmody, 1996, p. 12)
Yet, mysticism is often spoken of as
if a single state of being, the same for all fortunate
enough to enter it. Nonetheless, there are two realms or
stages to the mystical state, with the latter even more
inclusive than the former. In the case of nondualism, no
sense of separation exists whatsoever between the person and
every other part of reality. This is precisely why this
spiritual realization is called nondualism, because reality
is no longer experienced as being split up into parts, or
consisting of a duality of difference pieces-such as self
and other, for example. There is only one single reality in
nondualism, and this reality is literally who we are.
Nondualism can be defined this way: “Nondual wisdom refers
to the understanding and direct experience of a fundamental
consciousness that underlies the apparent distinction
between perceiver and perceived” (Prendergast, 2003, p.
However, nondualism is not merely a
description of what happens to one’s sense of self in this
profound state of consciousness. More to the point is the
experience of this state of consciousness, or what it feels
like. Indeed, for many, this feature of nondualism is the
most important. Adi Da Samraj speaks ecstatically about
nondual spiritual reality:
True God Is Love-Bliss, Unsupported,
. Stay with Me, and you can afford to be quiet.
Do you ever get quiet-just quiet? Talking the cool
blueness, the full moonlit night, consciousness attendant to
the Divine, all energy flowing, even running out of the top
of the head like a fountain.
What you would have in Communion
with Me is a cool, watery, full moonlit night, cooled of
stress, and desire, and consolation, Awake to “Brightness”.
On that basis, visions of clarity and peace. And then
moving beyond them to My Love-Bliss Itself, without the
slightest image, without the slightest object, without the
slightest fear, without any “other”-not even yourself an
Be still. Be washed
mindless. Bodiless. Sublime. God Only
. “We are
Home now, Lord”
. That is it. Do not leave. (1994,
One way to describe this nondual
awareness of reality is by paraphrasing the old story of
Robinson Crusoe, who suddenly found himself shipwrecked on a
deserted island in the middle of nowhere-not unlike our own
shocking realization that we have been unexpectedly born
into this completely unknown world we call earth. Over
time, Robinson Crusoe had to learn how to survive in this
strange new land, setting up a shelter and managing to grow
and catch food to eat. However, one day, he noticed
footsteps in the sand on the beach and became aware that he
was not alone on the island. Soon, he began to notice other
signs of this presence on the island, and he kept a close
eye out for the impending encounter. When Robinson Crusoe’s
finally meeting the other person, whom he named Friday, is
analogous to the first position mentioned above-feeling part
of some larger reality. However, with nondualism, or the
second position, a slightly different outcome would be the
case: during the meeting, Robinson Crusoe discovers the
other person is actually himself-and so too is the island,
and the ocean, and even the entire universe! And more, all
of it is awash in the delight of love-bliss!
Obviously, this changes the
meaning of the story entirely. Now, Robinson Crusoe exists
in a state of happiness and awareness beyond anything he
could otherwise have ever imagined. Of course, the fact
that this extraordinary state of consciousness is our
fundamental nature does not mean it is something of which we
are typically familiar. Quite the contrary, in fact! Many
of us rarely even have peak experiences, much less the
extraordinary rapture of love that comes when we get in
touch with the deepest part of who we are. Such resplendent
states are typically realized only by accomplished spiritual
masters, or else profound spiritual aspirants. Yet, this
fundamental nature is still the case anyway, despite our
typically being unaware of it. It is for this reason that
the doctrines of nondualism recommend specific spiritual
practices, in order to help one develop an awareness of who
they really are.
But, precisely because this
extraordinary state of consciousness is so unfamiliar for
most people, it is necessary to spell out exactly what
nondualism is, especially “Radical” Non-Dualism, in terms
that can be easily understood. Yet, it should be noted that
nondualism is a very difficult spiritual doctrine, precisely
because it refers to a level of reality so unfamiliar to
most of us. Consequently, this paper uses a particular
methodology. Nondual reality cannot be comprehended by
reason, but only apprehended through intuition. Therefore,
this paper suggests or alludes to nondual reality through
the use of imagery and argument, engaging reason for the
purpose of awakening intuition. Once awakened, reason can
drop out altogether and intuition followed to its source:
the sublime nature of God, or nondual reality-one’s own
ultimate presence. Something in the way of a blind person
seeing color, it is one thing to know of the existence of
nondualism, but you cannot really understand it until you
have had a direct experience of it.
Adi Da (2000, 2004) refers to
“Radical” Non-Dualism as the immediate and direct condition
of Divine Existence. In this state, all conditionally
manifested events and objects are spontaneously and
inherently recognized to be illusory or merely apparent
modifications of the Divine Fullness of Being Itself.
However, this account can be contrasted with the way in
which nondualism is sometimes regarded as it is imported
into Western cultures from the East, especially in terms of
psychology: “In time and without any conscious effort or
intent we become like stained glass, more adequate forms for
the transmission of light. Our individuality is liberated
and enhanced as we knowingly share this common ground with
all beings” (Prendergast, 2003, p. 10).
Yet, speaking in terms of
“liberating or enhancing one’s individuality” is misleading,
for this is precisely the illusory state that is actually at
zero in nondualism. Likewise, becoming “stained glass” is
also an inadequate way to account for nondualism, as the
point of such imagery is to suggest some type of form or
definition for the individual-as might be illumed by the
light. But the state of nondualism is better understood as
this: the very Light Itself (Adi Da, 2004). Indeed,
according to Adi Da, rather than illuminating the glass, the
process can be thought of as Outshining (see Adidam, 2004,
p. 1340). In this case, body, mind, and world are no longer
even noticed-but not because Divine Consciousness has
withdrawn or dissociated from manifest phenomena. Rather,
the ecstatic recognition of all arising phenomena (by the
Divine Self-as a modification of Itself) has become so
intense that the “Bright” love-blissful radiance of
consciousness now simply Outshines all phenomena. As a
result, phenomena become immediately and directly recognized
as not other than the Divine Condition Itself.
In this way, the ultimate nature of
the relationship between God and human beings can be put
this way: they are the same. Of course, for many spiritual
traditions, to even make the suggestion amounts to
blasphemy. Indeed, only the spiritual tradition of
nondualism seriously considers the possibility that human
beings are God. Yet, all of the axial religions have
nondual adherents among their mystics. For example, a
notable Christian monk, Meister Eckhart, exhorted spiritual
aspirants to the following realization: “In this impulse I
receive wealth so vast that God cannot be enough for me in
all that makes him God, and with all his divine works. For
in this breakthrough I discover that I and God are one”
(1980, p. 218).
But Meister Eckhart was severely
chastised, indeed, even condemned by the Holy Roman Church
for this spiritual revelation. Clearly, equating human
beings with God represents a provocative claim. However,
the difficulty does not reside so much with its impudence as
its inability to provide any convincing account of how it
could be the case, especially given how contrary to our
ordinary intuition it seems to be. Although Eckhart, not to
say all other nondual sages preceding him, was unable to
offer such a convincing account, the “Radical” Non-Dualism
of Adi Da Samraj does. That is, “Radical” Non-Dualism does
not merely make the observation that these realms of reality
exist-divine and human-or even that they are in fact the
same, but offers an account of how they get from one to the
other: the Illusion of Relatedness and the Grid of
The Illusion of
It is often remarked that spiritual
reality is ineffable. Indeed, the famous Taoist text, the
Tao Te Ching, begins with the following line: “The Tao that
can be told is not the eternal Tao” (Tsu, 1972, p. 1).
Certain Hindu texts speak of reality as “neti, neti,” which
means, “not this, not this.” This is ineffable in the
common sense of the word, by which two meanings are
expressed: simply that something exists, and what it is
not-yet, not what it is. Nonetheless, ineffable can be
understood in an entirely different manner. It is not the
case that speaking of spiritual reality is impossible
(clearly, even the Tao Te Ching does that), but something
else entirely: no one will understand what you are talking
about when you do-unless, of course, they already know. In
another sense, being ineffable is something like pointing to
the moon with your finger; it is the moon that is the point,
not your finger.
Simply put, the God is comprised
of discernable attributes: “This is the term
. The ultimate reality, the ultimate
truth, is ‘sat’-being, ‘cit’-consciousness, and
‘ananda’-bliss. This is as near as we can come to an
affirmation of the nature of the Godhead” (Griffiths, 1973,
pp. 10-12). Adi Da puts the nature of the Godhead in terms
of “Radical” Non-Dualism:
All That Appears To Be
Not-Consciousness (or an “object” Of Consciousness) Is An
Apparition Produced By Apparent Modification (or Spontaneous
Contraction and Perturbation) Of The Inherent Self-Radiance
(or Native Love-Bliss-State) Of Consciousness Itself.
All Of this arising Is (In Itself-or Separately) An
Illusion-The Principal Signs Of Which Are The Presumption Of
Relatedness (and Of “Difference”), The Presumption Of a
(2006b, pp. 374-375)
In other words, the ultimate
nature of reality can be put this way: there is only God.
Manifest existence emerges into being as an utterly
spontaneous contraction occurring in the pure state of
consciousness that is God. As a result, this activity is
acausal, without cause or reason. Yet, it tends to persist
and to be repeated. If consciousness identifies with this
act of self-contraction, it will falsely presume to be other
than or separate from itself. Further, consciousness will
tend to resolve this discomfort through attention, falsely
presuming to be related to itself, across the non-existent
gulf of this apparent separateness. This tension of
separation goes both ways, like a rubber band stretched
taut, simultaneously pulled both toward and away. As a
result, the individual can feel their inherent feeling of
love-bliss only when they relax this contracted state,
thereby, releasing the Illusion of Relatedness into what is
its own, true state of consciousness-as God, meanwhile (not
other than one’s own true self), continues to merely exist
in a Blissful state of Awareness of all that is
Put somewhat differently, God
consists primarily of two attributes: love-bliss
awareness-all of which existing as a single living presence.
In a sense, this pristine state can be likened to a zygote,
which is to say, a cell as it appears just prior to
splitting into two. The “cell” at this point exists in a
state of pure, undifferentiated Oneness. Love-bliss
awareness exudes a living presence of being, in the manner
of light, radiating “Brightness” to infinity. However, this
native state is eventually disrupted by the emergence of a
cleft within it, refracting the light and seeming to split
it into shards, creating thereby the Illusion of
Relatedness. Yet, this split does not actually occur. That
it seems so is nothing but an illusion, indeed, arising
spontaneously, without cause or reason. Like a bing cherry
with two plump sides and cleavage running down the middle,
the split is merely imprinted upon the berry, but without
actually rendering it in two.
Consequently, the appearance of
these conditions within “Radical” Non-Dualism could be
diagrammed this way:
THE ILLUSION OF
Self Other (conscious of
Consciousness is usually thought to
be about something, or directed toward some object of
attention. But consciousness can be understood in radically
different terms. In and of itself, consciousness is not
aware of things. It is more primal than that. It simply is
awareness-whether the objects of mind arise within its field
or not: “Consciousness is not attention, it’s not the mind.
Those are objects of Consciousness, merely Witnessed.
Consciousness is just That, Consciousness
you Realize that attention is object to you as well, where
you’re merely in the Witness-Position” (Adi Da, 1996, pp.
It is by virtue of the Illusion of
Relatedness that one has the sense of being a separate self,
over against and a part from objects and others. Even at
the most profound depths of being, this sense of separation
occurs: “The Presumption (or Idea) Of the Separate ‘I’ (or
the ego-‘I’) Does Not arise Independently-but It Always
(Necessarily, and Inherently) arises Coincident With The
Presumption (or Idea) Of the Separate ‘other’ (Related To
the Separate ‘I’)” (Adi Da, 2006b, p. 370). From here, the
entire expanse of manifest existence emerges. Adi Da (2002)
refers to the unavoidable co-occurrence of these two
features of manifest existence as “Klik-Klak,” not unlike
the old story of the Siamese twins humorously named Pete and
Repeat, in order to suggest the endlessly replicating nature
of reality once this primordial pair comes into
Indeed, the underlying substrate of
all existence takes the form of self and other. As can be
readily seen in looking out at the world, the creative
fecundity of this simple state of twoness is extraordinary.
Like the binary code of computer programming, all that
exists can be seen as just some combination of the two, no
matter how intricate or complex the combining: “It
replicates, shifts, changes, that’s it. It’s built on a
fundamental torque, in other words, two and that’s the basis
for multiplicity. As soon as there is torque, or two,
. It’s force of shift is
” (Adi Da, 2002, track 4, 7:55 min.).
Indeed, it even appears as if it cannot be stopped, although
it can be modified.
As can be seen, such accounts of
nondualism attempt to resolve the paradox from within the
various levels of manifest existence, but not the greater
circumstances that is the “Brightness,” or God. However,
God can only be understood on the other side of these levels
of being, prior to their formation:
[T]he “radical” approach to
Realization of Reality (or Truth, or Real God) is
Realize Reality, Truth, or Real God In Place (or As That
Which Is Always Already The Case, Where and As you Are, Most
Perfectly Beyond and Prior to ego-“I”, or the act of
self-contraction, or of “differentiation”, which act is the
prismatic fault that Breaks the Light, or envisions It as
seeming two, and more). (Adi Da, 2000a, p. 276)
It is by virtue of the Illusion of
Relatedness that the nondual state of “Brightness” is
corrupted, and transmuted into the form of a spectrum
(Cook-Greuter, 2000; Wilber, 2000a, b)-as if by a prism.
But traditional accounts typically describe the unity of
nondualism from within the prism. Although witnessing
reality can take place prior to the Light transmuting into a
spectrum, it does not necessarily occur prior to the Light
entering the prism. In other words, such accounts focus on
the mechanics of the prism-rather than the nondual
“Brightness” itself. In this latter case, however, the
Light is not transmuted into the spectrum, although the
forces are perhaps building by which it will do so. The
divine reality of “Brightness” exists prior to the formation
of the prism, before its dreadful mechanics of incarnation
even comes to exist-and, indeed, remains after the fact, in
the event that they do.
The Grid of Attention
Adi Da refers to the disruptive
activity of the Illusion of Relatedness as self-contraction,
a spontaneous occurrence in which awareness seems to
separate from love-bliss, and attempts to cross the apparent
gap between them through the only means available:
attention. In other words, as awareness becomes aware of
love-bliss, rather than simply being aware as love-bliss,
awareness focuses on love-bliss-thereby becoming attention.
It is only at this point that the conventional idea of
consciousness comes into play-that consciousness must be
about some object, which is put attention on some object.
Indeed, the focusing of awareness that is attention can
build to a point of tension, ultimately erupting into the
menagerie of colors, odors, flavors, and different kinds of
touch that we commonly associate with life and experience.
But, again, this is all an illusion.
It is not that these shards of light do not appear as
reflections within the mirror. Rather, they merely appear
as reflections within the mirror. The focusing of attention
produces a Grid of Attention (or screen) upon which every
appearance of existence is not only displayed but initially
generated. In other words, it is not simply that the body
and world interact, thereby sending nerve impulses to the
brain, whereupon the mind interprets the experience and
displays it to awareness. The reverse is also true: by
focusing attention, experience is displayed to the
mind-which is precisely the body and the world in the first
place. Indeed, even the entire apparatus of the mind is
itself a feature of the grid. The notion that the world
exists “out there” and exterior to the body is an illusion,
for the body and world are nothing more than permutations
taking place within the grid. This blending of mind and
experience is what Adi Da calls the body-mind, or
It is for this reason that
shamanistic and mystical practices allow one to voluntarily
and intentionally affect their experiential register
(Eliade, 1974; Krippner, 2000)-these spiritual masters are
able to influence their experience by way of the very
imagery taking place within the grid (Achterberg, 1985).
Nonetheless, conscious awareness exists outside of the
confines of the grid, and the multitude of objects and
experience appearing to take place there:
You can think of attention this way,
then-an unmoving point on a grid, a grid of infinite size.
Or, in other words, made up of an infinite number of
possible points. If attention appears to move, or is willed
to move, it’s the grid that moves. The point of attention
is the same, it never moves. And apparently, then,
attention has shifted to another point on the grid
Fundamentally, then, in terms of the mechanics of attention,
that is all there is-the point of attention and this grid,
apparently modified energy taking on the form of apparent
objects, or points in space/time
. (Adi Da,
In other words, it is not attention
that creates anything. It is the mechanisms that are in the
grid-i.e., mind-that make the changes, generate the
thoughts, the feelings, the sensations, the ideas, and the
perceptions. All the “objects” or “entities” appearing in
the grid, including human beings, are nothing more than the
patterns that appear among these experiential sensations and
perceptions. It is for this reason that Adi Da (2002)
refers to these dynamics as “patterns patterning,” to
indicate that no objects or entities actually exist, just
the incessant maneuvering of the patterns as they engage in
the patterning. Further, the term Klik-Klak is a play on
words that suggests the operation of the grid is as
automatic and impersonal as a machine, uncompromisingly
rattling down the track. Like samsara and maya, the
patterning of the grid operates according to its own
principles, utterly devoid of concern for any particular
condition or being.
Perhaps more to the point, like the
traditional Buddhist concept of impermanence, there is
nothing but endless flux on the grid, utterly indifferent to
anyone who happens to appear there:
Well that’s not Klik-Klak’s
business, you see, it doesn’t care about that concern of
yours. You don’t belong there anyway, you see. You’re from
Consciousness land. This is Klik-Klak land. Klik-Klak
doesn’t care about the illusions of those who wander from
Consciousness land, because all Klik-Klak deals with is the
material of Klik-Klak
Klik-Klak has no notion of
permanence, has no permanence in itself whatsoever
[Y]our desire to be loved, to be permanent, to have
your desires satisfied, and so forth, that’s your interests.
Klik-Klak doesn’t [care] about egos, you see
Your complaints are of no interest, they are not registered
in the pattern. It keeps Klik-Klaking, regardless of your
pleas and your complaints. (Adi Da, 2002, track 3,
In a sense, the philosophy of
scientific materialism has a basis in reality, although only
as it applies to the realm of Klik-Klak. Unfortunately,
such views usually equates reality with Klik-Klak,
overlooking the very essence of what it is to be a living
being, actually residing in the deeper realm of
Heidegger (1927) describes human
existence as being “thrown” into the world (i.e., grid),
from God knows where, and forced to make life and death
choices without any base of expertise. Being in such a
situation is usually thought to be disconcerting (Morris,
1998). Indeed, existential writers typically refer to this
circumstance as absurdity, meaning there is no ultimate
rhyme or reason to existence. Yet, absurdity is sometimes
mistaken for being capricious or frivolous, but the two are
not the same. To be without reason does not necessarily
mean to be unreasonable. After all, the conditions taking
place in the grid often appear congruent or consistent with
one another, creating the impression that the machinery is
meticulously constructed-even suggesting to some the
presence of “intelligent design.” But the best that can be
said in this regard is that there is a bigger picture to
reality, beyond one’s present understanding. That is, the
issue for existentialism is probably better said this way:
thrown from where?
As can be seen, this involves a
subtle shift in perspective, depending on which end of the
question one puts their focus. However, people are often
attached to the outcomes taking place in the grid, which
usually strikes them as perfectly ordinary and reasonable.
Yet, the arbitrary nature of the pattern patterning suggests
these outcomes are, in reality, meaningless-nevermind how
attached to them we might be. Indeed, it is precisely for
this reason that existential writers claim one of the most
important objectives of human beings is to provide meaning
to an otherwise meaningless existence. Even so, Buddhist
spiritual masters are likely to recommend otherwise: “So
try not to
achieve anything special. You already have
everything in your own pure quality
. We do not
. Because we put emphasis on some
particular point, we always have trouble” (Suzuki, 1986, pp.
In other words, meaning cannot
really be provided by human beings. Or, perhaps better
said, there is a meaning for both-the divine realm and the
grid. Yet, even so, the two are not equal, for the latter
arises out of the former. Even more to the point, the
nature of the pattern patterning involves particularly
unsavory consequences: “The appearance of an ordinary
checkerboard is very orderly-suggesting that everything is
in order, and (thus) ‘all right’
. However, the
seeming order of the checkerboard
is suffering. It is
not merely a matter of how any particular game of checkers
works out” (Adi Da, 2006c, p. 98-99). That is, the seeming
order that comes out of chaos is still nothing but a random
pattern appearing within the grid, endlessly replicating
itself, indeed, perhaps even from lifetime to lifetime
(e.g., karma and reincarnation). This is why it is
important for one to realize that consciousness is not
inherently about objects, for attention in this case is
bound to the illusions of the grid-rather than aligned to
Consequently, the underlying
situation for the individual can be diagramed as
Illusion of Relatedness
As can be seen, the situation is
something like that of cell meiosis, in which the exquisite
delight of love-bliss awareness seems to be split asunder.
Indeed, the separation of awareness and love-bliss (via the
grid) could be thought of similarly to the chromosomes of
the cell being cut in half-except that, in reality, the
intimate connection between them is never actually severed.
At some point prior to one’s birth, the unity of awareness
and love-bliss undergoes its unfortunate and merely apparent
sense of separation. In a sense, as the meiosis of this
separation occurs, instead of the chromosomes pulling apart
a “bulge” takes place in the sphere of awareness, pushing
toward love-bliss. This bulge is the focusing of attention
toward love-bliss. In doing so a tension emerges at its
tip, ultimately erupting into the Grid of Attention. In a
sense, the point at the tip of attention is like a
phonograph needle, pressing into the living presence of
love-bliss, thereby eliciting the apparent movement of the
spinning record that is the grid-which is, all the while,
comprised of love-bliss.
This set of circumstances could also
be compared to a T.V. set, in which the evening’s
programming is transmitted to the viewer-except that in this
case, the programming consists of holographs with which the
viewer feels they are actually interacting. The sense one
has of a concrete reality is nothing more than images
appearing ephemerally within consciousness, not unlike the
way that images flicker across a T.V. screen. It is only in
this sense that it could be said that the world was
“created,” whether by God or clever network executives.
Therefore, creation does not issue forth into an actual
world of reality. Better said, it splashes up onto the
grid, as if from a rock plummeting into a pool of water-and
then projected out as if into a world of reality. Indeed,
the splashing water is the grid, and the various patterns
simply ripples following the course set by the initial
impact. But none of this is intended to be taken seriously.
Each of the functions and various levels of mind present in
the grid can be thought of in a similar manner: “All of
this is a dream, if you like
. If you
[w]hat happened within the dream is
suddenly not your present condition. It is of no
consequence any longer, once you are awake” (Adi Da, 2006a,
Although the dream world is usually
taken very seriously by the dreamer, it actually has no
substantive reality, and all efforts committed within its
domain are only more actions of the dream; and, therefore,
of no consequence to the spiritual process of awakening.
Only one’s own divine nature can serve as a useful means to
disrupt the deluding influence of the dream-which is
precisely the case, for God is actually in the process most
auspicious for your awakening: trying to reach you. This
is why spiritual masters manifest within the grid and
disrupt its usual operation, which is to say, appear in the
dream and alert you to the truth-for the sake of your
awakening. Such is certainly the case for Adi Da Samraj
(see Adidam, 2003a, b). In this way, it could be said that
the living God is truly alive, appearing within the grid in
human form. “Radical” Non-Dualism is not merely another
theory of spirituality-it is God’s own revelation about
The nondualist approach dramatically
reverses the usual understanding of sin and the relationship
of God and humanity. More to the point, only “Radical”
Non-Dualism can account for the three issues most pertinent
to spiritual discourse: the problem of the One and the
Many, the difference between reality and illusion, and the
nature of the relationship between God and human beings,
especially as it manifest in terms of the problem of good
and evil. Indeed, it puts the real issue underlying these
issues on its proper footing: the separate self arising
within God as an act of self-contraction (i.e., sin). In
nondualism the essential nature of the separate self is
understood to be an impediment to love and happiness, a
false and misguided illusion. Loy puts the situation this
way: “the nondualistic systems also agree that our usual
sense of duality-the sense of separation (hence alienation)
between myself and the world ‘I’ am ‘in’-is the root
delusion that needs to be overcome” (1998, p. 178).
Yet, this depiction runs counter to
certain appraisals of what is of value in being a human
being. In fact, such appraisals sometimes impose their own
untenable interpretation of nondualism:
Love does indeed come from beyond
us, from pure being, from the absolute source that shines
through us and those we love. And the essence of love does
involve a dissolving of the boundaries of separation. Yet,
defining love purely as a mutual recognition of
transpersonal being is incomplete and unsatisfying in human
. Nondual teachings that mainly emphasize the
illusory quality of human experience can, unfortunately,
serve as just another dehumanizing force in a world where
our basic humanity is already under siege at every turn.
(Welwood, 2003, p. 145)
As can be seen, this passage speaks
of nondualism in terms of the first meaning of spirituality
offered at the beginning of the paper: feeling part of some
larger spiritual reality; yet, not the defining feature of
nondualism: enjoying the complete cessation of the boundary
of separation. Indeed, this passage suggests that the
eradication of separation is in some sense inappropriate,
perhaps even dehumanizing.
Unfortunately, speaking of
nondualism this way takes away the very essence of what is
valuable in being nondual. Speaking equivocally about the
separate self only undermines the ability to address its
limitations. Yet, it is understandable how this objection
might occur. Attaching meaning to experience is usually
thought to be extremely important for human beings, perhaps
even the most important part of life. Nonetheless, this
activity can be understood in a larger context, whereby it
is rendered meaningless. Simply put, meaning making puts
the emphasis on the wrong end of the equation-human, rather
than God-and thereby has the tail wag the dog. Indeed, it
is precisely in putting our basic, egoic humanity under
siege, ultimately even to the point of eliminating it, that
the reality of nondualism makes its appearance-and in so
doing, replaces egoic humanity with the resplendent delight
of Divine Love-Bliss.
There is an
intimate-nondual-relationship between love-bliss and
awareness. They are utterly inseparable from one another,
except under the illusory conditions of the
self-contraction. Awareness can be thought of as the living
presence of the human being simply because the human being
is literally made of love-bliss. On the other hand,
attention results as the self-contraction operates in the
midst of love-bliss awareness, mistakenly directed toward
its surrogate objects of interest and intention. In this
latter case, one is not able to enjoy the present and
ongoing reality of love-bliss awareness, but degenerates
into obsession over ever more futile substitutes for
And so it’s not a matter of finding
out that [Reality] Loves you. It’s a matter of
understanding yourself, Realizing Reality, being Love. If
Reality is Love, it’s not a matter of It Loving you. It’s a
matter of you being Love. You see? Because Reality being
Always Already the Case, the “you”-however it might be
described-is That. And if you’re not being Love, that’s
your problem. That’s what you have to understand. You must
transcend your impediment, the “you” that’s looking to be
. It’s not that you shouldn’t, however,
luxuriate in love and being loved. You should. But you’re
seeking it. And you are not being it… (Adi Da, 1997a, p.
This is why being loved by God is
ultimately beside the point, and so, too, even loving God.
Of real concern is being the Love of God. Yet, obviously,
doing so is no easy matter. The curious nature of our
situation could be put this way: although love is in this
world, it is not of this world. Perhaps no single principle
more fully captures the distinction between the sacred and
the profane than this: love comes from elsewhere than this
world. Therefore, it is not properly said that love is in
us; rather, we literally exist within and as
Consequently, spirituality is not
about being better adjusted or espousing a better social
ideal-even if for the admittedly useful purpose of getting
confused and willful people to behave better. Indeed, the
point of manifesting on the grid involves a perhaps
surprising turn: “The purpose of existence, then, is to
The physical is not there for
its own sake. It is there to help you purify the deeper
being, the deeper personality, to the point where you can
Realize What Transcends even the deeper personality” (Adi
Da, 1997b, pp. 55, 60). And, as a result of that process,
eliminate karmic propensities-at every level of the grid.
Therefore, the recommendation of
“Radical” Non-Dualism is to put attention on God, for this
is the very source of love-bliss. As one surrenders and
releases (i.e., transcends) their identification with the
grid, the contents of the grid simultaneously align with
their underlying substrate of love-bliss. In this way,
love-bliss naturally asserts its own influence, aligning the
contents of the grid accordingly. As one releases their
hold on the grid, the tension within the rubber band snaps
them back into place, as it were. As a result, one’s native
state is simply revealed: “Real God Is Reality, and Truth,
or That Which Is Always Already The Case” (Adi Da, 2000a, p.
141). It is in this way that one’s well-being is most
directly connected to their greatest succor.
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