I’d like to introduce two connected topics:
What have we “gained” by following this path? Does it make the world a better place? Does it improve our lives?
The question often arises that if Awareness (or God) is omnipotent, omnipresent, everywhere, everything, then why do “bad things happen”? Can we make judgments about events (manifestations) in the world? I want to describe how I’ve heard this issue play out in non-dual communities.
Sometimes, people will describe Awareness as neutral, as non-judging. The ocean of Awareness moves, there are ripples, each ripple is a self, or a thing, a planet, or a galaxy. Awareness, or God, does not judge how the individual objects or beings interact. And as participants in this non-dual play, we cannot judge what occurs. To judge it, or to separate one part of the manifest world from another, would be a kind of dualism: good and bad, heaven and hell, non-dualism vs. materialism.
On the other hand, whether or not we make judgments about the way the apparent reality, or the “dream” plays out, we have all probably experienced changes in ourselves as a result of this path. I certainly have. There is the question of whether “this path” and “these changes” are still just Awareness manifesting in us; in other words, are we really making the choice to follow this path any more than those who do not follow it are making that choice? Everything is emanating from Awareness; there is only “apparent choosing” on the relative, (apparently) dualistic, or localized side of manifestation. (And I know, there are not “two sides,” only Awareness). No one chooses anything; we play out our roles in the dream. So the changes are manifestations of Awareness; they are inevitable. We may be changing, but we don’t make that choice.
I’ve also heard people say that those who (apparently) harm others are acting from a state of ignorance, of lack of awareness of our “shared being.” If they were on this path, they would not act that way.
Is that dualistic, in that you have “ignorant actors” vs. “actors who are more enlightened”? Can both views be true? Maybe we can say that on this path, people will change, will act differently, will play their roles in a different way, but at the same time, any judgment of the way the universe unfolds runs counter to non-duality. In either case, no one is making a choice.
How does this play out in our lives? If we understand that all this apparent reality is an expression of Awareness, then we do not need to “fix the world.” That need would mean not accepting the world as it is; it would be resistance to what is, which is the definition of suffering. In a way, this seems nihilistic: I can’t do anything to fix, heal, change the world, make it better. On the other hand, it’s kind of liberating. I do what I’m driven to do but without any expectations.
Maybe to some of you, this is an unnecessary mental exercise. But it’s an area that’s caused me some confusion. I don’t pretend to have worked it all out. I present it as a topic for discussion.