“You and I are the same. What I have done is surely possible for all. You are the Self now and can never be anything else. Throw your worries to the wind, turn within and find Peace.” ~ Sri Ramana Maharshi
To say I love Hitler as much as Jesus or Justin Bieber as much Slayer is not an easy thing to do. The moment I say otherwise however, I’m coming from a place of non-duality, and trust me, I spend plenty of time coming from that place. I wish I was better at the non-duality thing, but I do have my moments.
The moments where “I” am actually not coming from the ego that is Chris Grosso, but rather a place of awareness that recognizes the Divinity in Hitler and Justin Bieber just as much as in Jesus and er, um, Slayer (yes, I love Slayer, and Jesus too, big whoop, wanna fight about it!?- any Family Guys fans out there?)
Anyways, I’m sure that entire paragraph may be difficult for many of you to swallow, and my sorry attempt at humor may have only made things worse, but I ask that as I explore non-duality here with you (and I mean unconditional non-duality), that you please keep an open mind until you’ve finished reading.
One of the most well known scriptures in Buddhism is The Heart Sutra. Within it, there is a mantra that is said to calm all suffering and bring duality to a place of non-duality. It is: Gate Gate Paragate Parasamgate Bodhi Svaha (Gone, Gone, Gone Beyond, Gone Utterly Beyond, Awakened).
So beyond the sense of you, me, ours and theirs, lies one infinite truth, and that truth, as I’ve come to experience, is love, which at its core is what everything emanates from.
Advaita Vedanta is a non-dualistic tradition I’ve also learned much from. “Advaita” means “not two” and “Vedanta” means “the end of knowledge” and together assert that absolute reality is beyond our personal perception and cognition, or our ego, which is the lens that the majority of us spend most of our time looking through in our daily lives.
During times of Samadhi, Satori or pure present moment awareness, however, times where the ego lens is not blurring our perception, we unite with the pure “I” which is absolute awareness and stands alone, allowing us to experience reality in its truest form, a form which has no room for duality, judgments, separation thoughts and so forth. It’s a place where Justin Bieber is in fact, just as awesome as Slayer. Yes, this is one hell of a magical place.
This “I” is unconditional love and knows nothing but love.
It is the love that is the deepest reality of who you, me, Hitler, Christ, Bieber and Slayer all are. Of course, when we’re not coming from the place of pure awareness, which again, is 99.9 percent of the time for most of us, or at least myself, we project labels and judgments and have our own preferences and so forth, and well, that’s just life, it is what it is.
So with that being said, should we just throw in the towel and go forth mentally judging and condemning left and right as we see fit?
One of the old school spiritual rebels himself, Christ Jesus cautioned against this when he said, “See that none render evil for evil to any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men.” I Thessalonians 5:15 (Wow, never thought I’d be quoting the Bible in one of my articles so hell possibly hath frozen over).
So if Jesus, Buddha and all the other illumined teachers taught compassion for all sentient beings, what are we left to do? The approach I’ve found that works best for me is to look at each day as a classroom, with everyone in it, from friends to family, stranger’s and so forth as my teachers. In my heart, I truly believe they are anyways, but by practicing this, I’m cultivating my awareness towards a mindset of open mindedness and inquisitive compassion rather than one of judgment and separation.
Again, our deepest essence of being is pure Divine Love, as was Hitler’s and Jesus’ and every other person who has ever walked the face of this earth. I can see some of you now possibly throwing your arms up in the air frantically over the fact that I’m likening someone of Hitler’s stature to that of Jesus, but I ask you though to look deeper than what’s on the surface, or at the very least, recognize the place of judgment and condemnation you’re coming from and explore that, in and of itself a bit deeper.
The material body and ego that was Hitler was a monster and I would never try to say otherwise. The amount of suffering, horror and death he was responsible for is incomprehensible, however, the part of me that says he was a monster is my dualistic, ego nature, the same dualistic, ego nature that says Jesus was an amazing illumined teacher of love and liberation. Those are personal judgments and opinions based on my dualistic thought system. Some people saw Hitler as a great man while others condemned Jesus to the death of a blasphemer. Either way, they were all thoughts, and judgments, based on an egoic, dualistic nature.
If I was coming from a place of pure non-duality, the only thing in my awareness would be that of an all inclusive love, a love that wouldn’t even recognize Hitler or Jesus as separate beings, because in that place, they aren’t. Their material bodies have been laid aside and their true nature is united in the One Source, whether you care to call it Spirit, Consciousness, Tao, Buddha Nature, Brahman, God or Goddess.
So by doing my best to honor the deeper truth of everyone’s inherent Divine Love and nature throughout my day, I’m bringing myself to a deeper personal relationship with that Love as well.
By acknowledging it in another, especially the one’s I’d rather not, I’m setting my ego self aside, however temporarily, and allowing the pure “I” that is in me to recognize and celebrate the Divine Love that it’s connected to in another, whether it’s Hitler, Jesus or otherwise.
“The trinity: mind, self and spirit, when looked into, becomes unity.” ~ Nisargadatta Maharaj
I’d like to wrap this up with a story from Ram Dass’ book Paths to God which I believe is a perfect example of the non-dualistic thought system in action.
“I’ve told this story before, but it’s worth repeating because it spells out the issue so beautifully. It concerns a discussion I had with my father (this was back in the early 1970s), about a set of records I’d issued called Love, Serve, Remember.
My father said to me, “I saw those records you put out. They look great. But I can’t understand: Why are you selling them so cheaply? You’re selling six records for four and a half dollars? You could probably get fifteen dollars for those records- well, nine, anyway!”
I said, “Yeah, Dad, I know, but it only costs us four and a half dollars to produce them.”
He asked, “How many have you sold?”
I said, “About ten thousand.”
He said, “Would those same people have paid nine dollars for them?”
I said, “Yeah, probably they would have paid nine.”
“You could have charged nine,” he said, “and you only charged four fifty? What are you, against capitalism or something?”
I tried to think how I could explain it to him. My father was a lawyer, so I said, “Dad, didn’t you just try a case for Uncle Henry?”
He said, “Yeah.”
I asked, “Was it a tough case?”
“Oh, you bet. Very tough,” he said.
“Did you win it?”
“Yeah,” he said, but I’ll tell you, I had to spend a lot of time on that damn case. I was at the law library every night, I had to talk to the judge- it was a very difficult case.”
I said, “Boy, I’ll bet you charged him an arm and a leg for that one!” (My father used to charge pretty hefty fees.)
My father looked at me as if I’d gone crazy. He said, “What!- Are you out of your mind?! Of course I didn’t charge him- Uncle Henry is family.”
I said, “Well, Dad, that’s my predicament. If you show me anybody who isn’t Uncle Henry, I’ll happily rip him off.”
Bad Religion – American Jesus
Editor: Kate Bartolotta