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Reality Cannot Be Found in the Unreal
Arlindo: Yes, John, I have been with a few Neo-Advaita teachers myself in the past. They often claim to be non-dual teachers, but they are not really teachers of non-duality. In fact they teach duality because they suggest in their talks and descriptions of their experiences that the self can be experienced and known as an object. They may not be aware of it, but they mislead people into seeking the self as something other than themselves.
They often think of the self as a phenomenal object manifesting as the world (jagatha), and as one single unity. When they say that we are all one, they often suggest that all objects in creation are united as God manifest because God is everything. You probably heard them saying that we are all one, right? What they are often not aware of is that God is but an object appearing in consciousness, and that the very phenomenon “jiva and God” appears in mithya, and therefore in duality.
You see, God/creation is one single phenomenon, one single object projected by maya/Isvara. And we need human jivas in order to conceive of the concept of God. Let’s take the ocean metaphor in which jivas are the waves and the creation is the ocean. It is easy to understand that from a larger prospective all there is is the ocean and that the wave is a superimposition on the ocean. Everything is God/ocean – but there is another factor or principle that many people miss: the ocean is but another superimposition on H2O. “Water” is the only fundamental, invariable and free principle in this metaphor.
All spirituality dealing with phenomenal experience, such as non-dual experiences, are by nature dualistic. It is all about the wave trying to convince itself of the ocean by experiencing it. But the wave and the ocean are both in mithya, and therefore they are always changing. Sometimes the wave believes itself to be the ocean, but other times it believes itself to be a wave. Moreover, in deep sleep, for example, the wave and the ocean both are not present. How can we find reality if one’s mind is focused on unreality?