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Chapter 1

 

Nondual Teachings are Dualistic, You Have a Soul!

Below are some of the beliefs people have about souls:

  1.  Due to their religion they believe that eternal souls exist.
  2. They believe that eternal souls don’t exist because they believe individuality is an illusion. Advaita Vedanta and some forms of Buddhism are philosophies that include this way of thinking.
  3. They believe that only physical reality exists; therefore, there is no need to seriously consider the question of whether or not eternal souls exist.
  4. They figure they don’t know what the answer is.
  5. Because of their spiritual experiences they know that eternal souls exist.

It wasn’t intentional, but I’m glad that I ended up completing the list by writing about people who through experience have found that eternal souls do in fact exist, because I believe that what people find through experience is often more significant that what they find when they rely on their intellect. I apologize if I sound a bit cocky about possibility number five, but I believe it is a bit much to deny the eternal nature of our souls because, as far as I’m concerned, existence is wonderful and I would hate to see it come to an end for any one of us. Some of you might say, “Hey wait a minute, not all of the possibilities listed above deny the eternal existence of the soul. Perhaps possibility number one isn’t based upon experience, but it acknowledges that souls are  eternal.” You might also say, “It is true that number two doesn’t acknowledge the possibility that eternal souls exist, but this doesn’t mean that it denies existence all together.”

 Regarding number one versus number five, I believe it is fine that some people believe they have eternal souls; nevertheless, I figure experience is more significant when it comes to a final determination, just as it is better to experience love than it is to believe in it without experiencing it. Regarding number two versus number five, well I have quite a bit to say about this.

For one thing, some people come to the conclusion that there is no such thing as an I, an individual being, or an eternal soul because they believe there is no particular something a person can grab hold of and say, “This is I.” I agree there isn’t one thing we can grab hold of and say, “This is I”; however, this doesn’t mean that we don’t exist as unique individuals. Oh, please let me count the ways in which we exist as unique individuals.

Say you want to go for a ride in your car. Do you have to be able to identify which part of your car is your car in order to use it; or does it suffice to acknowledge that numerous parts such as spark plugs, pistons and brake pads work together to form the homogenous whole of your car? I hope you don’t mind me making this assumption, but I figure your answer is yes, so I’ll go ahead and explain how cars relate to us. Just as God/Source Being/the divine powers-that-be/whatever term you prefer to use, learned to use the creative aspect of his being to create stars, planets and biological organisms, he learned to use the creative aspect of his being to create our souls.

Some of you might be squirming in your seat at this point because you have meditated, tried to find your I and couldn’t find it. When you couldn’t find anything, you experienced a sense of not being anything in particular. I know about this sort of meditation because I’ve experienced it. However, I eventually came to realize that when I had such an experience, I had it, not somebody else. I realized that I was definitely here having it. I realized that one part of my mind erroneously tried to find the me by focusing on just one part of me. Quite naturally I couldn’t find a part that represents the totality of me; however, since my attention was focused on nothing in particular, I experienced the spacious and seemingly formless part of myself, the part nondualists mistake for the entire final truth.

Now this spacious and formless part of myself isn’t a mere nothing. It is that part of me that allows me to be aware. It allows me to be aware of many things such as beauty, happiness, peace and love. These things, or shall I say qualities, are definitely worth being aware of. They make my life full and worthwhile rather than empty and meaningless. These qualities come from my own being, the part of me that can seem empty, spacious and formless if I look at it in such a way.

The ability to think also comes from the spacious and formless part of me. Where else would it come from? As far as I’m concerned it doesn’t make sense to conclude that there is pure being and within it something foreign that comes from who knows where, appears, and becomes known as mind. Nah, that would be too dualistic. I figure that awareness, the creative aspect of being, and the faculty of mind that enables us to recognize and establish relationships so we can figure out the nature of what we experience and who we are–are all parts of the same being. As far as I’m concerned, just as it doesn’t make sense to deny the awareness aspect of our being, it doesn’t make sense to deny the creative aspect of our being, because the creative aspect of our being gives us something to be aware of. For example, love! What would existence be without love? Even though love comes from our own being, it is definitely something we are aware of.

There is also the matter of how our ability to think enables us to make choices. It enables us to determine if we are happy with the state of being we are experiencing. First we feel what our existence is like, and then we decide (think about) if we like what we are experiencing. If not, we use our intelligence to find a way to experience differently. Therefore, our mind isn’t our enemy and isn’t something that has nothing to do with us, as contended by people who say we are pure awareness and nothing else. Where would we be without our ability to determine and decide? We couldn’t even determine if we want to listen to people who try to tell us that we don’t exist.

Some nondualists contend that our individuality and other forms of manifestation are illusory because the energy (a nondualist might say “mind stuff”) that is used to create manifested existence could’ve been used in just about any way and therefore nothing that is created is absolute and permanent. Consider our sun; it didn’t always exist. Its energy could’ve been used in numerous other ways; therefore the way it exists is somewhat arbitrary, albeit, probably chosen. However, the fact of the matter is that its energy is used in the way it is and as a result many forms of life including the human race get to experience life on this planet. It is immaterial what could’ve been, what matters is what actually is! Say there is a really happy child who thoroughly enjoys life. Would it make sense to tell this child that his (or her) life is meaningless because his energy could’ve been used in another way? Of course not! What is–is.

Our existence as unique souls is substantiated not only by God choosing to create us in the first place, but also by what love and fair play require. Since God has made it so we experience the results of how we live our life for better or worse, it is only fair that we have some say as to whether or not we get to exist eternally as unique souls, rather than have the matter dictated by the no-self-theory of a supposedly enlightened master who didn’t take on the responsibility of living our life. Once a soul reaches the point where it understands how wonderful existence can be, there is no way it will want to negate its existence. One of the reasons some people advocate self-negation is because they haven’t acquired the wisdom that shows that not only is it possible to exist as an eternal soul, it is highly preferential. Life is suffering only for people who haven’t found a better way.

I don’t mean to deny oneness. Many people have found through experience that oneness exists. However, oneness doesn’t mean that there is one being all by itself. Oneness means that many beings share a state of oneness with each other. We are one and many at the same time. What could be better? We get to share our uniqueness with each other in a very close manner, once we figure out how to do so. If each of us didn’t exist in a substantial manner, how could we share love and oneness in a substantial way?

One evening I had the following experience while wondering what oneness is about:

I lay in bed and tried to open up to love as best as I could. Suddenly I found myself walking down a city street (non-physically). I felt very happy and excited because I understood that everything is One Self. I walked up to complete strangers and hugged them, and they hugged me back, because they too understood that we are One Self. When I leaned forward and hugged my mother we didn’t experience ourselves as One Self, instead we experienced the love a mother and son share because we viewed each other with mother-son definitions, rather than as two divine souls. When I leaned forward to hug a woman I shared a mutual physical attraction with, we couldn’t experience oneness with each other, because we viewed each other as objects of pleasure rather than divine souls.

A limited way of viewing each other and self-centered viewpoints prevent two souls from sharing love and oneness, not their existence. If they didn’t exist, love and oneness couldn’t be shared because there wouldn’t be anyone to share it with.

On another occasion:

While awake, I lay in bed and tried to expand my awareness. I experienced myself exit a house (non-physically). I looked up a hill and saw white light. I floated up the hill until I reached the top and was by a ledge by an ocean. I figured the ocean was a symbol for the vastness of the oneness we are all a part of, so I decided to jump into it. After I did so, I felt my awareness expand. The more it expanded the better I felt. My awareness expanded without my losing my sense of individuality.

On another occasion:

While awake, I lay in bed and suddenly saw a landscape that included a number of houses. My awareness expanded so it was as if the landscape and houses were within my awareness. This experience enabled me to have a feeling for what it is like to have a state of awareness where you are connected to other things, yet you retain your awareness as a unique soul.

I believe my higher self/spirit guidance (spirit guidance) helped me have the above experiences. Each experience showed me that being a part of the oneness doesn’t mean that you have to give up your uniqueness as a specific soul.

I have strong feelings about whether or not we have eternal souls for several reasons:

  1. I sure want to exist for all of eternity. I don’t believe it is egotistical for me to feel this way. It is just that I’m so certain that a wonderful and infinite future awaits me, there is no reason to give up on my existence. On a related note, I believe it would be quite ungracious towards God to not appreciate the gift of life I have been given.Because I love my fellow souls I want them to experience an absolutely wonderful way of existence for all of eternity.
  2. I don’t want God to be alone. (I don’t mean to suggest that it’s up to me.)
  3. A lack of belief in the eternal nature of my soul influenced my spiritual growth in a negative way for several years.
  4. Life in this world can be quite challenging and one of the things that helps many people endure is the belief and faith that they have a wonderful and eternal existence ahead of them.
  5. Similar to reason number five, life is much more joyful when we either believe or know that the afterlife exists. Due to how grace has enabled my life to play out, I have come to know through various experiences that a wonderful and eternal future awaits me. (I give myself some credit because I made the effort to grow spiritually.)

One of the experiences I had I refer to as my Night in Heaven experience. Below is a portion of what I experienced:

During my later teens as I lay in bed one night, I suddenly found myself in the space of a spirit realm. At the time I was an atheist, because I believed science has the most reasonable answers for what reality is about. During this experience I found that I was wrong. First, without seeing anybody or being told anything, I understood that the person of Jesus Christ did in fact exist, and he continues to exist as a spirit who plays a key role in the divine plan. This understanding didn’t feel repressive and fear-based like fundamentalist Christianity can feel. I found myself in a realm that had an absolutely wonderful level of happiness. Not only did I understand that God and the afterlife exist, I understood how it is possible for them to exist without having to think about it. Not that I lost the ability to think in the manner I usually do, but during this experience it was as if I was plugged into universal mind and understood things in a manner that was certain and effortless, including the part about Christ.

I didn’t see or hear other spirit beings during this experience, but I knew that they were there. I understood that none of the problems of the planet Earth existed in this realm, and this is what our existence is truly about. My existence wasn’t a mere illusion, for there was no way I could’ve experienced and understood as I did if I didn’t exist in a substantial way. This realm was so perfect there was no need for the beings within it to negate their existence. This realm wasn’t a realm where souls mistook themselves to be body-based beings, yet they still existed.

I felt really disappointed when this experience came to an end. What a bummer it was to be back in this world. I went to sleep, and when I woke up in the morning I had forgotten the experience and didn’t remember it for a number of years. I remembered it after I made conscious contact with my spirit guidance. I remembered it as if the experience had happened yesterday. One of the key things I remembered is how real and certain the experience was as I had it. What I experienced was way beyond anything I had experienced during my life in this world, and there is no way it could’ve been the result of how my mind made use of memories. I believe I forgot about this experience for a number of years because there were things I needed to accomplish before I could apply what I had learned in a conscious way. However, even before I remembered the experience, I believe it affected me in a subconscious way.

A little while ago I stated that some people meditate in a way that causes them to believe there is no such thing as an I, individual being, eternal soul. People who meditate in this way also try to find out who they are. I’ve done the same. When we meditate and try to determine what our reality is, it is important to make certain that we don’t miss a key point. It is possible to meditate in a manner where we experience Source Being as formless so it seems as if only pure awareness exists. We might also experience qualities such as peace, bliss, divinity, love and vastness as we meditate in such a way. Just because we can experience the part of reality not considered manifested, this doesn’t mean that manifested reality isn’t substantial. A perspective that considers only one part of reality rather than all of reality isn’t complete. If we think about it we’ll find that even qualities such as love and peace are a form of manifestation, because they are something we are aware of.

I’ve had experiences where my energy was really active and it seemed as if I was aware of the creative aspect of Source Being before it had the chance to be modified in some way. Such an experience became possible after my kundalini had fully awakened. (For more information about kundalini, please see Chapter 15.) Because I experienced nothing other than pure energy, I can’t say this experience was worth having other than what it told me about the nature of reality before it was modified in some way. I’m not certain, but I believe it is possible that God started out in such a state and eventually learned what he needed to learn in order to use the creative aspect of his being in a wonderful way. He reached the point where he first created and then experienced qualities such as happiness, peace and love.

At some point God decided that he didn’t want to be alone and wanted other beings to share his existence with. Also, a big also, because he found out about love as he experimented with the creative aspect of his being, he was inspired to make it so many beings could partake in the joy of existence. He used his own being to do so. I figure he considered it a joy to see us come into being, just as loving parents consider it a joy to see their children join this world. Sure we have to take some lumps as our souls go through learning experiences; however, due to what some of my experiences showed me and what some sources of information state, I believe God figured out a way so that in the end everything works out wonderfully. Our growing pains are a part of the process.

Back to the point I started a few paragraphs ago. If we meditate in a nondual way, we can become aware of what God’s being was like before he created us. If we experience this original formlessness and forget to consider what God created and what we have created, then we don’t allow ourselves to see beyond original formlessness. People sometimes don’t venture beyond an approach that emphasizes formlessness because their belief system limits their experience and understanding. If they follow a teaching they believe is infallible and it claims that only pure awareness exists and everything else is just a meaningless illusion, they might have a hard time opening up to other possibilities. I know that the teaching I’m referring to also says that bliss exists, but as I stated before, a quality such as bliss came to be only after God and his creative aspect of being got around to creating it.

There is another way to look at this matter that is similar, but different enough to speak about. Pure awareness all by itself can’t understand anything. In order for something to be understood there has to be something to understand. The relationship between two or more things needs to be determined. This principle might be hard to comprehend if we allow a limiting belief system to get in the way. We need to allow ourselves to tune in to what universal mind has to tell us; it is the totality of what God and many wise souls have figured out. An experience such as my Night in Heaven experience is an example of when I understood some of the things universal mind has figured out. Even though I didn’t forget my previous beliefs, I stood outside of them sufficiently enough so I could understand according to how universal mind understands.

Despite what some people suggest, it isn’t noble to want to negate ourselves. It is noble to have the courage, fortitude, wisdom and heart that enable us to find a way to make our existence absolutely wonderful for all of eternity.

Not that we can actually think ourselves out of existence, as some people have claimed to do. One of the reasons we can’t do so is because the only way such a thing could be attempted is if we existed substantially enough (as an individual) to make an attempt. What happens in some cases is that people read and hear what teachers who have supposedly lost their sense-of-self have to say about the matter, assume these teachers are as wise as they claim, see how others put these teachers on a pedestal, conclude that no person could be more successful than an enlightened person, and hope to become a successful enlightened person. Some people seek enlightenment for years until they meet a guru who is quick to label people as enlightened. It is interesting how people who supposedly don’t exist are present enough to view themselves as enlightened. I don’t buy into their paradox-based rationalization for this conundrum.[1] If it wasn’t for the fact that they exist, they couldn’t make such a rationalization. Most of the time two plus two does equal four–unless–we try to be a sophisticated thinker in an inaccurate and unreasonable way.

I believe it is possible for a person to convince himself that he has negated his sense-of-self if he has listened to enough talks and read enough books that claim that such a thing is possible, and if he has a big enough desire to be a successful (sarcasm intended) enlightened person. This is so, because our minds exist in a way where it is possible for us to believe all kinds of things. We can interpret the relevant details as if they are preferable, even when they aren’t. We can look at ourselves in a way where we fail to see that we do in fact exist as unique individuals. A person who plays the role of Mr. Enlightened being might think, “Move over wealthy people, doctors, sports stars, celebrities and other people considered to be successful, there is no way you can be more successful than me because I’m enlightened and you’re not.”

Some people who claim to be enlightened state that it isn’t a matter of what their thought processes have determined, because their understanding exists at a level that is deeper than mind. I respond to this by saying that pure awareness is too formless to come to a specific understanding all by itself. The awareness aspect of being requires the creative aspect of being to manifest existence substantially enough so that relationships can be established and definite conclusions can be made. Awareness cannot be aware of nothing.

If a being who is aware doesn’t delude itself it will be able to see that even though everything is interconnected, some parts of reality do have independence from each other. If it wasn’t for this fact, the biological life forms our souls make use of wouldn’t exist because our world and Sun wouldn’t exist independently enough from each other so their life sustaining relationship can be maintained. Two friends who haven’t seen each other for a while couldn’t share a meaningful reunion.

When I make contact with my spirit guidance I don’t get the impression I’m in contact with a being who is illusory. There have been numerous occasions when I asked a question, and in no time at all my question would be answered with a symbolic waking dream or other non-physical experience that demonstrated my guidance’s ability to think in a very clear and capable way and make use of energy very precisely. My guidance is able to do so because, as opposed to trying to find a way to assert that he (not really a he) doesn’t exist, he took responsibility for his mind and creative aspect of being and learned to use them in a very skilled and meaningful way.

Despite what some people contend it isn’t a sense-of-self that prevents us from experiencing the oneness. I figure that even God has a sense-of-self. What prevents us is self-centeredness, which is quite a different thing than having a sense-of-self. If there weren’t at least two beings who have a sense-of-self, who would love and oneness be shared by? If a person opens himself up to another person because he is inspired by love to do so, he willingly shares his sense-of-self with the sense-of-self of another person. When this happens, the energy of love is shared–not self-centeredness.

Going by some of the spirit messages I have received, a way was found so that each of us has a factor of mind that is independent of our biological brain, and it is more than a so-called arising.[2] This factor of mind enables us to accumulate knowledge and make decisions so that eventually we become very wise souls who live completely according to love. As we learn to do so we temporarily become entrapped within the lesson plan and identify ourselves in false ways, this is okay, since we eventually reach the point where the knowledge we obtain works to our advantage rather than being a hindrance.

It isn’t an all or nothing proposition. The more we allow our lessons to be a useful tool rather than a form of limiting psychological conditioning, the closer we get to our goal. We don’t reach the goal by pretending that our minds don’t belong to us. We reach it by taking responsibility for our minds and the creative aspect of being they are intertwined with.

In a way our minds and our resulting ability to learn and choose are definite entities just as the mind of a computer is a definite entity. Fortunately, our minds are different than a computer because we are able to tune into levels of understanding that are beyond our psychological conditioning (programming) and we are able to find out about all sorts of things such as: it isn’t false to view a computer as a particular entity even though it interacts with and is dependent upon the environment it is a part of because its substantial way of existing and its environment’s substantial way of existing is what enables a substantial interaction to take place.

I don’t believe it is reasonable to conclude that life is nothing more than an illusion in the same way a mirage of water is an illusion, because there is a substantial basis for why a mirage of water is seen. Photons of light reflect off of a surface such as a desert floor and interact with a person’s nervous system in a way so he experiences a mirage. The mirage effect is so substantial that it only takes place when the right conditions are met. It isn’t a matter of a person’s state of mind.

Try this experiment: When you interact with people during your daily life, forget about what some theories say and ask yourself within your heart, on a person by person basis, does this person exist in a substantial way and does he deserve to be loved and respected, or is he just an arising in consciousness, an illusion? If you see something such as a little girl have a good time as she skips across the street, ask yourself the same question. If you see a group of friends having a good time together, ask yourself if they exist substantially enough to share love with each other. Even though on one level we are One Self, on another level we are many. These levels aren’t separate from each other even though they can be referred to as if they are. When you become aware of what the totality of existence has to offer, you become aware of both levels at the same time.

If you want, at this moment, become aware of how you exist. The fact of how you can recognize that you exist shows that you do. When you recognize that you exist, the parcel of consciousness, mind and creative energy you are comes to this recognition, not the consciousness, mind and creative energy that belongs to someone else. It is okay for you to make use of your mind when you come to this recognition because your mind is a part of yourself. First you’ll feel the energy of your existence and then you’ll think about what you experienced. (By feel I don’t mean the sense of touch.) It is rather simple and perhaps ordinary to recognize this. You don’t have to be some sort of supposed spiritual superstar to do so.

It is important to add that I believe that we exist in a more substantial way than the environment we experience. In a way, the environment we experience, including our bodies, is a projection of energy that serves the purpose of enabling our souls to have a vehicle through which we learn the lessons we learn and collect the data we collect. When we reach the state of being we seek, we use what we have learned and the data we collected in a manner that is harmonious, joyful and free.

If you are a person who believes in the no-self viewpoint, it’s up to you. Do you want to allow some nihilistic nondual teachers lead you to believe that you don’t have an eternal soul, or do you want to give authority back to yourself and find out for yourself? Don’t let the floor show some gurus put on fool you. Not unless you want to do as many people have done and learn the hard way.


[1] Some nondual teachers try to defend the fact that they act as if they are individuals even though they claim that they aren’t, by saying nothing more than “it’s a paradox.” It is up to each person to decide if he wants to allow such supposed non-existent people to get away with such an incomplete explanation. Some supposed non-existent people claim that a play of aggregates is responsible for the illusion of their individuality. Hopefully some of what I say in this Chapter shows that such an explanation is inaccurate.

[2]Some nondualists claim that mind and other parts of manifested existence don’t actually exist, rather, they are an illusory illusion.