(Brief disclaimer: I am in no way an expert in non-dualism. I am merely sharing my limited perspective on this topic.)
Yesterday, right before trying to finish my blog post that highlights the work of Charles Eisenstein, I ran across a rather harsh judgment of him. At first I was surprised because I’ve not come across him in my social media feeds very often. Of course, I felt defensive and initially I couldn’t understand the criticism whatsoever as half of what this person was espousing (as if in opposition to Eisenstein??) was almost identical to what I’ve heard Eisenstein promote.
But, given the very nature of what Eisenstein teaches that I myself have been trying to communicate for years, I allowed myself to question my own defensiveness and attachment to his work and philosophy. I considered the possibility that perhaps he is indeed garbage and all this stuff he teaches is dangerous. (Ok, that’s a bit of a leap for me, but I did consider it).
I ran into even more criticism of him today (everybody join in!!!) and this one seemed more aimed at the spiritual principle of non-dualism itself, that it more or less doesn’t work in the “real word” and it just allows abuse to run rampant.
Ah ha. Yes. I totally get it. Spiritual bypassing.
Wow, guys, that is a topic I could write an entire book about. I spiritually bypassed my ENTIRE LIFE until age 28. The last three years I’ve been attempting to break free of this toxic pattern of self-denial and I’m happy to report that I’ve finally made a huge breakthrough in this area. My default is no longer to bypass, but to stop in curiosity at what I’m experiencing/witnessing and holding loving space for it. Feel all those feelings. Be enraged, be desperately heart-broken, feel the depths of betrayal and abandonment. Don’t judge it, LOVE it. What are these feelings telling me about what feels safe and healthy and what doesn’t? And are there outdated stories that are begging to be re-written?
None of these feelings and experiences are to bypassed. NEVER. Life is about experiencing our humanity to it’s fullest depths, the complete range of emotions and feelings. We are meant to respond to the situations we encounter. We are meant to feel sadness, to feel anger, to feel the ecstacy of deep joy.
Non-dualism is not the same thing as spiritual bypassing. Spiritual bypassing is a mechanism, an action, a way of operating. Non-dualism is not a working mechanism- it’s just the underlying true nature of existence. It doesn’t demand we behave in any sort of way. It just IS.
I perceive the essence of non-dualism as I AM.
That is why non-dualism doesn’t “work” in the real world. It’s not meant to work. It is not work. It’s just existence, it’s just being-ness with no inherent judgments. Do you judge a tree for existing? Is the tree good or evil? Is your existence good or evil or do you simply exist?
That being said, while non-dualism itself is not a working mechanism, recognizing it’s truth can influence how we work. And it’s this “how” that is tripping us up.
In the last three years, I have really struggled with this entire concept. At the beginning of 2017, I was blessed with the divine spiritual revelation of non-dualism (which, at first, scared the shit out of me), but in trying to somehow apply its truth to my physical life and this entire physical world, it seemed to reinforce my spiritual bypassing habits. What I was basically doing was using spiritual bypassing as a way to reach the space of non-dualism. But it turns out that particular process is actually an oxymoron of sorts and contradicts non-dualism itself. Let me explain:
Non-dualism is basically the higher concept that there is ultimately no right or wrong. It is the Tree of Life as opposed to the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. There is no judgment, only the realization of all that IS.
Because of this inherent non-judgement, non-dualism itself means that believing in non-dualism is neither right nor wrong. Non-dualism does not demand you believe in it, it does not require you accept it in order to live a happy healthy life.
I could see the truth of non-dualism, and then missed the point by assuming I had to somehow get there (doing rather than being). There was so much pain in my life and how could non-dualism be true in the midst of what feels so clearly evil in the world? How can you look at blatant violence and say that it is neither good nor bad? What kind of bullshit is that?
And yet there were times when I could so clearly see the truth- that some really fucked up situations in my life had actually turned out to be major catalysts for tremendous breakthroughs in which I came face to face with LOVE. I could no longer call these experiences evil… could I possibly call them good?
I was able to perceive what seemed a beautiful destination before even making the journey (a major issue for us clairvoyants and visionaries). I wanted to reach that total acceptance of truth, which was so glaringly obvious, as fast as possible (I need to be enlightened NOW!), and so I took the short cut by ignoring my own feelings that I assumed contradicted non-dualism. Apparently I assumed (almost rightly so) that my feelings were in the way of reaching this great enlightenment and ultimate secret to life. So I tried telling those feelings to shutup already, can’t you see the truth that you are irrelevant?!
And so I tried to somehow just delete the very feelings buried in my body that were screaming so loud they kept attracting the same damn situations into my life over and over again just to get me to pay attention! (The “Law of Attraction” theory is a huge can of worms I’ll address some other day) I wasn’t taking the necessary journey through my feelings, I took the short-cut of spiritual bypassing and wondered why I still felt like shit when I supposedly reached my destination.
I hadn’t dealt with my feelings. I hadn’t dealt with the stories they represented. In not properly going through my feelings, my subconscious beliefs still insisted on the reality of dualism (right and wrong) so there was no way I could reach the bliss of non-dualism when my body clearly believed otherwise.
Good lord, it all sounds so absurd now. I was totally missing the point.
If your takeaway from non-dualism is that your feelings, desires, and experiences are irrelevant or even a hindrance to enlightenment or a fulfilling life, then you don’t understand non-dualism. Non-dualism, in a way, actually affirms all of those things by refusing to judge them. It gives you permission to witness exactly what you are experiencing- your feelings and sensations and beliefs- with no need to change or transcend any of it. It is the precious gift of accepting what IS.
When you actually allow yourself to really feel your feelings and experiences, in your body, and let yourself succumb to the depths of your own victimization at the hands of whatever person, group, or ideology that has abused you- you then get to decide what it means. You get to decide how to move forward. Because you’re no longer resisting reality, you are now aligned with it. (This part here is actually a more separate topic I cannot adequately address in this specific post)
When you can accept everything that IS, you are allowing God to live through your body, because God is the great I AM. You become a vessel of Love. Love is the highest divine intelligence. Radical acceptance of all that IS is alignment with Love. Opening to this Love is the catalyst for true, lasting change. It frees up energy that gets stuck regurgitating the same old dramas and paradigms of violence and abuse. When we channel this all accepting divine Love, we allow Love to transform the ground conditions that breed violence in the first place.
For me, the path of non-dualism has been entwined with the path of my own re-embodiment. Learning to accept my own deep feelings without a need to judge them has actually been the very experience of non-dualism itself. Non-dualism is not the destination- it is the journey.
My personal journey into non-dualism has not convinced me to just sit back and allow abuse to run rampant because “it’s all good”. On the contrary, I have become more protective of my energy (boundaries are Love), more easily recognize dangerous situations to avoid, and I am now more compelled than ever to start taking concrete actions toward reducing violence in the world.
Spiritual bypassing and adopting non-dualism are two very different things. I understand how they are easily confused and I hope this rapidly written blog post can help make some sense of a rather complicated and layered topic (I think I write mostly for my own benefit!). There are more aspects to this that I haven’t even addressed yet, but I will certainly get to them in the not-too-distant future (hopefully!). For now, this is my humble offering born of my personal experience.
Again, I am far from an expert on this topic, I am simply sharing my own perspective.