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Episode 11 Awakening to Non-duality: The Mystery of Oneness

In this episode, Craig explores one of the truly great mysteries of awakening—the profound truth of non-duality, or as it’s more commonly known: oneness. As spiritual seekers, most of us intuitively believe in the idea of oneness. Yet we live in a world that on the surface appears to be made up of separate things. The discovery of oneness or non-duality reveals to us that we are not in fact separate from the world and cosmos in which we find ourselves. Beneath the appearance of separateness and division, reality is a single, unified whole. But what does it really mean that, in its essence, everything is One? And what kind of meditation practice can open the door to this life-changing discovery?



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In This Episode…

“As people awaken, they become ambassadors for good. For an evolved morality that cares infinitely, and burns with a deep love for the greater good. Inherent in that care is an impulse toward oneness, unity, and wholeness. It feels like nothing is separate from me. I’m not separate from this whole. I care about the whole thing equally. That’s how it manifests.” —Craig Hamilton

In this episode, Craig dives into the core of what non-duality really means, and sheds light on some of the most common misunderstandings surrounding the idea of oneness. 

He also addresses the question: “If everything has the same sacred essence, how do we account for the evil and destructiveness in our world?” 

Please note that this episode includes a 10-minute guided meditation. We encourage you to listen when you’re in a quiet place where you won’t be interrupted. 

If you’re interested in exploring more of Craig’s approach to meditation, you’re invited to tune in to a 90-minute online workshop Craig will be hosting called Meditation 2.0 – The Miracle of Direct Awakening. Register for free at FreeMeditationWorkshop.com.


Episode 11 Awakening to Non-duality: The Mystery of Oneness

All teachings of enlightenment or spiritual awakening assert that, in its essence, reality is one. This is the idea of non-duality—not two, but one.

When viewed at the level of appearances, the world might appear to be a collection of separate objects. We might experience ourselves to be a separate subject who is encountering objects that are separate from us. 

That’s how life seems, that there are many, not one. 


What Non-duality Reveals

Non-duality reveals to us that this is not the case. It might seem that way at the level of appearance, but there is a deeper, much more significant essential truth beyond those appearances, which is that this is one reality. There is one consciousness. There is only one event happening here. 

If we take that as a proposition, you could say that on a human level, it means one of two things. It either means that you are everything, the only one, or it means that the you that you thought you were isn’t really a separate thing. Meaning, what is real is this great larger flow and pattern, and that you misperceived things when you thought you were a separate subject outside of it and perceiving it. 


Two Views On One Truth

So either it’s all you, or it’s all not you, would be a simple way to put it. But those are the only two ways we can get to there being just One. Both of those are completely valid ways of understanding non-duality. Both of those are deeply spiritual, mystical understandings of the truth of non-duality. 

If you look through the heart of the great wisdom and enlightenment traditions, you’ll find expressions of non-duality framed in either of those ways. You’ll find statements like, “There is just the one Self and you are that one.” It’s all you. Nothing is outside of you. Everything is inside of you and part of you. 

You will also find statements that are more like, “This separate self that you’ve imagined yourself to be is in fact empty of substance.” It’s insubstantial, it’s a dependently originating appearance and there’s just this endless interconnected flow of events. You can’t find where one begins and another one ends. You can’t isolate a self outside of a lot of interdependent processes, and so there’s just this interdependent process of reality flowing. 

You can feel how each of those is a profound mystical truth and they’re not in contradiction. They are both ways of describing one truth, but they also have slightly different qualities that give us slightly different access points to this reality. 

I want to invite us now into meditation. So, go ahead and settle into your meditation posture. 

Become aware of yourself as consciousness in this moment. 

Beyond the thoughts, feelings and sensations that are arising in your awareness, there is simply you as that awareness, you as the consciousness that is aware of this moment, aware of my voice, and aware of the thoughts, sensations and feelings that are coming and going within awareness.

As you rest as this essential awareness or consciousness that is who you are beyond the mind, allow yourself to recognize that everything that arises within your awareness is part of awareness. Everything that arises within you is part of you.

If it’s hard for you to recognize that everything you’re aware of is part of you, then just practice relating to everything that arises as though it’s part of you. Meaning, actively choose to include everything in what you sense to be you, or actively allow your sense of what you are to expand to include everything you’re aware of.

You don’t need to actively seek new things to include in you, but just everything that arises in your meditation, include it. Recognize that it’s occurring within you. It’s not outside because there is no outside of you.

As you include everything in the consciousness that you are, as you allow the boundary between subject and object to fall away, you might begin to notice that everything that once seemed to be separate from you and a separate thing, is in fact animated by the same consciousness that is aware of it.

Every movement within you is a movement in consciousness. Everything you become aware of is a manifestation of consciousness. It’s all consciousness. There is a seemingly static dimension of consciousness, and there is a seemingly dynamic dimension of consciousness, but if we look closer, we see that it’s just one flow, one thing happening, that is taking different shapes.

Allow yourself to gently let go of the meditation.

What I want to speak about now is why non-duality is such a significant insight or understanding. 

There’s one deeply rooted and very common way of thinking about the spiritual journey that’s embedded in the way most of us approach the path, whether we consciously think in these terms or not. 


A Journey From Darkness Into Light

The idea that the spiritual journey takes us from darkness to light is contained in the very idea of enlightenment. You were in the dark and now you’re in the light. You weren’t seeing clearly, but now you’re seeing clearly. You were in your false self, but now you’ve discovered your true self. You were ignorant of God, but now you’ve realized God, in a more theistic context. 

Whatever it is, there’s a kind of code to this paradigm or DNA to the spiritual path, that almost always plays out as an idea of moving out of darkness and into light. Moving out of one thing into another thing. It’s a powerful metaphor for our path and there’s a lot of truth to that narrative or myth. I don’t mean that it’s false, I just mean that the architecture of that idea works powerfully to propel us on the path. 

As we discover deeper truths and begin to see that the things we used to believe aren’t true, there is a need to push off against the falsehood and ignorance that we’re recognizing and reach and stretch to embody the new insights and truth. Our newfound clarity about what’s real and what’s not requires us to push off against the unreal, and stretch toward the real. There are so many dimensions of the spiritual path that fit into that paradigm.

I’m not wanting to unravel that paradigm per se, but I want to really illuminate what the light represents in that metaphor. What we ultimately discover is that it’s all included in the light and that nothing was ever an obstacle to the realization of our true nature. Nothing that could ever occur is outside of that one awakened consciousness that we now know ourselves to be.


Beyond An Intellectual Understanding

This isn’t something we want to adopt as an intellectual understanding and start trying to apply to our life, “I’m just going to embrace everything!” It doesn’t quite work like that. This has to be discovered through practice and authentic spiritual realization. 

In order for it to be meaningful, non-duality has to be awakened to and embodied. That’s what all these practices are trying to reveal to us in our own experience, so we can let go into it and begin to live from it. 

But it’s worth understanding how it works and why it works, and what the point of it is, because that can help us as our path unfolds and we start to get glimpses of this. We can see, “Oh, this is what’s starting to happen, this is part of that non-dual realization.”


When Everything Reveals The One

Where everything radically changes on the spiritual path is actually when we get to the point where we’re no longer trying to hold on to the experiences of the light and push away the experiences of our unawakened, unevolved, unenlightened self and condition. It’s when we get to the point where everything reveals the One. 

When our own perception and seeing of reality shifts into non-dual awareness, every occurrence shows us the sacred. Everything reveals the essence because we’ve learned how to see it, or we’ve awoken to the reality of it and become alive to it. We’re so possessed by this deeper knowing, this profound consciousness, that we’ve let go of the struggle to get there. 

As we start to accept, “Oh, this is reality,” suddenly we’re able to turn toward everything that previously seemed like an obstacle on our path—our own crazy wild mind or our own difficult emotional reactions to things—and they no longer take us away from the awakening when we encounter them in their essence. 

We don’t feel like,”Uh-oh, I can’t think about that now or it’s going to take me away. I can’t feel that because it’s pulling me down. If I let those feelings come up, I’m going to go back into my old reactive pattern. If I let my mind be busy, I’ll just lose touch with the depth.” 


All Of Our Experience Is Already Liberated

It’s all depth. Mysteriously, it’s all consciousness. Mysteriously, it’s all already liberated. It’s all already seamlessly interwoven into the one whole that this reality is, and there’s no need to be afraid of it anymore. There’s no need to reject any of it anymore. There’s no need to be in tension with any aspect of my experience because I can hold all of it. I have room for all of it. 

In fact, I’ve got room to hold the painful things too. If I look at them directly, even difficult things can be windows or gateways that will show me another facet of the jewel of enlightenment. They’re revealing to me yet another face of this mysterious, sacred reality that I’ve always been living in, I just never saw it before. This is what non-duality points to. This is the significance of non-dual realization. 

Again, I’m not telling you this so you go out now and try to impose it on your life. You can experiment with it, you can explore it, by all means. All of this can be worked with. Radical spiritual truths can be contemplated, reflected upon, and experimented with in our lives. All of that helps to start to unravel the rigid fibers of the old paradigm of separation and duality, so all of that is good.

I just wanted to talk directly about what this is all ultimately pointing to, what it really means, and what all the fuss is about around this radical paradigm shift into non-dual consciousness—it’s this radical liberation from existential tension I’ve been speaking about.


One Taste

The two Buddhist articulations of non-duality are: “Form is emptiness and emptiness is form,” and “Nirvana and samsara are one.” Both of these statements are touching on and pointing to the Vajrayana Buddhist idea of “one taste.” Everything has one taste. When we discover the one taste, everything tastes the same. That’s another articulation of it from one of the wisdom traditions.

This is one reason why the word “liberation” is used to describe an ultimate spiritual release or spiritual realization, liberation, or freedom. Because in the discovery of non-duality in the way I just described it, we are free. Nothing is in our way. Nothing that could ever arise is in the way of enlightened consciousness. Nothing is in the way of our knowing of the sacred. It all reveals it and so there’s no internal fight against anything. We’ve become inwardly free. The mind doesn’t bind us. Our feelings don’t control us. No sensation that arises could diminish our liberation. We’re free, no matter what happens. We’re free in the face of all of it.

Am I supposed to believe that Hitler was god, too?

Karen said, “I was excited to see the topic because a part of me has always wanted to believe in oneness. While doing the meditations, I couldn’t stop myself from thinking about Hitler, Dahmer, etc. Am I supposed to believe that Hitler was god, too?”

Probably what’s driving your question is the talk I gave earlier, when I said, “Look, there’s a way of approaching the spiritual path where we imagine we’re going from darkness to light. Then inherent in that paradigm is push off against the darkness, a stretch toward the light. And it’s a good paradigm, and it moves us a long way on the path.”

Then I said, “But when we get to the subtlest reaches of what the light really is and what we are becoming enlightened to, ultimately we start to see that everything has the same essence, that everything is part of one reality, that everything is shot through with this kind of sacred essence.”

Then the question becomes, “Well, then how do we account for evil in the world? Are you saying that evil is also good, or that all actions are equally good?” 

The answer is, of course not. 

If you want to see the proof of that from an enlightenment perspective, look at enlightened people. Look at spiritually awakened people. Look at saintly people. Do the people who awaken to this become super evil on some days and really good other days, because to them it’s all equally good? No, that’s not what happens.

As people awaken, they become ambassadors for good, for a very evolved morality that is out for the good of the whole, that cares infinitely, burning with a deep love and care for the greater good and for everybody. Inherent in that is this impulse toward oneness, unity, and wholeness. This feeling that nothing is separate from me. I’m not separate from this whole. I care about the whole thing equally. That’s how it manifests.

You might still ask, “But how do we account for destructiveness, cruelty, and evil in the world?” This is probably what your question is getting down to, and the simplest way to see it is as an absence of the realization that I’m talking about. It’s an absence of empathy. It’s an absence of care. It’s an absence of kindness. It’s a deep self-centeredness. Often, there’s a kind of narcissism. Sometimes there’s sociopathy and mental illness and a deep mental distortion in people who are very evil. There has been a lot written on the nature of human evil.


Creating A World That Is Rooted In Love And Truth

We all have destructive tendencies. The point is, how can they be transformed? How do we become transformed into an expression of the good? I would say that as we realize this profound truth of non-duality and begin to embrace the idea that we are the whole, that nothing is outside us, that starts to mean it’s all our domain of care

Meaning, it’s all my responsibility. It’s all something I really care about. I want all of it to work. I want every human to be elevated. I want everyone to thrive. I want this whole event, including all of us to evolve. I want us to deal with our problems in a constructive, healthy way so that we can create a thriving future for our species and other species and all of life so that consciousness can continue to evolve. So that this love that I’m burning with can flow into the world, and we can ultimately create a world that is rooted in commitment to love and truth.

There’s a utopian impulse in it which has to do with all of us awakening to who we really are, and the divisions between us falling away, so that we can begin to live in a harmonic, creative tension. It’s not that we all agree on everything in this utopian vision. It’s the tension between perspectives that drives further evolution. But fundamentally, I think what this ultimately points to is that we could come into a paradigm of wholeness and unity that would transform our nature and the world.


Meditation was invented when humans still believed the world was flat. Is it time for an update to this ancient practice? In this free 90-minute workshop, you’ll experience a revolutionary new meditation process that gives you direct access to awakened consciousness.


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