Nonduality Questions: The Top 100

Nonduality Questions: The Top 100

Where Do the Questions Come From?

These are the most common questions I’ve heard since 1996, based on a steady participation in various subcultures devoted to nondual teachings. The sources include

  • Books containing dialogs or Q&A’s
  • Events such as satsangs, classes, meetings, seminars, retreats, and our New York nondual dinners
  • Hundreds of thousands of postings on Internet groups devoted to these issues
  • Conversations I’ve participated in (or overheard!)
  • Questions that have been directed to me

The questions come from different people, and appear at different stages. Some questions are more common than others, but they all occur wherever nondual teachings are given. Instead of trying to order them by frequency, I sorted them alphabetically, but with the single most common question at the end.

The Answers

You’ll notice that there are no “answers” given. This is because the answer to a deeply felt question on these topics is not a propositional issue, but a transactional issue. That is, what counts as an answer is not necessarily a proposition of the form “X is Y,” but rather whatever interaction pacifies the questioning impulse. For one person, that could be a philosophical discourse, for another person a pointing back to the source of the question, and for yet another, it could be the Zen-like shout “KWATZ!”

The Questions

  1. All this talk about consciousness! Doesn’t consciousness come from the brain?
  2. Are animals and babies already in this state?
  3. Are spiritual powers a sign of realization?
  4. Are there any methods that will help us achieve self-realization?
  5. Are there techniques that can bring me nearer?
  6. Are traditional religions a hindrance?
  7. Buddhist teachings mention emptiness. Advaita teachings mention consciousness. Aren’t they the same thing?
  8. Can dualists be enlightened?
  9. Can one be enlightened and do mean things to people?
  10. Can this knowingness be transmitted to others?
  11. Do I have free will?
  12. Do I have to learn Sanskrit, Pali or Hebrew? I hear these are holy languages, better suited than English to knowing myself.
  13. Do I need a living guru?
  14. Does it contradict nonduality to pray or be worshipful?
  15. Does the enlightened one feel any emotion?
  16. Doesn’t memory prove that the world and I have actually existed?
  17. External objects exist – isn’t this proved by the fact that we both see the same tree?
  18. How can I catch my mind in the act of getting caught in duality?
  19. How can I experience this awareness that I am?
  20. How can I get past the intellectual level?
  21. How can I realize my own absence?
  22. How can I stop suffering?
  23. How can the relative lead me to the absolute?
  24. How can the world not exist – I just kicked a rock!
  25. How do I get beyond the conceptual level and live it?
  26. How do I keep from being hooked back into the story?
  27. How do I stop all thoughts?
  28. How does the distinction between subject and object dissolve?
  29. How is it that I am consciousness when I feel like a person?
  30. How is nondualism different from solipsism?
  31. How is silence still an object?
  32. How is the loss of a sense of doership still a subtle entitification?
  33. How will self-realization help me?
  34. I feel I might need psychotherapy, but my spiritual teacher said that going to a therapist would only strengthen the ego, which is the basic problem in the first place. What should I do?
  35. I feel like I’m enlightened, but others don’t treat me any differently.
  36. I find myself not caring about anything anymore. Is this normal?
  37. I get fooled by memory. How can I avoid that?
  38. I had “it” for about a week or so. Then I lost it. How can I get it back?
  39. I have meditated for decades. Isn’t this helping?
  40. I know that “I” am the Witness. But I can see you and you can see me. Which one is the true Witness?
  41. I know there’s no “me,” but how do I realize it?
  42. I know there’s no one there to do anything. How can I realize that?
  43. I realize that I’m nothing other than consciousness, but I haven’t had a radical, life-altering shift like the ones I read about. Does this matter?
  44. I realize I’m the Self. But how do I keep from forgetting?
  45. I realize that wanting to be enlightened means that there’s still the illusion of a personal self that can get somewhere. So how do I get rid of that illusion?
  46. I see you and you see me. How can the teaching say there are no others?
  47. I was able to be without “doing” for a few weeks. But then “doing” returned. How do I get rid of it once and for all?
  48. I was told to stop reading spiritual books. Does that mean I’m getting closer?
  49. I’ve heard that notion of enlightenment is only for the unenlightened. What does this mean?
  50. If consciousness is my nature and all things are consciousness, then why can’t I see what you’re seeing?
  51. If there’s just awareness, then why does it seem like there’s a world with people and things in it?
  52. If a teacher is still practicing Buddhism or Hinduism or whatever, does that mean he’s not yet enlightened?
  53. If everything is awareness, why can’t I see everyone else’s thoughts?
  54. If I am enlightened, will I be happy all the time?
  55. If I lose my sense of doership, will I ever feel guilt again?
  56. If I realize Oneness, what about my family?
  57. If it’s all just consciousness, then why even get out of bed in the morning?
  58. If nothing like ethics or goodness is real, then what is to keep the world from having more Hitlers?
  59. If someone is enlightened, does that mean they teach?
  60. If someone is teaching, does that mean they’re enlightened?
  61. If there are no entities, then why speak of enlightenment?
  62. Is consciousness like energy or space?
  63. Is there consciousness in inert matter?
  64. Is there reincarnation?
  65. Lots of people talk about doership. How can I drop my sense of doership?
  66. My guru told me that I’m enlightened, but I don’t feel like I am.
  67. Once one has the Understanding, can it be lost?
  68. Ramana says to be silent. How can I do that?
  69. Some teachers say that practice helps; some say it hurts. What’s the truth?
  70. There are so many people suffering. How can nonduality say that nothing matters?
  71. What are the characteristics of an enlightened person?
  72. What does this have to do with Love?
  73. What happens after death?
  74. What happens after enlightenment?
  75. What is enlightenment?
  76. What is God’s relationship to consciousness?
  77. What is it like?
  78. What is the purpose of life?
  79. What is the ultimate truth?
  80. What is the witness?
  81. What keeps me bound?
  82. What should I look for in a teacher?
  83. What would happen if everyone realized their true self?
  84. What’s the difference between nondualism and dualism?
  85. What’s the progressive path, the direct path, neo-advaita and Advaita Vedanta?
  86. When I had an experience of not existing, I got scared, like I’d disappear.
  87. When I realize my true nature, will I still be able to feel pain?
  88. When I saw the Dalai Lama, there was no energy there. But whenever I see my favorite satsang teacher, the whole room gets swept away with bliss! Who is more enlightened?
  89. When I see other people, I feel separate from them. How can I transcend this?
  90. When I’m in satsang, I feel peace and joy. The next day I seem to have lost it. How can I keep it always?
  91. Where did the manifestation come from?
  92. Which is a better path, bhakti or jnana?
  93. Why are we here?
  94. Why do some people “get it” and others don’t?
  95. How did phenomenality begin?
  96. Why is there a sense of separation in the first place?
  97. Why is there supposedly no mind, body or world during deep sleep?
  98. Why is there something rather than nothing?
  99. Without a personal sense of “me,” how can a human being function?

And the #1 question in nondualism:

#1.   How do I get there?