Logic and the Direct Path
Most nondual paths use logic and inference more than they let on, and it’s perfectly OK. Logic is a form of jnana yoga. Here’s an example of how nondual inquiry combines direct experience and logic towards realization:
- If a separate self is findable, then it will show up when I look everywhere through my experience. [This is a working hypothesis provided common sense.]
- But when I look everywhere through my experience, a separate self never shows up. [This is verified in direct experience.]
- Therefore, a separate self is not findable. [This is provided by the process of inference from (1) and (2).]
This argument takes the following form:
- If X, then Y.
- Not Y.
- Therefore, not X.
This may seem to be “mental,” and because of this, many people will believe they shouldn’t get involved in the process. But even the direct path’s own “higher reason” follows these inferential patterns. It’s fine, however. If you use these patterns in a deeply engaged way, you won’t get caught. You won’t become “attached to the mind” by using inference. This is because in the direct path, the mind and its operations are also looked into, and discovered experientially as nothing other than awareness. This discovery applies to inference itself. Ultimately, all the tools of the path are discovered as awareness only. But tools can serve as tools while you investigate other things.
Atmananda’s work, my work, and Rupert and Francis’s work all use inference. It is a very powerful tool, and allows one insight to generalize. This way, the result of an insight spreads out beyond itself.
So, when doing direct-path inquiry, don’t restrict yourself to inquiries that end in mental blankness or a belief state that says “it’s all awareness.” If that is all that happens, then your perspective won’t shift. If you can fall into a blank state, then you can fall out just as easily. But with inference, your understanding broadens. Your experiential perspective shifts towards the openness and sweetness of pure consciousness, even if only a little bit.
If there were no inference at all, then you would have to investigate every single object in the universe. No one would ever finish!! Inference makes connections and accelerates your insights.
So you are already using inference. There are other methods that focus on bhakti yoga and merging into the beloved. The inquiry as illustrated above is a type of jnana yoga, which uses inference.
Inference takes you where you cannot go without it. Don’t avoid it just because it seems cognitive or intellectual. Ultimately it isn’t any of those things. It’s awareness. So it’s safe to use!