All sensory experiences of the external world, your own body, and your own thoughts are just brain-generated representations. (There probably really IS a physical reality out there, and a physical self that houses your physical brain, but you’ve never experienced any of that directly.) Instead, what you are experiencing as yourself and the world is a very compelling, convincing VR generated by your brain. This is not me speculating here, this is just standard neuroscience of perception — that’s how brains and bodies work.
Under those conditions, noticing that all thoughts, feelings, sensations, and sensory experiences are “one” is utterly clarifying. They are in fact all generated by one brain — yours. They are in fact pervaded by one consciousness — yours. Life and the world are in fact a dream — your dream. This fact is utterly liberating when experienced from within. It is in fact total, seamless, stainless, pure nondual reality. One Taste. It.
When understood intellectually, in the way I just outlined it, you will probably not have a strong nondual awakening. The real thing is a first-person, non-intellectual direct “knowing.” A collapse of the VR into pure wakefulness. But it has two advantages over the usual intellectual understanding of nonduality. The first is that you won’t get lost in endless speculation about “creating your own reality.” Yes, your brain generates your experience of the world, and that is a highly-slanted version of the world, filtered and mediated through a lot of unconscious biases. But, no, that doesn’t equal the actual, external world. Those are two different things.
I hasten to add here that, Yes, there almost certainly is real physical world out there with real physical humans in it, with you living among them. And, yes, your senses are probably reporting a fairly accurate version of that world. It’s crucial for survival that they do so. So, yes, the world is probably real—it’s just that you’ve never experienced that world.
Secondly — and I think this point is extremely ironic — you can quit being so sure you know how the Universe works. It may in fact be all one, and composed of pure consciousness. I’m not saying it isn’t—except in the title of this article, which is intended to be provocative. All I’m saying is that you don’t know. And you definitely don’t know because it looks that way when you close your eyes. Landing on one fixed interpretation of How Everything Works is the epitome of what nondual experience teaches you to avoid, isn’t it? The whole damn point is that you don’t know in concepts and that you can never know in concepts how the universe actually works. The underlying construction of the universe, what is called “deep reality,” is forever beyond the ken of science, and certainly beyond the ken of your meditation experience.
Thirdly, and this is the most important point, you can stop wasting your time attempting to slap together kludges of pseudo-science and poetry into some kind of Theory of Everything. Such theories are just embarrassing to you and everyone else and almost certainly wrong. They won’t help you to build a better airplane, or cure cancer. They will only cause you to squander your one precious life on this planet.
Of course, in practice letting go of all of these concepts is crucial. This is true of all ideas about how the brain works, how the world works, and how the universe works, too. For me, the understanding that even the external world is a kind of unconscious creation of the brain makes it much easier to let go of, and come back continuously to the consciousness that supports it.
For those of you who feel like enlightened nondual masters, try this experiment: Just for a few days, let go of all your theories about the scientific validity of nondualism. Let go of being convinced that the world is composed of consciousness. Recognize that even if these are both true, they only exist in your mind as concepts. Don’t just drop them provisionally, drop them utterly and entirely. Allow yourself to be truly concept-free during this time, fully immersed in not-knowing. My guess is that you will discover a level of freedom that you have never experienced before.
This post is extracted from The Universe in NOT One – Actually it might be, but who knows? From Michael Taft’s website.