Changing the Paradigm of Nonduality
A reply to the question: What is your personal definition of non-duality?
I think we have the wrong concept of nonduality. While understanding the “universe is neither dual or non-dual” (to the level of hard monism) is useful but we also need to understand the conceptuality that the universe is “both” dual "and" nondual at the same moment. Everything in the universe is in the universe. Look down my throat as far as you can go and there is no place that is not this universe. At the same time I am in absolute dual “and” nondual relationships with, for example, water. This must be so or I will die. I am composed of water. My very flesh is water. I must drink water. Water is needed to grow food I eat that is (the food) composed of water. Water itself composed of molecules (oxygen) but at the same time try taking a gallon bubble of air a thousand feet deep in water. While I have to drink water too much water is toxic. Water can crush me, drown me, smash me, float me, cool me boil me, etc. Water is soft when falling from a short distance and is hard as concrete when falling from a great distance. Water itself can crash into me with enough speed that it will crush my body, will cause me to leak out the water in me and crush the cells in my flesh, bursting the parts of the flesh that contained water. The substance of water is like a thousand other things in this world. Our personal life require "both" "or."
We must be permeable and impermeable, open and closed, desperately contain desperately resist, and at the same time only contain a limited amount of that (any) substance (the we must contain and resist). We must have the conceptuality of a metaphysics that has all of the differences and likenesses at the same time. All the same issues will arise in the construction of the (boundaries) self of every individual person. I must have physical boundaries and physical holes. I must have conceptual boundaries to hold to any specific belief (about right and wrong) an have conceptual holes to change my beliefs about what is right and wrong (by learning, by error, by experience, by communication with another person that informs me that that behavior [that I did] was experienced as a violation to their person). We need boundaries that change and stay the same, has the ability to accept and resist: give and deny emotions, love, anger, sympathy, and thousands of other things. Of course, I can give a thousand hours of love and not have lost one ounce, one atom, of love.
I have to be able to resist the ontological cohesiveness of baseballs as object or be struck with damaging force and be able to "perform" with baseballs in a nondualistic relationship to throw, hit or catch the baseball. My skill at performance with a baseball will be my ability to engage in a nondual dance with the ball. At the same time I dance with the ball I am submerged in objects that follow the same rules of existence, like the bat and my hands and my feet and the ground and objects like gravity, the wind, and the fact of my own momentum: the speed, momentum and direction of the ball (as an existence of its own) in interchange with me.
Our metaphysics has to be rich enough, have enough depth, to take all this in. The questions of dual and nondual has to take all these problems into consideration or we might be forced to live in a poverty of space. It is fortunate we do most of this unconsciously.
My definition of nonduality is that it describes a performative maturity that thinks and acts (and thus dances with) all these things. Nonduality is like dancing well. It looks to me, having studied both Eastern and Western philosophy, that we have the wrong concept of nonduality.
(This has been edited from original)