Where is compassion in nondualism?

Advaita / nondualism often gets heady and dry, but compassion is very much included.  Love brings togetherness in unification.  The Self is love.  Nisargadatta Maharaj said, “love says ‘I am everything.’ Wisdom says ‘I am nothing.’ Between the two, my life flows.”

With love, there is compassion.  Nondualism does not mean a homogeneity of experience….only that you realize it is not the experience of separate things.  So although it is Self-love and Self-compassion, it may be expressed through acts done for an “other” person.  There can be a recognition of that is a dog, that is a tree, that is my friend, etc.; and yet still not be fooled into thinking those are separate others.  There is only the Self.

As there can be a recognizing a tree from a cat, a cat from a dog, a dog from a friend, and so forth…there can also be a recognition of the pain and suffering each feels.

Form is emptiness and emptiness is form.  If one is attached to emptiness, then one does not want to recognize form.  Form and emptiness are two sides of the one.

Last night while driving to meet someone in a cafe, I was at a stop light and saw a young woman standing on the corner with a sign saying she was a homeless single mother and needed help desperately.  I felt compassion, pulled out a ten dollar bill, and gave it to her.  I don’t always give when I see people on corners asking for money, but there is a feeling of compassion whenever I see people asking for help.  I could recognize that this young woman was in need.  Nondualism does not mean ignoring forms or that forms do not exist.

Nondualism without the juice of love, joy, compassion, etc. is a sign of something was missed.  That understanding is not in fullness.  From my own realization, understanding, and experience…there are three “unifiers” that bring things together in unity and those are love, truth, and harmony.  Love brings people together and forms larger unified groups.  The Truth is one…it is what-is…and it brings people together as it is seen by individuals.  Harmony is a bringing together into a working system or melody…a unified whole.

For me, nondualism is also very much about love, truth, harmony, and unity.  This is not about morality.  It is simply what works when there is no other.  You would promote love and compassion because it increases Self-love and Self-compassion.  You would promote truthfulness, because otherwise you are only lying to yourSelf.  You would promote harmony and a bringing together of people into a greater whole…because there is no other.

There is much to each element as well.

  • Love brings bliss.  Truth brings freedom.  Harmony brings peace.  Unity brings Self-realization.
  • Love’s virtue is compassion.  Truth’s virtue is honesty.  Harmony’s virtue is yielding.  Unity’s virtue is equanimity.
  • Love is furthered by an attitude of helpfulness.  Truth is furthered by an attitude of incertitude.  Harmony is furthered by an attitude of receptivity.  Unity is furthered by an attitude of interdependence.
  • Apathy is counter to love.  Rationalization is counter to truth.  Dissonance/conflict is counter to harmony.  Contraction/division is counter to unity.

I think it is fairly clear that hate tends to divide, lies divide, disharmony/dissonance is division, and the opposite of unity is division.  So in embodying nondualism, you would automatically gravitate to more loving, more truthful, more harmonious, and more unifying.

Enlightenment or awakening is not the end.  It is just the clear and deep realization of nonduality and that there is no “me”.  Afterwards, there is always the potentiality and possibility to deepening understanding and more fully embodying it.  This body/mind can always embody love, truth, harmony, and unity more deeply.

Let me conclude by saying that I think it is significant that the Buddha, who taught a mostly nondual philosophy, focused on compassion as well.  He saw the importance of enlightenment/liberation without losing one’s compassionate heart.  Besides, to help an “other” is to help the Self.  To improve another’s life is to improve the world and to improve the world is to improve the Self.  The world is not other than the Self.

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Modern-day house-holder yogi and lover of what-is; living in peace, contentment, and joy.