Is nonduality all about getting rid of this separate wave?
Not at all. Nonduality is about seeing through our identification with this separate wave we call “me.” Even after awakening, the separate wave will still exist as a thing. But the “separate wave” has clearly realized that it is the ocean (which includes all waves). It is realizing that the separation existed only in the mind.
I have a question, what is a “thing”? What are we talking about when we talk about “things”? I recently spoke with a young man and asked him this question. He quite rightly answered that a “thing” is a noun. A noun is a convention of speech. Usually, it is used when we want to talk about a part of something.
If I showed you a picture of a tree, we could talk about the leaves, the bark, the branches, the roots, etc. These are “things”. But outside of this artificial division we have created mentally in order to talk about specific sections of a whole, there is just a tree. It is not composed of parts…it is a whole unto itself.
We get confused, however. We start thinking that our artificially created mental images of sections are reality. But show me an inch?
Likewise, a wave is not an entity separate from the ocean. It is not even a part of the ocean (which still holds the artificially created division in mind). There is simply ocean. Actually, ocean is also a division…there is simply water. If I took a glass and put it the ocean and pulled it out, you would likely say that this is a glass of water…not that this is a glass of ocean.
We create all these terms in the mind and then treat them as if they referred to entities in their own right…separate from the rest. That is an illusion.
And so, nonduality is not about getting rid of this separate wave. It is about realizing there is only ocean…and no other. When I say realizing or realization, I do not mean a mental thought that turns into a belief. Nor do I mean a passing spiritual experience of it all being one.
What I mean is a profound realization through direct insight that the idea of “this wave” is merely a mentally created illusion. Thereby, there is the cessation of identification with the wave. The wave still exists, but you realize you are the ocean, and that there is only ocean and no other. The idea of “wave” is just that…an idea. Mentally created…and not real.
Furthermore, there is no deepening into the understanding that you are the ocean. This is a thought a “wave” would have, but this thought would never occur to the “ocean.” In this way, you are either identified with “wave” or “ocean” and there is no middle ground.
Now the life of this personal consciousness is a wave that arises and the falls back into the ocean. You can not deny that the wave (i.e. a swell on the ocean) exists. But at the same time, you no longer are fooled into thinking the wave is separate or other than the ocean itself. You, at this point, are the ocean and you recognize the wave for what it is.
In the words of Alan Watts, “Billions of years ago, you were a big bang, but now you’re a complicated human being. And then we cut ourselves off, and don’t feel that we‘re still the big bang.”
Nonduality is about ceasing to cut ourselves off. There are not billions of separate things, only a single system.
Let me conclude this post with another analogy. If we were outdoors on a partly cloudy day and I asked you what is above you…you might say the sky and clouds. But really, the sky and clouds are not two separate things. Why don’t we just say the sky…which includes clouds?
OK, now we will stick with the clouds. Do clouds exists in their own right…separate from everything else? Where do they come from? Evaporation…evaporated water condenses in colder altitudes to form clouds. What was evaporated? Mostly the oceans (i.e. large bodies of water). If there were no oceans (big bodies of water), there would be no clouds.
OK, where did the oceans come from? A multitude of rivers flowing down hill into the oceans. If there were no rivers, there would be no oceans. Where did the rivers come from? Rain fall on higher ground. So if there were no rainfall, there would be no rivers. Where did the rainfall come from? From the clouds.
You see, you get a complete loop. If any part of the loop ceased to exist, the whole would vanish. So back to our tree reference. If the parts of the loop are clouds, evaporated water, oceans, rivers, and rain…then isn’t this just “things” again? These are mentally created fictions to describe parts of a whole. There is one process going on here and yet we talk about it as if there are separate things.
Oceans imply clouds, clouds imply rain, rain implies rivers, rivers imply oceans again. This is the hydrologic cycle of water. Where does it really begin or end? Where are there really separate parts?
Nonduality is ceasing to be fooled by the conventions of speech and thought which create separate parts.