The teachings of non-duality (‘I and the Father are One’) have begun to come of age in the West, recognized (at last) as the deepest essence of Zen, Dzochen, Tao, Vedanta, Sufism and original Christianity. In the latter case, mystics such as Meister Eckhart pointed back to the core teachings of Jesus. In particular, the recorded talks of modern sages (such as Krishnamurti, Maharaj, Harding, Bede Griffiths, Tony de Mello and Bro John Martin) have paved the way for a contemporary generation of illuminating speakers and writers.
What all of these spiritual traditions have in common is a viewpoint which is different from mainstream Christianity, Judaism and Islam. How is it different, and what are the differences?
There is probably no person alive who hasn’t pondered that which some intellects have termed “ultimate reality” — the source of animation and activation that expresses the phenomenon that we call life. Because this noumenon is immaterial, to the senses, it is sometimes described as “Spirit.”
An interest in the spiritual need not have any inherent relationship with what is defined as religion. It can be free of: required beliefs; worship of forms (or even the absence of form); dictates of regulated behavior; or ideas of right versus wrong. It can be free of all doctrine or dogma, allowing you to discern and verify for yourself what is true.
In the latter category, is an area of interest in ultimate reality (or the “spiritual”) which is referred to as self-realization. This is a direct, unmediated confirmation of the nature of truth concerning the root questions of worldly existence: what can be said about this life?
There is a motivation for exploring this area, this personal investigation into our intrinsic essence. Each person, universally, possesses a sense of immediate and unique presence. This specialized sense of personification results in an experiential image or form which is characterized as our ego.
This ego plays a pivotal and crucial role in our relationships with other life forms. Resolving the questions about the nature of ultimate reality can have a profound effect on the isolation or alienation that we countenance from within the perspective of our encapsulating, or self-limiting, ego. It is this ego which is the progenitor of the bulk of the conflict which we daily experience, for the duration of a lifetime.
The consequence of the internal inquiry, into what you are that is in transcendence of the individual ego, is the revelatory awareness that is known as self-realization. This can be independent of any and all of the behaviors and attitudes that are associated with religion.
This isn’t an inquiry into the supposed existence (or non-existence) of a god or gods, but an investigation into the relationship (if any) between the self, that you are conscious of, and the ultimate reality in which you are conscious of it. And this is a discovery which can be immediate and direct, without reliance on any religious propositions.
~ From: Living Nonduality by Robert Wolfe