Nondualism is a term used to denote affinity, or unity, rather than duality or separateness or multiplicity. In reference to the universe it may be used to denote the idea that things appear distinct while not being separate. The term "nondual" (meaning "not two") can refer to a belief, condition, theory, practice, or quality. Nondualism has been linked with "Monism" or "qualified monism" with which it is sometimes confused (even conflated).



"Nondualism", "nonduality" and "nondual" are terms that have entered the English language from literal English renderings of "advaita" (Sanskrit: not-dual) subsequent to the first wave of English translations of the Upanishads commencing with the work of Müller (1823–1900), in the monumental Sacred Books of the East (1879), who rendered "advaita" as "Monism" under influence of the then prevailing discourse of English translations of the Classical Tradition of the Ancient Greeks such as Thales (624 BCE–c.546 BCE) and Heraclitus (c.535 BCE–c.475 BCE). The first usage of the terms are yet to be attested. The English term "nondual" was also informed by early translations of the Upanishads in Western languages other than English from 1775. The term "nondualism" and the term "advaita" from which it originates are polyvalent terms. The English word's origin is the Latin duo meaning "two" prefixed with "non-" meaning "not".

Nondualism and Eastern philosophy

Pritscher (2001: p. 16) attributes a salient view on nondual realization to Loy (b.1947), an author of a work on comparative philosophy of nondual theologies i.e. Loy (1988)[1]:

"According to David Loy, when you realize that the nature of your mind and the [U]niverse are nondual, you are enlightened."[2]

Loy (1988: p. 3) contrasts his view of the historicity of nonduality in some of its evocations in the experience of the peoples of The East and The West as follows:

"...[the seed of nonduality] however often sown, has never found fertile soil [in the West], because it has been too antithetical to those other vigorous sprouts that have grown into modern science and technology. In the Eastern tradition...we encounter a different situation. There the seeds of seer-seen nonduality not only sprouted but matured into a variety (some might say a jungle) of impressive philosophical species. By no means do all these [Eastern] systems assert the nonduality of subject and object, but it is significant that three which do - Buddhism, Vedanta and Taoism - have probably been the most influential."[3]

Nelson (1951: p. 51-52) cites Radhakrishnan's The Principal Upanishads (1953) where Radhakrishnan renders a passage of the Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upaniṣad (verse 1.4.16) which demonstrates a theme that one becomes transpersonally identified with, or nondual to, or develops qualities associated with that to which one is engaged, worships or holds holy and though it is translated with a male pronominal it may be understood as not being gender-specific:

"Now this self, verily, is the world of all beings. In so far as he makes offerings and sacrifices, he becomes the world of the gods. In so far as he learns (the Vedas), he becomes the world of the seers. In so far as he offers libations to the fathers and desires offspring, he becomes the world of the fathers. In so far as he gives shelter and food to men, he becomes the world of men. In so far as he gives grass and water to the animals, he becomes the world of animals. In so far as beasts and birds, even to the ants find a living in his houses he becomes their world. Verily, as one wishes non-injury for his own world, so all beings wish non-injury for him who has this knowledge. This, indeed, is known and well investigated."[4]

Transpersonal psychology

Theriault (2005) in a thesis explores comparative non-dual experience and the psycho-spiritual mechanisms that bring the awareness about.[5] Lewis (2007) in her thesis explores a number of specific women's experiences on their journey to wholeness and healthfulness in the nondual path of Tantra post-sexual trauma and identifies common themes.[6]

Nondualism versus monism

The philosophical concept of monism is similar to nondualism. Indeed, the terms are used as congruent by many scholars. Some forms of monism hold that all phenomena are actually of the same substance. Other forms of monism including attributive monism and idealism are similar concepts to nondualism. Nondualism proper holds that different phenomena are inseparable or that there is no hard line between them, but not that they are the same. The distinction between these two types of views is considered critical in Zen, Madhyamika, and Dzogchen, all of which are nondualisms proper. Some later philosophical approaches also attempt to undermine traditional dichotomies, with the view they are fundamentally invalid or inaccurate. For example, one typical form of deconstruction is the critique of binary oppositions within a text while problematization questions the context or situation in which concepts such as dualisms occur.

Daniélou (1907–1994) opines that "nondualism" is "dangerous" as it "rests" on "monism":

"The term "nondualism" has proved, in many instances, to be a dangerous one, since it can easily be thought to rest on a monistic concept. The Hindu philosophical schools which made an extensive use of this term opened the way for religious monism, which is always linked with a "humanism" that makes of man the center of the universe and of "god" the projection of the human ego into the cosmic sphere. Monism sporadically appears in Hinduism as an attempt to give a theological interpretation to the theory of the substrata.... Nondualism was, however, to remain a conception of philosophers. It never reached the field of common religion."[7]

Nondualism versus solipsism

Nondualism superficially resembles solipsism, but from a nondual perspective solipsism mistakenly fails to consider subjectivity itself. Upon careful examination of the referent of "I," i.e. one's status as a separate observer of the perceptual field, one finds that one must be in as much doubt about it, too, as solipsists are about the existence of other minds and the rest of "the external world." (One way to see this is to consider that, due to the conundrum posed by one's own subjectivity becoming a perceptual object to itself, there is no way to validate one's "self-existence" except through the eyes of others—the independent existence of which is already solipsistically suspect!) Nondualism ultimately suggests that the referent of "I" is in fact an artificial construct (merely the border separating "inner" from "outer," in a sense), the transcendence of which constitutes enlightenment.

Metaphors for nondualisms

"Buddhism has refined various methods to observe consciousness from the first person perspective for two thousand years. Therefore it is meaningful to bring the explanation models of Tibetan Buddhism into a cross cultural dialogue."[8]

Nondual awareness

Craig, et al.. (1998: p. 476) convey a 'stream of consciousness' or 'mindstream' as a procession of mote events of consciousness (C) with algebraic notation C1, C2 and C3 thus to demonstrate the immediacy of nondual awareness:

That nondual awareness is the only possible self-awareness is defended by a reductio argument. If a further awareness C2, having C1 as content, is required for self-awareness, then since there would be no awareness of C2 without awareness C3, ad infinitum, there could be no self-awareness, that is, unless the self is to be understood as limited to past awareness only. For self-awareness to be an immediate awareness, self-awareness has to be nondual.[11]

To the Nondualist, reality is ultimately neither physical nor mental. Instead, it is an ineffable state or realization. This ultimate reality can be called "Spirit" (Sri Aurobindo), "Brahman" (Shankara), "God", "Shunyata" (Emptiness), "The One" (Plotinus), "The Self" (Ramana Maharshi), "The Dao" (Lao Zi), "The Absolute" (Schelling) or simply "The Nondual" (F. H. Bradley). Ram Dass calls it the "third plane"—any phrase will be insufficient, he maintains, so any phrase will do. The theory of Sri Aurobindo has been described as Integral advaita.

Challenges to Cartesian dualism

Brown (2006: p. 19) charts the lineage of philosophers, namely Nietzsche (1844–1900), Husserl (1859–1938), Heidegger (1889–1976), Sartre (1905–1980), Merleau-Ponty (1908–1961), and Levinas (1906—1995) who challenged the entrenched Cartesian dualism of a hard split between "body" and "mind" and hence, embraced different views of nondual 'bodymind' or body-mind continuum thus:

"Like the writings of Nietzsche, the writings of phenomenologists Edmund Husserl, Martin Heidegger, Jean-Paul Sartre, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, and Emmanual Levinas have been recognized by many as providing alternatives to a Cartesian-dualist and Enlightenment-subjectivity worldview. If Nietzsche's response to Cartesian dualism, enlightenment subjectivity (i.e., Kant), reductive materialism (i.e., Marx), and reductive idealism (i.e., Hegel) is not the only nineteenth-century response, it is one of the most effective."[12]

Philosopher and Buddhist, Günther (1917–2006), stated:

"What we call 'body' and 'mind' are mere abstractions from an identity experience that cannot be reduced to the one or the other abstraction, nor can it be hypostatized into some sort of thing without falsifying its very being."[13]

Nondual religious and spiritual traditions and teachings

Classical traditions

Michaelson (2009: p. 130) identifies what he perceives to be the origins of nondualism proper founded in the Neoplatonism of Plotinus within Ancient Greece and employs the ambiguous binary construction of "the West" [as different to 'the East', refer Saïd's utilization of the discourse of 'The Other' in Orientalism (1978)]:

"Conceptions of nonduality evolve historically. As a philosophical notion, it is most clearly found for the first time in the West in the second century C.E, in the Neoplatonism of Plotinus and his followers."[14]



Ramana Maharshi

Advaita Vedanta (Sanskrit a, not; dvaita, dual) is a nondual tradition from India a central tenet of Hinduism. Advaita may be rendered in English as 'nondual', 'not-two' or 'peerless' and though there are monist themes in the most recent sections of the ancient Rig Veda (Mandala 1 and Mandala 10), that is, the sections that were finalized or interpolated last; nonduality finds its first sophisticated exposition in the "Tat Tvam Asi" of the venerable Chandogya Upanishad (6.8.7),[15] an upanishad favoured by subsequent proponents of Advaita Vedanta. Gauḍapāda (c.600 CE) furthered this philosophical theory that was later consolidated by Sri Adi Shankaracharya in the 8th century CE. Most smarthas are adherents to this theory of nonduality. Further to this, Craig, et al.. (1998: p. 476) hold that the nonduality of the Advaita Vedantins is of the identity of Brahman and the Atman where the identity is "objectless consciousness, as awareness nondualistically self-aware":

Advaita Vedānta is a scripturally derived philosophy centred on the proposition, first found in early Upaniṣads (800-300 BC), that Brahman - the Absolute, the supreme reality - and the self (ātman) are identical. The identity is understood as an objectless consciousness, as awareness nondualistically self-aware. Arguments in support of the view that nondual awareness is the sole reality are developed by classical and modern Advaitins, from Gauḍapāda (c.600 AD) and Śaṅkara (c.700 AD), in hundreds of texts. Some of these are suggested in Upaniṣads.[11]


Whicher (2003) in Whicher and Carpenter (2003: pp. 51–52) challenges the "dualistic" historical paradigm of Yoga scholarship founded in a separation of "puruṣa" and "prakṛti" thus:

"It is often said [by Western scholarship] that, like classical Sāṃkha, Patañjali's yoga is a dualistic system, understood in terms of puruṣa and prakṛti. Yet, I submit, yoga scholarship has not clarified what "dualistic" means or why yoga had to be "dualistic". Even in avowedly non-dualistic systems of thought such as Advaita Vedanta we can find numerous examples of basically dualistic modes of description and explanation."[16]

Rājarshi (2001: p. 45) conveys his estimation of the historical synthesis of the School of Yoga (one of the six Āstika schools of Sanatana Dharma) which he holds introduces the principle of "Isvara" as Saguna Brahman, to reconcile the extreme views of Vedanta's "advandva" and Sankya's "dvandva":

"Introducing the special tattva (principle) called Ishvara by yoga philosophy is a bold attempt to bring reconciliation between the transcendental, nondual monism of vedanta and the pluralistic, dualistic, atheism of sankhya. The composite system of yoga philosophy brings the two doctrines of vedanta and sankya closer to each other and makes them understood as the presentation of the same reality from two different points of view. The nondual approach of vedanta presents the principle of advandva (nonduality of the highest truth at the transcendental level.) The dualistic approach of sankhya presents truth of the same reality but at a lower empirical level, rationally analyzing the principle of dvandva (duality or pairs of opposites). Whereas, yoga philosophy presents the synthesis of vedanta and sankhya, reconciling at once monism and dualism, the supermundane and the empirical."[17]

Sikh dharma

Sikhism is a monotheistic religion which holds the view of non-dualism. A principal cause of suffering in Sikhism is the ego (ahankar in Punjabi), the delusion of identifying oneself as an individual separate from the surroundings. From the ego arises the desires, pride, emotional attachments, anger, lust, etc., thus putting humans on the path of destruction. According to Sikhism, the true nature of all humans is the same as God, and everything that originates with God. The goal of a Sikh is to conquer the ego and realize one's true nature or self, which is the same as God's.

Jain dharma

Buddha dharma

Though popular discourse both etic and emic as well as the discourse of scholarship with which it intersects, employ the term "Buddhism" for the Buddhadharma (and often employ the term uncritically), it is salient to be mindful that the Buddhadharma is not a monolithic tradition[18] but a continuum of a number of sub-traditions and praxis-lineages (or sadhana-lineages), many of which tout a number of nondualities proper in various sub-traditions and 'vehicles' (Sanskrit: yana); refer Wallace (2007: pp. 106–107).[19]

See also * Susila Budhi Dharma

Nonduality as Shunyata and Prajna

Huntington & Wangchen (1995: p. 119) hold where 'emptiness' is a gloss of Shunyata (Sanskrit) and 'wisdom' is a gloss of Prajna (Sanskrit):

With the actualization of emptiness, manifest in wisdom as an effect, the bodhisattva gains access to the nondualistic knowledge of a buddha. It may be that this concept seems particularly abstruse because it is associated not so much with a way of knowing as with a way of being, for we have seen the justification underlying claims to knowledge of this type is necessarily immersed in a certain form of life...a kind of nondualistic knowledge is present wherever a particular epistemic act is embedded in an intuitive awareness of the unique context through which two apparently discrete phenomena are intimately related, as is usually the case, for example, when we speak of a cause and its effect.[20]

Further to the coincidence or nonduality of Shunyata and Prajna within the 'Pure-and-perfect-Mind' (Wylie: byang chub sems;[21] Sanskrit: Bodhicitta), Günther & Trungpa (1975: p. 30) state that:

We cannot predicate anything of prajna except to say that when it is properly prajna it must be as open as that which it perceives. In this sense we might say that subjective and objective poles, (prajna and shunyata) coincide. With this understanding, rather than saying that prajna is shunyata, we can try to describe the experience by saying that it has gone beyond the dualism of subject and object.[22]

Buddhism general

All schools of Buddhism teach No-Self (Pali anatta, Sanskrit anatman). Non-Self in Buddhism is the Non-Duality of Subject and Object, which is very explicitly stated by the Buddha in verses such as “In seeing, there is just seeing. No seer and nothing seen. In hearing, there is just hearing. No hearer and nothing heard.” (Bahiya Sutta, Udana 1.10). Non-Duality in Buddhism does not constitute merging with a supreme Brahman, but realising that the duality of a self/subject/agent/watcher/doer in relation to the object/world is an illusion.[23]

Within the Mahayana presentation, the two truths may also refer to specific perceived phenomenon instead of categorizing teachings. Conventional truths would be the appearances of mistaken awareness - the awareness itself when mistaken - together with the objects that appear to it or alternatively put the appearance that includes a duality of apprehender and apprehended and objects perceived within that. Ultimate truths, then, are phenomenon free from the duality of apprehender and apprehended.[24]

In the Mahayana Buddhist canon, the Diamond Sutra presents an accessible nondual view of "self" and "beings", while the Heart Sutra asserts shunyata — the "emptiness" of all "form" and simultaneously the "form" of all "emptiness". The Lotus Sutra's parable of the Burning House implies that all talk of Duality or Non-Duality by Buddhas and Bodhisattvas is merely Skillful Means (Sanskrit upaya kausala) meant to lead the deluded to a much higher truth. The fullest philosophical exposition is the Madhyamaka; by contrast many laconic pronouncements are delivered as koans. Advanced views and practices are found in the Mahamudra and Maha Ati, which emphasize the vividness and spaciousness of nondual awareness.

Mahayana Buddhism, in particular, tempers the view of nonduality (wisdom) with respect for the experience of duality (compassion) — ordinary dualistic experience, populated with selves and others (sentient beings), is tended with care, always "now". This approach is itself regarded as a means to disperse the confusions of duality (i.e. as a path). In Theravada, that respect is expressed cautiously as non-harming, while in the Vajrayana, it is expressed boldly as enjoyment (especially in tantra).

Vajrayana Buddhism


Gross (2009: p. 207) a leading Feminist theologian identifies the nondual import of yab-yum iconography where His ever-so-skillful 'method' (upaya) really enjoys Her ever-so-spacious 'wisdom' (prajna), a wisdom where wisdom-in-reciprocity enjoys method; where His-Her enjoining is coincident in 'great bliss' (mahasukha):

...a vital point must be made, especially given that the yab-yum image is always said to be an image in which the partners are in sexual union...[t]hough it may seem paradoxical and difficult to understand, this image, nevertheless, is not literally about sex, as in sexual intercourse. It is about nonduality, which is visually represented by the yab-yum icon.[25]

Dzogchen tradition

Dzogchen is a relatively esoteric (to date) tradition concerned with the "natural state", and emphasizing direct experience. This tradition is found in the Nyingma tradition of Tibetan Buddhism, where it is classified as the highest of this lineage's nine yanas, or vehicles of practice. Similar teachings are also found in the non-Buddhist Bön tradition, where it is also given the nomenclature "Dzogchen" and in one evocation the ninth in a nine vehicle system. The nine vehicles in both the Bonpo and Buddhadharma traditions are different but they mutually inform. In Dzogchen, for both the Bonpo and Nyingmapa, the primordial state, the state of nondual awareness, is called rigpa.

The Dzogchen practitioner realizes that appearance and emptiness are inseparable. One must transcend dualistic thoughts to perceive the true nature of one's pure mind. This primordial nature is clear light, unproduced and unchanging, free from all defilements. One's ordinary mind is caught up in dualistic conceptions, but the pure mind is unafflicted by delusions. Through meditation, the Dzogchen practitioner experiences that thoughts have no substance. Mental phenomena arise and fall in the mind, but fundamentally they are empty. The practitioner then considers where the mind itself resides. The mind can not exist in the ever-changing external phenomena and through careful examination one realizes that the mind is emptiness. All dualistic conceptions disappear with this understanding.[26]

Bonpo Dzogchen

Svabhava (Sanskrit; Wylie: rang bzhin) is very important in the nontheistic theology of the Bonpo Dzogchen 'Great Perfection' tradition where it is part of a technical language to render macrocosm and microcosm into nonduality, as Rossi (1999: p. 58) states:

"The View of the Great Perfection further acknowledges the ontological identity of the macrocosmic and microcosmic realities through the threefold axiom of Condition (ngang), Ultimate Nature (rang bzhin) and Identity (bdag nyid). The Condition (ngang) is the Basis of all (kun gzhi)--primordially pure (ka dag) and not generated by primary and instrumental causes. It is the origin of all phenomena. The Ultimate Nature (rang bzhin) is said to be unaltered (ma bcos pa), because the Basis [gzhi] is spontaneously accomplished (lhun grub) in terms of its innate potential (rtsal) for manifestation (rol pa). The non-duality between the Ultimate Nature (i.e., the unaltered appearance of all phenomena) and the Condition (i.e., the Basis of all [kun gzhi]) is called the Identity (bdag nyid). This unicum of primordial purity (ka dag) and spontaneous accomplishment (lhun grub) is the Way of Being (gnas lugs) of the Pure-and-Perfect-Mind [byang chub (kyi) sems]."[27]

Ngakpa tradition

Caplan (2009: p. 163), with an indirect quotation, conveys her understanding of the view of a contemporary Ngakpa who holds duality and nonduality to be nondual:

"Ngakpa Chögyam, a Tibetan Buddhist teacher from Wales, offers a perspective on nonduality that includes all of life as a direct expression of the nondual core of truth. He explains that nonduality, or emptiness, has two facets: one is the empty, or nondual, and the other is form, or duality. Therefore, duality is not illusory but is instead one aspect of nonduality. Like the two sides of a coin, the formless reality has two dimensions -- one is form, the other is formless. When we perceive duality as separate from nonduality (or nonduality as separate from duality), we do not engage the world of manifestation from a perspective of oneness, and thereby we fall into an erroneous relationship with it. From this perspective it is not "life" or duality that is maya, or illusion; rather, it is our relationship to the world that is illusory."[28]

Korean Buddhism

Park (1983: p. 147) identifies essence-function as an East Asian Buddhist strategy to convey nonduality:

Since the t'i-yung or "essence-function" construction is originally used by East Asian Buddhists to show a non-dualistic and non-discriminate nature in their enlightenment experience, it should not exclude any other frameworks such as neng-so or "subject-object" constructions. Nevertheless the essence-function construction must be distinguished from the subject-object construction from a scholastic perspective because the two are completely different from each other in terms of their way of thinking.[29]

Park (2009: p. 11) holds that:

"...the terms mom and momjit are familiar to all Koreans, and have their roots in ancient history. Although I translated them in the introduction as "essence" and "function", a more accurate definition (and the one the Korean populace is more familiar with) is "body" and "the body's functions". The implications of "essence/function" and "body/its functions" are similar, that is, both paradigms are used to point to a nondual relationship between the two concepts. There is a subtle but crucial difference, however, between the two models, "essence/function" and "body/its functions". The term essence/function (which is often translated by East Asian scholars into the Chinese term t'i-yung) has a rather abstract, philosophical tone, connoting an impression of being somewhat removed from the nitty-gritty details of everyday life. My primary interest, however, is in the human being's personal understanding and experience of nonduality."[30]


Zen is a non-dual tradition. It can be considered a religion, a philosophy, or simply a practice depending on one's perspective. Zen practitioners follow a way which does not rely on labels or as they say, 'The finger pointing at the moon is not the moon itself.'

Tozan, one of the founders of Sōtō Zen in China, had a teaching known as the Five Ranks of the Real and the Ideal, which points out the necessity of not getting caught in the duality between Absolute and Relative/Samsara and Nirvana, and describes the stages of further transcendence into fully realising the Absolute in all activities.

Nondual themes are very strong in the literary work of Dogen (1200–1253),[31] who founded the Soto school of Japanese Buddhism.

Indigenous Americans traditions

Burrus & Keller (2006: p. 71-72) in their work of transdisciplinary theological colloquia, convey the casestudies of Indigenous Americans which sing-a-song of nondual gender and nondual biological sexual designation and the natural spectrum of possibility:

However objective it may seem, even the scientific framework for defining the "two sexes" is a cultural construction. As Judith Butler has shown, the dominant American ideology of the body affirms the existence of two sexes, two genders, and two basic sexualities that are treated as naturally distinct. But biological sex is not ideologically independent of the other terms; our culture defines our genetics, object-oriented genital joining, and other gender practices in binary fashion in order to identify us dualistically as either male/masculine or female/feminine (where "normal" males and females are heterosexual). Violations of these norms are deemed unnatural. So doctors have tended to define genetic sex dualistically, as XX or XY, and to label violations of the genetic dualism (such as XXY and XO people), including "mismatches" between genetics, hormones, and appearance, as "diseased." But as Anne Fausto-Sterling describes, there is a spectrum of such deviations, naturally occurring bodies with non-dual genital combinations and diverse physicals expressions. Hidden among the males and females living in America are so-called "true hermaphrodites," who possess both ova and testes, "genetically male" (XY) people with Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome who look like and are usually raised as women, "genotypically female" (XX) children whose genitalia are virilized at puberty, and "genotypically male" (XY) children who are anatomically female or androgynous at birth but at puberty develop testes, a fused scrotum, and secondary male sex characteristics.[32]

Though the inclusion of nondual bodies, genders and sexual designations and other biological florescence, are by definition qualified for inclusion in this article and such inclusion is rarefied, especially when understood as embodying a syncretic and holistic ideal, a "a one-sex/body, multi-gender model that reflected ancient gender norms" and which is metaphorically apt in many spiritual nondual traditions as Burrus & Keller (2006: p. 71) state:

...the dominant ideology of the body in the premodern West was a one-sex/body, multi-gender model that reflected ancient gender norms for the distribution of power. Only with the rise of Western medicine and genetics has sex been conceived as dual and ontologically stable--male and female.[33]


Detail of Dance to the Berdashe, painted by George Catlin

Burrus & Keller (2006: p. 73) further to the greater cultural context of mainland America and the diverse two-spirit cultures of the Indigenous American peoples, convey the spiritual view of the Diné or Navajo peoples in relation to the ideal that "all humans were spiritually androgynous":

...eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Navajo had a three-sex, multigender system that included the nádleehí, a "two-spirit" (bi-gender) person who had one of three anatomical birth-sexes (male, female, or androgynous), but was identified by a combination of masculine and feminine gender-attributes. Because Native Americans typically thought birth sex matured over time and defined gender primarily based on work preference, "two-spirit" people included non-dually sexed persons; born-males who adopted women's work, manners, and speech patterns; born-females who took up men's work and mannerisms; or those born either male or female who combined elements of women and men's cultural roles. Finally, the Navajo did not denounce the nádleehí as unnatural because gender or sex practices did not fit an individual's birth-sex; rather, they thought that all humans were spiritually androgynous, so they treated the nádleehí as a special but natural gender.[34]

Abrahamic traditions

Jewish traditions and Hasidism

Michaelson (2009: p. 130) identifies that nonduality was unambiguously evident in the medieval Jewish textual tradition which peaked in Hasidism:

As a Jewish religious notion, nonduality begins to appear unambigously in Jewish texts during the medieval period, increasing in frequency in the centuries thereafter and peaking at the turn of the nineteenth century, with the advent of Hasidism. It is certainly possible that earlier Jewish texts may suggest nonduality -- as, of course, they have been interpreted by traditional nondualists -- but...this may or may not be the most useful way to approach them."[14]

Michaelson (2009) explores nonduality in the tradition of Judaism.[35]

Judaism has within it a strong and very ancient mystical tradition that is deeply nondualistic. "Ein Sof" or infinite nothingness is considered the ground face of all that is. God is considered beyond all proposition or preconception. The physical world is seen as emanating from the nothingness as the many faces "partsufim" of god that are all a part of the sacred nothingness. Sometimes the faces are referred to as colored spheres "sphirot" that are the same as chakras in eastern traditions. sphirot are seen as eminations or fruit of the tree of life in the sacred garden of paradise. The tree exists and emanates through many, sometimes infinite, stages or levels of reality. All is considered one nondualistic whole. nothingness and somethingness are considered one united and inseparable thing. Duality is seen as an illusion of brokenness or contraction and enlightenment is the act of inner restoration or repair "tikkun" of god's unity.


Jesus himself utters deep nondual statements, such as this, from John 17:11(kjv)— Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are. . .14b . . . because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. . . 21 That they may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us[.] And this, from Luke 11:34 The light of the body is the eye: therefore when thine eye is single, thy whole body also is full of light; but when thine eye is evil, thy body also is full of darkness.

Christian Science has been described as nondual. In a glossary of terms written by the founder, Mary Baker Eddy, matter is defined as illusion, and when defining 'I, or Ego' as the divine in relationship with individual identity, she writes "There is but one I, or Us, but one divine Principle, or Mind, governing all existence" — continuing — ". . .whatever reflects not this one Mind, is false and erroneous, even the belief that life, substance, and intelligence are both mental and material."[36]

Griffiths' (1906–1993) form of Vedanta-inspired or nondual Christianity, coming from the Christian Ashram Movement, has inspired papers by Bruno Barnhart discussing 'Wisdom Christianity' or 'Sapiential Christianity'.[37][38] Barnhart (1999: p. 238) explores Christian nondual experience in a dedicated volume and states that he gives it the gloss of "unitive" experience and "perennial philosophy".[39] Further, Barnhart (2009) holds that:

It is quite possible that nonduality will emerge as the theological principle of a rebirth of sapiential Christianity ('wisdom Christianity') in our time."[38]


Since its beginning, Gnosticism has been characterized by many dualisms and dualities, including the doctrine of a separate God and Manichaean (good/evil) dualism. The discovery in 1945 of the Gospel of Thomas, however, has led some scholars to believe that Jesus' original teaching may have been one accurately characterized as nondualism.[40]

An English rendering from The Gospel of Thomas that showcases a nondual vision of reconciling opposites which are also preserved, that is "make the two one":

When you make the two one, and when you make the inside like the outside and the outside like the inside, and the above like the below, and when you make the male and the female one and the same...then you will enter [the Kingdom].[41]

The Gospel of Philip also conveys nondualism:

Light and Darkness, life and death, right and left, are brothers of one another. They are inseparable. Because of this neither are the good good, nor evil evil, nor is life life, nor death death. For this reason each one will dissolve into its earliest origin. But those who are exalted above the world are indissoluble, eternal. [42]


Sufism and Irfan (Arabic تصوف taṣawwuf) are the mystical traditions of Islam. There are a number of different Sufi orders that follow the teachings of particular spiritual masters, but the bond that unites all Sufis is the concept of ego annihilation (removal of the subject/object dichotomy between humankind and the divine) through various spiritual exercises and a persistent, ever-increasing longing for union with the divine. "The goal," as Reza Aslan writes, "is to create an inseparable union between the individual and the Divine."

The central doctrine of Sufism, sometimes called Wahdat-ul-Wujood[citation needed] or Wahdat al-Wujud or Unity of Being, is the Sufi understanding of Tawhid (the oneness of God; absolute monotheism).[citation needed] Put very simply, for Sufis, Tawhid implies that all phenomena are manifestations of a single reality, or Wujud (being), which is indeed al-Haq (Truth, God). The essence of Being/Truth/God is devoid of every form and quality, and hence unmanifest, yet it is inseparable from every form and phenomenon, either material or spiritual. It is often understood to imply that every phenomenon is an aspect of Truth and at the same time attribution of existence to it is false. The chief aim of all Sufis then is to let go of all notions of duality (and therefore of the individual self also), and realize the divine unity which is considered to be the truth.

Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi, (1207–1273), one of the most famous Sufi masters and poets, has written that what humans perceive as duality is in fact a veil, masking the reality of the Oneness of existence. "All desires, preferences, affections, and loves people have for all sorts of things," he writes, are veils. He continues: "When one passes beyond this world and sees that Sovereign (God) without these 'veils,' then one will realize that all those things were 'veils' and 'coverings' and that what they were seeking was in reality that One."


Dechar (2005: p. 5-6) identifies that the terms "Tao" and "[D]harma" are etymologically rooted by identifying the etymon "da":

"The word Tao has no exact English translation, but it relates most closely to the Western idea of wholeness, to the unknowable unity of the divine. When used by the Taoist philosophers, Tao became the Way, the path or cosmic law that directs the unfolding of every aspect of the [U]niverse. So Tao is the wisdom of the divine made manifest in nature and in my individual life. The Chinese word Tao has an etymological relationship to the Sanskrit root sound "da", which means "to divine something whole into parts". The ancient Sanskrit word dharma is also related to this root. In the Buddhist tradition, dharma means "that which is to be held fast, kept, an ordinance or law...the absolute, the real." So, both dharma and Tao refer to the way that the One, the unfathomable unity of the divine, divides into parts and manifests in the world of form."[43]

Taoism's wu wei (Chinese wu, not; wei, doing) is a term with various translations (e.g. inaction, non-action, nothing doing, without ado) and interpretations designed to distinguish it from passivity. From a nondual perspective, it refers to activity that does not imply an "I". The concept of Yin and Yang, often mistakenly conceived of as a symbol of dualism, is actually meant to convey the notion that all apparent opposites are complementary parts of a non-dual whole. The Tao Te Ching has been seen as a nondualist text; from that perspective, the term "Tao" could be interpreted as a name for the Ultimate Reality (which, as the Tao Te Ching itself notes, is not the reality itself).


A Course in Miracles

A Course in Miracles is an expression of nondualism that is independent of any religious denomination. For instance in a workshop entitled 'The Real World' led by two of its more prominent teachers, Kenneth Wapnick and Gloria Wapnick, Gloria explains how discordant the course is from the teachings of Christianity:

"The course is very clear in that God did not create the physical world or universe - or anything physical. It parts ways right at the beginning. If you start with the theology of the course, there's nowhere you can reconcile from the beginning, because the first book of Genesis talks about God creating the world, and then the animals and humans, et cetera. The course parts company at page one with the Bible."[44]

A Course in Miracles presents an interpretation of nondualism that recognises only "God" (i.e. absolute reality) as existing in any way, and nothing else existing at all. In a book entitled The Disappearance of the Universe, which interprets A Course in Miracles, it says in its second chapter that we "don't even exist in an individual way - not on any level. There is no separated or individual soul. There is no Atman, as the Hindus call it, except as a mis-thought in the mind. There is only God."[45] A verse from the course itself that displays its interpretation of nondualism is found in Chapter 14:

"The first in time means nothing, but the First in eternity is God the Father, Who is both First and One. Beyond the First there is no other, for there is no order, no second or third, and nothing but the First."[46]


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