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  • Zeb

Natural Benevolence of our Nondual Unchanging Self

Updated: Oct 13, 2023

Everything is a relationship. Inter-personally you have a relationship with your environment. Intra-personally you have a relationship with different parts of your own self. The self is a multi layered experience between the physical, emotional, and mental aspects of your self. You can also have a relationship between the sad and angry parts of your self or the lost and found parts of your self, so to speak. When nondual consciousness is a tangible body experience of the unchanging ground of your self, you can enter into a relationship between the changing and unchanging dimension of your self. Your ego "evolving-self "comes into communion with the stillness and spaciousness of nature of your nondual "unchanging-self."

A central characteristic of nondual consciousness is that it is not judgmental by nature. A common description of uncovering and awakening nondual consciousness in meditation is that we feel free from our evaluating mind and the emotional elaborations we assume from what we perceive. Interestingly, the psychiatrist Daniel Siegal talks about how when you bring focused non-judgmental awareness to your experience it seems to positively change the structure and functions or your physical brain (Siegel, 2007). As you may know, this is not only a mental event because when you experience not being judged for who you are, the feeling of relief and elation that can be felt everywhere in the body. A similar positive change in the brain and body happens when your evolving-self’s psyche encounters your nondual unchanging-self.

The reflection you get in the presence of your unchanging-self’s inherent wholeness-of-being is a naturally supportive presence of being. It is as if the nondual presence of being witnesses, understands, and just by its mere presence you feel that it accepts the travails of your ever-changing evolving-self. You feel that you can rest upon the reliable ground of your wholeness-of-being. When you are seen, understood and accepted in an undefended, authentic way, the experience conveys a sense of supportive presence that allows you to open more deeply and release the constricting forces of fragmentation of your sense of self.

The process of your evolving-self integrating its experience of your nondual unchanging-self is much less difficult and potentially overwhelming than integrating and internalizing a parent’s way of relating to you. Your unchanging-self is inherently non-abandoning and non-invasive. True to the Bhagavad Gita account (14:6), your body experience of the unified relational field of consciousness gives rise to “happiness” and “knowledge.” Wholeness-of-being can naturally feel like happiness and knowledge always accompanies a broader perspective inherent to nondual consciousness. Because of the inherently benevolent nature of our unchanging-self as an experience of wholeness, the relationship with your unchanging-self is the kind of relationship you always wanted to have as a child but couldn’t have due to other people’s limitations. The body experience of wholeness-of-being, happiness, and knowledge becomes your psychological mirror for your evolving-self, so to speak.

Because the attributes of the nondual unchanging-self are not learned or created like your evolving-self, but instead are a pre-existent innate ground of your being, your nondual unchanging-self is experienced as uninjured. It lies deeper than your injuries. Likewise, most children often initially perceives the parent as uninjured. You may do this even if you needs to “make believe” in order to secure a sense of support and safety. As you grow older and differentiate your self from your parents, you at least mentally realize the parent is injured and is to some degree guided by their own injuries rather than a deeper authenticity. It can often take a lifetime to fully integrate this understanding emotionally.

Child psychology has well documented that the feeling that a parent delights in you is crucial to the formation of a healthy sense of self (Brazelton, Winnicott). As you awaken a stable experience of your unchanging-self, you may have a self-arising sense of delight in part due to its non-abandoning and non-invasive nature. This self-arising “nondual delight” is similar to the duality-based delight you need from your parents as a child. Your nondual delight is the “infinite delight” that the Kashmiri adept Valmiki spoke of in Yoga-Vasishtha, which is also called a “great delight” (maha-sukha) of embodied nondual experience.

The validation you perceive in embodied meditation is delightfully affirming in a non-abandoning non-invasive way. You feel an undivided ground increasingly supports you to perceive and respond with your whole body and mind. Your habitual fragmented ways of organizing your self in relationship dissolve and you open to perceiving the world directly with all your senses. You can think, and feel and have emotions at the same time without fear of censure or distortion. These basic abilities are what is robbed from you when you have unresolved injuries and trauma.

Healthy “mirroring,” where you feel witnessed, understood, and accepted as a child and also as an adult, allows you to feel a greater sense of connection and understanding with other people. In meditation mirroring also happens as you observe and attune to your own unchanging-self and gradually uncover an experience of oneness of self and other. You feel the unified relational ground of existence within your own being as an internal wholeness united with everything around you. Just like how a parent’s healthy mirroring helps you later form healthy bonds in relationship as an adult, attuning to your own unchanging-self enhances your capacity for inward contact and for contact with other people at the same time. This means your window of tolerance for and resilience with the intensity of life increases.

Dr. Zeb Lancaster

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