Endgame non-dual non-attachment

For the non-duelist looking to take things to their own end...

Endgame non-dual non-attachment
Photo by Sigmund / Unsplash

When you think you have "abandoned everything", you may feel you are left with the experience of the "non-dual", as if it was some kind of truth or supreme reality.  You may feel you are "in the moment" or being "here and now".

Beware of the subtle trap in this.

Who is that self being "in the moment"?
What is this "here and now" that is left?
Do they remain conceptual?

Avoid making it another "thing" to grasp onto.  Another subtle concept.  Another dependence.  Thinking "you" have attained a higher state, and therefore the ego creeps back in.  Thinking this is "your" escape from a seemingly otherwise negative experience of reality.  Remember that the path is one of dropping, not attaining.  And the key thing to drop is that very imagined "you" and any sense of ownership. While it can be initially very effective to use your sense of pleasure and happiness to motivate yourself on the spiritual path, at some point even all this pleasure and happiness will need to be let go of if the "you" is to truly dissolve.

Sure it is more comfortable to be in this "higher state" which is more detached and unaffected by the world.  This is in fact a great achievement in itself and some will stop there and at least not step backward.  But again, keep moving in the direction that there is nothing to achieve, let alone anybody to achieve it.

From another angle, how certain are you that this "higher self", "higher perspective" or special skill of directly experiencing the "non-dual" is truly imperturbable?  How certain are you that this is It?  Are you sure that you aren't holding onto this just because it is pleasurable?  Can you watch it without attachment to it?  Does any sense of ownership over the experience remain?

One can even develop a sense of worshiping this experience as a kind of God or labeling it as a good and wholesome experience.  These are more judgements and concepts.  You could also regard yourself as special or chosen, even in a subtle way.  You cant wait to tell everyone else about It and teach them the "truth".  These are all typical traps involved in chasing, clinging to, and owning the non-dual experience.  When you fall into cultivating self-owning pleasure, then self-owning displeasure (and more importantly a self-owning reaction to it) will always arise at some later stage.  As I have discussed elsewhere:

The extent to which I indulge in pleasure is equally the extent to which I will indulge in pain. That is unavoidable.

To avoid these traps, we must look at the experience without attachment and without ownership.  See it as a way to gain true freedom from self, rather than a way for the self to be free from discomfort or for the self to experience lasting pleasure.  Truly contemplate and see it as clearly as possible, and rest there.

Notice that even though the experience is pleasurable, if there is a sense of ownership of this, then a subtle disturbance creeps in.  Notice the subtle increase in the sense of equanimity, when you cultivate the attitude of non-ownership.  Remain vigilant for any chasing, craving or clinging.  Trust in the practice wholeheartedly and you will naturally cultivate an attitude of true detachment and ego-freedom, not just grasping pleasure and freedom from discomfort.

Another helpful pointer is to notice whether there is a feeling of having attained or gained something.  As I previously  mentioned, the spiritual path is one of letting go, dropping, and loss - culminating in the loss of the illusory self, including any identification with anything whatsoever.  Whatever we use as a raft to reach the other shore must be eventually dropped.

It is truly a stepping into the Unknown, beyond pleasure and displeasure.

Eventually you will find that there is nobody taking any step, and the imagined path simply walks itself... and one day it may finally walk away from the very "you".