Hello, today I want to address a misconception or myth about enlightenment. It’s the idea of non-duality and differentiation, or the belief that true non-dual realization removes the ability to distinguish. For some reason, there is this notion that when you reach non-duality, there is no longer a separation or distinction between self and other.

While it is true that in non-duality, there is no “other,” and there is no separate self or me, it doesn’t mean that there is no ability to distinguish or recognize variety. Take, for example, the camera in front of me and the body-mind that I refer to as me, the desk, and the chair I’m sitting on. There is no separation between them; they are not separate entities. They are all part of the same existence. However, within that oneness, there can still be differentiation and variation. I can distinguish a foot from a hand or a nose—they are all part of the same body, the same oneness.

To further illustrate this point, consider water in a pool. It is all water, but there may be currents flowing in different directions, hot patches and cool patches. The water exhibits variety and differentiation within itself, but it is still one. Similarly, if you are in a dream and realize that it is all a dream arising from the one consciousness, it doesn’t mean you can’t distinguish between dream objects like a tree, a cat, or a person. Differentiation and variation are still present within the oneness of the dream.

Non-duality and differentiation are not contradictory or mutually exclusive. Forms may vary, but they all arise from the same essence. An analogy often used in Indian philosophy is that of a gold plate, a gold cup, a gold ring, and a gold chain—they are different forms, but they are all made of gold. Non-duality is the recognition that everything is ultimately one, while differentiation allows for the wondrous variety of appearance and perception.

It’s crucial to understand that non-duality has always been the case. The mind artificially creates the perception of separation through thought and misunderstanding. The separation is only a perceived illusion; in reality, there is no separation. So, if you can distinguish and recognize objects in the world, why would that suddenly cease when you realize their non-separateness? It doesn’t make sense to claim that non-duality eliminates the ability to distinguish.

In fact, suggesting that non-duality removes the capacity to recognize variants and variety is not only nonsensical but also dangerous. It would imply that someone who realizes non-duality becomes unable to distinguish between a lamppost and a moving car when crossing the street, or differentiate between a rock and a dinner roll when eating. Such a notion goes against common sense and the inherent understanding of the world.

To conclude, non-duality does not mean the loss of the ability to distinguish or recognize variety. What it does eliminate is the illusion of separate beings within that variety. Recognizing non-duality is about understanding the oneness underlying all appearances, while still appreciating the wondrous diversity that exists within it.

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