Reply To: What is “Nonduality” and how might it illumine Iain McGilchrist’s writings?

  • Don Salmon

    September 11, 2022 at 4:09 pm

    Hi Elsbeth:

    Thanks for posting here. I read the linked article – LOTS of fascinating observations, and I’m trying to find a way to honor the richness of what you have written yet zoom in on a particular point.

    You wrote: “When you say non-duality it appears to mean a logical opposite to Descartes type of duality,”

    So let me see if I can clarify this in a way that illuminates the theme of this particular group, practice.


    I believe it’s correct to say that even including Bohm’s notion of “implicate order,” this is still all in the realm of objects of awareness. “Objects” is perhaps a very misleading word as we tend to associate it with perceivable physical objects. it might help to add that “objects” includes the archetypal “ideas” that underlie everything in the universe. To go deeper – at least, as far as I understand it – than Plato, Jung or Bohm – even Christ as the “Word” which brings all things into existence “lives and moves and has its being” in that transcendental Awareness.

    The “non duality” of Awareness and Objects of Awareness is God.

    Now, “G_d” is perhaps among the most misused words in the language. So let me see if I can bring that back to practice.

    Jan (my wife) and I studied with a quite brilliant, if deeply problematic, non duality teacher, Andrew Hewson, between 2019 and 2021. He made a very interesting distinction between what he referred to as “Pure Awareness” and – his term for “objects” – ‘Conscious Presence.”

    What does this point to in our immediate experience?

    PURE AWARENESS: There is something that might be called a “Silence” underlying all experience. It is not an experience, but it can be recognized (I know that sounds paradoxical – when you recognize it it’s like a fish suddenly realizing it’s been swimming in water all its life – but that is only a metaphor)

    CONSCIOUS PRESENCE: This is more difficult in a secular context, as it refers even more directly than “Pure Awareness” to a Divine, Infinite Reality. What it “feels” like is something alive, shimmering, vibrant, radiant, which not only permeates the entire Field of experience but which actually CONSTITUTES that field. In that sense, there is nothing but Pure Awareness and Conscious Presence.

    Initially, when either is recognized, it seems like a bifurcation. But as they become more and more familiar, it is seen that Pure Awareness is nothing more than Conscious Presence aware of itSElf. And Conscious Presence is always “purely Aware.”

    I think, if I understand your writing clearly enough, everything you describe as polarity or duality or non dual duality is within Conscious Presence.

    I hope that helps!