The Three Stages of Non Dual Meditation

Dear Everyone,

At the end of this weeks article below, you will see a reference to something called Integral  Meditation Asia, I will be writing a separate message to you about this later in the week, as it is a new project that I have been working on over the last month or so.
In the mean time enjoy the article on non-dual meditation below. If you ask me what is my primary alternative “healing modality” I would say that it is the meditation on non-duality. Experiential contact with the non-dual state has a completely re-aligning effect on our body mind that I have found effective even in the most difficult and demoralizing mental and physical environments.

Yours in the spirit of the natural union,


The Three Stages of Non Dual Meditation

There are three stages that you need to engage in order to be a competent non-dual meditator:

  1. Firstly you need to be able to sit in meditation and enter a state of pure formless awareness, where no thoughts objects or perceptions are arising. You should be able to sustain that awareness gradually over longer and longer periods of time, until you can do it at will.
  2. Secondly you need to develop your experience of pure formless awareness so that you can sustain it at the same time as being aware of thoughts, sensations and other objects. Robert Forman calls this second stage a “Dual Consciousness Event”. We are simultaneously aware of both pure formless awareness and the world of form. At this stage the world of form and pure formless awareness appear separate. We simply practice holding awareness of them both at the same time until we can do it naturally and at will.
  3. Thirdly, after a (usually) substantial period of time meditating on stages one and two we start to experience a unitive or non-dual state of awareness, where the experience of pure formless awareness and the appearance of form (ie: mental and sensory objects in our mind and environment) merge together into a single experience. To use the Buddhist expression form appears as empty, and emptiness appears as form. This third stage is paradoxical and cannot be understood by the mind alone(logically how can no-form be form, and form be the same as no-thing?) and it can only really be experienced, understood experientially.

So, three stages; empty the mind and rest in pure formless awareness, secondly learn to be simultaneously aware of both pure consciousness and form, third let them merge together into a natural unitive or non-dual awareness.

Natural Enlightenment
The essential non-dual experience described in stage three above, the unity of form and emptiness is the primary experience of full classical enlightenment as described by the great non-dual schools of meditation, such as Zen, Hindu Vedanta, Tibetan Buddhist Vajrayana and Djogchen and so on. The funny thing about the non-dual state is that it appears as completely ordinary, “nothing special” as they say in Zen. Once you have realized this essential non-dual state, all you then really need to do to stay connected to this enlightened state is simply rest in your own natural moment to moment awareness. Everything that appears to that awareness, form or formless, “good or bad”, sacred or profane is seen simply as a manifestation of the primal and perfect non-dual enlightened state, it is perfect just as it is!

How Long do I Need to Meditate to Develop a Stable Experience of the Non-Dual State?
Starting as a scratch meditator, let’s say meditating for 30mins-1hour a dayevery day and taking occasional retreat-type experiences, it might take you five years to stabilize an experience of stage one; being able to meditate in a state of pure formless awareness.
It might then take you another five years to stabilize your experience of stage two, being able to rest at will in a state where you are simultaneously aware of both the form and formless levels of being.
further five years would probably be needed until you had then built the capacity to rest in a unitive state, where the form and formless domains of experience appear to arise simultaneously as a single unified reality.
So, fifteen years to a stable working experience of non-dual enlightenment. Whether you choose to do it within the context of a traditional school of enlightenment such as Zen or Dzogchen, or whether you do it within the context of a more contemporary path such as the meditation courses offered at Integral Meditation Asia, with focus and dedication this is perfectly possible for all of us.
If you are interested in a more detailed explanation of the three meditative states outlined above, you can read a very good article by Robert Forman entitled “What Does Mysticism Have to Teach Us About Consciousness”.


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