What is a non-dual God?

For the vast majority of human beings on this planet, saying that God did not create the world is quite a far stretch at best, and heretical at worst. This is entirely understandable, for the misperception of ‘God’ has been so deeply ingrained into the collective consciousness through millennia of cultural, religious and mythological history. 

To start off answering ‘what is God’, let us first address what is not God.

A google image search of the word ‘God’ quickly gives us an indication of what the majority of human beings think God is:

 

We have confirmed our suspicions: It is indeed a old Caucasian man with a wizened face and a long beard in the sky, sagely presiding over the Earth.

The Bible doesn’t really help either:

So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. Genesis 1:27

The truth is far from this. In fact, it is the complete opposite.

“Man made ‘God’ in his own image. The eternal, the infinite, the unnameable was reduced to a mental idol that you had to believe in and worship as ‘my god’ or ‘our god’.” Eckhart Tolle

Si Dieu nous a faits à son image, nous le lui avons bien rendu. (If God has made us in his image, we have returned him the favor.) - Voltaire

This old man is not our creator, but is our creation. In our narrow-mindedness and ignorance, we have anthropomorphized God. We have projected our values on to him. We have projected our flaws and our duality onto him. We have absolved our responsibility for our own happiness and sadness by making a mental idol responsible. Like the Greek gods, he is angry one moment, benevolent the other. God may be all-powerful and all-knowing, but at the end of the day, he’s another human being!

(For an excellent summary of the 4 main paradigms of any religious / spiritual system regarding ‘God’, please read The Four Major Attitudes of Learning in the Return to God as entailed in The Disappearance of the Universe)

God as described by ACIM is a non-dualistic God, ie. completely outside of duality. Being outside of duality, it cannot really be known by anything which is of this world, ie. duality: words, pictures, symbols, even thought. In fact, one of the truest things to say about God is that he is utterly indescribable. (I know, that’s really helpful :)) The Tao Te Ching expresses this concept beautifully:

The Tao that can be spoken of

Is not the Everlasting Tao

The name that can be named

Is not the Everlasting name

(Chapter 1)

To know what God is, is to join with him, and to truly know God is to completely join with him. He / It / She cannot be known by the mind – He / It / She can only be experienced. However, we have some helpful pointers:

Oneness is simply the idea God is. And in His Being, He encompasses all things. No mind holds anything but Him. We say “God is,” and then we cease to speak, for in that knowledge words are meaningless. There are no lips to speak them, and no part of mind sufficiently distinct to feel that it is now aware of something not itself. It has united with its Source. And like its Source Itself, it merely is. We cannot speak nor write nor even think of this at all. (ACIM, W-pI.169.5:1-6:1)

Pursah: The only true reality is God or pure spirit, which in Heaven are synonymous, and God and pure spirit have no form. Thus there is no concept of male or female in Heaven. Pg. 5, DU

Pursah: There are no differences in Heaven and no changes. Everything is constant. That’s the only way it can be completely dependable instead of chaotic.
Gary: Isn’t that kind of boring?
Pursah: Let me ask you something, Gary. Is sex boring?
Gary: Not in my book.
Pursah: Well, imagine the very peak of a perfect sexual orgasm, except this orgasm never stops. It keeps going on forever with no decrease in its powerful and flawless intensity.
Gary: You have my attention.
Pursah: The physical act of sex doesn’t even come close to the incredible bliss of Heaven. It’s just a poor, made-up imitation of union with God. It’s a false idol made to fix you attention on the body and the world with just enough of a payoff to keep you coming back for more. It’s very similar to a narcotic. Heaven, on the other hand, is a perfect, indescribable ecstasy that never ceases.
Pg. 7, DU

We see that a non-dual God implies certain things:

  1. That it is the only True Reality that is, has been, and always will be (Time and Space being illusions)
  2. That anything outside of this God is illusory. (Metaphorically speaking of course, since there is nothing that exists except God)
  3. That God is not a conscious being, not in the sense that he is unconscious, but that ‘consciousness’ in the way we think about it is inapplicable and irrelevant to a non-dual God, for consciousness implies duality – that there is a consciousness and something to be conscious of.
  4. That God / Heaven / Total Oneness / The Eternal / Perfect Love / Never-ending Joy are all really synonymous.
  5. That thinking about this non-dual God in terms of a field, a state or in some other abstract form, although not being totally accurate, can be more helpful than thinking about God in terms of a conscious entity.

Throughout human history (until fairly recently), because of the immense unconscious resistance to these advanced spiritual concepts, there have been very few who have managed to penetrate the veneer of the illusion and even fewer still whom have managed to teach it to others in an accessible way. As such, it is difficult to find a good definition of this concept of a non-dual God in any major religion or spiritual path, and even so, one finds it defined in the specific language of that tradition.

But as Shakespeare elegantly expresses the irrelevance of words:

What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet

It does not really matter how we define God, as long as we have a concept of what God is.

These are some definitions of non-dual God from various traditions / religions / spiritual paths that you might find helpful:

ACIM:

the First Person in the Trinity; the Creator, the Source of all being or life; the Father, Whose Fatherhood is established by the existence of His Son, Christ; the First Cause, Whose Son is His Effect; God’s essence is spirit, which is shared with all creation, whose unity is the state of Heaven. – Kenneth Wapnick

Advaita Vedanta:

That which permeates all, which nothing transcends and which, like that universal space around us, fills everything completely from within and without, that Supreme non-dual Brahman – that thou art. – Sankaracharya

Ho’oponopono:

Nothing exists at Zero, Ao Akua, no problems, including the need for intention.

Concerns are simply memories replaying, and these memories displace Zero, you. To return to Zero, you, requires Divinity erasing memories behind the concerns.

Only two laws dictate experiences: Inspiration from Divinity and Memory stored in the Subconscious Mind, the former Brand-New and the latter Old.

Jesus is purported to have said: “Seek ye first the Kingdom (Zero) and all else will be added (Inspiration).”

Zero is the residence of you and Divinity… “from where and from whom all blessings – Wealth, Health, and Peace – flow.”

Dr. Hew Len

 

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§ 8 Responses to What is a non-dual God?"

  • Travis Eneix says:

    Interesting piece. Thanks! As an aside, I don't agree with your definition of "non-dual" as being out side of duality since it seems to imply that non-dual is that which is not dual which is a comparison to duality and therefore two. As the quote from the Tao Te Ching you posted shortly after states, there is no real way to say what non-dual is, and whenever we do we get into inescapable trouble.

    Cheers for the good read!

    • kenbok says:

      Thanks Travis! Funnily enough, I agree with what you are saying (in the way you are saying it), however I meant 'outside' in the sense of 'not', which is really the same thing as saying 'NON-dual'… So in a sense the word itself 'non-dual' would be dualistic by self definition, which doesn't make any sense whatsoever. OK my head is spinning now.. :)

    • Alan says:

      The only apt comparison I can think of is that of the Buddhist concept of Nirvana vs Samsara (Enlightenment vs Illusion), which in a sense is that of non-dualism vs dualism, as we’re discussing here.

      The Buddha spoke about Para-Nirvana, which transcends both states Nirvana and Samsara. While some Buddhist literature refers to Parinirvana, or Mahaparinirvana, as the final passing of the Buddha into Nirvana at his death, trantric literature explains that this final state is the final transcendence of all duality, including Nirvana and Samsara, or in western parlance, non-duality and duality.

      Don’t know if that helps, I’ve gotten a headache trying to wrap my brain around it as well, but there you go. ;-D

  • John Lopez says:

    Hi Ken,

    Why the high school level false comparisions between theism and non dualism? There are clearly many different metaphysics and descriptions of God between the extremes of God as a man with a body and God as changeless abstraction without even the possibility of creation or communication wrongly conceptualized as “change.”

    Personally I’ve never met anyone outside of children who conceptualizes or takes seriously God as a heavenly man with a body. I’m not saying such people don’t exist, but I have never met any which to me is an indication this is NOT a wide spread pervasive belief and likely can only be found in extreme fundamentalist religious circles. After all mainstream Christianity teach God is spirit and not God as a heavenly man with a body.

    As such it makes me wonder whom you are addressing the above arguments. It must be addressed to people who come to the course with allegedly some residual belief as God with a body which is to me is unlikely and bizarre if for no other reason than A Course in Miracles is clearly not entry-level material for people who haven’t even questioned primative theistic beliefs.

    To be sure, both Wapnick and Renard teach a dumbed down, commercial non dualism so full of elementary errors and bullshit compared to serious and authentic non dual thinking that A Course in Miracles isn’t even part of the larger, important and serious academic and spiritual discussions on non dualism.

    Instead its marketed to spiritual neophytes as entry level non dualism with a dualistic Christian overlay which has to be ignored or re-interpreted non dualistically to get to basic truths and claims said directly and better by authentic non dual teachings.

    • Kenneth Bok says:

      You might be right there, John, about my writing about God as a man. My perceptual filters of the world could be inaccurate relative to the average. But then again, there's nothing wrong with pointing out the obvious, and also I am just re-iterating it for comparison's sake. So please do forgive me!

      I've addressed your view on Wapnick and Renard on your first comment. I certainly disagree with you that their teachings are 'dumbed-down', 'commercial', 'full of elementary errors' and 'bullshit'. But you are certainly entitled to your views! :)

  • Sunn says:

    Thank you for your discussion. It is interesting to note John’s angry reply and not sure what school he went to or what community he grew up in – but the ‘God as man’ image is one that is truly imbedded within Christian society throughout the Western world. God the father, son and spirit is personified as man – and images of the man with the beard abound.
    A Course in Miracles has truly profound information within it – but I guess if you look at it from a small point of view those messages may be missed unfortunately, as your vision will be blurred.

    And why would one want to make non dual teachings difficult to satisfy people who want to have the ‘I am very intelligent’ experience.

    Non duality teachings are simple yet are only seen within the experience of duality dropping away.

    Maybe you should read and do the practices of A Course in Miracles John and then comment – as no-one should comment on something they clearly have only judged.

    I hope you find the answer to who you are so you can spread some joy instead of judgement to people who are sharing ideas of true love and freedom

  • debbie simpson says:

    tk u

  • excellent article… in the same reality belief I have.

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