The feminine expression of nonduality
(Unmani) To me the word nonduality has always felt so very dry and masculine. As a woman, although I am often called a nondual teacher, I have shied away from using this term much myself. The word ‘nonduality’ seems to have attracted a lot of men interested in playing with words and concepts rather than diving into the depths of feeling and sensation. It has also encouraged women and men, to think that they should understand those concepts, and if they don’t, then they don’t ‘get it’. But in the last 8 years or so, of teaching, I have explored the feminine expression of nonduality. The feminine expression seems to touch a lot of people in a way that they don’t necessarily understand. They may come to a meeting expecting to get or to understand something, and instead walk away having been stripped of everything.
Both men and women have ideas about how the feminine expression should be or is. In my own journey, I have never known what it is to be a woman – and in that space of not knowing, the natural flow is continually expressed. You may assume that a feminine expression would be all ‘lovey dovey’ and about having nice relaxing experiences of love and sweetness. However, you may soon be surprised at the loving, but uncompromising sword that chops your head off.
I have explored pointing to the nonduality of Life itself in many different ways. There is never the perfect way of saying it. There are never the perfect words or concepts that can ever fit the way it is. In fact the nature of words and concepts is to take something which is so unbelievably abstract and turn it into something tangible, something specific. The nature of words and concepts is to create separation and to be dual. However, in my experience I have found that nonduality can be pointed to beyond all the words and concepts. It is much more risky and sometimes frightening because it is often the first time for many people, to look at what is beyond all the words. We are so used to trusting only the words and analyzing what they mean in a very logical and rational way. But the words only dance on the surface. What is under the words is not known or understood.
The feminine expression of nonduality is beyond the words. It is in the Silence that is despite the words. This is what the feminine expression is really. It sings from the Silence. It does not care what the words say – they are almost irrelevant. They are only the individual notes in the piece of music. It is a complete resting. Such a resting. Such an anchor that nothing can budge it. The Silence is truly deafening. And then there is the invitation into that Silence…
Although the feminine expression of nonduality is not all ‘lovey dovey’, it is about Love, but Love is not always the sweetness and light that you may normally imagine. Love is the radical compassion that will not stand for any nonsense. It calls a spade a spade. It undermines every belief. It spares no prisoners. It does not dance on the surface, it dives to the root of it all. It is the Love that refuses to listen to the words and concepts, and doesn’t buy into any fear or emotion, but tirelessly points beyond them all. It is the Love that loves so much that it listens only to Love itself and meets everyone in that Love. Whether it’s in the words or in the Silence, this radical sword of Love works its magic of lifting veils and uncovering reality. You may not like what you hear. You may not want to hear it. It may trigger all kinds of reactions, emotions or fear, as each veil of belief or assumption is lifted. But it is all held in Love. It is always pointing back again and again to what you are.
There is the assumption that nonduality is a prescription, whereas it is actually a description. The feminine expression of nonduality is like singing a song. It is a creative expression of the Love and Gratitude that underpins all the words. It is the expression of that beautiful yearning that most people feel. But the yearning has found a resting place in the Silence. It no longer yearns for something more than what is, but instead it expresses the Silence. It is a passion that comes from Life as it expresses itself. In fact it is like listening to a piece of music that touches you and makes you feel alive. When you come to a meeting let the words touch you. Let the words crack you open. If you find that you are trying to understand them, stop and relax. Don’t understand them. Trying to understand them only uses the imagination to imagine that the words are prescribing things that you need to know or do. Let the words sing their song and crack you open.
Although it may seem like it, I am not denying the intellect here at all. In fact it is included in this Love. Often in meetings someone will come up to have a dialogue and will have lots of intellectual questions or objections. Each one is met with a song that turns the question around to look for the questioner. In seeing for yourself that there is no questioner, the whole question drops away. The intellect is seen for what it really is. It is not bad or wrong, but just limited to what it knows or can figure out. It can not know what nonduality is, as its very nature is to describe and understand duality. In comparison to the recognition of what you really are, it is seen to be moving away, imagining, dreaming up some other possibility of separation and duality. All there is here now, is nonduality. This is the Oneness and Wholeness that we so often long for. But unbelievably, it is already here right now.
In intimate dialogues we explore what is real right now. In meetings and retreats if you want to ask a question, you have to take the risk of exposing yourself by coming up to the front. There is often fear or embarrassment. But if you are not willing to risk exposing your vulnerability in front of other people, how will you be willing to risk losing everything you ever believed in? It is stepping into the fire willingly, knowing that it will burn up everything that you believe in. These meetings, and especially retreats, are not for the feint-hearted. If you want to wake up to the reality of the way it is beyond all the words and concepts, you will have to risk it all. The feminine expression of nonduality is not interested in playing around with the words and concepts of nonduality. It simply pulls the rug out from under your feet and leaves you with nothing but the freefall of Life as it is.
I embrace the word nonduality, as it is a word, a note in the song that sings beyond all the words. The feminine expression of nonduality rests in the Silence. It is this that melts the belief in separation, just as all the words try to do. This Silence is such a powerful force. It is the destroyer of illusion and anything that is not real and true. It is not soft and fluffy, and it is not dry and logical. It loves so much that it chops the heads off both.
Unmani, December, 2011