Underneath the condition when you are awake and aware, and beneath the condition when you are in bed at night and dreaming, there is the deep-sleep condition. Here, there are no thoughts, there is no “you”, no mind, no relationships, no other, nor world, or universe. There is merely a condition of empty presence, no-thing-ness.
Everything, every form, event, etc., is superimposed on this empty presence, by the mind in the waking or dreaming state. But the organism, the body, continues to exist despite these daily reoccurrence of emptiness.
This condition in which there is no mind, no thoughts, no forms, and no you, is the “ground” state, your natural state. This empty presence is the condition of the organism before its birth (and its conditioning and the arising of the I-thought), and will be its condition once again upon the death of the form of “your life”.
In other words, an organism appears to arise within empty presence, matures, and recedes again into empty presence (similar to the way an electron arises and recedes in the quantum field).
The organism knew nothing of existence or nonexistence before birth, and will know nothing after death: “You” will not know that you— or anything else— ever had “existed”.
Recognizing the fleeting temporality of “existence” – and that existence will be completely non-existent, in due course— it becomes clear that not anything that you do, think, feel or say has any lasting significance or meaning. (This is the message of the Bhagavad Gita.) All that appears, to the organism, to be done is merely a momentary expression of the field of ever-present beingness—utterly lacking in lasting reality.
This is why it is said, in the nondual writings, that “nothing really matters”. It is also why it is said that (as a book about Papaji is titled) “nothing ever happened.”
All that we learn in advaita is intending to point our attention to nothingness. (And not its “existence” or “nonexistence”, since where there is nothing, neither of these are applicable.) In other words, the intention of advaita, or nonduality, is to direct us to ajata. And, I would say, a thorough understanding of the former is necessary in order to comprehend the latter.
When we come to recognize that, in truth, there is nothing from the start, we understand what is meant when it is said that all that we perceive is simply a dream, an illusion— seemingly superimposed on ever-lasting empty presence.
Now, is this information simply an interesting “analysis”, or does this have practical value? Someone recently sent me a book by the Dalai Lama, and I’ll extract a few quotes.
All phenomena are empty. Emptiness pervades
not only your individual ego or sense of self, but the
whole of reality…That emptiness of mind is its ultimate
nature, or mode of being. To realize that, is to pierce and
see through the deception of ignorance…freedom from
ignorance (is called) nirvana…
Realizing emptiness is directly related to our quest to
purify our mind of afflictive emotions like hatred, anger,
and desire…We project onto things a state of
“existence”, and a mode of being which is simply not
This understanding of emptiness..is one of the
principal factors of the true path….For such an insight
cuts right through the illusion created by the mis-
apprehension of grasping things and events as
existing… We realize the emptiness of all phenomena,
not just the mind and body of the individual.
In my favorite story about Ramana Maharshi, a man came into the room where Ramana held satsang, said he’d written a biography of Ramana and asked permission to read it. Ramana smile and nodded, and the man read his manuscript.
It was full of inaccuracies and error: he said that Ramana was married and had children, that he’d been a Socialist before his enlightenment, and on and on.
When he finished reading, Ramana smiled and nodded, and the man picked up his manuscript and left.
One of Ramana’s disciples cried out, “Master, did you hear what he read? Is any of that real?!”
Ramana waved his hand as if taking in the universe, and asked: “Is any of this real?”