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One Taste: Duality and Nonduality

Joann S. Bakula
August, 2012

The meditation of Virgo or September actually takes place this year on August 31. The seed thought centers around the primary relationship of spirit/matter and, in the abstract, as parent/child. The emphasis is on that deep inner subjective center that enabled your objective birth to take place. In preparation for this meditation many themes may be considered from myths, such as Demeter and Persephone, Isis and Osiris, Virgin Mary and Christ child, to the world's relationship to the small or to minorities, or to the natural kingdoms, such as green lives-- those one-leggers who cannot run away from danger as we can-- the trees. This meditation can bring to mind the basic sacred relationship of the smaller to the greater whole, the individual to the one humanity, the ego's relation to the Presence of something much greater, nature and humankind, and many other polarities. All of these themes are examples of what to ponder as preparation for meditation deep, when there is no thought and polarities may dissolve into nonconceptual nonduality. The result should be both building a thoughtform of the right relationship between polarities and the deep inner experience of these polarities merging into profound unity or nonduality (shunyata) in meditation deep. A seed thought used in meditation keeps the working mind occupied while the deepest intrinsic Mind or center finds an open path to make its Presence felt.

Many mythic stories of parent and child use this primary relationship as a metaphor for the separation into two and reunion into one whole, externally and internally. "Demeter and Persephone were substantially the same divinity," Blavatsky writes (Isis Unveiled II, p. 505n). 'In many myths there is a spiritual being that puts down a portion of itself (offspring) into a lower, non-sacred domain analogous to the soul-personality extension and relationship. The offspring gets 'abducted' into the lower realms by forces extraneous and separated from the mother, as body/personality is separated from its source spirit/soul.' Like Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita says, "Having pervaded this universe with a fragment of myself, I remain.' This is true of many creator gods, mythic or religious, with influence in this world. Religion (re-ligare) means re-connecting or linking back to the particular creator god or, in the case of the Buddhists, past the "twelve links of dependent origination' beginning with ignorance and ending in death, to the 5 primordail Buddha families.

Cutting through the "samsaric network" to the experience of nonduality or "emptiness" is the essential path of Buddhism that Westerners, both secular and interfaith, are most interested in understanding and experiencing. Study and meditation are the two methods used, along with service. "The sitting practice of meditation is one of simplifying one's basic psychology," Chogyam Trungpa said, and "through the down-to-earth practice of meditation, you can see the colors of your own existence" (Shambhala Sun, Sept 2012)

One Taste of Nonduality
'One Taste' is an expression signifying nonduality in Vajrayana Buddhism. It was introduced to many of us in the Association of Humanistic Psychology by Chogyam Trungpa in the 1970s. Ken Wilber in his book One Taste (viii), writes, "There is only One Taste in the entire Kosmos, and that taste is Divine, whether it appears in the flesh, in the mind, in the soul." All partake of the same feast. "Resting in that One Taste, transported beyond the mundane, the world arises in the purest Freedom and radiant Release;" all is a "perfect expression of the radiant Spirit that alone inhabits the universe, sublime gestures of that Great Perfection that alone outshines the world."

Chogyam Trungpa introduced the term 'One Taste' in his teaching of Mahamudra, the Great Perfection or Great Symbol. "Mudra, which means symbol, has two aspects. It represents the wisdom of shunyata, or emptiness, and it also refers to freeing oneself from the samsaric network. Maha means 'great' … great here has the implication of going as far as you can go, rather than comparing yourself to something smaller." One of the greatest dualities of all, innate wisdom and the innate ignorance of it are born together. "Wisdom occurs together with confusion at the same time. So Mahamudra can only be perceived by what is called one taste. … beyond two. Pain and pleasure are experienced and perceived as one flavor." To begin with you cut through the samsaric network of dualistic fabrications that make up the phenomenal world. Then you see the emptiness of perception itself. Like speeding up the movie, pain/pleasure, birth/death are seen to be inseparable and brief. What remains is unchanging and permeates everything like space. That which is permeated with the whole contains, in essence, all that is in the whole like a hologram.

Birth/death and pain/pleasure is the taste of this life we have chosen. Here in this dimension, here on this little planet, in a body that lives in the blink between birth and death, pleasure seeking and pain avoiding, the enlightened state of nonduality is always there and always available. After the fleeting experience of pleasure/pain and the life between birth and death what remains is one flavor, one taste. This taste contains both the 'all' of phenomenal life and luminous emptiness together, an experience that cuts through what Chogyam Trungpa called "the samsaric network" in his books and in the magazine he founded, the Shambhala Sun (September 2012, p. 72), yet remains present as compassion.

Presence in the Present
It is the natural "awareness of the present that is the nature of the mind, which is of the very nature of both samsara and nirvana," Padmasambhava wrote (Natural Liberation, p. 93.) "The inborn nature of the mind is one of spontaneous presence." This intrinsic and innate nature of mind "is nonphysical in nature, and it's not contaminated by the three times: the past, the present, and the future." The basic nature of mind is timeless. "In terms of the path, there are three qualities that are cultivated in meditation: namely bliss, clarity and nonconceptuality.... give rise respectively to the three embodiments: the Nirmanakaya, the Sambohakaya, and the Dharmakaya."

The "spontaneous presence" of the intrinsic Mind as your highest human potential has attracted attention in the global affairs network. Steve Nation, in his recent London Arcane School conference address, mentioned the Global Forum on Presencing, which is applying the principle of the Presence and using it in professional networks addressing global issues like sustainable agriculture, finance, health and education with representatives as diverse as UNICEF and environmentally responsible banks. A type of spiritual reuniting occurs in consciousness when the path between the two, the sensing and conceptual mind — the concrete mind — and the essential luminous Mind, is found and opened; it's the bridge that links soul and service or wisdom and compassion both for the individual and for an enlightened society.

Harmony after Conflict
Of the 7 rays — which are the light builders of all that is — the 4th ray of harmony through conflict, is the predominant energy of this meditation and of humanity itself, according to the 5-volume set, A Treatise on the Seven Rays, by Alice Bailey. The energy characteristic of the 4th ray of harmony through conflict, is, eventually, duality dissolving into nonduality after the energy of compassion or love/wisdom absorbs the lesser harmony through conflict. Before then the conflict and tension arising from polar opposites is the very natural agency that results both in conflict and in beauty, harmony, strength and growth, from human population to political polarities to the inner conflicts between good and bad or better and best. The polarity of body and mind has often led to conflict and wrong relationship of the two. "Attachment to matter gives rise to passion against Nature. Thus trouble arises in the whole body; this is why I tell you: be in harmony," The Gospel of Mary Magdalene, cited in Princes Charles' book, Harmony, p. 31).

In Bailey, the vast duration of evolution from appropriating a body to the integration of the personality and fusion into one sprit/form is consummated in the series of initiations into higher realms of consciousness and Beingness. "Eventually, the monadic ray takes control, absorbing into itself the rays of the personality and of the soul (at the third and fifth initiations) and thus duality is finally and definitely overcome and 'only the One Who Is remains" (Vol. II, p. 341). This process produces "adjustments" as the individual becomes "increasingly alive" to the "new fields" and "new powers" leading to "wider fields of service" (ibid, p. 534) as the centers are opened and their consciousness and radiance finds expression in spontaneous and compassionate living.

"Humanity is subjected to crises of discrimination, leading to right choice," Bailey and the Tibetan write (Vol. V, p. 639), "leading to a crisis within the United Nations. The Heart center of the planet or "Hierarchy is subjected to crises of decision, leading to perception of the Plan" of love as the primary energy of the heart and light as the primary energy of the mind, and of "Purpose and the prevention of evil." It is also the energy active during the process of the 4th initiation of the Renunciation, a stage in consciousness far ahead for humanity itself. "The first indication that the distant vision has been glimpsed might perhaps be noted in the prevalent instinct to share, motivated at present by the instinct to self-preservation" but "true sharing" is based upon small renunciations and through them "the capacity for freedom is slowly generated and the habit of renunciation can eventually be stabilized" (ibid., p. 614). Perhaps this is what the attitude in the U.S. Congress and in the financial world lacks right now resulting in the present crisis. Could it be that by the simple principle of sharing, the road to harmony may be found again?

Visualizing and sensing the highest potential within yourself or within humanity as one family can be a powerful evolutionary tool. Visualize that there is a silent, hidden counselor within you and within conference rooms at all times but especially during times of crisis with active Presencing when called upon. This is a technique that may or may not entail the figure of a deity. For the secular meditator, visualization is of strength, superconscious awareness, diamond clarity of mind, compassionate wisdom and, finally, the nirvanic nonconceptual, nondual mind that exists within us all unrecognized and untapped for the most part. As Steve Nation said at a London Arcane School conference, consider a "Silent, Hidden, Totally unacknowledged Presence in the Chamber — acting as Counselor to this agitated tension between the soul and personality of the nations — listening deeply, intuitively — hearing the unspoken cries and fears — but more importantly seeing the principles of Oneness moving energetically into the substance of law, economy, civilization." He was referring to Christ transcendent, but Christ immanent or Buddha immanent has the same qualities from a secular point of view.

Wishing you all the Presence of harmony in your lives expressing as beauty and goodness,
Joann S. Bakula

Bailey, Alice. A Treatise on the Seven Rays. NY: Lucis Publishing Co.
Blavatsky, H.P. Isis Unveiled, Vol. 2. Pasadena, Ca: Theosophical Universty Press, 1988.
Nation, Steve. London Arcane School Conference Report. NY & London: Arcane School, 2012.
Sambhava, Padma & Gyatrul, Rinpoche (trans. B. Alan Wallace). Natural Liberation. Boston: Wisdom, 1998.
Trungpa, Choygam. "Ocean of Dharma" series. Shambhala Sun, September 2012.
Wilber, Ken. One Taste. Boston: Shambhla, 1999.
Prince of Wales, w/Tony Juniper & Ian Skelly. Harmony. NY: Harper Collins, 2010.

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