Life changed again a few years later when my counseling professor advised me to read “The Inner Journey Home” by A.H. Almaas. Almaas is a guy who wrote an endless series of books about what he calls “the Diamond approach”, a method of personal development and growth through introspection, or, as he calls it, “inquiry”. “The Inner Journey Home”, however, is not so much about that method, but more about what you discover when following it. And that is a whole lot (which makes the book greatly unreadable after you come halfway the 600 or so pages). Anyway, it is the first part that struck me like lightning, where Almaas describes his view of the soul. It is that view that took me some time to grasp, but which has finally hit home and became my interpretation of the non-dual.
So what is the non-dual? Let’s start describing Almaas’s view of the soul, or at least my interpretation of his views. He describes the soul as a field of consciousness. Consciousness is our faculty to observe things: the basic five faculties of seeing, hearing, smelling, feeling and tasting are part of it. But also the more subtle ways of gaining “knowledge” about ourselves and our environment, our thoughts and feelings and intuition are part of consciousness. Consciousness is a field in a similar way as it is meant in physics: like a magnetic field it extends up to a certain distance and it I not something you actually see, but it is a medium through which things are sensed, observed. You know that a magnetic field is out there, because pieces of metal are affected by it. So you only observe the field indirectly, through the effects it has on the environment.
How is that with our field of consciousness then? What effect do we observe that shows us there is a field of consciousness out there? Well, anything we notice, from physical objects to feelings, from our thoughts to the light we see, pops up in this field of consciousness. How else could we notice these things if not through our consciousness? So in fact, all those things are actually part of our consciousness. We need consciousness, for without it, those things cannot be observed. So without consciousness, these things in fact do not exist. They need consciousness to manifest to us.
So, wait a second… If our soul or in fact we ourselves are a field of consciousness, and everything around us is part of consciousness, then everything around us is that same consciousness, isn’t it? Sure. And it gets better: the things around us are objectively there: the tree outside can be independently observed by you and me, so it is just there. It is there in your field of consciousness and it is there in my field of consciousness. And it needs each of our fields of consciousness to manifest itself to both of us. What does that mean? It means that your consciousness and mine are the same. There is no distinction between your consciousness and mine, because we observe the same things simultaneously, so those things must exist in both our consciousnesses. Also, you exist in my consciousness and I exist in your consciousness. But if that is the case, then our consciousnesses must be the same, they are part of each other.
And that is what for me defines the non-dual: the non-dual is our shared consciousness, the unified field of perception that we are all part of, that all of our thoughts and feelings are part of, that the whole universe is part of, that God is part of. The non-dual is the common field of perception of all that surrounds us and it unites us at the very core of our being.