Non-duality, Buddhism, Awakening—What's This All About in a Nutshell?
It is the dissolution of every answer to that
question, the openness of not knowing.
If we put aside everything that can be doubted, what remains? The knowingness of being here and the bare actuality of present experiencing are impossible to doubt. No one needs to tell us that we are here. We don't need to look in a mirror or read about it in a book. We know it directly and absolutely. But what exactly is it that is undeniably here? Is it a person with a name, a gender, an age, a nationality—or is all of that second-hand information that we have learned and come to believe?
And what is this present happening if we don’t refer to thought, memory and second-hand information? We’ve learned that this is "a world," "a dog," "a chair," "a moon that is approximately 238,855 miles away from the earth," "a universe that arose with a Big Bang some 13 billion years ago," “a person with a life story,” and so on, but if we come back to the bare actuality of this moment before labels and thoughts, what is it? Cheep-cheep-cheep is undeniable, but the thought, "That's a bird that I am hearing," is a conceptual overlay, something we've learned, something that mentally freezes and divides the ever-changing (non-dual) flux into apparently solid and separate things.
I'm not saying that all of this "second-hand information" that we have acquired is "wrong," or that we should dismiss it—it may all be relatively true and useful for functioning in the movie of waking life—but it isn't absolutely true. So, can it be held more lightly?