“I can’t follow the language”, we often hear people say about nonduality. Or “It’s like there’s a whole different vocabulary” or “I don’t know all the right words”. Is this you? Keep reading…
Someone recently got in touch, interested in the next Book Group, but nervous about it, feeling like they don’t ‘get it’ to be able to join.
“I am keen to get as much out of it as possible. This is hampered for me because from other interactions I have seen within nonduality, I have to confess that I find it difficult sometimes to follow the language and meaning people use around the subject of awakening and enlightenment. It’s as if there is a whole language and shorthand, or so many different way of describing the same or similar things, that are not part of my understanding and vocabulary as yet.”
We hear this so often. People who are drawn to explore their essential nature, who know there’s something deeper on offer, but who are put off by the idea that there’s a ‘right’ way to talk about it — and they don’t know this ‘right’ way.
Indeed it’s often not helped by some nonduality groups where people might have an intellectual, or conceptual, understanding of nonduality, but not an embodied one.
I’ve seen questioner’s experiences be dismissed, criticised or pedantically picked over for the use of certain words. Indeed I think I went through a phase of doing this myself! Huge apologies to everyone who experienced this from me!
And it comes about for two reasons:
The first is because the person doing the responding is using a rule book of the ‘right’ words that (they believe) are allowed in the the nondual conversation. And anything other than that will be challenged as wrong.
The second is because the person hasn’t yet completed the awakening journey. They might be in the ‘it’s all illusion’ phase or the ‘there’s no self’ phase, or the ‘there’s no free will’ phase. And therefore, through that lens, with a hammer in hand, everything looks like a nail. (And yes, all of this is speaking from my own experience!)
For example, they’ll jump on the use of “I” or “me” in a sentence and challenge the person asking, telling them there is no “me”. Or dismissing the sharing of a human story because “only the character has a story and it doesn’t exist”.
So it’s understandable that there can be a feeling of caution around the conversation, in trepidation of what might be picked apart by those who apparently ‘know’.
Even in the absence of that kind of critical context, there can be a concern that ‘everyone else gets it but me’ or ‘I don’t know how to say it right’.
These are the workings of a mind that 1) is scared to not know and therefore scared to explore into the unknown, and 2) has picked up on the fact that this exploration will reveal its scary stories for fakes.
But as the person who wrote to us said:
“The metaphor of the cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek definitely applies here!”
It’s so true. And which is why, once that light we are has started to wake up to itself, there is an undeniable draw to the conversation. Despite the fearful mind.
In fact, contrary to the mind’s fearful imaginings…
…what Sara and I have consistently seen, is that those who supposedly know the least when they come into the nondual conversation, or into a Book Group, gain the most from it — because they haven’t collected a bunch of preconceived ideas and concepts about what it is and how it should go.
That doesn’t mean that those who ‘think they know’ don’t or can’t awaken, it’s just that they might need to get over the fact that they thought they ‘got it’, when all they had was ideas.
What really matters — the only thing that matters — is your own personal exploration, and the genuine recognitions from that. The sharing of that experience with others, and receiving guidance along the way, provides the anchor points and fine tuning so that the recognition sinks even deeper into you.
Then, as the understanding shifts from the intellect to being embodied, there’s a fullness and inclusion of all words and expressions. Because what matters — what matters to Sara and I — is that the understanding is complete and embodied.
So you might use totally different words to us, and that’s totally fine — we love it in fact! Because it’s what’s behind the words that matters. We’re interested in whether the knowing behind the language is aligned with the understanding. Has it been ‘seen’ or is it being ‘believed’. Then the beauty is that you discover and develop your own unique language for that. Perfectly shaped for you and your life.
The words are secondary.
So if you think you can’t be part of this because you don’t get the language — acknowledge the fear, understand where it’s coming from, and follow your heart deeper into the exploration.
There is treasure in the cave!
Much love, Helen
PS If you want to be in community where there is no judgement of language, only exploration of which words make sense to you, take a look at the Thoughtful Raven Community.