The Duality — Nonduality Spectrum
The Nonduality Circus — Is This an Emerging New Fad?
[Updated December 12, 2023] Over 100 nonduality teachers and speakers are on YouTube these days, with more coming online all the time.
Nonduality is Not New
Emptiness (sunyata) has been a core teaching in Mahayana Buddhism since at least Nagarjuna (~300 CE). The similar Advaita (nondual) Vedanta school of Hinduism has been around since at least Gaudapada’s time (6th c CE). The earliest Zen/Chan Buddhism writings also date back the 6th c CE, such as the Xin Xin Ming, which I re-interpreted here. And Tibetan Dzogchen (10th c CE) introduced its own perspective on emptiness (or oneness) as an essential characteristic of Buddhahood.
Western transcendentalists picked up those traditions in the mid-1800s, and growing numbers of Eastern teachers came to the West starting in the early 1900s. The 1960s and 70s saw an explosion of Western seekers going to Asia and Eastern gurus coming to the West.
(For example, I read Be Here Now by Ram Das in 1973 when I was 18 years old. I read a lot of J. Krishnamurti (1895–1986), but I had not yet heard of Ramana Maharshi (1879–1950) or Nisagardatta (1897–1981). I also learned Transcendental Meditation back then, which is a type of Advaita Vedanta/nonduality practice.)
But Nonduality is Very New
Jerry Katz (in this interview on YouTube) said the word “nonduality” was largely unheard of in the West when Jerry founded nonduality.com in 1997 and the Nonduality Salon in 1998 (which is now a Facebook group).
Nonduality may not be everywhere yet, but it is getting close. The internet is enabling spiritual seekers from anywhere in the world to access teachers from everywhere in the world. With that explosion of interest, it is not surprising that nonduality has become a 4-Ring Circus (based on my categories below).
The Circus analogy came to my attention when I came across Walter Driscoll’s nonduality interview program on YouTube (linked in section …