Lotus of the Heart > Path of Spirit > Nondual Consciousness


Hands Holding Hands

On Intersubjective Nonduality

Dec 20, 2009

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Brian Kenneth Wilcox MDiv, MFT, PhD
Interspiritual Pastor-Teacher, Author, Workshop Leader, Spiritual Counselor, and Chaplain.

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You are one with every person, every creature, all Nature – with God. That you are already one is not the issue, the question to face is, “Are you willing and ready to be prepared to experience that, or not?”

*Brian Kenneth Wilcox


A man who goes to challenge the wisdom of a Sufi sage.

So, the Sufi says, “Man, so you have come to try to show you are more wise than I?”


“Then,I shall share with you a dream, and ask you about.”


“I had a dream of you and me. My hand was in the latrine; your hand was in a bowl of sparkling water. Now, tell me the meaning of the dream.”

“Obviously, this means you are following the way of corruption, and I am following the way of righteousness.”

The Sufi said, “Well, that is only part of the dream, Sir. See, your hand was holding my hand, and my hand was holding your hand.”

* * *

In self-righteousness, which plagues most religion, we create a separatist mentality. And we often see ourselves as right and good, and we create an enemy out of those who have different ways and beliefs, and often we see them as evil. Yet, really, we are seeing our own shadow, a part of who we are, whether we call the other “good” and ourselves “bad,” or we call the other “evil” and ourselves “righteous.”

* * *

We are moving toward an evolutionary stage in relationship that Andrew Cohen terms “intersubjective nonduality.” This is an evolutionary movement that takes place within a person, in a shift of consciousness, or awareness. On societal and global scales, there is a movement toward such a shift, as in all evolution. Likewise, two persons, or more than two persons, can share together this space of intersubjective nonduality, and this can be shared with beings who are in another dimension other than our own.

I will proceed to share the Jesus teaching on this, as pertains to his union with the one he called “my Father,” and their union with his followers, and St. Paul experiencing this nondual intersubjectivity. But let us be clear on what intersubjective nonduality is.

* * *

What is intersubjective nonduality? First, generally, we relate to all things as subject to object; either we are the subject giving, seeing, thinking about..., or we are the object, the recipient acted upon or toward. Inter means “within.” So, intersubjective means two persons remain distinct, yet they are each the subject. No one is being acted upon or apart from; for example, in conversation, each person is fully within the other, and all the other is, thinks, and says.

Generally, we think in dualistic terms. There is this I – me – and you. We are two, separate, apart, at a distance in space. You are over there, I am over here. Nondual means not the elimination of our distinction – there is still I and you, you and me; rather, there is still two but within the completeness of a union, a oneness, a sharing that makes both equally the other. I am you, you are I, I am there, here I am; I am talking and listening, at the same time ...

You can say, "But I know where you and I each begin and end." You do? Then show me, tell me. You cannot. You cannot point out that point, for I can say, "Yes, but where is the beginning of that point?" See, you cannot logically say we are separate, absolutely, can you? "You" and "I" are separate, but only relatively, only at one spectrum of seeing, of consciousness. This means we are absolutely not separate, even if we are distinct expressions of energy-processes: of God.

* * *

The mark of retaining distinction and individuality embedded in communion is essential. For we are not speaking of a loss of self, but a loss of the sense of separate-self, which ultimately leads to the hell of isolation. Christian contemplative Beatrice Bruteau writes of this in The Grand Option: Personal Transformation and a New Creation, and accents the concept of wholeness including a union of diversity:

The wholistic outlook … has two aspects, both of which must be stressed and kept in balance: a fundamental and ultimate sense of the unity of the entire human race – even of all of nature – and … an attentive and appreciative sense of the specialness, the unique preciousness, of each particular individual comprising the whole. It is precisely this synthesis … that constitutes wholeness. The component individuals … are not to be identified as merely “parts” of the new whole. Therefore the wholeness .. arises not from an externally imposed pattern of uniformity but from an immanent principle, working from within the constituent individuals themselves. The new wholeness is thus an achieved unity, not a given unity, and it is essential to it that it be freely achieved. [This] wholeness is not monolithic or tyrannical; it is organic and differentiating, a processive pattern of freely interconnecting energies.

This new wholeness, then, will not arise from the expected agreement of authorities, religious or otherwise, who hand “downward” the “truth.” Indeed, it will not principally occur at all from without, but from within. And, speaking as a Christian, I know of almost know preparation for this within the Christian church. In other words, we are not near ready to participate in this new movement to unitive consciousness within the world and all Nature. We, indeed, are usually deterrents to this Spirit movement.

* * *

You may say, “None of this makes sense.” Of course, it does not make sense. At our present evolutionary status of consciousness, we are not adapted to nondual or intersubjective. Therefore, common parlance does not even have the language to speak adeptly of this. Our language is based on dualism, and, ironically, we have to use the words of subject-object dualistic consciousness to speak of something “beyond” in our evolution - we are trying to paint pictures of a new future from what will one day be outmoded. If our dictionary was written from nondual intersubjectivity, we would have not only a new edition of the dictionary, but new language altogether.

This does not mean many have not experienced consistently this nondual intersubjectivity. Also, you have experienced it, for at least a moment. Likely, however, you had no way of understanding it, for you were not prepared to. Then, too, if you sought to tell yourself or someone else of this marvelous experience, you pulled it “downward” into your subjective dualism. The truth of the evolution of consciousness is: Generally, an experience beyond our consciousness state will be pulled back down into our present consciousness state. Most often, this consciousness state is that of the larger society.

So, you have likely experienced this union, but you interpreted it dualistically. Thus, you unconsciously denied your own experience, misrepresenting it to your own self. Of course, you did not know this - How could you?

Likewise, the Gospels have profound teachings on this, but a subject-object dualistic Christianity has interpreted and taught its consciousness: dualistic subject-object. Of course, it sees what it presently is – almost all persons of faith live in subject-object dualism, and so are the ones who claim to be the spiritual leaders. Indeed, a person experiencing Loving at the level of nondual intersubjectivity will find it very difficult to serve professionally in the Church or have even its so-called spiritual leaders to understand him or her. This means that the masses of Christianity and its leadership are at the same level of consciousness as the larger society and world, not advanced and setting the standard in spiritual awareness.

Indeed, I know of not a single creed in the churches based on a consciousness of union, even though that union is clearly taught in the Bible and by many spiritual mystics and saints in the history of Christianity – and, also, in other faiths as well. As regards the Church, as a historical movement, one could question whether at present it is facilitating or not the progression of the human race anymore than persons of no faith in the Divine whatsoever.

This is not a belittling of the good and need of faith or religion. Yet, the future of religions must shift, or they will soon be largely obsolete relics.

* * *

Certainly, Jesus, as Master of the Spirit, taught about this potential. Note his words in the Gospel of John, as Jesus speaks to his follower Philip:

9Jesus said to him, "Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, 'Show us the Father'? 10Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works. 11Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves."

*John 14.9-11, ESV

Jesus applies this intersubjective nonduality, this indwelling, to his own Presence with his followers after his leaving the earth dimension:

18I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19 Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. 20 In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.

*John 14.18-20, ESV

St. Paul met the Living, Cosmic Christ in the form of the resurrected Jesus, and this began within him a formation of this same mystical Communion-Consciousness. Listen to him speak of intersubjective nonduality:

I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I that live, but Christ living in me: and that life which I now life in the flesh I live in faith, the faith which is in the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself up for me.

*Galatians 2.20, ASV

Christianity was born in a mythic-tribal mentality, and it reflects this consciousness in its Scripture and history. Therefore, the churches have yet to grasp the implications of the nondual union Jesus taught and, again, pull down His teachings into the dominant mentality of dualistic separation, and include here belief that they are the only right “tribe” and the only one with the right “God” - and the “tribal chief” is Jesus.

Of course, I love Jesus, but He is so much more than most Christians are taught, for church leaders reduce Him to them, and do much less than enough to help raise themselves and others up to Him. Jesus for most Christians appears to be little more than a sweet, kind, white-man chief who has saved his tribe from the damnation all other tribes will surely receive from the wrathful, egocentric tribal deity of this little group of specially chosen ones. So, while I strongly protests this kind of consciousness, no longer fitting now or for the future, I dearly love Jesus, and I love the true, spiritual Church following the essence of His being and teaching.

* * *

The challenge before us, now, is to allow ourselves to be transformed by Spirit to transcend the divisions that threaten our very life and planet, and all life on it. We can no longer afford to be content with the lesser demands of dualistic subject-object consciousness. We can no longer play with “my religion is right” and “you're going to hell” nonsense. We are in this together. Together, we must accept the blessings and sufferings of evolving to a higher expression of Spirit, of Love. Love is and has always been Union, we will become the same if we allow Love to lead us beyond our comfort zone and petty tribal prejudices.

* * *

I close with three questions, and answers to each one, applying what we have written to religion and, also, contemplation, or mysticism.

1)But what does a person do who is in a faith, and he or she wants to be transformed beyond the consciousness state of that faith? Well, if you want to, you must make your choice, and you may have to accept the consequences of the hardship, inner or outer, that you will encounter from your brothers and sisters in the faith. You may even choose to leave that faith, or all faith movements. Or, you choose to remain in to be a leavening influence, or to enjoy what you can of the faith. No one will be able to make these decisions for you, and for some of us, they are difficult questions along the way in this matter of our faith associations and our desire to grow in Grace.

Here, one could object, asking, "But is it not untrue that a person of no religious faith can be a godly person? Surely, such a person cannot be truly spiritual, even Christlike? ..." That objection, grounded in tribal consciousness, holds no truth. I have a dear friend, for example, who confesses no official faith; yes, she is deeply devoted to the Divine, spiritual practice, and spreading Love in this world. She is one of the most truly Christlike, divine, godly persons I have known. This person inspires me more than anyone to live Christlike, and accept the challenges of my own spiritual growth in Christ, in Love.. Likely, some of you can say the same about someone whom you know and cherish.

2)What is the relationship between intersubjective nonduality and contemplation, or mysticism? They are the same. In contemplation, or mystical awareness, the experience is intersubjective nondual. At first, for theists, this will be sensed as a union with God. In time, this will unfold, so that the contemplative feels that oneness with God is the oneness with All. Likewise, the contemplative experience slowly transforms the mind-heart, and this sense of union will be felt more in relationships outside prayer and meditation.

3)What is the primary practice to develop this consciousness? Meditation. Indeed, while I practice many forms of spiritual practice, I do not see anyone moving consistently and deeply toward union awareness without a consistent meditation practice. At higher levels of consciousness, meditation is the essential practice – this has been taught in all major faith sects. There are biological and consciousness reasons why this essentialness of meditation is so.

This relates to the essential shift religions must make from belief to transformation. Belief, centered in the logic of the brain, but be taken up into the larger whole of a transformative communion of divine energies - Grace. Belief must yield to transpersonal-cosmic Logic - the Word, or Logos.

* * *

*OneLife Ministries is a ministry of Brian Kenneth Wilcox, SW Florida. Brian lives a vowed life and with his two dogs, Bandit Ty and St. Francis. While within the Christian path, he is an ecumenical-interspiritual teacher, author, and chaplain. He is Senior Chaplain for the Charlotte County Jail, Punta Gorda, FL.

*Brian welcomes responses to his writings at briankwilcox@yahoo.com . Also, Brian is on Facebook: search Brian Kenneth Wilcox.

*You can order his book An Ache for Union from major booksellers.


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