“What is Non-Duality?” By Edward L. Anderson

Abundant LUUv member Edward L. Anderson gave this sermon on October 23, 2022, accompanied by his wife, Maureen. The script from the sermon is below for your enrichment.

Edward Anderson
Edward Anderson

When I first came to Abundant Luuv I told Reverend Teague my last UU was lay lead. We had a chaplain, but some members also did the talks, we called them talks not sermons that is why I am saying talks. Reverend Teague was intrigued when I said I did talks, so he asked me to do 2. This one and one right before Thanksgiving called the Flip Side of Thanksgiving. So that begs the question, who am I? I am Edward L. Anderson. I am a member of an Ottawa tribe in Michigan. I love learning metaphysics. I have done Native-American talks along with both simple and complex metaphysical talks. Buckle up, this one is the latter. A bit before the UUA had a year when they discussed the Doctrine of Discovery I did a series on the American Genocide. I don’t recommend that series as it is depressing.

So, what is metaphysics? That question could be its own talk and should be. For the purposes of this discussion it is the branch of philosophy that studies the ultimate nature of existence, reality, and experience without being bound to any one theological doctrine or dogma. So, nothing big, we got this. I will be your guide.

First I will explain Dualism. Dualism is the default mindset of most people; hot & cold, up & down, good & bad, etc. There is a sense of me and you, or us and them. Also, more importantly to this discussion, God or Source or Yahweh or whatever you call it, and I are separated beings, we are two distinct beings. It can to lead to some kind of feeling that God will punish me if I do the wrong thing. But that begs the question “what is the wrong thing?” The major religions have some agreement on that, but they also disagree. Non-duality solves this issue for me, and more, but this is not for everyone. This is an ‘if you are meant to do this process a teacher will be made available to you’ type of thing. I know that is very vague, but it is also true for this subject That is what happened to me; I found a teacher online, however I had been having thoughts related to Non-duality for years before. I also have had my own realizations regarding this topic and I will share some of my realizations later.

In metaphysical circles I was hearing two opposing views from the same person, most of the time– ‘Everything happens for a reason,’ and ‘You have free will.’ This was a dumb pair of statements to my mind, and I still cringe every time I hear those two statements together. For me it is an order vs. chaos debate. You cannot logically have both. Last time I heard that pair together I pressed the person to reconcile them. That person did try, but failed. It was so unremarkable to me that I forgot what was said, and I have a great memory. By the end of this talk you will know where I landed in that debate, very firmly landed I might add. I bring this up because in my opinion it is a key in Non-duality.

I will now go into a very weird experience that happened to me. My mom and I were driving home from church one day. For those who don’t know me, I don’t use drugs and alcohol due to family issues, so I was stone cold sober when this happened. We turned on to our street and I saw and knew that the street was being drawn at that moment in time. We needed to use said street so it was being drawn for us. That happened to me several times that week, but has not since that week. I bring that up because the teacher I found online said it was his assumption that Source only makes whatever we need in that moment and the rest is empty space. He couldn’t prove it, nor had he experienced it happening. When he said that, my experience came rushing to mind. As if to say ‘remember this?’ I learned I was on this path for a very, very long time. Gathering pieces here and there.

So, where does this path lead? It has at least 2 names that I am aware of: Spiritual Awakening or Spiritual Enlightenment. I prefer Spiritual Awakening or just Awakening. I find Awakening is the most accurate term, but not really because words fail to accurately describe this state of being. It is called Awakening because someone in that state “wakes up” and knows that everything in reality is something that Source or Yahweh creates and nothing is real. Yes, No Thing is real and everything is an illusion– we are all just ‘wonderful disguises.’ Source creates things to see and experience what It (big I on It) is not or cannot, except through us—we are Source’s creation through which Source experiences everything that we do, to see and feel what it’s like to have limitations. Because Source is limitless in nature this is the only way it can experience what it is not, namely limited. This is not just a theory to me; it is a state of a deep, profound knowing that this is what reality [ultimately is].

Yes, Awakening is that simple. I can catch pieces of it, but the body called Edward L. Anderson has not fully awakened yet. I think I will get to that state, but I have no control or say about it. It is a process, and recently I took time off from metaphysics, I needed a break. I have taken breaks before, or thought I was done with metaphysics, but I get pulled back in each and every time. Now I am continuing my metaphysical journey.

So we know everyone, and everything we are, or see, or experience, is Source playing a game to see what It is not. Some people say Source is dreaming, rather then playing a game, but I tend to think of it as a game. Now we come to the “not two” part, or non-dualism. This is easy at first glance but if we dig deeper it gets difficult fast. It is very easy to see people helping people as Source, got it, done. However, the inverse must also be true murderers must also be Source. It must be true because everything is just Source playing a game. There is no thing but Source. So, why would Source even create murderers, let alone other “evils” in the world? The real, honest, truthful, answer is the world doesn’t even exist. But that is beside the point, so next let’s examine good vs. evil.

What is good, and what is evil? Is there such a thing as a universally good act? I mean an act everyone can agree is good. Let’s say ‘loving thy neighbor’ is a universal good right? Nope, most people say they do, but just not that neighbor, not the neighbor who is the wrong kind of neighbor or believes the wrong kind of thing. That neighbor becomes the “them” in “us versus them” and become something to hate. So there are the exceptions to a universally good act. And yes, I could always find someone who would argue an exception to any good act.

Okay, Edward, you might say, but there are universally evil acts. I again say no, that is a myth as well. Using the definition of everyone, I mean everyone, must agree the act is evil. This too, will and does have those nasty exceptions. Let’s take something ‘evil’ that I know a lot about, genocide. The people committing the genocide of North America thought they were doing God’s work, so there was nothing ‘evil’ about what was happening. It was, in fact, good to do what they were doing. So, am I saying there is just shades of gray? Nope, just experiences, neither good or bad, and they all add up to great stories.

Stories! That is a big part of what I see as non-duality. Knowing the fact that there is no Edward L. Anderson to speak of. I am just a story that Source or Yahweh wants to experience. The reason I am using the name Yahweh is the name means He that brings into existence whatever exists. I find it quite fitting for my purposes today. Eventually I hope to see my life as a story written by Source before I was born. I just need to sit back and enjoy the ride. Nothing to do as it is all pre-planned, pre-written. Go with the flow. Non-duality is not about being happy all the time because that is a boring story and a wildly unattainable goal. Instead, it is about recognizing that I am just a story and both so-called “good” things and so-called “bad” things will happen in my story. I have started saying “This is an outcome I didn’t expect” when something that I could feel bad about happens, just to reframe the event as “not that bad.” Writing this paragraph reminded me of a time where I argued with a metaphysical teacher when I took his class. He was telling me that a person can ‘get off their path in life.’ I highly disagreed. Looking back on my life I can see me being pulled towards the awakened state of non-duality.

Once I was on Tiktok. I was scrolling thru videos, I heard a guy start off his video by saying “ Your Soul…’ I scrolled right past and I had a gut reaction of “I have no soul.’ This was a new thought. I stopped dead in my tracks, got off Tiktok to unpack the new thought. If I am just a character in a story, would I have a soul? Does Harry Potter, Darth Vader or Homer Simpson have a soul? I, of course, had to answer no to Harry Potter, Darth Vader and Homer Simpson having a soul, so I don’t have one either since I am just a character too. I was, and still am oddly at peace with this thought, or idea.

This state of non-dual thought, or oneness with Source, is what most of the mystic traditions in world religions aim for. There are multiple paths to get to this state, and your religion does not matter. The Jewish faith calls its mystic tradition the Kabbalah, and they ay all faiths are welcome to study Kabbalah. That is one of the traditions I draw from to aid in my development of non-dual Awakening. My current teacher is Robert Scheinfeld; I took his online class called “Ultimate Freedom Experience.” That is his term for Non-duality; he has to be different for some reason.

I will now end this talk. I discussed what Non-duality is, and what happens in the state. Again it is not for everyone. I will be available to answer questions during coffee hour immediately following the service. My wife, Maureen, is here to translate for me as that’s easier for me than trying to type replies to questions you will have. I know this is a strange topic but, I love it. Fear not, my talk in November is a historical type talk, no heavy thinking required.