"Non dualism has no judgment, as it does not recognize the free will (the individual experiences itself to have) as real. So there is no one to be responsible. Free will and personal responsibility are simply aspects of the illusory experience of the individual." - Jim Newman, radical non-dualist.
"It is very possible to have a profound connection to the continuity-alone and other non-egoic states, and still be an asshole." - Jason Shulman
"Mystical achievement, I suspect, is as closely correlated with moral maturity as scientific or artistic achievement is. In other words, it is not closely correlated at all." -John Horgan.
At a certain point in my spiritual path, when I was starting to become disillusioned by the promises of Neo-Advaita because of my seeming "attainment" of what I was promised and it not being all it was cracked up to be, I began to question, who is this actually benefiting beyond myself? Has this radical self-negation path not been primarily self-serving??
With all of the glorification of people who proclaim that they’ve lost their entire sense of individual “me” and with everyone wanting to hear how they too can sustain that, I've asked myself what is the virtue in that, how does it make them a better partner, mother, friend, how/does it inspire more desire to do acts of kindness, etc? I don’t see strong evidence to suggest that it’s very common for those things to come as a result of being supposedly “egoless” and actually a lot more evidence that people who claim this show self righteousness, pride, derogatory-ness towards those still "trapped in a self", it feels in many cases it ends up being a self-centered "selflessness."
Yes, it was a big wake up call after a few years on this ego “dissolution” path, to realize my self-transcendent path wasn't really serving anyone else. I could hardly be in relationships anymore, I feel more disconnected from human beings than ever, apathetic and detached. I felt the only thing I could really do is help other people experience ego dissolution, and at that point, I realized how that would not be contributing to the greater good, beyond helping people temporarily escape the human condition.
At least in the modern spiritual world, this path seems to have little if anything to do with morality, being more ethical, having more integrity, and actually the desire for ego dissolution to “make anything better” is belittled as more ego by groups like Neo-Advaita. How will more people “disappearing” help humanity survive all that threatens us globally now? Do we not need us to feel human life matters more, not less? In a new way. Otherwise isn't it just a mass exodus, self-extinction movement?
It led me to contemplate the relationship between Neo-Advaita's version of spiritual "success" and morality? And I was dismayed to realize that in my experience, I actually found it more often seeming to decrease one's concern with morality, or at least that morality (whatever that means to you) was hardly talked about, instead the attitude of neutrality was championed as more important than having an opinion, feeling passionately about anything, because of the sense of nothing really matters it’s all just a story and there’s a way there’s an apathy that comes with it in a detachment rather than an engagement and participation in reducing suffering and being a better person because instead it’s about not being a person at all It tends to instead of showing compassion for someone and suffering to invalidate their suffering.
Morality requires believing in the reality of others, otherwise why would we possibly care if something unreal is suffering? How can it promote morality when the answer to every question is "who cares?" It has little to do with it. It gives mixed messages. It says big love, impersonal love, but if it's a non-participatory love, a non-relational love, there's diminished love in action, there's reluctance to "get involved," in inter-personal, or community/society affairs, isn't there? Having compassion is egoic? Opinions make us suffer, and lack of opinions about whether something is right or wrong, in many cases, ignores suffering, let's others suffer when instead we could help if we made a judgment call to say what is happening to you is not okay, if we said YES to interfering with something not okay happening to someone else, to refraining from something that is not okay to do, because it harms others. Or you could ask, when something in you says it's not okay, who's the one that cares?
In my cases, it isn't just indifference, but righteous indifference. Being awakened, in Neo-Advaita supposedly means having no strong opinions, especially not about what is good or bad, right or wrong. There's also a very common disdain for humanity and the human condition, and those who are "asleep" thinking they are a person, rather than a compassion for it. We need not look further than the lack of self-compassion for our own egos, the self-abandonment and exile that is so ubiquitous. How we treat ourselves is often the the same attitude we take towards others.
I've read several online forum discussions where hardcore Neo-advaitists belittle those who get involved in politics and activism because it's all just more ego drama, etc. which is how it often seemed to me from the aerial view of transcendence, and from there it all seems like minutiae, yet I didn't actually think people should stop engaging in it, I just felt I couldn't engage in the particularity of it all, but rather was perched above it so that I was interested in meta-politics as in seeing the entire paradigm of political discourse from a high level and having insights into how people can re-vision the paradigm of political debate for example in a way that would be more conducive to progress, to unity, to finding common ground and creative solutions to the world's socio-political dilemmas. Yet, I stopped following the news completely for several years, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, depending on why you are doing that. For me, I know there was a component of Neo-Advaita's creeping nihilism and apathy to "worldly" issues that made it seem like none of really mattered, it was all insignificant drama, just the stuff of a big cosmic dream, and yes we do make a lot of mountains out of molehills, but there's also heart-breaking and meaningful issues that I'd be remiss to write-off as things that only "sleep-walkers" involve themselves with. There can be a really massive moral laziness to that mentality, just not wanting to bother after reducing all worldly affairs to emptiness, to nothingness, to just appearances people are entranced by.
I even watched a conversation between a few prominent people in the modern non-dual circuit in which one of them devalued compassion itself, writing it off by chalking it up to an egoic drive that is primarily intended by the self-serving ego to benefit itself. This kind of attitude being born of non-dual consciousness is gravely disheartening and concerning, especially if it's being taught to others. Yet, I can also understand how that might seem like their reality of the matter within a perspective, that has a deep negativity bias towards the ego taking every chance it can to condemn, or "see through" even it's selflessness and altruistic drives! I can remember doing that myself, to be honest.
"Who cares?" i.e. invalidate the existence of the self who would care in the first place.
"Non dualism has no judgment, as it does not recognize the free will (the individual experiences itself to have) as real. So there is no one to be responsible. Free will and personal responsibility are simply aspects of the illusory experience of the individual.
This message completely undermines the experience of the individual as real. The suggestion is, that experience is an illusion. It's literally already not happening."
"Some bad gurus may be sociopaths without a mystical bone in their bodies, but mystical experiences may exacerbate or instigate sociopathic behavior. Like an astronaut gazing at the earth through the window of his spacecraft, the mystic sees our existence against the backdrop of infinity and eternity. This perspective may not translate into compassion and empathy for others. Far from it. To the mystic, human suffering and death may appear laughably trivial."
"No do-er" messages that deny the meaning of moral and ethical standards can increase ethical negligence in those who are morally lazy, and create negligence in those who once stood for moral responsibility.
So people go on saying things like, just because there's no person for personal ownership of anything, and there's no me or mine, that doesn't mean that you can use that as an excuse to be morally lazy and irresponsible. They rightly say that you're not absolved from adherence to good ethics, but the problem is that this assumes that the individual radical non-dualist had already been a responsible person. It would be naive wishful thinking to assume that everyone drawn to Neo-Advaita cares about the wellbeing of others as much as their own, and this is the first reason why "non-dual" messages that focus on negating personal responsibility and ownership of one's actions and all doership, is disturbing...as it condones immorality and lack of consideration for others, it can justify it and perpetuate/increase it now that a person with weak moral values has a new justification to dispense with personal accountability, leaving those they interact with vulnerable to being exploited and treated unwholesomely, and we're seeing this happen in the way that some radical non-dualists treat the individuals who look to them for guidance on how to alleviate their suffering through self-negation. Not surprisingly, the Neo-Advaitists whose communications are most commonly concerning are those who have repeatedly proclaimed that notions of personal responsibility, ownership of one's behavior, morals and ethics are merely illusions believed in by those who are trapped in the ego's delusion of "doer-ship."
On the other hand, it's also naive to think that there won't be people who experience the the radical shattering of their own reality, and start caring less about the lives of others, once they're dehumanized and stripped of their very validity, seen as false, illusory constructs and phantoms pretending to be real. Most people go through a deep disillusionment, and many people share they've become more apathetic and indifferent to others, and what's happening in the world, because everything seems inconsequential after the collapse of reality, understandably.
So here it's not a stretch to see how people who were always very concerned about the wellbeing of others, can become morally lazy when impersonality, meaninglessness and the sense of being in "the Matrix" sets in. It's common for cynicism, disdain towards the masses, humanity, the "ego-possessed" sleepwalkers, and misanthropy to develop in people who had once been highly social and inter-personally engaged. When the reality of peoples' existence and inner subjective experience is totally invalidated, it's inevitable that the erosion of concern for others and/or standing up for it can follow. On top of this, absorbing cynical messages about the illusory, egoic nature of morals and ethics makes it easy for some people to adopt an ideology that de-values standing up for moral behavior, and holding themselves and others accountable for acting in ways that harm others, such as demeaning people for believing they exist as an individual and valuing their human needs, desires, goals, beliefs, etc.
So these nihilistic messages that strip meaning from moral and ethical values can make both increase and create moral laziness in those who ingest them from radical non-dual teachers they look up to and see as the bearers of ultimate truth.
Teachings that always supported the need for moral behavior are now being used to justify belittling it.
It's really important to look at how Eastern teachings that were part of traditions that openly supported morals and ethics, taken out of context, has led to individuals using the same teachings to justify strip meaning from them, and absolve themselves of the responsibly to adhere to them. These individuals actually find it important and seem to enjoy calling morality bullshit, and even take pride in invalidating it. The fact that this has happened is truly unsettling and tragic, and makes the appropriation of "no self" teachings by Westerners, something vital for us to understand because the erosion of concern for ethical behavior preached by many radical non-dualists isn't something we should want lining the shelves of Barnes and Noble, and being taken in through thousands of youtube videos by emotionally vulnerable, often lost and confused young people.