One Plus One is One

One Plus One is One

Last week I wrote about nondual philosophy. It was very brief, but hopefully pointed you in the right direction. It’s hard to convey with words what can only be experienced, but I feel compelled to try.  Therefore, this week I’m presenting you with many attempts by people of many different times and cultures. The key is not the specific words they use, but the common experience they’re all pointing at.


In dream you love some and not others. On waking up you find you are love itself, embracing all. Personal love, however intense and genuine, invariably binds; love in freedom is love of all.

– Nisargadatta


Boundary lines, of any type, are never found in the real world itself, but only in the imagination of the mapmakers.

– Ken Wilber


Quite simply, since reality is One, and everything is equally an expression of that one divine Light of Consciousness, every experience by definition is an experience of God … Now some interpreters of the tradition say, “Everything is God, but some things are more God than others.” This is as nonsensical as the famous quote from Animal Farm, “Everyone is equal, but some are more equal than others.”

If we propose that some things are more God than others, like concentrated orange juice versus watered-down orange juice, then we must also propose the existence of something that is not God that waters down divinity. But no such thing can be found, at least in this philosophy, because 1) the definition of God here is the unbounded Light of Consciousness, 2) everything that is known to exist is an object of experience, and 3) every experience is by definition pervaded by consciousness.

Therefore, this – whatever is happening right now – is as God as it gets.

Now, if you are in a miserable or banal life situation you may be disappointed by this announcement. But notice I said, “This is as God as it gets,” not, “This is as free as it gets.” Freedom means actually experiencing the divinity in each moment, which is the same as not wanting the present moment to be any different than it is. When you don’t want any moment to be any different, then you are no longer struggling (or even waiting) for a better situation, and therefore you are free to fully show up for what is actually happening now. Paradoxically, this reveals the inner joy of consciousness, because by not struggling against some part of reality, you see and meet the whole of the moment, and you naturally enjoy it to the maximum extent you are capable of in that moment.

– Christopher Wallis


Kindness is the light that dissolves all walls between souls, families, and nations.

– Paramahansa Yogananda


In the pursuit of Knowledge, every day something is added. In the practice of the Way, every day something is dropped.

– Lao Zi


When you think everything is someone else’s fault, you suffer a lot. When you realize that everything springs only from yourself, you will learn both peace and joy.

– Dalai Lama


Whoever knows that the mind is a fiction and devoid of anything real knows that his own mind neither exists nor doesn’t exist. Mortals keep creating the mind, claiming it exists. And arhats keep negating the mind, claiming it doesn’t exist. But bodhisattvas and buddhas neither create nor negate the mind. This is what’s meant by the mind that neither exists nor doesn’t exist.

– from The Zen Teachings of Bodhidharma translated by Red Pine


You could say the whole world is consciousness having taken birth as form, manifesting as form temporarily, and then dying which means dissolving as form. What always remains is the “essence” of all that exists – consciousness itself.

– Eckhart Tolle


For no reason
I start skipping like a child.

For no reason
I turn into a leaf
That is carried so high
I kiss the sun’s mouth
And dissolve.

For no reason
A thousand birds
Choose my head for a conference table,
Start passing their
Cups of wine
And their wild songbooks all around.

For every reason in existence
I begin to eternally,
To eternally laugh and love!

When I turn into a leaf
And start dancing,
I run to kiss our beautiful Friend
And I dissolve in the Truth
That I Am.

– Hafiz


It is as if a raindrop fell from heaven into a stream or fountain and became one with the water in it so that never again can the raindrop be separated from the water of the stream; or as if a little brook ran into the sea and there was thenceforward no means of distinguishing its water from the ocean; or as if a brilliant light came into a room through two windows and though it comes in divided between them, it forms a single light inside.

– St. Teresa of Avila


I BELIEVE God is everything. . . Everything that is or ever was or ever will be. And when you can feel that, and be happy to feel that, you’ve found It… My first step from the old white man was trees. Then air. Then birds. Then other people. But one day when I was sitting quiet and feeling like a motherless child, which I was, it come to me: that feeling of being part of everything, not separate at all. I knew that if I cut a tree, my arm would bleed. And I laughed and I cried and I run all round the house. I knew just what it was. In fact, when it happen, you can’t miss it.

– Alice Walker in The Color Purple


Vimalakirti asked Manjusri what was the Buddha’s doctrine of nonduality. Manjusri answered, “The doctrine is realized by one who sees beyond forms and who knows beyond argument. This is my understanding – what is yours?” In response to this question, Vimalakirti closed his lips and was silent.

– Timothy Freke (ed.) in Zen Wisdom


It is not the body, nor the personality that is the true self. The true self is eternal. Even on the point of death we can say to ourselves, “My true self is free. I cannot be contained.”

– Marcus Aurelius


Profound and tranquil, free from complexity,

Uncompounded luminous clarity,

Beyond the mind of conceptual ideas

This is the depth of the mind of the Victorious Ones.

In this there is not a thing to be removed

Nor anything that needs to be added.

It is merely the immaculate

Looking naturally at itself.

– Nyoshul Khenpo Rinpoche


This unity is not mere one-ness as opposed to multiplicity, since these two terms are themselves polar. The unity, or inseparability, of one and many is therefore referred to in Vedanta philosophy as “non-duality” (advaita) to distinguish it from simple uniformity. True, the term has its own opposite, “duality,” for insofar as every term designates a class, an intellectual pigeon-hole, every class has an outside polarizing its inside. For this reason, language can no more transcend duality than paintings or photographs upon a flat surface can go beyond two dimensions. Yet by the convention of perspective, certain two-dimensional lines that slant towards a “vanishing-point” are taken to represent the third dimension of depth. In a similar way, the dualistic term “non-duality” is taken to represent the “dimension” in which explicit differences have implicit unity.

– Alan Watts


I, a universe of atoms, an atom in the universe.

– Richard Feynman


Your vision will become clear only when you look into your heart. Who looks outside, dreams. Who looks inside, awakens.

– Carl Jung


Look, my thumb touches my forefinger. Both touch and are touched. When my attention is on the thumb, the thumb is the feeler and the forefinger, the self. Shift the focus of attention and the relationship is reversed. I find that somehow, by shifting the focus of attention, I become the very thing I look at and experience the kind of consciousness it has; I become the inner witness of the thing. I call this capacity of entering other focal points of consciousness, Love; you may give it any name you like. Love says: ‘I am everything’. Wisdom says: ‘I am nothing.’ Between the two my life flows. Since at any point of time and space I can be both the subject and the object of experience, I express it by saying that I am both, and neither, and beyond both.

– Nisargadatta


Love is without a doubt the basis of everything. Not some abstract, hard to fathom kind of love but the day to day kind that everyone knows. The kind of love we feel when we look at our spouse or our children or even our animals. In its purest most powerful form this love is not jealous or selfish but unconditional. This is the reality of realities, the incomprehensibly glorious truth of truths that lives and breathes at the core of everything that exists or will exist. And no remotely accurate understanding of who or what we are can be achieved by anyone who does not know it and embody it in all of their actions.

– Eben Alexander, MD


You make what you defend against, and by your own defense against it is it real and inescapable. Lay down your arms, and only then do you perceive it false.

– A Course in Miracles


My contribution was the title (“One plus one equals one”), which some wise person probably said long before me. From a nondualist’s perspective, two (duality) emerges not from merging oneness with oneness (which just begets oneness), but perhaps from dividing oneness – a separation which can only be accomplished in the illusions of the mind.

Hopefully some of these quotes spoke to you. Admittedly, although these words were drawn from nondual contexts, some of them spoke not to nondual philosophy itself but certain facets of the human experience in a way that I found insightful. Perhaps some rubbed you the wrong way, or confused you, or brought up more questions than answers – all of which are good, in my opinion. Keep challenging your beliefs and feel free to share your thoughts below.

Be well,

Dr. Peter Borten

  • Doreen Scanlan
    Posted at 17:45h, 30 May Reply

    I ‘ve never really been able to accept the concept of duality. So many try to fibd the balance between the two. I prefer to integrate the two and find the best of both in the oneness instead of keeping them opposed.
    D Scanlan

    • Peter Borten
      Posted at 19:29h, 01 June Reply

      Thanks, Doreen.
      And, of course, nondualism includes duality!

  • Lisa
    Posted at 20:55h, 31 May Reply

    Wow!! My favorite was the poem from Hafiz!

  • Peter Borten
    Posted at 19:30h, 01 June Reply

    Thanks. Love Hafiz.

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