Nonduality Teaching: What is the Cause of Suffering?

Rupert Spira, teacher of Advaita or Non-duality, describes the belief in the separation of knowing and being as the fundamental cause of suffering or unhappiness. Here he points out how this apparent separation can be dissolved and thus put an end to suffering.


Cause of Suffering

The cause of suffering is the belief, and as a result of the belief the subsequent feeling, that knowing and being are in fact not the same thing. They are two different things.

This division between knowing and being never actually takes place. This apparent division is only made out of the belief that believes that they are separate. It has no other substance other than the thought that thinks it.

But this thought seems to separate the totality of experience into two separate things. The knowing part is considered to take up residence in here, in the body. And the existence for being part is considered to take up residence out there, in the world. And with this apparent division of the seamless totality of experience into two things, the love which is inherent in Knowing-Being seems to get veiled.

So the experience then is we are cut off from love, that love is not present. Love is veiled by this apparent separation, which is wrought only by a belief and the subsequent feeling. This lack of love is experienced as suffering, or we could say lack of happiness–it’s the same thing. It’s experienced as suffering because this love or happiness which is essentially what we are, the knowing of our own being, has been veiled.

And now as this apparent entity located within the body would then go out into this apparent world, we take this prodigal journey out into the world in search of this lost love.

End of Suffering

Sooner or later, we get to the end of our prodigal journey. It fails us. We don’t find love there. We don’t find love in relationships and objects. And at some stage we turn around, and we ask ourselves, “Who is this one that is searching for love?”

And without our knowing with to begin with, as we face, as we try to find this one which is in search, we don’t find anything, we don’t find an entity. But as we try to find it we are, without knowing it at first, tracing our way back, finding our way back, as it were, to the one that we really are, this Knowing-Being.

And as it becomes clear to us that what we are is this non-objective but yet undeniably present knowingness, the love that is inherent in that experience shines. And at that moment, suffering ceases.

About Rupert Spira

Rupert Spira was introduced in the mid-70s to the classical system of Advaita or Non-Duality by his first teacher, Dr. Francis Roles, who was himself a student of Shantananda Saraswati the Shankaracharya of the North of India. Rupert also studied the published works by the Russian philosopher, P.D. Ouspensky, and learnt Gurdjieff’s Movements. During the late 1970s he attended Krishnamurti’s last meetings at Brockwood Park close to his childhood home and also studied the teachings of Ramana Maharshi and Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj on a continuous basis. Towards the end of the 1980s he had a brief encounter with the teachings of Da Free John whose early writings made a deep impression on him.

In the 1990s, Rupert studied under Francis Lucille, a non-duality teacher from France, exploring the sense of separation as it appears in the mind in the form of beliefs and, more importantly, how it appears in the body as feelings of being located and limited. Francis also introduced Rupert to the teachings of Jean Klein and Atmananda Krishna Menon.

Rupert lives in Oxford, UK, his wife, Ellen, a therapist and yoga teacher in the non-dual tradition of Kashmir Shaivism, and his son, Matthew. He holds meetings and retreats worldwide.

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