This is an interesting point of conflict for me, I go back and forth a lot. On the one hand, and perhaps on the deepest undercurrents of life, you’re right. If non-duality is the ultimate case, then of course it permeates all conditions/situations, no matter how unseen.

On the other hand, if standing in front of a single mother who works 2 jobs at 60 hrs/week to barely support her & her children, or an orphan-turned homeless on the cold NYC winter streets, or even recent college graduate anxiety-ridden by monthly student loan payments that impose real restrictions upon the lives they can live, how can we honestly look them in the eyes and tell them “your suffering is imaginary, realize non-duality and suffering evaporates”? Even if this is true, and I believe it is, this kind of transcendental realization, while available to anyone, is exceedingly rare & difficult, and is not a viable solution to the immediate concerns of large-scale suffering.

Additional income would undoubtedly alleviate the suffering of the single mother, etc. And of course, she would adapt to her new situation and a new normal would be struck, and she’d probably find something else to worry/suffer about, because, as you mention, duality will persist. So the question is are there particular gradations of suffering related to poverty that are worthwhile to alleviate despite the new causes of suffering that will fill that slot.

I can’t help but feel the answer is yes, unequivocally. Having communed, as I imagine we all have, with people who’ve encountered suffering of all kinds, it seems clear that the suffering from basic needs being insecure, especially when living in a society where so many’s basic needs are secured for generations, is one we’re responsible for alleviating. Especially if we take the sentiment of the Bodhisattva vow seriously, dedicating life to the liberation of all sentient beings (not that I identify with this, but it’s useful to link what I’m talking about to the nun-duality you mention).

The work of people like Scott Santens aims towards a policy-oriented response in the affirmative as well. Would love to hear what you think.

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Interested in many things, like consciousness, meditation & economics. Sure of nothing, like how to exist well, or play the sax (yet). More: www.MusingMind.org.

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