How to be in the world, but not of it?

You can explore your real nature, starting with the question: “Who am I?” In the course of this exploration, discard all answers that point to something changing, the impermanent, until what remains in direct experience is unchanging.

Self-Inquiry, done right, culminates in the direct experience of your real nature. Here, words tend to get sticky and challenging as we extend them to describe the indescribable Truth, non-duality, No-otherness.

After we get an experiential glimpse of that Truth, we have many questions about how to straddle the Truth of non-duality and the apparent world of duality.

Be Silent, is, of course, the sage advice to dispel all doubts 🙂 Be Silent is the weapon that destroys the questioner, the doubter.

But this isn’t comforting to the mind. And because we are unclear and unsatisfied, this puts brakes on practice sometimes or gets us stuck in some tangled state.

This anecdote, in the Indian epic, the Ramayana, sheds light on what it means to live in the world but not be of it. (I paraphrase this as I remember it, and any errors in this communication are mine alone.)


Prince Rama, the protagonist, is seen as the incarnation of God Vishnu in human form, incarnated to destroy evil. Sita, Rama’s wife, is seen as the incarnation of the Goddess Lakshmi. Rama, his brother Lakshmana and Sita are in a 14-year exile in the forest, fulfilling a promise made by Rama’s father to Rama’s stepmother. While in the woods, the Demon King, Ravana, kidnaps Sita through trickery. Rama and Lakshmana travel through the vast land of India, searching for Sita.

The arduous journey gets them to the mountains of central India, where the brothers meet a distinguished-looking Brahmin. The Brahmin inquires about them and learns that they are indeed Prince Rama and Prince Lakshmana, as he has suspected.

Rama, in turn, asks of the Brahmin: “Who are you?”

The Brahmin changes shape to reveal himself as Hanuman, a vaanara. The vaanaras, a tribe of people who were half-monkey and half-human. Hanuman had cultivated a sincere devotion to Rama because he had known Rama’s true nature. Coming into direct contact with his Lord Rama, Hanuman says this, in answer to Rama’s question:

O! Lord! When I am conscious of my body, I am your devoted servant. When I have clarity of mind, I recognize myself as the reflection of your consciousness. By Your Grace, in my original non-dual nature, I recognize that you and I are the same, and there is no difference between us.


What a beautiful way to bring clarity to a complicated matter!

As the body, we can be of service in this world.

As the mind with clarity, we can act as a reflection of True Self.

As the non-dual One, without a second, we are That True Self.

No sophisticated intellectual leaps are needed here. 

What practical wisdom for determined practitioners, unfolding into our true nature!

How does one live this way?

We can be of service to the world when we live by the precepts of Mikao Usui, the founder of Usui Reiki Ryoho, what is now called the system of Reiki. Letting go of anger and fear, living with gratitude, being true to our way and our True Self, and being compassionate to ourselves and others.

We can act as a reflection of True Self when we engage in our spiritual practice diligently. The increasing clarity that emerges from practice can inform us how to work from that clarity.

But how can we gain the clear recognition that we are True Self, and not get stuck with some mental copy of that? 

Self-inquiry can help get us to the recognition of who we are not, and who we are. However, we still need to abide in it, as the undisturbed Silence, as the unchanging Peace, as the unconditional Love. 

Pure surrender can likewise dissolve the sense of separate-self in True Self. In Hanuman’s case, it is devotional surrender to the Supreme that let him see the Formless in form, the Infinite in the finite, the Eternal in the temporal. 

This way of living that Hanuman so elegantly teaches can also be seen as three layers of devotion and surrender. 

1. As a body, being an instrument of the Divine / True Self

2. As a clear mind, being a mirror of the Divine / True Self

3. As True Self, Being. 

These appear to be three layers, but in and as No-otherness, there is no layer at all.

We can be in the world, but not of it, and this is how!



* The No-otherness Series of books are resources for your awakening and living awake.

* Check out the book, “What is Enlightenment? A Simple Guide“, which demystifies Enlightenment, and brings you clarity on preparatory practices vs direct paths to Enlightenment.

* Available now, “Awaken: An Experiential Exploration of Enlightenment” – is a resource that guides you to the direct experience of Reality, the One without a second. If you find the process of Self-Inquiry (aka Self-Enquiry) to be challenging, you may find the guided form of inquiry offered in this book, to be beneficial.

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