When Non-dual Teachings Promote Rugged Individualism

I’ve personally experienced Neo-Advaita teachings that are so anti-relational to the point that they reject and even shame as weakness the basic human need for healthy intimacy, teaching spiritual aspirants to believe it’s unspiritual to follow this biological imperative – in teaching how to be self-sustaining (ironic, given that the teachings are based on self-dissolution) these teachings helped me to become better able to self-generate that which is unhealthy to rely solely on others for, but I’ve seen and experienced myself, the radical self-reliance it promotes lead to the opposite extreme of over-dependence on others- isolationism, alienation, avoiding intimacy. It’s an example of when non-dual teachings that aim to ease the suffering caused by one extreme, end up swinging to the other extreme, rather than finding a balanced middle way, which would be, in my view, inter-dependence in which two or more people are not solely dependent on the other to get needs met and take responsibility for fulfilling the needs that can and should be derived within oneself, but who, in caring for one another’s wellbeing, are able to be a source of support for one another, and recognize that there are healthy human relational needs that can be mutually supported.

I’ve pondered the in-congruency of promoting extreme individualism on one hand and the devaluation of individual personhood on the other! Now, do we envision a future in which self-sufficiency is promoted and valued along with inter-connection and mutual supportiveness that is not about clinging to others or expecting to get all of one’s needs met from external sources? If so, then it would help to encourage those in the non-dual community who say that it’s spiritual or enlightened to source *all* of your human needs from within yourself, to see the imbalance of this paradigm, how it can actually harm people, and to shift into considering how, from a non-dual perspective, we can balance self-reliance with healthy relational symbiosis.


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