Is saññāvedayitanirodha a non-dual meditative attainment?

Husgafvel claimed that the saññāvedayitanirodha in early canonical descriptions is the only possible candidate for a “non-dual” meditative attainment. What do you think? Is there a Pāli term for “nondualism”?

Sounds unlikely. MN 43 says consciousness, perception & feeling are cojoined. This is consistent with suttas such as MN 38 & SN 22.53, which seem to say consciousness cannot arise without a sense object. Therefore, when perception & feeling cease, it seems consciousness must also cease. In other words, saññāvedayitanirodha seems to be a state of unconsciousness. If saññāvedayitanirodha is a state of unconsciousness then I doubt it can be regarded as “non-dual”.

Possibly. MN 1 includes the term “ekatta”.

They perceive oneness as oneness.
Ekattaṁ ekattato sañjānāti;

MN 1

Also, MN 121 includes the term “ekatta” many times; from beginning to near end.

In the same way, a mendicant—ignoring the perception of the village and the perception of people—focuses on the oneness dependent on the perception of wilderness.

evameva kho, ānanda, bhikkhu amanasikaritvā gāmasaññaṁ, amanasikaritvā manussasaññaṁ, araññasaññaṁ paṭicca manasi karoti ekattaṁ.

MN 121

In Theravada there is always duality. Even for arahants there is always a division between the conditioned and unconditioned:

Not nondualism (which would be avdvayatā), but kasiṇa meditation is said to be “non-dual” (advayaṁ). Eg AN 10.25:

Pathavīkasiṇameko sañjānāti uddhaṁ adho tiriyaṁ advayaṁ appamāṇaṁ
Someone perceives the meditation on universal earth above, below, across, non-dual and limitless.

Here, as always in the suttas, the word kasiṇa has nothing to do with the commentarial idea of a “physical disk”, but means “universal, totality”. In this kind of case to leave kasiṇa in the original language is a mistake, as it creates needless misunderstanding.

From context, it is clear that this is a term for a state of consciousness, and all the terms are more-or-less synonyms. Note the similarity between this phrase and the stock description of the brahmaviharas. These are all different ways of describing jhanas achieved in different ways.

So certainly in this case, and probably when talking about jhanas generally, it seems the term “non-dual” can be used; of course it is more common to simply describe such states as “oneness”.

Whether this is the same as what modern theorists talk about when they talk about “non-dualism” is of course a separate matter. But generally speaking, the "non-dual"schools hark from the Upnishads, and I believe the states of samadhi such sages were realizing were the jhanas. So if it is not identical it certainly shares roots in a similar kind of experience.


Thank you Bhante. I never this or the below before. The same paragraphs seem also in DN 33 DN 34 MN 77 & AN 10.29. DN 16 has a similar term. :pray:t2:

For a long time, Ānanda, you’ve treated the Realized One with deeds of body, speech, and mind that are loving, beneficial, pleasant, whole-hearted, and limitless.

Dīgharattaṁ kho te, ānanda, tathāgato paccupaṭṭhito mettena kāyakammena hitena sukhena advayena appamāṇena, mettena vacīkammena hitena sukhena advayena appamāṇena, mettena manokammena hitena sukhena advayena appamāṇena.

DN 16

I’ve often thought that the best candidate for the contemporary version of "nondualism"amongst the ancient meditations is nevasaññānāsaññāyatanan.

It’ not consciousness, its not nothing…


I believe that the mental state described to Bahaya is non-dual in the sense that there is no experience of being an organism/self in opposition to the world. See bolded and italicized section.

“In that case, Bāhiya, you should train like this: ‘In the seen will be merely the seen; in the heard will be merely the heard; in the thought will be merely the thought; in the known will be merely the known.’ That’s how you should train. When you have trained in this way, you won’t be ‘by that’. When you’re not ‘by that’, you won’t be ‘in that’. When you’re not ‘in that’, you won’t be in this world or the world beyond or between the two. Just this is the end of suffering.”
Ud 1.10

I believe this is the first jhana, but I know that is controversial and I will not go into it now. That said, the state above does appear to be non-dual. Do you agree?

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It’s not identical as in Theravada absorption there is always a factor of observation, making a duality:

" “And furthermore, the monk has his theme of reflection well in hand, well attended to, well-considered, well-tuned[1] by means of discernment.”—Anguttara Nikaya 5.28

I don’t disagree from a technical point of view, but the word non-dual is still used. Ultimately it’s important to not let the terminology confuse the issue.

Yes, it’s unusual in that context. On reflection, I might revise the translation there to “undivided”.

In fact I have gone through and changed my translation everywhere to “undivided”. The problem with “non-dual” is that it has become a term of art in Indian philosophy, but that is not how it is being used here. It is, rather, a psychological descriptor equivalent to ekaggatā and the like. “Undivided” works well both in the context of meditation and in the passage quoted from DN 16.

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Personally I’ve always taken it to be mediation without an object.