Duality arises when consciousness arises. I am present and I know that I am present - that is duality.
I am and I am not conscious of being present - that is unicity.
There is only one, but when this conscious presence is there, there is a sense of duality.
Questioner: Is the Realized person aware of everything?
N: Actually no one is realized, there is only pure knowledge. It is only for reasons of communication that we say a person is realized. The knowledge has realized that it is knowledge; that is all that has happened. I am not the body, I am not the words; when knowledge recognizes this it is called Self-Realization.
Q: Why is it that India seems to be the cradle of this knowledge? No other country seems to have this knowledge?
N: That is not so. this manifestation is an expression of the Absolute and the manifestation takes different forms in various countries. Where it takes what kind of expression in immaterial; basically all is the manifestation of the Absolute. There is no cause and effect, no reason why one thing should be in one place and another something else in another. What is to be found out is what one is, by oneself."
(Nisargadatta, Prior to Consciousness p. 77)
First off, Nisargadatta puts the term "duality" in the philosophical context: When there is consciousness at all, it means that there is a subject and an object, there is a seer and the sense of something seen, a perceiver and the object of perception. So as soon as there is consciousness there are two, and no longer just one.
He introduces the term "unicity" as the other state, when there is no duality and no consciousness. Generally the term used for that state when there is no duality is non-duality, and in Sanskrit "dvaita" which could be called "two-ness" and "advaita" with the prefix "a" which turns the term into its opposite - so we use the English term "non-duality".
From this languaging we come to the usual interpretation of these terms, which is that duality has to do with the opposites such as black-white, good-evil etc. and when you transcend duality you reconcile or transcend these dualities.
Here, however, we are lead by Nisargadatta to look at the basic state of our experience as being the state of consciousness and that is the state of two-ness or "duality".
Unicity is a state without consciousness: "I am and I am not conscious of being present - that is unicity." He points us to a state of "I Am" in which there is no consciousness of being present, no experience. This is called the "non-experiential state", or the "no-state state".
Why does he point us to this way of viewing things? Since I have been pondering his words now for some years, I have come to realize that this view is another way of expressing a vision I had some years ago: I "saw/felt" a huge river that had an infinite vastness to it. It was a river of energy and all the energy was flowing inexorably forwards into eternity. All of the energy was in complete sync and was absolutely homogeneous with itself and so it did not appear to itself. In this vast cosmic river (the river was the cosmos itself) there were some eddies, some whirlpools, some vortexes. They were clearly disturbances in the steady and harmonious flow of the whole. These whirlpools lit up, like something that caused friction to the flow of the whole and so they lit up, became hot. The whirlpools were the galaxies and what lit up were the stars and star systems and other celestial bodies.
What was remarkable for me, the deepest impression of the vision experience was that the "dark" flow of the river was so tremendously more intense and strong and dense than the lit-up objects. Nisargadatta used the words: "Compared to this Reality, a diamond is like butter."
Thus I get that he points us to a state that is prior to consciousness in order for us to loosen our psychological addiction to this world of consciously perceived objects, events and experiences. He tells us that he (and continually admonishes us that we are no different than he) IS without being conscious of being present. Nisargadatta wants to wean us away from our one-sided view that the experiential world of our five senses is all there is and thus encourage us to open up to another sense that is non-experiential.
Merry Christmas All!