In the context of nonduality, what is top-down and bottom-up teaching?
In the context of nonduality, top-down and bottom-up teaching are two approaches or perspectives used to convey the understanding of nondual awareness or realization. These approaches are often employed by spiritual teachers, philosophers, or practitioners to guide individuals towards an experiential understanding of nonduality, which refers to the recognition that there is no fundamental separation between the self and the external world.
Top-down teaching involves presenting the ultimate truth or essence of nonduality directly to the seeker. It emphasizes the immediate recognition or direct realization of nonduality, bypassing intellectual or conceptual understanding. This approach focuses on pointing directly to the truth or reality beyond the mind, inviting the seeker to directly experience the inherent unity or non-separateness of existence. It often employs methods such as guided meditation, contemplation, or pointing out instructions to facilitate the direct experience of nondual awareness. The emphasis is on bypassing the intellectual mind and recognizing one’s true nature beyond thoughts, concepts, and beliefs.
Bottom-up teaching, on the other hand, involves a more gradual and systematic approach to understanding nonduality. It recognizes that most individuals have conditioned patterns of thinking, beliefs, and a strong sense of individuality that can obstruct the direct recognition of nondual awareness. In this approach, the teachings start from a more conventional or relative perspective and gradually lead the seeker towards the recognition of nonduality. It often involves a process of inquiry, self-reflection, meditation practices, and the exploration of various concepts, such as ego, identity, and perception. The aim is to deconstruct the conditioned patterns of thinking and gradually open up the seeker to the possibility of nondual realization.
It’s important to note that these two approaches are not mutually exclusive but rather represent different ways of approaching the understanding of nonduality. Some teachings may emphasize one approach more than the other, while others might blend elements of both. The choice of approach often depends on the teacher’s style, the needs and readiness of the seeker, and the context in which the teaching is taking place. Ultimately, both top-down and bottom-up teaching aim to point towards the inherent oneness and unity of all existence, allowing individuals to transcend the illusion of separation and experience a deeper sense of wholeness and interconnectedness.