A coin has two sides. We call the sides different names. In the U.S. we call them "heads or tails". Looking at one side or the other is a very distinct view, but the coin is still one. That one coin, when tossed, makes the difference between being the first or second to throw the ball. It is still one coin.
When Jesus was asked about paying taxes and one's duty to God, he gave a profound and practical reply, "Render unto Caesar what is Caesar's and render unto God what is God's." A metaphor for "Be in the world, but not of it."
Is there being in the world "as it is," but not being caught in it? Is spirituality separate from the world? Are there really separate sides of a coin? Are we in school? Is there free will? Is there really no "you" and "me?"
Honestly, I really don't know. I can't seem to draw the line in my own mind and explain it to myself. I would like to be able to, but currently cannot. What I do feel/know/experience, is that ultimately we are all one. The world I am in, and you are in, is one field, one energy, manifesting in multiple emanations, endlessly creative.
Ultimately, humans, like everything else, are emanations, created beings, and this would imply no free will. I long ago gave up the idea that I or anyone else had free will. There is a lot of freedom in this. It is great for putting the ego in its place, or dropping it altogether.
The experience of "no self" which can be progressive, or sudden, is rather devastating to being in the world, but is great at making sure one is not "of it."
As one who knows that ultimately, "I am that, and you are that," there still appears a me, and a you. And now we are back to the metaphor of the coin. Two sides, one coin. I really like this metaphor as it makes simple, a complex area of spiritual inquiry, the conundrum: duality/non duality.
Currently there is a raging debate about this. Both sides are on the same playing field, but disagree on how to play. Perhaps we need to remember that we are playing a game. As Shakespeare once said, "All the world's a stage, and we are but players upon it." Or as Faulkner wrote, "Sound and furry signifying nothing.
When teacher's teach, whether they claim personhood or not, whether they claim to be enlightened or not, they do have individual styles. We need to be careful and not argue teaching styles over essence. Doesn't it really come down to reflecting on what resonates? I really like this term because it is reflects congruence, while remaining open.
My whole spiritual search has been based on resonance. At first, it was primarily what I liked intellectually, but as I progressed (that nasty, bad term, to some) I found that I was reading with my heart. I literally felt the resonance in my heart.
Having been a seeker for many years, I've had many opportunities to see who I resonated with, and who I did not. Teachers resonate that appear to be stressing or pointing in very different ways. I can only conclude that the pointing is different, not that which is being pointed to.
One side claims that no person exists, or ever existed - all is illusion. Therefore, there is no enlightened person, no such thing as enlightenment, and never has been. The other side agrees that ultimately, this is so, but acknowledges that though ultimately true, the body/mind needs to be acknowledged and dealt with.
I resonate with teachers who claim no person exists, and with teachers who claim to be enlightened. Is there an absolute divide between non duality and duality? Both are aspects of the One.
The teacher that claims no enlightenment, no person, and yet teaches, is somehow acknowledging duality. To dismiss the embodiment, the seeker, is like the elephant in the living room that is not acknowledged. The teacher may claim to be enlightened or not. Does that change the fact that there is resonance?
One teacher claims to be enlightened, acknowledges it, and then teaches that there is no student, no teacher, and no free will. Gets confusing, doesn't it?
Teachers emphasize different sides of the same coin. They are all pointing, and pointing is not the truth. The one coin contains all sides. Acknowledging both the ultimate Oneness, and embodiment, seems balanced to me.
I trust my heart and only listen to and ponder those teachers who resonate with my heart. I resonate with teachers who fall on both sides of the coin. Neither side has the right pointer, all are pointing only.
As a seeker, I never cared whether a teacher claimed there is no one to be enlightened or not. I never cared if the teacher said there was no teacher, no student, no me. I only cared if there was resonance. I only cared if there was a response in my heart. I didn't care if I understood. I only cared if my heart relaxed and went, "Ahhhh."