Non Duality: Life as it is

(DVD, 29 minutes, $26.00,

Based on the books of Dr. Vijai S. Shankar



“The documentary unveils time and reality for what they really are,

which is an optical and auditory illusion of light and sound.”

–Dr. Vijai Shankar



For most human beings, it seems so obvious that we are the “commander in chief” of our actions, i.e., that we have the power to decide what we will do in the next moment, that this belief that we are the “doer” is rarely questioned.

This, no doubt, has to do with the fact that we have been told our entire lives that we are responsible for our actions. In fact, our whole legal system is based on this premise: choose your actions wisely or suffer the consequences!

And yet, not a day goes by when we don’t hear in the news about our fellow human beings making what are seemingly insane and incomprehensible decisions. For example, a few years ago a mother drowned all 5 of her own children in a bathtub. Now, if she truly had free will to make her own decisions, why on earth would this be her #1 choice of action in that moment? Why didn’t she choose to go into the kitchen and make a tuna fish sandwich instead? Notice that all attempts by the mind to definitively answer this question fall short.

So, is our ego really calling the shots or have we been deceived into thinking that we are the doer, thinker and speaker by a trick of the mind?


"At the time a thing is being done, there is no thought or feeling that one is doing it. This is further proof that one is not a doer. Claiming to have done a thing after the doing cannot make one a doer." -Sri Atmananda



Dr. Vijai Shankar


In this original and stunning short film, Non Duality: Life as it is, Dr. Vijai Shankar endeavors to explain how the illusion works, i.e., why the mind believes it sees something that does not actually exist: an ACTION.

The film begins by showing 2 boxers in the ring throwing punches at each other. One of the boxers, as well as his coach, appears to be frustrated because his punches seem to be missing their intended target. The question is then raised, what constitutes a punch? In other words, where does the action that is labeled a “punch” definitively start and end?


C:\Users\Michael\Desktop\boxer throwing punch start.jpg

Where does a “punch” start?


At first the mind may think that it occurs when “the arm is cocked.” However, then one has to ask, okay, then when did the cocking of the arm begin? This too proves to be a tricky question to answer because, as the narrator points out, neither fighter has stopped moving since they got up from their *stools at the beginning of the round. And so suddenly, it begins to dawn on the viewer that the definitive starting point of a punch is impossible to pinpoint! This logically means that the absolute starting point of ANY action cannot be conclusively identified!

(*And even when the fighters are sitting on their stools, movement is still occurring. In fact, from the day we are born we never stop moving, even in sleep!)


“Life is a flow rather than a sum of events. Since the source of life is singular, beginless and endless, it obviously means that multiple events in life are impossible. If there are events separate from each other, then life cannot be a flow. A flow means absence of intervals.” –Dr. Vijai Shankar


As the above quote from Dr. Shankar points out, life is one continuous unbroken flow, and thus trying to break that flow into separate, independent events is not possible since everything is connected and interdependent.

Another point to be considered, and one which is often overlooked, is just how long is “the present moment”? According to the film, the present moment only occurs for an attosecond, which is a billionth of a billionth of a second! So, what can we actually “see” in a billionth of a billionth of a second? As you can imagine, not much! In fact, there isn’t even enough time to see a movement, let alone determine a starting point. All we actually “see” is a single unit of light called a photon. So, it turns out that actions do not actually exist in life, but merely as a mind-made overlay, i.e., a thought.


“We think what we see, not see what we see.” –Dr. Vijai Shankar


And since a thought is sound, and life is light, and sound is always slower than light (e.g. lightening happens first, then thunder), our thoughts are always in the past. And yet, sound is necessary for it’s what gives light meaning. For example, if you look at an apple, but don’t tell yourself it’s an apple, than how would you know what you are looking at!? Likewise, a sound without an image to go with it is just gibberish. For instance, if the word “雪 (xuě)” does not bring up an image in your mind, it has no meaning to you. But if you speak mandarin Chinese, then the word represents “snow” and does hold meaning.

The point is that thoughts are the minds attempt to label, understand, and control that which cannot be definitively labeled, understood, or controlled. Again, thoughts are past, Life is present. Says the film’s narrator: “A thought, being a delay of life itself, can never understand life’s true nature. For if one understands what life is, no thought is present like in deep sleep.”

Basically, it comes down to understanding that Life happens, as it happens, regardless of what we think about it. That the control our ego believes it possesses is merely an illusion.


“And what could man control when he is unable to control his own birth, the starting point of his life? And what could man control when he is unable to control his own death, the ending point of his life? When man is unable to control the beginning point and the ending point, how could he control the in-between, illusory story?”

-Dr. Vijai Shankar


If the full magnitude of this realization hits you (and only life can bring this understanding about, not you!), then resisting or struggling with WHAT IS is understood to be the source of suffering and misery. Instead, the sage marvels at the awesome intelligence that brings about this unfathomable dance of light and sound, and is truly humbled by what he sees, hears, feels, tastes and touches!


planets and space laii1.jpg


Final Thoughts

The DVD covers several other important topics, such as Cause and Effect (which, like actions, are an illusion), as well as Space and Time (which require each other to exist), but which I will not comment upon so as to keep my review a reasonable length.

I have no doubt that the serious student of non-duality will find the material covered both fascinating and illuminating. However, that is not to say that the ideas presented here are easily grasped. First, you are going against a life time of conditioning. Secondly, the ego is not going to relinquish its control (even if only illusory!) without a fight.

I myself required many viewings along with hours of copious note taking, as well as reading pertinent chapters from several of Dr. Shankar’s books, before understanding of the films more subtle points transformed from confusion to clarity.)

Lastly, the special effects were done by a gentleman from the Netherlands who did the Harry Potter movies, and so needless to say, they are quite spectacular.


-Michael Jeffreys


You can order the DVD Non Duality: Life as it is, from the

Academy of Absolute Understanding: